I had been to Killarney a few times and loved it there. The only issue I ever have with Killarney in the summer, is that you have to book a site 5 months in advance to get the sites on the lakes you want. This trip is actually the only one I reserved this entire year, 5 months in advance with Ontario Parks. That might help explain how important it was for me to go there this year, and also, how important it was for my friend Sam, who along with me, devised a plan way back in March to make sure this adventure took place. So even though the actual preparation started just a week before the trip, it really began about 6 months ago, and now that it finally was here, we were both super stoked!
The night before heading out, all the food that needed precooking was precooked and packed and at 7am Friday morning, we were finally on our way, both beaming that the time was finally here for our adventure!
The short 2.5 hour drive went by quickly and we found ourselves on the road to Bell Lake in no time. Sam is a tonne of fun and played along with all my crazy suggestions and came up with some of her own along the journey. Here we are acting terrified at the Beware Bear sign we came across. Fun times.
We arrived at the Bell Lake permit office and went in to get our permit. I had asked the person at the counter if I could take his photo for my blog, as I often do to the parks staff but he declined, so here is a photo of the desk without him. haha.
We made a few final adjustments to our packs, adding some last minute items and then put them on our backs and took off to the access point.
We then grabbed our awesome canoe that was rented from Killarney Outfitters. They had been wonderful and their customer service outstanding. They even called the night before the trip to confirm our arrival time and give us our canoe number and the code to unlock it. I was told, we were to contact them and my alarm had been set for am instead of pm and I totally missed it while packing the food up the night before. I was very grateful they reached out to me instead, otherwise, we might’ve been delayed quite a bit waiting to get that information in the morning, with little to no cell service. Thanks to KO for all you do and for the great lightweight user friendly canoe!
There was a tonne of people at the put in so we threw our packs and bear barrel into the canoe, and quickly took off, escaping the growing crowd and heading into our own little world of peace and serenity.
It was raining on and off at first, and then the rain and winds picked up a bit, but our spirits didn’t falter and we continued on our way towards Little Bell Lake where our first nights accommodation had been booked.
The scenery was outstanding as usual but a bit different for me as far as Killarney goes. We had mostly flat land all around us, no large white mountains to look up at, but I knew we would see those soon enough. For today, we were in a different area of the park and it was cool to see the variances we paddled through.
We were elated when we found our first portage, only 30m or so but there was a paved pathway which was easy for us to just carry the canoe over, fully loaded. What a treat and a great warm up to the portages to follow. Once over the portage we only had a small paddle to get to the next one into Little Bell Lake.
We found it easily and were both grateful to get onto it and out of the rain and winds. We had broken the portages up and I would do the 125m today into Little Bell and back out tomorrow, then do the 645m one into David Lake, and Sam would carry the canoe over the 2 portages on the way out Monday. I was happy to carry the canoe over the first real portage. It was short and fairly easy and with the canoe being so light, it wasn’t an issue at all.
Once on Little Bell our site was just a few minutes paddling to get to and we were pretty happy with our new home. Again, it was super flat and there was very little elevation in the area, but for now were content with the pretty lake we had all to ourselves for the night.
We set up camp quickly, each putting up our tents, and then putting up a tarp over the fire pit, just to have a bit of shelter from the rain which had lightened for now, but was still a threat. At least we didn’t have any thunder or lightening to contend with and I was extremely grateful for that.
Sam and I are alot alike and we both have the same mindset when it comes to setting up camp. First, you do the emergency things, get the tent up and the tarp up so you have shelter in case the weather turns, then you get all your chores done, like gathering firewood and hanging the food barrel rope. After everything has been completed, then you get to go and play.
As we gathered firewood behind the site, we noticed so many beautiful and different types of mushrooms and plants. I, of course, had to take photos and here are a few of my favorites. Some of the mushrooms are the size of baseball and some were even bigger. Sometimes crappy weather makes beautiful things!
After we gathered a sufficient amount of wood, the rain had pretty much stopped. We decided it was time to go explore our little lake and the area we were in. There was a marsh at the end of the lake and both of us were dying to see what was around the corner. As always, I hoped it was a moose or better yet… mooses! (LOL)
We grabbed our fishing rods and jumped in the canoe and took off to explore, heading towards a small channel that would possibly take us to Chain Lake. The Killarney Park map advised you could get through this area to Bell Lake in the past, but now it was not maintained and not possible if the water was low. I wanted to check it out earlier but we also didn’t want to waste time so now that we were on the other side, it was a perfect time to explore the area.
Once we paddled through the creek like area, we came to a beautiful waterfall. We docked the canoe and got out to take some photos and soak our feet.
We then continued on to Chain Lake, carrying the canoe over the small piece of land in between the 2 lakes. I had assumed since this wasn’t a high use area and there were no campsites on this lake, it might be good for fishing, so we gave it a try.
The area was extremely beautiful, but even my Mepps Black Fury couldn’t get a bite from a fish. We continued to try, catching lots of weedfish, but not much else.
We returned the canoe back on to Little Bell Lake and paddled to the other end of the lake to try and catch a fish there, but unfortunately, we didn’t come up with any. It was around 6pm and we were both getting hungry. Knowing we wouldn’t be eating fish tonight, we paddled back to our site, excited for the dinner we’d planned just in case.
