Monday, July 8, 2013

Weekend Camping: Quetico Provincial Park

photo c/o my instagram

This past weekend, we decided to ditch town and explore North Western Ontario.  Well known for it's abundance of lakes, wildlife, jack pines and canoe enthusiasts, this part of Northern Ontario seems to attract solitude loving tourists from the Mid-Western US (I say this because I saw license plates from Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and of course Minnesota) as well as more local fans from neighbouring provinces (Manitoba and Alberta).  

Quetico itself is a massive park, and most of it is only accessible by canoe (dubiously named "the interior").  There are no motor boats allowed in the provincial park, and many of the lakes are lined with soft golden sand.  This was the case for French Lake, the locale for one of Quetico's larger camp sites.  The lakes and rivers used to make up a very important fur trade route for the voyageurs, who would bring their pelts from the West, all the way to Montreal via the waterways in and around Quetico.  There is an abundance of historical information at the main pavilion at the provincial park, including a library and photo archive.

our yurt (and dog)

We decided to rent a yurt, since we've been itching to get our own yurt one day, we jumped at the chance to try one out.  While the yurt was far from fancy, it sure did step up our situation from camping to something akin to low-end glamping.  By this I mean, we had access to a propane barbeque, we could charge our smart phones (aka our cameras since there is absolutely no cell of 3G reception for about an hour's drive in either direction of Quetico) and we had a fan which kept us feeling pretty great when we had to be in the yurt.

photos c/o my iphone

As the pictures prove, it was a fairly breathtaking place, made all the better when we rented a little aluminum canoe and went out for a paddle in what we dubbed our one-dog canoe. Somehow we managed to convince our dog, who doesn't know how to swim, to lay down, quiet and still, on the bottom of the canoe.  It was kind of a miracle.  It was very unexpected.  In fact, so certain was I that the dog would tip the canoe in the middle of the lake that I made the executive decision not to take my camera.  Of course, considering how peaceful our trip was, I'm glad I didn't pollute it trying to snap pics of us really enjoying nature and enjoying each other.  The boat ride was so smooth and relaxing that Daph fell asleep on me, in some kind of PFD-propped weird vertical sleep.

My Camp Essentials

1. While I'm still fond of tents, yurts seem to be a good alternative if you can't afford a cabin, or maybe aren't into such a permanent dwelling.  The yurt pictured above is on Etsy.

2. To commemorate the miraculous non-swimming boxer in a boat, I might get my husband this piece of art.  Of course, no smart dog, or person for that matter, would stand up in a canoe.  (Another coincidence, the dragon flies at Quetico were playful and plentiful!  We caught two of them playing leapfrog on a boardwalk railing beside us.  They even let us snap their photo!)

3.  Long bright summer nights meant that our 4 and a half year old was unable to stay up late enough for a real night time camp fire, but we lit one anyways, on which she roasted too many marshmallows, and really only ate one s'more.  Bon Appetit has a round up of great alterna-s'more recipes, like the s'more pop ones above.

4. Each of us left Quetico dreaming of getting our own canoe.  Hazel told me today, "I wish we had a canoe!".  In this water-loving town, I've already seen quite a few for sale online and even in some front yards.  I would love a classic green  prospector fiberglass canoe, but would settle for it in red as well, just like in the book "One Dog Canoe".

Now, I've got to figure out the best bug repellent (the mosquitos were nothing compared to the deer and horse flies) and perfect my loon call, learned decades ago on Silence Lake in the Interior of BC, and I will be ready for our next canoe adventure.  

Until next time, Quetico!

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