November Hiking in Algonquin Park — 5 Days at the Wolf Den
- Trip Info
- Day 1 – Checking in to the Wolf Den Nature Retreat
- Day 2 – Track and Tower Trail
- Day 3 – Beaver Pond Trail, Spruce Bog Boardwalk, Fire Tower Trail, Old Lookout Trail
- Day 4 – Whiskey Rapids Trail, Hardwood Lookout Trail, Peck Lake Trail
- Day 5 – Leaving the Wolf Den Nature Retreat
- The Aftermath
Date: November 1st – 5th, 2022
15 degrees. 6 hours of sun. Overnight temperatures above 0. Gentle winds.
When you see that forecast for 5 days in a row in November, you take your gear out of storage and plan another trip to Algonquin Park. The question wasn’t “should I go?”, but rather “should I go to the backcountry, or should I book a cabin?”
For my ice out trip in late April I stayed at the Wolf Den Nature Retreat, just outside of the park’s borders. This trip would be starting on a Tuesday, and the Wolf Den was basically wide open with vacancy until the weekend, so I would get my choice of cabins. The comforts of a cabin this late in the season can’t be understated, but it would come at a significantly higher price than backcountry camping of course.
On the other hand, the backcountry would be a ghost town in November, and how often would I get the chance to camp in November with the type of weather that was forecasted? Plus, if I chose backcountry camping I’d be able to spend my days collecting more campsite reports for my website. The thing is, I’ve done lots of October trips, but the latest I had gone out was mid-October. November was new territory for me. And now I had Elo (my dog) to factor into the equation too, mostly from a safety and canoe-tipping standpoint.
This idea for this trip started Monday morning. I packed my gear Monday evening, still undecided which option I liked better. This trip was so last minute that it was only Tuesday morning at 8:00 AM when I messaged my work and asked if I could use my last vacation days to take the rest of the week off. Given the fact that you’re reading this trip report, they were obviously fine with it. Or I’ll be getting fired soon… shhhhh.
Day 1 – Checking in to the Wolf Den Nature Retreat
It was only during my drive to my parents house to get my canoe that I decided which option I would choose. I decided to stay at the Wolf Den. My main concern about backcountry camping was tipping the canoe due to Elo, which would quickly turn into a life threatening situation in November water temperatures. She’s still relatively new to camping so I didn’t want to take any chances. Plus, sunlight hours are significantly shorter at this time of the year, overnight temperatures were going to be pretty chilly, and I had already gotten 50+ more campsite reports than the goal I set at the beginning of the season. It was difficult passing up the backcountry with this weather forecast, but I knew the Wolf Den would be the safer and more flexible trip. I also packed out super last minute and didn’t want to risk a November backcountry trip if I was missing anything important.
While driving to get my canoe, I called the Wolf Den and they said I could show up, take a look at what was available, and choose whichever cabin I wanted. So that was the plan.
I stopped at the Algonquin Outfitters in Huntsville because I had never been to that location before, and because there was someone working there who I’ve chatted with online that I wanted to introduce myself to.
It was close to 1:00 PM when I arrived at the Wolf Den. I toured some of the available cabins and decided to take the Green Cabin. I had a feeling this was going to be the one I would choose when browsing their website earlier. The independent cabins are more expensive than the other options, like the Loon East bunkhouse that I stayed at in April, however the higher price point gets you more space and a private bathroom. The Green Cabin also has its own private fire pit and dock for water access. And I wasn’t aware of this beforehand, but it also came with a reduced-rate park day pass, which was perfect since I planned on spending every day in the park.
After getting myself settled and my things organized, I decided to write off the rest of the day as a lazy day and start the adventuring on Day 2. I laid with Elo on the bed for around an hour, not quite sleeping but just lounging lazily. Afterwards I took her for a walk along the Wolf Den property, and then came back for a bit more lazy time at the cabin.
At around 6:00 PM I decided to drive across Highway 60. I love Highway 60 and always find the drive to be very beautiful, so I decided to spend the dusk hours driving back and forth, towards the east gate and then back to the cabin. Seeing wildlife was obviously a hope, but even if it didn’t happen I still enjoyed the idea of going for a long drive. There were no moose to be seen, but near the end of the drive I did see a fox run off the side of the road.
