Sunday, April 01, 2012

Oh, by the way, Opeongo is ice-free. For now.

We made the official call on Thursday, March 29, and announced it on our Facebook page. Unfortunately, we bloggers just can't seem to keep up with those Facebookers.

Now that lakes in Algonquin Park are open, there seems to be a growing buzz about Easter weekend canoe trips.  Here are some things to consider: The Oxtongue Lake store (and all AO locations) will be closed on Good Friday. Oxtongue Lake will be open all other days over Easter. As of this morning, wintry weather has returned and it is no April Fool's joke. There is 5 cm of new snow on the ground, roads are slippery and many ponds, small lakes and sheltered bays have ice forming around the edges. It is thin ice but ice nevertheless. You can't see this from the satellite image.

If you are thinking about visiting the park over Easter, my suggestion would to come up to Algonquin, check conditions and make
a realistic decision based on factors like the weather; your experience; what type of gear, clothing and food you have and how prepared you and your group are for a "cold water emergency." It could be a great weekend for hiking but maybe not for canoeing. We are currently operating on our "November policy," which means that our decision to rent a canoe (or not) is based on the prevailing weather, snow and ice conditions, water temperature and the customer's apparent levels of experience and preparedness. The challenge is that in April, the paddling stoke level is much higher than it is in November.

Just what is a "cold water emergency?" Here is a quote from the Transport Canada site:
Cold water can paralyze your muscles instantly. Sadly, many people do not understand this danger and how important it is to avoid it. Cold water shock likely causes more deaths than hypothermia. Canada’s cold waters are especially dangerous when you fall into them unexpectedly. For three to five minutes, you will gasp for air. You could also experience muscle spasms or a rise in your heart rate and blood pressure. Worse yet, you could choke on water or suffer a heart attack or a stroke. Even strong swimmers can suffer the effects of cold water shock.

If you are wearing a lifejacket before falling into cold water, it will keep you afloat while you gain control of your breathing and prevent drowning from loss of muscle control. Trying to grab a lifejacket while in the water, let alone putting one on, will be very hard because of the changes your body will be experiencing.

If you survive the shock of cold water, hypothermia is the next danger.
For the full scoop on cold water immersion, hypothermia and how to respond, visit Cold Water Boot Camp, the home of one Canada's leading experts in the field, Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht, also known as Professor Popsicle.

Satellite image from March 31, before the recent snow. There appears to be some ice left in Big Trout Lake (more or less dead centre of the image).
To see this image in more detail, here is the link to the large screen version. You don't have to travel to far north of Algonquin Park to find frozen lakes:

Check the weather for the upcoming week:

A few canoes have been spotted on top of cars over the last few days. If those people went camping, they are waking up to winter this morning. Happy April!