Winter in Algonquin is quite simply – beautiful.
I have been here in the winter before, but this was this first time without heat! I have found there are far more willing participants to come camping in the summer, but very few volunteer to experience it in the dead of winter – especially if the sleeping quarters are not heated. I did find a more than willing participant, in one of my sons, to humour me and head up north for a weekend in the end of January. He had been asking about winter camping over the past few years. Since the rest of the family was not interested (or too young) the two of us would be the first to see what it would be like to experience Algonquin without heat (except for our camp fire). The only rookie mistake we made was not warming up our boots in the morning before we put them on and headed out of the tent. Who knew what -19c would do to winter boots left out all night!
Once our frozen toes regained their proper circulation and temperature, we were set to enjoy the snow covered wilderness. We did find that staying active or staying close to the fire kept us plenty warm. Activities such as snowshoeing and fire wood collection were great for retaining and building adequate body temperature. Activities such as reading and lounging were only tolerable within close proximity to the fire. If you started to feel a chill, you gladly volunteered to find and chop more firewood.
We had a good mix of sunshine, cloud cover and snowfall throughout the weekend. The amount of daylight we experience is always a bit of a surprise to me. During summer trips, we always have enough daylight to cook even the ‘fashionably late’ dinner or the ‘we’re so late because we finally found an open site at the far end of the lake’ dinner. In winter we are most often eating our dinner in the dark and around the fire.
I also find that we eat a lot more food during these winter trips. I hear it helps to keep you warmer, but I think it is because we spend considerably more time around the camp site and are not on the move as much as in summer canoe trips. One thing is for certain, we do drink a lot more hot beverages. Sometimes it felt like I was back home, asking our guests, “would you like a cup of tea, hot chocolate, apple cider, coffee…?”
We discovered the ice on our last day in the park. I didn’t have much time to photograph so I tried my best to concentrate on one aspect of the ice – it’s texture. Because of the rush, most of the images were ‘very uninspiring’. I managed to find six images that I’m not embarrassed to share.