By the time we finished the drive and got back to the cabin it was completely dark out. I fed Elo, made myself dinner, and relaxed a bit more. If it wasn’t obvious by now, Day 1 was quite lazy.
I knew that I wanted to do some astrophotography during this trip, but I decided to hold off. The nighttime temperatures over the week would get gradually warmer, starting at 0 degrees and moving upwards to a forecasted 10 degrees. Yes, 10 degrees overnight in November! I figured I’d stick with the lazy mentality for Day 1 and save the astrophotography for the rest of the trip.
Despite being lazy all day, I was still so damn tired for some reason. I had forced myself to stay awake all day because I didn’t want to nap and throw off my sleep schedule overnight. Well, at 9:30 PM I finally gave in and fell asleep.
I wish I could end Day 1 here and say I had a great sleep. But no, unfortunately I woke up at 11:30 PM wide awake and bursting with energy. Falling back asleep was not an option. I spent the next few hours browsing Reddit, playing online chess, and beginning the “Canoeing Algonquin” book that I brought with me. It was around 2:00 AM that I finally felt tired enough to fall back asleep.
Day 2 – Track and Tower Trail
Other than the unintentional evening nap, and the following hours of being wide awake, I actually slept pretty well in the cabin. The Green Cabin comes with two bedrooms, so of course I set up in the larger one. The Wolf Den does provide all of the bedding, pillows, towels, etc. however I decided to bring and use my own anyways. There’s a heat source for the main cabin, and separate heating sources for each of the bedrooms. I kept the main cabin at a comfortable 21 Celsius, but the bedroom I kept colder because I sleep better that way.
The morning of Day 2 started with breakfast, a walk for Elo, and another drive back and forth along Highway 60. I didn’t see any wildlife, but the thick clouds of fog slowly dispersing across the rolling hills of the highway made the drive extremely pleasant and picture-worthy.
We got back to the cabin as the sun was making its way higher into the sky, at around 9:00 AM. I made myself a coffee, had some more breakfast, and spent a while continuing to read the Canoeing Algonquin book. At around 11:00 AM I set out for the west gate information office to register my license plate for the day.
I continued onwards to the Track and Tower Trail, which was going to be our main excursion for the day. There were a couple other cars in the parking lot and I did run into a few different groups on the trail, but it was way quieter than it would have been in the summer or earlier in the fall.
I’ve done most of my hiking in Algonquin Park during peak fall colours, but within 10 minutes of starting this hike, I was tempted to change my “favorite time to hike in Algonquin” award to the month of November. The bare trees created a shockingly gorgeous landscape with the rays of the sun shining through in magnificent ways. The crunch of the golden leaves on the ground and the crisp air were constant reminders that this was the epitome of late fall camping. Every twist and turn on the trail seemed to reveal another breathtaking view that I stopped to take a picture of.
I juggled between moving fast (at the whim of Elo’s excitement and demands) and stopping to soak it all in and take photos. At the start of the final incline to the lookout there was a woodpecker off in the distance that I was able to spend some time photographing. The lookout itself was breathtaking, like usual, however it can’t compete with the summer months when the leaves are still on the trees, or earlier in the fall when they’re shining brightly with their range of foliage colours.
The second half of the loop after the lookout was just as beautiful as the first half. It was getting late in the afternoon and the sun was on its way down, providing an even more dramatic effect while poking through the graveyard of bare trees all around us.
Earlier in the hike I was trailing behind a couple. I had my camera around my neck and they were directly in front of me, with a very picturesque backdrop in front of them. I lifted my camera for a picture just as the man leaned in to kiss his girlfriend. I didn’t intend on capturing that specific moment, but the photo turned out really nice. I bumped into them again at the very end of the hike, and with the hope of not coming off creepy, I told them what happened and I sent them the picture. I hoped that their appreciation for having that moment captured would outweigh the unintended creepiness of me capturing the photo!
We made it back to the car just before 5:00 PM and Elo was so tired she immediately went to her favorite corner in the backseat and lay her head down for a nap. I did a quick detour east on Highway 60, then turned around and headed back west to the cabin. We got back just after 6:00 PM; perfect timing for a rewarding dinner after the long hike.
