It’s funny how things work out sometimes. Going to Canada I was fully prepared to travel alone. I was even looking forward to all those experiences and imagined myself having lots of quality time with myself, books and my journal. But then I met so many lovely people on my first trip to Ottawa that the prospect of doing just that suddenly felt very depressing. Luckily my friend Daniel jumped in, took a break from writing his Master’s thesis and saved the day. He accompanied me to the beautiful Algonquin Park where we basically had the best time ever. We rented a car, turned up the music and went on a trip that promised us 4 days of hiking, canoeing, swimming and unplugging. And we got just that, plus lots of laughter, joy and happy coincidences.
My blog has never been very personal and I won’t change that just now. Nevertheless I want to give you a quick summary of what we discovered and experienced. Obviously there won’t be any vegan restaurant recommendations, but a glimpse into what we cooked and ate on our (all vegan!) outdoor trip. I hope you’ll have as much fun reading this, as I had writing it!
Obviously you need a lot of (healthy) food and a fair amount of snacks if you plan on spending a lot of time outdoors. Daniel was willing to eat vegan with me the whole time, which I appreciate deeply. He might even jump on the vegan wagon in the future, which is awesome. Because we went to a very remote place, all of the shopping had to be planned and done beforehand. This is what we opted for:
Breakfast Day 1 – 4: Oatmeal or Overnight Oats with banana, blueberries, yogurt and almond butter
Lunch Day 1 – 4: Dinner leftovers, as well as sandwiches, carrot sticks and hummus
Dinner Day 1: Pasta with marinara and spinach
Dinner Day 2 & 3: Cauliflower, chickpea and spinach curry with basmati rice
Snacks: Cliff bars, trail mix, fruit, salted almonds
We made sure to have a filling and fueling breakfast every morning, to always have enough snacks with us and to recharge with a fair amount of vitamins, carbs and protein in the evenings. We pretty much nailed our meal plan and were really happy with all of it. There wasn’t a time we were hungry, without energy or too full.
Early in the morning I got our perfect little car from the rental place and picked up Daniel from the train station. He had to get up at 4 in the morning to catch the train and after shopping for some food, we put on some music and started our adventure.
Our destination and headquarters would be at the Wolf Den Hostel, right in front of the west gate in Algonquin Park. Searching for a place to stay there I had a few demands: it should be remote, quiet, laid back and without any luxury or wifi. The Wolf Den exceeded any expectations and we had a wonderful time there. Since I wasn’t by myself any more, we upgraded to a cabin instead of the dorms once we arrived. Both Jen and Jaques were wonderful hosts, and didn’t hesitate to move our bookings around, which meant that we had to change rooms every day and therefore more work for them. We spent the first night in the Loon Cabin, the second one in Ben’s Cabin (our favourite, pictures down below) and the last night in the dorms. Each and every one of those accommodations were very comfortable and furnished beautifully.
The washrooms, kitchen and shared living area can be found in the main building. The kitchen pretty much offers every tool you’d need, as well as lots of fridge, storage and cooking space. Enjoy your meals in the dining area or the extensive garden. You might even visit their little Veg and Herb Garden to harvest something for your dinner. The living area is beautifully and comfortably arranged, with many couches, books and space to relax. There are washrooms outside, as well as inside. To keep it short – we didn’t lack anything at all.
Since we were both rather exhausted we sticked to exploring the hostel, the nearby river and then went to enjoy the Two River Lake in the park. It was a relaxing first day, full of reading, swimming and planning the upcoming few days.
Much to our disappointment we woke up to a grey and cloudy day. Our initial plan was to do the Mizzy Lake Trail, the longest day hike with 11 km. To avoid getting soaked through, we quickly changed plans, and after enjoying our oatmeal at the river and encountering a baby snapping turtle, did a much smaller trail, the Hardwood Lookout. That was when we came to realize that the official estimated hiking durations wouldn’t apply to us, and only half an hour later we were done with our first hike. So we did another small one, the Two Rivers Trail. It only took us 45 minutes, and after deliberating over lunch if we should dare it, we decided on doing the Mizzy Lake Trail after all.
The trail leads through beautiful landscape, through thick forests, past nine ponds and an old railway. Even though we didn’t encounter any moose or bears, we were lucky enough to see three otters playing in the river, and a great blue heron on a field. The distance is a very comfortable one, with no steep incline but a very diverse and fun path. We had a short break and finished it in a little less than 4 hours.
All in all we hiked about 15 kilometers that day, managed to exceed more than 30.000 steps (at least that’s what Daniel’s watch told us) and therefore deserved a big curry dinner and a good night’s sleep. Even though the weather report scared us a bit at first, it proved to be the perfect hiking weather and temperature.
After a slow morning with a filling breakfast and lots of coffee to energize we sticked to our plan to go canoeing, even though the weather report didn’t really promise us what we had hoped for. We chose to explore the Canoe Lake and rented our aluminium weapon of choice for 4 hours and just went out on the open water. I never canoed before, but with Daniel’s helpful instructions we quickly paddled down the beautiful lake. It didn’t take long until I realized how exhausting canoeing is by the way, my arms basically killed me after ten minutes. We still made it to our located destination, explored the shore a bit and then kept on paddling down to the tip of the lake. At some point the sun came out and surprised us with warm rays of sunshine, while we enjoyed a beer in our canoe on the water. I didn’t dare to take my camera, so there are no pictures sadly. It was a lovely experience (thanks Daniel for being so patient with me) and I can’t wait to do more of it in the future.
We ate our – again well deserved – lunch and headed down to the lake for a little nap and some quiet time. Then we decided to pack our dinner and take it to the Lookout Trail, where we ate it while watching the sunset. What a breathtaking view!
Those days were over in a heartbeat! Time always runs when you have fun, and this was definitely the case here. On our last day we packed up all our things and headed to do one last small hike, the Hemlock Bluff with only 3,5 km. Originally we wanted to do a longer one, but after those very active days we were just exhausted. It was another beautiful trail with a lovely view at the lookout. An unfortunate encounter with an attacking wasp finally gave me the opportunity to be a bit moody on this wonderful trip, but after some time and a some pain reducing ointment from Daniel (yes, I’m a big wuss) I somehow managed to move on. We went back to the hostel, had some leftover curry for lunch, and then calmly drove back to Cobourg.
Those four days were the most amazing short trip, and we were able to do everything we hoped for. There was a serious amount of hiking, some canoeing, swimming and relaxing going on, leading to the perfect state of exhaustion and a deep sleep every night. I’d go back there in a heartbeat!