ALGONQUIN PARK IN JANUARY
Our trip to Algonquin in January 2014 was quite a contrast from what we have been used to in the last few years during this month. After experiencing many years of minus 25 to 30 degrees Celsius, it was quite different to encounter a January weekend of plus 7.
We needed an Algonquin fix as it’s been a couple of months since our last trip. When a yurt suddenly became available a few days before the weekend, we grabbed it immediately. The weather report looked bleak but we were going anyway. We are glad we did as the trip was just what we needed.
This adventure was one of our least successful in terms of photography, but we still had an amazing time. We were supposed to have freezing rain late Friday night with ice accumulations of 1 to 5cm and warnings of possible power outages. We made sure we arrived at the park before the storm and were fully prepared with our sleeping bags rated for minus 4 and plenty of layers of clothes. Although ice storms can be destructive, they can also be a beautiful display of Mother Nature’s artistic capabilities. Perhaps some photo opps?
Well, the ice storm never came. Instead, we had 6 hours of pouring rain overnight. We were woken up many times through the night as the snow and ice that had been building up on the coniferous trees during the recent deep freeze gave way and came crashing to the ground all around us. The noises they made were insane. We got up in the morning to a completely different place than the night before.
The roads were treacherous on Saturday making car travel limited and it continued to rain off and on during the day. Regardless, we made visits to Opeongo Road, Spruce Bog Trail, the Visitor Centre and Kearny Campground.
Not much going on at Opeongo Road. We did stop at the Cameron Road junction to see the regular Blue Jays, Grey Jays and Chickadees. No sign of the Leucistic Chickadee that has been present over the last two years. Spruce Bog suet feeder was supporting a couple of Boreal Chickadees again this winter. The VC feeders had a variety of the usual winter visitors including Evening Grosbeaks, woodpeckers, jays, chickadees and nuthatches.
We had a great time snowshoeing into Kearney Campground. Without the snowshoes, travel would have been next to impossible. With the mild temperature, it was very comfortable and we enjoyed the quiet solitude and beauty of the area. It was very refreshing.
This time of year, the firewood is for sale on an honour basis and exact change is required. With only a $20 bill and at $6.50 per bundle, we had to buy 3 bundles of wood and pray for good weather during the evenings. Our prayers were answered as both Friday and Saturday evenings came with pleasant temperatures and little or no rain; perfect atmosphere for sitting around a warm winter campfire with a relaxing glass (or two) of red wine.
Mew Campground offered a few photo opportunities. However, the light was extremely low making it very difficult to get any decent images. We came across a Pine Marten on two different occasions and a couple of Ruffed Grouse. I tried to get some video and Kathy went for the still images. I am new at this video stuff and I have a lot to learn.
The only difficult part of Algonquin in the winter could be travelling to and from the park. Once you are there, it’s a wonderful and magical place to be, any time of year and in any kind of weather.