I coincided my vacation this year so that I could spend 4 days and 3 nights up in the park, head home and then get the wife and kid to head back up north to the cottage for the long weekend. I go on a solo trip every year, usually mid May so the bugs aren't too bad yet and the weather is nice and cool at night. This years trip was from May 14th to the 17th.
I worked on the 14th, finishing at around 6 in the morning, I headed home to load the car, grab the pooch and spend a little bit of time with my wife and son, who is 8 months and eager to go on his first trip with dad! With the car loaded up, the pooch raring to go in the back seat, we headed out of the city, north along the 400. We made the obligatory stop in Barrie to top of the fuel and to grab a "delicious" road breakfast from McD's. Back on the road, enjoying the scenery as we progressed north, we finally arrived in Kearney. This year I decided not to make a reservation since I always go in during the week. Sure enough, I got the lake I wanted and saved my self roughly $20 of fees and deposits.
Stopping in at Canoe Algonquin to grab the key to my craft took but a few minutes and they are always so great to deal with. I was back on the road, headed to the access road with the knowledge that it was being graded. Last year the road was actually pretty decent, this year was more of the same and in fact, I think a little better then last year.
I arrived at access #3 to sunny, warm skies and quite a bit of wind coming out of the south. I was staying on Magnetawan so I wasn't too fussed about that. Loading up the canoe took all of a few minutes, getting Violet in without hopping right back out in to the lake took a bit longer. Once she was settled we took the short paddle over to our site. Once the base camp was set up, we lounged around until about 4 p.m before I decided a nap was in order. My nap turned in to the next day!
After a wonderfully long nap I awoke nice and early at 0530 to clear skies, cold temps and a glass clear lake. I had to take advantage and promptly loaded Vi up after a quick breakfast of scrambled eggs, with salami fried up and onions and tomatoes diced in and headed out for a paddle around the lake. It was so tranquil paddling that early in the morning. I enjoyed the reflections along the shore as I searched out the 3 other sites on the lake to check them out. I know which one I will be staying on next time I am on that lake.
Realizing that I had failed to bring sunscreen, I headed back to the access point, grabbed the car and made a quick trip in to town to get some spf 60. Along the road out, as I came around a slight bend in the road were two White Tail Deer. I was able to grab a quick shot before they both turned and fled to the safety of the forest.
Arriving back on the lake, I paddled to my site, changed in to shorts and a t-shirt with the weather warming up quite nicely and started my planned day trip down to Daisy lake. The last few times I came in through #3, I made my way to David lake and with my wife to Little Trout for part of our honeymoon, so I had never been to Daisy and I had heard there was a saw blade down that way to see. I left my camp site and made the short paddle over to the portage to Hambone. Arriving, I was greeted by a group of about 6 guys who were headed out of the park. Shuffling around I was able to take out and get under way down the portage with ease. Putting in at Hambone was quick and easy and I was under way to the take out for Pond. I passed the campsite on the south side of the lake and aside from being a pain to get up to, it looked like a nice site. I arrived at the 55m P to get to Pond but was able to paddle through and not have to carry the canoe. As I crossed the Pond to head to the portage for Daisy , I caught sight of a Heron in flight and was able to grab a shot.
There was no getting around the 420 meters to the put in for Daisy but the trail was easy to walk with only one small muddy section. I arrived at the put in and was once again greeted by another group of guys headed out from the park. They had been staying on Misty if I recall correctly. I grabbed a couple quick shots of the put in before I realized my battery was just about dead and the spare was back in my tent. I paddled over to the island on Daisy to check out the old giant saw blade, had some GORP and then proceeded to make my way back to Magnetawan battling the winds the whole way.
Almost 1800 and I was getting hungry so I started a small fire, got the steak and potatoes all set to go and proceeded to enjoy a scrumptious, juicy steak for my second nights meal. (P.S. Because I base camp on Mag, I leave a cooler in the trunk so I can have fresh food the whole trip.) I was also treated to a Merganser swimming by my site, when I startled it, it took off in a hurry.
After devouring dinner, it was time to stoke the fire, prepare some S'mores and watch the night sky come to life. It did, but not with stars. At about 2130, I noticed some clouds off in the distance that looked very unfriendly and sure enough, they were headed our way. I doused the fire and climbed in to the tent and within half an hour, it rolled in. The storm was quite intense with a lot of lightning and thunder, heavy rain and very high winds. I stayed nice and try in my tent and fell asleep listening to the storm.
