April 25 - Day 1
Mere hours after ice-out

It was opening day weekend as it is officially known around The Park. The weekend when on the last saturday of the month of April, trout fishing season officially opens (The official date changes occasionally - Check regulations). This year the date was April 26th. I wanted to get a good campsite, so I headed up to The Park early, arriving at the Rock Lake permit office at 8:30am, finding that the office was already open and with a small line-up of people inside. I had picked up Jeffrey McMurtrie, a fellow Algonquinite and friend as we partnered up to paddle in my canoe.

By 9:15am we were at the access point and ready to go. Our actions well practised and smoothly performed we were on the water within 30 minutes of acquiring our permit. Yippee! More time to paddle and relax.

Access#9 Rock Lake
Ready to Go! Jeffrey is ready for a paddle at access#9

The weather that morning was sunny and warm. We learned that during the night before the ice had gone out on Rock Lake. Our timing couldn't have been better. The water at the landing was very high and there was still snow to be found in the bush and around the parking lot in the shadows. We departed around 9:20am and emerging onto Rock Lake proper fifteen minutes later. After another long winter it was a heavenly sight, the lake was like glass, there were even a few small icebergs floating around. The sky was slightly overcast which made for pleasant paddling, as well as the fact that there was no one else on the water. Opening day was awesome as usual.

Rock Lake cottage
After a long winter: Jeffrey soaks in the greenery as we pass a cottage on Rock Lake

A little after 10:00am Jeffrey and I made landfall, settling in on the familiar campsite on Rose Island. It had a great southwest view, as well as the nearby cliffs of Rock Lake to the northwest.

Jeffrey and I went about the business of setting up camp. Rather then have to collect firewood, we bought a few bags at the permit office, this helps support local economies as well as giving us more time to spend doing less labour intensive duties. I love to collect and chop firewood. However, it has become a sort of tradition to pay for the firewood on the first canoe camping trip of the season, especially when you're camping on an access lake. i.e. access=easy access.

Around 11:45am "Stainless" showed up (solo), arriving in his red kevlar canoe. We greeted Stainless and helped him unload his canoe at the sloped rock landing. Later on in the day "Paddlin" (Dave & Jeanine) arrived and lastly Jeff Proppe. Jeff was the newbie. New to camping, new to the Algonquin Adventures community and we welcomed him with some wine, smoked sausage and cheese around a warm fire as we shared our stories.

Rock Lake canoeist

Stainless arrives at Rose Island, Rock Lake

The overcast sky thickened in the late afternoon and tarps were strung up around the fire-pit to keep out any rain that might fall.

At the neighbouring campsite, another friend and highly experienced Algonquin Park individual by the handle of "Bo" showed up, I like to call him "Master Bo", as he is a master especially when it comes to trout fishing. Bo & wife Sheila set up camp and the rest of us dropped in for a visit, their campsite only being a three minute walk away.

Trapped canoeist
”Stainless" uses his rubber boats to play a joke: “The trapped canoeist"

Later on in the evening, "Swede" dropped in for a visit, appearing out of the darkness like a phantom. Swede was camped at the campground and had paddled over to say "Hi" and share a few laughs. We had quite the crowd: six on our site plus one visitor and next door 2 more folks, plus a dog.

Campfire camaraderie
Stainless, Swede, Jeff P & Paddlin share good times around the fire

I went to bed around 10:30pm that night. I had pitched the tent under some Cedar trees. This proved to be a good idea as we had a thunderstorm roll in less than an hour later. The rain was not heavy, but what rain there was, had less of an impact thanks to the overhanging canopy of the cedar trees. It was a gentle thunderstorm, the kind with thunder that rolled and echoed with mostly cloud to cloud lightning. I drifted off to the sound of thunder booming miles away.

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