After hearing reports of crazy blackflies in Algonquin park the previous weekend, we were hesitant to head out on our first canoe camping trip of the year. Our May long weekend experience at Schooner Lake in 2018 with friends has left us somewhat scarred, where we found ourselves canoe bound eating dinner on the water due to bug swarms. Antoine decided we were overdue for a trip, and decided to order the Eureka NoBugZone CT 11. The tent miraculously arrived one week earlier then promised on a Friday afternoon. It was a sign! We were going camping!!!
We did some quick lunch time research, and were surprised to find awesome sites still available for last minute booking in North Frontenac Parklands. The past weekend we’d scoured canoe camping sites at nearby provincial parks, and were dismayed to find all the backcountry sites booked for weeks to come following Ontario’s reopening of provincial backcountry sites. North Frontenac Parklands consists of 184 backcountry campsites along the shores and on islands at 12 different lakes atop the Madawaska highlands and Mississippi Valley watershed. These are crownland sites managed by the local township. Fees are extremely reasonable, and go towards managing reservations and ensure the sites are kept in good condition.
We booked island campsite #5 at Redhorse Lake, and convinced our two friends Simon and Emmanuel to join us for a last minute adventure. In addition to the bug tent, Antoine purchased our next door neighbours canoe that week. Yes, you heard that right! We now own two canoes. Antoine is opening his own outfitting company, Tony’s Toys, with non-existent rates for friends and family looking to join us on the lakes 🙂
We packed up our gear Friday night, and hit the road by 10am Saturday morning. The cloud were just beginning to clear and we had bluebird skies by the time we reached Redhorse Lake. North Frontenac Parklands mentioned that 4×4 / offroad capable vehicles were required to reach this set of lakes, but we found the gravel roads to be very well maintained. No Subarus necessary this time, but perhaps after a big rain? All told, it was a fun twisty drive there, with the unfortunate downside of Teddy losing his breakfast on the drive in…
Low winds and a quick 2ish km canoe ride made for an easy paddle to our quiet island site. The water was clear and beautiful. If the temperatures had been a little warmer, I think we would’ve spent the evening diving in and swimming in the lake!
Since it was our first canoe and camping trip of the season, we were a little rusty and forgot a few essentials, including our axe, wood, tinfoil and beer (cough – Simon and Manny :P). Luckily Simon came through with extra tinfoil, and we overcame the wood debacle by adventuring to a blow down spot on the lake with lots of dead dry wood available for our campfire. We accumulated quite the wood pile between our two canoes, since Teddy is known for stealing sticks for his own enjoyment.
That evening we cooked a delicious meal over the camp fire, featuring roast potatoes and onions, grilled seasonal veggies from our local veggie box and Farm Boy sausages. Manny also pulled through with smores for dessert! Before we knew it, we were falling asleep by the fire and it wasn’t even quite dark. We crawled into our tents shortly after nine, never needing the bug tent. Isn’t that always how it works?
It was a chilly night for us in the tents, with temperatures dipping below 10 degrees. We woke in the middle of the night to Teddy’s shivers. We curled up around him and covered him in my jacket, and drifted back to sleep. He was one happy and exhausted pup the next day, after spending Saturday zooming freely around the island and swimming non-stop! It made for a much easier canoe back to the cars on Sunday. Little did we know, amidst all that zooming, Teddy’s collar had fallen off. Perhaps in the water? We’ll never know, as we didn’t notice until we’d canoed back to the cars. He is now sporting a new waterproof collar and is ready for more camping adventures to come 🙂
That’s it for now! Thanks for reading along. We’re already looking forward to our next camping / paddling adventure. Please feel free to leave us your thoughts or questions in the comments.
Liz, Antoine & Teddy (with special guests Simon and Manny)