A Fall Hike on the Highland Hiking Trail
in Algonquin Park

A gallery of photos from a hike around the Highland Hiking Trail in Algonquin Park in the fall of 1978. The fall colours were near their peak; the weather was very changeable, and some of the time it was downright lousy.

Other than the rather sparse journal written during the hike, we have little documentation of this trip, so we are unable to precisely locate all of the photos. However, we believe that the photos are pretty much in the correct order, and have identified the locations we are reasonably sure of. One amusing aspect of the trip journal is that we both wrote in it about the same things, but each of us had a very different take on the proceedings.

This trail is the oldest backpacking trail in Algonquin Park, having been established in 1962. It has a shorter loop of 18.5 km around Provoking Lake(distances according to the 1977 trail map), and a longer one of 35.3 km that includes the section to the east of Provoking Lake. We passed to the west of Provoking Lake on both the out and back legs of our hike, so our distance was 32.4 km. The name of the trail has subsequently been changed to the Highland Backpacking Trail, presumably to avoid confusion with trails that are intended for day hikes only. Many new campsites have been added along the trail and others removed; both of the campsites we stayed at have since been closed. There has also been some minor rerouting of the trail in the years since 1978.

1978 September 29

hike around the Highland Hiking Trail in Algonquin Park in the fall of 1978

(photographed: 1978-09-29 - explore

Diana in Sherpa mode, carrying her Jansport Frame pack with ensolite sleeping pads and wool shirt on top, sleeping bag on the bottom (protected by a nylon stuff sack and a park garbage bag), and bow saw tied to the back. (We didn't take an axe this trip.) There is a stove hiding in one of the side pockets (Optimus 99), but we mostly used a fire for cooking except when the weather was really nasty.

hike around the Highland Hiking Trail in Algonquin Park in the fall of 1978

(photographed: 1978-09-29 - explore

The fall colours were nearing their peak.

hike around the Highland Hiking Trail in Algonquin Park in the fall of 1978 Looking out over Mew Lake

(photographed: 1978-09-29 - explore

Looking out over Mew Lake.

hike around the Highland Hiking Trail in Algonquin Park in the fall of 1978

(photographed: 1978-09-29 - explore

Some of the leaves had already fallen and were adding colour to the ground.

hike around the Highland Hiking Trail in Algonquin Park in the fall of 1978

(photographed: 1978-09-29 - explore

Bob, ready to go with his stylish sweater vest and Kodiak boots, Camp Trails frame pack with tent on top, tent fly (blue) and sleeping bag with the extra protection of a park garbage bag at the bottom.

hike around the Highland Hiking Trail in Algonquin Park in the fall of 1978

(photographed: 1978-09-29 - explore

Diana tromps along the trail.

hike around the Highland Hiking Trail in Algonquin Park in the fall of 1978

(photographed: 1978-09-29 - explore

Peering through the trees at distant water.

hike around the Highland Hiking Trail in Algonquin Park in the fall of 1978 Madawaska River looking upstream from the bridge

(photographed: 1978-09-29 - explore

Madawaska River, looking upstream from the bridge. Neither of us remembers the bridge, but there obviously was (and is) one.

hike around the Highland Hiking Trail in Algonquin Park in the fall of 1978

(photographed: 1978-09-29 - explore

Climbing up. Diana is looking a bit weary at the top of the stairs.

hike around the Highland Hiking Trail in Algonquin Park in the fall of 1978 looking out over the Lake of Two Rivers Airfield

(photographed: 1978-09-29 - explore

Looking out over the Lake of Two Rivers Airfield.

hike around the Highland Hiking Trail in Algonquin Park in the fall of 1978

(photographed: 1978-09-29 - explore

Yellow leaves on the striped maple in the foreground, red and orange on the more distant sugar maples.

hike around the Highland Hiking Trail in Algonquin Park in the fall of 1978

(photographed: 1978-09-29 - explore

A hillside of colourful maples.

hike around the Highland Hiking Trail in Algonquin Park in the fall of 1978

(photographed: 1978-09-29 - explore

Ferns and sugar maples.

hike around the Highland Hiking Trail in Algonquin Park in the fall of 1978 Mosquito Creek

