Monday, April 1, 2013

Day Trip: Algonquin - March 12, 2013



Weather has such a huge impact on what we Canadians do, especially at this time of year.  Last March Break, when we went to Algonquin, all the parking areas at the trail heads were full of cars and we had to wait in line at the gatehouse for our permit for what seemed like ages.

When we went up yesterday, the gatehouse parking lot had less than five cars in it, and nobody came in to buy a permit the entire time we were in there talking to the lady working the desk.  Rain the day before might have deterred some people, leading them to believe the trails wouldn't be good for skiing.  We almost didn't take our skis, but Chris, ever optimistic, stuffed them all in the car just in case.

My parents weren't so hopeful.

The plan was to do a hike where we could take lots of pictures.  Bubbie had my dad's spare Canon DSLR in hand before we even got out of the cars and was eager to work on her photography skills.  After going over our options, we decided on the Whiskey Rapids Trail.  We'd done this one before, in late summer or early fall, when the water levels were low, and wanted to see if there were actual rapids when the levels were high.

The start of the trail winds its way down into the river valley, and at times was quite slippery.  Chris and Squatch simply ran straight down the hills while the rest of us were a little less brave.  Once down at river level, the trail is easy and winds its way around the banks.  Squatch wanted a closer look and ended up going down the bank...then promptly got his foot stuck in deep snow so I had to go pull him out.  Of course his boot got full of snow (neither of them wanted to wear their snow pants) and by half way along the trail his foot was cold enough he was limping.  We switched out his wet sock for one of mine but that only helped a little.  Once we got back to the car, I gave him my other sock and he traded out his winter boots for his ski boots.  It should also be mentioned I hiked most of the trail with his wet mitts hanging on my belt loop and that wet sock hanging from my back pocket.  I'd also like to say that hiking with no socks inside your boots?  Not easy.  You wouldn't think a thin sock would do much, but without them I was sliding around in the boots, especially when climbing back up the hill to the car, and my feet were sweaty and gross.

Lesson learned.  Always take a change of socks for everyone...and a few plastic grocery bags to use as liners in the event of a soaker.

Anyway, other than that little hiccup, the trail was pleasant.  The kids took lots of pictures, Squatch threw lots of snowballs into the river, and Chris even got to climb on some rocks and ponder the possibility of running the rapids in a canoe or kayak.

The plan for the day had been to find a spot to heat up a pot of chill on the Vital Stove, and we'd originally thought to do this at the Minnising bike trail parking area while Chris skied the Sugar Bush Run section of the trail.  We figured this way, some of us could warm up inside the shelter while one person (probably me) fed the stove twigs and got the food ready.  Once we got there though, there was no fire going in the shelter, and no wood to get one going.  It had started to snow a bit by then, almost sleet to be more accurate, and I wasn't too keen on standing outside alone while everyone else huddled in the truck eating goodies from Henrietta's Bakery in Dwight (just to the right on Highway 60 after turning off Highway 35....they have some really yummy treats, so if you're headed to Algonquin, you should check this place out) so while Chris skied, the rest of us waited, then we headed to Huntsville to get dinner (after a stop off at Walmart for dry socks for everyone)

I was kind of disappointed I didn't get to use the Vital Stove...and that I now have to eat a dozen corn muffins all on my own...but we had a fun day.  Chris has decided the ski season is over...and he won't likely suggest me and the kids join him on a difficult ski trail since he said he spent the whole time cursing the constant hills and realized it would have taken a whole day if he hadn't been alone.

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