It’s been a rough year for my family. Lots of change and upheaval. I won’t get into it here because frankly its none of your business, but it has been difficult to say the least.
So I decided to take my kids away for a long weekend break to a cottage up north close to Burks Falls. Part of the weekend included some hiking and viewing the fall colours in Algonquin Park. When we arrived at the park we were shocked to discover the place was absolutely packed with bus and carloads of predominately Asian tourists, the line up to get into the park stretched back about a kilometer so it took us about 45 minutes just to get in and pay our $17 just to hike in the park. I thought this was a little rich but did not want to ruin the day by complaining. So we proceeded to 25 km marker where our hike started. Every parking lot along the way was full to capacity with on street parking the only option, cars were doing U-turns and zipping in and out of the trail head parking lots. All very disconcerting and dangerous.
We eventually parked, got geared up and fought our way through the crowds and started our hike. The first thing that struck me was the amount of Asian people strolling in their city clothes and totally inappropriately dressed with pointy designer shoes, leather jackets and lots of Gucci and Armani being the order of the day. We actually felt a little out of place in our hiking attire, walking among the procession of well heeled day trippers with the same idea as us, taking in the fall colours.
We persevered and the day trippers gradually petered out as the terrain got a little more difficult to negotiate, the culmination of our three hour trek ended up at the top of a granite ridge of a similar type to Metcalfe Rock but twice as high. The views were spectacular across Algonquin Park and well worth the climb. We had some lunch then headed back to our car reaching the parking lot around 2 pm, we fluffed around for a while hitting the bathroom and getting the car packed up. I was parked on Highway 60 facing east and we needed to go west to get back to Highway 11. I drove east for around 4 km’s finally found a safe place to turn around. I noticed a large tourist bus pass with a line of 20 cars dragging behind it, then a break but more cars were approaching from the other direction. After around 5 minutes I managed to get into the stream of traffic and we proceeded to drive back to our cottage.
We drove for around 10 km’s came around a corner and as per earlier, the traffic was snarled to a halt. We thought it was similar to our earlier experience, just people lined up this time to leave the park, but unlike earlier the traffic was not even moving. I turned to motor off and we sat and waited and waited. A young lady passed us walking, so I asked her what the problem was she said it was an accident but had no other information other than that. So as you do with teenagers getting restless and squabbling, in these types of situations, I sent the youngest two on a full reconnaissance mission to find out what was going on. After about ten minutes they returned with bad news the bus we had seen earlier was across both lanes of traffic and an SUV was in a ditch. An official looking chap then walked along the road informing drivers that there was a fatality and serious injuries in the crash ahead and the road will be closed for some time because emergency services had not even reached the location yet.
Those of you that are familiar with this area will know that there are no options to get from that part of Algonquin Park to Highway 11 other than Highway 60. This is the main road from Muskoka area to Ottawa. I had a dilemma on my hands, we checked the map and to get to Huntsville and Highway 11 meant driving east along Highway 60 to Airy, south on Highway 127 to Bancroft, west to Haliburton, then north on Highway 35 back up to Highway 60, a horrendous detour to cover around 20 km’s. Or wait out the emergency services in a fatal collision. Much to the chagrin of my kids I chose box number 1.
2 hrs 45 mins, 267 km, $50 in gas and 3 grumpy teenagers later we pulled onto Highway 60 from Highway 35, around 20 km’s away from where we were stopped in traffic earlier. The police still had Highway 60 closed and as we found out the following day did not reopen it until 2.30 am the following morning, 12 hours after the accident. So I had made the right choice.
The moral of this story? The above put a serious dent into our weekend plans. Not quite as much of a dent as Jing Xu’s though, he perished on that highway Saturday afternoon.
News report below: