Our Algonquin experience

Living in Balance
By Jenipher Appleton

Camping isn’t for everyone, but my family has embraced it since our children were very small. Now that they are adults, our sons (and significant others) still share the enthusiasm. The annual sojourn to Algonquin Provincial Park is now an essential part of our well-being as a family. Tapping into one’s deep-rooted need to survive can be quite therapeutic. Packing quality meals (along with some decadent treats), clothing, and camping gear to be comfortable for a week outdoors can be challenging, which makes it all the more rewarding. The fact that there will be no TV, radio, or landline telephone is also a welcome change. The sound of the wind in the pines, chirping birds, chattering squirrels, and water lapping at the shore, provides an ambience second-to-none.

And we’re off
It’s day one, 5 a.m. The van, the Jeep, two kayaks (one cherry red, the other royal blue), a cedar strip canoe, four bicycles mounted on the bike rack; coolers, backpacks, tents, etc., are all neatly packed into the vehicles. A quick last check of the house, and we set out on our seven-day trip to Algonquin.

Things to do
Besides the camping experience itself, there is much to do in this beautiful landscape, just northeast of Huntsville, Ontario. Hiking trails, day trips on the water by canoe or kayak, spectacular stargazing, picnics, cycling on the highway 60 corridor, the Visitors’ Center, the Pioneer Logging Exhibit, are some of many possible outings. Mountain biking is available on the Mizzy Lake trail. Each time we hike on a guided walking trail and read the accompanying guidebooks at the post markers, we either reinforce prior knowledge, or learn something new altogether. Something that I had forgotten as we walked the Spruce Bog Boardwalk this year, was that if one stepped off the walkway onto the floating mat of peat moss, one could fall through and be preserved until eternity, in the depths of the highly acidic, oxygen-deprived depths of the bog.
Animal life abounds in the Park. During this trip we were able to see the elusive flying squirrel while enjoying our campsite after dark. This nocturnal creature can sail easily amongst the tall pines by spreading the webbing between its front and hind legs. While driving along highway 60, which runs through the Park all the way to Ottawa, and you notice a group of vehicles pulled over on the shoulder, chances are you are about to encounter the Algonquin moose. We have seen bulls, cows and calves many times through the years, grazing in the marshy areas for water lily roots. Roadside salt build-up from the previous winter is also a treat for the moose.

Park inspires visitors
Algonquin Park is the old stomping grounds of the legendary artist Tom Thomson, who mysteriously drowned on Canoe Lake in 1912. His many paintings are left behind to represent the haunting beauty of the Algonquin wilderness. Our personal favourite is “The Canoe.” Another famous one which many will recognize is “Jack Pine.”
The forests of Algonquin have rejuvenated us. Each year, as the trip draws to a close, each family member makes plans for the coming year. The outdoor getaway provides us with a fresh outlook, an appreciation for what we have, and a more positive perspective for what is soon to come. Our rating is FIVE STARS!

Jenipher Appleton: nature at grandbendstrip.com