Mikisew

On the Canada day long weekend I went camping with Vikkie, Hong-Li, Julie, and Jo at Mikisew Provincial Park. We were on a bit of an adventure because we had to change our booking last minute because of flooding at the original campsite we had booked at Grundy Lake Provincial Park. Hong-Li and Jo went up earlier to set up camp because they had the Friday off, and Vikkie, Julie, and I came later in the evening. Vikkie’s GPS didn’t know exactly where Mikisew was on the road, and so it said we had arrived when we hadn’t and we were on a pitch black cottage road. We decided to try going further and finally came upon the turn-off to the park. We didn’t arrive until 11:30 and so we set up our sleeping bags in the tent and quickly turned in. I slept very poorly (if at all) because there was a family next to us who was talking into the wee hours of the morning and then had a young child who was wailing like crazy. I was frustrated at the parents for letting their child stay up so late to begin with. Sounds in this campground seemed to travel very easily because the forest was made entirely of large coniferous trees with not much ground cover. I felt relieved when a light rain started that quieted our neighbours down, but it soon turned into a thunderstorm and downpour. I was thankful that we all managed to stay dry.

I was pretty tired the next morning, but being in a new and exciting place can have a way of keeping you going. It looked like we were in for a gray and rainy day. We had a slow and lazy morning, and in the late morning decided to go and explore. The others wanted to go canoeing, but Vikkie and I convinced them that it would be nicer to do that the next day when it was supposed to be nicer. Instead we visited the beaches and the dock and then went to check out some nearby trails. We soon discovered that we would not be able to get very far because the trail was flooded in many areas, including the trail to a lookout point we wanted to go to. We turned around to head back to our campsite, and it started to downpour! Some of us had brought rain coats and others had not, and so we shared what we had and trudged back in the pouring rain. We settled in the tent to change into dry clothes and spent the next hour or two eating snacks and playing Dutch Blitz and Wizard. It continued to rain so hard that our campsite started pooling and the bottom of our tent felt like a water mattress! Luckily our tent was very new and the bottom tarp held out for us and kept us mostly dry.

When the rain was over we felt like it must be late afternoon already, but it was only 2pm! Since we couldn’t hike and we didn’t want to canoe with the chance of more rain, we decided to make a day trip to visit a nearby site that Hong-Li had looked up before coming. It was a curious place called the Screaming Heads of Midlothian in a town called Burk’s Falls. We stopped first at a small one-room school house that had been turned into a museum, and the lady there directed us a short way down the road to see the screaming heads. And upon turning in we saw exactly that – several large, concrete, leaning, screaming heads – and a spiderweb gate out of rebar that led to what looked like a half castle, half Incan ruin. It was fascinating! You can find the most interesting things in the middle-of-no-where Ontario! We went through the gate and found the creator of the pieces working away on something in the yard. He directed us to where we could find another cluster of screaming heads. The other cluster of heads were round and were formed in a layered circle around a big pile of rocks. This group felt more creepy to me. Then we crossed the road and took a look at the screaming heads across the street that you could only look at from a distance because of the tall grass, and they looked more like screaming trees. On our way back we decided to stop to see Burk’s Falls and get ice-cream at the welcome center. It was already 5pm and we found out the place was closed, but we convinced the girl who was locking up to let us in to get icecream. She amazingly obliged us and totally made our day! Not only that but the icecream was inexpensive, delicious, and they only served on waffle cones! Yum!

When we got back to the campsite we decided to prepare half of our dinner, and then go down to the beach a bit early so that we could get a good spot for watching the fire works. We got our lawn chairs and sat on the beach as dusk settled. Soon the beach was full of people. We watched a group of kids play with a cool wireless mini-motor boat toy. Someone in the crowd initiated the singing of the national anthem. We were at the point of wondering if the fireworks were ever going to happen or be worth the wait, when the show finally started and it was fantastic! I was surprised at how extensive the show was for such a small cottage area. After the fireworks we returned to our campsite and had our dinner 2.0 followed by smores with Canada 150 maple marshmallows!

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On day 2 Hong-Li convinced us to get up early to watch the sunrise. We went back to the beach, this time deserted, and sat on some rocks and watched the sky change colour. It was beautiful and so peaceful. After breakfast we went to the Narrows, which is the place where they set off the fireworks, to rent boats for the day that were available on the beach at the campground. It looked like rain again and so we turned around and got a few ponchos to bring along. I decided to direct us to a place on the map called Angus Bay because it was the cutest, smallest little bay on Eagle Lake. To get there we cut across the lake and went around some of the islands. The wind was fairly strong at times and we had to be careful to go mostly perpendicular to the waves. Although we thought it would rain, we got some periods of sun and really warmed up from the paddling. We stopped at an island and swam for a bit off the rocks before changing up and continuing on. Angus bay was much calmer because it was so small, and it turned out to be a great spot to stop for lunch. Hong-Li really wanted to use the dock of someone’s cottage, but we convinced her it was a bad idea because everyone was at the cottage that weekend! Instead we bridged our boats with our ores to keep the boats side by side, turned around to face each other, and enjoyed the lunches we had packed while we drifted. It was lovely! Our return trip was pretty fast now that we knew where we were going. Jo and I were tired of canoeing, and the others wanted to keep going, and so we stayed and waded/swam a bit while the others decided to canoe north towards the narrows. When Jo and I were tired of swimming we also decided to go out again, but quickly turned around and headed back when we saw rain clouds quickly approaching! We just managed to pull the boat out of the water and place it on the rack, when it began to downpour! The others soon came to shore as well and we got soaked (AGAIN!) as we put away the other boat and the supples.

The rain stopped pretty quickly, but by that point all of our changes of clothes were wet. We went to the comfort station to see if there was a dryer, and were very pleased that there was! After another nice dinner and fire, Vikkie and I decided to go and see the stars by the lake. The view from the beach was okay, but I convinced Vikkie that we should go to the dock! Luckily Vikkie had her phone that had a pretty powerful flashlight, because the hike to the dock seamed much longer in the dark, and there was still a lot of mud and puddles to watch out for! It was totally worth it though because the dock was the perfect place to watch the stars. We layed down on the end of it and stared into the sky. Vikkie has the Google Sky Map app that shows the constellations in the direction that the phone is pointing. We saw Ursa Major and Minor (the big and little dipper), Cygnus (supposed to look like a swan but looks like a cross to me), Cassiopea (looks like a “W”), and the most interesting because it was my first time seeing it, Sagittarius (teapot). We took the road back afterwards which was much faster than returning by the beach route!

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It was too bad that we had to leave the next day because the weather was beautiful! We decided to pack up camp and then go to the beach and rent a standup paddle board for an hour or two since a few of us wanted to try it. It was easier than I thought it would be and I definitely want to try it again. When Jullie took her turn she was having trouble steering back to us and the wind was pushing her further and further away. I knew she was getting to the end of what I would be able to swim, and that I didn’t want it to become a big thing, and so I ended up swimming out to her and then kicking and steering her back to the beach. She was probably 100m away! I was pretty proud of myself since I had only recently started swimming for sport for the last few months and would not have been able to do it if not for that. I was definitely tired at the end of it! After the others had taken second tries, we decided it was time to head for home. We stopped for lunch in Barrie and then I drove Vikkie’s car the rest of the way to give her a break. She generously dropped me off at home, and since it wasn’t that late yet I convinced her to stay for an episode of Once Upon a Time! That was the end of a very enjoyable weekend!

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