Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Used rental canoes for sale at Swift Roadshows

Every spring and fall, our friends at Swift Canoe & Kayak run a number of "roadshows," where you can find a wide range of canoes and kayaks for sale at great prices. For the paddler on a budget, one of the best buys are used rental canoes. When canoes are retired from our rental fleet, they get repaired and refurbished and sent over to the folks at Swift. Prices range from $500 to $1000 or so depending on the model, construction and condition.

Three sales are coming up in the near future. Both feature on-water test paddling, expert advice, great selection and unbeatable prices. Click on the links for maps, show hours and more details:

April 27 - 29, at the Guelph Lake Conservation Area, near Guelph, Ontario

May 4 - 6, at the Rideau Canoe Club in Ottawa, our nation's capital

May 11 - 13, at Swift Algonquin, right beside AO in Oxtongue Lake

Sale day at Swift Algonquin!

We always have a number of used rental canoes for sale at our Oxtongue Lake store. Most are Kevlar and include popular models from Swift, like the Kipawa and Algonquin. Please call Swift Algonquin at 705-635-1167 or visit Swift Algonquin in Oxtongue Lake for more details.

The Swift Canoe and Kayak company sells new canoes and kayaks and used rentals as well. Call the head office in Gravenhurst at 1-800-661-1429 for more information.

Algonquin map news

My colleague Randy Mitson, who creates our retail blog, has produced a great map of all the Algonquin Outfitters locations. He did this using a new on-line service that I stumbled upon one day, called GMap. GMap allows anyone to create personal maps using the Google Map database. We've never wanted to link to the Google Map version of where we are, as some of the information they have is incorrect. For example, if you try to find our Oxtongue Lake store using our Dwight, Ontario address, Google Maps will locate it in the village of Magnetawan, a different town located an hour's drive northwest of here. Google Maps is a great tool but apparently not without a few bugs.

Speaking of maps, I'm excited to report that the official Algonquin Park Canoe Routes Map, published by the Friends of Algonquin Park, has undergone a major update. The 2007 edition, sporting a snazzy label stating that it is "park ranger approved," is now compass and GPS compatible. The new map is overlayed with the UTM grid (at a 2000 m interval) as well as latitude and longitude. The new map will be available later this spring at all AO locations as well as the Friends' on-line bookstore.

These new features will make it much easier to plan trips with the Canoe Route Map and use other tools like GPS devices, mapping software and Google Earth for detailed cross referencing. We highly recommend using both the Canoe Route Map and Chrismar Mapping's more detailed Adventure Map series for actual navigation in the field. If you are like many people and are generally bewildered by all those lines and numbers on your map, visit Natural Resources Canada's excellent web page called Topo 101.

By the way, the ice is out!

Algonquin Outfitters' Opeongo Store and an
ice-free Lake Opeongo, April 23, 2007

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Ice out?

Hmmm. My informants in Algonquin Park are not at work today, so I can't get an "in-person" ice report. Thanks to modern technology, the daily satellite photos covering the Great Lakes area can provide considerable information. The two images below were taken yesterday. If you look closely at the first, you can see grey ice on major lakes like Opeongo, Cedar and Lavielle. The next image is from four hours later, taken at about 4 pm EST. In my humble opinion, all those lakes look black, not grey. Based on the condition of larger lakes near Huntsville, which are essentially open, with the odd mass of "black ice" floating about, I would speculate that lakes in Algonquin Park are also filled with black ice (local term for what scientists call, very scientifically, "rotten ice") and all that is needed is a little wind to disperse it. Once that happens, canoe season in Algonquin Park will be up and running. Just don't fall in the water!

Algonquin Park from wayyyyy up, around noon on April 21.
Opeongo Lake is the greyish body just right and below of centre.

Same view, four hours later. The grey is gone!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Ice Conditions in Algonquin Park - April 18

After a lengthy absence, the sun is out in full force. Conditions are perfect for making lake ice disappear: sunshine, light wind and daytime highs in the double digits. If this weather keeps up over the weekend as forecasted, we predict that small lakes will be open by early next week and big lakes like Opeongo and Cedar a few days later. Things look good for "opening day" on April 28. Stay tuned to this blog for further photo updates!

