Ever since my first trip with Kevin Callan, The Happy Camper, in June of this year, there has been a challenge set forth for Kevin the (mostly) canoeist to go on a kayaking trip with me.  Our second trip over the Canada 150 long weekend, brought us canoeing once again, but I was promised a kayaking trip at some point and I was going to make sure it happened, no matter how short or the location.

This weekend that challenge was met and it was a huge amount of fun!

Kevin showed up with his large canoe pack and attempted to put it on top of the kayak, which obviously wasn’t going to work.

We spent some time unpacking his canoe pack and putting all of his items into smaller dry bags that would fit into the kayak hatches.  (yes, it’s all on video as well and will be in the youtube video I’ll be posting on Thursday).

After we got the kayaks packed, we did a quick lesson on launching the kayak and some tips on performing a proper forward stroke. We were on our way!

Our destination, a beautiful campsite on Herb Lake in the Algonquin Highlands in the Haliburton Water Trails.  One of my favorite areas to explore and camp in.  The site was at the end of the lake, just a paddle in with no portages to cross.  The original location was to be the islands on Georgian Bay, but due to scheduling conflicts, this alternate location was chosen.

We set up camp quickly and got a fire going so dinner could be started.  Our first meal was Kevins, baby potatoes cooked in the fire with honey mustard pork chops.  Now when I say cook in the fire, I didn’t really mean that, but I guess Kevin had other ideas.  LOL.

Since the potatoes would take some time to cook, we had dessert first.  Something I had arranged without Kevin knowing.  Peanut Better Smores, a twist on the original smore created by Chris Prouse and her wife Julia.  You use a 2 bite brownie, spread some peanut butter on top of it and put a roasted marshmallow on top.

I had seen the creation in a few of Chris’ videos and had been wanting to try one and was way too anxious to wait to have it after dinner so we made them first.  It wasn’t the best idea because after I had one, I wanted to have more.  They are absolutely amazing and if you get a chance to try one, I suggest you make it happen.   I am hooked!  Thanks so much to Chris and Julia for the idea.  If you’d like to see Chris’ video on making them, check it out here.  All of Chris’ videos are amazing and her youtube is a great channel to subscribe to if you are into the outdoors.

Kevin had a bit of an accident with the potatoes.  He had put them in a foil packet, but I guess he didn’t use quite enough. He placed the potatoes in the fire, but when he went to move them around, the foil packet gave way and let all the little potatoes out directly into the fire.  LOL.  It was very humorous and only a few potatoes were harmed by the incident. The rest were put into a pot to continue cooking on a grill over the fire.

Once the pork chops were done, we ate hungrily and enjoyed the dinner, although the pork chops were a bit hot (like burn your mouth off hot), they were still really yummy, as were the potatoes.

After dinner, we shared a few cocktails and many stories of our summer adventures and ended up talking until the wee hours of the morning.  The conversation was non stop and incredibly entertaining, and sitting by the fire kept us from heading to our cold tents, as the temperatures dropped down to 3 degrees overnight.  Eventually we said goodnight and headed to sleep so we could continue the adventure in the morning.

Saturday morning started out sunny, foggy and brisk. We moved our cooking tools and food into the sunshine at the front of the site and Kevin whipped up a delicious breakfast of fried eggs and bacon on english muffins.

They were delicious and went well with a nice hot cup of coco , in my case, coffee in Kevins.   We sat letting the sun warm us as the temperature rose and the morning mist slowly cleared.

After breakfast was cleaned up and all the food and dishes were put away, we got ready for our day.  Today, I was informed, was the fishing derby and the challenge was issued by Kevin for one of us to catch 1) the first fish, 2) the biggest fish and 3) the most fish.

Part of me was pretty sure Kevin would win this challenge hands down, but another part of me knew that I had a very small advantage.  Kevin had never landed a fish in a kayak before and I had now landed a few.  Not many, but more than he had, so I was hoping it would help me a tiny bit at least.

We fished and fished and fished, each zipping around to different parts of the lake in our respective kayaks, finding places each of us thought looked fishy.

Kevin had several big bass on the line.  He advised me a few times he had a big one on the line and I would quickly paddle over to where he was to take a video or get a photo, only to be told, the fish had spit out his lure and jumped off the line.  Hmm…  this was getting a bit repetitive.  It actually occurred three times, but I had never seen one of the fish.

I watched the loons, I checked out the scenery and I fished on and off. I was having no luck, even with my best Mepps lure on the line.  The full sun we were promised from the Weather Network was only partly sunny and when the clouds were covering it up, it was pretty chilly out and windy.  We paddled through the narrow channel that I called the door to our part of the lake. I assumed many fish would be here as it was the only way in and out of this part of the lake and all the fish had to go through it, but still, no luck.

We located a small bay just past ‘the door’ where the wind didn’t seem to blow.  The water was very calm and although it was very shallow and not good for fishing, it was warm here and I didn’t care any longer about catching fish.  The sunbeam had me hypnotized and I was happy just sitting here in this small bay for the rest of the day.

We rafted up and sat in the sunshine gabbing away.  I shared a snack, a package of salmon jerky I’d gotten for my big Algonquin Trip last weekend but never ended up eating. It was pretty good, although very stinky and it led to us deciding to continue eating and having lunch in this lovely hot spot.

Kevin pulled out a few beers he’d packed for our day trip and we had a cheers and a beverage with our lunches.  I was perfectly content sitting there for the rest of the day, but after a bit we decided to continue with the fishing challenge and slowly head back towards our site.

