11 Sep Algonquin Outfitters Paddle – Found and Claimed!
Yes, it’s true! The elusive Algonquin Outfitters Paddle hidden by Kevin Callan has now been found and claimed by Jeff Bardell! Paddles up and a hearty congratulations to Jeff, who figured out the puzzling clues to the location of the hidden AO paddle! Although Jeff’s smarts led him to the correct portage, it was definitely kismet that he, and his friend Will, came across this hidden Badger. Read Jeff’s account of how he came to get his paws on the AO paddle below:
As this was the Algonquin Outfitters sponsored “Paddle in the Park” hidden Kevin Callan I wanted to sit down and write a sincere thank you to all three. In order to do that though I must backtrack quickly to three years ago, to a guy who had never really spent much time in a canoe (outdoors yes, but a canoe no).
I was in my local library when I came across a copy of “The Happy Camper” sitting there waiting to be returned to its shelf. I picked it up and brought it home, quickly devouring the pages and coming up with the idea that I could do this too. I got two of my friends to buy into my plan and continued to consume as much information as possible (including Kevin’s bannock recipe which worked amazingly).
Not that I would recommend our approach to our first trip but we decided that if we were going to do this we needed to “get out there” for at least a week and it needed to be secluded. With map in hand I contacted Algonquin Outfitters who were absolutely amazing in their knowledge and appreciation of the Park. There was no way I could have planned and pulled off our first trip without them.
In the end we decided on two days from Cedar to Burntroot, with three days base camping and two days back to Cedar again. Now this is the part where we made another ill fated decision. As this was our first trip we decided that we needed to experience this together and that we would all travel together in the same canoe. So, with our backpacks overflowing and our food bag weighted down, we showed up that morning to Cedar.
Arriving at the AO store we were greeted by Jake the store manager. With the stories and knowledge of the park this guy has we could have easily sat there all day listening to his stories. After a discussion over one or two canoes (we were still dead set on experiencing this together) we loaded up our canoe and all climbed in. I didn’t see it but I can still see Jake shaking his head at us wondering how long it would be before we came back, tail between our legs.
With a lot of hard work, sweat and aching muscles we managed to complete our trip without tipping our canoe (still not sure how that didn’t happen) or any other major incidents. Besides the moose and other animals we encountered we only came across one other group that trip, oddly enough if it was Kevin and his family. I didn’t see the look on his face either as we paddled up to the portage but I imagined it to be similar to that of Jake’s. He certainly didn’t let it show though and kindly directed us to the site on Anchor Island he had stayed the night before and told us he had left some wood. Which saved us as we rolled in just after the sun set. All in all, the trip was an absolute success and we found exactly what we were looking for with the solitude and beauty of the Park, learning a few valuable lessons along the way.
1 – Always leave at least a little wood behind when you leave
2 – Never put three people in a canoe for any sort of distance
3 – Always book through Algonquin Outfitters (they are amazing)
4 – Never pack a pile of frozen pork chops unless you’re planning on eating them before the first portage
It was shortly following this trip that I first learned of Paddle in the Park. Having just finished my first canoe trip the message of rewards being out there could not have resonated more with me. I began following the initiative and continued to read as much as I could while I planned my next trip for the following year with my brother in law.
We planned a simple 4 day trip around the eastern side of the park putting in at Brigham Lake and experiencing High Falls, Barron Canyon and everything else that this side of the park has to offer.
Unfortunately, about a week before we were supposed to leave my brother in law was no longer able to make the trip. My first thought was it was too bad we would have to cancel but this quickly turned to thoughts of adventure and could I do this by myself on only my second canoe trip. I was hesitant at first, but having been following along with the clues I also felt like I had a good idea where one of last years paddles might be so I decided to go for it.
If not for the paddle being out there, I probably would not have ventured out on one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had (so thank you). It took a good 24 hours to adjust to being alone and felt odd at times but if anyone hasn’t experienced this kind of solitude I would recommend it. I came up short on the paddle but that didn’t matter as the experience gained and lessons learned far outweighed that.
1 – You really are your own best company
2 – When you hear someone yelling “BEAR” down the lake you can pack up and get in your canoe in record time
I wish this year’s paddle find would have had some more of these experiences incorporated into it but the truth of that matter is that the canoe was still on the car when we found the paddle. If not for those past experiences though we would not have been able to have been in the right place at the right time.
The trip became a last minute plan. As I was sitting at home sick from work and bored on the Wednesday before, I messaged my friend (Will) from our first trip and told him we were leaving Friday to go find this paddle and he didn’t even hesitate. After he did ask “what paddle” but following a quick explanation he was even more convinced.
Having been following the clues since the beginning of the year I was pretty sure I thought I knew where the Happy Camper paddle was but not so sure about the AO Paddle. I had only been able to figure out the first clue with the lake of origin being Source Lake. So, I tried to book the closest site available on Bruce Lake for two nights so we could explore the area but by the time I tried to book I was within the 48 hour no bookings window. This would mean that we would need to show up on the Friday and book directly with Algonquin.
I don’t know how many times I must have read that the Madawaska River flows from Source Lake to the Saint Lawrence. I kept on focusing on religious Saints and could not make the connection to Source Lake. That Thursday evening though, the night before we were to leave a light went off and it became clear that the Saint was the SAINT Lawrence (Yes, I’m slow).
Now with what we felt were two good locations of paddles we set off Friday afternoon to try and conquer them. Unfortunately (or fortunately) we got a bit of a late start. That combined with the fact that we had never been along the highway 60 corridor before lead us to Pog Lake Campground for 7:15pm, where we were able to talk to the first live person. She quickly informed us that we would not be able to enter the interior after 7pm and that we would have to wait for morning.
She directed us to Tea Lake campground as it was the closest to Canoe Lake, where we would need to be in the morning. Setting up camp our disappointment quickly turned to a sense of adventure. Realizing that the first portage from Source to the Madawaska crossed the road into Source we decided why wait. So, with flashlights in hand and headlamps on we drove up to Source to scout it out and see what we could find.
Walking down the road though and arriving at the portage trail we quickly realized that the ridge ran all the way along the trail for as far as we could tell. It was decided that since this was my crazy idea I would walk the top of the ridge and Will would follow down below along the portage trail. So, with what seemed to be from the opening of a bad horror movie I made my way in the dark into the forest. After zigzagging back and forth across the top of the ridge for what seemed like forever Will finally joined me at the top. With his common sense prevailing he suggested that we call it for the night and come back in the morning. At first I refused but finally with the sheer weight of the logic that was opposing me, I relented. Turning to make my way down the ridge, completely dejected, I took no more than three steps and what do I see through the glimmer of my headlamp? THE PADDLE!!
If it had not been for the fact that I was too late to book on that Wednesday or that we had gotten there too late to get into the interior and especially with the exact timing of us giving up our search for the evening, who knows what would have happened. But, a series of unfortunate happenings lead us right to a fortunate time and place. So, really if there was a lesson to be learned it would be.
1 – Everything happens for a reason, so don’t try and force things
Arriving back at Tea Lake we quickly decided that we would leave in the morning and head out in search of the last remaining paddle, as we believed it to be located in a park that we had never been to before. There might have been a little bit of a celebration involving Vodka following this however so it wasn’t the earliest start that we’ve ever had.
I won’t get into too much detail about the last remaining paddle as I realize that it is still out there. By the time that we had arrived our intention had changed from claiming the paddle to finding it, taking our picture with it but to leaving it behind for another group to claim. Believing I knew where it to be we put in a decent search but came up short that first day. Choosing not to focus on this paddle, we decided to put our efforts into exploring this new park as much as possible with our 2 nights that we had available. Fishing, canoeing and exploring we certainly weren’t disappointed with our decision not to go back and look again. Although I must admit it is driving me a little nuts not knowing if we were in the right area. So, could someone please go out and find it to put me out of my misery. J
I realize now that I sat down to write a quick 15 minute story and it’s been close to an hour so I will close out by once again saying thank you.
Thank you to Kevin Callan for hiding the paddle in the exact right spot and for giving me the idea that getting into a canoe in the middle of the woods was a great plan.
Thank you to Algonquin Outfitters for sponsoring this paddle and for helping me plan and pull off my first trip. I can’t state how amazing these guys are!!
And finally thank you to Paddle in the Park for putting this on and doing what you do. If it had not been for your contest I don’t know how many experiences I might have missed out on over the last two years and in turn the years to come. We took our two girls (3&6) into Achray and Highfalls this summer and are planning our first interior trip with them for next year. I owe you a debt of gratitude so if ever you need a volunteer for anything please just let me know.
Submitted to the PITPC by Jeff Bardell via email
Thanks to Jeff, for taking the time to share some of his captivating PITPC adventures with us, and for helping to put into words, exactly what the PITPC is all about!
See some of what Jeff has won below:
The Algonquin Outfitters Paddle:
This well hidden, varnished cherry Algonquin Outfitters “La Bonga” Canoe Paddle, with custom laser engraving, comes with a Badger Paddle Sock and a wood PITPC collector’s tag.
Total MSRP $234.00 CAD from Badger Paddles
The Algonquin Outfitters Prize Pack:
Once you lay official claim to the paddle, you will also win the following gear and prizes from our generous sponsors:
Spork: MSRP $2.98 from Algonquin Outfitters
SeaLine 10 L Baja Dry Bag: MSRP $21.98 from Algonquin Outfitters
GSI Crossover Kitchen Kit: MSRP $29.98 from Algonquin Outfitters
Keynoe Key Chain: MSRP $5.99 From Kingdom Outdoor Products
CANOEROOTS Subscription: MSRP $20.00 from Canoeroots Magazine
Portageur.ca Decal: MSRP $8.00 from Portageur.ca
Classic Solo Canoeing Basic Video (digital download): MSRP $6.49 from Becky Mason
Invention of the Board Canoe (book): MSRP $7.14 from The Canadian Canoe Museum
Petzl Tikka Headlamp: MSRP $29.98 From Algonquin Outfitters
A Paddler’s Guide To Ontario Canoe Routes $20.00
JOHNNY’S BOAT SHOP Mesh Baseball Cap: MSRP $20.00 from Johnny’s Boat Shop
Not shown: Wilcor Outdoors Folding Saw: MSRP $14.98 from Algonquin Outfitters
TOTAL PADDLE AND PRIZE PACK VALUE: $421.52