LNT Canada is a national non-profit organization dedicated to promoting responsible outdoor recreation through education, research and partnerships.

You are not logged in. Would you like to login or register?

8/04/2017 10:59 pm  #1

Coolest Algonquin Experiences?

I'm sure we've all had a moment or two (or three) in the Park that has left us amazed....What's yours?

I have three that have happened over the years that I still get goosebumps when I think about:

1.  Last year I took my son (9 years old) on a night hike into the airfield at Mew Lake.  He asked me to do a wolf howl as I told him about a previous experience I had in the airfield (see point 3).  I kind of laughed and obliged (with zero expectations of any replies).  I let out a howl and literally seconds later a pack howled back.   I howled again and once again, the pack howled back.   We were at the far end of the airfield near LOTR and this was about 11pm.  It sounded as though the pack was very close.  As we made our way back to the campground we heard a rustle in the treeline ahead of us and a wolf popped up and ran about 40 feet in front of us.  It was an amazing experience that left us both with goosebumps!

2.  One night I did a night hike with my dad along one of the trails off Highway 60.  We came out of the bush into a meadow area with a boardwalk (I can't recall which trail it was - not the Spruce Boardwalk though) and there were literally millions of fireflies floating around in the darkness under a perfectly clear starry night.  It was like something out of a Disney movie!  I've never seen that many fireflies in one area....Super cool.....

3.  I may have told this story before but a few years back I was running a photography workshop in the park.  There were 8 of us in the group and I had planned to take the group to the falls by the Mew Lake airfield for some low light photography and then we were to head into the airfield itself once it got dark for some night sky work.  After we did the waterfall shoot we were walking through forest along the path and stumbled upon two men standing quietly with all sorts of recording gear and night vision stuff.  It seemed very odd to find people out there at that time of night.  We engaged in a brief conversation and the one gentleman told us that he had learned the language of wolves.  Admittedly most of us kind of rolled our eyes but he asked for our indulgence.  He let go a howl and seconds later a pack replied from quite a far distance.  He kept calling and the pack kept getting closer and closer.  They finally got so close that you could hear the twigs snapping in the bush line as they approached.  They were yipping and howling in almost a frenzy.  Finally the pack revealed themselves through the shadows and the moonlit backdrop.  They were very close (in my head they were probably 30 feet but perhaps that's my imagination exaggerating?).  Then two of the wolves broke off from the pack and moved around to flank us.  It was probably the most amazing experience I've ever had.  All of us stood there in total silence and awe of what had just happened....  Turns out these are the guys we ran into:  http://www.wolftalkers.com/home.html

I'd love to hear some other stories as I'm sure there are some incredible ones!


8/05/2017 11:47 am  #2

Re: Coolest Algonquin Experiences?

There are two for me. One good, one bad.
My daughter and I were sitting on the beach on pen lake, on the site with the beach and gravel hill, watching the sun go down and right at that point when the tree tops are still a bit green, we realized it was stunningly beautiful, and a starry night followed. As it got later, and pitch dark, the Stars got brighter with a sense of them getting closer. It was a night with falling stars. We could not get enough of it. The following day, on our way out of the park, we stopped at the arts centre, walked in and stopped in our tracks at the wall of paintings. There, in front of us was the exact night scene we had seen on Pen lake, painted by artist Kelly dodge. We bought it on the spot. It has been hanging in my daughters home ever since.

The other experience was nasty, and unforgettable too. I had taken my 3 children, small at the time, and gone on our first overnight back country trip.  they slept in their own tent, beside my own. In the middle of the night a loud noise woke me, then 3 screaming kids. I bolted outside and into their tent. I will leave it to your imagination what happens when all 3 got sick at the same time. Needless to say I was rinsing kids by ( thank god) moonlight in the lake. And washing a whole tent in the lake the following morning. The rest of the night they had slept with me and were fine. But on day 2 I got it. That was enough. Never had such a short holiday.


8/07/2017 9:23 am  #3

Re: Coolest Algonquin Experiences?

