Tuesday 21 August 2012

Killarney Camping -Near North Ontario

This past weekend, we made a trip to Killarney with Andrea and Justin, for some back country camping. We only booked in April or so, so we didn't get to the lakes we wanted. We could only snag a site on Bell lake for the three nights, so we didn't have the chance to do any portages this time.

Shay and I had a late start, and Andrea and Justin decided to take the Park bus. It will apparently pick up at a few locations in the GTA and drop off at different parks and lakes. They said it was great. They beat us to the park, and were able to paddle out and reserve site 81. This was a great site. The ground was a little slanted, but the proximity to the island, and tree coverage made it great.

We put up a tarp in case it rained, but we were pretty lucky weather-wise. It did pour on us in our canoes paddling out to Silver Peak, which was a treat, but we dried off on the hike up. We brought a few water jugs this time and used the pump. The pump was amazing. Justin pumped 8L from the lake in like 20 minutes.

Shay and I had to move our tent up the hill after the first night. We didn't like sleeping sideways on a 45 degree angle. Andrea found us a good spot up the hill.

The little orange triangle on the tree is what tells you where the sites are. There are only about 10 on this lake. If you are doing a portage you will want to find a site close to your exit. This isn't always easy to find. We watched campers paddle in at dusk, and circle the lake in the dark trying to find a site. It looked impossible. And there is no way of knowing what sites are already taken, so it's kind of a crap shoot. You could be rowing around the whole lake.

 Our little yellow tent in it's new location up the hill.

Nothing like watching nature while answering it's call. We prefer the back country boxes to outhouses, as you are not trapped in a smelly room.

We happened to put this tarp up on the windiest day. It took all four of us to hoist it up.
Chilling out by the fire pit

You can pre-order your canoe from Kilarney Kanoes. Prices range from $23-$43 or so per day, depending on how light you want your canoes to be. If you have to carry it over your head with all of your gear and hike 1000 meters you will want a light one.

When canoe camping, you need to be able to not only fit everything in the canoe, but also be able to carry it in the least amount of trips.

Tying up dishes and food in trees is mandatory in the back country. Despite all the promises of bears, deer, and moose, again, the loons were the only thing that made an appearance, aside from the regular squirrels, mice and chipmunks. Our resident chipmunk wasn't the brightest, and kept going for the water bottles. We thought maybe the bears sent him out as a distraction, but no dice.
Shay hoisting up the food

The view from our site was beautiful. To the right of us was an island, that we swam out to on the third day. Very refreshing.

Can you find Sean?

Enjoying the fire

Shay, disappointed in the lack of wildlife, found a moth and decided to follow him around. He named him Sean. Sean turned out to be pretty dull indeed.

The first night was cold, even after the wind died down. We were happy to have our toques and fleece to keep warm!

Sunset from our site over looking Bell Lake

Evening star watching was amazing. We were around the New Moon cycle, so we didn't have much light interference. It also happened to be the end of the Perseid Meteor shower, and it was unbelievable. I can't imagine what it looked like at the height! There were shooting stars so bright that they left a trail of light behind them in the sky for 5 seconds. Some took bouncy paths and a had pinkish green glow to them. Some of us (cough...Justin) swears he saw the Milky Way, but this came after missing a few of the best shooting stars, so the verdict is still out on that one. We saw good stars for two nights, then the clouds came in and we couldn't get a clear view.
Silver Peak as we approached in canoes
 On the second day, we decided to paddle in to hike Silver Peak. This is a challenging hike, that takes about 6 hours. The first 4km are pretty easy, but the last 1.6km is a steep rocky ascent. where at some points, you are scaling large rocks.

We paddled out, it took about 45 minutes to get to the trail marker. It started to pour, so that slowed things down a little, or sped them up perhaps. We stopped in our canoes to put on rain gear and continued on. The trail marker was also a little difficult to find. First we paddled through the swampy waters filled with lily pads and frogs, and got out at the portage. This didn't look right, and there was an 8 year old boy there who was camping and then going right from camping to another camp, and he was going into grade 3, and he had an older brother who was 11 but he was soon going to be a teenager, because you're a teenager when you're 14, and he didn't hike up to Silver Peak, but he had been camping for three nights, and if you have ever spent any time with a talkative 8 year old, then you can understand how quickly we got back into our canoes and paddled to the next clearing.

The trail opening is to the left of the portage. There is a sign and usually other canoes. We pulled out the canoes, and began the trail. The first sign we came to gave warning of the  78 km loop that you didn't want to get stuck on. We made sure to follow our trail markers correctly.

These Silver Peak and Bell Lake signs let you know where to go. You do join up with a few portage routes along the way.

The rain died down a bit and we were able to trek through the canopy of trees without getting wet. We were pretty warm at this point from all of the canoeing.

There are many birch trees in this forest. I imagine this hike would be absolutely beautiful in the fall.

Some of the trails have wooden platforms to help with the uneven grounds while portaging

The sun did come back out on the most treacherous part of trail. Once you get to that Silver Peak marker pointing around the bend, the rest of the trek is steep and rocky.


 It was necessary to stop for a rest and a drink. But all the hard work was worth it when we made it to the top!

It was hard work. We ate lunch at the top, got some rest. Then excitement overwhelmed us.
 Let the jumping begin!

 It was about this time that we turned around and looked up, and realized that we hadn't quite made it to the top yet. We packed up our lunch, taking all garbage with us, and continued up. Andrea and Justin took the lead.

Up a rock and around a corner and we found the true top of Silver Peak!

Finally at the top!
 Let the celebration begin!

From up here we could watch storm systems roll in, in other parts of the Park. We were hoping they weren't going to roll over Bell lake. It appeared that they were going in other directions. We noticed this at night as we watched lightning to the east and west of us. Now all we had to do was climb back down, paddle back the 45 minutes, and jump into the lake.

The next day we took it easy and hung out around our site. We got it in our heads to paddle out to the island. We did this after sending Andrea over in a canoe to make sure that we could jump off the big rock that protruded.  After she gave us the go ahead, we packed up towels, chairs, and lunches, put them in the canoe as Andrea offered to paddle back over, so we could attempt to swim it.

Best two out of three?

Three out of four?

The three of us made it over in good time, and were ready for a drink! Upon staking our claim on the island for the day, we noticed a head bobbing in and out of the water to the far left. And further behind that head, was another. It appeared someone else had had the same idea as us, but chose to swim from a MUCH farther location. They settled on the smaller island beside us (without the diving rock), as their friends joined them with canoes. We were quite happy to make it to our rock as it provided hours of entertainment. After some coaxing and peer pressure we got Andrea to leap off the side. Then she became more inclined to take pictures of us.

Another perfect day! We will return to Killarney!

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