Parry Sound – NorthShore Rugged Trail

We’re getting to that point in time, when I say to Lynn, “let’s head to Parry Sound”, that once we get in our car, it can pretty much drive itself from the “old homestead”; across Highway 12 and then north on Highway 400.

That’s kind of reflects how many times we’ve been to Parry Sound this year alone. Forget about going back a couple of years.

So, with vacation going full-bore, what better time than that to sit back and let the car take us north to Parry Sound and the NorthShore Rugged Trail.

With the NorthShore Rugged Trail as the destination, and on the first Saturday of our vacation, we left the “old homestead” for the quick journey up Highway 400 to Parry Sound.

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We parked at the trailhead, which is located at the bottom of Salt Dock Road at the far end of Smelter Wharf.

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Now, having said that, one of the great things about the trail system in Parry Sound is that everything seems to connect to everything.

You could, for example, park at Waubuno Beach and hike along the “Waterfront Fitness Trail” and simply continue on to the NorthShore Trail at the Salt Docks. It would make your hike slightly longer, but that is rewarded with great views out and across the water.

Another option might be to park further down towards The Stockey Centre making your hike even longer. But, again you would be rewarded with the magnificent views out over the horizon.

Thinking about it for a moment, this could very well be the best alternative out there. When you got back to your car, you are right there to slip on over to the restaurants located along the waterfront. Or simply continue hiking along the trail, cross the river and stop at The Trestle Brewing Company for a pint and a bite to eat.

If hiking or trail walking is not your thing, then simply pick someplace that gives an outstanding view; get out to the patio and enjoy yourself.

Seeing as we like to hike, we deferred any of the above options to another time and started out on our adventure from the trailhead at the Salt Docks.

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There is a reason they include “rugged” in the trail’s name. It follows the natural topography of the shore, so there are some ups and downs; mostly rocky terrain; and some places that are in the bush.

However, for the most part, the trail follows the shoreline which is a good thing to keep in mind.

There are not a lot of markings on trees or rocks to suggest you are on the trail. In fact, we didn’t see any markings at all. Not to suggest they aren’t there, but we simply didn’t see any.

Nevertheless, there is an obvious trail that follows the shoreline.

The trail from the Salt Docks goes out about 2.5 kilometres to the Parry Sound/McDougall municipal boundary, resulting in about a 5-kilometre round trip.

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Over the past week or so, temperatures in our area of the province have been high, to say the least. In addition, to imply the bug situation has been intolerable in many locations would be an understatement – a huge understatement.

So, recapping – temperature hot; bugs(especially mosquitoes and black flies) bad.

Why mention this?

It has generally been our experience hiking along the waterfront in Parry Sound, that there is a breeze of some description blowing. Sometimes strong, often just enough to gently caress your face.

Today, it blew enough to moderate the temperature and to blow the bugs away to some place that we really don’t care where it was.

Here are a few more pictures from our afternoon.

If anyone is looking for the engine casing for their riding lawn mower; we know where it is.

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“NorthShore Rugged Trail” – YES or NO?

YES!

A most definite – yes.

It is rugged and a bit of challenge for sure, but that is off-set by the gorgeous views out across the water.

In fact, if you were to go down and only hike out a few hundred metres at dusk, the sunset I imagine would be spectacular.

One thing to mention, the trail is considered to be off-leash for dogs, so don’t be surprised if a doggy comes bounding down the trail.

The thing that became readily obvious was, you didn’t need to drive kilometres out in the hinterland to experience a setting like this. It is right in town. That doesn’t often happen.

So, this summer or anytime for that matter, get on over, up or down to Parry Sound and carve out some time to tackle the NorthShore Rugged Trail. It’s one of those gems, that is right there waiting for you to tighten up those boot laces; fill up your water bottle and come on for a visit.

Don’t forget that after you’re finished to check out a spot or two to re-energize your body with “a bite to eat and a pint to wet your whistle.”

A couple of links to give you a bit more info on Parry Sound and what you can do once you get there.

Parry Sound Tourism

Town of Parry Sound – Visit Us!

A great Saturday spent in Parry Sound. We’ll be back for sure!

Remember…

 

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

 

 

 

 

 

Algonquin Park – The Holiday Adventure

As many of you have likely figured out by this point if you’ve read any of our recent posts, Algonquin Park holds a dear and special place in our hearts. More mine than Lynn’s, I think, but nevertheless a place that we’ve come to love and to explore for decades.

Having said that, what better way to take a day during vacation time and make a day trip and a long one to Algonquin Park.

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Heading out of the “old homestead” around 7:30am, we started our holiday adventure, including a breakfast “stop n’ go” in Gravenhurst and arrived in the park, somewhere between 10:15 and 10:30am

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For those wondering, the bugs(including mosquitoes and black flies) were still as obnoxious as they were the week before. Hordes of mosquitoes eagerly awaiting a fresh supply of blood to satisfy their parched souls.

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Heading up, we didn’t really have a set agenda in mind once we got there. The only “planning” was “let’s hike as many of the trails we haven’t yet, and then see what happens.”  Kind of a plan, but flexible enough to work for us.

One reason for this approach was due in part to the bug situation. Many of the trails we hadn’t hiked yet, were shorter in length. We figured if the bug situation became intolerable, it would be better to know that you may have only 30 minutes left on a trail, compared to realizing that you are now 3 hours into a hike and are only half done.

With that in mind, off we went. For those who follow us, you know that Lynn tends to take “a lot” of pictures when we’re out on an adventure. In order not to use up all of the available media storage on my WordPress account, we’ve included just some of the highlights from our day.

That was the intention at this stage in the write-up. I may have ended up including more pictures than was originally intended. Oh, well.

Whiskey Rapids Trail

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A slightly gnarly trail at this point
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Oxtongue River

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The Oxtongue is looking regal – me on the other hand – hard to say

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Wild orchid – Pink Lady Slipper

Hardwood Lookout Trail

Although short in length, the Hardwood Lookout Trail provides a magnificent view out across Smoke Lake. It is a bit of a steep uphill climb in parts, but is a hugely popular hiking trail. Especially in late September and early October, when the fall colours are at their peak.

The big highlight picture-wise at least for us, was the view from the lookout point near the end of the trail.  Up to this point, the scenery is pretty much a groomed trail through the forest. Don’t let that detract you from hiking it. It is only about 1 kilometre in length; doesn’t take much time, but you will be rewarded with a great view.

