FITS Series: Muskoka Getaway

We got a deal at Pow Wow Point Lodge a couple of weeks ago. It was a 3 night getaway in Huntsville, Muskoka. They will be 100th years old in 2017!

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The 3-nights deal included 3 breakfast & 3 dinners, plus 2 lunches. You can request the kitchen to pack your lunch (a simple ham & cheese) if you are heading out to explore the area for the day.  All canoe/kayaking equipment free for use. Total $670 after tax and service charge.

Every morning, we get a choice of 1) Breakfast special (it was breakfast sandwich that day)

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2) Bacon & eggs

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The coffee was delicious, very earthy and mellow. I lost all self-control and kept those refills coming.

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OOOOOoooh.

3) Bacon & pancakes

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or 4) Bacon & french toast (aha no photos for this one).

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There is also the buffet section if you are a huge breakfast eater.

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I enjoyed all the morning breakfasts. One thing though, meal times are really short. Breakfast is only served 8.30-9.15am, lunch from 12.30-1.15pm, and dinner is 6-6.45pm.

A sample of their dinner menu -

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Nothing super fancy, but very homely and delicious. Serving size was great for me but a little small for Y.

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They have a beautiful deck overlooking the lake.

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We encourage our guests to try canoeing, kayaking or paddle boating. Please ensure every passenger has a properly fitting life jacket and there is an emergency kit in the boat. Peninsula Lake is patrolled by police and it is your responsibility to ensure that you are compliant. If you have any questions regarding boating regulations or boating safety, please feel free to check with front desk prior to venturing out on the water. Guests wishing to rent motorized fishing boats must have a boating license.

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I really appreciated the free use of kayaks and canoes. Renting these can get expensive sometimes.

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This is my favourite spot! We sat here one evening for the sunset.

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They hold various activities everyday such as waterskiing and tubing, game nights, bonfires, boat cruises, fishing derby and wine/cheese night.

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I also love this little fireplace. It dried our shoes when it got wet in the rain.

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Some activities we did if you ever need some ideas:

Treetop Trekking

When you make a reservation you will have access to the park for 3 hours of climbing time. The first half-hour will be used to get your equipment on and to go through your orientation where you will be taught the safety rules of the park and shown how to use your equipment. During the remaining 2.5-hours you will have access to all of the courses that you meet the age, height and ability requirements for.

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Adult price about $60, student price $50.

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A little hike up to where the courses were.

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You start with the most basic course…

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AKA this – “basic”

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Walking on a line? Basic.

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Walking on tied ropes? Basic.

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Walking on logs? Basic!

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Walking on swinging logs…. intermediate.

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These logs were actually separated, each hanging individually. I thought I was going to do a split when I stepped onto the next with one foot still on the previous one!

Then… the final advanced.

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A mini bungee!

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Eeeek!

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I finished all the other obstacles except for this. I couldn’t jump! So I had to go back through the ropes and planks (aka easy) to climb down the ladder of shame.

There were ziplines throughout each obstacle. The 2nd last obstacle had 7 consecutive ziplines. It was a whirlwind of fun.

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What a workout, and tons of fun.

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Oxtongue Ragged Falls

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The lake is enclosed by large sections of Crown Lands. The head water onto the Lake is the Oxtongue river from Tea lake from within the Algonquin Park, and on down through Ragged Falls. The close proximity to Algonquin Park ensures a backdrop of wilderness pleasure that has inspired paintings and books over its many years.

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Dorset Lookout Tower

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The original tower was built in 1922, was 25 metres high (82 feet) and used as a fire lookout tower. The current tower was built in 1967 and is 30 metres high (100 feet).

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One of Kawartha’s 8 retail stores is in Huntsville! I had the following 3 flavours. Hilarious names.

MOOSE TRACKS®: Vanilla ice cream with chocolate peanut butter cups swirled with Moose Tracks® fudge.

WOLF PAWS ™: Vanilla ice cream with chocolate butter fudge and soft brownie pieces.

