As way of a quick update, the snow has retreated about another 80 km north today, and after a conversation with a friend that works in Dwight, which is located just west of the parks west gate, I was notified that the majority of the snow was gone, and that parts of some of the larger lakes in the area were staring to open with "holes" in the ice; specifically mentioned in my conversation were Lake Opeongo, Cedar Lake and Lake of Bays. In fact one guy was even spotted paddling along the shores of Lake of Bays, (very close to shore mind you, where the ice was retreating a bit faster.)
Please don't think for a moment that the conditions are like Southern Ontario, where in Toronto the grass is starting to green, and perennials have in some cases produces leaves, as it is not, but do note that the Algonquin region is well on its way to getting there.
As such, for all those traveling north, now more then ever STAY OFF THE ICE, as it is thinning rather quickly, but also unevenly. In part I'm told these spots of "open water" and "thin ice" are as a result of the recent rainfalls that the area has endured. This is because the raising water levels can literally shift, lift and "push upward" areas of ice rather then a simple melting them off. In effect this leaves some regions with little of no ice, but others with thick and "chunky" ridges of ice buildups. Please note that I am by no means a meteorologist, and I don't fully understand the science behind lake thawing, so my explanation, while simple, is meant to illustrate the dangers of being on the ice in the spring, rather then providing a lesson in physics.
As well, as way of explaining the photo a bit more, when comparing yesterdays shot (which was taken on April 15th, with todays image, that was taken April 17th) if you compare the shading on almost every lake, you'll notice that the colour has changed from white to a duller grey; in short that means less ice, more slush, and a thawing of the lakes. As an obvious example to illustrate this consider Lake Simcoe, located an hour north of Toronto. On the 15th it was 95% white, and hence ice covered while in today's photo, it is now about 50% blue (ice free) with only the norther regions grey, meaning ice covered.
On a personal note, the melt is keeping my spirits high, as it is now looking like Rose Island will definitely be accessible via canoe from access point 9 making for a short paddle to the island site I hope to acquire for the park opener.
Again I will post updates as I can, and note that when Rock Lake appears "open" I think I'll have to open some bubbly.
Note: the photos are from NOAA Coast Watch and you can get the latest weather and 14 day trend predictions using these links.