Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Winter Fun Day on February 16

Winter fun in the great outdoors is the theme of the 14th Annual Winter Fun Day, (formerly known as the Winter Assembly), hosted by Algonquin Outfitters, Saturday, Feb. 16, 2008. We've changed the name of the Winter Assembly to Winter Fun Day, because, well, that's what it is - a fun day of winter activity!

This free, family-oriented, event takes place at the Oxtongue Lake store, just west of Algonquin Park, on Hwy. 60, about 30 km east of Huntsville. The Winter Assembly is designed to introduce people to self-propelled (or at least non-motorized) winter activities like snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, skate skiing, kick-sledding, winter camping, ice-climbing and dog sledding, as well as provide a host of opportunities to have fun in the snow.

This year’s event will pack a host of activities into a single day. You could drive a dog team, help build an igloo, try skate skiing, go on a snowshoe hike, learn about winter camping, enter a snowshoe race (and hopefully finish!), play snow games, watch ice climbers in action and more! Snowshoe demos are being sponsored by the Atlas Snowshoe Company and Jason Wilcox of Atlas will be on hand to explain the latest and greatest snowshoes.

We are really excited this year to host Dan Mahony of Ski for Life. Dan and his wife Joan will be on hand all day Saturday, offering two scheduled lessons and a guided ski tour. Dan is a super-enthusiastic skier, creative instructor and his lessons will be oriented towards the novice skier and the "average" skier wishing to improve their technique and confidence.

Equipment for all activities will be provided free of charge for Winter Fun Day participants and a heap of door prizes will be given away throughout the event.

For more information, please call Algonquin Outfitters, 1-800-469-4948 (705-635-2243).

Please note that there is a charge for dog sled rides and a family rate is available.

The final schedule for the Winter Fun Day is not completely cast in stone, but in the meantime, here is a general overview of the day:

Saturday, Feb. 16, 2008:

9 am: Algonquin Outfitters opens

10 - 4 pm: dog sled rides. Please sign up to make sure you get a turn!

10 -12: morning program (x-c ski lesson, ski and snowshoes demos, snowshoe hike, snow games, igloo building, dog sled rides, etc.)

12 - 2: lunch break (light snacks and hot drinks available at Algonquin Outfitters)

1 - 5: afternoon program (skate ski lessons, ski and snowshoe demos, ice climbing demos, ski tour, etc.)

Sunday, Feb. 17:

10 - noon: 14th annual Ragged Falls Snowshoe Adventure Hike

Advance registration is not required - simply show up! All events take place in the immediate area of our Oxtongue Lake store (except the Ragged Falls hike - car pooling req'd).

Dog sled rides are provided by Winterdance Dog Sled Tours.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Spring run-off in January

A January thaw is not unusual around here. What happened in Southern Ontario last week was no normal January thaw and it hit this area very hard. Combine thigh-deep snow with three days of heavy rain, high winds and temperatures well above freezing and what do you get? Flood conditions! Not only that but the Huntsville area was one of the hardest hit in widespread storm-related power outages, so anyone with an electric sump pump wasn't getting much help. The power was out at my house for about 30 hours over Wednesday and Thursday.

Huntsville was even featured in national news outlets like the Globe and Mail and CBC television (scroll down the list of videos until you see the Huntsville story) when a neighbourhood was evacuated.

My colleague Randy Mitson has posted some good flood updates on the AO Retail Blog as well.

Local photographer Rob Stimpson hiked in to Ragged Falls on Friday to see what was going on there and sent us these two comparison shots:

Ragged Falls on Friday, January 11, 2008

Ragged Falls in October, 2008

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Notes from the Deep Freeze

Temperatures were a bit frosty this morning, with a low of -32 C (about -23 F) registering on the thermometer here at Oxtongue Lake. The good news is that the sun is shining, there is no wind and, if you are dressed for it, it is a beautiful day to enjoy outdoor activities like snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. At this writing (11 am) the outside temperature have already warmed up to a balmy -14 C! The other good news is that temperatures are expected to moderate by tomorrow and snow is in the forecast for Friday and Saturday. I won't talk about the forecast for Monday, except to say the temperature will be above freezing, and the "R" word is mentioned. I think we are in for a classic "January thaw" early next week, followed by more snow.

If all the snow and cold weather has you thinking about summer paddling, here is a nice picture of my wife Jenny and I that was just put up on the newly revised Swift Canoe and Kayak web site. It was taken on a slightly less frosty fall morning. Our late dog Mica, also seen in my profile photo, was in the canoe too but I think he was sleeping when that shot was taken: