Happy Camper
Credit: Kevin Callan

I’m often asked about my favourite paddling route, especially since I’ve written a fair number of guidebooks.

The question isn’t easy to answer, however. I’ll ramble off some scenic gems like Killarney or Lake Superior. Then, I’ll mention some regular favourites like Temagami or Algoma. Nearby jaunts in Algonquin and the Kawartha Highlands are always on the list. But in the end, I always end up answering the question by simply stating that my favourite canoe trip is the next one I’m going on… wherever that may be.

I try not to live in the past, but revel in the future. I love going to new areas and taking in the adventure and mystery of it all—which is why my next trip should end up being absolutely awesome. And I haven’t a clue where I’m going.

The trip—the one I’m calling “Kevin and Andy’s Magical Mystery Tour”—was initiated while my canoe buddy, Andy Baxter, and I paddled around Algonquin Provincial Park a couple of years back. I planned the insane route known as “The Meanest Link.” It is comprised of 93 portages (which total 68 km of walking). The route is the brainchild of the folks at Algonquin Outfitters, designed as a way to motivate their staff to get more bush time. However, it didn’t necessarily motivate Andy. On the third day of 20, while we walked up the rapids of the Big East River, he said I was not allowed to plan our next trip. In fact, he made me sign an agreement not to plan our trip for the next decade.

I didn’t take him seriously at first. I’ve always planned our canoe misadventures. But when I went over to his house this past February to take part in our annual map-and-flap—a time when we plan our big summer canoe trip—Andy pulled out that piece of paper I had signed while drudging our way around Algonquin. He had already chosen a route, and to make it even more interesting, he wasn’t going to tell me where it was. Andy only provided me with the length of time (10 days), the date he was to pick me up and the gear I should pack.

Well, that day is arriving—we leave this week. And I gotta say, I’m a tad nervous about it. Where the heck will Andy be taking me? Will he choose a route more insane than The Meanest Link in Algonquin, or will it be a much more leisurely trip that has limited portages and no wading up a shallow river? I’m guessing maybe Lake Superior or Quetico. He loves those areas. Or is it a canoe trip across Temagami? We’ve always wanted to do that. It might even be the Missinaibi River, all the way to James Bay? Andy has that one on his bucket list.

He’s even thrown in something interesting for you—the readers. Andy wants you to guess where he’s taking me before we get there. I’m bringing my SPOT Gen3 device and will be placing my location on my Happy Camper Facebook page along the drive north—or is it south? I will also be connecting to everyone on social media by using an ISatHub.

Whoever is the first to figure out the route we are doing and name it in the comment section of this blog will win a free SPOT Gen3. Yep. I contacted the company and they agreed to give a prize for figuring out the hellish nightmare Andy has planned for me.

Good luck—and God help me! 

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