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Author Topic: Suggestions for 2 day Algonquin trip or alternative Crown land?  (Read 6795 times)

Offline The ORB

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Suggestions for 2 day Algonquin trip or alternative Crown land?
« on: February 18, 2014, 06:36:49 pm »
Hi all, first post on this great site that i have been reading for a few weeks.

I am planning to take my 15 year old daughter on a 2-3 day snowshoeing and cold tenting trip this weekend.  Looking for a route that is sufficiently out of the way that we can  find a peaceful and scenic spot to camp and ideally some reasonably flat travel either on lake or fairly level ground/trail.

We both have modern snowshoes and a basic Erapro/Paris sled that I have rigged.  Not sure if that will lend itself to breaking trail in deep snow over any kind of distance or if we would be better on a trail of some kind?  I see also that Algonquin advises against lake travel, but I assume that is optional?

Originally I was planning to go into Algonquin and set off from access point 4 at Rain lake, as we have used this for canoe trips in the past.   However it appears the access road is not plowed and so is not accessible even with 4wd.

My question is does anyone have any other recommendations for a good route that will allow a place to park and a decent route and areas to camp away from any crowds?   Would consider Crown Land but don't know any good winter routes.

Thanks so much.  :)

Offline The ORB

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Re: Suggestions for 2 day Algonquin trip or alternative Crown land?
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2014, 09:42:43 am »
No-one got any experience of winter tripping in or around Algonquin?

Offline brianw

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Re: Suggestions for 2 day Algonquin trip or alternative Crown land?
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2014, 10:25:32 am »
No-one got any experience of winter tripping in or around Algonquin?

Many go into Algonquin Park.  There was a large group at the Algonquin Winter Fest at Mew Lake for the Family Day weekend.  In winter you can go anywhere in the park that is not a summer site and at least 30m or 100' from any trail or water source, so you choices are endless.  The park itself doesn't recommend ice travel for obvious liability reasons.

There are lots of routes in the park.  It all depends on what type of trip you want to do, your gear and your skill level.  A lot also has to do with weather as well.  The main reason I like Algonquin park, is the plowed parking lots at many of the trail heads and they are routinely patrolled.  My issue with crown land camping has to do with finding a plowed and relatively secure spot to park my vehicle. 

Cheers

Brian

Offline The ORB

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Re: Suggestions for 2 day Algonquin trip or alternative Crown land?
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2014, 11:00:46 am »
Hey Brian, yeah that's what I was hoping to get is some advice on specific spots on the west side or maybe hwy 60 corridor, based on which are plowed and easily accessible, but still offer some peace and quiet.   I was planning on Rain Lake but discovered that is off the list.   I have never been in the winter so i have no experience of what is accessible.   Just want to save some time on Saturday morning driving around searching for an access point.

Weather wise looks OK.  It will be warm through Friday, but then drops below freezing -5 to -14, so hopefully the snow will be a little firmer under foot for our smaller/modern snowshoes?

Also I understand you now need a permit even in the winter.  I guess I can pick that up at the West gate on Sat morning?

Thanks again.

Offline gmcinty

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Re: Suggestions for 2 day Algonquin trip or alternative Crown land?
« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2014, 12:46:14 pm »
Have you had a look at Jeff's algonquin map for some ideas? www.algonquinmap.com

I've done the 5km portage to BlackFox lake before and quite liked it. I know it was 'bulldozed' a few years back and am not sure about what its like now. It's fairly flat. Someone else here or at algonquinadventures.com might have more recent information on that. The park office should know is traffic from the dogsled trails and logging would interfere with that plan.

For flat options I would be tempted to go in at Mew lake and take the railtrail for a few km W and bushwhack for a little bit to find a good campsite. An easy option.  The Mizzy lake trail is fairly flat. I'm not sure how trodden down it would be in the winter. You could take it and wander into the bush for a campsite. There is the railtrail heading off it as well as the trail to Arrowhon lodge for sidetrips.

In the winter you could look at any of the longer portages that cross hwy60 for a starting point.

