Published: July 11th 2012July 9th 2012
(I've managed to get the Montreal entry published now, sorry it's in the wrong place.)
I'm delighted to be staying in a small village on the edge of the huge Algonquin Provincial Park, in central ontario. I found a bus would take me (only 3 per week) from Peterborough to Maynooth, and drop me at the door of the only hostel in this vast wilderness. Wonderfully, the hostel-keeper is happy to take his residents on long journeys so I've just spent a weekend camping and canoeing up in the Park 70 km away, with a quiet German couple and our guide, Trevor. Bliss! Call of the Wild take care of all the complications of getting a license, permit, etc, for just which lakes and camp grounds we will use.
After a blistering (literally, poor hands) - paddle across the enormous Rock Lake in quite a breeze, we left the holiday crowds behind, and did a portage over to Galaeiry Lake, another large one. Thankfully the guys carried the canoes, on their heads, and we all helped carry the heavy bags including cooker, food, water, tents, etc. I don't know how those voyageurs in the old days managed such long
journeys, with such a lot to carry, for weeks on end.
Eventually we reached our wonderfully located campsite, all to ourselves; I pitched my tent overlooking the lake, with a small rocky beach just for me, heaven! We are surrounded by woods of all sorts, lots of pine scenting our air, with only a small trail to the thunderbox. No other trails available, so swimming and yoga become my main activities until we get canoeing again. That and avoiding insects! Much time is spent either applying mozzie repellant, or aloe vera to bites which have flared up. We have a resident black mouse which darts across our path to reach her hole in the ground, and several gorgeous chipmunks. My tent is parked next door to a chipmunk hole I realise after setting up, so my nights are regaled by sniffing/snuffling/scuttering noises... earplugs next night! No signs of any racoons yet, though apparently they are everywhere and have learned how to open most contraptions designed to keep animals out.
Skinny dipping in private started my mornings: paradise. Trevor turned out to be a good cook, and a useful tutor. I was grateful to be in his boat, and
I took lessons on paddling, steering (will come in handy next time we're on the river, Scarls!) - and generally handling a canoe. We travelled a fair distance each day, exploring other lakes, and the highlight for me was spotting a moose from quite a distance: she was grazing on the water lily roots in a lakeside bog, and kindly waited for us to gradully get closer and take several shots. Later we saw a huge bull moose, and after a lovely bathe in Pen Lake and a good rest under the shade of the trees, on our return to the same lake again we saw a couple of beaver. I'm excited beyond belief at the sightings of these animals, what is it that does that I wonder?
We passed a tiny tree frog the size of a thumb nail on a leaf during our walk to Pen, then a "normal" sized frog, sitting still hoping for us to pass him by uneaten, and later a small snake shimmied through the leaves on the forest floor. Another "moment" was finding a large dry white piece of dropping, apparently from a wolf, Trevor pronounced, after disecting it with a stick.
I'm over the moon, although we never get to hear them, (August is best for this - or was that winter?) - wolves do live in the Park, as do black bears - again, no signs of them unfortunately.
The bird sounds here are so very different and wonderful. I've managed to work out the call of the loon, national bird, a large duck with an amazing haunting cry in the middle of the night. And watched it skittering across the lake gaining the oomph to lift, like a 747 jet plane. If disturbed, it disappears under water for minutes, often not to be seen again.
Extremely tired after all this excitement, and paddled back "home" to lie down and take it all in. We took time to rest in our canoe at one stage, very nice.
Back to base after that fab weekend, the sun continues to beat down relentlessly, and I confess to enjoying the air conditioning in the library as I complete my blog today.
I'm falling in love with this small town with it's quirky folk many of Irish stock; time to leave, but I'd love to stay a bit longer. lots
of places to walk, find the local rivers and lakes for a dip. yesterday I had a horse ride after cycling to get there, and afterwards cycled to the nearby lake to cool down. Poor horse was fed up with the deer flies tormenting him, but we did get to see a deer in the bush, just standing near our trail.
And so onwards, this time to Ottawa, the capital; the bus comes soon, mustn't miss it or I'll be here another couple of days!