Mark's Algonquin Park Sampler - Triplog#17

Triplogs / Triplog#17

daytrip triplog image

This was just a short day-trip up-to The Park.
Having had 2 trips planned for November, and both of them being scrubbed, due to work scheduling, I needed to head up north to put my canoe away for the season.

Once the canoe was safely sheltered for the winter, Algonquin Park, didn't seem so far away. I headed up to The Park, there wasn't a drop of snow in Toronto, but on the way up, I noticed the land became more and more covered with the white stuff. By the time I hit Huntsville, the countryside was immersed in a white blanket.
I arrived shortly before noon at The West Gate.
Talking with the staff, I learned that one other group had shown up, intending to hike along the Track & Tower trail. I paid for my daily vehicle permit, and proceeded along Hwy#60.

west gate image

                                     The West Gate in winter

Along the way..I caught up to a snowplow. The Highway was partly covered with snow, yet having never driven my car in winter before, I hung back for a while, and enjoyed the view as I drove along. There was no other traffic around.

Deciding enough was enough, I passed the snowplow, and zipped road!
As I came upon a long straight stretch of the highway, I witnessed a big deer, clamber up onto the road, several hundred meters ahead me. The deer crossed the road and disappeared into the bush.
I slowed as I approached where I thought the deer might have been. No sign.

Big Pines Trail

Continuing on, I approached Rock Lake Road.
Turning north off the highway, I pulled into the parking lot of Big Pines Trail.
Got out, put on my hat, gloves, boots, parka & grabbed my camera and a water bottle.
It was the most beautiful winter day! -9°C with clear blue skies, a bright sun, and not a breath of wind. It was so quiet.

big pines sign image

                         Entrance: The Big Pines Trail

I started along the trail, helped by the fact that there was old tracks from previous hikers..not knowing the weather conditions in Algonquin for the past few days, I guessed that they might be as new as 2 days or as old as one week. Who knows.
Following the trail I eventually came upon A Big Pine.

big pine image

          Post#3: One of the BIG Pines - Much larger in person


This big pine, was pretty big!
Very nice. Not only that, I had never been in Algonquin in the winter before.
You can just imagine the joy I felt in being here. It was heady forest odor, no birds chirping, and no people. Just a quiet, slumber laden wood.

Everywhere, the forest seemed to have a mystical feel to it.
I've heard poets and people describe forests being asleep in the winter.
It certainly looked that way.
It was deathly quiet. Nothing moved. No wildlife either.
The forest was most assuredly asleep, buried in a foot and a half of snow...2 foot drifts in some places.

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                           Snow covered bridge


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                                 Approach to Post#6

The only sound that was present was the "crunch-crunch" of my booted feet as I slogged thru the snow.
I took perhaps almost 2 hrs, to do this trail.
I stopped many times to photograph pictures, and to admire the pines and my surroundings.
Trudging thru the snow, is tiring too..and the trail does wind it's way up and down and around hilly terrain here and there.

dead pine image

                     Big dead pine


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                               The sleeping forest

I stopped by Sunday creek, for a drink of water(from my water bottle)and a rest.
no life, no noise, except for the gurgling of the creek. A therapeutic sound to my soul.
What a wonderful change from the daily drumbeat of the working world.
Leaving the creek behind, I started back, already 3/4's of the way thru the loop. Just past the creek, in a north westerly direction, is a vast field...a bog in the spring/summer, now frozen.

sunday creek image

                                Sunday creek


bog image

                    A Bog - North of the Big Pines Trail

This was a nice change of pace..Algonquin in the winter.
As I came back to the trails end/beginning...I heard a car door slam shut. Huh?
I hurried was another vehicle.
There was a man there, putting on some XC skies. We exchanged greetings, and he was off..up the road that links up with the dogsled trail and the portages to Little Rock Lake and Sunday Lake.

Lookout Trail

I got in my car, and was off, west...up over the hill, and suddenly I was upon Lookout Trail. I turned into the parking lot and...crunch. I had run into the plowed snowbank. The Parking lot had been plowed in.

Oh where else to park anyways.
The shoulder was plowed, but I didn't feel comfortable leaving it on the shoulder, with it being near the top of the hill on the highway.

lookout trail signage image

                            The start of Lookout Trail

I had been to this trail many times before, but again, never in winter.
This should be interesting I thought.
Well, there were some tracks here...fresh too!
when I came upon the split in the trail(the return loop on the left), I noticed no tracks from the return loop.
ah...opportunity, and solitude! I decided to do the loop backwards, going to the summit via the return loop and coming back the way I came...thus only covering half of the trail.

lookout trail image
                     Lookout Trail - On a beautiful Winter day

Blazing your own trail in the snow is slow going and hard work.
whereas on the Big pines trail I moved comfortably around, here I began to work up a sweat.I was climbing a long steady hill, and it started to get steeper the farther in I went.
Pretty soon I had my hat off, and my parka unbuttoned. -9°C outside and I'm boiling.
not good...sweating out here is a bad sign...especially if I couldn't get my car going again.
After what seemed like 40 min. or so, I reached the summit of the Trail, and came upon quite an interesting view of the expanse of the forest in front of me, and Little Rock Lake in the Distance.

lookout summit image

          Lookout Trail Summit - Little Rock Lake in the distance

Suddenly it occurred to me, the last time I was in the park, was in the very same spot, on Thanksgiving Monday(Canadian Thanksgiving that is).
Barely 2 months had passed...what a difference!
I sat down on a snow covered rock, and cooled off and admired the view, while taking more photographs.

red pine stand image

   Lookout Trail Summit: Red Pine stand - not a footprint to be seen!

On my way back, I spotted the huge 'Erratic', that is one of the highlights of this trail.
Nearing the end, I picked up the sound of a woodpecker.
Moving off my trail...I soon found the little guy happily pecking his way through a tree looking for lunch.
This reminded me, I was starting to get hungry too.
I snapped a few pictures of the woodpecker...glad to have gotten up close and personal with some wildlife, and headed back to my car.

summit hill image

         Lookout Summit: Snow covered hills to the south west


erratic image

                                'Erratic' on Lookout Trail


woodpecker image

                        A Hairy Woodpecker

Once back in my car, I started it, and off I went, nowhere!
I was stuck...after 'bout 5 min. of rocking back and forth with the gears, I was about to give up hope, when a car passed me by and pulled over...they were about to come and help, when those awesome front wheel drive wheels of mine, pulled the car loose from the snow.
It was 4pm...and the sun was getting close to the was still -9°C..but I knew it wouldn't be that warm for much longer, and I was hungry too.
Off I went, happy to have been in the park again.
sad at leaving it, wondering, when the forest would come back to life, and when I'd return.

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