After decompressing for an hour or two, I walked over to the main lodge side of the Wolf Den (the private cabins are on the north side of Highway 60, the main lodge and bunkhouses are on the south side). I set up for an astrophotography timelapse, which I let run for about 45 minutes. It was a pretty chilly evening so after the timelapse finished, I took a few other photos and then decided to pack it in for the night.
It was around 9:30 PM when we got back to the cabin. I forced myself to stay awake a little while longer so I didn’t have a repeat of the unintended nap the previous night. At around 11:00 PM I finally decided to let myself fall asleep. Elo was already sleeping, she didn’t need to wait for my permission.
Day 3 – Beaver Pond Trail, Spruce Bog Boardwalk, Fire Tower Trail, Old Lookout Trail
Thankfully, I actually got a great sleep overnight! Elo woke me up a few times throughout the night though. At home I don’t let her on my bed, but here at the cabin she was allowed. At one point in the middle of the night she jumped off (or fell off) making a loud sound that woke me up. But otherwise, it was a pretty comfortable sleep.
The rest of the morning was exactly the same as the previous day. Woke up. Breakfast. Drive along Highway 60. More breakfast. Coffee. Reading. Start the day.
On the drive along Highway 60 I ran into another photographer who was chasing moose tracks along the highway in hopes of finding it. She also had an R7, and she was using the Cotton Carrier harness that I wanted to buy before this trip. Since the trip was super last minute, I wasn’t able to get my hands on the harness. Local stores didn’t have the one I wanted, and Amazon was going to arrive the day after I left. It would have been a major convenience with all of the hiking I was doing. I asked her a few questions about it and then we continued our separate ways. I didn’t see any moose that morning, but I hope she did.
The adventures for the day started around 11:30 AM. I drove 10 minutes west to the nearest gas station to fill up, and then back to the west gate information office to register my license plate again. We then drove east towards the Beaver Pond Trail, which was going to be the first hike of the day. We arrived at 12:30 PM. Instead of doing one long hike like the Track and Tower Trail the previous day, the plan for Day 3 was to do a handful of shorter hikes.
My initial impressions of the Beaver Pond Trail were underwhelming, but that quickly changed. The relatively short trail has a variety of elevation changes, viewpoints, boardwalks across the pond, and one grand lookout from atop the cliff. A whole bunch of features are packed into this short 2km hike. I was thankful that it was midweek in November and I only saw two other groups. I imagine a short trail like this would be overflowing with people in the busier months.
The two groups I met were at the main lookout. One was a couple from Germany who were spending a year traveling across Canada. They were camping at Mew Lake for a few nights, sleeping in their car. I told them how lucky they were to have this weather in Algonquin Park in November.
The other group was a family with a dog. The dog immediately started barking when it saw Elo, so the family quickly moved on past the lookout. I have mixed feelings on whether I think reactive dogs should come to places like Algonquin Park, but if the choice is to bring them, then I appreciate what this family did. I’m sure they would have wanted to stay and enjoy the lookout, but they decided it was best to keep moving instead of having their dog constantly barking the whole time.
We finished the Beaver Pond Trail at 1:45 PM and drove a couple hundred meters over to the Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail. I anticipated this trail would take another hour or two, similar to the Beaver Pond Trail. Well, I was completely wrong about that. The whole trail is completely flat with extremely minimal elevation change. The vast majority of the trail is along a boardwalk (hence the name), going back and forth between the bog and into the mainland. It took us just a short 30 minutes to complete, including stopping for photos and videos.
Even though it was short, I thoroughly enjoyed this trail. The landscape views were very unique with the boardwalks over the bog, and the minimal vegetation given the time of year gave an even more varied and impressive aesthetic. I imagine this trail would look incredibly different during the summer months when there would be more vegetation growth and leaves on the trees.
There were bear issues on this trail earlier in the season and I was hoping to spot one (in the distance, not up close!) but unfortunately that didn’t happen. I was however surprised by the amount of birds flying around the second half of the trail. I’m no bird photographer, but I was able to snap a few good pics that I was very pleased with.
