Massasauga solo – Feeling ill in the backcountry

Last year I went on my first solo trip in the backcountry. It was at The Massasauga and it was awesome and I have been wanting to go back.


I had every intention of spending last weekend at home.  Well my new home in Port Carling, but on Friday around 1pm, I was advised I could go home early.  So at 3pm, I decided to call it a day and packed up my camping gear.


By 5pm I was on my way to The Massasauga.  It was only a little over a half hours’ drive to the park office from my place.  SWEET!


After some very long deliberations about which site I would stay on, I finally got my permit and headed to the boat launch.  Happy camper!


The water was pretty choppy and it was really windy out. Either my boat wasn’t packed properly, or, I wasn’t quite used to it after using a different kayak at the level 1 course at the Ontario Sea Kayak Centre, my last time paddling. I was extremely nervous and careful and made it to my site fine, but I definitely need to pack my boat differently on the way out.


I arrived at site 508 on Blackstone Harbour and was very relieved I hadn’t tipped my boat.  I got to the task of unpacking and setting up and was very very  happy with my beautiful site.


As I was unpacking I was greeted by the resident beaver. So cute!

I had a few issues setting up my tent this trip.  I rarely do and am unsure why, but my friends the trees were there to help me out.  I’ve used this trick solo before and it works really well.



With my sleeping area all set up, I was ready to get my fire going so I would be able to cook my dinner.  The fire pit however, wasn’t ready for me. It was overflowing with ashes and full of tin and metal.  urg!



Good thing I brought my collapsible shovel.  I cleaned out the pit as best as I could, making sure the fire was completely out and cool and none of the embers were still warm.  I put all the tin cans and metal pieces on the side and would take them out when I left.  I don’t understand why people can’t just take their garbage out with them???    So sad.


I got a small fire going and went to get water for my filter and hung it.  Time to make dinner. I was so hungry. I brought a frozen homemade burger and it was just thawed out.  YUM!


I sat by the fire and ate my dinner as the sun started to fade.


There were lots of night noises coming from the bay, but for some reason, I wasn’t afraid.  I was very calm and at ease and I was very happy about that. You see, I, Camper Christina, am afraid of the dark.


I was rewarded at days end with a beautiful sunset and then a very full moon that cast shadows.  It was very bright out and that made me even happier!


I put my food and anything scented in my bear barrel and then locked it into the bear bin on the site.  What a great thing to have for people who don’t have bear barrels. I was surprised at how big it was also.  You could easily put a few coolers in it and still have lots of room for your pots/pans/bbq/utensils etc. Great job Massasauga!

I heard a fox scream a few times just before heading to bed and if Dympna hadn’t told me what they sound like a few weeks ago, I would’ve been incredibly freaked out. If you’ve never heard a fox scream, take a listen to the recording I made, it’s very faint but if you turn up the volume you should be able to hear it around second 3 or 4.  If not, google fox sounds and check out the video that comes up.   Pretty freaky indeed!


I got into my tent and got ready for bed. It was then that I noticed my ankle was incredibly swollen. Something had bit me in the park office and it was very very itchy and super swollen. It was also sore, like a bruise. I took an allergy pill and hoped it would go down tomorrow.  I went to bed and slept great!!



I woke up at sunrise,  grabbed my life jacket and jumped in my kayak to paddle on the mirror lake and enjoy the morning sounds of the forest.

I have been trying for years now, to record the sound of loons calling in the back country.  I have only a few videos and this may be my favorite one of all time.  There is nothing like hearing the call of the loons in the north, especially at morning light when you are the only one around and it feels like they are putting on a huge show, just for you.


I could’ve stayed out paddling around all morning but my tummy was rumbling, so I headed back to the site to make some breakfast.


After breakfast, I cleaned up, changed into my bathing suit, brushed my teeth, packed a bag for the day and then put everything else in the bear bin.  I had hung the hammock last night and was so tired, I thought a nap was in order!


Who was I kidding?  I’m not a napper and never have been. I decided to test out my new paddle float and practice wet exiting my boat, in shallow waters, of course, with life jacket, of course, and wet entry as well. I got a small air bag especially made for the hull of my boat to give it extra flotation and I wanted to see if it worked.  I am happy to report it did and I did 3 complete wet exits and wet entrys.  I was pretty tired after that, even moreso than before.  I went back to the hammock to relax for a bit and figure out the rest of my day.