See – told ya!

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View out to Smoke Lake

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I seriously need to work on the whole “selfie” bit! lol

Peck Lake Trail

Our third stop of the day was the Peck Lake Trail.

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Now, not to cast a negative light on any of the interpretive hiking trails, canoe routes, backpacking trails or one’s favourite beach, campsite, a special spot just to sit or to do whatever it might be, but this is one of the prettiest hikes along Highway 60.

We all might have a favourite location anywhere in the park and it may be “our favourite” for a variety of reasons. All of them would be valid.

Peck Lake Trail simply struck us as a beautiful location for several reasons. Lots of variety in the trail itself. Roots, rocks, trees and a combination of all three at times. And all of this, along the shore of the smallish lake. It also helped that the sun was shining and the slight breeze kept the “flying bug hoards” at bay.

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Noooooooo!

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That’s better. We’ll take the option on the right – please and thank-you.

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Hello, what’s your name?

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Just about at every turn on the trail, it dipped down to the water and provided a magnificent view of Peck Lake and the surrounding area.DSC_0076

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The next picture, although not the best is of a loon. A water bird found mostly in the northern parts of Canada, but not exclusively. It does, however, have a very distinct and haunting call. Click here for a short YouTube clip of its call.

For those reading outside of Canada and not familiar with our currency, we have $1 and $2 coins. The dollar coin has a picture of a loon on the front. Hence, that’s why we call the $1 coin, a “loonie.”

The $2 coin is referred to as a “toonie”, which is simply a “loonie” multiplied by 2. We like to keep our math easy out in the colony.

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A well-constructed home on Canada’s national symbol/animal – the beaver.

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Peck Lake Trail has become one of our favourites along the Highway 60 corridor in the Park for sure. There is not a lot of elevation changes, so it is easy from that aspect. There are plenty of exposed tree roots and alike, but nothing that should discourage one from hiking the trail.

It’s about 2.3 kilometres in length and by just easily strolling along and admiring the views and soaking up the environment, it should take about 1.5 to 2 hours to complete.

This is one trail, you don’t want to pass up!

Spruce Bog Trail

Our fourth trail of the day was the Spruce Bog Trail. Located at kilometre marker 42.5, it is about 100 to 200 metres from the Algonquin Park Visitors Centre. Easy to do one, then slip down the road to do the other.

The Spruce Bog Trail is flat and has been designed to be wheel-chair accessible. How neat is that!

We had been on this trail more times than Lynn and I can count.

A “lady-slipper. ” A slightly different shade than the pink colour they generally are.

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The trail throughout “Spruce Bog” is either a wooden path like this or crushed limestone.

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As the name of the trail suggests, it crosses a large bog area very near the beginning. There is a small shallow stream that traverses through it. One thing I’ve learned over the years is when in the wilderness is to keep looking around for a variety of reasons. One reason and a good one at that, is often wildlife can be close by, but be difficult to detect.

As I was scanning this shallow stream, look who I came upon.

Mr/Mrs. Snapping Turtle. It was difficult to see it, as it was covered in mud and algae and was just sitting on the bottom of the stream. But, a great find nonetheless.

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As I just mentioned, keeping your eyes moving will many times reveal things that if you weren’t watching for, you just might walk on by and not notice. The following is a prime example.

The little guy(a Ruffed Grouse)or one of his or her five brothers or sisters, caught our eye as we walked along the wooden pathway. In fact, they were only a foot or two off the path in the grass and shrubs.

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Lynn and I, unlike some, don’t normally go out and look for animals to photograph. We figure, being a creature in the wild is a tough enough life. Why stress them more by chasing them around or getting close and stressing them for a simple photograph.

If we happen upon them fine, but we give them a wide berth(it’s their habitat, not ours) and if we can catch a photo – great. If not, that’s okay.

I won’t say any more about it, but believe me, in Algonquin Park as in other locations, the photography of animals and the methods used to capture the shots, is a hot and often contentious topic at best.

Once seeing her and the family, we stopped about 50 feet away and let her “try her best” at “family/sibling” control.

She was quite content to try and move her brood(believe me, it was like she was trying to herd cats) from one side of the boardwalk to the other. She didn’t seem phased at all we were there. She had five offspring. Four of them struck fairly close together and followed Mom generally where she went.

Like any parent, regardless of the species knows, there is always one child that seems to march to a different drummer. She spent most of her time, trying round up child #5.

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Wait for me!

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Moving along the trail, of course, didn’t Lynn see this. She IS NOT BIG on snakes regardless of the type or size. Not big on snakes is an understatement – believe me.

Nothing to see here folks, let’s keep moving along – shall we?

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Bunchberry

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Canoes ready to be portaged to the next part of a trip someplace

The Spruce Bog Trail should be part of any trip to Algonquin Park for a number of reasons.

One of the primary ones, it is accessible for those with mobility issues. As well, if you have a young family with a one in a stroller, this is a great trail for you. At about 1.5 kilometres in length, it is doable in about an hour, just poking along.

We left Spruce Big Trail and headed across the road to the Algonquin Park Visitors Centre. The Visitor’s Centre must be on your list of things to see and take in when in the Park. It has a cafeteria, a walk-through interactive display on everything Algonquin; a bookstore; art gallery; movie theatre; observation deck and of course – washrooms.

We usually hit up in the Visitor’s most times when we’re in the park. Today was not different.

A shot from the observation deck, across Sunday Creek. The Spruce Bog Trail would be to the right of the picture. To the left, Sunday Creek flows into Norway Lake, which connects to Fork Lake.

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After leaving the Visitor’s Centre, we headed west along Highway 60, making a stop at the little known Cache Lake Trail. 

Cache Lake is one of the many access points in the Park in interior canoe tripping. It is also the access location for the many lease-hold cottages that are on Cache Lake.

Cache Lake in the past, was the hub and centre of activity in the early years of the Park, up until about the late 1940s to perhaps the early 1950s.

Cache Lake at one point, was home to a grand hotel built originally by the Grand Trunk Railway called the “Highland Inn.” It was also the location of the Algonquin Park train station. As well, the home of the Park Superintendent was also located here.

A few historical pictures.

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Highland Inn – Google Images
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Train Sation with Highland Inn behind. To the left, the building was the Algonquin Park staff house.