Kevin stopped at the site to use the privy and I went through a small area on the side of our site that led to a portage and Brandy Falls. I explored the area and was so happy I’d checked it out. It was so pretty and the sun was out now more fully,  and it was warming up.  It had turned into a beautiful day.

I had assumed while I was exploring the bay, that Kevin had gotten back into the kayak and headed back out and had caught his big monster bass by now.  But as I passed by the site, he was sitting there fiddling with his camera and told me he was taking a break from fishing at the moment.

I was still determined to win this contest so I paddled across the lake to a spot that looked fishy to me.  There was a dead tree in the water and rocks nearby and lots of great places for fish to hide from the sunshine.  I cast and BAM!!! I got a fish on my line!!!

It may have been the smallest fish I’d ever caught but it didn’t matter.  At this point in time, it was the first fish, the biggest fish and the most fish!!!  I yelled across the lake to Kevin that I caught one and he popped out to the shore to take a peek. I took a video and a few photos for proof and then let the little guy go. I WAS BEAMING!!!   I paddled back to the site.

Kevin was waiting with a celebration drink he’d made. Sambuca with lime juice and the dehydrated limes I’d made for him dropped in.  It was delicious!!!  We sat in the glorious warm sunshine and were completely content, especially me, haha,  and enjoyed the warmth of the late afternoon, thankful the clouds were mostly all gone now.

I advised Kevin I would get dinner going early. That way, he could still head out and fish before sunset and would most likely catch his big bass. I still was very anxious to see him land a big fish in the kayak and technically the contest wasn’t over until the day was.

Tonight’s dinner was mine to make.  I had chosen an old favorite I used to make on my first backcountry trips back in 2002 and still made every once and a while.  As the Halliburton Water Trails is not an Ontario Park, there is no can ban so it was the perfect place to use this meal.  It involves cooking up 2 packets of Sidekicks, Garlic Alfredo Spaghetti, then adding fresh basil, more garlic (you can never have too much) butter, a can of shrimp, a can of crab meat and fresh parmesan cheese. (sometimes I use romano, depends what I have on hand).

Here is the end result and it was quite delicious. Kevin will be posting a video on making my meal on his channel so make sure to check it out if you have further interest.

We sat by the warm fire enjoying a beautiful sunset and some more beverages.  It was nice to be out camping again with Kevin. We always have so much to talk about and so many stories to share and it’s always a huge amount of laughs.

After our early dinner, Kevin decided he was done fishing for the day and didn’t want to go back out, even though he had a chance, most likely a very good one of beating me in the fishing challenge.  Since we’d had an early dinner though, there was time for another Peanut Better Smore and we had 3 left.  I had actually been looking forward to this the entire day and could not wait to have more.  Kevin, who usually doesn’t eat a lot on our trips, was ready to fight me over the 3rd one, so we split it in half and both got to enjoy one last bite before they were gone.  I’m drooling right now just thinking about them again… sooooo frigging good!

We were both pretty tired from our late night the night before and knowing we’d have to get up at 5:30am when the temperature would be at it’s lowest, 2 degrees, managed to help us stay up by the warm fire until around 10:30. Then we called it a night and headed to our tents for some rest.  We were both a bit leery when we woke up in the morning to see what we’d have to paddle through.

The fog was super thick and you could not see the other side of the lake, or any side of the lake, just white in front of us and a thick white wall at that.  We packed up quickly and I got breakfast underway so we would have lots of time to get back to the cars and not be late.

This mornings breakfast was mine as well.  I had decided on pancakes, but instead of making them with strawberries and chocolate chips as I often do, I decided to switch it up a bit.  I melted some butter in the pan and then added dehydrated apple chunks, cinnamon and brown sugar and a bit of maple syrup.  This would be the topping for the pancakes and I was impressed with how yummy they ended up!

We ate quickly and cleaned up and then headed down to the kayaks to get them packed up as well.

Packing the kayaks was a much better experience this time around. Kevin had quickly figured out, or maybe remembered, what went where and how to jam everything into the small hatches and before we knew it we were on our way out.  He even entered the kayak completely dry and performed a really great dry entry which I recorded and will be in the video.  I hope you check it out.

We made our way through the thick fog and only got a bit lost in one area.  I suggested we stay somewhat close as we could easily loose each other in this and almost did at one point.

About halfway through the paddle out, the sun started to become visible and it helped clear the fog so we could see at least a little bit more.

Before too long, we’d arrived at the take out and it was time to unpack the kayaks again and get them up on my vehicle.

We portaged the kayaks to the parking lot which was just a short distance away.  Then Kevin jumped in his car to head out as he had to get home. As I had no where to be,  I  volunteered to put the kayaks up on the car solo so he wouldn’t be late, so off he went with a wave out the window.

I truly enjoyed this trip with Kevin.  Not only because I won the fishing challenge, LOL, but because it was very cool to see Kevin get a bit more time in a kayak and step somewhat outside of his comfort zone.  Sharing some of the tips I’ve learned with him was really fun and he picked things up very quickly and I think he really enjoyed it as well. He did say he wanted to get himself one of these at one point, true story, check the video for the footage! LOL

I hope you stay tuned and check out the videos on my youtube channel.  Part 1 and 2 will be up over the next few days.  They are full of fun and laughter and I ended up with two because there were way too many good clips and nothing I wanted to cut out.  I hope you enjoy them!

Thanks for checking out my post. If you have any questions, comments or just want to say hi, please get in touch.

Happy Kayaking!

Camper Christina