Friday, August 15, 2014

A full day at Bon Echo

After leaving Frontenac, we drove through backcountry roads to the gorgeousness known as Bon Echo Provincial Park on deep and lovely Mazinaw Lake.

Bon Echo rock

Seemingly endless quartzite cliffs

We set up camp, started a fire, and enjoyed gawddamn filet mignon cooked over an open fire with spinach mushroom risotto. When coming out of the backcountry, a hearty meal feels like a fine reward.

New home


That may or may not be an adult beverage in a tiny plastic mug.

The next morning, it was up and at 'em for a full day of exploring. Of course, it started without pants.

Because you've gotta have rules.

Coffee and breakfast were had, while the local wildlife came and checked out these weirdos who were invading their turf.

Tanker chatting with a chipmunk

"Excuse me, can I see your camping permit?"

"What do you mean 'your table'?"

With full bellies and a car filled with gear for the day ahead, we set out on the Mugwump ferry to cross Mazinaw Lake, bringing us to the base of the Cliff Top Trail.

Trail rehabilitation area: visitors are asked to bring gravel across and dump it to mitigate the soil erosion.

Natural steps formed by roots, to accompany all of the man-made stairs.
 The early afternoon brought the hottest weather we'd seen so far on the trip. Most days had been in the 17-22c (63-72f) range, but we sweated in the 32c/90f sunshine as we climbed atop the 100 metre/325 foot tall cliff.

Looking back at the lagoon from whence we came

Rocks and roots and blissful shade
Northern Mazinaw Lake

Back down at the ferry dock.

After our descent and return journey across the lake, we enjoyed a simple lunch on the shore before heading out to explore some more trails.

Big rock on the High Pines Trail

This tree is disintegrating into a jigsaw puzzle

Highest point of the trail

Local resident

We then made a grievous tactical error. Despite knowing that the mosquitos were vicious in the park (it was August 1st, after all), we decided to hike the Bon Echo Creek Trail. It might as well have been called the Blood Donor Trail, as we were assaulted with extreme prejudice by tiny winged vampires from the moment we set out.

Bon Echo Creek is nice, though.
Emerging at the creek's mouth back at Mazinaw Lake, we elected to take the park road back to the car instead of traversing the bloodsucker gauntlet in reverse.

Bon Echo Creek with a soon-to-be-anemic canoeist

The lovely footbridge at the creek's mouth.
The highlight of the day was still to come, though. We'd confirmed with the gent who runs the boat rental earlier in the day that paddling opportunities continued right up until darkness falls in the park. We grabbed our PFDs, paddling gloves and a snack from the car, then hired a pair of kayaks to explore the park's most incredible features.

Gobsmacked by the sheer scale of the cliffs

Centuries-old pictographs on the rock face

The Walt Whitman memorial, carved into the stone in 1920.

My little playboat

Tanker under an overhang

Rocky shore

Seams of pink granite - evidence of some vigorous geography

The Nanabush panel of pictographs - the unofficial mascot of Bon Echo

As we paddled along the 1.5km / 0.9 mile of breathtaking vertical geology, the sun began to set, demonstrating how the colours of the rock seem to change with the shifting of the light.

Golden hour paddling

Heading back toward the narrows

A last look at the cliffs

Tanker chasing the sun trail

Setting sun in the lagoon

After our delightful evening's paddle it was back to the campsite for another hearty, delicious dinner and a campfire lasting deep into the night.

Using up our firewood

We headed home the next morning as the hordes descended on the park for Civic Holiday weekend, but this will certainly not be our last visit to Bon Echo.

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