Stranger 25


I’m rather ashamed to admit how long I’ve been sitting on this image. I met my 25th stranger back on October 8th, that over 50 days ago now! Each time I sat down to write out the meeting, I would lose my concentration and have to stop. The month was a bit difficult for me as I was (still am actually) in the midst of a prescription change that ended up giving me some very unpleasant side effects. I did a lot of sleeping in October and much of November too!

Back in early October, I decided to take a run-up to Algonquin Park. If you’ve been to Algonquin in the fall, you know the place has turned into a bit of gong show with all the tourists there, so it’s been quite a while since I’ve felt like going back up there. (Come to think of it, I was there last winter, but I make my own rules, so that doesn't count)

If you go there on a weekend during the fall colours and use hwy 60 it feels like you’re driving in city traffic! There are full-sized RVs, tourist buses, camper trailers, huge trucks and more cars than you can count. Not exactly a peaceful day in the park. So that's why I haven't been back there in the fall.

From where I live I usually enter the park through the east gate just past Whitney, but I've wanted to take a look at Barron Canyon for a while now, so I decided to head there this time. To get there, you need to drive further north, and enter the park through the Sand Lake Gate, not too far past Pembroke. Despite it being late fall, I was pretty sure there would be no one up there.

Having never entered the park that far north I wasn't sure what to expect. Google street view doesn’t have images for the roads there, so I made sure I had a full tank of gas and plenty of snacks and water and headed in on Barron Canyon Road.

It felt like a long time before I hit the park’s Sand Lake Gate. The road is unpaved and not in the best shape, but it's very wide and I met several logging trucks barreling down the road in the opposite direction. I was wondering if my little Toyota Matrix was up for the job honestly, but once I saw those trucks I figured if they can drive the road, so could I.

It’s about 12 km in from the gate to the canyon and the drive was quite nice actually with the colours being just past prime, but still plenty of yellows hanging on still.

When I got to the trailhead I was a little surprised to see 4 cars in the parking lot. I actually fully expected to be alone, as usual in most cases when I venture out actually.

The trail is pretty short and quite easy to hike, even though it’s rated as moderate on AllTrails. Other than a bit of an elevation gain, I would say it should have an easy rating.

I was alone until the trail reached the canyon’s edge. It runs right along the edge for about 500m offering some pretty impressive views. I saw several young people tempting fate (in my opinion) by climbing out as close the edge as they could on the rocky outcropping. I stood and watched in case one fell, I was anticipating getting a front-row seat to natural selection in action! But, it didn’t happen, so I carried on, damn.

As I continued on I could hear some music coming from further down the trail. It sounded like a flute, and the sound of it was echoing along the canyon. The soft long notes were coming from just ahead so I hurried on to see what was happening before it stopped.

When I got to the spot there was a lady that appeared to be over the edge of the wall, on a precarious rock. Her rock perch was not only on the edge of the wall, but she climbed DOWN a bit to get there! I felt vertigo just looking at her.

I snapped a couple of pictures as she played. I could see it was a wood instrument and it was a very pleasant sound rolling down the canyon. When she completed, she scrambled back up to the trail where she had a couple of friends who were taking a video of her playing. (maybe also waiting to witness a 'Darwinian' moment)

Curious, I approached them and they told me they had been there for several hours, and that earlier in the morning they were howling back and forth with a distant wolf pack. The howling sounds were quite impressive with the echo of the canyon. They were hopeful the flute music might also get some wildlife response, but it didn't happen while I was there.

I asked the flute player a few questions about her instrument. It was hand made somewhere in the US if I remember. It was simple but nice looking, finished off with beads and some feathers. Of course I brought up my project and asked if she would be interested. She was more than happy.

I got a few pictures of her, and a few more of just her instrument. I found out she lives in Novar, which is north of Huntsville, on the west side of Algonquin Park.

As it turns out, Susan is also a photographer and has a Facebook Page filled with lovely images of misty lake mornings, and other nature shots.

It was a full day for me going up there. I made stops at Fifth Depot Lake on the way up and back as it turned out. Here are a few of my images from that day.

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