It has been far too long since I camped and I was dying to go!!! A few events, some sickness, a visit from mom, and some bad weather had kept me from doing what I love most and this weekend was turning out to be the same. I wanted to cry!
Originally, the weekend plan was to do a canoe trip on Rain Lake at Access #4 on the west side of Algonquin Park. But, as the weekend drew closer, the weather forecast got worse and worse and my spirits got lower and lower.
By Thursday I knew there was no way Rain Lake would be an option. It was almost two and a half hours away from home and they were forecasting 51 km wind gusts. From what I’d read about Rain Lake, it was also known as a bit of a wind tunnel. ARGGG! All day Saturday, which was originally advised it would be a nice sunny day with temperatures around 14, now said 90% chance of rain for the entire day, then turning to snow overnight with a low of -15 Sunday, the wind increasing from Saturday 15 km’s to gusts Sunday up to 51km gusts per hour. WHAT?? REALLY?? SH@%^T!
There was no way a canoe trip was happening for this girl this weekend. Many people think I am crazy, but not stupid, and I knew I would have to call off the trip. But I WANTED TO GO CAMPING!!!
I decided to revise the plans and go to Mew Lake and car camp. I considered camping in the non hydro section in the tipi, as I really wanted to use it as well. But with rain of 5-10 mm expected, it wasn’t the best idea. If it was only snowing or only cold, the tipi would be great, but with so much rain, the canvas would get soaked, possibly leak and then freeze solid.
So, I decided to bring my princess summer tent, it’s a 9′ x 12′ tent that I love to car camp in and is great for this type of situation. It is large inside so I can put cot beds in it and sleep off the ground. It is also great to put a space heater in and cover with my giant tarp (keeps the heat in). And, it is also good for crappy weather, because if you get stuck having to be inside, there’s lots of room to stretch out and not be cramped. I emptied out the car and repacked all the gear switching from my backcountry setup to my winter car camping set up and in a few hours, the revised plan was in motion.
Friday night was spent pre cooking all of our meals for the whole weekend. I was going with Jay, a newbie to winter camping, and I wanted things as easy as possible. Precooking your food was a huge asset when you were forced to cook in the rain, cold or high winds, and I wanted this to be a walk in the park, so to speak.
We left around 7:30am Saturday and headed to the park, taking just over an hour and a half to get there. So far, no rain and the forecast had once again changed. The rain expected at 9am had moved to noon. Just enough time to set up and get out for a hike. PERFECT!!
On the way, I spotted a moose along Highway 60. I was elated. I pulled over, waited to turn around and then went back. I stopped the car way too soon, but I didn’t want to scare the moose away and thought I’d be better to tip toe over on foot. I got a shot as per above but you can barely make out the creature at all. I didn’t really care, it made my entire weekend and I was so happy. I have been adventuring since New Year Eve and have not seen a moose the entire time from then to now, so just seeing one was enough for me.
After we arrived, picked a site (stupidly on the water, I should know better) and got our permit from the kiosk, we set up and then decided to go for a hike before the weather turned angry.
I decided to take Jay to the falls and then we would take a trail from there. I didn’t want to go to far, and didn’t want to drive anywhere, but thankfully, there are so many options at Mew, I didn’t have to worry about that.
Everything was so lush and green, mixed with decaying leaves on the ground and the smell of fall.
I could not even express how happy I was to be here.
We got a visit from these beauties, in addition to the ducks that greeted us on our site and the moose, I was feeling pretty lucky about seeing wildlife this weekend. Yay me!
From the falls we took the trail towards the Track and Tower Trail that also eventually gets you on the bike trail and walked that way for a bit.
I was amazed at all the mushrooms that were still out at this time of year and stopped to take lots of pictures of them along the way.
This one tree, (above right), had the bark peeling from it and underneath, the inside of the tree seemed to be mushroom (grey). It was full of gills and mushroomy type substance. It was really incredible and I’d never seen anything like it!
We continued on and after a bit, turned on to the bike trail.
The trail here was wide open and it was a bit bad timing on our part as this is when the rain decided to start coming down fairly heavily.
Fortunately, we were fully dressed in rain gear and totally protected, so we continued on our way without issue.
I stopped to take a photo of this really cool mushroom that looked like a toasted marshmallow. Anyone know what kind it is?
Shortly after we returned to the falls area and hiked back to our campsite, where our ducks were still waiting for us.
We got a nice warm fire going as the temperatures had already started to drop. Thankfully, the wind wasn’t bad at all. I prayed things would stay that way.
To warm up, I put my kettle on the fire full of apple cider. I had discovered camping last New Years Eve, that hot apple cider with spiced rum is a delicious winter drink!