You still need a permit in the winter. The W gate will generally only give them out in person if you're heading in off of hwy60. You should ask the permit office about any other activities in the area you're heading into so you can avoid them if you want (ie logging, dogsleds etc).

Based on the current weather there should be a hard crust on the weekend; trails that have been heavily used will be slippery. 


Offline sleddawg

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Re: Suggestions for 2 day Algonquin trip or alternative Crown land?
« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2014, 03:53:56 pm »

If this is a new venture for you and your daughter I'd suggest the Sunday Lake Dogsled trail (now accessed at the Sanitary Station Rd just west of the Sunday lake parking lot).  The trails are groomed and it's lot easier than breaking trail, plus there's a trail map.  It's always great seeing the dog teams.
Happy camping.
Cheers,
Ken
I, haul the sled so therefore I am "the" dawg.....

Offline HOOP

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Re: Suggestions for 2 day Algonquin trip or alternative Crown land?
« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2014, 07:03:48 pm »
Hi ORB,

I don't live near there, so can't provide any intel on locations.  However your questions about how to find crown land routes is a common one, and is often limiting.  My biggest challenge in northwestern Ontario is knowing what bush roads might be plowed, and where its possible to park a vehicle.  I have often shoveled out my own parking spot on a bush road branch that is unplowed. 

Another major safety hazard is logging trucks.  The bush roads are often only plowed for logging hauls, sometimes for one-way traffic because they are too narrow.  You are supposed to have a truck radio and radio in your position along the road (entry signs sometimes show the channel being used), but most of us civilians do not have trucking radios, so its sometimes unsafe to use a plowed road when the haul is on, especially going against the one-way haul.

Sometimes there is no way around taking a weekend or two ahead of time, grabbing a local hotel, and exploring an area with day pack and snowshoes, to check out a variety of spots that offer access and a way to park.  I have gone up a week before and spent a day breaking a snowshoe trail 6 km in for a trip for the following week.   Even if it snows on you in between, its better than having to break trail in the deeper snow hauling a sled. 

For a good how-to on how to find crown land routes, here is a Youtube video from PineMartyn:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snbMdL0ZK1M   He is showing the how-to for summer but the same principles apply.

For winter you need to factor in what may be plowed, what is not, and where you can shovel into to park off the road.  On most roads in winter it is illegal, unsafe, and unethical to park on the road, unless there is a push out or deliberate widening for parking, which sometimes occurs beside popular ice fishing lakes.  Snowplows at night could take out your vehicle, and logging trucks could hit your vehicle and cause a major vehicle accident.  I carry a sliding scoop shovel for slide-moving lots of snow, and a tough bladed square snow shovel for breaking up the hard snowbank.  From scratch, it can take me 2 hours of hard work to shovel out a slot for my pickup truck on an unplowed bush road entrance abutting a plowed road.   I have done this many times solo.  With buddies it goes quick, part of the trip.

You can call the local logging companies to find out what roads may be plowed and if there are any courtesy push out parking areas that they make for snowmobilers and ice fishermen.  MTO will also make these courtesy parking push outs on popular lake access points.   And of course ice fishermen themselves are a treasure trove of access and parking info.

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"I firmly believe that far from hurting the planet, the growing knowledge of Bushcraft is helping our natural world. When we employ bushcraft skills, it may seem as though we are consuming natural resources.  But of course, the more we learn about the trees, the plants, the animals around us, the more we respect them. The more we respect them, the more we cherish them, the more we nurture and take care of them. That is the underlying principle of Bushcraft.

Offline brianw

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Re: Suggestions for 2 day Algonquin trip or alternative Crown land?
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2014, 07:43:15 pm »
Hey Brian, yeah that's what I was hoping to get is some advice on specific spots on the west side or maybe hwy 60 corridor, based on which are plowed and easily accessible, but still offer some peace and quiet.   I was planning on Rain Lake but discovered that is off the list.   I have never been in the winter so i have no experience of what is accessible.   Just want to save some time on Saturday morning driving around searching for an access point.

