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Ontario Early April List
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Jason Picard
(jasonpicard) - F
Ontario Early April List on 03/28/2010 20:08:19 MDT Print View

So I'm hoping to get out for an overnight this coming weekend. Weather is currently expected to be warm (+20 celsius) but seasonal temps are significantly lower, and overnights should reach below zero. I'll be hiking with my wife and our dog, so a couple of the items will be shared. I won't cover all the tiny things, but would like some input on my sleep system choices.

I'm currently planning on the following:

Marmot Helium (-9celsius) - 2006 model (half zip, pertex shell)
Therm-a-rest NeoAir regular

Would I be better off taking a Ridgerest for slightly less weight, but better R-value in case the temps do drop. *OR* if the forecast remains 'unseasonably warm' would switching to a lighter bag be a good choice.

If there is anyone 'local', familiar with the wildly variable spring weather we experience here in Ontario, I'd appreciate your thoughts.

Philip Delvoie
(PhilipD) - MLife

Locale: Ontario, Canada
Ontario Early April List on 03/29/2010 07:09:14 MDT Print View

Where are you heading Jason? Looking at the long range forecast for Algonquin it is calling for some beautiful weather this weekend...with nights largely above freezing for the most part this weekend.

Jason Picard
(jasonpicard) - F
Ontario Early April List on 03/29/2010 08:02:40 MDT Print View

Philip, we're leaning towards the Highland Trail. Trail info for the Western Uplands indicates a flood-prone area (April specifically) right by the trailhead, and says 'be prepared to wade'. A previous mid-summer visit to the Uplands trail also had very wet trail conditions in general. If the forecast holds, I'll be paring down to a lighter bag and hopefully will carry only minimal rain gear. Any thoughts on trail conditions or gear?

Philip Delvoie
(PhilipD) - MLife

Locale: Ontario, Canada
Ontario Early April List on 03/29/2010 18:55:34 MDT Print View

Jason, Yup...right at the trailhead for the Western Uplands trail you will cross a bridge over the Oxtongue River. The bridge is high and dry but the other side is low and I have seen it a foot or so underwater in the spring. From what I rememeber when it has flooded you have perhaps 100 feet to get through...easy to do...but you do get wet right at the start of your hike. Hopefully Steve Evans can jump in and give you some input since he has hiked that trail early on in the season.

I have not been on the Highland trail so can't comment on that one.

I think it's definitely worth a quick call to the gate. They should be able to give you some idea of trail conditions at the trailhead and beyond.

The park did not get near the normal amount of snow this year and last pictures I have seen the snow cover is mostly gone already. The lakes still have anywhere from 6-10 inches of ice...but even that is clearing up really fast, especially with this warm weather in the next two weeks. With the dry winter we had...the trail might be in pretty good shape.

Looking again at the weather forecast...looks like you picked a perfect weekend to head up there...will all depend on trail conditions when you get there.

I actually have an overnight trip planned for the Western Uplands on April 18th. Can't wait to get up there myself.

Chris Wheeler
(ChrisW) - MLife

Locale: Stratford, Ontario
Ontario Early April List on 03/29/2010 19:34:07 MDT Print View

Jason, Algonquin can still be cold at this time of year. Your Helium sleeping bag should be just fine, but I have found the Neoair to be cold when sleeping on frozen wet ground. I would suggest taking something warmer or adding your Ridgerest to keep the Neoair of the ground.

If you plan for a very wet trip at freezing you should be equipped for most anything. You can make last minute gear changes at the trailhead.

Have a great trip, Provoking Lake in Algonquin at this time of year is a great place to be.

Edited by ChrisW on 03/29/2010 19:35:27 MDT.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Re: Ontario Early April List on 03/29/2010 20:31:27 MDT Print View

"Philip, we're leaning towards the Highland Trail. Trail info for the Western Uplands indicates a flood-prone area (April specifically) right by the trailhead, and says 'be prepared to wade'."

Yup it can get super flooded in this area if you hit the right conditions. I hiked this trail in April 2008. That year there was a lot of snowpack and then we hit 4 days of pure sun and day time highs from 25-28 C. According the warden, the four of us were the first four people around that loop that year without snowshoes. Roughly 75% of the ground was snow covered and we spent a lot of time walking knee deep in snow but with our shirts off because it was so hot.

When we started the Highland trail there was maybe of foot of water after the bridge, but after 4 days of hot temperatures we had to walk through several hundred feet of 2-3 feet deep water to get out.

Here's the flooding on the way in, and then on the way out. In both pics you can see the bridge in the background. The flooding gets better after 100-200 feet.

Highlands In

Highlands Out

And another random pic:

Ernest Icy Bridge

To answer your questions, I would play things pretty safe with the gear for your wife but personally I would take just the NeoAir for myself. The R-value of the NeoAir is basically the same as the Ridgerest, so I see no reason to take the less comfy Ridgerest instead. You could bring both, but that's likely overkill. Especially if you camp in south facing areas that are less likely to have snow cover and should have somewhat warmer ground.

Edited by dandydan on 03/29/2010 20:39:56 MDT.

Jason Picard
(jasonpicard) - F
Ontario Early April List on 03/30/2010 06:11:32 MDT Print View

Thanks for the feedback.

Philip, I completely agree . . . I'll make a call to the office and see what the current conditions actually are. Hope to see a trip report once you've done your hike.

Chris, I like the idea of fine-tuning the gear list at the trailhead. I'll have a couple key pieces of gear/clothing ready to toss in my pack if it turns out colder or wetter than expected.

Dan, thanks for the photos and verification of flooding on the Western Uplands. That's good enough reason to plan for hiking the Highland trail instead!

Thanks again for all the feedback. I'll post some photos and a brief report when we get back.

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: Ontario Early April List on 03/30/2010 07:35:12 MDT Print View

I'm late to chime in, but it looks like you are all set. Your bag is probably a bit overkill, but it's better to be safe than sorry. Spring is always tough to nail down as the temp range can vary so much - you almost always have to bring more then you need.