After the cider is hot, add rum and consume. Easy peasy and so yummy and warm!
I also made up some guacamole for a small snack to munch on before dinner. We sat and drank the cider and had our appetizer and enjoyed the non crazy winds so far. I figured if it was going to get nasty out, I would just enjoy sitting by my fire in the afternoon and spend the evening in the tent. So far Mother Nature was letting us have that much and I was so very grateful!
After a few hours of chilling by the fire (not literally), we put our precooked dinner in a pot and put it on the fire to heat up. Jason had made up some udon noodles with shrimp, asparagus, snow peas and a bunch of asian sauces that made it taste like it came from a take out place. It was so delicious I had seconds and we devoured every last bite!
Around 7pm on a trip to the washroom, I noticed that it wasn’t actually just raining, but raining AND snowing at the same time. Our mixed precipitation had come early. The temperature also continued to drop but by the warm fire, under my trusty well hung tarp, we weren’t bothered in the least. Incredibly, we remained fireside until around 9:30 when the winds finally started to pick up and we were getting chilly. I was amazed I got to stay out so long and again, very very grateful. I snuggled up in the warm toasty tent listening to the sound of the rain/snow hitting the tarp. It was quite loud, but as I was cozy and dry, I didn’t care in the least. Around 3am, I noticed the sound of the rain hitting the tarp loudly had switched to a sound I vaguely remember from last year and loved, the soft ticking sound of snow hitting the tarp!! I was anxious to see what morning would look like!
I woke up to dark dreary snowy morning just before sunrise. There was snow but not nearly as much as expected. Thankfully, the winds weren’t anywhere near as bad as forecast either. I was indeed a happy happy camper, even though a bit more snow would’ve be nice. It was still snowing so there was more to come!
The ducks were all huddled up and floating around in the frigid water. I contemplated returning to my wonderful cocoon in the tent, but knew I had to go check out the airfield and the falls and see if I could find another moose. I was a die hard and sooner or later, I would see something! I just had to keep trying.
I put on my snowpants after testing out my fleece tights and knowing they would not cut it, and off I went.
The trail that was so lush and green, not even a day before, was now frozen, crunchy and covered in snow.
I looked for some of the mushrooms I’d taken photos of just the day before but could not find a one.
I did find this bit of fall desperately hanging on, hiding under winters shelter, not wanting to let go!
When I arrived at the falls, I finally got a cellular signal and could pick up the latest forecast. There was a special weather statement issued. The forecast also confirmed what I’d assumed, it had gone from plus ten to minus ten in less than a day and I had literally watched fall turn into winter right before my eyes. I have to admit, it was pretty cool and I was deliriously happy that I’d decided to still get out and camp, even though my canoe trip was a bust.
The wind gusts were less than half of what was anticipated as well. Thank goodness for that!
I loved the falls at Mew Lake and took as many pictures as I could before my face started getting numb.
I did my best to be super quiet hoping something, anything would show itself, a pine martin, gray jay, blue jay, a moose, bunny or deer? But as usual, no one came and as I hadn’t seen one track in the snow, possibly because it had only really started falling a few hours ago, I didn’t have much hope.
I headed back to camp and checked the thermometer. It read -3 which wasn’t bad at all, but the wind chill made it feel much colder. I jumped back in the tent for a bit to warm up, then got up, heated up our yummy omelettes made the night before, and got ready to tear down the site.
The bulk of the storm that was expected was due to hit this afernoon and evening, and I wanted to be long gone and back home before that happened as work was waiting the following day.
We packed up the site very quickly, loosely folding up the tent and tarps to dry back at the house before packing them away properly.
After a quick stop at the Visitors Center to check out the view and show Jay the museum, we headed back to Port Carling, sad to discover, no snow had accumulated there at all. BOO!!!! The wind, however, picked up enormously and by nightfall, upon going out to get something I’d left in the car, I almost got blown away. The forecast displayed gusts of only 45km/hour. All I could think was thank goodness we didn’t get what was expected, or this trip would’ve been a very different one. I am also really glad I talked myself out of a canoe trip, although sad I didn’t get to go. Thank you Mother Nature, for letting me go camping this weekend and not blowing me or my tent away! You are the best and I greatly appreciate your cooperation this weekend!
Plus ten to minus ten is a trip I will not soon forget. It was really awesome to wear a long sleeved shirt one day, then swish around in snow pants the next. NOW, I am ready for winter, and winter camping to start! Let’s hope the snow keeps falling all season long!
Thanks for checking out my adventure. I hope you had fun and will come back again soon! If you have any questions, suggestions or want to say hello, please leave a comment and I will get back to you as soon as I am able to.
Let the winter camping season begin!