In 2015, during a winter car camping trip, I met Kim Lavelle. We hit it off and became friends and vowed we would camp one day together.  We saw each other several times car camping at Mew Lake and at the Outdoor Adventure Show, but plans never worked out to go on a trip together.

Leanne Hennessy, also known as the creator of Live Love Get Outside, is an amazing lady. Last year she hiked The International Appalachian Trail in Quebec for 40 days and is an inspiration on social media. We have been communicating for a few years now online, but just recently met in person at the Winter Camping Symposium last November, then again at the Outdoor Adventure Show in February.  We also had vowed to one day trip together, but scheduling conflicts continued to plague us.

A few weeks ago, we finally picked a date that worked for all 3 of us and put a plan in motion.  Just a simple one night trip to somewhere relatively close to all of us, the Kawartha Lakes Provincial Park.

The weather wasn’t expected to be very nice, rain most of the day on Saturday, high winds and cold, but we picked a site we thought would give us a good amount of shelter, made the booking and put the plan into motion and now, it was time to have some fun!

We coordinated our arrival time at the Bottle Lake Access Point within 15 minutes of each other. Not too shabby at all.  When the girls arrived, I had taken my canoe off my car, switched into my tripping boots and clothing and had taken out my packs and had them ready for transport.  After happy greetings, the girls did the same and soon we had all of our gear and the two canoes at the shore, ready to take off.

First, Leanne had a gift for us.  A friend of hers mom, Henrietta,  makes toques to keep her mind occupied.  Her daughter, Leanne’s friend, passed away due to cancer and as Leanne’s mom also passed away, the two have created a mutual bond which helps fill a void they both feel.  Leanne explained all this and gave both myself and Kim a handmade toque by Henrietta.  Mine had a pony tail holder and Kim’s was Canada themed.  We all hugged, wiped the tears away and began preparing for the windy paddle across Bottle Lake to the portage.

The weather forecast had changed quite a bit from the start of the week, but the one thing that hadn’t changed was the wind.  It was currently forecast as 30km winds with 49km gusts.  The lake didn’t look like it was anywhere near that, however and we believed it was mostly sheltered.  We got the canoes in the water and off we went chattering away.

The paddle was a bit tougher than expected but we fared well for the most part, until we got to the point.  We needed to get around the point and go right into the bay to get to the portage.  Leanne and Kim were right at the tip and I was a bit behind them when a gust of wind pushed me way back into the lake.  I was struggling and said so and just me shouting that out was enough to stop the girls from paddling and in turn, they also got blown back. Entirely my fault.  I recovered and tucked the canoe into a spot along the shore and waited while they slowly fought the winds and made their way back.  We all went around the point together and made it and then proceed to the portage into Sucker Lake.

I had been told that even though this portage was only 80m, it was very steep and difficult, but how hard could it be?  We docked the canoes, took a short video clip about the winds we just encountered and then brought all of our gear and then the canoes over the portage.  Easy peasy.

We were elated and surprised to see the mirror on Sucker Lake but as I looked further down, I could see this was only present in the very end of the lake we were putting in to and the rest did have wind. Hopefully not as bad as the wind we just encountered.


We paddled through Sucker with some resistance from mother nature but it wasn’t nearly as bad as the wind we had going around that point on Bottle.  Thankfully, we finally arrived to our site and were delighted to see it was a really nice one!  Yay!


I docked my canoe and pulled it up on shore and then helped the girls get their stuff and canoe up.

Once we did that I went to check things out and gathered as much wood as possible while en route.  Our lunch needed to be cooked on the fire and in order to do that, we needed wood for the fire.  LOL.

I started one up almost immediately while we chit chatted and began looking for places to set up our tents and unpacking gear.

I got the food out and lunch out which would be Pillsbury Wiener Wraps, yes, that’s a thing!  And 3 wieners/sausages I had brought. I”m still not sure if they are hot dogs, sausages or wieners?

Leanne and Kim roasted the pigs in a blanket while I got a bit more wood and soon lunch was ready.  A few of them were crispy but they still tasted pretty yummy and I was really impressed with the Wiener Wraps.  I hope to have them again one dayl

Kim pulled out the Fireball and we did a little cheers to ourselves.

Afterwards, Kim and Leanne wanted to give thanks.   They do a ritual to thank mother earth somewhat similar to what I did at Spirit Rock in Temagami, but they do it on every trip.  They take pure tobacco and throw it to the fire, the earth, the wind, the water, whatever they feel is their spirit element and give thanks.

