As such, each night at midnight starting on the 3rd, I would monitor the bookings of my favorite site, in hopes of acquiring it for the start of July. After 3 nights, the site came up, but it was booked but a mere moment earlier, leaving me to have to wait till 5 months prior to their departure date; the date the site would open up again for booking. As it would be, the booking was for a week, and so at midnight the following week, I logged into my Ontario Parks account, and scored the prize; a weeks stay at Pog Lake at site 435; the BEST site on Pog Lake!
It was after I booked the site that my participation on Algonquin Adventures (AA) really began to increase, as I found it therapeutic to read about others adventures in the interior, as well as about people’s general love of the park. It was then that came to know many of the people on AA, and found a refuge from my winter blues.
As winter passed and spring came, my energies were shifted to the Park’s interior, as it “open’s” earlier then the parks camping grounds. During the months of April and May, I would make 5 trips into Algonquin, and while each was short in duration, was rich in experience.
Liam & Josh along Hw. 60 Moose watchingThen came June, and the end of another school year, and finally July, and a mere week till my big tip with my boys to Pog. In hearing about my plans, my mother became more and more interested in the trip, and it was then that I invited her along. While I had initially thought she would stay for part of the trip, as 7 days seemed a bit long for her, she ended up being with us the entire trip, adding to not only my enjoyment of the park, but enriching my children’s experiences as well.
On Sunday July 6th, 2008 at about 12-noon, we left my home in two cars, filled not only with the necessary gear, but loads of anticipation for the week to come. After about a 4 and a half hour journey, which included stops in Huntsville for groceries, and gas as well as checking in Dwight to see if my canoe was ready at Langford (it wasn’t, so I kept my loaner for the week), and a final stop for ice cream at the Lake of Two Rivers Ice Cream Parlor (very good ice cream by the way) we arrived at Pog Lake, and began our trip.
Our first order of business was setting up our site, which included assembling my Columbian Bugaboo 5 person tent and sleeping gear, as well as a new addition to my gear collection, a 15”x13” Ozark Trail bug tent for the “kitchen” of our camp. In all, it took a few hours to do this, as I enjoyed a beverages or two along the way, and so following a dinner of hamburgers and walk around the camp, we were off to bed.
The following day we woke fairly early, and after our coffee and breakfast, we decided to tackle the Beaver Pond Trial at km 45.2 along the highway 60 corridor. The hike is 2 km long, and brings visitors past several beaver dams. The hike is moderate in difficulty, and took us about 2 hours to hike.
Liam, Josh & Mom at start of Beaver Dam Trail
Along the way we saw three beavers, a cow moose with her two calves, a blue heron and lots of frogs. Towards the end of the hike the path took us to the top of a nice lookout point of the marshes and dams we had just visited. In short, a great hike.
Dad & Liam have a "Beaver Snack"
Liam & Josh at Beaver Lookout Point
Large Beaver Dam
Following that we had a late lunch and the boys and me paddled up the Madawaska River into Pog Lake and explored the campground by water. It was there that I spotted three Painted Turtles, and I finally came to see turtles in the park! (Later in the week we would also find a snapping turtle in our bay that was particularlu interested in the kids fishing bobbers). We also stayed up late that night for at 9:00 pm we all went to the parks Outdoor Theatre (at km 35.4), where we were entertained with “Ghost Stories of Canoe Lake.”
Ghost Stories Play
This hour long play tells the tails of many of the key figures in the history of Canoe Lake, including the parks first warden as well as Tom Thompson. Incidentally, the next showing of the “Ghost Stories of Canoe Lake” is Monday, July 21st, 2008. See “This Week in Algonquin Park” for this other events in the park.
On Tuesday, July 8th, 2008, we woke a little late, as the kids had been up so late the previous evening. After a light breakfast of oatmeal, toast, coffee and juice (the kids skipped the coffee) we potted around our site, acquired some ice and wood from the park office, and enjoyed an otherwise restful morning. After an early lunch though, we decided to travel down the Madawaska River to Whitefish Lake for an afternoon of fishing.
Mom, Liam & Josh canoeing along the Madawaska River
Since our site is directly adjacent to one of the small inlets along the Madawaska River, we were able to launch from our site. After a brief paddle along the river we reached the only portage of the day, a very short 50 m detour around a dam. This took no more then 10 minutes, and we were back paddling the river. The Madawaska River in this part of the park is wide and fairly deep. It boasts a wonderful shoreline inhabited by lots of wild life including several blue herons. In fact, we found what we believed might be the nest of one of the birds, while we played “tag” with as we paddled down the river. After about half an hour we reached Kearney Lake and group campground. It was as we entered the lake that the boys were allowed to cast there fishing rods, and fish, while my mother and I continued to paddle. We continued our journey for about another 45 minutes, reaching the opening of Whitefish Lake about an hour and a half after our launch. Unfortunately it also started to rain as we entered the lake, and having my mother and two children as passengers, decided to turn around and head back. This proved a wise decision, for the rain quickly increased to a down pour and continued to fall for well over an hour. Ironically, it was as we were crossing back over the portage that the rain stopped, but being drenched we were glad to be back near our campsite.