After finishing the short Spruce Bog Boardwalk, I drove to the nearby visitor centre. I popped inside just to see what it looked like, since I had never been before. But the main reason I drove there was to do the Fire Tower Trail. On the most recent version of Jeff’s Map, it says “Opening in mid 2014”. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I believe the map was made before the trail opened and the purple line showing the hike was likely a placeholder. When I arrived, the ‘hike’ if you could even call it that, was just 100m each way to a lookout. Maybe I missed the trail, but there was signage at the visitors centre with the name of the trail indicating that I was in the right spot.
After the very short excursion to the visitors centre and the Fire Tower Trail, we set off for the last hike of the day. It was getting late in the afternoon, so it needed to be something short. I parked at the empty parking lot for the Lookout Trail and walked across the highway to the south side. The plan was to hike the unofficial Old Lookout Trail.
It was pretty easy to find the entrance to the trail, but I still had my concerns. Since the trail is unofficial, that meant there were no markings on the trees to indicate the proper direction. And with the bare trees and the heavy leaf fall covering the ground, it made it difficult to properly follow the trail. I had the real-time GPS overlay on Avenza Maps for reference, but I still made sure to pay close attention to the trail. I didn’t do too much photography or filming. I didn’t want to risk getting caught off trail when the sun was already starting to get lower in the sky. Plus, I had to be very careful with my footing during the inclines and declines since the fallen leaves were blocking my sight of the terrain, and I had an excited dog pulling me forward.
I made it to the top successfully, but there was no lookout to speak of. Either I was in the wrong spot, the lookout didn’t exist, or the lookout had just become overgrown with trees blocking the view. I believe it was the third one. I’m curious to know if that’s why this trail was closed down and the current Lookout Trail was opened.
Post-Trip-Update: I spoke with Jeff McMurtrie after this trip. He’s the one that recommended hiking the Old Lookout Trail, and after I returned from the trip he sent me a screenshot of his GPS coordinates for the last time he walked the trail. It turns out, I was probably 50m or so away from the lookout. After the trail ends on Jeff’s Map, you need to turn right (northwest) and continue walking along the ridge. Supposedly the lookout does exist, and ironically I did in fact follow that ridge for a couple minutes after I reached the ‘lookout’ just in case it was up ahead… but I stopped just short. Oh well, it gives me a reason to hike the trail again in the future.
However, the trail itself wasn’t particularly noteworthy. The beauty came from the low sun shining through the bare trees, creating a magical almost mystical view throughout the empty forest. But those pretty views were attributed solely to the time of year, and the time of day. In any other circumstance, this isn’t a hike I would be eager to recommend to others.
It was 4:00 PM when we arrived back at the car. I was contemplating walking around more or doing another highway detour to kill some time until dusk, but I was too tired from the long day so I decided to drive straight back to the cabin. Less than one minute after I started driving, I saw a handful of cars pulled over on the shoulder of the highway. One or two cars pulled over usually means an accident, a pee break, or a photographer finding a nice view. But several cars? It means moose. Always moose.
Moose indeed! There was a bull moose in the very small Eucalia Lake adjacent to the highway, feeding in the water and along the shoreline. I had been to the park several times in 2022, but I had yet to see a moose. I think it may have been the only year ever that I hadn’t seen a moose. So, I felt very fortunate and happy to finally get my moose experience on the very last trip of the season.
There were maybe six or seven other cars safely pulled over, with the majority of them photographing the moose. The moose was maybe 200m away, so a good telephoto lens was required to get a decent photo. A smartphone would not suffice for this encounter. I was using my RF 24-240mm on my R7. Since the R7 is a crop body, that’s an equivalent focal length of close to 400mm. And with the 4K Crop mode for video, I was able to get an even closer view for the videos I took.
I spent roughly 20 minutes watching the moose while taking photos and videos. Some of the original cars left, while other cars stopped to join. Eventually, the moose went inland so I got back into my car to finish the drive back to the cabin. I was extremely pleased that I got to enjoy that experience at the tail end of my tripping season!
