Thursday, September 25

Shifting Earth

Jim and I stopped in to visit artist Sally Ferguson at her studio just up the road from us. I've mentioned Shifting Earth Gallery/Studio as part of the North of Muskoka Studio Tour and it's worth mentioning again, especially at this time of year when her outdoor space is as lovely as her indoor space.

The studio gallery is housed in a beautifully restored barn. The ground floor of the barn is Sally's studio space, where we were able to witness works-in-progress. Upstairs the gallery is all gleaming wood and visually striking paintings. Sally and her husband are in the process of adding to the gallery space by building an addition on their house.

One thing visitors realize before they even make it inside the gallery is that Sally's creative spirit cannot be contained indoors. Outside the barn is a lovely garden space showcasing various forms of artwork among the flowers, fountains and plants. Sally also welcomes visitors to walk the nature trail on her property.

Be sure to include a visit to Shifting Earth Gallery/Studio on your next getaway to Fern Glen Inn.

Wednesday, September 24

Backcountry Day Trip at the edge of Algonquin

I recently posted about our camping trip in Algonquin Park earlier this month. Since then, I've been thinking about how easy it is to enjoy a day trip in Algonquin Park's backcountry wilderness. Of course, on a day trip you won't go deep into Algonquin, but you can certainly explore the lakes and canoe routes at the western edge of the park.

If your only taste of Algonquin Park so far has been along the Highway 60 corridor, you're in for a completely different experience. The Hwy 60 corridor is wonderful for its easy accessibility and plethora of options for spending your day, but for those very reasons it's also more full of people and machines.
A day trip starting from the park's Kearney access points takes you away from crowds, cottages and cars and treats you to the calm quiet of undeveloped terrain. Nothing else compares.

If you want to experience it for yourself, this is what we recommend:
  • Book 2 nights at the inn since you will want an early start to make the most of your day
  • Book your canoe in advance (or have us book it for you) from Algonquin Basecamp or Canoe Algonquin or bring your own if you have one
  • Bring a hearty lunch and snacks (paddling is great for the appetite) or ask us about a packed lunch when you book your accommodations
  • Bring more water than you think you'll need
  • Remember that once you're in the park, there is nowhere to buy food, water or supplies
  • Plan to dress in layers; don't forget a hat, sunglasses, scarf or neck warmer, watch, and knapsack for toting your lunch and gear

Your itinerary for a weekend:

  • Arrive afternoon or evening
  • Review a backcountry map of the park with us and we'll help you plan your route
  • Breakfast at 7:30 am (or later depending on how much of your day you want to spend in the park)
  • Drive to Kearney about 20km east of us and pick up your day permit from the Algonquin Park office in town
  • Pick up your canoe and paddling gear if you've made rental arrangements with a local outfitter
  • Drive to one of three access points, each about 30km from Kearney (some of this is on winding, unpaved roads)
  • Park your car in the access point parking lot (do not leave food in your car); put your canoe on the lake and start paddling!
  • Stop at a campsite for lunch
  • Paddle back to the access point and load up to come home; watch the time as you're paddling—you want to be back out and loaded up in daylight
  • Return your canoe to the outfitters; return to the inn
  • Dinner at the inn (if booked in advance) or head out to an area restaurant
  • Enjoy a fire in the Coop or soak those tired muscles in the hot tub before falling into a soft, comfy bed
  • Breakfast (a little later this time!) before heading home to the real world
What it costs:
  • 2 nights at Fern Glen Inn, includes accommodation and hearty breakfasts for two people: $236
  • Day permit for Algonquin Park: $16
  • Canoe rental, includes canoe, 2 life jackets, 2 paddles, foam pads & straps to secure the canoe on your car: approximately $28
  • Total: $280 plus applicable taxes
Optional Extras:
  • Packed lunch for two people: $28
  • Dinner at the inn for two people: $56
  • Canoe delivery to the park (so you don't have to put it on your car): approximately $50 per group (can be multiple canoes)
  • Algonquin Park backcountry map: approximately $5
If you haven't canoed the interior before, consider:
  • Will you be able to get the canoe on and off your car, or will you need to pay for canoe delivery to the park?
  • Do you know how to steer and handle a canoe in various weather conditions?
  • Do you want to include portages in your day trip (where you carry the canoe over land from one lake to another) or do you want to choose a route that does not require portaging?
  • Are you in good physical shape? Are you confident to put yourself in a wilderness setting away from services, conveniences, and ready aid?
  • Are you ready to discover the wonders of Algonquin Park's stunning backcountry interior?
We love to 'talk park' so if you'd like to include a backcountry day trip at the edge of Algonquin Park during your next visit to the inn, give us a call and we'll help you work out the details.

Monday, September 22

Wow! Autumn!

Whether I'm walking along the Seguin Trail, or winding my way through our own network of trails, or even driving to town on errands, I find myself looking upwards in wonderment of all the colours. And all I can say is "Wow".

Autumn is indeed here again, painting the Almaguin Highlands from a spectacular palette of crimson, orange and gold. Jim and I went for a walk through our trails and over and up to the little lake this afternoon, our feet shuffling and rustling the leaves that have already fallen, the earthy smell of autumn rising up from the trail.

The lake is ringed with mixed-forest hills that look like giant bouquets now. I tried taking photos but I won't post any of the lake because they just don't do it justice. It has to be seen in person to be appreciated.

But along the trails, and especially along the Seguin which is wide and open for the sun to work its magic, the maples pose prettily for the camera.

Some of our weekends have already booked up here at Fern Glen Inn, but we still have rooms available for the Thanksgiving long weekend and many options available for mid-week getaways. We invite you to come experience the Wow season!

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.
- George Eliot

Tuesday, September 9

Algonquin Park Interior

Last week Jim and I took advantage of the post-Labour Day lull and treated ourselves to a short camping trip in Algonquin Park. The sky was beautiful and the water was calm. We had a couple brief rain showers pass over our campsite, but since we already had the tent and tarp up, it didn't dampen our spirits at all.

The trip started with an early drive to the park office in Kearney, just 20 minutes east of the Fern Glen Inn. We picked up our permit from the office and our rental canoe from Canoe Algonquin and headed to the Magnetawan Lake access point on the western edge of the park. It's less than 30km from Kearney to the park, but it takes a good 45 minutes to drive it, slowing down when the road goes from paved to gravel and somewhat bumpy. But trust me, it's worth it.

After unloading our canoe and gear, we were on the lake by 9:30 with a full day ahead of us. Since we were only spending one night in the park, we chose a campsite just one portage and a short paddle from the entry lake.

We set up camp leisurely before exploring the woods beyond the campsite. I enjoy camp chores, such as setting up a kitchen, finding an appropriate tree for hanging the food bag, pumping drinking water through the filter. There's never an urgency to the chores, yet they are utterly important to our comfort. It's a nice way to work.

The day was spent paddling, exploring, swimming (okay, Jim and Saba swam, I waded), cooking, eating, and watching the water, trees and sky around us.

The next day we took our time heading out, stopping at a campsite for lunch and paddling into little bays and marshes just because we were in no hurry. Then home again in time for dinner with our batteries fully recharged and the sun lingering on our faces. What a beautiful little holiday.