Friday, 25 October 2013

Algonquin & Arrowhead Provincial Parks
October 5th - 7th, 2013

Before I continue with the UK trip, I'll take those of you who would like to join me, on a side-trip to Arrowhead & Algonquin Provincial Parks, about a 2-hour drive north of Oshawa.

Jane & I have been to Algonquin about a dozen times in late September, early October, to catch the gorgeous fall colours that we're blessed with in this part of Canada. We usually stay two nights in the area and drive the 'corridor' of the park, a 60 km stretch of Highway 60 that slices through the bottom of the park. We hadn't been to Algonquin for a few years for one reason or another so the draw was strong to return this year.

Though our suitcases were still warm from the UK trip and we were just getting used to the slower pace of a normal life, nature has her own timetable and doesn't adjust it to suit us. We go when the leaves are turning or we miss it. A simple choice. So, we packed up again and headed north.

The forecast didn't sound good before we left. 80% chance of rain for our first day, and not much better for the second. It was overcast most of the time we were there (though the sun did actually appear for a couple hours on Saturday) but we were very lucky in that the rain held off for the most part, so we were dry most of the time.

We often stay at the Tulip Inn in Huntsville. Arrowhead Provincial Park is about a 3 minute drive from the inn, so when we stay there we always visit it. It's much smaller than Algonquin but it has its own beauty. We arrived Friday night about 3 hours before dark, so we went to Arrowhead that night.

This is Arrowhead Lake in the park. As we wandered about with our cameras, Jane was always easy to spot in her red coat. And photographers often do love to add a red coat, red canoe or red whatever to a shot.

An Arrowhead plant.

How appropriate I thought... an Arrowhead Plant in Arrowhead Lake in Arrowhead Provincial Park.

On the south side of Arrowhead Lake.

Stubbs Falls in Arrowhead.

A rock in the river. I just noticed that this rock is also in the shot above--in the bottom-right corner.

There are some huge rocks by the falls, probably dropped here by a receding glacier, a while before we were on the scene.

Note the leaf-imprints on this one.

We're positive that this Great Blue Heron is our 'friend' from a few years back. He was at the bottom of Stubbs Falls. He could care less about people being near by. There were five of us taking shots of him... three with tripods moving about for better shots, and Jane & I without tripods as usual, freer to wander easily.

I'm not sure the heron ever looked at any of us. It was like we were invisible to him. We all watched him and photographed for about half an hour. He hardly moved. The patience and concentration of nature's creatures when they're on the hunt is something to behold.

Easy now, that log looks slippery. Not that I'd ever expect him to slip.

A Birch tree with Maple leaves? Not really of course, the maple tree trunk just doesn't catch your eye as easily.

Saturday morning... off to Algonquin. It's about a half-hour drive from Huntsville.

We did miss the peak time of the color change this year by a few days, but there were still  strong areas of brilliant yellows & oranges & rusty copper shades, though very few reds.

Our first stop, before we got to the park, was at Oxtongue Rapids,  one of our favourite spots.

The woods at the rapids.

Ferns on the other side of the river.

Many of you know I'm a big fan of fungi. Golden-toned ones are some of my favourites.

All-green images can be boring sometimes, but add a contrasting background and they take on a new beauty.

This was a new discovery for us. It was down a side road as we left Oxtongue Rapids, before we were back on the highway. It's called Hunter's Bridge, but everyone had cameras, not guns.

Beside the bridge.

Peeking out from under a Birch log.

Touches of color amongst the rocks.

Tinder Conk & lichens at Hunter's Bridge.

A camera-shy fungus-creature slinking away from the camera. Sorry, but I can't help it.

Away from the big cities, some names can take on more of a frontier sound.

There are lots of hiking trails in Algonquin that you can take for an up-close view of the color. They range in length from less than a kilometer to over 10km. We only hike the shorter ones now. C'est la vie.