My view from the hammock was pretty amazing, but, I was getting more bored by the minute, even though I was thoroughly exhausted. I decided to pack a lunch and head over to check out the portage and spend the day on Little Blackstone Lake.  It was a non motorized boat lake and the option I was debating about staying on when I arrived here yesterday. I thought without baggage, I could check out the portage just carrying my boat and my day bag and see how the sites are for future visits.


I got about halfway across the lake when the stomach cramps started.  Then came the gurgly sounds, followed by intense pain in my abdomen. Ohhhh dear! I was out in the middle of the lake, what to do?  After much deliberating, I made the choice to go back to my site. I didn’t want to risk getting ill out on the water and no matter how badly I wanted to check out Little Blackstone, I had to go back. Safety first. It was a hard paddle back and I was happy when my boat hit shore.

It was a rough afternoon. I returned to the site around 1pm. I laid down in the hammock after a long visit to the privvy. Yuck! I felt like I had been drained of all my energy.  I fell asleep for about an hour, then woke up shivering with a fever. I laid in the sun and slept until I woke up sweating, then went back to the hammock. This continued until around 4 when the sun was finally off my tent. I crawled into my sleeping bag, (it’s a -9 marmot btw, and it was like 28 degrees out?). I  took an tylenol for the fever and an allergy pill for the swelling and in case it was bug/allergy related,  and went back to sleep.

I finally woke up around 630 and still felt off, but the fever was gone.  I really don’t know what was wrong with me? If it was a reaction to the bite, maybe too much sun? bad food? But when I woke up, I felt better and was even hungry so I made my shrimp pasta, minus the shrimp, as I noticed this morning, the block of ice they were in, was already completely melted, so I definitely wasn’t eating that!


I sat by the fire enjoying my sidekicks, bacon penne with extra garlic and chunks of cheese as it was too soft to grate due to the hot temperatures outside! LOL.  I read my book for a few hours in the sunshine and just enjoyed the peace and quiet of the area. Beside the odd boat or jet ski coming from the marina through the channel next to my site,  it wasn’t crazy busy here, and I was so glad about that.


When the sun went down, I jumped in my kayak and went for a little paddle.  The moon was very bright again and I actually took a selfie without the flash.


I headed to bed really early and got a nice long nights sleep, even though I had slept most of the day. I woke up at sunrise and headed to the point to take photos of the gorgeous sky!  I was once again blessed with the loons!




I felt great and the sunrise was incredible.  I was happy I got up, but surprisingly, still tired. LOL


I headed back to my site and as it was only 630, so I decided to go back to bed.  I slept until 8 and was elated. I am not a good sleeper but it seemed I was very good at it this weekend.  When I got up at 8, I made breakfast first so my stove could cool down.  Scrambled eggs with cheese and bits of bacon and english muffins with strawberry jam! Delicious!


I packed up my site and made it look better than it did when I got there. After I carefully packed my boat, with far less in the backpack on top, I put the bag of metal cans and bits left in the firepit, onto the back of my kayak. The pieces were sharp and I didn’t want them to puncture anything. Another shot for #CleanUpOurParks !!!   I was ready to go.


It only took me 15 minutes to paddle from site 508 to the dock. Not bad at all. My boat felt far more steady and as it was only 930, the water was extremely calm.  I got back to the dock, unloaded my boat, put it on my truck and 30 minutes after setting off at my site, I was driving away from the put in. Cool beans!


Including  a brief stop on the way home for gas, I was home within about 40 minutes of leaving the park. So sweet! I successfully survived my 2 night solo back country kayak trip, even though I was ill.  Not bad, although I was still upset I didn’t get to explore Little Blackstone Lake or more of the area I was in.  Hopefully, I will be back soon to check it out!

I hope you enjoyed my post. If you have any questions or comments, please leave me a message and I’ll get back to you in between adventures.

Happy Camping!

Camper Christina





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  1. John June 28, 2016 at 10:32 pm - Reply

    Great stuff Christina! The recording of the loons is awesome. What did you use to capture the audio? I recently started using a zoom h1 recorder and it has been very handy. U should check it out if you’re interested in doing more audio recording. With all of your video clips, you should think about going into video making! It’s a lot of fun. Anyways, thanks for sharing!

