As the end of Aug came around, my camping session begins! After enduring over 6 months of the pandemic, my camping decided to coincide with the going back to work routine. Seriously? My timing sucks! But regardless I will be trying to get out as much as I can before the snow flies, and maybe even after.
This trip was up to my normal stomping grounds on the north end of the park but to a lake I had not visited in about 20 years. My normal spot is now choked with beaver dams making it near impossible to get in there without getting covered in mud and water. I was shocked to discover that I needed reservations, have never needed those in the north and further shocked to find the parking lot full of cars and the camp sites picked clean of anything to burn. I felt like I was back on the 60 side of the park.
I arrived on a lovely sunny day, but I knew it was not going to last. The forecast was pretty dire with rain coming later that night and all the next day. But I still chose to go as I had a few experiments I wanted to try out. The first was my old tent that I had been dragging around for 20 years. Was it still water tight? And the hammock, would it stay dry just hanging under a hex tarp?
Lovely paddle in with just a short portage. I was kinda in a hurry as I had people behind me and not knowing what the sites on the lake were like, I wanted to ensure I scored a good one. Well there was little to worry about, almost every site on the lake is excellent but I most definitely scored the best one. On a peninsula with views to each of the 4 points of the compass. I could not ask for more. I felt kinda guilty as the site was big enough for at least 4 tents and I was solo but quickly got over it.
I landed, got the tent setup. Strung the hammock up and put a full tarp up over the kitchen area as I knew the rain was going to come and I was determined to stay dry and not sit in a tent all day. Took a trip across the lake and loaded the canoe up with enough dry wood to last me the 3 days and nights.
Watched several folks come into the lake that had me shaking my head. One group of 3 had 2 canoes. The person solo was sitting on the back of a 17′ er with the nose 3 feet into the air. The 2nd boat was terribly overloaded and the person in the bow sitting facing aft paddling backwards – sigh. Later that night after dark, I see a headlamp out on the lake. I go out to the edge of the water and ask if all is ok. It is a couple coming into the lake in the pitch dark. One was solo on a canoe and the other on a paddle board with a dog. WTF? They asked where the sites are, in frustration I said to him, “you just walked past one on the portage,” he returned with “ya but that is not a nice site”. Instead of taking a safe site and then moving in the morning, he and his partner went out onto an unknown lake in the middle of the night with a storm coming in to try and find a nice site. Couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
After a lovely supper and campfire I was off to bed (in the tent). I woke around 2am as I heard the first drops of rain hitting the tent. Around 4am I woke to a much stronger rain, I swept the flashlight around, tent is still dry. I woke at 7am and I can see puddles of water starting to form in the corners of the tent. By 10am the tent was raining almost as much inside as it was outside. My poor old Eureka tent has gone past her prime. Ironically, the hammock was bone dry and became my home for the next 2 nights.
Spent the day under the tarp, reading books, napping, having a few shots of bourbon, watching people leave for home early. I was entertained by a couple of squirrels. One I named Carl who has a silver tail and the other was Whynitta (no idea how I got these names). Carl was all about routing through my camp and even coming right up to my feet to beg for crumbs. Whynitta was all about pine cone grenades. Tossing them from trees scaring the shit out of me. It was not a nice day but they were fun to watch and chase with the camera. But I had stored some wood away under the tarp and again had a lovely supper and nice evening by the fire. I was definitely the only one on the lake with a fire that evening.
The next day the forecast had called for sun and cloud. Well it was not to be. Squalls of rain and wind throughout the morning. By afternoon it was getting better so I hopped into the canoe and went for a paddle down the length of the lake and checked out all the campsites while doing a bit of fishing. No fish but I really was not trying very hard. I got back to camp just as the rain came pouring down again. I had filled my portable shower up that morning with the intent of having a shower later in the day but there had been no sun to warm it up. No big deal, figured I would boil the kettle a few times and warm it up manually later that evening.
The rain squall stopped and for some reason I suddenly had this idea to paddle to the north end of the lake cause I suddenly had a feeling there was fish there. I tossed the fishing rod and tackle into the boat, pushed the boat out, stepped into the boat and immediately got pitched out the other side straight into the lake! My gear everything, dropped 6 inches down. I was on my knees in the water laughing my ass off at the top of my lungs. My hiking boats, my gortex jacket and all my clothes – soaked! I recovered my gear, got the water out of the boat and all back up on shore. My pride was hurt, the first time in 30 years I have tipped a canoe. I looked up and down the lake, no one in sight so stripped off to my birthday suit and went for a swim. No need for the shower hahaha.
I got back up onto shore, put on my dry clothes, hung the wet ones, poured a bourbon and toasted the gods who had decided I was going to get wet this weekend one way or the other “well played boys” I toasted to the sky. As I did that the sun came out and the storm ended.
Spent the evening drying my boats by the fire and was hoping to see some milky way camera shots now that the sky was clearing. No milky way, but definitely got a full moon instead. 3rd night of a lovely fire and supper followed by another great hammock sleep waking to a very foggy morning that took until after 9am to burn off.
Even after the fog lifted I stuck around for some time to let the sun dry out all the gear and tents so that I could avoid it when I got home. I was in no rush anyhow now that the weather had cleared itself up. Slowly packed up camp and enjoyed the paddle and portage back to the car.
Got home and started the research on finding myself a new tent and tarp, something much lighter. I was successful in finding a new Hotcore Mantis 2 and their wingman fly. Those will be out for a test on my next run. But the deal was so good on those that I also picked up a new sleeping bag and pad to go along with it. The bag is also from Hotcore. A Canadian company so looking forward to trying out their products. Always support home if I can! So ends this trip. Hoping to do a quick overnight recon trip this coming weekend to a piece of crown land that might be suitable for early and late winter camping. Plan to put the new gear to the test as well as some dehydrated foods I have started to make on my own. But that will be on the next post. Cheers!
September 9, 2020 at 3:14 pm
Thank you for sharing. Love the black and white. Take care MariLyse
September 9, 2020 at 6:02 pm
What a lovely story Scott, so jealous. Make the most of it whilst you can. Explore home, no need to fly off anywhere.
September 9, 2020 at 9:57 pm
Thank you Marilyse!
September 9, 2020 at 9:57 pm
Thank you Miriam, but I still love my time on the island as well 🙂
September 10, 2020 at 3:57 pm
Thanks for sharing Scott. So many of us haven’t been able to get out like usual this year. I always appreciate your insights. As for going for a swim while loading up… happens to all of us eventually 🙂 Looking forward to more loony tales…