Algonquin Provincial Park - Western Uplands Hiking Trail
April 17th-18th, 2010
This was a quick overnight that I did over a Saturday and Sunday up in Algonquin Park here in Ontario, Canada. It was a light mileage trip covering perhaps 30 Kilometers (19 miles) roundtrip. My base weight was right at 11 pounds. Add in 2.51 pounds of food and 1.5 pounds of water to bring my pack weight to 15.01 pounds. My skin out weight was 21.55 pounds for the two days.
The park is 7653 square kilometers (2955 square miles) in size with over 2400 lakes and 1200 kilometers (745 miles) of streams and rivers within the park boundaries. It's estimated that there are approx. 200 Wolves, 2000 Black Bear, 3500 Moose within the park itself.
This was a trip of firsts for me. First solo trip, first time into the park this early in the spring, first time trying my new bushbuddy ultra and first time starting a fire with a striker.
This trip saw classic Ontario spring weather. It was a mix of light snow and rain for most of Saturday with the temperature hovering right around freezing. The snow was perfect...not enough to accumulate and for the most part it was cold enough that I did not really get wet. I was able to just wear a light merino base layer and a full zip fleece for the whole day without issue. It switched to rain late in the afternoon and for a few hours Saturday evening, but I woke up Sunday morning without a cloud in the sky and the temperature would eventually hit 14 celcius (57 fahrenheit) by mid afternoon. Even though it was still only a few degrees above freezing when I broke camp, I was very comfortable just hiking in my base layer.
As I mentioned this would be my first solo trip due to a last minute cancellation by a buddy of mine...and will definitely not be my last. I definitely enjoyed getting out there on my own and loved the solitude. The park was largely empty and I only saw two groups of hikers on my way in and then not a soul on Sunday.
Taking a breather after the first big hill. You can see that the trail is very visible and easy to follow through the park. There were a few trees down across the trail, but for the most part it was in great condition.
This was just a huge beaver dam. Easily 12 feet tall. This darn beaver just did not know when to quit.
View from the top of the beaver dam.
One of many stream crossings on the trail.
Heading toward one of the campsites on Maple Leaf lake for a quick lunch break. The orange sign is how sites are marked within the interior and you are asked to only camp on the sites themselves during the regular season.
My Lunch time view. It's hard to tell from the picture, but it was lightly snowing throughout the day.
Water was never a problem and I never carried more than a liter of water with me at any point. I use a 710ml twist top gatorade bottle and just fill it as I need and purify with Micropur tablets. I don't bother trying to filter out any of the floaties since the water is extremely clear.
One of the many lakes as the trail winds through the bush. This was Steep Rise lake.
Section of trail near Steep Rise lake.
I setup camp on Maggie Lake. Just a beautiful site with small sand beach. Most of the park is rock, so this was a suprise and I had not stayed at this particular spot in the past. I have setup an MLD Trailstar tarp, using my GG LT4 poles. The tarp is setup fairly high since I was not expecting much in the way of wind/weather overnight. The Trailstar is a big tarp for solo use, but it was nice to have the extra room once it started to rain late that afternoon and into the evening.
For this trip I was using an MLD Exodus pack, customized with Ark Hipbelts and an extra tall torso. Ron added another 1.5 inches to his normal tall torso offering for me. I use one of the side pockets for my water, the other for snacks through the day and the center mesh is used once my tarp, bivy or rain gear is wet. I pack burito style and use a 5/8 inch 20x70 Evazote foam pad as my frame within the pack and the other Evazote foam pad that is visible in this photo is an 1/8" inch 20x70 pad that I use during rest stops and as extra insulation for my feet during the night.
Here I am starting to get ready for dinner. The rain cooperated and let up for about 30 minutes which was just perfect. I was able to find enough dry wood underneath some of the evergreens and downed trees. I was a bit nervous at this point since this would be the first firing of the bushbuddy ultra. It and the firelite 1100 Ti pot had arrived on my doorstep just the day before and I did not have a chance to give it a run Friday evening before packing up for this trip. Between this being the first burn and the wet weather we had, I was hoping that dinner was not going to be a cold mountain house dinner.
I had also ordered the BPL Firelite Mini Firestarting kit and this would also be the first time for me using a striker. I had brought my trusty mini-bic as my backup just in case, but was determined I would start this thing without using it. I took the time to break up one of the tinder-quik tabs and then held my breath as I struck the bottom edge of my swiss army classic to the steel and poof...first try and I had fire. Somehow I was expecting things to light a little slower and to give me time to get the Tinder-quik into the bushbuddy. I was so suprised that the thing lit up and burned so quick that by the time I figured out how to lift it without burning myself and tossing it into the bottom of the bushbuddy it was nearly out and would need another to get things going. My second attempt took 4 or 5 strikes to light the tab and I was ready to drop it in and get some small wood onto the tab. Within just a minute I had a nice little fire going and was feeling pretty good about my ninja like firestarting abilities. Bah....cold dinner...not for me! You can see the mini firesteel in the last two pictures. I put it onto a neck laynard made out of a piece of triptease and a tiny cord lock (safety release should I get hung up somehow). I did not bother with the striker that comes with it, instead my swiss army classic is on the same laynard and I use the very bottom edge of the blade to strike the rod with.
Another shot of the bushbuddy ultra in action.
As mentioned there are a number of black bears in the park. I use a MLD Pro Bear Bag System which includes the stuff sack, line, small rock sack, tiny biner for a weight of 3.4 oz. Their is never lack of a good tree near the campsites.
Waking up to some beautiful views on Maggie Lake. Not a cloud in the sky on Sunday.
Looking down the lake while I enjoy breakfast.
Another shot of the MLD Trailstar. You get a feeling for size in this picture. On one side are my Evazote pads with a MLD Soul Bivy Side Zip sitting on top of them. Some of my kit sitting on the other side of the center pole. My sleeping bag is a Western Mountaineering Alpinlite and is just off the side of this picture strung out across part of my bear rope to air out after a great night sleep.
Quick shot of the morning temp. Notice that this is in celsius...just above freezing for you imperial folks.
The trail is pretty heavily wooded and looks completely different this time of year without any of the leaves out.
I had been seeing moose sign - droppings and tracks - all along the trail both days. Head down walking along I nearly stumbled into this young moose just off the trail. I was walking along paying attention to my feet when I hear something just off to the side of me and there was this fella. I think he was just as suprised to see me as I was him.
My attempt at a self portrait with the moose in the background. And yes...took me a few minutes before I got up the nerve to put my back to him and give this a try.
Another shot of the young teen with mother in the background keeping a close eye on things.
Little Hardy lake.
A bit of colour on the trail. I believe this is winterberry.
Not a great shot, but this little guy was out enjoying the sun before he decided he had enough of me and slipped beneath the log.
This trail is a constant up and down. Very few flat stretches in this part of the park. You are constantly going from lake or stream in the low areas up a hill and back down to the next lake or stream.
Beautiful little creek. Surrounded by evergreens.
Another bit of colour on the trail. This is a trout lily and don't quote me however my understanding is that they are edible. They are pretty easy to spot, with their distinctive leaf patern.
All in all...a great trip. Beautiful park, beautiful hike, beautiful weather. A trip of firsts...including my first trip report.
Gear List and Menu
(...hopefully the math is right on my weights)
(...quick edit for spelling)