I started my exchange year with a fierce determination to blog regularly, eager to jot down memories of my time in Canada before they faded into patchy memories. However, as the first semester flew by, blogging quickly fell down my list of priorities beneath weekend getaways and continuous deadlines.
So, to make up for it (and to distract myself of the bitter cold outside), here is a little throwback to a trip I took to Algonquin National Park last Autumn which I wrote about for The National Student:
A trip to Canada is not complete without an adventure in the great outdoors. Escape from the crowded, over-priced and globalised big cities to experience the real side of this northern nation.
While travelling, it can be easy to hop from city to city, ticking well-known metropolises off our bucket lists. In Canada, many people visit Toronto and Vancouver, perhaps dipping into a national park for a day or two – but there is so much more to see. Canada offers such a variety of activities that every traveller will find something to suit their tastes; from long, meandering forest trails to rewarding mountain hikes, from gentle canoeing to white water rafting.
In order to access your chosen adventures, your journey will take you away from the cities and across the countryside. Drive through small red-brick villages peppered throughout the land, pass vast fields of crops and animals, pine forests, and tranquil lakes. These hidden wonders lie off the tourist trail, giving you a true taste of Canadian life. I canoed in Ontario’s beautiful Algonquin Provincial Park in October, as the autumnal leaves transformed the forest floor into fiery channels of golden and crimson, leaving the trees as white as the embers of our nightly campfires. I will remember our adventure in Algonquin as four days of canoeing and campfires, sunsets and s’mores; it was the perfect way to experience Canada, in all its natural beauty.
The canoeing itself was not too challenging, allowing us to take in our gorgeous surroundings and get to know our group. As the sun sunk in the sky each day, we would arrive at our campsite to set up our tents and explore the area before gathering around the fire. One particularly warm day, we decided to risk a swim in the icy waters as the sun began to set behind us; an unforgettable and refreshing experience!
As the nights grew cold, we warmed ourselves with hot cider and comforting meals cooked over the burning logs. We chatted and sang the night away, eventually wandering to bed with bellies full of s’mores and the smell of smoke permeating our clothing (it took four washes for my hair to not smell like campfire).
The main challenge of our trip was a 1.6 km portage; in other words, we had to carry all of our backpacks, food bags, and the canoe itself, on our backs for 1.6km. To say this was difficult would be an understatement, but we made it through with the encouragement of our peers and the promise of a taco lunch and waterfall view at the end – I still had bruises decorating my shoulders a week later!
Our voyage through Algonquin National Park was an unforgettable experience, one which encapsulates the Canadian passion for the outdoors. Make sure a trip to Canada includes an experience like this one, to discover a true taste of adventure and perhaps even spot a moose like we did – another one ticked off the Canadian bucket list!
The article itself can be accessed here: http://www.thenationalstudent.com/Travel/2017-11-12/canoe_into_natural_canada_in_algonquin_provincial_park.html