After they explained it all to me on camera, I took a pinch of tobacco in my left hand, as per Kim explained, that is the hand closest to your heart, the residence of spirit. . I went to the water and thanked mother earth for all the things, took a moment of silence and then threw the tobacco.  I thought this was a wonderful idea and I was grateful to Leanne and Kim for teaching me about this.

After we set up our tents and put everything where it was supposed to be, we headed into the forest to gather wood.  It was forecast to go down to -8 overnight and I wanted to have lots of wood so we could burn a fire until late and stay as warm as possible.

In less than a half hour we gathered a crazy amount of wood, due to the fire ban this summer, there was lots to be found and we were done our task in no time.

We took a water break and then continued on.  Yoga was next on deck.  Leanne had just recently become a certified instructor and would be teaching under the name of Live Love Breathe Yoga.

Yoga was a lot of fun and warmed us up a bit. Even though the sun was shining, there was a very strong cold wind blowing.

We got the fire going, warmed our butts up a bit and blew some bubbles. You know, normal things you do while backcountry camping.  LOL

I had made a beef roast for dinner, precooked at home with gravy and carrots and it just needed to be heated up. As it was a big pot full, I decided to get it on the fire so it could start warming up. I assumed it would take a bit and it did.

Eventually, the food was hot enough to eat which was good because we were all pretty hungry.  I think it’s safe to say the ladies loved the dinner, but you can check the video if you want some proof. LOL

It got dark way sooner than it should have (sunset at 630pm at this time of year ).  We were blessed with a beautiful bright moon and we sat around the campfire singing, sharing stories and enjoying more laughs than I could ever count.  It was possibly the best campfire night I’ve had this year and I believe I’ll be needing botox to remove the lines that were etched in my face from laughing so hard.  Safe to say, it was a super fun night.   By 10 I had filled up my hot water bottle with steaming hot water and we were all ready to hit the sleeping bags.

I woke up around 5:30 as usual to use the privy. I had only gotten up once before that at 1:30am to go pee.  I had been super cold up until then so I did 25 jumping jacks before getting back into the tent and that seemed to have done the job. After that I was comfy cozy.  I went back to sleep until almost 8am and then got up to get the fire going for the girls so they could warm up when the got up.

I put a pot of water on the fire to heat it up for hot chocolate and coffee.  Kim and Leanne got out of their tents shortly after. Everyone slept well and we were all in good spirits and the morning was just a continuation of the fun from the night before.

Leanne and I enjoyed our hot beverages while Kim got breakfast going.  Breakfast would be omelettes with the choice of mushrooms, onions, peppers and gouda cheese on a wrap or malt bread (not sure on what that is or if I got it right, but I went for the wrap).

It was delicious too!   Thanks to Kim for making breakfast. Yum Yum!

After breakfast we had the sad chore of packing up. Once we had everything ready to go, I took a quick recap clip for the youtube video and a few photos, one nice and one silly.

We got the canoes flipped over and ready to pack up and both noticed we had stowaways trying to head out with us.  I had 2 dock spiders in my canoe, and Kim and Leanne had one in theirs.  Once we got rid of them, we packed up and got ready to head out.

We had high wind gusts expected today again, but not as high as yesterdays winds. Today the forecast was 15km winds with 20km gusts, Yesterday was something like 30km winds with 46km gusts.  YIKES. No wonder we got stuck.

The sun was shining most of the way though, and that always made things better.

We paddled hard and soon we were at the portage from Sucker into Bottle.  Here the water was mirror and there was no wind, which I loved.

When we’d planned this trip, one of the first things Kim said was that she wanted to paddle the skin on frame canoe. Since the conditions here were perfect, I waited for Kim and Leanne to arrive and let her take it for a spin.  She seemed to like it but definitely wasn’t used to the canoe, just like I wasn’t when I first started paddling it.

We took a few photos and then headed down the portage to Bottle Lake all with the same thought.

How would the winds be on Bottle Lake?  It was certainly still windy but again, nothing like yesterday.

Once we got around the point we both got stuck on yesterday, the wind was almost at our backs pushing us towards the portage.  How sweet is that????

We were at the portage in not time and all of us were sad the trip was almost over.  We took our gear to our vehicles and then did the same with the canoes. We took our time loading up, still laughing, still sharing lots of stories and having so much left to talk about, but that would have to wait, until the next trip.

It was time to hit the road, so we said our goodbyes sharing long meaningful heartfelt hugs.  Maybe another trip before the end of the year?  We would see. Me love you long time.

Thanks so much for coming along on our adventure. I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.  If you have any questions, comments or just want to say hi, please leave a message.

Happy Camping!

The girls!