Nearly every year Nellie goes camping with her girlfriends. She has a special affection for sleeping in a tent and drinking from tin cups and sitting around a campfire. In recent years those girl-camping excursions have become less frequent, and last year she didn’t get to go at all. Since I couldn’t bear to see her miserable two years in a row I agreed to go with her. My one condition: a tent I could stand up in, more or less. So, a campground reservation in Algonquin Park and two trips to MEC and we were all set.
Of course, the worst part of Algonquin is getting there, and this was no exception. I hate long drives. Hate hate hate. But we made it, and checked in to our Mew Lake campground. Nellie had done her homework and picked one of the best sites available.
This was my first time car-camping, so getting used to having people on all sides was weird, but we were about as private as you can get there. We set up our fancy new tent (which is awesome), settled in, built a fire and started making dinner.
Our meals, by the way, provoked some mockery among our Twitter and Facebook friends…apparently eating steak and drinking wine, or having a spread of prosciutto and salami and cheese and bread and chocolate, or cooking a delicious breakfast of bacon, eggs and sausage is verboten, and we should instead have cooked weenies or roasted marshmallows. To which we replied thus: since we have no kids to entertain with such traditions, why would we voluntarily eat crap food just because we’re camping? I mean, really…what’s wrong with this?
Nothing, sez I. Anyrant, once dinner and dishes were out of the way we sat our asses down by the campfire and watched the sun go down. It got a little chilly that night so the fire, while a pain to start, was sorely needed to keep us warm until we could tuck into our sleeping bags for the night. Reports of a bear in the area had us a tiny bit jumpy, but nothing serious. The next morning I got up before sunrise and took in the view of the steam billowing off the lake.
As I took pictures of the lake and sunrise (both, in some cases) I heard a rustling along the shore right in front of me. I saw a…well, I’m not sure what it was. A small heron of some kind maybe?
Whatever it was it took a few awkward strides through the water and then took off into the grass. Any ideas? A quick Google search didn’t turn up anything. I saw it again that afternoon, in the same spot, so maybe it had a nest there. Not sure, but Nellie got a kick out of him/her.
Since we had such good weather (seriously, ridiculous weather…warm and sunny during the day, moderate at night and not a cloud in the sky the entire weekend) we went for a hike at the nearby Track & Tower trail.
It was a good workout, but worth it for the deep woods seclusion, lake views (like the one above) and amazing lookout from a cliff toward Cache Lake.
We even came across a very unexpected trail companion: a turtle sunning himself on a hill. I’d never seen a turtle this big in the wild…he was about a foot across. I think it was a snapping turtle, but didn’t get close enough to find out. We got some pics and said our goodbyes.
We were pretty pooped (and extremely warm) by the time we got home so we jumped in the lake to cool off. During our swim, half a dozen Canada Geese descended down to the lake, circled us once and water-landed twenty feet from us. Which was pretty cool.
That night we didn’t have the energy for much…fortunately our meal involved slicing, not cooking. Still, it was nice to sit there and drink a bottle of Southbrook Fresh White and build a fire and be entertained by a chipmunk.
Sunday morning we wanted to beat traffic, so it was a whirlwind of breakfast and cleaning and packing and road-getting-on. We did pretty well too; it was smooth sailing all the way down highway 11 and the 400. The only traffic we hit was on the DVP at York Mills. Nevertheless, when we unloaded, returned the car and walked home we felt…well, smelly. Hooray for whoever invented the shower.
So, lots of fun was had, but I’m hoping to minimize the driving next time. And yes, there will be a next time. And yes, we will be eating awesome food and drinking good wine. Deal with it.