Sunday, March 30, 2008

Signs of spring?

Well, I saw a mosquito flying around the store this morning, so perhaps that was a sign.

Judging by the thigh-deep snow in the woods and reported three foot ice thickness on some Algonquin lakes, there is a lot of melting required before any canoes or water taxis hit the water. The three foot ice estimate came from a seasonal staff member who spends her winters guiding dog sled expeditions for Chocpaw Expeditions. She chops a lot of holes in northwestern Algonquin lakes to get water for thirsty dogs and mushers, so I believe her.

What to do in the meantime? Enjoy the spring conditions! Go skiing, tobagganing and snowshoeing while you can. "Spring conditions" means that it is pretty easy to travel on the hard snowpack with skis and snowshoes, as long as the night-time temps remain below freezing. Click the link to check out some recent activity in the Muskoka backcountry.

Here are some helpful links for keeping track of receding snow and ice:

1) this blog - when significant progress is happening, we will let you know and post pictures as we get them. Check previous ice-out reports here: April 2007, April 2006, May, 2005.

2) the NOAA satellite image of the Great Lakes area. Updated twice daily, images taken on a cloudless day clearly show major Algonquin lakes. When they are white, they are frozen. If you haven't looked at this before, please note that the image is quite large and, once loaded, your screen will display the upper left-hand corner. This puts you somewhere east of Thunder Bay, so a little scrolling is required to find the Algonquin Park area. Personally, I follow the obvious shorelines of Lake Superior and Lake Huron, then scroll to the right once I find Georgian Bay. Lakes like Opeongo, Cedar, Louisa, etc. are all clearly identifiable. Today's image shows that lakes in southern Ontario are still frozen, so there is a long way to go.

3) The Canoe Lake ice-out site (formerly known as the Electric Penguin). Enter your prediction in the 2008 ice-out contest! As of today, April 30 is way ahead in the voting.

4) A more hemispheric perspective (nice big words, eh?) can be found at the Journey North ice-out page. The main Journey North site is a very interesting compilation of information on migration patterns and other signs of spring in North America.

Snow sliding off our metal roof has created a bit of a pile.
The view out my back door on March 27. This will be handy for cold beverages after wood splitting later on.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Another Algonquin Outfitters contest!

Win $100 for your best picture!

Algonquin Outfitters Photo Contest Rules and Regulations:
Algonquin Outfitters is holding a photo contest from March 15th to May 31st, 2008. Upload your favorite photo(s) taken in Algonquin Park or showing Algonquin Outfitters canoes or events. A winner will be chosen June 2nd, 2008. Photos need to be at least 1024 x 768 in low compression JPG format and should not be any larger than 2mb each, if higher resolution.

1st place $100 Gift Certificate for Algonquin Outfitters
2nd place $75 Gift Certificate for Algonquin Outfitters
3rd place $50 Gift Certificate for Algonquin Outfitters

Gift cards can be picked up at any Algonquin Outfitters location (Bracebridge, Huntsville, Oxtongue Lake or Opeongo Lake) or at Boatwerks in Haliburton or Minden. Any additional shipping (above the cost of shipping a gift card) will be the responsibility of the winner if arrangements for a product to be shipped are agreed upon.

By uploading a picture, you hereby grant Algonquin Outfitters the right to publish, display, post and otherwise use the photo for their websites and other media. You agree that the photo may be cropped, edited, electronically manipulated or otherwise altered, and that whether or how the photograph is used is entirely for Algonquin Outfitters to decide.

You certify that you are the photographer and sole copyright owner of this photo, and have obtained the consent of all identifiable persons shown in it for these uses. Algonquin Outfitters has the sole discretion to use or not use any photo. You also understand that all photos are subjected to a moderation process before being posted in the gallery.

How to enter:
To submit a photo to the contest please visit the photo contest page on our website, fill out the form and email us your photo.

Winners will be announced on June 2nd.

Win a canoe pack at the Toronto Sportsmen's Show

Algonquin Outfitters has been an exhibitor at the Toronto Sportsmen's Show for many years. This annual event at the Direct Energy Centre in Toronto (formerly known as the CNE, or Exhibition Place) is a great place to get revved up for a summer filled with camping, canoeing, fishing and a lot of other outdoor activities.

We can't bring our store to Toronto but we do bring bring our expert canoe trip planners. If you are planning a canoe trip, don't miss this opportunity to talk with an Algonquin Park route guru in person, get great trip ideas, planning tips and lots of other information. You'll find us in booth 1027 in the "outfitters hall." The show is open March 12 through 16. Check here for show hours and other information.

This year we have a special contest only open to show visitors. You can enter a draw to win an "AO" brand canoe pack just like the one in the picture below. Visit our booth, put a pack on your back, guess the weight and enter the contest. The contest is even open to guesses in metric or imperial measurement! We'll have a random draw and pick the entry closest to the exact weight of the pack.

Win a pack like the one carried by the happy camper on the right!

The lucky contest winner will recieve a pack similar to the one carried by the fellow in the photo. This is one of our top-of-the-line "AO Ballistic Packs," made of heavy duty coated Cordura Nylon with Ballistic Nylon reinforcing. The "AO" brand canoe pack is only available from us. There are several styles and sizes available. All of these packs are a modern version of the traditional canoe pack, with tump line, paddled back, padded shoulder strap, side compression straps and a map pocket. The "Ballistic Pack" also features a padded hip belt and collar extension similar to a hiking pack.