The Massasauga – Port Rawson Bay – Kayak Camping

After completing my 4 day solo in Algonquin just two weeks before and spending Labor Day with my friend Sue in Haliburton for her 40th birthday,  I knew I should take the weekend off to rest and get some things done at home, but I didn’t want to.  You see, I am addicted to camping and being outside and exploring new places and I just can’t seem to stop, even when I know I should take care of other things, I head out to camp.

Especially when the weather is beautiful, like it has been the last few months, I can’t seem to stop myself.  With little planning and barely any time spent in my kayak this summer, I decided to do a trip to the Massasauga and explore and area I’d never been to.

Leaving from Pete’s Place is a dream for me. It’s a 30 minute drive from my house and I can wake up, not before dawn, take my time and get to the office when it opens without issue.  By 9am, I was unloaded, kayak packed and on the water, heading towards Port Rawson Bay.  I was excited and happy to be back in my kayak and even with a slight wind, had no concerns as my kayak is friends with the wind and doesn’t have too many issues with it.

The paddle in was fairly quiet.  Around 9:30 I passed some jetski’s and speedboats whipping by but after that, I didn’t see many which made me happy.  I checked out the sights along the way, admiring the scenery, rocks and cottages.

It was sad to see, but some of the leaves had begun to start changing colors.  I am one to hang on to summer until the last minute and even sometimes past that.  Last year, I remember swimming in Georgian Bay at the end of September.  To me, September is the new August and summer lasts until you can’t swim any longer without your teeth chattering.

The sun was shining and it was warm. The wind was very strong in places but mostly left me alone.  By 10:00am I had made it a good distance towards my site and believed it wouldn’t take me more than another hour to get there.

By 10:45 I passed a sign that welcomed me into Port Rawson Bay which is where my site was located.  I saw the site from across the bay and instantly did not like it. I”m not sure why exactly? I couldn’t see it that well, but from what I could see, it wasn’t anything like the photos online and I paddled into the bay hoping I was mistake and my site was in the nice calm, quiet serene bay.

I was wrong though, it was my site and when I paddled up to it, I still disliked it.  Again, I don’t know why but I did.  I called the park office to see if I could take another site I had passed that I really liked but was told it was booked.  I was given 2 other options and I also knew that there was another site open which I had debated booking over this one but as someone had it booked Friday night, I didn’t want to take it so I could head in early in the day.  I lost signal but decided to paddle to the other sites that were open to see what they were like.  This took me almost 2 hours to paddle against the wind, find the sites, see that they were not even close to as nice as the one I’d booked and return.   The one I debated on taking that was booked, wasn’t that amazing either and the people were still there when I went by so I headed back to my original site.

I parked my kayak and began to explore the site and actually really really liked it.  I don’t know why my first impression of it was so bad, but I was totally wrong and it was a great site, especially compared to the other options I was given.  I lost 2 hours of my day and was a bit angry with myself but I couldn’t do anything to change that now.  I was amused when I went to find the privy, finding, not only a privy, but an outhouse.  I have seen only a handful of these in my backcountry trips and although I had no intentions of using it, it was cool to see it still standing there.

I set up my tent down on the rocks to take some nice photos of the tent and my kayak and gear. A friend is publishing an online book and had asked to use some of my photos, possibly, so I staged a bunch and spent about an hour getting them just right.

Even though the temperature online said it was only 16 degrees, on the site I was on, with the sun coming directly onto it and it being totally sheltered from the wind, it was hot.  Like, I was dying, sweating, needed to go swimming hot and I am not one to just swim whenever. I need to be really hot to go into the water and I was, so, I did right after I ate my lunch.

I hung my hammock and spent the afternoon reading and relaxing, sitting in the sunshine and enjoying the amazing weather.  From what I could tell, there was a fishing spot right in front and to the right of the site, as boat after boat would arrive, stay for about 20 minutes to fish and then head out.   I was curious to see what all the hub bub was about and since I had brought pizza for dinner, I could easily switch that to fish and take the pizza ingredients back home, so I headed out to try my luck.

I fished for about 2 hours and didn’t get so much as a nibble, even though, the boat that was at “the spot” before me caught 2 fish there.  I guess I was just not a lucky fisherperson? I don’t know?  I tried worms, several different lures including 2 of my favorite Mepps but nothing.  So I got frustrated and gave up. I also got very, very cold.  Apparently, my site was really hot but just in front of it and on the water where the wind touched, was not.

The sun began to drop in the sky so I decided I would make my pizza.  The pita I had brought was very small so I also brought a wrap that I would fold in half and attempt a pizza on it.

 

I sat at my luxurious picnic table and prepared the pizzas. I put pesto on the pita and wrap first, then the cheese, and then the toppings which I’d added water to about 20 minutes before I started so they would be rehydrated.

I put a bit of oil in the frying pan and cooked them very quickly and then ate.  I was so wrong about the pita being too small. It was actually perfect with all the toppings and I was so stuffed when I finished it, I only ate half of the wrap pizza and then put the other half in the bag to take out as trash. I just couldn’t fit another bite. I was upset about it also because the pizza on the wrap was amazing.  Somehow because it was two thin layers, they cooked differently and it takes almost like a  pastry crust, very light and flaky, making it extra delicious, but regardless, I couldn’t eat it all.

I read some more and relaxed in my hammock watching the sun go down.  The sunsets at the Massasauga are almost always beautiful and mcuh like the ones I see when I’m on Georgian Bay.  Sadly, I have not made it out to Georgian Bay this year and almost switched this weekend to go out there, but they winds on the bay were forecast to be up to 38km gusts and being solo on the bay in winds like that, was not something I wanted to battle.