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Taking leisure and lounging on the verandah of the Highland Inn, overlooking Cache Lake.

 

 

 

The staff house on the right and the home of the Park Superintendent is on the left.

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All that remains today of the “hub of the Park” is a retaining wall and a few concrete stairways up to the former Inn. There are also a few water pipes popping up out of the ground and a fire hydrant on the site of the Inn.

All is not lost, however!

There several well-laid out information boards that detail the rich history of this location in the Park. Although not as heavily advertised as other attractions in the Park, for history enthusiasts, this is a must stop.

The actual trail with the information boards is relatively short, just a few hundred metres, but worth the time to check it out.DSC_0226

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And with that, our day finished.

In total, we hiked around 8 kilometres. Not a great amount by any means, but satisfying to the soul nevertheless. For us, it is a round trip of 5 to 6 hours just to get there. People often ask us, why drive so far? I can only respond by saying, “why not?

The pull that Algonquin has on me, is something better explained or to try and explain in another post.

Suffice it to say, it is something I must do. And I must do often.

It was a long day, hot and yes, plenty of bugs for sure. But, it was a highlight of our holidays.

There is always so much to do and take in when visiting Algonquin. I didn’t even mention our picnic lunch along the breezy shore of Lake of Two Rivers or several of the other things we did.

Take the time, if you’re ever in the area to check out Algonquin Park. It’s only a 3 to 4-hour drive from Toronto.

Come early and stay late.

Thanks for visiting and being with us yet another Algonquin Park adventure.

Remember…

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

 

Algonquin Park – Trails and No Bugs

In 2019 to this point, our trips north to Algonquin Park have been a winter wonderland of snow, ice, sun(at times), but nevertheless, time well spent and a good investment in easing the stress and strain of life.

We usually try to make a trip north on the May long weekend, or at least a day or two after that. This year, stomach flu and medical appointments seemed to creep into the mix, so our “Mayish long weekend” trip was delayed for a week.

No big deal, though. We figured the park would still be there, bugs and all.

Having recently placed all my faith in the “weather prognosticators”  from both Environment Canada and the Weather Network, the Sunday following the long weekend held a promise of warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine.

Leaving the “old homestead” at a relatively early time for Lynn, we headed north on Highway 400 and across Highway 141 to Highway 11 and then east on Highway 60 to Algonquin.

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I told Lynn to take a picture in that no one would believe she had been up for over an hour before getting in the car.

Screen Shot 2019-05-29 at 5.12.00 AM After stopping for gas and a short “pee” break in Huntsville, we arrived at the Park around 10:30am.

Our first destination was the Beaver Pond Hiking Trail.

Beaver Pond Hiking Trail

The Beaver Pond Trail is a two-kilometre interpretive trail that winds through the rugged Algonquin terrain giving excellent views of two beaver ponds and providing an introduction to Algonquin’s fascinating beaver pond ecology and the influence, presence and activities of these creatures.

A few shots from along the trail.

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Massive beaver dam and Amikeus Lake
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Amikeus Lake
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Up, up and up

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Overall, the Beaver Pond Trail was a fun and enjoyable 2-kilometre hike. It is given a rating of “moderate difficulty” by the park. There are a couple of steep climbs along the route, but as well, there are several locations where stairs have been installed to help get up and down some of the steeper areas.

There is a great lookout location located near the end of the trail, that commands a sweet view across the beaver pond you would have crossed near the beginning of your hike.

If you’re in the Park for the day or on more of an extended visit, be sure to check the Braver Pond Trail out.

It’s located at kilometre 45, measured from the West Gate.

Our next stop of the day was located just to the west of the Beaver Pond Trail, that being the Lookout Trail.

Lookout Trail

Located at kilometre 40, the Lookout Trail is a 2.1-kilometre steep loop trail that rewards the hiker with a grand view of hundreds of square kilometres of Algonquin Park. In addition, the guidebook discusses the geology of the Park.

The actual trail itself, although steep has been well maintained and graded along its entire length. It makes for much easier going, other than the uphill climb to the lookout area.

On a positive note though, once you “gut it out” going uphill to the lookout, it is all downhill from that point.

A few pics.

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Red trillium

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Trout Lily

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A short downhill breather before the last uphill part to the lookout and the superior views of Algonquin.

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The rewards of going uphill…….

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After spending a few minutes admiring the view from the top, we started the downhill trek back to the parking area and our car.

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You never know what you might find, if you just keep your eyes open.

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Although the climb along the trail to the top is steep, the trail itself has been graded over time and we visited it was well maintained. That does make the uphill going a bit better.

The trail is rated as “difficult” by the park, which I assume is due to the steep climb to reach the lookout area. This would be a great hike in October during the fall colour time for sure.

Nevertheless, it is worth the effort to get to the top. The views are magnificent and worth the energy. The scenic lookout at the top is exposed and on a cliff, so if you’re hiking with children, best to keep an eye on them.

We moved along at a fairly decent pace, taking 45 minutes from start to finish which included time stopping for Lynn to snap pictures.

The Lookout Trail for sure is must stop hike if you’re in the Park.

Next Stop

As Lynn had been injured earlier in the spring, as well as recovering from a slight flu bug, we decided to keep things on more of a “level or flat” hike and thus we headed on over to Mew Lake to hike through the airfield and down to the falls on the Highland Backpacking Trail.

After a pit-stop at the Lake of Two Rivers Store, we drove to the parking area for the Two Rivers Trail, crossed the road to hike through the Mew Lake Campground to the airfield and down to the falls on the backpacking trail.

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hahahaha – still fighting to stay!!

By this time, the sun was out shining brilliantly and actually making the Park warmer than it was at home.

The trail through the campground and along the waterfalls is flat, well marked and a perfect way to end our time in Algonquin. Not quite as snowy as when we visited here back in the winter.

From this trip….

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On the return back to the car.

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All in all, it was a perfect day out.

Great weather and the right location made the day do it was supposed to do.

We covered between 7.5 to 8 kilometres hiking, which I thought was really good for Lynn seeing as the upper leg/muscle issue had put her on the sidelines more or less since Easter.

She didn’t have any pain throughout the day and was fine the next day, so things are looking good.

The best part of all of it, although the black flies were out, they weren’t biting. And as anyone who has been in Algonquin Park in the spring, black flies and other biting insects can make for a miserable adventure.

