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7/04/2020 5:41 am  #1


Wow, the backcountry is overrun!

Hey everyone,

I decided to book a short spur of the moment backpacking trip early next week on the WUT and nearly fell over when I saw how booked up everything was. I was lucky to still figure out a workable trek, but none of the sites I was hoping for were available. Over the years, weekends have become harder to navigate, but weekdays usually held a number of good selections still - not this year! I looked at the Calendar view for a number of sites and they are really filled up. Seems like a bad year to permanently close a section of the trail to boot. Excuse my rant, but if anyone out there is thinking of a trip at some point this year I would recommend booking asap!

 

7/08/2020 2:20 pm  #2


Re: Wow, the backcountry is overrun!

Yes, I've noticed the same thing! Busy busy! Hopefully everyone is practicing leave no trace!


I'm just gone Fishin!
 

7/08/2020 3:57 pm  #3


Re: Wow, the backcountry is overrun!

Come onnnnnn winter camping season

 

7/11/2020 3:44 pm  #4


Re: Wow, the backcountry is overrun!

I book a lot of permits for AO's top packages and guided trips. It is unbelievable how booked up weekends are through the end of July and into August. Every weekend from now on is like the August long weekend. I tried to book sites on the East Arm of Opeongo for a co-worker last week and all of Opeongo was booked for this Saturday (as in today). This never happens, Opeongo usually has availability right up to  the the August holiday.

 

7/11/2020 9:58 pm  #5


Re: Wow, the backcountry is overrun!

Just saw your post, Gord, after perusing the reservation system. I believe Shirley lake is booked every Saturday for the rest of July and August. I've never seen that before...

Curiously, how have the clientele been with regards to Park policies -- namely, LNT? I'm sure it's the fear of many that if the general population more often frequented the back country, we might see an influx of site abuse. I suppose the guided trips wouldn't be susceptible to this outcome.

 

7/11/2020 10:35 pm  #6


Re: Wow, the backcountry is overrun!

I'm curious how much of this is attributed to the free modification/cancellation policy for the season. People making extra bookings just because there's no penalty to do so.

Even though more locals are wanting to get outdoors, there's still a whole lot of lost business from tourism, so it's surprising to see bookings at higher capacity than normal. I would think the loss from tourism would outweigh the increased demand from locals... but I guess not.


edit: Gord, even though you're only one of the outfitters in the park, I'm curious, are you operating at normal capacity this year? You would expect more park bookings = more demand for outfitters. So if it's less or even equal capacity but the park has more bookings, then I'd guess people are abusing the system and making multiple reservations.

Last edited by trippythings (7/11/2020 10:39 pm)


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www.algonquinbeyond.com
 

7/12/2020 4:06 pm  #7


Re: Wow, the backcountry is overrun!

Zemantics wrote:

Curiously, how have the clientele been with regards to Park policies -- namely, LNT? I'm sure it's the fear of many that if the general population more often frequented the back country, we might see an influx of site abuse. I suppose the guided trips wouldn't be susceptible to this outcome.

There has definitely been a noticeable increase in new canoe trippers but it is hard to answer your question, since we don't know what our customers do when they are out in the woods. The people who get our complete outfitting packages tend to be aware of environmental responsibility and we do get a chance to talk to them about these things. And yes, the guided trips are well behaved and have a mentor with them

trippythings wrote:

Gord, even though you're only one of the outfitters in the park, I'm curious, are you operating at normal capacity this year? You would expect more park bookings = more demand for outfitters. So if it's less or even equal capacity but the park has more bookings, then I'd guess people are abusing the system and making multiple reservations..

 Since the backcountry opened June 1, we have been hopping. Despite the loss of group, European and American clients, Ontario people are heading to the park in droves. I don't doubt that people are making multiple bookings but the park is also very busy. The phones are constantly ringing and it is hard to keep up with email inquiries. Good problem to have, I suppose. Back in April we were mentally preparing for a quiet summer, how wrong we were!

 

7/12/2020 7:10 pm  #8


Re: Wow, the backcountry is overrun!

Ontario has quite a big population and a surprisingly high percentage of people I’ve met have some experience with backcountry canoeing. Now when all these people are prevented from travelling outside the country then perhaps it’s no surprise that Algonquin is super busy despite foreign tourists not visiting the park. After all, who canoes more then us Canadians?

 

7/12/2020 8:17 pm  #9


Re: Wow, the backcountry is overrun!

Steve E wrote:

Come onnnnnn winter camping season

Steve I second your comment. Winter camping has become my preferred camping season for this very reason. I tried booking some hiking trips earlier in the summer in APP and it was impossible. Ended up on paddling trips from lesser used access points. 

 

7/12/2020 8:19 pm  #10


Re: Wow, the backcountry is overrun!

Winter at Mew has gotten much busier over the years as well. We used to go and at times we’d be the only people at Mew but now it’s almost full on weekends. The beauty is that the backcountry is empty and you can pretty much go wherever you want. At least you can find that solitude I think most of us crave

 

7/13/2020 7:20 am  #11


Re: Wow, the backcountry is overrun!

This thread got me nervous so I just called AO and reserved a solo canoe for my September trip. Thankfully the Keewaydin 15' was still available  


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www.algonquinbeyond.com
 

7/13/2020 12:17 pm  #12


Re: Wow, the backcountry is overrun!

I think there’s an increase in bookings which are not being followed through on. Last week we were at Marie lake (east side), and both sites were booked for Friday night. The other site never got occupied. When I made the reservation, Marie was already fully booked for Saturday, and we had to move to Length for that night. When heading out on Sunday (late AM), only one site on Marie was occupied, so I expect the second site didn’t get filled for the Saturday either. If I recall, St. Andrews and Stratton were fully booked all weekend (and I believe the weds/thurs beforehand as well), yet when paddling through those lakes things looked to be at about 60% capacity. Very anecdotal, but I do think the free change/cancellation is making for a lot of reservations which are not being fulfilled. Great if you make your reso early and need to change it, but annoying if you have a plan but can’t book it.

 

7/13/2020 3:53 pm  #13


Re: Wow, the backcountry is overrun!

Note that the requirement to pay for additional vehicles on a backcountry trip now mean it is advantageous for a group to register as several small groups corresponding to the number of vehicles they would be bringing.   This will result in fewer campsites in use as a group that made several reservations will only use one campsite on a lake.

 

7/19/2020 9:41 pm  #14


Re: Wow, the backcountry is overrun!

Gord Baker wrote:

...Since the backcountry opened June 1, we have been hopping. Despite the loss of group, European and American clients, Ontario people are heading to the park in droves. I don't doubt that people are making multiple bookings but the park is also very busy. The phones are constantly ringing and it is hard to keep up with email inquiries. Good problem to have, I suppose. Back in April we were mentally preparing for a quiet summer, how wrong we were!

I'm guessing the AO website would have similar metrics, but interestingly what I've seen from my website...

- Active users increased about 4x starting May 30th (comparing April/May vs. June/July of this year). Obviously traffic increases seasonally, but there was a huge surge on May 30th that's been sustained since then, so the timing is pretty strongly correlated to the backcountry reopening. 

- From January 1 - July 18, 2019 about 76% of my traffic came from Canada; for the same time period this year, it's 91%. It's what you would expect, but still interesting to see.

I only launched my website May 2019 and my overall traffic has increased significantly this year, so that will inevitably skew some of the data and prevent me from making use of certain metrics. I would have some fun digging through the AO's Google Analytics account, that's for sure lol


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www.algonquinbeyond.com
 

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