markinthepark seeking solitude

Another quick trip

Spruce Bog trail

I grabbed my friend Sean(of Ajax) and headed up Friday afternoon to Huntsville where we checked into a motel. There was a mini-snowstorm happening so we dressed for the weather and went for a stroll through downtown Huntsville. We stopped by the Algonquin Outfitters store, drooling over the gear there, then made our way to cool pub; Moose Delaneys. The rest of the evening was spent pigging out and channel surfing in our motel room.
The next morning we got up around 7:00am. We were woken up earlier by the sounds of dogs as there were several dog-sled operators in town for a dog-sled gathering on Oxtongue Lake. The dogs that we spied from our window looked quite healthy and energetic, beautiful doggies.

We made our way along highway#60 to the West gate, arriving mere seconds before the attendant there opened up for business. Having talked with the fellow behind the desk for several minutes, we acquired our daily vehicle permit and headed out. It was a crisp beautiful morning with lots of sun (Not a cloud in the sky) as we made our way to the first trail of the day; The Spruce Bog Trail.

Spruce Bog trail

The snow that we had the day before clung to spruce as we made our way along the trail. As expected the trail was well used and no snowshoes were required. We were the first ones on the trail that morning but not the only group for as we departed another vehicle pulled up, filled with eager young faces, ready to trek into the winter wonderland that the day-use trail offered. The temperature was -14°C with not a drop of wind.

Sean and I both took our time enjoying the surroundings and fresh crisp air, as we managed to snap many photos as we progressed through the trail. Given the proximity to the highway, the snow did a good job of muffling the highway noise with the passing of the occasional vehicle. Sometimes you can really appreciate what winter is capable of.

After an hour we completed the trail and made our way to tour next hike of the day; The Lookout Trail.

Lookout trail

Just before 11:30am we were making our way up the trail proper. Even though the trail is a short one at only a 1.9km loop, it was obvious most people who visited the trail preferred to do the loop backwards up to the trail summit to get to the lookout as quick as possible. We elected to do the entire loop. Enjoying the trail as it passed the familiar erratic as the path ascended into a hardwood forest.

Lookout trail summit

The slow trek to the summit (Many photo-ops along the way) was an enjoyable one, the snow both deep and undisturbed for the most part; Just prior to reaching the summit there is a steep rock-face next to the trail and we were surprised to see tracks leading up to the top of the rockface and slide marks coming down the sheer rock wall next to the trail; Kids. To steep for my bones!

We had arrived too late in the day to see a snow covered forest; All the crowns of the hardwoods had lost their snow due to melt from the blazing sun. Nevertheless, he view at the summit was perfect; no people, no wind, no clouds. A blue sky with a carpet of white and forest of hues of brown and greens.

For lunch, we gathered firewood and had a fire, cooking sausages (With mustard) over flame and a small cup of cherry brandy to wash it down and chase away the frost. A great way to enjoy lunch on the trail!



The return back to the trailhead left me dreaming; The trampled down trail had just enough width to possibly accommodate a toboggan. The twisting, descending path looked like it might be an adventurous if not dangerous fast ride. Sigh... Back to reality - We reached the parking lot and drove back out onto the highway.



Next, we drove to access#8 - Cache Lake. There we spied fresh ski tracks on the lake. Paralleling the tracks we followed them to the South end of the lake, where the headed off in the direction of the portage to Hilliard Lake. We made our way to the portage to Head Lake; I wanted to assess trail conditions for an upcoming winter camping trip. Sure enough the portage was clogged with deep snow, well over two feet in depth. Snowshoes would be required, it was going to be a good workout.



The trail was untouched and had the look of not having been travelled at all during the winter, save for some deer or possibly moose tracks that were several days old. We made our way back to the access point our trek now into a cold headwind, the journey back to the vehicle was 50 minutes.



We drove out of the park, passing by the West gate a few minutes after 5:00pm, seeing our friend the attendant departing as we arrived. The rest of the drive out of The Park was tough with the late day sun blinding us on some curves.



It was a great winter day to visit The Park and an easy one at that; We had picked easy trails none of which required snowshoes. I am already looking forward to my next visit to The Park, I just can't stay away from Algonquin Park!



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