But, not this time.

All the while on our way home, we started planning our next hiking trip north to the Park and as well a camping adventure when I’m on holiday in late June and early July.

Thanks for taking the time to visit and tag along with us.

 

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

 

Owen Sound – Indian Falls

Over the long weekend here in Ontario, we took the Sunday to head over to the Owen Sound area to check out Indian Falls, located just north and west of the community.

We had been here twice before. Once in the fall several years ago and once this past winter.

In the past, we always thought that it would be interesting to hike along the bottom of the ravine in which the Indian River flows to get to the falls from the bottom.

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Leaving mid-morning from the “old homestead” we arrived in the parking lot at the Indian Falls Conservation Area close to noon. Sort of forgetting it was the long weekend, I had made the assumption that it wouldn’t be that busy with people hiking out to see the falls.

Wrong!

It was plenty busy.

Nevertheless, we packed up Lynn’s camera equipment and trotted off down the trail.

When we were here back in 2017, the trail at the beginning followed the river bed over a rock-strewn trail to reach a short set of stairs and then continuing on towards the actual falls. In 2017, we found it, not that difficult as we had our dog Katie with us.

I’m assuming that high water levels over the past while have caused people to by-pass the rocky and now water covered trail and to create a new path along the slope of the river bank.

Now it as a challenging path slick with mud and difficult to navigate.

So, if you visit be prepared for a challenging go of it prior to reaching the stairs that traverse up the slope to the top of the ravine.

After watching several families with small children slip, trip and slide along this slick new path, Lynn and I scrambled along the river bottom to get to the base of Indian Falls.

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We have had a fair amount of rain throughout the spring and combined with snowmelt that would still be moving along in watersheds and river systems, there was still a significant amount of water flowing over the falls. In the summer, that falls can be reduced to a mere trickle.

We made our way out into the middle of the river to set up on a flat rock.

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DSC_0084-EditDSC_0084-Edit-Edit-Edit-Edit-EditWhile we were there, I kept hearing this chirping sound that seemed close to us. It was coming from this little fella.

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He had obviously become separated from his mom and siblings and was desperately swimming around and scrambling along the river bank calling and searching for them. For the time we were there, unfortunately, we didn’t see any other duck or ducklings that might have been his family.

Hope things turned out all right for him.

What started as a glorious and sunny afternoon, soon however turned into an afternoon of thunderstorms and rain.

And with the start of rain and cracks of thunder, we started to make the trek back to the car.

Not wanting to take the muddy and now even muddier and slicker route back, we found a scrambling route up through some rocks to the main trail at the top of the ravine. We followed the trail to the steps down to the bottom of the ravine.

At this point, we sort of looked at each other and decided, “we’re wet now, so let’s hop and jump along the “old river bottom path” and avoid that sketchy new path.”

By the time we had got back to the parking lot, the rain had stopped(sort of). As a side note, Lynn and I both wear a brand of quick dry outdoor clothing and using just our own body heat, our pants and shirts were dry in less than an hour.

As I knew that thunderstorms and bad weather would be with us for the rest of the day, we decided to head over to Harrison Park located on the south edge of Owen Sound.

Again, with it being the long weekend, Harrison Park was very busy with families enjoying the sights and sounds of the park.

A few pictures from there.

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As Lynn had been recovering from an abdominal and upper leg muscle injury, plus just getting over a touch of the flu we decided to go on the side of caution and call it a day.

Good thing too.

Not long after leaving Harrison Park, the heavens opened up once again with heavy rain and high winds.

Nevertheless, even though Mother Nature wasn’t cooperating the best, it still made for a wonderful day out.

Owen Sound and this area of Bruce and Grey counties is one spot to put on your “to do/must visit list” for the summer. Great hiking opportunities, shopping, restaurants and parks all provide the basis to make memories that will last a lifetime.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

 

 

On Injured Reserve

Since about the middle week of April, and using a sports analogy, Lynn has been on the injured reserve list.

She was feeling some discomfort and pain radiating down one leg and also across the top of the groin. The one day, what was some minor discomfort became a major incident requiring me to come home early from work at look after Lynn.

A trip to her chiropractor diagnosed a severe muscle pull of a muscle connecting from the lower spine to the top of the leg. A least that’s what I think he said.

Between the excruciating pain, not being able to move, exhaustion and more than slow recovery, she nor we haven’t been able to get outdoors. In fact, I think it may be a while before Lynn is able to hike, let alone walk any significant distance.

Nevertheless, I thought I might post a couple of pictures Lynn has taken each month we’ve been out in 2019.

January

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February

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March

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April

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These are but a small and I mean a small sample of what she has taken. Notwithstanding that, they are, many of my favourites for a variety of reasons.

When Lynn might be able to get back outdoors, I think at this point is unknown. Some days are good, other days not so good as she gets exhausted easily.

Unfortunately, I may have to resort to hiking solo for the foreseeable future.

Hope you enjoyed taking a look at a few of the memories that Lynn has captured since the beginning of the new year. I know I have.

Thanks for visiting and hopefully I’ll be able to post some positive updates in the near future, on when Lynn will be coming off the injured list.

 

 

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Beaver Valley – Continuing Along The West Side and April Mud

It grieves me to even write this, but the last time Lynn and I hiked the west side of the Beaver Valley along the Bruce Trail to any great extent, was back in the summer of 2017.

With this unfortunate revelation having reared a disappointing head, we felt it was outstanding, and I must say, a brilliant idea on my part to head back out to where we had left off back in 2017.

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So, with the goal in mind to pick up where we left off in 2017, we exited the “old homestead” last week and west towards the Beaver Valley.

If you are a regular follower, you often find a “Google Map” screen capture like the one above, giving a reasonable, albeit not a complete detailed representation of how we arrived at our destination to begin our day’s adventure.

The area in the yellow circle was more or less our target for the afternoon. It’s not the exact location, but close enough that you get the idea of where we were headed to.

If you are at this moment wondering “why the yellow circle – that’s not very accurate,” I’ll explain all of this and my reasons behind it in a future post I’m working on.

Leaving all this mystery and intrigue behind us for the moment, I need to point out that in our area of the country, it has for the most part been a wet spring, as they usually are.  Notwithstanding that, we have had some wonderfully warm and sunny days, but not enough to dry things up, especially the mud!!

