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Date: November 3rd – 5th, 2023

Winter'ish Camping at Mew Lake Campground in Algonquin Park, Trip map and details

To purchase your own copy (physical & digital formats), visit Maps By Jeff


Ah. Good old November in Algonquin Park. Well actually, the only time I had ever been to Algonquin Park in November was in 2022, when I stayed at the Wolf Den Nature Retreat. Elo and I had a cabin, so it was kind of luxurious and we didn’t need to worry about the cold overnight temperatures. But this year, things would be different. I decided to do one last hurrah in Algonquin Park to work on my new campground project. Dan would be joining me too (if you aren’t caught up, Dan tagged along on a day trip a few weeks earlier), making this my first non-solo overnight camping trip since 2020!

Our main concern was the weather. First, the overnight temperatures were not looking great. Before the trip, it was calling for minus 1, with a “feels like” of minus 4. I’ve camped in those temperatures a few times, but I was worried about the unpredictability of November forecasts. If it stayed at minus 4, I’d be ok, but if it dropped to minus 10, we might have a problem.

The second concern was snowfall. A major part of the campground project was to take pictures of the campsites, and pictures wouldn’t be great if snow was covering the ground. There was snowfall two days prior to the trip, so we were keeping our eye on the webcams in the area that provided live image updates.

Our plan was to camp at the Mew Lake campground for a few nights. We would spend the days working on the campground project, and during the evenings we would relax around the campsite. We snagged a reservation for the last dog-friendly, non-hydro campsite on the non-highway side of the campground. Mew Lake, Campsite #84.

Weather & Packing

Before I get started with the main trip report, I’m going to break down the weather forecast and how I packed. Before leaving, the forecast was calling for daytime highs of 7 degrees on Friday, 5 degrees on Saturday, and 5 degrees on Sunday, with a “feels like” temperature of 3 degrees for each of those days. It was calling for sunny skies for all three days too. Of course, none of those forecasts ended up being accurate. Each day was a few degrees colder, with a total of maybe three hours of sunshine the entire trip.

The nighttime temperatures were supposed to be minus 1 with a “feels like” minus 4, for both nights. That forecast was accurate for the first night, but on the second night, it dropped to minus 4 with a “feels like” minus 7. I’ve camped in sub-zero temperatures a handful of times, but my previous experiences were under a very different circumstance. With my past experiences in sub-zero temperatures, the daytime highs were much higher. When I was at Rock Lake in 2022, the nighttime low was minus 3 degrees, but the daytime high was in the teens. If you imagine this on a graph, it would look like a big wave up and down. But on this trip to Mew Lake, the difference between the daytime high and the nighttime low was much smaller. The wave on the graph would look relatively flat. For example, the second night ended up having a “feels like” minus 7 from the entire stretch of 12:00 AM until 7:00 AM, and it wasn’t even going to reach 0 degrees until the mid-afternoon. 

It was going to be consistently cold, the entire trip.

On top of the cold temperatures was heavy wind and rain for the first evening. The wind was going to reach 35km/hr with total rainfall of 5-10mm. Thankfully, this was only forecasted for the first night. While the second night was going to be a lot colder, at least it wouldn’t have the same wind and rain.

For packing, I brought my new MEC Ohm 4 tent. I had purchased it a few months earlier while it was on sale, and this was going to be my first time using it. I didn’t purchase the matching footprint, so instead I used an old tarp. It worked perfectly.

For ground insulation, I brought interlocking foam tiles to cover the entire floor of the tent. On top of the foam tiles, I placed an unzipped sleeping bag as a ground sheet.

I purchased a pop-up kennel for Elo, to go inside of the tent, on top of the ground insulation. I wrapped it with two fleece blankets (which was the most weight the lightweight kennel could withstand before toppling over), and then put an additional blanket on the inside bottom of the kennel. Her MEC Little Dipper sleeping bag went on top of the interior blanket, along with a small pillow. She prefers to sleep on top of the sleeping bag, not inside of it, so I also purchased a dog jacket to keep her body warm. The pop-up kennel would be her little cocoon of warmth and insulation, but the dog jacket was one final safety measure. I wanted to make sure with absolute certainty that she was going to be comfortable. Probably 75% of my car was packed with stuff solely for Elo.

