Where we went: Algonquin Park
Where we stayed: Loralee Cottages in Haliburton on Hall’s Lake. The cottage is #7, an older cabin right on the edge of Hall’s Lake.
Took a little extended weekend trip to Algonquin Park last week. We’ve been going to the same cottage every few years for the last 11 years to enjoy a few days in Ontario’s oldest provincial park in the late fall – 5 visits in total. Algonquin Park is a big one – the visitor centre sign says it’s 7,630 km² (or about 2,946 square miles). Algonquin Park is larger than Prince Edward Island (~5,684 km²), Canada’s smallest province, or about the same size as the US states of Delaware (~1,955 square miles) and Rhode Island (1,045 square miles) combined. With a park this big, we’ve only experienced the moderate hiking trails on the outer edge of the park. The interior is accessible by canoe and by foot, through a network of lakes, rivers and trails.
Each time we go to the park we learn something new. Most of the trails in the park have little guide books that you can take for reference as you make your way along the path. We visited Whiskey Rapids for the first time on this trip and marker #4 was all about the animals that thrive on the bacteria and algae on the surface of the water. The reason we go in late fall is to avoid the aggressive mosquitos, black flies and horse flies, but we felt itchy just thinking about them after reading the guide.
Did you know that in the winter blackfly larvae grow in the water, surviving by attaching itself to a plant or rock using gummy secretions, where it “leans back and holds up two fan like arms to filter bacteria” as food. Others pass the winter as eggs, but by May/June they transform into pupa – when the time comes the “pupal case fills with gas, and then splits – sending out a adult fly in a bubble past the surface of the water and into the air”. UGH. The guide went on to say that studies have shown that “one square metre of rapids resulted in 15,000 – 30,000 insects… of these 71% were of the worst biting kinds”. I’m getting itchy again…
So, as I was saying, we’ve always visited the first week of November, avoiding the bugs but also missing the fall colours. This year there was a bit of fall foliage left to enjoy before the heavy rains set in, taking down even more leaves. Friday night was particularly beautiful with a clear starry sky, we watched the moon as it rose from the horizon, lighting up the lake in a blue wash of colour. I tried out a few of the star photography tips I’ve been reading up on for the past few months with some success. To cap it off, we roasted marshmallows and hot chocolate… not our average Friday night. It was wonderful.
Next fall we might explore a new provincial park. Which park or conservation area do you like to visit in the off-peak season?