It was after this rainfall that I put up a tarp over our fire pit area, in the event of further rain during our stay. That evening we enjoyed a great dinner and campfire and stayed up late chatting about the day’s events and our plans for the next few days.
On Wednesday, July 9th, 2008 we slept in and after breakfast and morning paddle with my youngest son Liam, my mother informed us that she was a bit tired and would stay at camp for the day. While hesitant to leave her, the boys and me ended up taking on Booth’s Rock Trail adjacent to the Rock Lake Campground located 9 km south from km 40.3.
Liam & Josh at start of Booth's Rock Trail
The trail is 5.1 km long and rated as difficult. In all, the trail took us about 4 hours to hike, as we took an extended cliff side break to take in the breath taking views at the top of a 150 m cliff at points 7 & 8 along the trial.
Breathtaking view atop Rock Lark Lookout
As well, we spent a fair amount of time exploring the Barclay Estate near the end of the hike, which proved to be not only historically very interesting; who would have thought a tennis court in the middle of a forest? (which is still in working condition by the way; just bring a broom) but also the home of countless tree frogs (my kids loved them and while they wanted to bring some home as pets, behaved and left them in the forest).
Josh & Liam with Tree Frog
Simply put, this trail is a MUST see, and one I will visit again and again!
Returning to our site after a long hike, we rested, had dinner, and enjoyed a nice evening by the fire. An added bonus was to learn that my mother had done the laundry while we were out, and so the boys would have plenty of clean cloths for the duration of the trip! Thanks Mom, you’re the best! Unfortunately though it was as we finished cooking dinner that we learned that the fuel supplies were running low, and needed replenishing fast!
The following morning, on Thursday, July 10th, 2008 we woke early and after a cold breakfast were off in search of more camp fuel. The Portage Store didn’t have any, nor did the Lake of Two Rivers Store. It was at the Lake of Two Rivers Store that we learned that selling Non refillable Propane Tanks was not aloud in Algonquin (a good policy I think) as so many people continue to leave them behind at the garbage locations rather then bringing them home to a local hazardous waste site. I was then told to go to Whitney, where I was sure to find some. The drive was only about 20 minutes, and sure enough I scored two canisters (my last two ever, as I have switched to a mini-refillable propane tank, which I also learned could be traded in at Mew Lake for a full one once emptied) While in Whitney we stopped in at the LCBO for a few 1-liter boxes of wine. (I know wine bottles are allowed in campsites, but I’ve gotten used to the boxes after my many interior trips.)
On the way back, we stopped briefly at the Logging museum store where I picked up the kids their hiking badges for Beaver Pond Trail and Booth’s Rock Trail, a tradition I also started last year.
Following our return, and the acquisition of some more water and ice, me and the boys spent the afternoon fishing both Pog and the Madawaska River. While we caught nothing, the kids had a great time trying, and wanted to do it again the following day.
Fishing with Josh & Liam
That night an all night rainfall visited us, and so Mom and the kids headed to bed early. I however loving the sound of the rain in the woods, chose to enjoy the evening under the kitchen bug net while sipping my boxed wine and reading. I didn’t venture to bed until well after 2:00 am, as the rain continued to fall.
Friday, July 11th, 2008 was spent drying the campsite, taking down the tarps, relaxing and fishing. Since this would be our last night on Pog, we started gathering up and packing gear we would no longer be using to make the next days job a bit easier. We all went out for a paddle that afternoon, so the boys could fish some more, while my Mom and I enjoyed the hot sun of the day. That evening we ventured to the Canoe Lake Access Point restaurant for dinner, where we feasted and didn’t have to do “cold” dishes after.
Alas, all good things must come to an end, and the following morning we were up bright and early to pack up the camp. Since we had till 2:00 pm at our site, we were leisurely in this job, but efficient nonetheless. We were finished by 1:00 pm, and after a stop at the comfort station for hot showers, and the office to say our good byes to the helpful front office staff, we were off heading home.
In all, the trip was fantastic, and while next years trip to Pog will be shorter, as I want to spend more time in the interior now, we will be back next year for another stay at this wonderful campground.
As way of thanks, I must mention that the staff at Pog were absolutely fantastic! In particular I want to note what an unexpected pleasure it was to see Wanda, a Park Staff member from Canisbay Lake Campground that I met last year in the fall. Like last year Wanda always had a smile on her face, and an answer to my seemingly endless array of questions. If you are going to Pog this summer, be sure to say hi to her for Jeff, for she is the best, and someone I am happy to consider a friend at Algonquin. In fact, she’s so smart, that she knew why worms are not considered “Live Bate” in the park, and hence allowed, but I’ll leave her to answer that question herself.
Dad, Wanda, Liam & Josh say goodbye for now.
So for now, I am left with wonderful memories, and an eager anticipation of my next trip to the park. Next time will be later this week, when I plan on taking a 3-night solo likely to Booth Lake via access #17, but I’ll write more once my plans are finalized!