Friday, October 16, 2015

Our private (enough) island

Campsgiving this year was an unqualified success.

We drove up to Bon Echo Provincial Park on Saturday, arriving later than we would have liked due to terrible traffic but with plenty of time before sunset. We snacked on sandwiches I'd made that morning, then Tanker shouldered the canoe pack and I finally got to try out our barrel harness while being a canoehead. Thus laden, we sported our gear down to the dock, then wandered back up and brought down a bag of firewood each.

He's more pack than man.

Gorgeous, vibrant colour.

The boat is light as a feather, but I'd still like to put it down now.

We set off on a chilly but sunny afternoon to paddle out to Joeperry Island - there are 8 campsites in total on it and several more along the shore facing it, but we couldn't see another soul from our camp.

Heading out

Arriving at our site

We got ourselves all set up as the day waned, warming up with a hot bowl of soup in the chilly wind.

View to the East

Tarp up as a windbreak

Our "porch"

The gusting wind refused to die after dark making for a cold night (though probably not as cold as it had been in Algonquin last weekend), but that just made us all the more appreciative of a cup of hot chocolate by the fire before bed.

Sunday dawned and we were lazy. We had no set schedule - nothing in particular we had to get done. We stayed in bed as late as we wanted, then languidly made brunch in more stunning sunshine and temperatures just warm enough to pull off no-pants-before-coffee.

Because you've gotta have traditions.

The colours surrounding us were even more vivid in the fall sunshine, gazing around the lake. We heard loonsong in the distance from a couple of different directions, too, which delighted both of us.

I spent some time writing in our trip log while Tank waited all of about 15mins past noon to crack his first beer of the day and dip his line in the water.

That's a happy man.

Eventually we decided it was time - around 1:45pm - to go exploring around Joeperry Lake. 

Out for a paddle.

We cruised easily down the West side of the island, passing other campers at their sites and eventually getting down into Pearson Lake. Water levels were too low to continue the circuit up the East side of the island, though - it was mostly a grassland through there.

This was the more open, Western side.

We meandered back up the West side, Tank did some trawling, and we both sighed and hummed happily over the brilliant fall foliage. Every bit of disappointment we might have felt at Algonquin last weekend melted away under the vibrant reds, yellows and oranges of the hardwoods around the shore.

So very pretty.

We stopped back off at our campsite (520) to pick up a couple of things we'd forgotten, then continued North to the beach to have a look. The wind was still strong and gusting from the Southwest, which meant this was our most fraught crossing - while the lake is fairly small, this was the longest run the wind had to blow up chop, and there was actually some whitecapping of the waves going on! Nothing like our Georgian Bay adventures back in July, but it still took some work to keep the boat on course.


Having reached the beach, we decided against having our picnic lunch there - not only was there nowhere to sit and no shelter at all from the ceaseless wind, the place was firmly under the control of some MASSIVE spiders. We looked around a bit, took note of some deer hoofprints in the sand, and then paddled the hell back out of there. We saw a water snake swimming along the edge of the beach as we left, but we were right in the bit of break and I couldn't stop paddling long enough to take a photo.

Even though it looks fairly calm here..

We paddled back over to the dock, walked up to the car, and Tanker brought down the last bag of firewood we'd bought at the gatehouse when we arrived the day before. We still had about half a bag left at our site and I'd seen plenty of fallen limbs we could forage back by our thunderbox, so we didn't bother driving the horrible washboard gravel road into the main park to pick up any more.

He's such a good pack mule.

On our way back down to the dock we spotted a bit of vivid green among the fallen leaves and met this little fellow.

This one wasn't pretending to be a stick.

We set up our stove and had a picnic of soup and granola bars at the picnic table by the dock.

Still very, very windy.

Then we did the short paddle back to our campsite, arriving just before 5pm and settling back in as the golden light of an autumn evening set the colour around us aflame.

I photographed these trees so many times over the weekend..

After getting a few camp chores done, we pulled up our chairs on the porch once more and watched the sun sink in perfect contentment.

This here? This is the life.

Evening glow.
We'd managed to find and break up four full armloads of fallen boughs to add to our firewood stash for the night. We certainly weren't in any danger of running out of fuel!

Even with our enormous fire pit.

It was a milder evening after a warmer day, and the wind finally died as darkness set in. Regardless, we couldn't resist another cup of hot chocolate by the fire before bed.

Just because.

That's probably why I woke up at 3:35am needing to pee. I'd be a little more upset about this, but the air wasn't too chilly and as I crawled back into my nice, warm sleeping bag I heard something amazing; a pack of wolves howling on the Western shore. It's still a rarity in Ontario - where our wolf packs were regrettably run nearly into extinction in decades past - so I had to wake Tanker up to have a listen to their haunting cries in the darkness.

Up a bit earlier Monday morning - Thanksgiving day - for another pantsless cup of coffee and a rib-sticking bowl of oatmeal before packing up and paddling out.

Just minus one paddler..

Saying goodbye to our beautiful campsite.
Approaching the dock and still gaping at the foliage.

We were off the water by 11am and shouldering our burdens once more to get back up to the parking lot.

Canoehead strikes again!

We juddered and rattled over the gravel road back to the main part of the park, leaving the car in the lot by the lagoon while we took a quick hike over to the Visitors' Centre and the lookout by the gift shop.

Oh, Mazinaw..

Then it was back in the now-unladen boat for another paddle.

Heading out of the lagoon toward the narrows.

Colours and rock.

This just never ceases to astound.

45mins later with the wind whipping up stronger than it had been all weekend, we pulled the boat again and Tanker had his first experience carrying a canoe.

By George I think he's got it!

Another quick hike over to the narrows to find ourselves a spot for a bit of lunch, as I'd had the foresight to leave some turkey summer sausage, tortillas and a bottle of mustard in a cooler bag in the car for us.

This spot was unfortunately too windy.

So we had to make do with this as our lunch view.
It's a tough life.

We munched and sighed over having to leave the beauty of Bon Echo behind us, but the day was getting on and the wind was getting worse. We left just after 2pm and ran into more horrible traffic on the way home, not reaching our destination until past 8pm. Other than the traffic and wind, though, it had been the perfect weekend - one for which we truly give thanks.

So I went another 4 days without running a single step, and now I'm staring down the barrel of a 7 hour cut-off time for tomorrow's Vulture Bait 50k.

If I get pulled off course as a result of spending the long weekend surrounded by brilliant fall colour and lazily enjoying myself in the best company I could ask for, I'd say it's still 100% worth it.

Just for this view.


  1. Excellent read. We plan on going to Bon Echo this coming summer

    1. Thanks for stopping by - I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time at Bon Echo! Be prepared for lots of mosquitoes in high summer, though.


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