Some of the trails start right at the highway, others are a short drive from it. The roads to the ones off the highway offer a much closer view of the color. With some trees still green (or evergreens), the mix with the yellows & oranges are a joy to see.

Jane read this sign and pointed out to me the million dollar fine... point #3. What offence could possibly result in a $million fine? I must google that.

Softer tones.

This made me think of a fish feeding-frenzy. Why? I don't know. I can't be the only one though, can I?

The Visitor's Centre in Algonquin is a popular stop with almost everyone. There's a restaurant, nature displays and of course a shop. Lots of good nature books for sale there though.

And this viewing platform at the centre  offers a great view of the surrounding area.

Looking west from the viewing platform.

We went on the Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail this time. It goes through a large stand of Black Spruce, the spindly, skinny ones that are common up north.

The bog portion has spongy peat moss, hence the need for a boardwalk. I don't see many red fungi. They sure catch my eye.

I think the peat moss even looks spongy in a photo. The overall scene almost looks tropical.

The white fluffy things below are Bog Cottongrass. Thanks John.

The stems of them were almost invisible so it looked like the seed pods were floating in the air. The moss beneath them was red, another first for me.

The red moss is Warnstorf's Peat Moss. Thanks John.

Nicely shaped Bunchberry. Thanks John.

A 'pancake' of lichens. Usually it's a more random pattern.

I forget which lake this was. The reeds compete with the trees for colour. The trees win though.

Before we leave Huntsville for the trip home, we usually stop at this beautiful little lake in Huntsville itself. It was one of the few times we were caught in the rain.

But it eased up after a few minutes.

As people often say, sometimes it looks like the leaves are on fire.

This motorcycle trailer caught everyone's eye. The owner gave us the 'tour'. The keg has a tap on it, but as you'd probably guess, it's just his carry-all trailer. But he did open it up for us.. and he pointed out that there was a 6-pack of Molson's in it. It was up on Lion's Lookout that offers a good view of Huntsville and surrounding area.

A soft carpet of pine needles.

Another must-see stop on the way home (for us at least) is the fire-tower near the town of Dorset, about 20 miles south of Algonquin. We haven't climbed the tower on the last few visits, the view being pretty much the same from ground-level... or so we think now. :-)

The view is one not to be missed though. I never tire of it, especially when it's at least a year between visits.

The mist/clouds moved in giving it a faraway look we'd never seen there before.

Chipmunks are priceless. I love the little critters, the way they dart around and stop only long enough to check you out. This guy though, had a nice long look. But as it turned out he was just in front of his hideaway burrow so I imagine that's why.

Light side, dark side of a tree.

The mist was getting heavier, but it was time to go down into Dorset to stop at Robinson's General Store anyway. It's always our last stop before grabbing something to eat and hitting the road for home.

One of the reasons I take the time to do my blog, and enjoy doing it, is that it lets me relive our trips & outings. A visit to Algonquin & Arrowhead or to Second Marsh here in Oshawa are ones I look forward to just as much as I look forward to seeing other countries. As a nature lover they give me something that sightseeing just can't provide. Life is all about balance as they say, and for me, a big part of that balance is nature and the strong bond I feel with it.

I'm now reading Richard Louv's book, "Last Child in the Woods". He writes of what many of us already feel about nature, and its effects on us--adults & children. His main theme though, is how children today lack contact with nature and the negative effects that has on them. One of his comments, "Our children are the first generation to be raised without meaningful contact with the natural world" is something to ponder.

I keep thinking of my 4-year old grandson as I read it.

I so strongly agree with Louv that I offer the first page of reviewer's comments about his book here--enlarge by clicking on the image. More than one reviewer has said his book should be read by all parents, teachers and anyone that has contact with children.

If you're interested in getting the book, here are a couple sources.


I must sound like I'm preaching, but really it's just that I feel so strongly about nature's importance for our children & grandchildren. And for us too for that matter.

- fini -

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