Quick day-trip to Swan/Scott Lakes

forest mgmt research station entrance

My friend Jeffrey and I went for a quick day-trip visit up through the road that runs to the Forest Management Research Station just before Kilometre#11 on highway#60.

We picked up our daily vehicle permit around 9:00am at the West Gate. On the way there we saw three deer; a Doe and two fawns running down the highway at us just outside of Dwight. All was well as traffic stopped both ways and the deer made their way off the highway and into the surrounding bush. We also saw a red fox at the West Gate, that was neat!
We arrived at the snowy beginnings to the road just after 9:00am. I told Jeffrey to bring his snowshoes along, lucky he did as snowshoes were needed as the snow was about 1.5 feet in depth, sometimes 2 feet in places. I've not visited The Park in March much and with the last 10 days of unusually warm temperatures, I foolishly left my snowshoes behind... Needless to say my trek in and back was tough.

Jeffrey on the road to Swan Lake

We arrived at the shore of Swan Lake to find that the shoreline ice was visibly thin for 2 meters (I could poke holes in it with a 9 foot stick)...the first foot or two was open water in places. The ice was milky white with water and slush on its surface.

Swan Lake

The short trek to Scott Lake revealed the same thing... The shoreline had pockets of ice-free water with milky white ice beyond and slushy spots on the lake and the odd dark patch too!

Scott Lake signage

As we walked around a snow free section of the shoreline on Scott Lake we saw several plots, one of them of a hemlock stand; Each tree was marked with paint and tagged with an aluminium tag with a unique id#. We had seen several plots along the road in and indeed it did appear to be a research area.

Swan Lake

The temperature was around 6°C and while at Scott Lake a wind sprang up, coming from the Southwest. Though the wind was warmish, it chilled us as it picked up cold air coming across the ice. We moved off Scott Lake heading back to an area near the station where we found a fire-pit; Time for lunch.

Scott Lake

As we headed back to make lunch, we heard thunder to the northwest of us and soon it began to rain, more thunder followed, one with a loud boom. The rain intensified into a downpour and our efforts to get a fire going in the continuing rain failed. With both of us damp, the rain dying down to a sprinkle and thunder now coming from the South, it was decided to pack-it in; We were just becoming more and more wet and soon would be miserable... Time to go.

On the way out we heard more thunder and the occasional rain here and there and then a fog began to develop as the rain ceased altogether. On our way in we saw many instances of moose in the area, both tracks and piles of scat.

Islets on Scott Lake

With about a kilometre to go to the highway, we found fresh moose tracks over top of my tracks. A moose had been in the area, shortly after we had arrived! We never did see any moose; spying only a chipmunk and hearing many birds. Among the birds we heard were Blue Jays and a Pileated Wood Pecker. We also heard a saw-whet owl next to the shoreline of Swan Lake.

foggy walk

There is still a lot of snow in the bush, but it is melting rapidly. We saw a lot and I mean A LOT of runoff. There was much 'gurgling' of water to be heard both visible and hidden under the snow as lots of water was flowing. There was also many bare patches.

foggy walk

I think that with the expected continuation of the unusual warm temperatures for the upcoming week, the melt will continue and expect the ice in Algonquin Park to be off the lakes early; By the end of the first week of April.
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