We pulled into the trailhead, I’m guessing about 12:15 pm. Getting ourselves organized, we loaded our stuff up and headed off down the trail.

After only a few steps, we soon came to this remarkable or perhaps unremarkable conclusion. Our afternoon would be spent gingerly stepping around the low areas in some misguided thought that doing so, we would avoid the muddy terrain now attaching itself to the soles of our hiking boots, thus making them weigh 5.2 kilograms each.

We soon found this to be a battle we were losing and ultimately a war we could not win.

So, with that devastatingly foregone conclusion, the afternoon became a slugfest of  “when, the hiking boots and the steps became heavy and slower – stop and scrape.”

We didn’t go too far along the trail before all I could hear was the sound of running water. In fact, it was the sound of a significant flow of running water. With that, we soon found what was generating all that noise.

Now, Lynn and I have a sort of mantra we often recite when outdoors. It goes like this, “if a difficult way to get to something is right in front of us, we’ll take it.” Another way of stating it is, “why attempt to do something the easy way, when doing it a more difficult way is a heck of a lot more fun and exciting.”

After several repetitions of the aforementioned or similar mantra, we scrambled down a steep, muddy and tree-strewn slope to the bottom of a stream bed.

The first picture was one I took on my phone. Unfortunately, the picture doesn’t adequately capture the height of the waterfall. As Lynn so expertly said, “there needs to be something of scale in the picture to help provide an idea of the height.”

That one large ice formation in the centre of the picture would be about twice my height. I’m just over six feet tall. That should give an idea of the height we’re talking about here. Perhaps, forty to fifty feet to the top of the waterfall.

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A quick video from the stream bottom. Sorry for the poor quality. But you get the idea.

I’m thinking we spent an hour down here, with Lynn happily snapping away taking pictures and myself climbing over rocks and fallen trees, to see if there was anything else to see that I hadn’t looked at over our time there.

I can say, I pretty much saw it all.

A few more of Lynn’s pictures.

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Upstream from the top of the falls, was in Lynn’s words a photographers dream. I referred to it as the “stream that just keeps on giving.” It was simply a series of small rapids and tiny waterfalls as it progressed and flowed down the escarpment face.

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The trail eventually crossed the stream and lead us to a magnificent lookout, east over the Beaver Valley towards Eugenia Falls.

 

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After a few minutes spent on the lookout, we reluctantly decided to start back to the car. Lynn had been experiencing a few upper leg muscle issues in the days prior, so we opted on the side of caution and not to push or overextend things.

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A few final pictures from the trek on the return.

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My favourite picture of the afternoon.

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All in all, it was a great outing.

Despite the mud and overcast skies, any time spent outdoors is a good time and time well spent in my opinion.

We didn’t cover as much distance as I had hoped, but as I said to Lynn, it is just another reason to get back there and “knock that remaining bit off.”

Now, there is just a small section to complete from where we left off on this outing to connect with an adventure from last summer near Hogg’s Falls. Once we’ve done those few outstanding kilometres, that will have completed the west side of the Bruce Trail through the extensive Beaver Valley section.

Thanks for taking the time to trudge along with us

Epilogue:

Since we have been home from this outing, Lynn has been sidelined and out of commission with an excruciatingly painful muscle pull and spasm on her upper leg which radiates out across the lower back.

Unfortunately, this has all the appearance of keeping Lynn on the injured list for the foreseeable future.

 

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Algonquin Park – Big Pines Trail and April Snow

I have come to the conclusion that the “Weather Network” and “Environment Canada” will have to exist with me in a relationship from this point forward, that might be better framed as “love/hate.”

“Love” – if their forecast calls for the sun and warm temperatures; “hate” –  when either one delivers something less than the forecast “sun and warm temperatures.”

Nevertheless, seeing as we really don’t have any type of relationship and furthermore, that one’s enjoyment of the outdoors is only limited and dictated to some extent by appropriate clothing choices, we’ll let the weather prognosticators off the hook – this time.

Having had some mild spring temperatures since the beginning of April, we thought a day adventure to Algonquin Park would be just the ticket. In addition, Lynn’s cousin and her husband have recently built a new home north of Huntsville and since they were in Myrtle Beach on a vacay, they offered up their home for us to stay overnight. Yeah!!

Leaving the “old homestead” around 9:00 am, we headed north to Algonquin Park.

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Arriving at the “West Gate” in Algonquin close to 11:30 am, I went in and purchased what will end up being our best buy of the outdoor season. An Ontario Parks Pass.

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And yes, by the time we arrived, the weather forecast that just a few days earlier was to give us “the sun and warm temperatures,”  surprised us with this.

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Sorry – but a poor quality zoomed in shot from a phone. But you get the idea.

After hanging the Ontario Parks Pass from the rearview mirror, we had what can only be described as a harrowing drive along Highway 60, with a transport truck hovering on our car bumper.

With no burning desire to have the engine of the transport finishing the day in our car’s backseat, I deftly flicked the turn signal on. And with much disappointment and sorrow, we indicated to the transport we had no intention of consummating this somewhat precarious relationship and thus made a right turn into Mew Lake Campground.

The diversion into the campground was as much to get away of the transport(and what a freaking idiot he/she was, given the road conditions), as it was to see how many people were winter camping. Given it was mid-week, the campground was pretty much empty. Some were in the luxury of their trailers, one or two staying in the campgrounds “yurts” and one or two “hot-tenting.”

However, we did see these guys again. This is one of the four turkeys that have been over-wintering in Mew Lake.

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After leaving Mew Lake, we took a drive through the park, more or less to see what was happening and if any more of the parking areas of the interpretive trails were clear of snow. Parks staff only clear snow from the parking lots of selected interpretive trails during the winter months.

The short answer to this was no. Although there wasn’t as much snow as when we visited earlier, many of the lots were still unavailable.

Undaunted, we went to the Big Pines Trail, which had the lot plowed. The Big Pines Trail is around 3 kilometres in length.

For the most part, it is fairly level loop trail and visits spectacularly large, old growth White Pine and the remains of a 1880s logging camp. The guide booklets, although not available at the trailhead during the winter, discuss pine ecology and the Park’s logging history.

By this point, the snow had started to fall pretty heavily. It wasn’t the light and fun fluffy stuff. It was a camera and electronic device stopping mixture of wet snow and rain. Given that scenario, Lynn’s camera gear only made a few appearances during our hike.

