Cookout at the Lookout
One of my favourite things about nature is watching the seasons change. It’s amazing what plants and animals go through when they prepare for winter and how they come alive when spring happens.
With the warm temperatures we have had over the past couple of weeks I wanted to get to Algonquin Park to see some of the subtle changes. I had an idea to have a cookout at the lookout on the Track and Tower Trail, a route I have been wanting to hike for a couple of years now. I looked at the forecast and decided to go when there was plenty of sunshine.
It’s this time of year that we can really notice the presence of the sun high in the sky for longer durations. That sun and warm temperatures combined are going to melt the ridiculous amount of snow in Algonquin so we can all get out there with our canoes, hiking shoes, fishing poles and tents to enjoy this place in Ontario that we are so lucky to have.
There was a fresh layer of snow over everything but as I started walking the trail, I could hear copious amounts of melting. Drips and dumps of snow melting or falling off trees, and flowing water from creeks and streams getting wider and stronger as the snow starts to melt away in the forest.
There was a definite change I noticed being out there alone. I could feel a change. Perhaps it was I with the excitement of spring being just around the corner, or the warmth of the sun on my face and the sounds of melt happening, but it was also the feeling of the forest. It was almost like Mother Nature had the same anxiousness that we do and was ready for the weather to warm up so she could come alive again.
The birds were chirping and singing and I could just tell that they were happy for the sun and longer days. I noticed a lot of animal tracks over the freshly fallen snow. Perhaps they’re feeling anxious too and ready to come out of their dens, nests and homes to no longer shelter themselves away from wind chill and frost. I could almost hear the sap thawing in the maple trees and there was a sweet scent of nature waking up, like the smell of pine during the heat of the summer. It was fresh air. Not the fresh, cold air that burns your nostrils, but the fresh air that fills your lungs up with the pureness that is Algonquin Park.
I followed the trail until I got to the dam; actually, I followed the sound of thundering water because that is what was happening down stream. The melt that has been occurring since Family Day weekend is now making its way down hill, down stream and through the dams. There was a bridge to cross, but when I looked at the other side I couldn’t see the trail. There was some definite climbing that needed to happen, but I suspect the trail in that particular spot is quite close to the water. Since I was by myself, I decided to play it safe and not cross. All it would take is for my foot to slip on the slippery snow surface or my hand to slide off a damp tree trunk and I would have been in serious trouble, or worse.
I always thought that as an adult I was omitted from the lessons taught about water and ice safety. I learned about that in school a long time ago. I am safe on the water when I’m canoeing, but I didn’t think about this time of year when ice on the lakes is melting and the dams are overflowing with water. Water levels can rise in a matter of seconds. Soon enough some of the trails will be closed to the public because of spring runoff and flooding. It’s a reminder to take extra caution around fast moving water this time of year. I’m glad I used my best judgement.
I had to retrace my steps and find a different spot with a lookout to have my cookout. Right along the shore of Cache Lake I found a great spot. I pulled out my new KIHD Stove and gathered some sticks and birch bark from dead trees in the area to start a fire in my new stick stove. Within no time I had a good fire on and put my gluten-free, vegetarian pizza on to heat up. Delish!
I can’t tell you how nice it was to have the smell of campfire in my hair, the sun shining through my lookout while I was having myself a cookout. It was a perfect day. Although there is still quite a bit of snow in the park, it will only be a matter of time before the ice starts to pull away from the shorelines, and every avid canoeist will be checking the ice-out conditions daily until they can get out on the water. Hurry up spring; we can hardly wait to reconnect with a lively Algonquin Park again!