The general reaction I get from other campers when I tell them I interior trip in a kayak is "err... what?". In a message exchange with Jeff of Jeff's maps (if you don't know Jeff's maps, stop reading this and check out his site), his reaction was: LoL re: the sea kayak. Must be painful to portage, no?
So why do I use a kayak instead of a canoe?
The kayak rules the water. One person in a kayak can easily out-paddle two people in a canoe, and there's no such thing as being windbound. I love to solo camp, and in a kayak I can cover a lot of ground (water?) when I want to - it lets me get deep into the park quickly, avoiding the crowds of the easy to reach lakes.
In the beginning, however, it was really just about circumstances. When I first decided to try my hand at back country camping I owned a kayak - so why not use it? I'd bought that kayak to fish out of and had rigged it up for that purpose, complete with a rod holder and an actual working fish finder. But it was also 10 feet long, and to say it was light on storage space would have been an understatement, not to mention it was a pig to paddle. Here it is (err... was) in all its glory:
That's actually a picture from my first ever 'interior' camping trip. I put 'interior' in quotes because this was a campsite in the Frost Centre, and I was all of an hour and a half from the car, and one portage from a lake filled with cottages; it wasn't exactly the deep wilderness. But it was enough to make me fall in love with this style of camping.
That trip taught me many things:
1. Portaging a kayak sucks
2. Packing requires a lot more planning than I put into it.
3. Portaging a kayak sucks
That didn't stop me from doing another trip that same fall, to a different lake in the Frost Centre with pretty much the same plan as the first time around (although I packed a bit better). But after that trip I had two good strokes of fortune: first, I badly damaged my kayak trying to paddle the Humber river with some friends (water levels were impossibly low), and camping season ended, which gave me all winter to think about how I was going to do it better come Spring.
This would have been an opportunity to switch to a canoe, but by this point I was thoroughly in love with kayaking, and decided to stand pat. I bought my second kayak late that fall (this time a 14 1/2 footer), designed and built the first of my yokes that winter, and in early Spring I was on my first interior camping trip in Algonquin - solo. That trip, in which I looped through Penn, Welcome, and Lake Louisa, was an amazing experience. Since that time I've been on dozens of trips into Algonquin, and almost all of them have been done in a kayak.