Saturday, March 6, 2010

Square 98: Algonquin Park

Square 098

On the boundary between northern and southern Ontario lies Algonquin Provincial Park. One-and-a-half times the size of Prince Edward Island or Delaware, it contains 2,400 lakes and 1,200 kilometres of rivers and streams. Located a three hour drive north of Toronto, it is many Canadians' point of contact with wilderness.

My family cottage is less than 10 kilometres (as the crow flies) from the southern boundary of the park, so we need not visit to get a regular taste of Precambrian granite and pristine waters. Still, it beckons with the prospect of exploration and adventure.

That was my daughter Marian's idea of adventure, so the summer she was 12 the two of us went on a three-night canoe trip through Rock Lake and Pen Lake in Algonquin Park. We carried the canoe and all our equipment along a portage more than one kilometre long, got caught in a thunderstorm, and climbed a high granite cliff overlooking one of the lakes (some granite in the area is close to the pink colour in this square).

The morning we were camping on an island on Pen Lake, I got up early and walked to a rock platform with a wide view. On the mainland about 50 metres away, I spotted two red wolves standing on the shore. They spied me, too. After we regarded each other for a moment, they drifted into the woods.

Marian saw a black bear near the same place. We didn't have any trouble with bears or raccoons at our campsite. But each night when I hoisted the food pack safely above the ground I would keep two mugs with hot chocolate mix to add water for our bedtime snacks. One evening we went for a little spin in the canoe, and returned to the campsite to find a mouse stealing miniature marshmallows from our mugs.

The images that have stayed with me most are the water, serenely grey in all kinds of weather. One evening while we watched the sunset, a faint rain was falling around us, laying hypnotic patterns on the quiet lake. Its shining surface seemed to blend with the wet curves of rock along the shore. Marian waded into the water. My daughter, poised on the brink of adulthood, appeared to be standing in the sky.

1 comment:

  1. Great story about your daughter and you in Algonquin Park. For some reason a trip to Algonquin always builds memories you will cherish for ever.

    I have many such memories from may trips into Algonquin, with my daughter (now 15) too.