Great thread, I have three experiences that come to mind:

After one experience in Algonquin, my brother and I planned our second trip to include his two young sons (9 & 10).  We were on Booth lake and I can still see their faces every time they caught a fish and we did fair for sure.  Priceless

The second was my next trip to the park in the fall where I went for my first solo trip, a few years later.  I was on the Bonfield - Dickson portage.  Headed to Bonfield just after the logging road.  I had my pack and two paddles when I heard this crashing behind me.  Apparently I had passed a Bull Moose who caught wind of me and was busting down brush to get to the portage trail.  I knew that critters use the trail as easy moving, but I wasn’t sure if he was coming at me or just looking for the easy out.  Luckily for me it was the easy out.  I paced of 60 ft., on my return trip for the canoe, from my where I stood like stone to his entry point (tracks).  That was the second moose encounter that day and I am still in awe of that day.

The third was the following May (after the solo trip) when I brought a new found friend in to introduce him to Algonquin.  Our wives were co-workers and he couldn’t hear enough about the solo trip.  We were on Lake Lavieille and I saw seagull’s diving and a rush on the top of the lake.  I told him to cast into that and lets see what happens.  His face, landing his first Laker on the first cast, was great.  Algonquin is such a great place to create some unique bonds.  We have been doing annual trips each year since – 4 times to date with 2 trips planned in 18.


8/07/2017 11:17 am  #4

Re: Coolest Algonquin Experiences?

Most of the winter campers have heard popping trees at night. We had heard it on occasion, but on that super cold weekend in 2016 we were camped on one of the islands on Sec Lake and the frequency and volume of popping trees was incredible. It sounded like the forest was being crushed under the weight of the cold. The crazy thing is we didn't realize how cold it was because all our thermometers only went down to -30. It wasn't till after we saw that the park had recorded -42 that weekend.



8/07/2017 1:05 pm  #5

Re: Coolest Algonquin Experiences?

APPaul you are so right that is an amazing sound eh?  I also love the sound of pressure cracks on the ice of lakes in freezing temperatures...super cool...

     Thread Starter

8/08/2017 6:28 am  #6

Re: Coolest Algonquin Experiences?

Steve E, yeah a runner up experience would maybe be a March weekend last year we spent near Grand Lake. The preceding week had been warm and the ice was really starting to deteriorate. The cracking sounds where loud and frequent. Sounded like the cracks were racing across the lake. Every time there was a good one, my wife and I pumped our fists like somebody just scored a goal!


8/23/2017 12:03 am  #7

Re: Coolest Algonquin Experiences?

1) Every time I listen to total silence in the park it blows me away.  You can stand in the midst of a place that is absolutely bursting with life, yet somehow hear absolutely nothing.  I love that "sound".
2) The first time I ever heard wolves howl.  Made every hair on my body stand up.
3) My first trip, looking at Hambone from the Magnetawan to Hambone portage on a beautiful day.  That was the moment for me when the switch tripped, and I suddenly loved camping.  I wanted to be IN that place.  Very difficult to describe.  37 years ago.


8/23/2017 3:03 pm  #8

Re: Coolest Algonquin Experiences?

Seeing the northern lights for my first time while camping on Manitou. This was after a day of gorgeous weather where I saw an otter and my first snake in the park, then enjoyed the prettiest sunset I've ever seen while tripping, before stargazing into a perfectly clear sky bustling with stars, and then watching a half-moon moonrise, all from a pretty spectacular site. The whole day was probably the best day I've had in the park, but seeing the northern lights was just the icing on the cake.

Trip Reports & Campsite Pictures

8/24/2017 10:18 am  #9

Re: Coolest Algonquin Experiences?

Way back in the day when I was a Boy Scout, our leaders took us on one of many canoe trips I had the great fortune to experience. We were coming up to a portage on a lake whose name has been long forgotten. A sandy beach greeted us. As we pulled out the canoes, there in the water were a group of the biggest polliwogs I've ever seen. We all know how memory gets over the years and how some details become exaggerated, but I recollect these beasts were 5 or 6 inches in length. For a kid who loved all manner of wilderness critters, this moment was pure magic and helped sow the seeds that would become my love of the outdoors.

