“I’ll drive ahead and keep an eye peeled for moose,” we were told. Moose? How exciting! I mean, what could be more Canadian than that?
Clocking in at a whopping 7,653 square km (2,995 square miles) of virtually untouched Canadian wilderness, Algonquin Park is laced with huge variety of canoeing and portage routes that allow you to navigate almost the entire park by canoe. The map below shows the route we were to take. Looks like fun, right?
“There!” someone yelled, as a whole slew of cars suddenly pulled over. It was our first of nearly a dozen wild moose sightings that day and boy, are they majestic creatures! It was awesome to see them in their natural environment, rustling amongst the green leaves for a bite to eat.
We arrived at Algonquin Outfitters, who explained the various routes in the park to us. We’d be canoeing up Hailstorm Creek, known for being a place where one could easily spot wildlife. Geared up, we piled into Algonquin Outfitters’ water taxi, taking us across Opeongo Lake to the calmer mouth of the creek. It was a fun, yet windy ride and we even spotted a bald eagle soaring above us!
Getting from water taxi to canoe was a somewhat harrowing experience, but I managed to stay dry. And I was so excited! Out of all the activities we’d planned to partake in on this trip, canoeing was the one I’d actually done before! My parents owned a canoe growing up, though we didn’t use it all that much. I do remember going out on the Colorado River just past the Hoover Dam once. That didn’t mean I was any good at steering though…
Paired with Jill, of Jack and Jill Travel the World fame, who would be propel the canoe from the front and provide inspirational instructions like pointing the direction we should be going, to which my whispered response as to not disturb the wildlife was, “I know Jill…this is harder than it looks!” I was told to make a “J” sort of pattern in the water with the paddle but I seriously needed a lot of work.
We sort of got a groove going though and Jill stopped pointing so much and even managed to eat her lunch while paddling (!), something I had to take a break to do, which I was totally ok with as my upper arms were killing me after an hour of paddling. It was like fighting with the water. And, oh, hey, we just ran over a sandbar and are now stuck. Fun times, really (actually, it really was fun).
The peace and tranquility that came in that creek was absolutely incredible. There was little sound other than the paddles moving through the water. Gliding along, propelled by your own power and surrounded by forests that were home to all sorts of creatures really makes you feel detached from civilization.
I couldn’t help but think what a magical experience it must be to be to be out on the water as the trees are taken over by their fall foliage colors. In the U.S., we often talk fondly about New England being a great place for fall foliage, but here in Canada? It must be just incredible (as evidenced by this photo…)!
We saw a huge array of birds that day, though none quite as interesting as those that inhabited an otherwise desolate small island, its trees completely barren. It seemed that some acidity in their poop had destroyed these poor trees but the birds didn’t seem to mind all that much.
Before we knew it, we were back on that windy water taxi and all that wind proved to be a bit much for the straw hat I had been wearing, ripping the brim right off! It was a good day though. A really good day. And with a little more practice at those pesky turns, I’d totally be down for trying it again. For those majestic moose have one gorgeous habitat ripe with canoeing opportunities!