Weather wise looks OK.  It will be warm through Friday, but then drops below freezing -5 to -14, so hopefully the snow will be a little firmer under foot for our smaller/modern snowshoes?

Also I understand you now need a permit even in the winter.  I guess I can pick that up at the West gate on Sat morning?

Thanks again.

Yes, you pick up your permit at the West or East gate when you get here (opens at 9AM I believe).  Also when you get you permit there are going to ask you where you are planning to go, so you need to know that ahead of time. 

Take the advice and refer to the Jeff's Map of Algonquin Park.  It is pretty detailed.    If you visit the friends of algonquin park website they will give you this list of walking trails that are plowed in the winter (or at least are usually plowed).  If you are looking for something simple and to do with your child, then I suggest using the track and tower trail coming out of the Mew Lake campgroup.  If you walk down there about about 750 meters, there will be an opening to (almost part of the old airfield).  You can walk off the trail into an number areas of the bush.  The benefit to this spot is that is considered back country, you can park at the campgroup and you are close to the heated washrooms of the campground for water, toilets and showers.  Sort of like taking in a walk in camping site at a regular campground. 

The Track and Tower trail also intersects the highland backpacking trail so there is hiking opportunities if you choose to take advantage of them.

Cheers

Brian

Offline ravinerat

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Re: Suggestions for 2 day Algonquin trip or alternative Crown land?
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2014, 08:19:29 pm »
The Rain lake  road is usually only ploughed to about 3km from the Park.it is a short ski in. The road turns into a snowmobile trail for a short while. The road and trail is part of the old Seguin Rail line. It is relatively flat as it travels through rain Lake. Rain lake has some thin ice spots where the lake narrows so caution is needed. There are many unused logging roads running off Rain Lake which would be suitable for camping. Most are hilly though. It they are logging in the Park near Rain Lake then the road is ploughed all the way.

RR
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Offline The ORB

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Re: Suggestions for 2 day Algonquin trip or alternative Crown land?
« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2014, 02:01:36 pm »
Thanks for the input folks.  Appreciate it.
Here's hoping for a good trip.   ;D

Offline The ORB

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Re: Suggestions for 2 day Algonquin trip or alternative Crown land?
« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2014, 04:12:04 pm »
So I thought I'd report back and post a few snaps.  We had a great trip and learnt a few lessons along the way.

After consultation with the lady at the West gate, we decided to go to Canisbay Lake. 
The access road to the camp ground (off Hwy 60) had been plowed at least fairly recently.  A few inches of snow on it, but perfectly passable with snow tires and AWD.  The gate across the road at the camp entrance/office was locked but there was enough room to park, so we started there.  Loaded up the sled and a couple of daypacks and set off.   Weather that morning was about -8, with snow flurries and strong winds gusting up to 60-70km/h.  We started by following the road beyond the gate, which again had been plowed at some point and since had a few inches of snow on it.   After a couple of km the plowed road ended and so we bushwacked through the woods to try to get to the lake.   This was probably only about 1.5km but was tough going.   I had my MSR evo ascent snowshoes with the tails attached, but with the weight of me (190lbs) the daypack and the sled, I was plunging knee to thigh deep almost every other step.  It was an exhausting section, but we eventually got through to the edge of the lake (almost).  The last obstacle now was a very steep hill the last 30 metres or so to the lake.  The combination of the homemade poles clipped to my climbing harness and my daughter using a rope off the back of the sled meant we got down without too much trouble.   This is where the modern snowshoes briefly made up for their lack of flotation, with excellent grip.
As we ventured out onto the lake, we weren't to sure what to expect with the recent warm spell that we had had.   However the snow conditions seemed good.  Theye were some patches of icy crust and some of just windblown powder, but all it all it was fairly easy progress.   The only problem was that once out of the shelter of the trees, the wind was howling and the snow flurries continued.   I had originally planned to travel all the way up the lake, but given the conditions and wanting to make sure we had plenty of time to setup camp, I changed plans after about 1km and started looking for a suitable camp spot.   We veered to the west side of the lake and headed about another 1km for the other side of a small bay to what looked like a flat and more sheltered area to camp.   As we got closer we headed to an area cleared by a couple of large blown down trees.   The roots of these gave us a nice windbreak, so i figured we'd setup there.
Anyhow we unpacked, setup the tent, gathered firewood etc. 
The return trip was fine.  Dragging the sled back up the hill was hard work, but the MSRs were awesome for climbing.  Thankfully the trip back trough the woods to the camp road, was much easier when following my own trail from the day before. 
All in all we had an enjoyable trip and my daughter had a great time despite cold toes on the 2nd morning.  She wants to do another trip soon.
Lessons learned:
-smaller modern snowshoes don't cut it in deep powder snow (I already kinda knew that, but proved it to myself). :(
-always take an auger or ice chisel and don't rely on an axe to chop through the ice (after chopping through almost 2 feet of ice I gave up and resorted to melting snow) :-[
-melting snow is a pain in the butt (I knew that already from my mountaineering days, but this was another reminder) ::)
-building a fire on deep compacted snow eventually results in a large hole in the snow and a fire underground.   :o ;)












