The meet up, packing & the ride in...Giddy-Up!
This was an eight day trip known as the "White Partridge Express". A fellow Algonquinte (This is what you call yourself if you're fanatical about Algonquin Park) by the handle of "Bo Knows" and his brother "Racoon", have been doing the trip on and off for decades, hiring teamsters to drive a horse-drawn wagon on a ride of nearly 15km down a cart trail to White Partridge Lake.
I had been on this trip before and with the passing of Bo's cousin "Stewart' (Bo's teamster), many had wondered if the tradition would continue? Luckily, we were put in touch with another teamster who still drove the wagon to the lake and agreed to take our party in. Many thanks goes to Mark Scarlett for organizing this trip.
We arrived at our teamsters farm on Thursday to load up the wagons beforehand, thereby cutting down on loading times the following morning, the day of our departure. After this was done we drove into Pembroke where we stayed overnight at a lodge, relaxing, eating, drinking, watching a playoff hockey game and talking - the usual excited talk that goes on before a trip.
Master Bo having been on the WPX on and off now for thirty years, could not keep his excitement contained: Bo was seen rubbing his hands together in anticipation more then once. It really is that good!
After dinner and the game we all turned in early knowing we had a big day ahead of us; A big day of sitting on our behinds riding a wagon! At 5:30am, after a terrible sleep I was up and pretty much ready to go by 6:00am and by 6:15ish we all were ready and departed, heading to the Farm. SmedleyCo (Scott) had a nice pick-up truck with which he volunteered to haul one of the wagons with. Julian, Jeffrey and I piled into Scott's vehicle.
After picking up the wagon we drove to The Park and arrived at the Sand Lake gate at 7:30am. Signage indicated the office didn't open till the late hour of 9:00am!! We filled out our own permits and inserted them along with monies into the self-serve drop-box then proceeded on our way to the embarkation point.
By 10am we were all loaded up with ten of us riding on two wagons, departing, making our way down the cart trail. The journey was about two and a half hours and by By 12:30 pm we arrived at the beautiful green and grassy meadow on White Partridge Lake. It was a very nice spring day. Yes, I skipped describing the wagon ride in. I don't want to spoil it for you. You will have fun, that much I'll write here.
Setting up 'camp' at the 'Meadow' was easy. Tony and Andrew offered us lodging in their now covered wagon that was parked alongside a latticework of pine logs that made a kitchen with tarps strung over the pine logs and attached to the wagon; We were home. The wagon could easily sleep eight men side by side and was very roomy.
Tony, a good friend of Andrew (Our teamster) and company had planned to cook dinner for us the first night, planning a big meal. Tony cooked a turkey - Traditional camp style, with a pot over the turkey and fire set at the base on the outside. It worked well and after a few hours, out came a beautiful golden turkey, served with potatoes and veggies. The meal was delicious and hearty. Thank You Tony and Andrew!
Bo had gone out fishing earlier in the afternoon and caught a speckled trout where he had never expected to. The fish was grilled over the fire and shared all around. What more could one ask for at the opening of the WP Express?
That night was fantastic, the camaraderie was fun, the stars amazing; John Scarlett showed me a night vision scope and told me to look at the night sky with it. I had thought there were a lot of stars in the night sky, but with a night vision scope you can see thousands upon thousands more! The sky is jam packed with them. I drifted off to sleep well after mid-night, fully satisfied by the big meal and good times and it was only the first day of our trip, wonder what will happen tomorrow?
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