Elo and I spent the rest of the evening doing the usual routine. We relaxed, decompressed from the long day of hiking, had dinner, and went for a walk. It was going to be slightly warmer on this evening, so I brought my camera and tripod out for some more astrophotography. The plan for this night was to stay on the shoulder of the highway and try to find some interesting features to photograph from the highway. There were a large spot on the Wolf Den property to set up the tripod a safe distance away from the passing traffic.
I ended up doing a handful of shorter timelapses from various different angles. While the timelapse’s were running, I would go for short walks with Elo. I had no concern about leaving my camera equipment at the side of the highway. It was a safe distance away and there was absolutely no one around, other than the occupants at the Wolf Den (who wouldn’t be visiting the highway anyways) and the occasional passing vehicle. The camera basically disappeared into the darkness anyways, despite the strong illuminating glow from the almost full moon.
The illumination from the moon meant there weren’t too many stars visible in the sky, but it did provide a significant amount of natural light, meaning I barely needed to use my headlamp. The skies were full of clouds rolling through, and the highway was lit up bright from the occasional passing car, which gave a unique backdrop for the astrophotography, in replace of the typical stars and Milky Way that astrophotographers typically chase.
At one point, Elo fixated on something across the road. It was difficult to see what it was from that distance, even with the strong moon glow. I turned on my headlamp and saw that it was a fox entering the southern half of the Wolf Den property. It was directly across the highway from me, maybe 10m away. When it saw my headlamp shining at it, it stared back at me for what felt like a full two or three minutes, before moving out of sight into the property.
After completing three or four separate timelapses I decided to pack it in for the evening. It was past 10:00 PM, I had done over 20,000 steps throughout the day. Elo was clearly ready for bed too. I still had one more evening, and if the weather permitted, I planned on doing more astrophotography on Day 4.
Day 4 – Whiskey Rapids Trail, Hardwood Lookout Trail, Peck Lake Trail
Despite falling asleep quickly, I got an absolutely terrible sleep. I slept so well during the second night, what happened!? I woke up at around 3:00 AM and must have tossed and turned until at least 5:00 AM. I was able to squeeze in a couple more hours of sleep before finally waking up just a few minutes before 8:00 AM.
I followed the same morning routine as the past few days, except I didn’t go for a drive down Highway 60. Instead, I took my time having coffee and breakfast in the cabin while starting to write this trip report on my phone.
It was a very slow moving morning. At 11:00 AM I was finally ready to start the day. Elo had been waiting patiently, sleeping by my feet the whole time. I’m guessing by 11:00 AM she was eager to start the day too.
We made a quick stop at the west gate office to register my license plate. I learned that I could have registered all of the days at one time instead of stopping by each morning. Oh well, at least it was directly on route anyways.
The plan for the day was to do a handful of short hikes, starting near the west gate and heading east. The first hike on the list was the Whiskey Rapids Trail. I arrived at the trailhead to see an empty parking lot. Elo and I were going to be the only ones on the trail.
I found the trail to be quite forgettable. The path itself resembled one long portage, and the Oxtongue River was extremely shallow and not that picturesque. Maybe it was due to the November water levels, but there were no rapids to speak of despite the name “Whiskey Rapids”. There was barely even flowing water. I’d say this was probably my least favorite trail of the trip.
Next, we headed to the nearby Hardwood Lookout Trail and arrived to another empty parking lot. This trail was more open and exposed, especially given the completely bare forest from all of the hardwoods and their fallen leaves. There was a good amount of elevation to climb up and down throughout, making the short trail feel much longer than it actually was. But the views throughout the trail were quite pretty, and so was the view from the lookout at the end of the trail.
I didn’t find the lookout to be as pretty as the lookouts from the Track and Tower Trail or the Beaver Pond Trail, but it was still definitely worth the hike to get there. By the time we finished and got back to the car it was around 1:00 PM. A few other cars had arrived to the parking lot by that time as well.
Next on the list was the Peck Lake Trail. There was one other car at the parking lot when we arrived, and shortly after starting the hike I was able to see two older gentleman across the lake fishing.