I awoke again at some ridiculously early hour, right around 0600, but this time the weather had changed. It was now down right cold, still windy and damp and the sky was over cast and grey. I promptly got a fire going to get warm and to make some bacon and eggs with porridge. WIth the wind up, my planned day trip up to Mubwayaka was on hold. I sat around my site contemplating my next move. Tuning my weather radio in, the day was going to be more of the same, with the break in the weather finally coming later on that night. I made the decision to shorten the trip in the interior and switch to Mew lake for the last night so I could enjoy the trails and visitor centre of the park. Driving along 60 I was able to find one Moose grazing away.
Mew is a nice little camp ground, but my one fault with it is the proximity to the highway. At night at least hwy 60 isn't terribly busy, but during the day, it can be quite noisy. They have also done a controlled burn along the road heading in to the camp ground, for research purposes. I selected my site, #88, set up my Hennessy hammock and proceeded to the visitor centre for a quick tour before heading over to the Beaver pond trail. I got my son a shirt that is for 10-12 years, when he is 8 months...oops! He can grow in to it!
I had done the hike along the Beaver pond trail years ago with my parents and didn't really remember too much about it. It's a fairly short hike and the trail guide was quite informative. Beavers are fascinating animals and I am always in awe of what they can do. One of the highlights of this hike is the view from a cliff top lookout over the Beaver pond. I sat here for a few minutes taking it in before heading down the trail and back to the car.
Our next stop was one of my favourite spots to stop. While not technically in Algonquin Park, it is pretty darn close. Ragged Falls. It is amongst my top 3 waterfalls in Ontario and it is quite a spectacle to behold during the spring run off. Vi and I wandered around as I took shots before sitting up at the top, over looking the rushing waters. I also did a little bit of bouldering.
I had brought my Trangia, so I set it up and made a quick meal of some KD. I think we stayed here for a few hours!
We headed back to Mew to start getting ready for dinner. I started my final fire of the trip and busted out the hot dogs. It's amazing just how many of these I can eat when I am camping. I finished the entire package, 6 in all! The weather was cooling off a bit so I stoked the fire as the winds and the bugs slowly died down. By 2100 the winds were gone, as were the bugs and the night sky was just starting to peek out.
I sat by the fire, watching the sky start to twinkle here and there before finally lighting up with millions and millions of stars. It's something I miss living in the city and wish we could go through nightly black outs for. I made a couple of attempts at some astral photography before the last logs were on the fire and I was soon headed to my hammock.
I have to say, this being the first time I had used it for an actual night of sleep instead of as a nap machine, it was the best sleep I have had camping to date! As I crawled in and got myself settled as best I could with an air mattress below me, I swung gently side to side as I fell asleep. I did awake just a tad chilly however. It had gone down to -2! I need to look in to a better insulation system!
I broke camp, made a quick breakfast of instant oatmeal and some juice and then headed out for a leisurely trip home. The early morning drive was beautiful. I took my time along hwy 60, stopping to get some scenic shots with the early morning fog. I drove up the Arowhon Pines Rd and was greeted by some beautiful, quiet spots. Carrying on I stopped at the Tea Lake dam and spent some time letting Vi wander around.
Headed back down the road we made another stop in at Ragged Falls, it was quite beautiful shrouded in the fog. I grabbed a few more shots and found some really nice spider webs coated in dew.
Our next stop was the Oxtongue Rapids park. I don't think too many people know about this spot or bother to stop here, but it's a nice little diversion along the way. Keep in mind, the road is not the best.
Heading south once again, out next stop was the Leslie Frost Centre to climb up the fire tower. It was a gorgeous day now, warming up quite a bit. The climb up was rewarded with a gorgeous view of the area. Shame my second battery had just died. I clambered back down to enjoy some trail mix and then headed to the car for the final leg home. Pulling out my last and worst battery, I made my way to my old summer camp where I spent 9 wonderful summers out of my folks hair, getting to canoe and not miss home. I hiked in to the camps original location which we had used as a cook out and camp out spot. Most of the buildings were now gone, but there was one left as well as lots of little things that hinted at what once was. I was happy to have my dog along with me as I found very fresh Bear scat and the remains of what was possibly one of it's meals.
Leaving camp, I hit the road for home, to see my wife and son and to get ready to head back up north to the cottage for the long weekend. It's a great life