This past long weekend, I finally made it out skiing. Not just any old skiing, but a trip to Algonquin. I love Algonquin – not even just the park… the whole area. Anywhere from Algonquin to Northern Ontario (anyone who’s been to Sioux Lookout knows Algonquin Park isn’t in ‘Northern Ontario’… not really), give me wilderness. The woods, the trails, the lakes the rivers, the rustling of the leaves. If I could live in the woods and commute a reasonable distance to my work (or just not work at all), I wouldn’t even hesitate. If I could live up there, but couldn’t take technology with me, you all might just be lucky enough to get a brief final note from me. “Gone forever to woods, bye”, maybe.
My hermit-type habits are a discussion for another day, though, because I wasn’t solo on this trip. I didn’t even sleep in a tent!
My friend S (my friend who does cross-country skiing too), Gwynn, and I stayed at the Motel 6 in Huntsville. If you’re looking for a dog-friendly place to stay in that area, I cannot recommend them enough. They don’t charge extra for (or make a fuss about) dogs, they actually welcome them! They might have really weird motel-6 sheets, but just look at what they gave Gwynn when we got there!
We drove up Saturday morning at some unholy hour, stopping on our way up at Henrietta’s – this amazing bakery between Huntsville and Algonquin. Try their Muskoka Clouds, or their bread… or anything, really.
We spent our morning attempting to ski one of the ungroomed trails. It was a learning experience, and what I learned was simple: A trail I remember as being flat-ish in summer is not necessarily a good trail for skiing! It was lovely, though.
When we stopped by the front gate to get a day-permit to the park, we were told of three spots where the trails were groomed. And no-dogs-allowed. Well that’s just no fun, though I could understand it. It put a bit of a cramp in our plan until I remembered the Rail Trail. For those of you not often in Algonquin, it’s a bicycle trail (in summer) that runs along where there used to be a lumber train through the park. Even ungroomed, that trail would be guaranteed to be flat!
My suspicion about why this trail isn’t advertised as groomed is that, having an access right in Mew Lake Campground (one of the few that remains open in the winter), they expected the trail to get at least partly ruined by all the people walking on it. I feel no guilt about bringing the dog out on that trail, especially not after witnessing the number of walking groups that came out and almost on purpose walked directly on the ski lines. For those of you who don’t cross-country ski – if you see those perfectly spaced ski-trail lines? Don’t walk on them!
I also had a chance to take out a coworker’s snowshoes. Gwynn was unimpressed at my ability to completely block the trail when he was trying to get through, but I definitely appreciated them on the steep parts of the trail – they had a lot more grip than my boots would have, and I didn’t need to slide down on my bum or clamber up hoisting myself from tree to tree.
We also had pie and deep fried foods and were asleep before 10pm, so you just know it was a good time.