(photographed: 1978-09-29 - explore

Mosquito Creek

hike around the Highland Hiking Trail in Algonquin Park in the fall of 1978 campsite at Mosquito Creek

(photographed: 1978-09-29 - explore

Compact (and lumpy) campsite at Mosquito Creek

That evening, Bob wrote:
- on the shore of “beautiful” (beauty is in the eye of the beholder) Mosquito creek (And I kid you not – there are still some around – and blackflies too). - We are quite tired – maybe backpacking isn’t so easy after all – We started – Highland Hiking Trail parking lot – ours was the only car – at noon and had lunch just beyond the Madawaska a little after 1:00 and arrived here a little before 5:00. - The campsite isn’t great - the bed is lumpy - but it’s home.

Diana wrote:
Left Deep River at 8:35, arrived Highland Hiking trail at 11:50. Started at 12:00 noon, fork beyond little Madawaska at 1:00, lunch 1:15-1:45, last fork at 4:20, Mosquito Creek at 4:50. Day mainly overcast, sun showed through a bit at times. Sprinkles of rain in evening – now steady but gentle. Temp at about 5:15 was 57F. (It seemed quite warm while hiking up and down the hills.) Bush very quiet, few birds, many and varied turds along trail and wolf footprints. Saw a bull moose wandering around in the marsh upstream while we ate supper. Most trees have changed, though some are still green – a lot of variety with some very striking hills. Many bunchberries, clintonia, cucumber root and a few white baneberry. Remnants of wild raisin; moosewood berries all gone. Supper was chicken “stew” and rice – not very good. Mushroom gravy mix is useless, veg. and chicken blah. Do not repeat.

1978 September 30

hike around the Highland Hiking Trail in Algonquin Park in the fall of 1978 route finding

(photographed: 1978-09-29 - explore

Alright, where are we?

hike around the Highland Hiking Trail in Algonquin Park in the fall of 1978Mosquito Creek

(photographed: 1978-09-29 - explore

Mosquito Creek again.

hike around the Highland Hiking Trail in Algonquin Park in the fall of 1978 Harness Lake

(photographed: 1978-09-29 - explore

Looking southwest across Harness Lake. We had previously camped on the point across the lake on a canoe trip.

hike around the Highland Hiking Trail in Algonquin Park in the fall of 1978 between Harness Lake and Head Lake

(photographed: 1978-09-29 - explore

Beautiful hardwood bush between Harness Lake and Head Lake.

hike around the Highland Hiking Trail in Algonquin Park in the fall of 1978

(photographed: 1978-09-29 - explore

Diana admiring a sugar maple leaf.

hike around the Highland Hiking Trail in Algonquin Park in the fall of 1978 Beaver meadow

(photographed: 1978-09-29 - explore

Beaver meadow.

hike around the Highland Hiking Trail in Algonquin Park in the fall of 1978

(photographed: 1978-09-29 - explore

Striding through the spruces.

hike around the Highland Hiking Trail in Algonquin Park in the fall of 1978 campsite on Head Lake

(photographed: 1978-09-29 - explore

Looking east from our campsite on Head Lake.

hike around the Highland Hiking Trail in Algonquin Park in the fall of 1978 Head Lake

(photographed: 1978-09-29 - explore

Near our campsite on Head Lake.

hike around the Highland Hiking Trail in Algonquin Park in the fall of 1978 Head Lake

(photographed: 1978-09-29 - explore

Looking west from our campsite on Head Lake.

That evening Bob wrote:
- On a very compact but quite nice campsite on a point on Head lake – The time is approximately 8 PM and a thunder storm is approaching. While it is quite dark out, a group of hikers is out there, stumbling along the trail with the aid of flashlights. They are travelling in the opposite sense to us (perhaps in more ways than one) Today was a good day – weather reasonable, progress reasonable and pack felt reasonable.

Diana wrote:
Up at about 7:30, on the trail about 9:45. Had lunch at 12:10 on hill between swamp and creek that runs into Harness Lake. Continued on at 12:45, stopped to camp at Head Lake about 3:30. Temperature 48F this morning, 64F in afternoon, 58F at bedtime. Generally sunny, cirrus clouds, breezy. Clouded up just before sunset. (Rain stopped before midnight last night.) Leaves look good. Macaroni and spaghetti sauce for supper – very good. Windy at bedtime from SW, died off somewhat after dark. Rained periodically through night, quite heavily at times.

