Huntsville and Algonquine National Park

I drove about 4 hours to Huntsville. Discovered my first Drive-Thru ATM on the way. When I arrived in Huntsville  I had a hard time finding the tourist information, since there are no signs at all for it. But I finally managed, it´s hidden in the town hall basement. Got some maps, information and also some hot water for my instant noodle soup. I did a little walk to Lion´s Head, a lookout close to town. After I strolled along the river, the Town Dock and through the City Center for a bit . They even have an all year round Christmas Shop there. Went to the „On the Docks Pub“ where I sat on the patio and enjoyed a nice beer with a view over the river while putting some work into my blog. Had to move inside after a while since it started to rain though.

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From there I headed to my new hosts, Karen and Bill. They live a bit outside the city. It´s very remote, no chance to get there without a car. But it is beautiful. They have a huge house with a big garden basically in the middle of nowhere. It´s so nice and quiet there, surrounded by trees and you even get to see wild  humming birds and rabbits in the garden. Their dog Archie is just adorable and he loves people.

We had dinner and chatted until it was time for bed. The next morning I took my time with breakfast and shower before I drove to the Algonquin National Park. This park is a provinial park not a national park, so unfortunately the 150 years canada park pass is not valid there and you have to pay to get inside. So I went to the West Gate to get my permit for the day for C$17. It had cooled down a lot during the night and there where not even 10°C. It was very cloudy and windy, rain and sun took their turns. A bit of a strange weather for beginning of June. About half way to the park I stopped at a beautiful jetty just next to the road to enjoy the view and do some exercices. From the West Gate I drove almost all the way to the East Gate until I reached the Visitor Center. They have a nice exhibit there and I talked to one of the people working there to ask which are the best trails to do. Happened to be a German guy. I did the Centennial Ridge Trail, a 10.4 km trail rated difficult, approx. time 6h. It´s a very nice trail through woods and over cliffs with spectacular views. It´s very steep though and they only start maintaining the trails in summer. So be prepared to run into a lot of fallen trees, all size branches lying around everywhere and big parts of the trail are flooded. Make sure you wear proper shoes and be prepared for one or the other little detour and/or climbing and balancing action. It sounds worse than it is. It is just a bit more natural than in the main season. I managed to do the trail in 3.5 hours including a lunch break and many pictures. Didn´t see any animals though, apart from a few birds and millions of moskitos and black flies. You should bring enough water into the park. There are 2 shops where you can buy a bit overprized supplies, but otherwise there is no possibility to refill a water bottle. After the Cenntenial Ridge Trail I did the Two Rivers Trail. This is just a short loop of a few kilometers. When I just was about to get out of the car it started to pour down. I had to sit it out in the car. I was super lucky though since I could do the trail with almost no rain at all and only when I was a few meters away from the car again it started to rain very hard again. I saw a snake and 2 squirrels chasing each other on that trail.

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Once back home I helped Karen to prepare dinner, we ate and then she took me on a little car ride to show me the surrounding and where her grandma used to live and stuff. We drove through Port Sydney, Otterson and other little towns and villages. I decided to stay one night longer than I intended in Huntsville und drive directly from there to the Pearson Airport in Toronto on Saturday instead of going to Toronto on Friday already. I would rather enjoy the nature here a bit more. Especially since I had the car and parking in Toronto is insane. Next morning I set off a bit earlier and stopped first at Ragged Falls. These falls are a few kilometers before the West Gate where you can buy the permit and the machine where you could pay and print one was broken. So I had to park illegaly or drive back and forth to do it right. I decided to take the chances, left the car and walked the little trail to the falls. They are really impressive! I cut the trail a bit, since I had a bad feeling with the car and went streight to get my permit for the day. Weather was still not ideal and it had cooled down even a little bit more. Next trail was Hardwood Trail, a moderate 1 km loop with a nice view. After that I went to my main goal of the day: the Mizzy Lake Trail. It´s  11 km long, also rated difficult and 6h. It´s not so steep though, mainly flat. But like everywhere in the park the trail was not maintained yet. I saw an otter who had caught a big fish and carried it in his mouth, several birds including a blue jay and many turtles. Several moose trails and moose poo, but unfortunately no moose and no bear. Also lots of beaver dams and other signs of these animals, but no beavers. After about ¾ of the trail I ran into a man with his son. They were German but have been living in the USA for more then 11 years. Kilian, the son, was very eager to practice his German with me. I had run out of water by then (for some unknown reason I was super thirsty that day) and Bernd offered me a juicy apple. We sat there for a while enjoying the view over the lake and I stayed with them for the rest oft he trail. They were pretty slow, but it was nice to have some company. All in all it took me 5 hours.

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If you are not so lucky to find a host in Huntsville or anywhere closer to the park, there is a place called Wolf Den just about 4 km away from the west gate which has cabins and is also a hostel. For a hostel it´s still rather high priced, but it looks nice, the location is ideal and it is by far the cheapest you can find around. Huntsville is about 40 km away from the park.

On the way back I wanted to stop at the fudge and the general store, but unfortunately they were already closed. So I drove into Huntsville. I needed to fill up the car anyway. Went to Metro after to buy some snacks for the car ride the next day. Discovered some beautiful roses in a pot. They were red with some white marks in them and smelled delicious. So I decided to buy some and give them to Karen. She was very happy about them. Back home I had to do some laundry. When Bill came back from work we all had some pizza together and chitchatted the evening away before I went upstairs to pack my stuff for the flight the next day.

I had a last breakfast together with Karen and we took some pics before I drove to Toronto. Of course now when I was leaving and spending the day in the car, at the airport and in the plane, the weather was nice, warm and sunny again. Well, nothing to do about it anyway. It went very well until like 30 km before the airport. There was a car crash and traffic jam due to that. The closer I got to Toronto the thicker the traffic was. Took me almost 3 hours to get to the airport. Returned the car, checked in, security check and a long walk to my gate. Pearson Airport is horrible. There are either no signs or very confusing ones. The airport is huge, I think the biggest in Canada, but so confusing! Definitely one of my least favourite ones! If you have the chance to chose another airport, do so.

 

 

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