Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Trip Log: Mew Lake, Algonquin Park - April 9-10 2012
For the last few years, my mum and I have talked about spending Christmas in a yurt in Algonquin Park, but to be honest, as much as I want to do it, I was worried about just how warm it would be in a yurt at that time of year. So we decided to try an Easter trip, sort of a test run. With the warm weather in March, I half expected summer temperatures for the trip, but instead we were blessed with cold wind, rain, snow and hail.
We arrived at the yurt at about 1:30, a little early for check in but decided to see if it was empty yet and it was. Immediately the kids were poking around, picking a bunk, ready to explore and find moose. We'd seen one on the way to Mew Lake, and with bets having been placed on how many we'd see for the whole trip, we were hoping to see a lot.
We unloaded and set up the beds, cooked up some hamburgers and then headed to the visitors centre (although we've been through it dozens of times, we still go to check out the bookstore and see if we can see any wildlife from the viewing platform. We then drove to the East Gate, and took a detour down to the Opeongo Store. It wasn't open, obviously, but we hadn't been down there before and wanted to check it out.
When we arrived back at the campground, dad and Chris took a nap while mum and I took the kids on a bike ride to scope out all the other sites. It was drizzly and cold, and in retrospect, probably not a great idea considering the kids and I were getting over colds. All three of us are back to the worst stage of the cold now.
I have to say I was actually impressed with Mew Lake. The sites are, for the most part, large, and much more private than other campgrounds we've stayed at in Algonquin. The ones along the waterfront in the electrical section especially are nice. The only issue you might have is with the highway noise. There are a lot of big trucks roaring their way down highway 60, and you can definitely hear them.
We got dinner started (Pork roast cooked in mum's dutch oven) and while that was cooking, Chris and I took a little hike to see if we could find the waterfall someone told him about. From the garbage area at Mew Lake, there is a trail that leads either to the Track and Tower Trail, or to the Old Railway Bike Trail and the Old Airfield. To get to the water fall, you want to take the track and tower trail until you come to a 4 way crossroads where the trail passes the Highland Backpacking Trail. Turn left. It's only a short distance and you'll hear the water before you see it. There's a bridge, and a 50m portage for those travelling the Madawaska River. There were a lot of wolf tracks on the trail, as well as wolf scat. The signs in the bathrooms indicate there has been a wolf hanging around, who has lost it's fear of humans. We didn't see him though, which was disappointing on one hand and a huge relief on the other.
It was almost dark by the time we got back, and with muddy trail and drizzly rain we were wet, cold and hungry. Dinner was ready by the time we got back, Pork roast, carrots cooked in foil, salad, minute rice and biscuits. After dinner, the kids pretty much fell straight asleep so we all ended up going to bed early.
During the night all the adults swore they heard a train go by, complete with train whistle. No trains still run through the park, so either it had to be a large truck with a very odd horn, our imagination, or a ghost train...it was very strange. All of us heard growls outside the yurt in the early morning as well. I thought I heard a dog whimpering. The good thing about the yurt was that with the heater, when it cut in, you couldn't hear the highway noise for a few minutes at a time. On the other hand, it left me with a fear that I'd step out of the yurt in the middle of the night to go to the outhouse, and walk straight into a pack of wolves or a few bears...silly, I know but if you can't hear, you have no idea what might be out there.
It was cold, rainy and windy the next morning and it took forever to cook breakfast. It was almost lunch time when we sat down to eat our eggs, bacon, and maple beans. After packing up we headed out to see if we could spot any more moose, and saw only one, near where we'd seen one the day before. We drove home in a mix of snow, rain and hail, eager for some Tim Horton's coffee.