At the trailhead.

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A quick shot while standing under the protective branches of a conifer, as the wet snow continues to fall.

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Although it made for a wet 1.5 hours on the trail, we both loved the time out. No people, great scenic views and the discovery of some places that might yield some spectacular shots once the snow decides to leave us.

A quick trip down Highway 60, lead us to the Visitor Centre combining a view from the observation deck(snow and more snow covered landscape) and a much-needed bathroom break.

Although a decent amount of snow had fallen, the highway crews did a remarkable job clearing and salting Highway 60. Once we left the Visitor Centre, we started a leisurely drive west, back along Highway 60, stopping and checking out whatever tickled our fancy.

As it was getting to be left afternoon and with us being a tad dampish, we headed on over to a grocery store in Huntsville to get something easy and obviously tasty for dinner. A short drive later, we arrived at her cousin’s place to settle in for an evening of dinner, craft beer and satellite TV.

Lynn and I don’t have cable or satellite TV at the “old homestead.” So, being someplace that does have it is always a big treat and unfortunately often a waste of time. Given there are usually hundreds of channels available and we end up spending far too much time “clicking” through them to find something to watch. It has been our practice in the past, that as soon as we find re-runs of “The Big Bang Theory”, all channel surfing stops.

After a well-deserved, albeit fitful nights sleep, we headed out to continue our adventure.

Our first encounter was the beautiful doe. She was one of a few along a side road outside Emsdale, north of Huntsville.

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Continuing on, all the while wishing that going back to work the next day was some evil nightmare, we stopped for a look at the Upper Falls on the Rosseau River. Simply put, lots of water flowing through the system.

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Not long after I had taken this picture of Lynn taking a picture of me, I slipped on a muddy rock and fell flat on my ass. With a now clay-covered posterior and somewhat diminished level of self-esteem, we headed back to the car and continued the journey homeward.

A left turn in the Village of Rosseau onto Muskoka Road 632, took us past the houses and cottages along Lake Joseph and Lake Rosseau, that we could only dream about owning. That is, unless we won the $75 million Lotto-Max jackpot. Just sayin’.

A short, but inviting the view from the side of the road.

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And with that last shot, Lynn put the camera back in her camera bag and with me reluctantly making a right turn in the village of Port Carling, we headed out towards Highway’s 118, 169 and Highway 400, completing our trek back to the “old homestead.”

Although snow and poorer than anticipated weather may have dampened the trip, it didn’t dampen our enthusiasm and the time we had.

A two-day mini-vacation all wrapped around hiking in the woods and driving around the countryside is always time well spent and a wonderful investment in one’s mental well-being.

Not having a business or finance mind, the only advice I can give is, why not make an investment in yourself and spend a few hours outside renewing your inner-being.

Thanks for taking the time to come along with us.

 

 

 —  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

 

Georgian Trail – Collingwood

One place or trail that we’ve talked about getting to over the years, is “The Georgian Trail” along the pristine shores of Georgian Bay. The trail runs approximately 34 kilometres between Collingwood and Meaford.

The trail as we experience it today was originally The Northern Railway Line that connected Collingwood and Meaford. It was constructed in 1872 and used extensively hauling rail goods until the line was deemed unnecessary and abandoned by the Canadian National Railway(CNR) in 1984.

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In 1988, a feasibility study recommended keeping the abandoned rail corridor in public hands and to be developed as a recreational trail. In October 1989, The Georgian Trail officially opened to the public.

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Leaving the “old homestead” mid-morning, it was a leisurely drive over to Collingwood with us arriving close to noon. We parked our car at the south-west corner of a large commercial plaza putting us pretty much adjacent to an entry point for the trail.

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Collecting our gear, we headed off for another afternoon of discovery and yes – fun.

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As the name suggests, it was originally a railway corridor. As we all know, railway lines are generally flat and run for the most part in a straight line. The Georgian Trail is no different. One of the neat aspects of the trail, however, is it connects with other trails within the Town of Collingwood and other communities along the way, creating a myriad of options for a day’s adventure.

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There had been a fairly significant spring snowfall a couple of days before we headed over to Collingwood. Although the trail was well packed-down, the snow and ice started to turn to slush as the afternoon wore on. In addition, with it being spring and that ever welcoming rise in temperatures, there was significant standing water in the low areas adjacent to the trail.

The following was the route we took for the afternoon. In the top part of the photo above the yellow line, is one of the many resort developments in the area. This one is the Living Stone Golf Resort, formally known as Cranberry Village and one of the original resort developments in the Collingwood area.

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To the south, there is some industrial development. Noise from heavy machinery and trucks was quite loud at times. The potential for noise in a semi-urban/rural environment should be anticipated. Although loud, making the choice to ignore it and enjoy being outdoors, maybe the best and only option available along this part of the trail.

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We kept trucking along, with Lynn madly taking pictures at every available moment and of every object worth capturing with her camera.

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As I mentioned, a tad wet in some areas.

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Trying to look regal and dignified. Not sure if I achieved it or not.

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Along the length of the trail we covered, there are numerous signboards with information regarding the trail and as well benches to stop and have a rest if you need to.

I think this is the best picture of the day.

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At one or two points along the trail, you can connect to other trail options. This one took you up and through the Living Stone Resort golf course.

DSC_0066-EditAfter 2 or 3 kilometres along The Georgian Trail, we came across the “George Christie Nature Trails.” It is a series of trails looping through a mixed forest of hardwood and cedar and appears to be a favourite go-to spot for cross-country skiers, snowshoers and hikers.

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We did about a 3-kilometre loop through this part. There were many low areas that were flooded or at least heavily saturated with water as we found out. So did our boots and socks, unfortunately.

Even the woods were smiling at us today. Made the day all that much more enjoyable. We all need a happy and cheerful log.

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Lots of texture and opportunities to compose some interesting and effective shots.

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Woodpeckers have had quite the go on this tree.

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Spring hiking does have its drawbacks. Water and wet boots are certainly one of the somewhat negative results.

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After coming out of the forest portion, the trail followed this fenceline before turning right at the trees in the background of the picture. It all seemed simple enough, other than the field was flooded and flooded for several hundred metres to the right of what is in the picture.

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We actually had to gingerly maneuver several hundred metres down the field to find a slightly higher location that wasn’t quite so wet as everything other spot in the field.