BEAR CLAW ®: A dark chocolate ice cream filled with chocolate coated cashews and swirled with luscious golden caramel.

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We spent the 2nd day at Algonquin Park. It is about 1.5 times bigger than PEI!

Our resort was approximately a 20 minute drive from the West Gate. The West Gate is 56KM from East Gate, what a magnificently huge park.

We got a trail list – total 15 walking trails along the Highway 60 Corridor, with

  • 9 campgrounds
  • 2 museums (with bookstores)
  • Art centre
  • 3 cross-country ski trails
  • Historical interpretive site at Cache Lake
  • 2 bicycle trails
  • Picnic areas
  • Outfitting stores

On the list of walking trails, the park provided the length of trail, rating (1-3 starts difficulty) and estimated time taken to complete.

We picked Peck Lake for our first trail. Difficulty level 2.

The Peck Lake Trail is a 2.3KM loop starting on Highway 60, 19.2 KM from the West Gate of Algonquin Park.

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In the summer, Peck Lake separates into two distinct bodies of water, a warm upper lake and a cold lower lake. When Peck Lake is at a uniform 4 deg each spring and fall, the water and everything in it mixes thoroughly from top to bottom.

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There is a potential danger that Peck Lake and many others in Algonquin could become so acidic that most living things would be unable to live here. This is due to the rain and snow that is now a mild acid because of the enormous quantities of sulphur and nitrogen dioxide that we humans put into the atmosphere when we burn oil and coal.

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The threat to Peck Lake and other water bodies in Algonquin may now be diminishing due to efforts to control air pollution.

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12 posts along the trail to make sure you are on track.

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As it started to drizzle, we only had time for one more trail after lunch. We enjoyed the pack lunch from Pow Wow at the Lake of Two Rivers beachfront, which was about 35KM from the West Gate.

Our trail after lunch was the Lookout. Difficulty level 3.

The Lookout Trail, situated 39.7KM from the West Gate, is a 2.1KM loop which climbs up through a young Algonquin forest to the top of a high cliff, follows the cliff brow for 100 metres, then descends back down to the packing lot.

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In addition to the spectacular view from the cliff top, the trail affords several good opportunities to observe a variety of Algonquin Park’s geological features.

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Rocks and gravel may not seem particularly awe-inspiring, but when you stop and think about it, everything we come in contact with on this planet – even our oceans and lakes – is ultimately sitting on such mundane material. What’s more, rocks, sand, and gravel go to make up the living layer of soil which supports all plant life and consequently all animal life, including our own. There is, in fact, hardly anything more fundamental to our world, and all its life, than the rocks we normally take so much for granted.

The Lookout was an extremely steep climb, but very quick. We completed it in less than 20 minutes.

Before we started our adventure at Algonquin, the information desk at the West Gate informed us that the day of our visit was Loggers’ Day. Out of 365 days, we randomly chanced upon this annual event. I could not believe my luck, and tried to bluff Y that I had it purposely planned out. ;)

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The event ran from 10am to 3pm, right at the Outdoor Exhibit Trail at the East Gate. That was the last checkpoint on Highway 60.  We started with a short video about the logging history of Algonquin Park, then the screen door opens up to a trail.

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The Camboose Shanty -

Camboose is a corruption of an old French word, “cambuse” originally meaning a ship’s storehouse for food and wine. In its English version, the word was used to refer to this style of logging camp and sometimes to the central fireplace in particular. “Shanty” comes from another French word, “chantier” meaning “work area”.

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It may be a little dark and gloomy inside but shanties were reasonably warm and well-lit when men actually lived in them. A chore-boy always kept a fire burning in the sand-and-stone central hearth below the wooden chimney of Black Spruce poles. The cook used the same fireplace to bake bread and beans, suspending the pots for tea over the fire, or baking beans and bread in the big iron “dutch ovens” buried in the hot sand and coals.