For me, I was using my Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Insulated Sleeping Pad, with an R-Value of 3.5. I actually purchased the women’s version, because other than a very minor adjustment in pad shape, it is actually lighter by about 30g while having a higher R-Value of 3.5, compared to the men’s version of 3.2. I slipped the sleeping pad inside of a regular sleeping bag, like a glove, and then put my winter sleeping bag on top of that whole setup.

For clothing, starting from the bottom, I brought three pairs of socks. One pair of wool socks and two pairs of cotton socks. I brought my Salomon X Ultra Mehari shoes, which was absolutely not appropriate for the forecasted temperatures with its extremely breathable mesh, but that’s why I brought multiple sock layers. The three layers of socks was still not enough. Note to future self, bring weather-appropriate shoes.

For pant layers, I brought a pair of Uniqlo Heattech long underwear and a pair of cotton long underwear as my base layers. I brought a pair of sweatpants to go on top while sleeping, and my regular canoe-tripping pants to go on top during the daytime.

I brought five shirt layers. One Uniqlo Heattech and one merino wool for base layers. One cotton shirt, that I didn’t end up using. And two sweatshirts, one for the nighttime and one for the daytime.

For outerwear, I brought my Uniqlo ultralight down jacket. I brought my winter parka as well, just in case, but I didn’t end up needing to wear it. I also brought one toque that basically never left my head, and multiple pairs of gloves. One pair of gloves were cheap and didn’t provide much warmth, but they had the smartphone finger tips. Another pair were my paddling gloves with three fingers exposed on each hand. And the last pair were warmer winter gloves.

Day 1 — Mew Lake Campground & Rock Lake Campground

Dan arrived late on the Thursday evening, the day before I was set to arrive. My Day 1 was on the Friday. I arrived at 9:00 AM in the morning. My initial plan was to drive to the Kiosk Lake campground in the north, gather everything I needed for the project, and then drive and meet Dan at Mew Lake later in the day. But while driving I had a sudden change of heart and decided to go straight to Mew Lake.

There was still some snow on the ground as I drove through Huntsville and towards the park. Luckily, when I arrived, it looked like most of the snow had cleared up from the actual campgrounds.

A few months earlier I bought the MEC Ohm 4 tent. I only intended on using it while car camping, and since this was my first car camping trip of the season, it was my first time trying the tent. It has some major design flaws with its door and pole/grommet system (maybe I’ll write a separate gear review that goes into more detail), but otherwise I was happy with the purchase. It was on sale at a great price, and I figured I might as well give Elo and I some more space when we’re car camping. Why cramp ourselves into my small two-person Eureka Suma tent?

I pitched the Ohm 4, got a few other things organized around camp, and then Dan and I headed off towards Rock Lake. We worked our way through Campground A, documenting all of the sites, and doing a second walkthrough for GoPro footage and general campground photos. We started Campground A at 12:00 PM, we finished the photos by 1:15 PM, and we finished the second walkthrough by 1:45 PM.

Next, we went to Campground B. We only did the first walkthrough to grab all of the photos; we decided not to do the second walkthrough for GoPro footage. The forecast was calling for rain to start around 4:00 PM and we didn’t want to get caught mid-walkthrough, so we decided to wrap up the day early. We finished at around 2:45 PM and quickly popped over to Booth’s Rock Trail just to check if there was anyone using the trail. There were only four cars parked at the trail.

Before leaving we went back to Campground A for a few minutes. We spotted a couple grouse and some blue jays in the bushes. I was able to snap a few photos of the grouse, but the blue jays had eluded me.