On the menu tonight were Grill Em’s sausages and roasted potatoes. The potatoes had been microwaved a bit to help them cook faster and were covered in yummyness. I had made and froze some shallot butter for the wild rice used on my Canada Day Trip with The Happy Camper and put some of that on the potatoes. I also had added bacon grease from the bacon I pre cooked for this trip and some garlic and green onions. They smelled amazing! They were wrapped in a foil packet and put on a grill over the fire to cook. In the meantime, we each found a good stick and put our Grill Ems on them and into the fire, roasting them to perfection and eating them before the potatoes were done. Yup, we were very hungry!
We had a beverage and waited out the potatoes and eventually they were done and looked quite tasty. They were in fact very delicious!
We each ate our share and sat by the fire enjoying the scenery and the peacefulness of our own private lake. It had been a long day for us both getting up really early and we were ready for bed soon. We said goodnight and retreated to our tents to sleep while the rain fell once again, making for a good nights rest.
I woke up around 5:30 to light rain. I was planning on going back to bed for a bit, but then heard Sam up already so I decided to stay up and start packing. We each packed up our sleeping area, clothing and our tents and then I made us a nice breakfast consisting of fried eggs, bacon and cheese on a toasted (fried) english muffin. They were delicious and once we finished eating, we cleaned up the rest of our site and got ready for our day heading to David Lake.
We arrived at the portage once again and went over it fairly quickly, both a bit anxious for the next one which was almost 700 metres. It would be the longest portage I’ve done carrying the canoe myself.
But first, we paddled through some really pretty areas with mirror water and brilliant green lily pads. We took our time enjoying it and appreciating the images the gloomy morning presented to us.
Eventually, we arrived at the portage to David Lake which looked like fun! We unloaded the canoe and pulled it up onto shore checking out the muddy, rocky terrain we would have to cross to get to the other side and onto David Lake. This would be fun, right?
We took our time and headed up the boulders and rocks and through the mud to the other side. We decided on doing a piggyback, and first took the canoe and the bear barrel as far as we were physically able to. This thankfully ended up being about halfway. Then we returned back to the start and got our backpacks and took them all the way to the other side of the portage which took us about 15 minutes. Not bad for a few rookies.
We then returned back to where the canoe and barrel were waiting for us to go on the second half of their journey. I was happy to be done once we were and was actually surprised at how smoothly we accomplished our task. I was pleased as punch and Sam seemed pretty elated as well! We high fived and got ready to set out onto David Lake. The sun had also come out and we could now see the mountains from the David Lake side of the portage. Goodbye plains, hello mountains!!!
We had some salami wraps with cheese while we paddled through David. We ended up paddling around the entire lake looking for a site and were coming up with nothing. Every site we passed in the main part of the lake was already taken and even though it was still fairly early in the day, we were starting to wonder if we’d have to paddle back to the few open sites we saw back near the portage. We paddled across the lake to a site we hoped was open and we were both ecstatic to find out it was and it was absolutely gorgeous!
The hill the site was up was a bit steep and we climbed it eagerly, hoping to see a lovely campsite. When we reached the top we were so happy at what we saw. We scored such an awesome site and all the work we did to get here had been totally worth it. Not only did we have a great site on top of a high cliff, but right across from us we had a view of Silver Peak, which we would climb tomorrow. It was a bit of a task to get our gear up the big hill, as we were a bit pooched, but once we were up there, we couldn’t have been happier.
After we set up camp we went for a refreshing swim. The sun was out now for the most part and it was a lovely summer day. I was very pleased we had gotten this site and we greatly enjoyed our view of Silver Peak especially, knowing we would be up there the next day. Doesn’t get much better!
We did a slow motion hair flip video in honor of Sean and Derek from Paddling Adventures Radio, a flashback from our day paddle at QEII where Sean had Derek and I do a similar video. We dried off while sitting on the rocks in the sun and eventually headed back up to our site to get a fire going and to make dinner.
Day 2’s dinner consisted of pizzas. Todays toppings were pesto, basil, bacon, artichoke hearts and tomatoes. We rehydrated the dehydrated ingredients and then got to work making our own pizzas topped just how we wanted them.
The pizzas were spectacular and we ate hungrily after our long full day. Sam got a great fire going and after our meal we went for a walk to find the perfect tree to use to hang our bear barrel.
Once our food was secure we got into the canoe, once more, to head around the point so we could view the sunset. I had a feeling it would be amazing and I was right, but it was even more amazing that I could’ve imagined.
The sun looked like an reddish orange ball just glowing in the sky. It was really cool and something I had never seen before. We had to paddle pretty hard to make it to where we could view it before it went down, but it was definitely worth using up our last bit of energy. We sat staring at the sky in amazement and listening to the loons and peace and quiet, surprised no one else was out on the water witnessing this gorgeous occurrence.
After the show ended we slowly paddled back to our site. We sat and enjoyed the view and the campfire and chatted about our wonderful day and our adventure so far. Soon it was time to say goodnight and head to our tents for a long rest, one we both needed.
Please check back next week for Part 2 of our trip to Killarney, covering days 3 and 4, including our fantastic hike up to Silver Peak.
Thanks so much for checking out my post. If you have any questions, comments or just want to say hi, please leave a message and I will reply as soon as I am able to.
If you’d like to check out the video for day 1 and 2 of my trip, click here. This is an unlisted link that you can only view through here until Thursday when it becomes public. Hope you enjoy it!