    • camperchristina June 29, 2016 at 8:23 am - Reply

      Hey John! Thank you so very much for the great compliments and for checking out my post. I am still ELATED over my loon recordings. I have been trying to get those for years. I have a similar video on my bon echo post with a campfire and full 360 video of the site. It’s the closest I have to this one but very different as well. I actually use my iphone 6s. I would love to get into video making but I barely have time to breath as it is. Maybe one day! What do you make your videos with? like what programs etc? I hear vimeo is really good? TIA 🙂

  2. Jim Mouck June 29, 2016 at 7:39 am - Reply

    Excellent post Christina; your best post to date imo. You described exactly how it goes on a paddling trip for a short solo. It was like I was there also. An engaging and useful post. Tnx. Jim

    • camperchristina June 29, 2016 at 8:16 am - Reply

      WOW! thanks so much Jim!!! I appreciate your feedback more than I can say. And of course, you following my blog and reading my posts. Sometimes I feel like I should stop writing, and then I get a comment like yours and it makes it all worthwhile again. Thank you so very much! 🙂

  3. FallingDay June 29, 2016 at 7:50 am - Reply

    Gorgeous photos! I haven’t been to backcountry since I had kids over 7 years ago, and I miss it so much!!! Your photos really reminded me of everything I love about it, the beauty, the peace, the solitude.

    Back in my early 20s I spent quite a lot of time in back country. I did get sick a few times. There are two times that stand out the most. One was when I got hypothermia. Thankfully, I was not solo. Not so thankfully, I wasn’t the only one. It’s a long story, but we were at Algonquin and quite far from anywhere. We stayed put at our site, treating it as best we could (warmth, hydration, etc) and we figured either someone would come along to claim the spot and we’d have help, or we’d convalesce and build up enough strength to walk out. As it turns out, it was the latter. It took us 4 full days for everyone to regain their strength to get out (it was still a two days hike, I think it ended up taking us three).

    Another time, I was solo but on a busy trail. I was hiking the Appalachian Trail. I’d been on it for a couple of weeks already. I’d made the mistake of staying in one of those rat-infested communal camp shelters. The next day I was SO SICK. Vomitting and diarrhea, fever and weakness. Oh it was terrible and I was no where near anywhere familiar. Other hikers brought me fresh water and luckily I had enough food (not that I was eating much!). After a few horrible days, I regained enough strength to hike out and rest for a day or two in a motel in some town nearby and then replenish my supplies and get back on the trail. blargh. It’s stil miserable to think about!!

    There were other times I was less ill, sun exposure and the like. It’s always a risk when you’re far from civilization and you have to be prepared to handle it. Luckily, I’m a nurse so I have some idea, but the thought of being truly ill in back country is not a happy one. Luckily, I don’t think that happens very often. It’s usually no more than a 24 hour bug or something even more brief.

    • camperchristina June 29, 2016 at 8:21 am - Reply

      WOW! I’m pretty sure if you don’t have a blog you should start one! Thank you for the awesome comment and for sharing such incredible experiences with me and my readers! It sounds like you should get back out there and bring your kids, they would love it I’m sure. My friends have brought their kids out there since they have been little babies, next generation needs to know what is there and why and help protect it. I really hope to hear more from you and if you ever feel like getting back out there as tester, let me know, maybe we can do a small trip together as a warm up. Keep me posted! Have an amazing day and thanks again for checking out my post! 🙂 Happy backcountry camping! 🙂

      • FallingDay June 29, 2016 at 9:57 am - Reply

        I do have a blog. I sometimes write about our adventures, here’s one I wrote about our recent trip to the Bruce Penninsula:

        I take the kids camping often. This year my son is learning to kayak, so I think we will tackle a backcountry trip next summer. I’ve already scoped out some places that I think we could handle well enough! it’s been a whole new experience enjoying the outdoors with little kids. I have to say, it’s a wonder to sort of, re-experience things through their eyes. Everything is new and magical. My kids are very into nature and exploring the wilds. My son in particular (he’s just turned 7) is into it. He’s a scout and an Earth Ranger. Every year he raises money to save an endangered animal.

        I look forward to following along with some of your adventures!

        • camperchristina June 29, 2016 at 10:51 am - Reply

          WOW that is so very cool! I will definitely check out your blog. Thanks so much for sharing and feel free to send me any posts to share on my camper christina fb page as well! 🙂 There are lots of easy backcountry spots out there, this one included. I only paddled 15 minutes to my site. I would barely call it backcountry, so it would definately be a good place to start. I’m sure you have lots of ideas going through your head about where to go though! Have an amazing canada day weekend! Look forward to hearing from you again ! 🙂 (oh haha, I”ve seen that photo on your blog before, I’ve actually checked it out previously…good stuff! )

  4. Joyce June 29, 2016 at 9:02 am - Reply

    Love the pictures! This post is awesome… and I’m green with envy that you live so close to such an amazing place! That’s really neat about those food bins they put out. I bet that helps them a lot with careless campers. How far do they place them from the main area?