All pictures below were taken today, April 18, by Jerry Schmanda.

Lake Opeongo, looking south from the store

Lake Opeongo, looking north from the store

Lake of Two Rivers, looking west from Hwy 60

Cache Lake at the boat launch

Smoke Lake docks at the access point

Canoe Lake, looking north from the beach

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Reel film fest in Haliburton this weekend

If you missed the Reel Paddling film festival when we showed it in Huntsville last month, you can catch it in the village of Haliburton this weekend.

Our friends at Fleming College's Haliburton School for the Arts are presenting the film festival in conjunction with their Spring Art Show and Sale. Admission is free, so you can combine movie-watching and art-shopping in one trip to beautiful Haliburton!

Students and alumni from the campus’ Glassblowing, Jewellery, Artist Blacksmith, Ceramics, Textiles, Photography, Sculpture, and Painting & Drawing programs will be displaying and selling spectacular works of art. You can also enjoy a hike through the Haliburton Sculpture Forest, featuring 22 installations by Canadian artists.

One of the installations in the sculpture forest.
The Beaver, by Mary Anne Barkhouse and Michael Belmore

This event takes place at the Fleming College Haliburton Campus, Saturday, April 21st starting at 9 am. Free admission!

For more information, visit www.haliburtonschoolofthearts.com or call the campus at 705-457-1680. You can see a map of the area here.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Is spring the new winter?

The robins are confused. The one hanging out in my yard lately is looking very unhappy, all puffed up to stay warm in the below-freezing mornings, pecking away at the frozen grass, looking for worms that are way down deep. The days are warming up though, and despite the widespread Easter weekend cold snap, I am still optimistic that most lakes in Algonquin Park will be navigable by "opening day"on April 28. Having said that, don't blame it on me if you can't paddle to your favourite fishing spot that weekend!

Lakes visible from Hwy 60 are showing open water around the edges and at river mouths and the ice is starting to look a bit gray. I just got an Opeongo report - some of our spring staff are moving into the residence at Lake Opeongo today. They were walking on the lake this morning and estimate that the ice is at least 12" thick near the store. The long range forecast indicates sun and warm temps after April 18, and if this holds true, things should start to open up quickly. Stay tuned to this blog and the Electric Penguin's ice-out page for further developments.

The Meteorological Service of Canada recently released three-month long range forecasts, suggesting that southern and central Ontario will experience hotter and drier weather than usual through the end of June. Since the peak of spring run-off has already passed, this will mean that water levels will drop quickly once the ice disappears. Take this into account if you are planning a summer canoe route that includes streams and small rivers like the Nipissing, Crow or Tim. It could also mean that black-fly season will be shorter than usual, which most folks won't complain about.

If you are canoe shopping, please note that our neighbours at Swift Algonquin are now open Friday through Monday until early May, when they will be open seven days a week. For details on new and used canoes in stock at Oxtongue Lake, please call Brian or Pete at 705-635-1167 or send them an e-mail. If you are getting spring canoe fever, combine a visit to Algonquin Outfitters, Swift Canoe and Algonquin Park! Our Oxtongue Lake store currently has amazing sales on winter clothing (ask about our amazing 30/40/50% off deal) and snowshoes are still on display and marked down 30%.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Winter is disappearing, sort of...

A quick ice-out update:
  • All lakes visible from Hwy 60 in Algonquin Park are frozen "shore to shore."
  • Recent reports claim that the ice on Canoe Lake is 12" thick.
  • With recent rain and mild weather, most snow is gone, though there are still deep patches in shady places.
  • Rivers are open and running (water is cold and high!).
  • The weather forecast is calling for cooler temps and even snow on Thursday and Friday of this week, so don't get too excited about spring in Algonquin Park quite yet!
All indications are good for an early to normal ice-out, unless the weather stays cold.