1978 October 01

hike around the Highland Hiking Trail in Algonquin Park in the fall of 1978

(photographed: 1978-09-29 - explore

The trail passed below a large beaver dam before heading up to the lookout on the highest hill.

hike around the Highland Hiking Trail in Algonquin Park in the fall of 1978 lookout

(photographed: 1978-09-29 - explore

Lunchtime at the lookout, looking out over the confluence of Head Creek and the Madawaska River.

hike around the Highland Hiking Trail in Algonquin Park in the fall of 1978 lookout

(photographed: 1978-09-29 - explore

Lunchtime at the lookout. By now we had donned our rain gear.

hike around the Highland Hiking Trail in Algonquin Park in the fall of 1978

(photographed: 1978-09-29 - explore

Diana in the rain, making use of her homemade pack cover (orange garbage bag, duct tape, and string - cheap and effective). Most of the trees here are beeches, just starting to change colour.

hike around the Highland Hiking Trail in Algonquin Park in the fall of 1978 possibly Faya Lake

(photographed: 1978-09-29 - explore

Possibly Faya Lake.

hike around the Highland Hiking Trail in Algonquin Park in the fall of 1978

(photographed: 1978-09-29 - explore

A slightly soggy Diana after removing her rain jacket.

hike around the Highland Hiking Trail in Algonquin Park in the fall of 1978

(photographed: 1978-09-29 - explore

One last scenic view.

hike around the Highland Hiking Trail in Algonquin Park in the fall of 1978 Madawaska River

(photographed: 1978-09-29 - explore

Crossing the Madawaska River again.

At home in Deep River, Diana wrote:
Up at 7:15, sprinkle of rain which soon stopped, wind light from W, temp ~55F, holes in clouds, reasonable looking morning. Two groups of canoes passed heading for portage down Head Creek. Away at 10:00, passed canoeists, solo hiker in shorts going in opposite direction. Noisy group of last night seems to have returned whence they came. Trail up and down, mainly quite reasonable walking, very nice hardwood bush. After crossing beaver pond and creek, headed up the Big Hill – trail good and climb not as bad as expected. Lookout at top with fantastic view to NW – valley of Little Madawaska, junction of Head Cr., and many beautiful hills receding into the distance (drop is only about 300 feet, but seems like more). Ate lunch out on rocks, but retreated into bush when attacked by cold wind-driven drizzle. (Stop was from about 12:10 until 12:40.). Carried on down hill, with some rough spots, and on to Faya Lake. This part of trail mostly follows [an old] tote road to Provoking Lake. We passed a group of 3 (2 men, 1 woman) taking a break with stove by creek going into unnamed lake. Arrived last junction at about 3:00, met 3 guys out for a walk. Passed a number of people on way to parking lot, some with equipment, some just out for day. Arrived at parking lot at about 4:00, Diana with very sore feet and almost immobile right knee (also stiff thigh muscles, -- Bob was complaining, too). Arrived home about 7:00.

Last day of trail goes through very nice bush, some big rocks, nice little creeks. Somewhat dampened by overcast, intermittent drizzle, and wind in open places.

notes

At the start of the trip, Bob's pack weighed 45 lb. (20.5 kg) and Diana's pack weighed 35 lb. (16 kg). The net weight of food taken was 4.5 kg. The total calorie value of food taken was 16,500 Calories, which worked out to 7000 Calories per full day - about 3500 Calories per person per day. Undoubtedly Bob consumed somewhat more than that, and Diana somewhat less.

The camera on this trip was a Pentax Spotmatic F with either a 50mm or 35mm lens. We used three different types of slide film: Fujichrome, Kodachrome, and Ektachrome. The Fujichrome slides have darkened noticeably since 1978, and the colour balance has changed to appear unnaturally purple. The Kodachrome slides still look brand new. The Ektachrome has also darkened a bit and the colour balance has shifted towards blue. All the slides were scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III, and processed (mainly colour balance and gamma) using Photoshop.