February 1 - Day 1
The drive into The Park

Western Uplands hiking trail

Jeffrey & Sean along the Western Uplands hiking trail

This was an unusual trip to Algonquin Park in the aftermath of a snowstorm. My friends, Sean & Jeffrey and myself were to attend a meeting with Algonquin Park staff in Barrie. With the advent of a major snowstorm moving into the area, the meeting was cancelled and I called up Sean and asked him his thoughts. We had previously thought to make a weekend of it, driving up to The Park after the meeting was concluded and I was already packed for the weekend. An idea was quickly worked out; we would drive up to Huntsville on the evening before the storm and grab a motel in town, then spend the weekend doing day-trips into The Park.

Snow covered pine

Heavy snow covered pine

This is exactly what we did (Picking up Jeffrey along the way) and it wasn't till we hit Gravenhurst that it started to snow. Reaching Huntsville after 11pm, we settled into our motel room, as the snow started to fall heavily.

We got up after 9:00am and had the motel's continental breakfast and loaded up the vehicle with our daypacks, snowshoes and camera gear. Just before 10:00am we set off. The roads were very snowy, but with slow and measured driving we made our way to the West Gate. Along the way, we saw one car flipped over and another vehicle in the ditch, flipped over as well. OPP attended both scenes. We proceeded with even more caution going only about 50km/h in an 80km/h zone. My car handled the roads well.

Just after 11:00am we arrived at the parking lot for the Western Uplands Hiking Trail. We geared up and snowshoed our way along the East fork in the trail, heading first through heavily snow-covered pines, before the trail started to ascend into an open deciduous forest. The fresh powdery snow made for easy going in my large bearpaw snowshoes. They were of the traditional kind which suited heavy fluffy snow well. Next came Sean, followed by Jeffrey.

Western Uplands hiking trail
Returnign to the trailhead of the Western Uplands hiking trail in heavy snow

About 6 inches of snow had fallen and with the process of breaking trail. our progress began to slow-down, however we were in no hurry and enjoyed the surroundings and the favourable weather; It was overcast with no winds and the temperature was a comfy -8°C.

As we trekked along, a group of four guys passed us by. There were going in to winter camp for the weekend. We exchanged greetings and chatted a little bit about the trail and the weather. We continued to snowshoe for over two hours and we hadn't even gone four kilometres before it was decided to turn around. It was 1:40pm.

By 3:15pm it had begun to snow heavily. This was unexpected and we surmised that it was a snow squall coming off of Georgian bay. We were thankful that we decided to head back when we did, for the snowfall grew much heavier as we hurried along the trail back to the trailhead. By 3:45pm we had arrived and my car was blanketed in snow.

We spent the next 20 minutes or so stripping down our gear and prepping the car for travel. All through this the snow intensified. We took our time driving back to the motel and arrived by 5:30pm. Ordering take-out and with a few beers, we settled into our motel rooms and relaxed to watch hockey that was available that night on the TV. We spent the rest of the evening lounging and warming up after an afternoon outdoors.

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