27 July 2009

camping in Algonquin National Park, Ontario

We drove a two thousand mile round trip to camp in Algonquin Park, Ontario. There are closer options of course but this gave us the chance to explore potential destinations for a possible permanent move off Prince Edward Island. With Maisie in the car we had to split the drive over two days, stopping over in hotels close to Quebec City both ways. Here is a selection of photos from the week.

We booked our pitch weeks in advance as spaces were already running out, so it was disappointing to find ourselves on a sloping noisy spot within sight of the road. Luckily the office was able to move us to a nice level site away from the road. For future reference, what's the point in booking a place when you can walk in and choose from some very nice non-reservable sites even in mid July?

The tent went up smoothly and I lit a campfire in the pit. We heaved out a mountain of gear which had been crammed into every corner of the small Kia. Soon we were sitting around a crackling blaze eating baked beans from mugs! Masie's demanding personality made things tough at times but on the whole she coped with life under canvas pretty well.

The Park is three and a half thousand square miles of forest wilderness with just a few camp sites on the one road which bisects it. The forest is home to large numbers of moose, beaver and black bear, not to mention over seven thousand species of insect, (most of them biting)! It truly is a spectacular place. The forest is almost impenetrable on foot but there are a dozen or so way-marked hiking trails which give a flavour of the typical terrain to be found: Hardwood forest, pine forest, lakes, marsh, rocky ridges and tree-clad mountainsides.

I hiked several of the longer trails and although bothered by swarms of mosquitoes, flies and other insects in this hot and humid environment, I was only bitten a few times thanks to liberal application of repellent. One morning we took an early drive along the only road which snakes up and downhill through the park and took pictures of a moose grazing at the roadside. Sadly two dozen of these animals are ploughed down by cars and trucks each year in Algonquin alone.

Our seven-day stay was cut short by heavy rainstorms and a forecast for more. We pulled up camp and started the long drive eastwards two days early. Had we been better equipped I think we could have held out but getting wet and muddy is no fun especially with an active one year old. Other more seasoned campers had as many as three tents on their pitch, with the whole assembly covered by a giant tarpaulin stretched between trees. Many people use a semi-transparent day tent for dining, living and to keep the bugs out. Next time we will take more equipment and not be beaten by mother nature.

As we drove away from the forest through small nearby settlements, reflecting on the week, I spotted a dark shape lumber up from the left ditch and shuffle quickly across the road. A large black bear close to civilisation and in broad daylight!


Little M said...

That bear was large and intimidating -even from the safety of the car!

Perfect Virgo said...

Little M - and my self-defence hunting knife was packed away!

C.J.Duffy said...

Use the Gaswegian kiss, that will beat the brute off (I don't think!)

C.J.Duffy said...

PS. How does an English fend for himself out there? All we get are foxes and badgers and one we turn into part of a shaving kit. One kick sees the blighters on their way but a bear....jeez!