Winter camping by mistake

Western Uplands Hiking Trail, Algonquin Park, November 26-28, 2004

We paddle to the south end of Canoe Lake, hoping for an open route to somewhere else.

En route to Hardy Lake.

We got back from our day hike around 3:45pm. Shortly before the light starts fading.


"There's a car out there with a canoe on it," she said, over her shoulder to a co-worker who was also coming through the door to start another day at Algonquin Park's east gate. "Those people are insane."

As she turned back, she saw Leo and I, patiently waiting for the park to open and for our trip mates, Lester and Sonja, to arrive.

She blushed. But she had a point. In fact Leo and I had told ourselves the very same thing - many times - on our drive from Ottawa. It was the last weekend in November and we were going canoeing.

These pages are the story of what was meant to be the Big Trout Lake loop with four members of the National Capital Region YMCA/YWCA Canoe Camping Club. It didn't exactly work out that way.

In three bullet points:

The best-laid plans often go astray and apparently a couple of nights at -12C earlier in the week did for ours. But I am most grateful to my tripmates Lester, Sonja and Leo who also wanted to stay out and who didn't let disappointment ruin a great weekend.

Jan. 12, 2005 update: response to comments

I have posted a response to some of the fairly critical comments about this trip on my regular web site. In short: some good points, some bad points, and one thing nobody mentionned.


You can die or cause yourself serious harm in many ways while camping in winter. Hypothermia, burns and frozen limbs that rot upon thawing spring deftly to mind. These pages offer no advice, make no recommendations that you go camping at all. Ever. In winter or summer. Even reading this is probably too risky.