Dogsledding in Algonquin? Me? You must be joking: Winter Camping part 1

Been months, I know. I only seem to write when I go places, don’t seem to have perfected the ‘had an idea today’ form of blogging. The good news is that I went somewhere this week, the even better news is that the doc says I can get back in a truck because I’m officially recovered. So, Trucking In English may be about trucking again quite soon. I’m in the midst of refresher lessons and job applications, it will be interesting to find out just how much the North American freight industry wants a slightly rusty driver.

In the meantime, winter adventures.

This account of a daft bunch of middle aged women camping and dogsledding in Algonquin is in five parts, click the links to read part 2, part 3, part 4 and part 5.

It’s a four hour drive from Kitchener to the eastern gate of Algonquin Park,but four middle-aged women with badly packed stuff, who’ve decided to stop off on the way for groceries and booze, can make it last all day. Valerie is the hardy soul, who backpacks all over everywhere and canoes the back county for fun. The trip is her idea and she knows all about coleman stoves and has the sort of car that accommodates the sort of camping gear that people who camp properly tend to accumulate. Valerie is sure that anyone can love the great outdoors once she has dragged them there. She has arranged a yurt by way of accommodation and has assured us that it will be warm and comfortable. Since we are talking Northern Ontario in a Canadian winter, the words ‘warm’ and ‘comfortable’ could well be relative terms.

Barb grooms dogs for a living, Karen manages a huge region for the Parkinson Society, and you know me. Our ages range from 48 to 60 and we will spend 3 nights in this yurt in a semi-closed campground
which, Valerie advises, has clean and inviting showers. It will not be like camping at all really. We will hike on day 1 and go dog sledding on day 2. What was I thinking?  Well actually, what I was thinking was ‘if I can survive this, the doc might be right about me being better enough for trucking purposes and even if it’s awful I’ll be able to write about it’.

The yurt was indeed more comfortable than real camping. It was insulated, had a heater and some lighting and bunk beds.

Outside, in our little bay in the campground, were a couple of picnic tables, a fire pit and a covered bit that would house a barbecue in the summer. The snow had been ploughed back into banks on either side. Walking two yards through the trees behind us took us out onto a little beach and the frozen lake. The sun had been out for a few days so although the roadway through the campground had been roughly ploughed, it was now solid ice. A short walk along the ice in one direction took us to the smelly, camping-type loos. A long walk or short drive along the ice the other way took us to the ‘comfort station’, a remarkably cozy little complex of loos, showers and laundry facilities. It did look rather as though we were’t really roughing it at all. There were a few other yurts about and a lot of empty camping spots, although on our way to and from the showers we did spot a couple of tents and a magnificent igloo. Even Valerie shivered.

We settled in, unpacked the booze (organising a small ‘bar’ in the snow) and took lawn chairs out onto the lake to watch the sunset with glasses of wine and bottles of beer in hand. Well, the others did. I had trouble with the knack of slamming your chair into a flat bit snow so that it stays level when you sit on it. Each time I sat down with a drink to enjoy the wintery niceness, one or other chair leg would sink into the snow sending me rolling off in a random set of directions to do upended turtle impressions. The ladies were most impressed that, on each occasion, I managed to spill nary a drop.

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