Did you really go paddling an inflatable party island in Algonquin Park? I get asked about this a lot lately. The answer is – You bet your ass we did. We are just getting the story to you now…
This past summer turned out to be a tough year for the ManCamping canoe. It suffered a catastrophic blow when a friend fell on it after a few drinks by the bonfire at the ManCamping compound. We weren’t even camping when it happened! It was pretty funny to see him go ass over tea kettle doing it, but the canoe suffered the consequences. To make a long story short, it was in for repair for two and a half months!!
Two months of not paddling? That just won’t do. Solution: Purchase a 7 person inflatable party island and take it camping.
Nothing can stop us from getting out into the wilderness. Not even our boat! Sure we could have rented a canoe, but where is the fun in that?
Before the story begins, let it be known that Johnny ManCamping wouldn’t even partake in this adventure. He’s getting old, or losing his jam. One or the other.
Mrs ManCamping found the party raft, I made the Algonquin Park campsite reservation, and Bender… Well, he showed up. Have to give him credit where credit is due so there, consider that your participation ribbon buddy.
We set out on a Friday afternoon and made the drive to Kingscote lake at the very southern tip of Algonquin park. The drive up was filled with the usual stupid conversations that end up being the source of all ManCamping ideas. We came up with a few more that will hopefully happen in 2017, but we shall have to see. The entire drive up was filled with rain and Bender hanging out the window every time he could see a Llama. Good start.
After a quick stop in a small town at a general store to pick up some ridiculous hats, we made it to the launch, got our permits and we’re getting ready to shove off. The plan was for Bender and I to paddle this inflatable raft with all our worldly belongings to the campsite while Meghan (Mrs ManCamping) took the safety boat. Yes she made the decision that we needed a safety boat in-case of head wind or total ManCamping failure. I had more faith in us but apparently she did not.
We inflated this beast of a make-shift boat at the side of truck with many on-lookers wondering what the hell we were doing. A few comments from people passing by were cheering us on. Not sure if they just wanted to see us fail, or if they were genuine but we’ll take it!
A few things we didn’t consider here… The bad weather, how to keep our packs and gear ON THE RAFT, and the aerodynamic wake properties of this thing (yes we know that isn’t a correct term, but we’ve always wanted to use it). It’s rounded on one side (and has a built in cooler), squared off on the other side and as you can imagine has no rudder or keel. No problem right?
To our surprise, this thing actually tracks fairly well in the water. A few variations on where each of us were paddling and we had a rhythm going like a Viking warship.
Meghan scurried off in the kayak to scout out where the campsites were, finding a somewhat perfect spot in a cove. Full of high brush and poison ivy, the site was muddy and the usable space was almost non-existent. Perfect home for the weekend! We paddled the behemoth raft and dropped anchor. Yes the raft came with an anchor! The makers of this island have almost everything covered.
We unpacked the raft, setup tents and made the most of the site in the pouring rain. Up went the scout tarp which leaked like a sieve so there wasn’t much point in having it up and we even setup another bushcraft lean too shelter which seems to be the trend when we camp with Bender. It happens every damn time! Hot rocked’ steaks and campfire baked potatoes for dinner. Sweet!
We stoked the fire and spent the evening enjoying a few (ahem..”few”) drinks and exploring the surround area of our camp. The thunderbox had a wonderful view. A poop with a view; Nothing beats it. We called it a night at god knows what time and got some rest.
Waking up with a hangover as usual, we got out of the tents to much better weather. We had breakfast and took to our floating island raft extravaganza once again. Time to try fishing from this thing. Sharp hooks on an inflatable raft… Great idea! Luckily, we got away with this idea without incident. Fishing also didn’t last long before it was too hot and swimming began. By swimming I mean more cannon-balling through the center ring of the raft soaking Meghan and every inch of that raft and climbing back on to repeat the process.
We even paddled the island across the lake to check out an unfamiliar site. It turned out to be the fireplace of a burnt down building. With a memorial plaque for those we can assume did in the fire.
We also found this on the same site. Anyone see a problem here?
We wasted away the afternoon swimming and floating around on the raft. You’ll have to excuse me if there aren’t more details here: Bender and I both attempted to avoid tan lines by hiking shorts up to expose way too much butt cheek. If my wife gets to show part of her beautiful bum while tanning, why can’t we? Needless to say it wasn’t pretty (funny, but not pretty) and I don’t wish to relive it by showing you the photos. Also, Mrs ManCamping was tanning… So you’re not allowed to see lol.
After an awesome dinner of some camp style Gnocchi, we returned to the drinks and had a wonderful display of Benders dance moves. Scary that that Dutchman can stir the pot and twerk with exceptional talent. I don’t want to know where he learned it but it’s party of the story so we have to tell it. This went on for what seemed like hours and my obliques still start to hurt from laughing when I think about it.
The next day, we made breakfast and farted around our camp while we packed up and started paddling this monster island home. This time, now that we have experience driving this rig, we tied off the safety boat and towed it behind us, with all three of us now on the raft. Cruising along like a Carnival cruise ship, we made it about half way back. By my estimate, we got this party barge up to a whopping 0.5 km/h or so. Just shy of throwing a 50 rooster tail wake lol.
After we rounded the point of the bay, the head wind kicked in. Crapsicles. We could see the launch point, but with the wind it was going to be dark by the time we got there. Bender and I were determined and kept paddling, but Meghan jumped in the now “rescue boat” and started to tow us in. We did well though, we paddled hard enough to catch up to the kayak at one point! Followed by sitting back and relaxing as the wife pulled us in lol. You have to take in the scenery sometimes.
After making landfall, we were welcomed by a group of canoeists coming in from their own trip. Taking photos with us and enjoying our story, or shaking their heads and thinking were nuts. We had fun, so we didn’t care. We rolled around on the raft to deflate it and packed it back in the truck. It’s one hell of a pack-raft. It takes up the entire trunk.
Making the trip home ended the same way it began. Ridiculous conversation and rain. We didn’t get to go as far as we wanted with the party island, but we did complete an entire camping trip with it, and hey, we didn’t let a broken boat get in the way of enjoying a camping trip!
The inflatable party island has since made a second trip, joining us on Wolf Lake.
(Although we just brought it with us this time. We didn’t paddle it all the way there. Just back and forth to paradise lagoon)