Offline Bioguide

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Re: Suggestions for 2 day Algonquin trip or alternative Crown land?
« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2014, 05:35:24 pm »
Nice pictures and trip report ORB. Thanks for posting.

I bet within the next couple of years you and your daughter will be heading out to winter camp wearing newly acquired traditional snowshoes and using a canvas tent and wood stove (it beats burning a hole in the snow) and... she will be hauling her own sled.

Cheers, Bioguide

Offline The ORB

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Re: Suggestions for 2 day Algonquin trip or alternative Crown land?
« Reply #12 on: February 27, 2014, 06:15:03 pm »
Yeah I figure at least one of us should have a set of large traditionals to break a trail with.

As for the canvas tent and stove, I'd love to, but not in the budget for now.

Thanks.

Offline HOOP

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Re: Suggestions for 2 day Algonquin trip or alternative Crown land?
« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2014, 06:54:35 pm »
Thanks for the photos ORB!  Looked like a great location.  Its great that parents are taking kids out when young.  Glad she had a good time and wants to go again - an indicator of a successful trip!  A couple of tips to consider:

Fire pit:  Although its more work up front, it pays to dig out a big fire pit down to the ground, and you can level out the piled snow into a seating bench completely around the fire.  That way you can absorb maximum heat into your bodies and clothing because you are at ground level.  You can bask in the radiant heat.  A circular fire pit and seat notch all around will allow you to move around the fire depending on smoke direction.

Boots and cold feet:  Your daughter's boots look like the narrow toebox Sorels, and these are not deep enough to put in a thick insole, while also having extra socks and lots to room to wiggle the toes.  I don't know if they make them in kid's sizes, but the Sorel Glacier has a deep toebox and is made to have a thick  insole under the liner, and have lots of room for extra socks and wiggling the toes.  I find the insole makes all the difference, since much of the heat is lost through the sole of the boot.
My Youtube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Wintertrekker

"I firmly believe that far from hurting the planet, the growing knowledge of Bushcraft is helping our natural world. When we employ bushcraft skills, it may seem as though we are consuming natural resources.  But of course, the more we learn about the trees, the plants, the animals around us, the more we respect them. The more we respect them, the more we cherish them, the more we nurture and take care of them. That is the underlying principle of Bushcraft.

Offline ravinerat

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Re: Suggestions for 2 day Algonquin trip or alternative Crown land?
« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2014, 07:02:25 pm »
Lessons are always learnt every trip even by the seasoned camper. Your daughter looks like she is enjoying the trip and you'll have a good winter trekker now. The traditional snowshoes are great for floatation. Hills can be a challenge but there is a solution. You can add ice cleats to the bottom.mi have some I use ice fishing and can add them to my snowshoes any time.

RR
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