Last edited by Blobsquatch (8/24/2017 10:23 am)


8/24/2017 11:04 am  #10

Re: Coolest Algonquin Experiences?

Maybe they were mud puppies


8/24/2017 12:25 pm  #11

Re: Coolest Algonquin Experiences?

Jdbonney wrote:

Maybe they were mud puppies

Perhaps you are right about that, though they sure looked like polliwogs to me. I've never seen a mud puppy so can't draw on my experience to make the distinction. Just looked on Google to check out the Mud Puppy photos. What I saw had a large bulbous front body narrowing to a long slender tail, different from the photos Google pulled up. Who knows?


8/24/2017 2:50 pm  #12

Re: Coolest Algonquin Experiences?

Bullfrog tadpoles


8/25/2017 8:58 am  #13

Re: Coolest Algonquin Experiences?

Sitting silently on a sunny morning on a rock point on Lake Louisa. Drinking coffee, enjoying the calm. I happen to look back toward the campsite behind me. A flicker of movement, and a mink hops out from behind a tree and passes not five feet in front of me.  As he disappears into the brush on the shoreline, I turn my head, and a huge Snapping Turtle rises out of the depths just off the rock in front of me. Made me realize the park is still healthy.


8/28/2017 2:17 pm  #14

Re: Coolest Algonquin Experiences?

Like you Steve I've had the kids into the park numerous times so we always have a story or two after a trip ... one that sticks out ...

My mother and youngest had gone to sleep .. my oldest and I were still sitting by the fire but were pretty much gonna call it quits when I suggested she put her head lamp on and check the shore in case theres something nocturnal out ... she whispers  "daddy get over here !" ... I went over and saw the largest snapping turtle I have ever seen in the water .. he was eating a few bits of hot dog someone had left there ... she got to touch his shell when he turned around and slowly swam out ... you would think we went to the moon she was so excited.


8/29/2017 2:58 am  #15

Re: Coolest Algonquin Experiences?

Dead_Weight (DW) wrote:

Like you Steve I've had the kids into the park numerous times so we always have a story or two after a trip ... one that sticks out ...

My mother and youngest had gone to sleep .. my oldest and I were still sitting by the fire but were pretty much gonna call it quits when I suggested she put her head lamp on and check the shore in case theres something nocturnal out ... she whispers  "daddy get over here !" ... I went over and saw the largest snapping turtle I have ever seen in the water .. he was eating a few bits of hot dog someone had left there ... she got to touch his shell when he turned around and slowly swam out ... you would think we went to the moon she was so excited.

Many people either don't know or don't care but the shallows really come to life after dark.  Almost always worth a look with the headlamp.  Tons of different minnows, crayfish, leeches, catfish etc. and giant water bugs (probably don't want the kids seeing those though). 


8/29/2017 12:38 pm  #16

Re: Coolest Algonquin Experiences?

Agree 100% ... to be honest I never really looked in the water at night since I was a kid.  It took my kids curiosity to rekindle my interest.  They wanted to go mud puppy hunting in a local river at night.  So we went out and found a ton of creatures including puppies.  

Seems that the turtles are really active at night ... we routinely see snappers at night along the shore ...  


5/30/2018 1:18 am  #17

Re: Coolest Algonquin Experiences?

Had a couple cool experiences last weekend.  I was paddling up a river in the park approaching a bend when a wolf walked down the bank.  I happened to see him before he saw me so I froze not wanting to spook it.  He stared at me for quite a while trying to figure out what I was presumably.  I thought about reaching for the camera but figured I'd just take it in.  The current was pushing me down river and as soon as I moved my paddle he turned back into the bush.  

Also portaged 3km down an old logging road to access a lake that was rumoured  to have some nice brookies.  It's not part of any canoe route so I figured it probably doesn't get fished much.  Had to bushwack the last 300 meters or so as I couldn't find a trail. I started trolling around and saw a tin boat pulled up on shore.  Closer inspection revealed a dock and a canoe that was part of a hunt/ trappers camp.  There was a "trophy tree" that showed some very impressive moose harvested over the years.

  I was a bit disappointed to find that this secret lake was no secret at all but still interesting to see a side of the park that I'm guessing not many do.   


Board footera