Wednesday, 21 September 2016


Have you seen the movie A Walk In The Woods starring Robert Redford, Nick Nolte, Mary Steenberg, and others. It’s about two older guys, physically out of shape, that decide that they’re going to hike the Appalachian Hiking Trail. It’s hilarious. Watch it should you get a chance. There’s also the book of the same name, written by Bill Bryson and published by Seal Books. 

Anyway, I mention this as the other day, September 13th of this year to be exact, we went for a bit of a hike in Algonquin Provincial Park. It was one of those days where despite the fact that we’re faced with impending doom caused by global warming, it was very cold, cold at least for the time of the year, probably in the lower teens celsius with a cold wind blowing out of the west. We’d finished our hike, and we’re looking for a sheltered place to eat our lunch. The picnic area at Lake of Two Rivers was out of the question as the wind was sweeping across the lake churning up waves large enough to discourage all but the serious and experienced canoeist. We drove on deciding that the picnic area at the Western Uplands trailhead, would be the most sheltered. It was. Apparently we weren’t the only persons seeking a sheltered area to eat lunch. The parking lot proved to be quite full. Despite the fact that it was a couple of weeks since the Labour Day long weekend that signals the end of summer, and the pause before the park becomes busy again with tourists seeking  the autumn colours, there were a good number of backpackers either preparing to go out on the trail, or just having finished hiking the trail. Just to let you know, the Western Uplands Backpacking Trail is the longest trail in the park, and is not to be taken lightly.

We ate our lunch enjoying the entertainment provided both by nature, and the activities of the backpackers. Afterwards we walked around the picnic area marvelling at the abundance of a variety of fungi, then paid a visit to the bridge over the Oxtongue River to watch mesmerized by the grasses waving in the current under the water. We always hope to see a trout swimming upstream, but on this day, as most times that we’ve visited the Oxtongue River we saw only grasses waving in the current. 

We were preparing to leave when I noticed two  middle-aged men sitting with their hiking gear at a nearby picnic table. I was unable to resist asking whether they were coming, or going. They were coming having been on an overnight hike. I mentioned that they were middle-aged, and by their appearance definitely not experienced hikers. Their clothing was top of the line, skin fitting, the kind that whisks away moisture. Their gear was by appearance new, and top of the line. Both were somewhat overweight, and the one man who was the most overweight was a smoker. I asked if they had hiked to Rain Lake, the top of the trail, and almost in unison they proudly said that they had, and that they had completed the entire loop. However, they were quick to point out that they hadn’t been prepared for the change in the weather. Apparently during the night a wind had come up accompanied by thunder and lightning and a driving rain. They had checked the weather before leaving and had assured themselves that if there was to be rain it would occur some distance from where they were to hike. The rain was not their concern, however, it was the howling wind so strong that they were unable to get their butane stoves to light, and as the temperature dropped they had nearly froze. But, as I pointed out, they had survived, and they now had a tale to tell. To this they agreed. The large man, the smoker, mentioned that when he told his wife that he was going on a overnight hike, something that he’d never done before, she’d become concerned and doubted that he’d survive the hike. He had convinced her that it would be nothing more than “a walk in the woods”. They had obviously not seen the movie, nor read the book.

While visiting Algonquin I managed to get a bit of sketching done. Ideas for paintings for my upcoming book.

Island - Lake Opeongo - Algonquin Provincial Park    Graphite Sketch  2016

Lake Opeongo - Algonquin Provincial Park    Graphite Sketch  2016

Tea Lake - Algonquin Provincial Park     Graphite Sketch   2016   

Smoke Lake - Algonquin Provincial Park  Graphite Sketch  2016

Smoke Lake - View From Hardwood Lookout Trail   Graphite Drawing 2016

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