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Slowly and carefully working our way across. Not that it mattered much, as our boots were pretty much soaked by this point.

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An abandoned jeep just before we turned right onto the 11th Line to head the 1.5 kilometres north to eventually re-connect with the Georgian Trail.

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Wet and still wet areas.

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The story of my life…just a blur in someone else’s existence.

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While heading back along the rail trail, Lynn became obsessed with taking pictures bulrushes or cattails.

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We spent 3 to 4 hours out and covered approximately 8 kilometres in total.

Although the day was dull and gloomy, it was still a great afternoon outside. As Lynn often says, it is our attitude that will determine how the day goes. You can get all pouty and miserable because of the weather, or be thankful that you’re outside, while others may not have this opportunity.

If you’re in the area, make a point of checking out some of the trails in the Collingwood area, especially The Georgian Trail. As it is also a bike trail, one could make a wonderful day trip from Collingwood all the way to Meaford or any location along the way.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

 

Parry Sound – A Sunday Afternoon

I need to state categorically and with the strongest emphasis possible, we have absolutely nothing against Parry Sound.

In fact, we LOVE Parry Sound. Love the trails, the Town, the views and the food. Oh, and the Trestle Brewing Company (at least I do. Lynn isn’t a beer aficionado – her loss)

But, last Sunday the plan was to trek out to another location. Unfortunately, or fortunately, in this case for Parry Sound, a load of wet clothes that somehow missed the dryer the night before, thus delaying our departure from the old homestead until later in the morning.

Seeing as the time needed to head to that “other location” had ticked by, I said to Lynn, “Let’s hit up Parry Sound and the trail system. We love it there!”

With great anticipation, we spun the car north onto Highway 400 at Highway 12 and off we went.

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All kidding and joking aside, we head north to Parry Sound on a pretty frequent basis. Being just about an hour from our base in Midland, it makes for a quick and scenic drive throughout that whole stretch of Highway 400.

Our plan, albeit a somewhat fluid plan at best, was to park adjacent to The Stockey Centre, hike along the waterfront on the Rotary and Algonquin Regiment Waterfront Fitness Trail(Waterfront Fitness Trail) and then see what the rest of the afternoon offered up.

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Arriving in Parry Sound in the early afternoon, we parked in the Stockey Centre parking lot and headed out along the Waterfront Fitness Trail.DSC_0313_HDR-Edit

The Rotary and Algonquin Regiment Waterfront Fitness Trail(Waterfront Fitness Trail) follows as the name suggests  – along the waterfront. I remarked to Lynn, that at times it felt like you weren’t in the Town at all. There were portions of the trail like in the picture above, where the granite of the Canadian Shield rose on both sides, giving the trail a very wilderness setting.

The trail passes behind the Parry Sound Coastguard Base adjacent to Waubuno Park. We first visited Waubuno Park last September to capture the sun setting over the water of Parry Sound. You can visit that September trip here.

We continued along, completely raptured by the warm temperatures and sunshine as it radiated down from the heavens, warming not only our bodies but our minds and souls as well.

We eventually left the Waterfront Fitness Trail at The Smelter Wharf(Salt Docks) at the north-east end of Town.

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The large paved area in the photo is referred to as The Smelter Wharf or the Salt Docks by local townsfolk. It is a large salt storage depot for Sifto Salts. The salt that is stored here during the summer months is used on roads throughout areas of northern Ontario and into the province of Quebec during the winter.

At the far end of the Smelter Wharf, the Waterfront Fitness Trail connects to the North Shore Rugged Hiking Trail.

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The North Shore Rugged Hiking Trail is approximately a 3-kilometre out and back trail that hugs the rugged and rocky shoreline of Parry Sound.

We didn’t continue any further along the North Shore Trail other than an about 100 metres or so as time was catching up with us. On our next trip to Parry Sound, the North Shore Rugged Trail will be on the agenda for sure.

We hiked back more or less following the same way, admiring the view across the water and enjoying the late afternoon sun.

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Taken on the Silbow Rock promenade at Wambuno Beach Park. This is the location that we took the sunset shots back in September 2018.

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September 2018

As we rambled along the waterfront, both Lynn and I remarked that almost by default, a number of outstanding locations to shoot those magnificent Parry Sounds sunsets, had just fallen into our laps. And thinking about it, this isn’t such an onerous dilemma to be saddled with.

Getting back in the car and with our “limited snacks” in hand, we drove up to the Fire Tower Lookout to check the view out across the own and water from there. And yes, the view is still great. Unfortunately though, and somewhat sadly, after looking at the clock on the dash of the car, we needed to start the one-hour trip back home.

All in all, it was a wonderful late morning and afternoon adventure. Any time spent outdoors is time well spent, regardless of location. Time after time, Parry Sound always delivers the required dosage of outdoor fun and adventure and it didn’t take us long to plan our next adventure hike and thus another trip back to Parry Sound.

We’re thinking of parking at the Fire Tower Lookout and starting the Tower Hill Trail down from that point; connecting at Great North Road with the Waterfront Fitness Trail at and hiking it through Town and out along the waterfront to connect with the North Shore Rugged Trail to hike that and then turning around and making return trek to our car. It would result in a 10 to 12-kilometre urban/wilderness out and back trip.

Not bad; not bad at all.

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Pretty sure Lynn is already salivating with the unlimited potential photo opportunities along here that she has been scoping out over the past year or so. Given that, it may make more sense for me, to just park myself on the patio at The Trestle Brewing Company, order a bite to eat along with one of their smooth craft beers(or two) and let Lynn happily snap away.

I’m starting to like THAT PLAN!

If you’re in the area, make sure to get off Highway 400 and come on into Parry Sound and take a look around. There is plenty to do; plenty to see; plenty of scrumptious spots to eat and drink.

Here’s a great link to give you all the information about visiting the area you’ll need – Parry Sound Tourism.

Thanks for visiting and hanging around to have a look.

 

 

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

 

Algonquin Park – March 2019(Part 2)

Wow, Part One of our mid-March Algonquin Park sun and warmth adventure took had us on a circuit of the Hemlock Bluff Trail. You can have a look at it here – Algonquin Park – March 2019 Part One.

After exiting the trailhead of the Hemlock Bluffs Trail and crossing back over Highway 60, we scooted back to the car for a well-earned lunch break before tackling the next installment of our Algonquin day.

