Friday, November 30

Arrowhead in Between

We're in between seasons now. The fall colours have all fallen but the snow hasn't started yet (not in earnest, it hasn't). It's too cold for swimming and too warm for snowshoeing and that leaves a lot of people wondering what to do with themselves around here. My favourite answer to that: hiking!

Cool days, fresh air, clear paths, no crowds. All excellent ingredients for a great day on the trails. A popular local spot for afternoon hikes is Arrowhead Provincial Park, just north of Huntsville, Ontario.

The park is closed to vehicle traffic at this time of year but there's ample parking at the entrance gate and visitors are welcome to walk, hike, cycle and even roller blade into the park during the day. It's about 1.5km from the gate to the (closed) park office and the start of the 2km Mayflower Lake Trail or 2.7km Homesteaders Trail.

You can venture further into the park to access even more of the trails, such as the one that goes to Stubb's Falls. From the park gate to the falls and back is about an 8km round trip walk/hike. While there are some good long hills on the route, most of it is on paved roadways absent of cars.

I recently did the hike to Stubb's Falls and back in about an hour and twenty minutes, but allow yourself at least two hours so you can spend some time viewing the falls or wandering along the lakeshore. There are lots of photo ops, even if this isn't our prettiest time of year.

Even though the park is officially closed, you won't be alone there as it a favourite outing for many locals and visitors, especially on a mild weekend afternoon. Plus we have park maps here at the inn for guests to bring along on their hike so you'll have the lay of the land.

It's between seasons now, what some would call the "off" season, but take advantage of this limbo time while you can. Once winter sets in, the cross-country ski trails, snowshoe trails, and the new ice-skating trail will be open and Arrowhead Park will be a bustling hive of activity for outdoor enthusiasts once again.

Thursday, November 15

Track and Tower Trail

It was a beautiful November day -- mild temperature, sunny breaks, and my birthday to boot! -- so we headed over to Algonquin Park for an afternoon hike. I got to choose the trail and since I've never done the Track and Tower Trail, and because I wanted to make good use of a particularly fine day, that was the one I chose.

It's a 7.5 km trail including the side loop over to the lookout point. It's definitely worth the extra couple of clicks to get that view! We did it in just under 3 hours with brief stops for snacks and photos. The Algonquin Park trail guide recommends allowing 4 hours for the hike and that's about right for a leisurely pace. It's also wise to err on the side of caution when planning a hike at this time of year. The days are short and there are fewer people on the trails so it's important to start a trail only if you know you can finish well before the sun goes down.

The trail followed Cache Lake to start.
Rivers, rapids, and bridges make for interesting sights and sounds along the way.
A few sections of the trail use boardwalks to protect the land and/or our feet.
A lovely little waterfall cascade. We could hear this one well before we could see it.
Over 130 steps up to the lookout and back down again.
The view from the top! Totally worth the stairs!
Part of the trail follows an old train track. It ends rather abruptly where a bridge used to span a river.
And it picks up on the other side where it left off.
The old track sections make for some easy, level walking.
Even though the ambient temp was 15°C, these frozen little waterfalls stayed cold against the rock face. 
Cool curtain of ice!
Old footings, remnants of a train trestle.
A river runs through it.
Hike complete! Either I'm doing a happy dance or I'm trying to get untangled from the leash. Either way, what a great day!

Friday, November 2

Oh, Deer!

We know deer frequently inhabit our little meadow at night. We see the tall grasses flattened down where they sleep, as well as other signs they've been. We often catch brief glimpses of them in our headlights when we pull into the parking lot after an evening out.

This week, though, two deer have been active in our back lawn in the middle of the day. We've been able to watch them from windows in the kitchen and the Loft room. They stay awhile and graze on grass and other vegetation. They've completely chewed down our comphry plants, which is fine with me -- I'm just glad someone is making use of them!

Yesterday when Jim saw the deer were back, he grabbed his camera, quietly slipped outside and then slowly, slowly, made his way close enough to get some nice pictures. We know we're sharing our forest with many wild animals but it's such a rare treat to get a good long look at them doing what they do.