Algonquin Park


It was 4 a.m., and I was huddled in my sleeping bag trying to slow my rapidly beating heart. I could hear the cause of my distress, a six hundred pound black bear, huffing and snuffing directly outside of my tent.

My tent
My ultra-light tent.
Made of incredibly thin nylon and almost non-existent polyester mesh. 

I silently cursed myself for not purchasing a tent made of steel. Granted, it would be heavy to carry around with me, but in that moment I felt that it would quite literally be worth its weight. 

Each year, I go on a summer camping trip into Algonquin Park with approximately ten teenagers. Because I am technically the leader, I feel morally conflicted when, upon hearing a bear, a part of me secretly hopes that someone else will wake-up and scare the bear away before I am required to step into my leadership role and take care of the problem myself.

Splash Wars

In spite of the terrifying encounters I have had with some of the overly inquisitive inhabitants of the park, there are few things I enjoy more than being out in the middle of the woods. The beauty each day holds frequently makes up for the nights I often spend fearing for my life. And, if I am at all honest, I will admit that there is something about having an excuse not to shower for a week that privately thrills me.


5 Responses to “Algonquin Park”

  1. 1 Randy Mitson February 16, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    Megan I love your story about your adventures in Algonquin Park and I hope that the moments that you find beautiful and thrilling far out weigh your moments where you find yourself, “fearing for my life”.

    There’s a lot that you can learn from the animals in Algonquin Park and as you learn know how to work with them, I hope that you grow to no longer fear them, but rather respect them. I’ve had my fair share of bear encounters but I know things like, bears will respect you if you respect them by giving them a good distance, keeping your campsite clean and free of an easy access bear snack (hang your food bag and clean your dishes), and if you do come across one, stand tall, give them a good distance and never ever run. A little noise will often chase them away.

    I hope that your experiences in Algonquin Park continue to build memories that will be with you for your entire life. Algonquin is a wonderful place, I’ve grown up with Algonquin being a big part of my life. With respect for the park and the animals that live there I’ve been able to build some of the best memories I could ever experience.

    Hope to hear about your adventures in Algonquin Park this summer too, as you return once again.

    Randy Mitson – Algonquin Outfitters, Algonquin Park

  2. 2 Megan February 16, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    Hello, Randy

    The bear encounters that I have had have not really been so bad. In fact, they have aided me a great deal this past year in getting the point across that nature is to be respected. My biggest concern, at the time of the incident I mentioned in the post, was that some of the kids (and one of the chaperones) would try to get too close to the bear. I arranged later on for a ranger to talk to the kids (and adults) about proper bear etiquette.

    I know that there is nothing to really fear, but I am not sure that I will ever be completely at ease knowing that a large animal of any sort outside of my tent.

    Also, Algonquin Outfitters will be hearing from me very shortly as I am about to book a bunch of canoes for mid-July. I am just trying to decide between Kipawas or 16′ Algonquins.

  3. 3 Randy Mitson February 16, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    Personally I prefer the Kipawa over the Algonquin 16′ but if your canoeists are more beginners they may find the predictable stability of the Algonquin 16 to be preferable.

    Either are wonderful canoes to paddle.

  4. 4 ateefee1 March 15, 2009 at 9:55 am

    Camping is one of the things that I look forward to in the summer. Fortunately I have never had a close up encounter with a bear during any of my camping experiences. I have been to many different campgrounds, some I liked and some that I didn’t (mainly determined by the weather that particular weekend). That being said I have yet to go to Algonquin. It is on my list of places to try.

  5. 5 nmac10 March 21, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    I enjoy camping, but frankly now I don’t want to go. Haha. This story was a good one, and I would be freaking out if a bear was sniffing around, not to mention hopefully he wasn’t eating all my food. I was camping once and I was sharing a tent with a friend and when I finally went to bed that night (he had already been asleep) I unzipped the tent to crawl into my sleeping bag, he rose up quickly and thinking I was a bear he drew his knife. Thankfully I was able to wake him up enough for him to realize it was me, but I was quite nervous.
    I love camping, and usually no two days are the same. Waking up early and making breakfast over the campfire, I love it. Canoeing and eating jerky. You are right it gives a great excuse not to shower for a week, and you know what no one ever cares, till you get home.

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