We made a quick pitstop at Opeongo Road to search for wildlife on the way back to Mew Lake. Unfortunately, there was nothing exciting to be found. The rain started soon after we got back to camp. Dan had pitched his tarp over the picnic table, with enough room for both of us to sit comfortably, and with some extra space at the perimeter for some loose items. I tethered Elo to the picnic table and she spent most of the evening lying down beneath it.

I made a Backpackers Pantry meal for dinner, followed by my usual banana bread and bagel for a snack. I didn’t bring marshmallows or whiskey on this trip, which are usually staples for me. Dan brought some Glenfiddich 12 though, which was a nice surprise.

I made a few weather-related mistakes on Night 1. First, I didn’t wear all of my layers. It was very cold, very windy, and very rainy, and I should have bundled up more than I did. My feet were basically numb by the end of the evening. But the bigger mistake was that I made dinner late in the evening, when it was even colder. Taking my gloves off to prepare and then eat the meal made my hands ice cold. It was still slightly above 0 degrees during the early evening, but it felt significantly colder with the wind and the rain.

At 9:15 PM I decided to go for a drive and use the heat from my car to warm up. I parked outside of the comfort station for a little while, and at 9:45 PM I went back to the campsite. I took Elo for one last walk and then got into the tent at 10:00 PM. I went to bed wearing two layers of socks (regular cotton, then wool on top), three layers of pants (Uniqlo heattech first, then long underwear, then sweatpants), and two layers of shirts (Uniqlo heattech tucked into my pants, sweatshirt on top). I wore my hood from my sweatshirt, but didn’t wear my toque or gloves to sleep overnight.

The choice to not wear my toque or gloves was a big mistake. Every time I repositioned my head on the pillow, or touched anything with my hands, it felt literally ice cold. For Night 2, I would definitely need to add more layers.

Day 2 — Mew Lake Campground & Lake of Two Rivers Campground

I knew that the morning was going to be freezing cold, so I planned to go for a drive right after I woke up. I drove to the gas station in Whitney to fill my gas tank, and then to Opeongo Road. I saw some grouse and geese; the geese photographed really nicely in the morning fog with the Opeongo store in the background. I was able to capture some nice landscape photos too.

After my drive, I got back to camp at 9:15 AM. The rainfall leftover on the tent from the previous night had turned into a literal sheet of ice. I made myself a coffee at 10:00 AM while Dan headed to Lake of Two Rivers on his own. He didn’t join me for the morning drive, so he was already finished his morning routine while I was just starting to make myself coffee.

While Dan was getting started at Lake of Two Rivers, I was going to head back to Rock Lake to finish at Campground B. But before I left, I enjoyed a few more minutes sipping on my coffee while the sun was looking magical as it rose through the forest of trees behind the campsite. The same forest of trees that our next-door campsite neighbours decided to go forage wood from. Foraging wood is not allowed at Algonquin’s developed campgrounds. Either they didn’t know, or they didn’t care.

I took some general photos of the Rock Lake campground, and then did a walkthrough of Campground B for the GoPro footage. I arrived at 10:45 AM and finished at around 12:00 PM. I had kept all of my layers on, but the sun was shining bright and by the end of it all, I was actually sweating. When I turned on my car, it quickly said it was 19 degrees, which was the temperature the car must have gotten to while sitting out in the sun. It quickly dropped lower and lower until it became stable at 4 degrees. That was the real temperature of the day.

I spotted more blue jays as I started my drive down Rock Lake Road. I got out of my car with my camera, but once again they eluded me.

I went back to our campsite at Mew Lake and took a nap with Elo. For some reason, I was exhausted. At 2:00 PM I woke up and went to join Dan at Lake of Two Rivers. He had started documenting the campsites from one of the loops in the campground, but he had to stop because the geese were getting angry at him. Forget moose and bear, geese are the real threat!

By the time I arrived, he was already in the middle of a different loop, so I picked up where he left off from the original loop. He got through Campsite #1 to Campsite #10, so I continued and did Campsite #11 to Campsite #37. I arrived at 3:00 PM and finished that section by 4:00 PM.

