Another trip we made in the park was a paddle along the Oxtongue River. This river is much narrower than the Barron Canyon River, with many twists and turns. It would be a great river to canoe on an early morning mist as you'd have a good chance of spotting some big wildlife. There are rapids every so often along the river, but our canoe is too large to shoot them. My son managed one of the tiny rapids in his kayak since kayaks don't sit as low in the water.
This (above) is the point at which we turned around (rather than lug the canoe through the short portage around these rapids). Last year we watched some kayakers go through these rapids in their enviably tiny river kayaks. There is a canoe-in campsite at these small rapids, and we thought it's a very pretty spot to camp. I love the sound of the rapids, and when I was young my parents always did a fall camping trip to Palmer Rapids where we would hear the water rushing all day and it would lull us to sleep at night ... perfect ;)
Oxtongue River is one of the first destinations we have planned on when we get a lighter canoe, and we can paddle for a much longer journey, taking the canoe easily across these short portages.
Getting set to head back up the river (below photo). The deerfly were pretty bad on this river since we were so close to the shore and there were a lot of lily pads that the deerfly like to rest on. Last year we found a skeleton of a moose along the shore. We stopped to have a look, and my son picked up the jaw bones to decorate his room(?!), when we came past the spot again on the way back, the large hip bone was suddenly gone!! We all thought the same thing ... bears! ... and quickly got back in the boats and paddled away.
My son's kayak, which he is very proud of and bought with money from his paper route :)
This was the only wildlife we saw on the Oxtongue. The best time to see any wildlife in the park is early morning or early evening. All along this river you can see paths down to the water made by moose and otters. Last year we saw an otter along the shore, but he was too quick to get a photo. We've been fortunate to spot wildlife at any time during the day.
Here's an example of what we saw around 10:00 a.m. one morning along the highway ...
A young bull moose. I just love moose, they're so docile and huge! Of course, you don't want to meet a bull moose during their mating season in the fall when they crash around the brush looking for their darlings! This next cow moose was together with the bull ... just look at that loving look in her eye and endearing smile!
We see a lot of moose in the park because they are protected from hunters here. There are over 3,000 moose in Algonquin Park! We saw seven. The three below were causing a "moose jam" on the highway ... everyone pulls over to see the moose and take tons of photos ... there were probably 30 cars pulled over for this trio :) They were actually quite a distance away (thank goodness for zoom lenses!).
Most babies are born on an island to protect them from wolves. Fifty percent of baby moose don't survive their first year. It's a real treat to see a set of twin calves with their mother. Moose are perfectly adapted to this wilderness as their long legs can take them into deep water of marshes (above) where they love to munch on aquatic plants, and they also make it easy for them to manage the deep snow in winter. Moose are great swimmers too, and will cross large lakes without difficulty.
I couldn't stop snapping photos of these three ... they were just so adorable.
While photographing the above mother moose and her calves, the heron (below) was trying hard to steal the show. He was perched on this rock ...
And then decided there was better fishing right in the water, so he leaped off the rock ...
... but found he miscalculated the depth of the water! I laughed when I saw him sink down in the water ... it's always so unexpected when wild creatures misjudge ;)
A large snapping turtle was sunning himself on a log quite close to us too. Snapping turtles have a wicked strength in their jaws. My mom told us of when her brothers once found a snapper on a hike and they teased it with a thick branch until the snapper bit the branch and wouldn't let go. They lifted the snapper up by the branch and carried him between them still latched onto the branch all the way back to the farm to show their dad. I've seen many snapping turtles in various lakes when we camp, and I'm always leery of them.
This moose was on Rock Lake Road, and a mere 10 ft from the roadside. Actually, I think this is the same young bull moose we saw previously. Isn't he just so gosh darned loveable?!
Moose are mercilessly attacked by flies ... see all that tan "dust" on his rump ... all flies that rise in a cloud and settle again with every step he takes. At least they have thick hides! Unfortunately, one of the main causes of death in adult moose is from a disease caused by ticks. They loose their fur, and often die in the winter from exposure.
Anyway, we were heading down Rock Lake Road to canoe down the length of Rock Lake. Rock Lake is the first campground we ever camped at in Algonquin Park (some 15 years ago), and it is a terrible campground. There is no privacy between the campsites and everyone just seems to be piled on top of each other. We hated it! But Rock Lake is one of the prettiest lakes along the corridor, and it's fairly large. So when the wind picks up, you have to really work at paddling to keep your canoe from overturning.
Well, the wind picked up. The lake was covered with little white caps, and it was hard going, and you can tell you're not getting anywhere fast. Cody couldn't keep his feet and was falling all over inside the canoe. My husband was concerned for my son who was struggling in the kayak as well, so after half an hour of barely getting out of the bay, we gave it up and turned back and stopped at this little beach instead. You can see in the distance a tall hill which has a trail along it with a fantastic view of Rock Lake.
My son entertained Cody on the beach with a large log ...
Then it was off again ...
Damp doggie at the helm ...
We're always so busy at Algonquin Park ... we never want to just sit around the campsite. With 20 hiking trails within the park, and two biking trails to choose from, we never have enough time to see all that we want to. One of our favourite trails is Centennial Ridges, which has a spectacular view over Whitefish Lake on one side. The photo below is 'stitched' from four individual photos. You can imagine what this looks like in the fall ... bright orange, reds & yellows.
A lot of the trails have great views from cliffs ...
After long climbs to the top, it's a great excuse to sit and admire the view (aka "catch your breath"!)
Of course Cody loves the hiking trails best ... especially with his pal who never misses a chance to throw a stick into the water for Cody along the trail!
... although getting into the water sometimes proves a challenge for the silly dog (I'm sure he's thinking he can get in, but how is he going to get out!)
Always neat things to see thanks to nature ...
The roots that become exposed are so interesting ...
I won't push your patience any further with the photos (well, just a few, but you don't have to look at them if you don't want to ;) Needless to say we have a marvelous time in the park every time we go, and endless memories. We did more canoe trips this summer than hiking, and even then it seemed our week flew by. We also cycled the railroad trail with the dog trotting alongside us (22 km round trip) ... he was one tired (but happy!) dog at the end of that. We also canoed on huge Lake Opeongo where my son was thrilled to see the float plane bank around a point in front of us and come over our heads for a landing beside us.
Lots of wildlife was spotted, including two beautiful red fox. In August the park holds a "wolf howl", and I noticed that this year is their 50th anniversary for that. We've been to them before and have heard the call of the wild along with over 1,000 other visitors as we all parked alongside Hwy 60 ... so if you ever get the chance ...
Thanks for stopping by!
|A small arm of BIG Lake Opeongo ...|
|A memorial on Canoe Lake to Tom Thomson, a painter with The Group of Seven who drowned on Canoe Lake ...|
|Canoe Lake outside the outfitters store on a Saturday afternoon when everyone has rented a canoe, but not many of them know how to steer (we were almost rammed twice through this little bay!)|