Dear Husband was shipped off to a far and distant land for a two-week long business trip, I decided instead of hibernating with the cat, all the chocolate I could lay my hands and wallowing the time away in loneliness and solitude. I would hit the road with a few friends to Algonquin Provincial Park, on a mini adventure in search of moose.
The easy three and a half hour drive north from Toronto to Algonquin whisked by in a haze of green fields, coffee and pastry pit stops. On arrival, after sufficiently “carbo-loading” on a variety of brownies, cookies and Tim Bits it was decided, on advice from a park ranger, we should embark on the Mizzy Lake trail. As this would be our best chance to spot a moose.
The ranger described the Mizzy Lake trail as a moderate to easy 11km hike. The decision was made, as in theory to the untrained hiker (that’s us) this sounded delightful – Easy hike + Moose! On closer inspection, the map outlined the trail as a “difficult hike, allow for 6 hours” – 6 HOURS!!
How could I have agreed to this, as a person whose total physical activity in a week includes three short – very short – runs (more like sunset strolls) and the occasional mad dash to the fridge for snacks, embark on an approximate 6-hour hike into the wilderness!
But with our sights set on seeing a moose, we enthusiastically began. Stopping at every lookout point, admiring every vista, pine tree and Beaver crafted dam. And when the neat path mudded over and we had to wade along swampy footpaths, rock hopping and tree hugging to proceed we felt extraordinarily adventurous like Bear Grylls – Man vs Wild!
Trudging through the lush forest shaded from the sun along the constantly changing terrain of marshy trails, a carpet of pine needles and boardwalks the ever present eerie silence surrounding us. Only the thumping of your own hearts, the relentless humming of the mosquitos and the occasional croaking choir of frogs cheering us on.
After a tiring 8km the late afternoon closing in on us and my increasing paranoia that we would still be hiking well past dusk, the rock hopping, soggy socks, the fact that we had run out of water (and snacks), had no idea how far from the finish line we were, the suspicion that the ferocious mosquitos that surrounded us at all times were attempting to suck us dry and the fact that we hadn’t spotted a moose yet was curbing our enthusiasm. The lively banter and moose calling had come to an end as we all focused on pure survival.
As the path curved the forest opened up and we spotted a moose just chilling in a lake. Exchanging silent squeals as we all dashed offroad into the thickets to get a clearer view. Admiring in silence and a dozen photos later we had finally seen what we came for!
By the end of our weekend getaway, we had encountered 1x fox, 2x moose, a family of Canadian Geese, countless squirrels and chipmunks, a few frogs, Canada’s entire mosquitos population, 2x spiders, 1x Heron, 1x Spruce Grouse and we survived to tell the tale.
We stayed at The Mad Musher – Surprisingly nice room at a very affordable rate
We were here one night
Was it long enough? You could easily spend longer, take to the trails at a more leisurely pace
Highlight: The little town of Huntsville just outside of Algonquin Provincial Park is delightful and really worth a stop
Tips: Pack insect repellent