Lake of Two Rivers was going to be a two-day task, and even still, we would only be documenting the campsites. There wouldn’t be time for the GoPro walkthrough. With 241 campsites at the campground, it was a massive, time-consuming effort.

Car driving on Highway 60 in Algonquin Park in November 2023

We weren’t sure if we were going to stay for the second night. The forecast changed for the worse. Before the trip, it was calling for minus 1 with “feels like” minus 4, and it kept dropping colder. Midway through the day, it was calling for minus 4 with “feels like” minus 7, and it would stay at those temperatures from 12:00 AM all the way until 7:00 AM. And in the hours surrounding that peak low temperature, it wasn’t going to be much warmer; maybe only a degree or two. We went back and forth, but decided to tough it out and stay the night. But if we were going to stay, we needed a fire for Night 2.

We went for a drive to purchase some firewood in Whitney. Neither of us had brought a hatchet or axe, so we weren’t sure if we would be able to get the fire going without smaller pieces. The person selling the firewood offered some newspaper to help get it started, just in case. It was the Algonquin Park Information Guide! You know, the guide where my photo is on the front cover.

I told him I wasn’t sure if I could bring myself to burn the guide. It just felt wrong! He said he had boxes of them in the back and had no use for them, so he gave me a stack of around 15 to take home with me. I already had my own stash at home, as a keepsake, so now my stash got even bigger. We didn’t end up using any of them for the fire.

I drove slowly back to Mew Lake, hoping to spot wildlife. A raccoon ran across the highway in front of my car, which might have been the first time I had ever actually seen a raccoon in Algonquin Park. Then Dan thought he saw a moose in one of the highway-adjacent lakes, so we pulled over. I used my telephoto lens to zoom in and check, but it turned out to be a tree stump. It was a very deceiving looking tree stump though. I won’t hold it against Dan.

No more than two minutes after getting back in the car, we saw a few cars pulled over at the side of the highway. If there are more than two cars pulled over, it means there’s moose. Always. Moose.

We caught the very tail end of a bull moose encounter. The bull was in the water snacking on some vegetation before walking off, away from the highway. Apparently, there was an entire family of moose in the same spot earlier that day. I was able to get some pictures and videos of the bull; nothing impressive, but enough to document the moment. It was Dan’s first moose sighting in over a decade, so he was really happy about it. It was my third moose sighting of the season, but I was also very happy about it. Who isn’t very happy when they see moose!?

Bull moose walking through the forest in Algonquin Park, November 2023

It was a very cold day, but the wind wasn’t as strong as Day 1, so the cold didn’t feel as bitter. Thankfully, there was no rain either. I learned from my mistake on Night 1 and decided to make dinner while it was still warm out (relatively speaking). I made a Happy Yak Chili Fiesta that I thoroughly enjoyed.

At around 8:00 PM we started the fire. I was able to baton some of the wood down into smaller pieces, so getting the fire started was no problemo. I also decided to put Elo’s jacket on her around this time. It was getting close to 0 degrees and I wanted to make sure she was comfortable.

One of the campsites beside us was vacant until around 9:00 PM, when a group arrived with a truck, an ATV on the back of the truck, and nothing else. I had no idea where they were going to sleep. They were literally pouring gasoline on their fire to make it huge, and then ‘fanning the flame’ with a motorized air mattress pump. I know it was cold out, but come on guys, you’re going to heat the whole campground!

We went through both bags of firewood that we purchased, which lasted until around 10:15 PM. The combination of the fire and the Glenfiddich 12 did a good job of keeping me warm. At 10:30 PM I went to the comfort station for a quick wash-up and bathroom break.

Panorama of Spruce Bog Trail in Algonquin Park, November 2023 v1
Sunrise on Highway 60 in Algonquin Park, November 2023 v1
Frost covered leaves in Algonquin Park, November 2023 v4
Moonrise over Canisbay Lake in Algonquin Park, November 2023 v1
Panorama of the wetlands opposite of Spruce Bog Trail in Algonquin Park, November 2023
Geese walking in front of Opeongo Store on a foggy morning in Algonquin Park, November 2023 v1
Geese walking in front of Opeongo Store on a foggy morning in Algonquin Park, November 2023 v2
Geese walking in front of Opeongo Store on a foggy morning in Algonquin Park, November 2023 v3
Panorama of Spruce Bog Trail in Algonquin Park, November 2023 v2

Dan got into the tent while I went to the small water access from the campsite to check out the stars. We had noticed the starry skies earlier while sitting at the fire pit, so I went to see if I could get a better view from the water. Unfortunately, the view from the water wasn’t great. But I realized it was my last night in Algonquin Park for the season, and it would be my last opportunity to stargaze. I wasn’t ready to get into my tent. I decided to go for a drive to find a better viewing area. Even though Dan had started getting comfy in his tent, I asked if he wanted to join me. It didn’t take much convincing at all. Stargazing in Algonquin Park… it was a pretty easy sell.

It was around 11:00 PM at that point, and on any normal day with that level of physical exertion and 20,000+ steps, I would have been exhausted. But while sitting by the fire I made myself an AlpineAire Apple Cinnamon Crisp, which had a whopping 72 grams of sugar! I thought I had read the nutrition label wrong when I saw the sugar content on the packaging. I only ate two thirds of it, but still, with roughly 50g of sugar in my body, I was wide awake at 11:00 PM.

The first destination was Cache Lake. There were a few cars parked at the launch point, presumably from people who had cottages on the lake. The stars looked magnificent from the docks, but we only stayed for a few minutes before moving on to the next location.

Next was Canoe Lake. We went there to watch the moonrise that was supposed to begin at 11:30 PM. There were a few cars parked at Canoe Lake as well, presumably from cottagers as well. The view east wasn’t as good as I was hoping, so we didn’t stay long at Canoe Lake before deciding to move somewhere else that would offer a better view of the moonrise. It needed to be somewhere close, because the moonrise was going to begin at any minute.

We quickly drove to Canisbay Lake. On the way over, we saw eyes from some sort of wildlife at the side of the road. It was pitch black though, so we couldn’t tell exactly what animal it was. I’m convinced it was Bigfoot.

We arrived to Canisbay Lake at the perfect time. The moment we walked to the beach, the moon started to rise. The clear milky way and starry skies slowly started to disappear as the moon rose higher in the sky. It was already at the peak cold temperature of “feels like” minus 7, but it was worth staying outside in the cold for those amazing views. It was a great way to end the trip, and a very special way to end the tripping season.

By the time we got back to camp it was 12:30 AM. It was a very late night. I went to sleep with three layers of socks (wool at the bottom this time, then two cotton layers), the same three-pant and two-shirt setup as Night 1, two pairs of thin gloves, and my toque. The gloves and the toque made a massive difference for my overall comfort while sleeping. I was able to roll around and reposition myself without feeling like I was stuck inside a freezer every time I touched something.

Despite being much warmer on Night 2, for some reason I got a really bad sleep. But still, I’m happy that we decided to stay the night. It was good to test myself and it was a valuable learning lesson for how to comfortably camp in those temperatures in the future. It would have been too cold for backcountry camping for me personally, but with the heat of my car and all the extra blankets that I packed, it was tolerable for front country. Don’t get me wrong, it was still absolutely freezing. But we survived.

Oh yeah, and just to make things a tiny bit worse, Night 2 was daylight savings. We had to endure that minus 7 for one extra hour.

Day 3 — Mew Lake Campground & Lake of Two Rivers Campground

Part of my plan to tolerate the freezing temperatures was to go for a long morning drive and enjoy the heat of my car while looking for wildlife. At 6:15 AM I headed west on Highway 60. I saw a fox at the side of the highway, but it ran off quickly and it was too dark to photograph it anyways.