With tuna wraps, spicy turkey pepperoni sticks and cold water in hand, we took a quick trip through the park along Highway 60 to see what was happening. The short answer to that was nothing much was happening at all.

The parking lots of the interpretive trails started to have some cars in them, but not that many. It should be noted, parking for a couple of the interpretive trails is not plowed during the winter. Notwithstanding, it was somewhat surprising, that we didn’t see more people in the park given it was March break for schools in Ontario. All of which is disappointing in some respect given the warm temperatures and sunshine.

Undaunted and after indulging in and savouring a bite to eat, we spun the car around at the Logging Museum and started to head back towards our next destination Mew Lake.

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Spirit of Algonquin

When the spirit of Algonquin Park calls, at least for me, it calls for a specific reason. The beckoning call of the Park always has a message that the “person on the other end” needs to hear and needs to take to heart. I had written recently about the concept of  Soul Places and the deep connection many of us have to very specific areas in the outdoors. Algonquin Park is that for me. The call this day was, “come to my place; dwell in my spirit for a moment and allow the warmth and sunshine to evaporate the anxiety, dispiritedness and sadness from your soul.”

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The Spirit of Algonquin

We picked the Mew Lake area to hit up next for a couple of reasons. The first was, we wanted to hike something that we really hadn’t done before and check out something new. Secondly, with the sky, a brilliant blue and the sun blazing overhead, I really wanted to spend as much time soaking it up as possible. The abandoned airfield at Mew Lake seemed like a perfect spot to do that.

Last year, on the Monday of the May long weekend, we hiked down through the Mew Lake Campground and across the airfield to check things out and see what the area was about. We included a few pictures from that day in Thoughts From The Wilderness – New Beginnings.

Nevertheless, for this adventure, we decided to park near the airfield and hike the trail which skirts the western edge of the abandoned airfield. This trail intersects with the Highland Backpacking Trail, at which point we would take the Highland Trail to where it crosses the Madawaska River and what is referred to as “Mew Lake Falls.”

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As a side note, in the summertime the airfield is rich with wild blueberries, making it a favourite buffet table at times for the local black bear population and other animals found in the park.

We parked our car near the recycling and refuse disposal area at the Mew Lake Campground, and were welcomed by this cutie – a Pine Marten.

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The Pine Marten is a member of the weasel family and like many animals, they become opportunists if a potential food source is nearby. Much like the wild blueberry patches in the airfield, the recycling and refuse bins, always hold the potential of snagging a tasty morsel.

As he darted back across the roadway and scampered up over the snowbank, disappearing into the forest, we gathered our stuff and scampered up and over the opposite snowbank and headed off down the trail on our own adventure.

DSC_0032_HDR-Edit-2A left turn onto the Highland Backpacking Trail. After about a kilometre or so, we arrived at the falls on the Madawaska River. A few pictures along the way.

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Mew Lake Falls.

A few stylized pictures from around the falls.

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From the falls, we hiked about another 600 to 700 metres along the Highland Trail until we reached the Old Railway Bike Trail. At this point, we made a left turn, said goodbye to the Highland Backpacking Trail and headed east along the Old Railway Bike Trail.

We love all kinds of trails with all variety of terrain. Flat, hilly, gently sloping or any combination, it doesn’t matter. But, a flat section with outstanding views all wrapped in sunshine and warmth; honestly, we could have stood there all day soaked up this almost ethereal experience.

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We came to the point where a link in the Old Railway Bike Trail would take us back to Mew Lake. With another left turn, we started back towards the campground.

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The Old Railway Bike Trail is built on an abandoned railway rail bed. As such, the trail is flat and perfect for hiking in all seasons and biking during the non-snow times of the year. Interestingly, the railway when it was in full use back in the early 1900’s, it was one of the busiest rail lines in Canada, purportedly with trains passing through every 20 minutes.

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I mentioned there was a lot of snow right?

The information sign on the left would normally be close to waist height. We’re in the abandoned airfield at this point. It was a slow, leisurely and most welcomed hike, with our faces tilted up to the warmth of the afternoon back towards the car.

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One question that has plagued man since the dawn of time is, “why did the turkeys cross the road?” The short answer is, “they don’t.” The simply run down the centre of one of the roads at Mew Lake.

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The turkeys were scratching and looking for nibbles in and around the recycling and refuse area at the campground. When chatting with a Park Ranger, he indicated there are very few wild turkeys that over-winter in the Park.  The tough Algonquin winters make for a challenging existence if the turkeys don’t head to more hospitable locations within the province.

He mentioned this a group of four, hang around the Mew Lake Campground, while there is another small group that lives near the Visitors Centre located further east in along Highway 60. He said their research suggested that there wouldn’t be any more than twenty wild turkeys wintering along the Highway 60 corridor.

As it was approaching late afternoon, we made a quick drive through the campground before leaving and guess who made yet another appearance? A pair of friends. One on the ground and one keeping an eye on things from an adjacent tree.

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With much sadness, because we had to leave, but with a freshly renewed spirit, we exited the Mew Lake Campground and with a left turn headed west along Highway 60 for the homeward trek.

Heading home we decided not to take the most direct route, but more of a “backcountry roads” route. And are we glad we did!

Never seen so many white-tailed deer gathered in one spot in my life.

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Perhaps some functional “farm art” out in a field.

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A sun slowly setting across Severn Sound and closed up cottages on an adjacent island.

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Just about done and bidding a good-bye for the day.

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It was just over twelve hours from the time we left and locked the front door until we arrived home and unlocked it again.

Words don’t do justice to our day out. Algonquin Park is one of my Soul Places. That Tuesday, my soul and spirit needed repair. Algonquin did just that.

If Algonquin Park is not on your list of places to visit, it should be. So get it written on your list. Even if you can only ever make it once in your lifetime. You won’t be disappointed. Go and make some memories as soon as you can. Even today would work!

The Friends of Algonquin Park and Ontario Parks have all the information you need to plan that perfect outing. If you need to rent anything piece of equipment for your adventure or need even more advice, check out Algonquin Outfitters. They have a location in Oxtongue Lake, near the West Gate entrance to the Park.

Thanks for reading and staying with us on this two-part trip to Algonquin. I hope we’ve imparted if only a tiny bit, how impactful and special this magical part of the planet is to us.

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—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —