Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Frontenac Provincial Park Apr 25-28 08

- Tranquil morning on the shores of Birch Lake

Finally!!!! After such a seemingly long, cold, and snowy winter, its finally over! I'm sure most of us has about had it with shoveling driveways, reshoveling the driveway when the plow comes through - #@!*%!!!, and dealing with the massive snow mountains building on our lawns. But hey, we live in Canada and that is just winter. This is just one of the "benefits" of living in such a great country! Now for the next season, - ice-out! (I think spring is just after)

- Signs of life bursting forth everywhere!

Due to the large amount of snow and the possibility of a protracted winter, we decided to set the date for our first trip a little later on Apr 25. If you recall, last year we finished our first trip on the 25th. (Okay its not that much!) We planned to take our inaugural trip to Algonquin again, but as the date loomed closer, we had information regarding lots of ice on the lakes and the park recommending people to cancel their reservations. So reluctantly, I made alternative plans - which was to paddle Frontenac Provincial Park. I figured as it was east of Toronto and not very far north, we shouldn't have any problems with ice. I called the park and they confirmed my suspicions.

- Devil's Oven Rock: I see where the idea of the oven came
from, but I still haven't figured the "Devil" part.
(There wasn't any skeletons in the holes!)

Marylou and I backpacked in Frontenac PP many years ago when I was introducing her to the outdoors, but we never got around to paddle there. I guess you can say it was a reunion of sorts - walking down memory lane (8yrs). Anyhow, I'm happy to say that other than a few patches of snow in the forest, the trip got off to a normal start - no ice, no drama, and no incident. Our plan was to paddle around the perimeter of the park and then head in to the interior and explore from there.

- Marble cliffs with orange lichen on Devil Lake!
Who would have thought?

First off, let me tell you something about the park interior sites. Marylou and I have obviously paddled in provincial parks, but when we got to our first campsite, we were totally blown away! We had a flat sandy tent pad, a picnic table, a fire pit in a big metal ring with benches all around, and a fiberglass outhouse (including sunroof + vents) with toilet paper in it!!! Talk about the Ritz in the park! Wow! (I can hear the comments now, ...fine camping consist of a covered roof, running water, flushable toilets, blah, blah, blah!) We are definitely not use to this so it was a shock! We are use to trying to find a bush site and digging holes, so I have to admit it was kind of nice! Now I feel like a snooty canoeist paddling in style!

- The pleasures of modern day camping
- it even had toilet paper!

Frontenac PP is rich in history from the logging-era, various mining ventures, and many homesteads. We took advantage of the information provided on the map to visit and see some of these things as we traversed the park. Of course, these things are not marked as such like portage/camp signs, so you have to go off the beaten path and search for them, but they are quite interesting when you find them. I especially enjoyed finding a deep pothole high up on a granite hill, the various mines, and marble cliffs. I found the rolling hills and valleys perfect for high scenic views and enchanting portage trails. I especially was memerized by one portage trail that totally captivated me as it followed along a vale alongside high mossy cliffs. Possibly now my favourite!

- Amey mica pits: this one was obviously an open
pit, but others had shafts

- Any parts of the pit that wasn't overgrown or covered with leaves
revealed the mica that reflected like foil in the
sunlight. It was quite interesting.

Despite many remnants of historical nature, there were no lack of flora and fauna. There was an abundance of wildlife in the park as we saw various species of turtles - Stinkpot, Painted, Map - snakes, deer, beavers, muskrat, nesting herons and osprey. We also witnessed many spring flowers blossoming across the park like the triliums. And of course the landscape was slowly taking on a pale green as young buds were bursting froth from the limbs of trees. It was a real treat feeling refreshed and revitalized seeing life abound everywhere around us.

- A side trip to Moultan Lake provided the opportunity to see this
watersnake. It was found sunning itself on a dead tree
sticking out of the water.

Well, it was just the trip to start off the new year and the paddling season on a good foot - other than the last day when the rain just wouldn't stop. Despite loading up soaking wet at the take-out, we were just glad to be out paddling and being in the wilderness again! Hope everyone's paddling adventures have started as well, or will very soon!

- Not everything was alive, as witnessed by these deer remains, (one of 2
we found), but it meant life for many others

Oh, on a side note as I mentioned "memory lane" previously, early one morning as I was walking around taking pictures, I came across another campsite. Instantly, I had a deja vu when I realized the scene out to the lake I was seeing was where Marylou and I had camped many years ago. It was almost a weird but happy nostalgic feeling that overcame me when it sunk in. Later when Marylou woke up, I showed her the place (she didn't remember! - she was probably traumatized then!) and then got her to pose where I asked her to years ago and took relatively the same picture. Cool.

- Here's the "now" picture I took from memory

- And of course, here's the one 8 years ago - pretty neat!
I guess my memory still works!

Note: I found out that Canoe Lake was ice free on Apr 25! Freaky! I guess I should have just headed to Algonquin after all! Our next adventure will be there in a couple days so its off to clean and repack!


- One of the many beautiful flowers that was blossoming around the park
I don't know the name of this one!