Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Enjoying nature from the water during Whitefish Lake Canoe Camp 2010

Press Story

Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists

September 21, 2010

Enjoying nature from the water during field naturalists’ September canoe/camping trip

by Janet Snyder

While the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists’ (MVFN) canoe program usually focuses on day-trips around the lakes and rivers of Lanark County, once a year the group ventures further away on an extended canoe/camping trip. This year fifteen paddlers in kayaks, and solo and double canoes participated in the September 10-12 trip to Algonquin Park. Using the group camp site at Whitefish Lake as our base we took two different paddling routes. The route for Saturday was Smoke Lake (an approximately 20 kilometre drive from the camp site) and through the channel into Tea Lake. Then on Sunday we paddled directly from the camp site along a narrow channel to Pog Lake and Lake of Two Rivers.

Canoe camp 2010

MVFN paddlers on the Madawaska River on the way to Lake of Two Rivers during the September canoe/camping trip in Algonquin Park. Photo courtesy Rob Walsworth

For some, paddling was the main purpose of the trip. For others it was the opportunity to study the birds, plants and animals of the park. The presence of Cliff Bennett, a knowledgeable birder and Cathy Keddy, a botanist, contributed greatly to everyone’s enjoyment and learning.

Mornings were cool as would be expected for the time of year but by afternoon most paddlers were in shirtsleeves. A couple of hardy folks even went for a swim. Mealtime and the evening campfires allowed time for discussions of the days’ events, story telling (including a few tall tales) and star gazing. The lakes and rivers were calm and the sky just slightly overcast providing great paddling and an opportunity to concentrate on the environment around us. Bird sightings numbered nineteen species including melodious common loons, a flotilla of common mergansers and a small flock of American pipits. Paddling close to shore we could see small collections of plants in most unusual places such as pitcher plants and wild cranberry growing alongside sphagnum moss on an old log seen floating just off shore.

While there were many things we did see, some things were remarkable by their absence. There were few bugs on the water and no fish swimming in the lakes and rivers. Paddling slowly along the shore usually provides ample opportunity to spot turtles but in the two days of paddling only one turtle was seen, a painted turtle. This prompted much discussion and encouragement to continue the study of our natural environment and work to preserve the state of nature. Everyone agreed…same time next year!