The trail was similar to the Whisky Rapids Trail from a visual standpoint, except I much preferred the views throughout the Peck Lake Trail. The whole trail circles Peck Lake, and every couple hundred meters or so is water access from the trail, offering a view out onto the lake. The various checkpoints with different views allow you to absorb the beauty of Peck Lake from every different angle, creating a satisfying feeling of familiarity by the time the hike is finished.
I don’t know much about hiking in Algonquin Park, but for some reason I got the feeling that Peck Lake Trail was an underrated and overlooked trail along Highway 60. But I’m far from the hiking expert so I could be completely wrong. I would happily do the trail again in the future; it was a nice walk through the forest with a handful of pretty views onto the water. It had some moderate elevation changes but nothing too difficult. I found it to be a fun walk in the park, literally speaking.
When we arrived back at the parking lot there were two more groups starting the trail with fishing gear. I guess Peck Lake is a popular fishing spot.
I was considering doing one last hike, but by the time we finished Peck Lake Trail it was 2:30 PM and I was pretty tired. I wanted to have a few hours of downtime so I decided not to squeeze in a fourth hike. I still needed to fill up on gas and stop at the Dwight Pharmacy to get a bit of food. I had planned this trip to be either 2 nights or 3 nights, but not 4 nights. So, I needed some extra calories to carry me through the extra day.
I had packed 3.5 days worth of food for Elo, so I decided to ration her total food supply to last the entire trip (one extra day’s worth), and I’d make up the extra calories for her with some larger meals when we got back home.
There was a surprisingly decent food supply at the Dwight Pharmacy. It’s not to be mistaken for a full grocery store or anything, but there was a decent selection for some last-minute needs. I picked up carrots, hummus, sliced ham, Crispy Minis, Skittles, M&M’s and a Cliff bar. I had brought all backcountry food with me (aka shelf stable) so the “fresh” food would be a nice change. But most importantly, it meant I would have enough food to get me through my last evening and the next day.
We arrived back at the cabin at 4:00 PM and after enjoying some of my groceries, I went into post-hike-lazy-mode. Elo fell asleep by my feet right away. She liked the spot to the left of where I would sit, because it was adjacent to the heat radiator. It was her go to post-hike-lazy-mode nap spot.
Then I moved to the bed and I don’t know where the time went. I was lying on my bed looking at my phone with Elo at my side. It was late in the afternoon but it was still sunny out. Next thing I know, Elo is sleeping, and the room is completely dark with the exception of my phone screen. It somehow became 7:00 PM! It was time to get up and give Elo her dinner.
I had another lazy hour in the cabin, looking through some pictures from earlier in the day. At 8:00 PM I decided to go outside to take Elo for a walk and do some astrophotography. It was a shame that the warmest night of the trip (my phone said 14 Celcius!) was riddled with strong winds and dark cloudy skies.
I attempted about an hour’s worth of astrophotography before the clouds completely filled the sky from every direction. By 9:30 PM we were back at the cabin. One final snack for me and then we were off to sleep.
Day 5 – Leaving the Wolf Den Nature Retreat
On my last morning, I was treated to a beautiful sunrise. Walking down to the private dock for the Green Cabin gave a spectacular view of the sun rising just opposite of the river, behind the bare tree landscape. The sky was a combination of thick clouds in the top half of the sky, mixed with the bright orange, yellow, and reds from the sun in the lower half.
I missed some of the earlier colours, but I made it outside around 8:00 AM, just in time to set up my GoPro on the dock for a time lapse while pretty colours still filled the sky.
I was feeling quite tired on the morning of Day 5. Like the previous night, I slept well until around 3:00 AM, but then I spent the rest of the morning tossing and turning. The plan for the day was to go back into the park and do more hiking before driving home, but I was already super tired, plus the weather was calling for a crazy windstorm with a “special weather statement” that warned of gusts up to 70-80km/hr that may cause flying objects and power outages. That didn’t sound too fun.
I wasn’t too concerned about hiking during strong winds, but I was more concerned about driving home with my canoe strapped to the top of my car. I was debating if I should go into the park and hike for a few hours, or just pack up and hit the road right away. There was no wind at 8:00 AM when I was pondering my options, but I knew that the conditions could change very quickly.
