Friday, March 23, 2012

Ice-out 2012: where is the drama?

If you do search through this blog (click the label "ice-out reports for Algonquin Park" in the "things we blog about" box to the right) and read the ice-out reports over the years, you will notice that the seasons with "normal" or "late" ice-out seem to create the create the most excitement.  In years like those, we outfitters are hoping that the ice and snow will disappear in time for us to dig out canoes, get water taxis in the water and provide service to anxious early-season trippers. Trout anglers are stoked to get to their favourite lake and will do just about anything to make that happen. In years like this, and 2010 as well, when an early ice-out is pretty much a certainty, it all seems a bit ho-hum.

Except for a few piles in shady spots, the snow is already gone. The small lake near my house opened up this morning and our local Oxtongue Lake is half-open. The big lakes around Huntsville, like Fairy, Peninsula and Lake of Bays have large open sections and the remainder is covered with a layer of black mush, likely to disappear in the next 48 hours.

OK, OK, what about Algonquin? This weekend will tell the story. Temperatures are dropping over the next 72 hours, back to more seasonable levels. For early next week, Environment Canada is forecasting lows in the negative double digits and possibly a snowflake or two. Whatever ice survives the weekend will harden up and sit there until the next heat wave.

A more "normal" looking weather forecast for late March
I  believe it is safe to think that Algonquin lakes will be ice free by April 28, the opening day of trout season. What day the faithful will be able to go on a "no fishing" canoe trip is still open for discussion. The Friends of Algonquin Park seem to be on the same page and since they are out and about a little more than we are, are publishing daily pictures on their Facebook page.

For the record, river levels are still very high. If you are planning a backpacking trip this weekend, please note that the Western Uplands and Highlands trails are closed due to flooding. Levels are expected to drop but please call the park info line at 1-705-633-5572 for the latest updates.

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