Sadly, our time in Canada has drawn to a close. What a wonderful way to end it, though!
Yesterday we had discovered the Old 127 and how beautiful it was now that it was no longer a major route for heavy traffic. We woke up early to be on Old 127 by 8:15am, and honestly could have made it earlier, in order to get some good birding in. Our efforts paid off, and we saw several different species that we had not yet seen on the trip including one lifer (the first sighting of the species by an observer). We spent an entire hour and some minutes driving extremely slowly, patiently waiting for birds to appear.
We did not, however, leave the vehicle. I refused to, because the amount of mosquitoes and black flies was absolutely insane today. Even though I hadn’t mentioned them before, they had been a nuisance over the past couple of day, but today they were particularly bad and would swarm our van’s mirrors every time we stopped to look at a bird. Even later on, it seemed like no matter how much repellent you wore, they would still follow you like a little black cloud.
The heat didn’t help much either. Once completing the slow drive through Old 127, we headed straight to Lookout trail, which we had not done on either of the previous days. Blue skies meant that the sun was able to strongly shine, making the hike – already considered a difficult one – oppressive. Combine that with the insects… Not a happy picture.
My mom and I decided to opt out of hiking before even reaching the first post marker (all the trails have booklets that inform you about things surrounding the trail and each point it marked by a post), and instead go for lunch.
(You may be wondering how this is supposed to be a wonderful ending, but I promise, it gets better.)
This weekend is a long weekend in Canada, with Monday being Victoria Day, so TONS of people showed up in the park. Apparently this time last year, the Visitor Center had 3,000 people come in a single day. Talk about heavy foot traffic.
All the people made for interesting observation while eating, however, and it will always baffle me how people travel with children under 3. Kudos to them, I don’t know if I could do it.
After lunch, Mom decided she wanted to head back to the house for a nap. Not wanting to waste my last day at Algonquin inside, I dropped her off and went back out to the park myself.
I have to say, I’ve enjoyed spending this time with my mother but it was nice having a chance to be alone in the woods. Some people might find that frightening, but I find it pleasant and peaceful. I feel rather safe in the woods, actually. Often much more so that in a city.
That’s why it was funny to me when an Indian couple who had passed me while walking on the Two Rivers trail, suddenly backtracked and struck up conversation. The woman inquired whether I was out there alone and when I responded affirmatively, her eyes widened and she proclaimed me brave – she was there with her husband and was nervous to be out in the woods. Later in the conversation, she mentions how she very much wanted to see a bear. I wasn’t quite sure how the two fit together… Anyways, I was able to give some suggestions of trails that were shorter and enjoyable for them to try later on. They thanked me and we parted.
Trying to be alone on the trail when half of Ontario has come to Algonquin was rather difficult and I would often let people pass me, wondering whether that would scare off all the birds I wanted to see or not. Thankfully, I would often leave a large enough gap that I was able to see quite a few birds, as well as squirrels and chipmunks.
I also had the distinct pleasure of scaring a particular loud and slightly annoying group of university students who were proclaiming to the world, it seemed, of how “connected” they felt to nature and responded to each other’s comments and quips with raucous laughter. (Wow, writing that makes me feel like an old woman, lol – these younguns! I’m sure my group of friends and I have been viewed the same at some point.) There was a part of the trail that overlooked a precipice, and there were several parts of the cliff available for visual enjoyment of the scenery. Bits of brush separated sections of the cliff, and I was on a section where I could hear, but not see, the university students.
Not actually intending to do anything that go on my merry way birding, I cupped my hands to let out a long, loud hawk call (surprisingly, I only saw two this whole time, one of which I couldn’t identify…). The group on the other side instantly started chattering – “What in the world was that?” “Did you hear that?” “What kind of animal do you think that was?” “Man, that sounded so close!”
They came scurrying to my section of the cliff where I contently smiled and gave them no further clue as to the origin of the sound.
The hike around Peck Lake was a little better in terms of crowds, and actually in terms of bugs as well. The terrain wasn’t too difficult, but wasn’t flat, and skirted the entirety of the placid waters of Peck Lake.
I didn’t see too much in the way of wildlife on this trail, but it was such a beautiful walk that I didn’t mind. Again, the peace that comes from being in the woods, smelling its scents, hearing its sounds, feeling its breeze… It truly does make you feel one with nature. When you quiet your heart and mind from the worries of the week and absorb the gifts of God’s Creation, the Book of Nature, you feel more relaxed and calm. Regularly walking in natural areas can reduce stress and make you better equipped mentally and emotionally for handling the stresses of the work week. I highly suggest trying to walk in nature at least once a week – it will do you much good.
Not wanting to have my mother worry too much, I returned to our AirBnb a little before 8pm and started preparations for tomorrow’s return trip.
Our host, Mariska, came down to chat with us for a while and it makes me wish that we had had a chance to hang out more with her and her husband Kirk. Perhaps we’ll get to know them better next time, because you can be sure that I already am making plans to come back up to visit this wonderful park.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our Operation Ontario adventures and seeing all the pictures. I promise I’ll post those Niagara photos by the end of the week – I start a new job on Monday, so I’ll be focused on that for the next few days.
One last wildlife count before we go:
(Today) 2 moose, 1 snowshoe hare, 3 red squirrels, 2 chipmunks, heard one specie of frog, and 19 species of birds.
(Total) 8 moose, 1 red fox, 1 beaver, 1 woodchuck, 9 red squirrels, 7 chipmunks, 2 snowshoe hares, 1 ribbon snake, heard three species of frog plus one tadpole, and 40 species of birds (3 of them lifers – and yes, I saw my loon).
Praise God for a wonderful trip, not just to Algonquin, but to Niagara and Toronto as well. It’s been great, Ontario. I’ll definitely come back to visit. 🙂