ALGONQUIN PROVINCIAL PARK
2011 WESTERN UPLANDS TRAIL WINTER TRIP REPORT
Jan 31st - Feb 2nd
33 km (20.5 miles)
This trip report will be relatively short as I have a video available that covers this adventure rather well.
Up here we get lots of snow, especially when you head north of the city. Well, this trip was no exception. Plenty of snow and cold temps made this trail a nice 3 day getaway. Each day posed it's own challenges but the most demanding aspect of this trip was breaking trail along the northern section of the trail. You can see in the trip report that it took me almost 9 hours to snowshoe about 11 km. This was very hard work, I can't stress enough how hard I pushed to make it across this section in the daylight hours. This reason alone makes this trip an advanced weekend. Not only the physical demands but dealing with moisture management becomes an issue as the hard work will have you sweating through all your layers. Long story short, this shouldn't be your first winter trip, but a well equiped and experienced winter camper should not have a problem snowshoeing this trail in 3 days.
Day #1 (Jan 31st)
Hiking Time: 3 hours
7.9 km (4.9 miles)
I left Toronto and headed for Algonquin Provincial Park on Monday morning. I didn't end up leaving until about 10 am or so because I was so busy over the weekend that I didn't get a chance to pack until Monday morning. It took me about 3 hours to make the drive. Once I got there, I grabbed my permit and headed to the trail head for my trip.
It's always tough to get out of a nice warm car and start hiking into the frozen forest knowing that the next couple of days will be full of frigid temps and lots of snow. But, at the same time, this feeling is what keeps me coming back for more. I was on the trail by 3pm and didn't have much time before dark.
The first 1.5 hours was an easy stroll through the woods as the trail had already been broken by a previous snowshoer. After reaching Guskewau Lake, the trail was full of snow and required me to break trail. The snow was light and fluffy, but very deep and was an gruelling cardio workout. By 6pm, I had to stop due to the darkness. I didn't bother looking for a secluded site, I just tramped the trail down and pitched my tent.
The weather report had called for -30 degree tempertaures and a big snowfall so I was anxiously awaiting the weather. But the evening was a lonely one, I simply made some dinner, melted a few liters of snow and then slowly drifted off to sleep.
Day #2 (Feb 1st)
Hiking Time: 8.75 hours
11.3 km (7.0 miles)
I woke up at about 7:30am and knew immediately that the temp did not drop that low. Perhaps it got to the mid -20's but not below -30, I would have known!
Also, there was not any additional snow so I guess I lucked out, the storm held off. I started to pack up and get ready for a hard day of snowshoeing. Once on the trail, I realized within the fist hour that the deep snow wasn't going to let me have an easy day. I worked very hard all day.
There were even times where I thought I wasn't going to make it to my projected campsite. I even thought that I would need an additional day to complete the loop. I snowshoed all day except for a short 30 minute break for lunch.
The day was chilly but all around nice weather so I didn't mind staying out until the evening. I did eventually push my way across the north end of the trail and then even a little further south.
Again, I ended up pitching my shelter along the trail. I was beat up pretty good. By the time I inhaled my dinner and melted snow for water the next day, I was sound asleep by 9pm..
At 5:30am I woke up with a bit of a chill in my body. I went out to visit the little boys room and was greeted by a howling winter storm. I quickly returned to my shelter and boiled some water to put in my nalgene to help fend off the cold temps.
I dozed off once again.
Day #3 (Feb 2nd)
Hiking Time: 6.75 hours
13.4 km (8.3 miles)
I must have been mighty warm after my bathroom break because I slept in until 9am, but I needed it. When I opened the door to the tent I saw how bad the snow was coming down.
The storm that I was supposed to get the night before had held off for a day and came last night. I quickly packed up and hit the trail to make the best of the daylight hours. Initially, travel was slow due to deep powder but a few hours in I had made it close enough to the trailhead that someone had been there shortly before me and the trail was broken once again.
I started making great time and made it to my campsite by 4pm. Being the kind of guy that hikes all day until sundown I pushed on and figured I would just stop when it got dark.
However, I made such good time that I turned my 4 day trip into a 3 day trip. I gladly made my way back to the car and called it a day.
I had a great time and was pleasantly surprised at how well my custom winter shelter had held up to the storm. Once again, another successful adventure!