Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Second Half of a Long Weekend...to Algonquin!

Where I left off last time was just finishing a visit to Killbear PP for the first half of the August long weekend.  For the second half of the weekend I was taken (by surprise!) to Algonquin Provincial Park for my very first backpacking trip (even if it was just an overnight one...it wasn't "car" camping!)

We went for a hike on the Western Upland Backpacking trail and made our way out towards Maple Leaf Lake. Our first stop was a few km in and it was near a giant beaver damn.  The water levels were obviously very low, leaving a lot of the area to be a mud flat.  I was actually very surprised that there were not more shorebirds there picking away in the mud!  Instead, we only saw one!  I am not the best yet at shorebirds, but I what we saw I have identified as being a Spotted Sandpiper! What an adorable little guy he was!
Spotted Sandpiper!
We continued further along the path. It seemed most of the time that all we were doing was walking uphill!  Isn't that always the way.  We stopped for a little snack on a rock in the middle of a little beautiful waterfall.  I don't think anything beats sunflower seeds and beef jerky when you are out in the woods! While here we had the most beautiful dragonfly land near a tree by us, so I took a few shots of it.  Turns out it is an Ebony Jewelwing! It was over all quite a quiet walk through the woods, I didn't really hear too many birds what so ever, minus the odd Chickadee!

Ebony Jewelwing Dragonfly

We finally made it to Maple Leaf Lake and spent the rest of the day collecting firewood, looking around, playing with chipmunks, and just completely vegging.   The sunset was absolutely beautiful on the lake and although it was too cold to actually swim we were able to put our legs in the water, hang out in the sun, and enjoy the loons with two young swim around the lake and listen to their haunting songs.  When the stars came out I could have almost sworn that I've never seen anything quite that amazing.  Half of me was scared that it was pitch black and I was just standing there (who knows what lurks!) and the other half couldn't move at the magnificence of it all. I hadn't seen stars like that since I was up working in Chapleau/Gogama area for a summer.  Just absolutely stunning.

The next morning I heard a very familiar song...one of the white-throated sparrow!  Now, I know that this is a fairly common bird but I had yet to actually SEE it!  So I went on a little hunt and was finally able to track this guy down.  What a beautiful bird it was!  Unfortunately my picture of it happened to turn out a little...hazy looking.
White-throated Sparrow.
White-throated Sparrow

Just before we left the next morning a little toad stopped by to wish us well!

American Toad

If anyone is thinking about taking a backpacking trip, Algonquin is totally the place to go. I am so glad to have been brought here, even though most people would scream at the thought of hiking about 16km in 24 hours! Maple Leaf Lake was also a beautiful place to stay. Not too, too far of a hike and was perfect for an overnight backpacking trip.  The lake itself was stunning and so clear, I wish it was just a little warmer to have swam (which is saying a lot because I hate swimming!)

The sights, the smells, the sounds...it was all just amazing. I really hope to head up that way again sometime in the fall because the colours will be nothing short of brilliant!

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