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  1. #1
    sturgeon's Avatar
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    Algonquin Highland Backpacking Trail

    Had two days off after Labour Day, so I drove 3.5 hours north of Toronto to Algonquin Park, to do a solo overnight and test some gear. Also to get in shape for a longer hike later in September. I'm fairly new to this backpacking thing.

    The hike is about 35 km (about 22 miles) and very rugged for Ontario (a very flat province). They recommend two nights, but I did it in one night (2 walking days) to test my legs. I didn't follow rule number 3



    It's a pretty good trail: nice lookouts over some lakes, beautiful forests with some giant hemlock trees, stands of ash and birch, lake shores, but also some swampy mosquito-y bits, and some long dreary stretches of balsam and spruce boreal forest.









    Lots of moose footprints and poo everywhere



    and I ran into one lonely giant male with a huge rack (not often you can make that sentence!) who was barking at me to back off once he saw I was not a lady friend.



    Overnight was 4 or 5 degrees (about 40 F). My summer Burrow and Incubator were fine at that temperature (I finally got them "dialed in"--thanks Thorwren), and the Blackbird was comfy once I put my puffy jacket under my knees. (forgive pic quality--low light)





    Practised my bear-bag hanging after learning the PCT style recently. Easy!





    Rocky Mountain and Appalachian hikers will laugh at me, but my legs were bone-weary tired after the workout they got. I trimmed my base weight down to about 14 pounds, 17 with water and food. Still too much, but I'm cautious. Anyway, a fun trip.



    Sept 7, 2011--first signs of fall


  2. #2
    Chard's Avatar
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    Nice report and pics Sturgeon...

    I bet seeing that moose got your blood pumping!!!

    Now you've got me really looking forward to the canoeing hang at the end of the month!!! The leaves should be beautiful.
    Survival is about getting out alive, Bushcraft is about going in to live

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  3. #3
    Bubba's Avatar
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    Thanks for the report! I'm planning a trip on that trail sometime in the fall so it was nice to get a glimpse as well as know someone who has traveled it.

    I did a solo of the Western Uplands Trail years ago. IIRC it is around 88Km. You should check out that trail sometime. I think it has more changes in elevation than the Highlands trail.
    Don't let life get in the way of living.

  4. #4
    BlazeAway's Avatar
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    Thanks for the report and for heralding the fall.

  5. #5
    Moderator raiffnuke's Avatar
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    Nice report! One day I will see a moose on the trail....

    Thanks for sharing.

  6. #6
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    Great report! I really like that park but I can't always get there as its about 7 hours from me. Good for you on your ventures.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Veto 65's Avatar
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    Beautiful country you got there. I have also seen fall colors in some of the trees around here in upstate NY, I couldn't believe my eyes. Already?

    I only saw a moose once close up, not in rutt season and no calf so she wasen't spooked. Close enough to touch too.

    Thanks for the trip report and pictures.
    I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority. - E. B. White (1899 - 1985)

  8. #8
    sturgeon's Avatar
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    Thanks for your comments.

    @Chard I heard the moose before i saw him. Strange call, twice, I thought maybe a crane or something. Walk a little. Then a woof, i thought maybe a bear. Start talking: "just a guy, not a meal, no harm to anyone, just walking here", then look up and see this guy on the knoll above me. Yikes! Backed off. Waited 5 minutes. Heard him move off. Continued. As I passed the knoll I looked up for him--he was on the other side of the trail about 10 metres downhill giving me the evil eye. Biggest moose i've ever seen, and I've seen lots, but always from canoes or cars. Had enough adrenaline to hike up the next two hills effortlessly...

    @ Bubba PM me if you have any questions. For future reference, I recorded times for me to walk each section. I hike slowly, but it might be useful to you.

    @ Blaze Away Thank you. I've always enjoyed your reports from the islands of Denmark. I'm not ready for video, though.

    @ Veto96, Bloomgorge, Raiffnuke: If you want to see moose, this is the place--prime moose habitat. I don't know anyone who has overnighted in Algonquin on foot or by canoe who hasn't seen a moose.

  9. #9
    [o]TTeR's Avatar
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    Awesome report, thanks for the sharing! 14lbs is an impressive base weight especially coming into the fall when we have to start adding insulation ozs, some sacrifices to keep that weight for your longer hike later this month, are you planning another Algonquin trail?
    "I was thinking of the immortal words of Socrates, who said, "... I drank what?"
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  10. #10
    sturgeon's Avatar
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    @ [o]TTer Thanks for your comment.

    I've reached the limit right now for weight cutting. I've done the cheap things: no water filter, just Pristine drops; cat food stove instead of my beloved Trangia, cheap water bottles instead of Nalgene, using my bugnet as a stuffsack, etc.

    Any more real weight savings would come by spending a lot of money on a new lighter pack, whoopie slings (not sure how much weight I'd actually save there) and a simpler bugnet-free single-layer hammock. For fall I'll add puffy jacket, maybe the door kit for the Blackbird that I bought and never used, balaclava and gloves, and bring my Vargo woodburning stove --the Vargo can do double duty as a windscreen for the alcohol stove, reducing alcohol needs.

    Actually, call me a fool, but next trip I'm going to Killarney (sounds like a song...). I've been training by walking home from work every day 10k, and walking around like a dork with a loaded backpack in the ravines on weekends. I know that trail (La Cloche Silhouette Trail) has a lot of elevation gain and loss, and is a butt-kicker, so I'm going to try it in six nights (7 walking days) at a moderate pace. That's a lot of food weight, though. Wish me luck!

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