    So you couldn’t use your kayak for the class? I have to rent one of theirs because mine doesn’t have compartments

    • camperchristina June 29, 2016 at 9:39 am - Reply

      I was very surprised. The bear bin is actually right beside the sleeping pads, there are 3 sleeping pads. I could not use my kayak for the class as they prefer 2 bulkheads for the rescues. I did go out though and buy the flotation bag so I think it might’ve been okay to use for this weekend but with a 4 day trip (gear etc) I figured just better to use a big girl boat. Hence, why I am now on the hunt for a solo canoe. For the bigger trips. If you really want to use yours ask james if you get the bag if it will be useable, but you also need a skirt, not sure if you have one? Thanks so much for checking out the post! I’m glad you liked it and don’t be green, just come out with me next time! We can have all sorts of fun out there together! 🙂

      • Joyce June 29, 2016 at 10:08 am - Reply

        That sounds like a plan! I’d love to check out that place! That’s crazy about the food being so close to the sleeping area! I wonder if it’s ever been an issue for them…

        Yeah my kayak is totally open. But it fits a HUGE amount of gear! Oddly enough it still floats just fine lol… when I bought it they were telling me how the inner layer has all these micro air bubbles in it so it’s unsinkable. I dunno if I buy that, but I also don’t plan on testing that out!

        And no, I don’t use a skirt. Mostly because I go with my dog and he likes to stick his little head out. I just rented one of theirs thinking all the stuff would come with it. Does that mean I should get one?

        • camperchristina June 29, 2016 at 11:13 am - Reply

          Nope, they will have everything for you, but since they are travelling to do the course, maybe just let them know anything you need so they bring enough. We were provided everything needed, skirts, paddles, pfds, bailer kit, like everything. I brought my own pdf but used all of their stuff otherwise. (i don’t use a skirt either, but you need them to do some of the stuff for Level 1). I am going to get one though, after this weekend so I can roll my boat, on purpose! 🙂 it’s so small it should work amazingly well! 🙂 When is your course again?

          • Joyce June 29, 2016 at 11:25 am

            Soon! The 9th-10th! I’m excited!

          • camperchristina July 5, 2016 at 1:17 pm

            YESSSSS!!!! You are going to love it! 🙂

  5. Barb June 29, 2016 at 9:09 am - Reply

    Love the post Christina….glad everything turned out ok for you! We have canoed in spider lake before it became a park and it still is one of my favourite spots! Thanks for taking the time to posting! Love the videos..especially the loons!

    • camperchristina June 29, 2016 at 9:36 am - Reply

      thanks so much Barb! I am so happy you enjoyed it and took the time to comment! I have been told all about Spider Lake and am planning on heading there very soon! Do you have a favorite spot? Or can you recommend a good area? 🙂

  6. Barb June 29, 2016 at 12:27 pm - Reply

    When we used to go we could camp on the islands..the area around the second large island is beautiful! Because spider has long “arms” the water is usually calm.. Enjoy!

    • camperchristina July 5, 2016 at 1:17 pm - Reply

      Thanks so much Barb, for reading and for commenting. I have heard great things about Spider. I am planning to check it out sometime this summer! Hope you are having an amazing summer! 🙂

  7. danaelizabethx June 29, 2016 at 1:11 pm - Reply

    OH NO!! That stinks about getting sick while you were out there!! 🙁 I bet it was awful, but beautiful pics as usual! PS I can’t stand finding a bunch of trash at a campsite either!!

    • camperchristina July 5, 2016 at 1:16 pm - Reply

      It wasn’t amazing, but it wasn’t severely ill so it wasn’t that bad. I kinda feel like it was my body forcing me to relax. I don’t do it very often, or very well. Thanks so much for checking out my post and for commenting. Sorry for the late reply! I was packing for my trip last weekend when you commented and I didn’t want to spend too much time online while I was adventuring. Hope you are having an amazing summer so far! xo

  8. […] the same day, came face to face with a bear, learned Map & Compass 1, Solo camped (more than a few times now) and well….   93 posts worth of stuff… […]

  9. […] the water here is very very cold.  I had practiced my self rescue a few times while I was at the Massasauga   a few weeks ago and it truly helped me.   We were all told to flip over at the same time, so with […]

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