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Why did people go to all trouble of squaring the great logs and why did the square timber era last from the early 1800s right up to 1900?

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The squaring process allowed the detection of knots or other flaws that would make a stick of timber unacceptable. Also, square timbers were much easier than round logs to assemble into the small raft called cribs, and then into even bigger rafts made from those cribs for the trip down the Ottawa and St. Lawrence rivers to Quebec City.

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Square timbers were also more desirable than round logs because they could be fitted more efficiently into the holds of the timber ships that took them across the Atlantic.

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Once in England, square timbers were immediately ready to be sawn up into planks and boards.

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Most river systems in Algonquin Park actually consist of relatively short stretches of river between many sizable lakes. The difficulty was that there is no current in such lakes. Left unattended, floating logs might stay in a lake for years or even forever. A way had to be found to literally pull the logs across lakes to keep them on their desired downstream voyage.

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Their first solution was a cadge crib, a massive raft measuring 9 by 12 metres like the one you see here, or even larger. In the centre of the crib was a big, wooden spool or capstan. Powered by a team or horses, the capstan wound in a heavy, five centimetre rope ultimately attached to an anchor or a log boom, depending on just how the cadge crib was bring used.

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The technique called “warping” is when anchor getting pulled off the boat, and getting firmly caught at the bottom of the lake. Then, the horses would begin their work and slowly winding both the log boom and attached crib up to the anchor point. As powerful as the horses were, their effort could be overcome by even a gentle contrary wind. This is why warping was done at night. Conditions were often brutally cold and at the end of each pull, bare-handed men had to haul up the heavy wet rope and anchor, which itself might weigh from 150-450 pounds before starting all over again.

They wondered if they could be a better way to get logs across the lake…

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The Alligator!

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The new machine was a steam-powered tug and winch combined into one versatile unit.

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The Alligator’s boiler, fed with three-quarters of a cord of wood, built up enough steam to warp booms of up to 60,000 logs for as long as ten hours.

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Saws had existed before but they weren’t much good because they always jammed in the tree after a cut had been started. The problem was finally solved by putting special cleaning teeth called “rakers” between the cutting teeth to remove sawdust and shavings. With that simple improvement, the crosscut saw almost immediately replaced the axe as the preferred tool for felling trees.

We tried it and the trick is to not push the saw towards the other person but to pull it from each other.

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We got a timber cookie teehee.

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Then we ran out of gas. Lucky for us, there was a gas station IN the park.

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It was a fantastic day, but sadly, we did not see any meese.

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Amazing photography by Stephen Elms of Algonquin Park here, here, and here.

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The only restaurant we tried in Muskoka was 3 Guys and A Stove.

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3 Guys And A Stove is proud to support Mennonite Chicken from the area of Paisley, Ontario, Lamb from Elm Crest Farm in Paisley and AAA Black Angus, dry-aged beef from West Grey Premium Beef in Durham.

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This restaurant has been here for more than 20 years, according to our server. They even have their own line of products including vinaigrette and special sauces.

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This ‘Skillet’ meal remains a favourite for 2 people or more and allows you to order it with 2, 3, or 4 meats plus a choice of salad and side dishes.  The most difficult decision is deciding which meats & sides you want to eat in your ‘Ontario BBQ Skillet’.

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We ordered lamb tenderloin butts with red pepper jelly or cucumber yogurt and roasted bbq chicken with bbq sauce. $29/person.

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Sides were coleslaw and roasted vegetables.

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The coleslaw was amazing – they mixed ketchup with mayo and it was just so velvety creamy.

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Lamb was juicy and tender. Contrastingly, the chicken was quite dry, but still flavorful nonetheless.

The serving portion was so huge. We managed to brown bag a hefty portion of the chicken and roasted vegetables.

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The service was great and our server enthusiastically gave us ideas on what to do in Huntsville. Worth a visit if you are ever in the area.

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3 GUYS and a Stove on Urbanspoon

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Just 5 more weekends before the end of Summer!

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