A SANDY MESS AND A MUDDY DIP (Algonquin Provincial Park, Part 3 – Beaver Pond, Hardwood Lookout and Whiskey Rapids Trails)

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This story continues from Rivulets Only 

  Lesson learned from the final hike we would manage on the weekend - never hope to keep your balance while tethered to your leashed dog as you traverse a narrow log, even if it’s only a few feet, over a patch of mud. Tessi pulled and I fell. Since my only other warm outfit was still damp from our rainy hike, mud stains would decorate my knees for the rest of the day. Finishing Day One During the previous evening, we attended the Wolves of Algonquin program offered at the Outdoor Theatre. Since the presentation took place outside, we could have brought the dogs. I noted a lab relaxing by his family. We had been unsure, however, so we left the girls in the car. Earlier in the afternoon, we hiked the meandering Beaver Pond Trail - another approximate 2 km (1.2 mi) loop. Unlike the morning outing, the sky stayed quiet, and even allowed us to bask in the occasional sunshine peaking out. We didn’t see any beavers, but that doesn’t surprise me when my predatory girl is in tow. The corresponding guide concentrates on information about the world of beavers, including the best time to see them.  After a busy previous 24 hours, during which I helped Tessi survive dangerous nighttime thunderstorms and we almost drowned in the early morning rain, my sleeping bag called me to bed early. Time to Start the Day Morning arrived quickly, it seemed, when I awoke to the sound of Helen rustling outside. More likely though, Tessi’s excitement at hearing her woke me. The weather had turned chilly overnight. Since I was contently snuggled in my sleeping bag, I didn’t want to face what I figured Helen was up to or the time she was doing it at. I reluctantly left my warm bed to slip into a cold sweatshirt and jacket and faced the world outside. As I thought, she was shutting down camp at an early hour. She had wanted to put her tent away before the light sprinkle she had heard turned heavier. Any evidence of rain was gone by the time I arose. I guess I couldn’t blame her after the previous day’s deluge. Fighting With My Tent Deciding I’d better follow suit, I started taking my own tent down. The sand and the needles clung to its damp underside. No matter how much I tried to clean it off, the mess just rearranged itself. Trying to fold the tent to the right size to fit it in its bag made it worse. Helen had taken off for a shower, so I struggled on my own. I finally gave up. With irritation, I stuffed it in another larger bag to await my clothesline at home. The rest of the cleanup proved easy, other than finding room in the car to spread out our damp towels and clothes. The sun had stayed hidden most of the weekend, offering little of its heated rays to dry any fabrics. Another Ascent and Another Meander We were soon conquering our fourth trail - Hardwood Lookout Trail. The brief .8 km (.5 mi) loop revealed a quick climb, interspersed with a few dips, to a beautiful lookout over Smoke Lake. The written guide discusses Algonquin hardwood forest ecology. The Whiskey Rapids Trail would be our last nature outing of the weekend. The approximate 2 km (1.2 mi) loop partially hugs the Oxtongue River. The Algonquin river ecology is the subject of its accompanying guide. Most of the route was dry. The only muddy spot turned out to be the one Tessi dragged me into. At least it was on even terrain and not on a slope. We encountered one steep hill close to the parking lot. After two days of exploring nature, dealing with wet and muddy items and learning about bears, beavers and wolves - and having seen none of them - we finished our hiking weekend as we had started it - with a steep climb. For More Info List of Algonquin trails and their links  Note I didn’t realize until writing these stories that most of the trails we hiked were in the 2 km (1.2 mi) range. Some seemed longer with their sinuous routes and ups and downs. Algonquin Park offers a variety of lengths in their established trails - anywhere from less than a km (.6 mi) to almost 11 km (6.8 mi).

(c) Cheryl Smyth, 2012

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