I had another hour or two to decide, so I procrastinated and enjoyed the end of the sunrise before making my final decision. I still had morning chores on the agenda. Feed Elo. Feed myself. Walk Elo. Make sure both Elo and myself drank some water. After all of that was done, I’d figure out the plan for the day.
As I took Elo for a short morning walk, I noticed a few things. First, I remembered that I forgot to shave before the trip, and by Saturday morning I was feeling really scruffy and gross. I was excited to give my face a necessary trim when I got home. I also noticed that the entire Wolf Den was booked solid. Every day prior there was maybe one other group on the whole property, but during Friday night it was completely full. Every cabin north of the highway, as well as the main lodge and bunkhouses south of the highway.
There was even a Tesla parked at one of the cabins. I don’t know where they were charging it, but the car had roof racks on it so I’m guessing it wasn’t their first time taking it with them on an adventure.
After the short walk with Elo I went back to the cabin to clean up. I organized all of my belongings and gave the cabin a good sweep. Even at the Wolf Den I was practicing Leave No Trace!
I decided not to spend the day hiking. We had done plenty of hiking the past few days and it was already grey and cloudy and calling for the crazy wind storms. I’d rather not take the chance of driving home late in the afternoon and risk damaging my canoe in any way. It was about 10:30 AM when I decided to head home, and I was confident based on the weather forecasts that the wind would be tolerable for the next few hours.
I made a quick stop at the main lodge to say goodbye and pay for the stay, and then hit the road. I stopped to get a coffee on the way, but otherwise drove straight to the city without any detours. I didn’t even take the canoe off of my car the whole trip, but just from all of the driving I knew it was going to be dirty so I gave it a good wipe down before hanging it in my parents’ garage for the winter. And that was it. My last trip of the 2022 season had finally reached its end.
For both my ice out in April, and my late fall November trip, I made a last-minute decision to stay at the Wolf Den Nature Retreat instead of going into the backcountry. And both times I was very happy with the decision. I loved the Green Cabin. It was the perfect home base for me and Elo. Having the cabin as a home base freed up tons of time that I spent driving up and down Highway 60, focusing on my photography, and relaxing with Elo.
This was the first time I’ve done a trip to Algonquin Park with the sole focus being on hiking. I brought my canoe with me, but I didn’t even use it once. I thoroughly enjoyed the hikes, especially considering how quiet they were compared to summer and fall months. The trail markers were easier to see since the trees were bare, but at the same time the bare trees made the path a bit harder to follow. With all of the leaves covering the ground, it was also very important to watch my footing since the terrain was hidden beneath the leaves.
My feet and calves were constantly sore from all of the hiking. At home I average around 10k steps daily from walking Elo, but this trip was 15k to 20k steps daily, on difficult terrain, and with several inclines and declines. It created a nice challenge and sense of accomplishment each day.
Despite the extremely warm forecast, the short daylight hours and frequent changes to the temperature were a constant reminder of the unpredictability of shoulder-season camping. The nighttime temperatures were slightly colder than forecasted, and the “extreme weather warning” for the wind storm wasn’t predicted on any forecast at the start of the trip. I would have been fine in the backcountry, but the cabin was undeniably a nice comfort for the trip.
I did a lot of pondering about whether tripping with Elo is still considered solo tripping. Personally, I don’t see it as a solo trip when I have Elo with me. It creates a completely different atmosphere and I don’t feel truly alone when I have her company. It then lead me to think about the way I talk about my trips, and write my trip reports. For example, is “I went on a hike”, or “We went on a hike” the proper phrasing? This is getting too philosophical, the only thing that matters is that Elo makes an awesome tripping partner!
This was my final trip of the 2022 season. It was a weird year of tripping for me. I started with an ice out trip while staying at the Wolf Den Nature Retreat, followed by my first ever “day trip” where I didn’t even stay overnight. Then I did a one-nighter with Elo, a weeklong solo in northern Algonquin without Elo, and then two campground trips in October (my first time car camping). Basically, I did several trips throughout the year but I had very few nights of actually sleeping in the backcountry. But it gave me a lot of new experiences and it diversified my typical camping routine, so it was a nice change of pace for the 2022 season. Now I’ll just have to wait and see what 2023 brings.