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Relief from the boulders
Relief from the boulders
Many little cascades
We were glad when the terrain finally levelled out and we reached the junction with the Lake Colden trail. Our group was feeling a little ragged at this point, and were a touch disheartened to learn that we still had an indicated 5.7 miles (nearly 10km) to go to get back to the parking lot.
Junction with Lake Colden Trail.
Lake Colden
Approaching Avalanche Pass
A reasonably straightforward half-mile of hiking brought us to the southwestern tip of beautiful Avalanche Lake, bordered on both sides by steep walls of clean granite. New for this visit was a fresh beaver dam right in front of us, blocking the outlet of the lake and raising its level by a few feet.
Avalanche Lake
Lakeside path
Hitch-up Matilda
From here the trail skirts the left-hand shore of the lake, providing many excellent views down the lake and across to the slabs and deep dikes (including the famous Trap Dike) on Mount Colden's flanks. We hiked for a short way until we reached the start of one of the so-called "Hitch-up Matilda" plank sections, and stopped for a mid-afternoon snack break.

There was one more tiring section of hiking left before we could relax and enter 'cruise' mode: the rough terrain along the middle part of Avalanche Lake's shoreline. Here, eons of rockfall from the big cliffs above had created a very tortuous mix of trees and house-sized boulders. The trail has been constructed with lots of planking and short up-and-down ladders through here, but even so, the going still involves a lot of clambering.
Deep, Clear Avalanche Lake
Raised Lake Level
I knew I was straining credulity when I said -- once again -- that "the trail gets smoother from here on" after arriving at Avalanche Pass. It really was getting smoother overall, though, it just didn't seem that way after having done miles and miles of rough trail. Stats don't lie, though, and we were now very rapidly making progress, cruising downhill to Avalanche Junction, then on to Marcy Dam, which we arrived at shortly before 6pm. We stopped to take a nice lie-down rest break on the remnants of the dam itself. It was turning out to be quite a long day. Fortunately, the weather was still co-operating, with more sun than clouds, and as of yet, no sign of the forecasted late-day showers and thunderstorms.
Lots of Re-routing
Avalanche Junction
Ready for Attacks
Back to smooth and easy
Marcy Dam
A little short-cut
Up again for the final challenge - the straight-shot back along the main arterial trail from the dam back to the high peaks visitor center. The trail is smooth and rock-free for pretty much the whole way, and only with a little bit of up and down. We were in full-on slog-back-to-the-trailhead mode now, and we managed to cover the distance in less than an hour, arriving back at about a quarter before 7pm. Ten hours in total. I suppose... I suppose that was more "intermediate plus" than intermediate. Sorry about that, folks!
Main Arterial
Loop Completed
Tired and Back
We'd worked up a pretty good appetite from ten hours and just over 18km (11.3mi) of hiking, including well over 3000 feet of elevation gain and loss. We debated about where to go (Sai especially wanted two Guinesses, for some reason), but in the end, we decided to give the "Hungry Hiker" kiosk, which was now open, a try. I ordered the "Basin Burger" and it was actually pretty decent. The place doesn't serve much in the way of side dishes, serving most plates with a serving of ruffled chips. Still, it's kind of novel to have a food stand next to the trailhead. We enjoyed it.
Post hike hunger
Just in time
Also of some enjoyment (and satisfaction) was the fact that almost immediately after setting foot under the awning at the food stand, it started to sprinkle, then rain, then pour. The promised late-day rains had finally arrived, and fortunately for us, we had just timed things to avoid it.

Enjoy the map and hike summary data below. Thanks to Sai, Daniel, Katya, and Gino for joining. The next above-the-clouds outing will probably be a fall color hike, so be sure not to miss that!
Interactive trackmap with photo points - Algonquin Loop - click map to view

Algonquin and Av. Pass Loop - Hike Data
Start Time:
Start Elevation:
2199ft (670m) *
End Time:
Max Elevation:
5075ft (1547m) *
Min Elevation:
2005ft (611m) *
18.17 km (11.29 mi)
End Elevation:
2105ft (642m) *
Average Speed:
1.8 km/hr (1.1 mph)
* : +/- 75 feet
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