I went back to Canisbay Lake. No luck with wildlife. Then I went back to the same spot we saw the moose the day prior. No luck with wildlife there either. The silver lining was that I got some really nice landscape photos of the cold frosty morning. I never go to Algonquin Park in the winter, so this was my first opportunity to capture those types of photos.

At 7:15 AM I went back to Mew Lake campground and picked up Dan. He was going to join me for some car warmth and wildlife adventures. On our way out of Mew Lake we saw a beautiful fox at the side of the road. By the time I got out of the car with my camera, it had ran off into the forest. I wasn’t able to get a photo, but it was my second fox sighting that morning and I was pretty happy with that!

We went back to the moose spot one more time. Since we were told an entire family was there early the previous morning, we figured we’d try our luck to see if they came back. After failing with the moose, we saw a car pulled over on the highway just a little bit further ahead. It was a couple from the UK watching a busy beaver at work.

The beaver didn’t mind that we were there taking photographs. I’m pretty sure it thought we were paparazzi and it was getting the highlight feature on Algonquin News that evening. It was a quirky little beaver; it was making funny movements while scratching itself clean, with its bright orange teeth puckering out in open view.

Earlier, while driving on the highway, I saw a group taking landscape photos of Lake of Two Rivers. That same group saw us pulled over and joined for some photos of the beaver. Then, a different group that we met during the moose encounter on Day 2 drove by. They yelled “WHAT IS IT!?” (which was really bad etiquette; don’t yell when you’re around wildlife) and then drove away when someone told them it was a beaver.

After enjoying about 15 minutes with the beaver, we drove back to Opeongo Road. We saw a truck from Ontario Parks at the gate. The gate wasn’t there when we drove down the road on Day 2, so they must have just closed it for the season when we saw them.

We didn’t spend long on Opeongo Road, but we did see one group doing some macro photography of the frost covered leaves. They were part of the HOWL Photo Convention that was happening that weekend. HOWL was a wildlife conference with speakers, guided hikes, and more. We saw a large group of vehicles at one of the trailheads, so we assumed it was the HOWL group doing a guided hike. But this group on Opeongo Road doing macro photography were off doing their own thing.

Our morning drive finished at 9:00 AM. We got back to the campsite at Mew Lake and I took a nap for 45 minutes. Dan went straight to Lake of Two Rivers to pick up where he left off the day prior. After my nap I had a quick snack and then headed over to join him.

I continued where I left off, and documented Campsite #38 to Campsite #82. Dan was working on a separate loop on the other side of the campground. I finished my section at 12:15 PM and then headed back to Mew Lake to pack up camp. There were no reservations for our specific campsite that evening, but I still wanted to follow the rules and vacate the site by 2:00 PM.

Dan had already packed up camp earlier in the day. While I was packing my own gear, he headed to the dog-free zone at Mew Lake. He had started documenting the campsites in the dog-free zone before I arrived on Friday morning, but some of them were occupied at the time, so he headed back to finish collecting the remaining sites. Before he left, he did mention to me that a few blue jays were hanging around our campsite. But once again, they eluded me and I wasn’t able to get a photo.

The Mew Lake campground was basically empty. It was a Sunday in November, so I can’t say I was surprised. But what did surprise me was that the people at the campsite adjacent to ours went swimming!?!? If someone asked me if I wanted to go swimming in November, I’d probably laugh out loud.

I felt completely drained. The consistently freezing weather, the excessive number of steps, and the poor sleeps had caught up to me. My body was ready for a hot shower and a good sleep. My naps throughout the trip helped tremendously, but I still needed a lot more rest. You know in movies when people say “Oh my god, you look terrible!”? When I went to the comfort station and looked at myself in the mirror, that was the first thing that came to my mind. I had bags under my eyes and I just looked overall terrible.

But I wasn’t giving up yet. At 3:00 PM we went back to Lake of Two Rivers. There wasn’t going to be enough time to do the GoPro walkthrough, but we at least wanted to finish documenting all 241 campsites and take general photos of the campground.

We saw a few cars parked at the gated entrance to the campground. One of the cars had the license plate BRD ALGN, or something similar to that. I joked with Dan “well, they’re obviously here with the HOWL convention”. But funny enough, I was wrong. I spoke with them and they told me that they were birders, not affiliated with the convention. The person with the license place wasn’t with the group at the specific moment, but apparently the license plate belonged to Ron Tozer, a well-known naturalist and author of the book “Birds of Algonquin Park”.

The geese were back again at the campground, but thankfully they were hanging out at the beach this time. There were lots of blue jays as well, but like usual, they kept eluding me. It was the constant tease of the trip. It was an amazing three days for wildlife, but the blue jays refused to be photographed.

There were only a few campsites left to document in that final stretch, so we were finished by 3:30 PM. I took a few photos and videos of me and Elo, and then went back to the car. We checked the moose spot one last time, but still, no further luck. Then we parted ways at 4:00 PM.

I stopped by the comfort station at Mew Lake, then Tim’s to get a coffee, and then did the drive home. I didn’t have the energy to deal with any of my gear, so I quickly dropped it off at my parent’s house and then drove straight home. I’d deal with it all in the next day or two.

The Aftermath

While driving home I realized that Dan and I had documented around 400 campsites over the past three days, but somehow, I completely forgot to document our own campsite at Mew Lake!

Mew Lake itself I didn’t find to be too memorable. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the campground, because I did, and I wouldn’t hesitate to camp there again. It just wouldn’t be my first choice for future trips. The campground is right beside the highway, but thankfully from our campsite we didn’t hear any highway noise. Then again, the highway and the park in general were not very busy considering it was November.

The privacy from our campsite was decent, relative to other campsites and other campgrounds. We only had two neighbours, one on either side, and our campsite was quite large so they were a decent distance away. Despite the campsite being very large, there weren’t many places with soft ground to easily peg down a tent. The campsite did offer water access, but only barely so. The shoreline didn’t have a large area to sit or hang out.

Just about every other occupied campsite had some form of proper heat source. There were only a few other campsites using regular three-season backpacking tents, with no overnight heat source, like the tents Dan and I had brought.

I was constantly complaining about the cold the entire trip, but mostly in a joking way. It was part of the fun and made it easier to tolerate. The reality was, if I didn’t want to be there, I wouldn’t have been. Even with all of my insulation and layers, having the proper warmth from my car was pretty crucial. Dan and I decided that even though it was technically not the winter season, this definitely counted as winter camping.

Elo seemed fine with the temperature. She didn’t show any signs of discomfort, and since she can’t speak English (still working on that), she wasn’t able to complain about the weather like I did. The dog jacket helped keep her warm on the second evening, and my insulated pop-up kennel cocoon idea definitely made a difference inside the tent. If I were to guess, it felt about 2-3 degrees warmer inside of the kennel, but 2-3 degrees is a pretty noticeable difference.

Aside from the temperature, Elo behaved perfectly the entire trip. There wasn’t a single thing I could complain about with her. She was great in the car. She was great in the tent. She loved Dan and was always super excited to see him. She even stood guard in the evening while we were by the fire; she would watch our neighbours and give one gentle, barely audible growl when someone walked by that she was questioning.

One of the highlights was the wildlife. For three days, it was pretty amazing. Two fox, one bull moose, multiple grouse, geese, birds, a raccoon, a beaver, and more. The blue jays were constantly teasing me though, which made the whole thing pretty funny. With all of the amazing wildlife, the blue jays were constantly appearing and then disappearing before I could get a photo.

The overall scenery was definitely a highlight too. The frost-covered mornings showed me a side of Algonquin Park that I had never seen before. And the starry skies with the beautiful moonrise on Night 2 was an awesome way to end my 2023 tripping season.

Campground Information & Campsite Photos

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