Our side trip to Catfish was disappointing. Our favourite campsite from previous trips, the one on the large island situated in the central part of the lake, was littered with toilet paper and garbage.

We moved on to the north end of the lake, only to find the cluster of sites trashed even more. We ended up choosing a site high up top a ridge on the east side of the narrows, between the north and south portion of the lake. It was clean but you had to be half billy goat to reach the tent pad and fire ring. The site had an amazing view of the lake — and we even saw twin moose calves across the lake -—  but it wasn’t very kid-friendly.

Leaving Catfish Lake wasn’t easy. There’s was a major drought happening and water levels were at a major low, which meant the creek that connected Catfish and Sunfish Lake was almost unnavigable. And the three long portages that followed, taking us into Hogan, didn’t help either. It was crucial that we made this day fun for Kyla. Alana and I have had our fair share of bad days on canoe trips. Kyla, however, hasn’t. The number one rule while introducing youth to the great outdoors is to make sure they have a good time — or they’ll second guess going out again. The saving grace was Hogan Lake. It’s a beautiful and secluded lake with rugged cliffs, stout white pine, turquoise coloured water and picture perfect campsites. By the time Kyla had a swim, caught a few frogs and toasted up S’mores around the campfire, she’s forgotten about the nearly dried up creek and nasty portages — and so did Alana and I.

The longest portage of the trip was waiting for us the next day. The length was close to four km. Most regular paddlers in Algonquin pack light and do one carry across the portages. However, with all the gear we packed for three of us for twelve days it would mean we’d have to do two loads across. That added up to 12 km of walking. Yikes. These moments are the only time I dread canoe tripping in Algonquin. The average portage here is around a kilometre. Further north in parks like Quetico or Temagami the average is less than 300 metres. I still like the park though. It has a quality all to its own.