Early Spring in Algonquin 2015
It’s not like we need an excuse to get up to Algonquin Park, but since we wanted to get our old faithful Scott Prospector canoe refurbished by a repair shop in Huntsville, we decide to spend some time in the park enjoying the early spring.
To make sure that our canoe was ready for Spring paddling, we set up an appointment to drop it off in Huntsville at Johnny’s Boat Shop on April 10. It just so happened that a yurt was available for that weekend, so we booked it. The campsites were very muddy at this time of year, so a yurt might be a bit less messy.
We headed to see Johnny in Huntsville. Our canoe was in need of some repairs and a paint job and Johnny’s Boat Shop came highly recommended. After spending some time trying to decide on a colour, we ended up choosing red. This would be quite a contrast from the off-white colour we have been so used to over the years. We agreed on a pick up date of May 8 and we headed to the Park for the weekend.
Algonquin was quite different than our three previous wintery visits. Although all the large lakes were still completely ice covered, the ponds were open and the rivers and streams were flowing. There was still snow in the forests and on the paths and plenty of leftover snowbanks that were created by the plows.
Most of the winter birds were gone by now. Some of the early spring migrants were already stacking claims and others were just flocking around. Each morning we were woken up by an army of crows that hollered and cawed throughout the Mew Lake Campground. Flocks of Common Grackles dominated the feeders now and the male Red-Winged Blackbirds were also very vocal in their gatherings. Blue Jays, Black-capped Chickadees and Nuthatches were around as always. Ducks and geese were back and hanging out where ever they could find open water. We sighted Canada Geese, Hooded & Common Mergansers, Mallards and Common Goldeneyes.
We spotted a Northern Shrike along the highway.
There was a report of Sandhill Cranes at the Lake of Two Rivers marsh, but by the time we arrived, they must have left. Instead, we got to enjoy a River Otter rolling around in the snow.
We did a bit of hiking. The Lookout Trail is wonderful this time of year. It’s not busy at all and still provides an incredible view. It was a little more difficult to climb as the path was quite slushy in some areas; but definitely worth the extra effort.
It was good, as always, to be back in the park and we enjoyed lovely evening s around the warm fire.
On May 8, we returned to Huntsville to pick up our canoe. Johnny’s Boat Shop did an outstanding job and our canoe looked near new. We were very eager to launch and headed straight to the park. The park was actually quite busy with fisherman and people getting out for their first paddle of the year. Ice out was officially over. We scouted the Tea Lake area for a possible paddle to Bonita Lake, but decided to move on as busloads of high school kids were in the area. It was good to see these kids all so excited and enjoying the park.
Although we love to see young people getting out in nature and enjoying the outdoors, we were in the mood for a little more solitude. We moved on to Lake of Two Rivers, where we found the campground still closed. We politely asked the Warden if we could launch there and with our annual park permit on our dash, we got his permission and headed for the beach.
The weather was unbelievable for this time of year. We paddled up the Madawaska River in warm sunshine comfortably in our shorts and bare feet. We did not meet a soul. It is the warmest we have enjoyed the park in bug-free conditions. The river was quite high and did provide us with a few wildlife sightings including Painted Turtles, Great Blue Herons, American Bittern, Yellow Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Black Ducks and a few too-quick-to-identify shorebirds.
The park was much different than our April 10 weekend visit. All the lakes were now ice free, the stores and outfitters were open for business and canoes and boats were everywhere. There were small remnants of snow in some of the deeper woods, but it was much more spring-like. Wildflowers were starting to bloom in the deciduous forests, fiddleheads and Horsetails were growing nicely.
Our last pass of the day was Opeongo Road. The first dude we meet was a small Snapping Turtle crossing the road. We stopped and made sure he made it across safely as the road was quite busy with trucks pulling fishing boats & trailers in and out of the big lake at the end the road. After stopping to pay a visit to our friends at Algonquin Outfitters, we headed to Whitney for dinner at the Mad Mushers. On our way out, at the mouth of Costello Creek, we got our long awaited sighting of this year’s first Common Loon. So, it’s official. Spring is here in Algonquin. Let the canoeing adventures begin !