The sunset was gorgeous and I took lots of photos because it was so pretty.

Eventually I got a small fire going and sat and enjoyed the beauty of it with the colorful sky.  I was so glad I’d come and very much enjoyed the area, except for the constant visits from the speed boats, fishing in front of my site, one after the other until well after dark. I counted 8 in total from 2pm until 8:30pm. Some were quiet and others were very loud, boat stereo going and loud talking from the people on it.  It was getting really annoying and it was making me a bit sour, especially when the boats would drift right in front of my site, like 30 feet out and it was like they were camping on the site with me.  Being alone and having a boat full of 4 men fishing that close unnerved me. It was barely ever nature that I was worried about when I backcountry camped, but situations like this, that freaked me out more than anything else.

When it was dark, everyone had finally zoomed away and I was left alone, in peace on my site.  I sat by the fire for quite some time, just enjoying the solitude I’d finally gotten and listening to the odd loon call here and there, echoing across the water.

Eventually I headed to bed and got a good nights rest.  I was expecting to be cold as it was forecast to drop to 5 degrees, but I wasn’t chilly at all through the night.

I woke up at 6:10 and it was still very very dark out so I went back to sleep.  At 7:15 I got up to a nice sunny day and decided to try my luck at fishing again. I could either eat it for lunch, or take it home and have it for supper later.

I caught the sunrise.

But nothing else. LOL.

Around 8:30 I headed back to my site, fishless.  Again, not one single bite or nibble. I was pretty disappointed but not much I could do about it.  Since it was still chilly out and my site was in the shade, I decided I would go back to bed for a bit. It was Sunday afterall. LOL.  This is when i got really really cold. Not sure if I had gotten some of the dampness from the morning fog on me, or what had happened but I put on my toque, pulled the sleeping bag over my head and did my best to warm up during my morning nap.

I got back up around 11, totally starving. I usually ate breakfast every day around 6:45am and it was way past that.  I went and took my Ursack down from the tree it was hanging in and got breakfast started.

Todays breakfast would be a cheese and bacon omelette with english muffins slathered in strawberry jam and a hot chocolate with Baileys. YUM.

It turned out great and was delicious. I sat warming up and enjoying every sip and every bite.

I took my time getting ready for the day, packing up and loading the kayak.  Eventually, I began my way back to the takeout. The sky was overcast and it was a bit windy again, just in some places, but overall it wasn’t too bad.

The paddle was fairly uneventful except for the last 45 minutes or so.  I encountered speedboat after speedboat flying by me. The water was rough in spots and the wake they left was a bit challenging but nothing I could handle.  When I was going through the narrows, though, as I call it, from Woods Bay back into Blackstone harbor is when I started getting really upset.  Three boats came all together, each fully loaded with coolers and gear.  The sped right through the narrow passageway, not slowing down at all and making huge waves pushing me right into the rocks along the side of the passageway.  Now, I consider myself an experienced paddler and handled it accordingly, however, I see many people here that are not and I was angry for them, as well as myself.  There is absolutely no need to act like that and be so disrespectful of paddlers when travelling through such a small area.  None at all.  I was pissed.

I had boat after boat pass me during my paddle through Woods Bay and Blackstone harbor and only one person waved a kind hello and slowed down.  Not that I need them to do so, but it is generally what happens when you are out on the water in the North, in my experience.  People are usually kind and give a wave and a smile to each other on the water, but that’s not what I saw. What I was experiencing did not make me happy and honestly I could not wait to be at my car and on my way home from here.  I felt like I was an intruder and not welcome and it is a feeling that will take a while to forget.  Maybe the remote canoe trips that I’ve been doing most of the summer have spoiled me and I just need to continue with those? For now, that would be the plan.  The further I could get in and away from the hustle and bustle of others, the better.

I hope you enjoyed my post and you check back next week for 5 day trip to Temagami.  If you have any questions, comments or just want to say hi, please leave a message.

Happy Paddling!

Camper Christina

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4 Comments

  1. Greg Schuler October 18, 2018 at 8:15 pm - Reply

    too bad the motor boats made for a bad trip. I have been canoeing for years, lately in the Adirondacks. I try to aim for the lakes with motor restrictions. Much better that way. Try the Adirondacks sometime. I could give you some suggestions. Enjoy your youtube videos a lot! Keep on trippin!!

    • Christina October 22, 2018 at 10:16 am - Reply

      Thanks Greg. That’s a bit far for me, especially when I have Algonquin Park, Killarney, Killbear, Massasauga, Georgian Bay etc all within a few hours reach from my front door. I have done many remote canoe trips here recently which is why I believe I was so angered by the motor boats. I have spoiled myself portaging into lakes that don’t have them and kayaking now is more challenging to me as the areas are not as remote or motor boat free. I would love to do an Adirondack trip, but I don’t get much vacation time unfortunately, so I generally trip within a few hours radius. Now that I live up north, that give me a huge selection. But maybe one day I will get there. Thanks for the offer and I greatly appreciate you checking out my post and my youtube videos. I am so glad you are enjoying my work. Happy tripping! 🙂

  2. Marissa October 22, 2018 at 3:03 pm - Reply

    We had a very similar experience canoe camping at the Massasauga for the first time this past summer! There are just way too many motor boats in that area and most don’t seem to care to slow down for canoeists or kayakers. The huge yachts make big waves (especially when they are towing dinghies behind) even when they are going slow. And we found that even the mid-size boats that would slow down for us would do so way too late to actually save us from having to deal with their wake. It was tough navigating the waves with three people in a fully loaded canoe. We also made the mistake of booking one of our sites on a bay where the yachts could moor. The sound of people partying travelled all the way down the lake until quite late at night! Lovely area, but if we ever return we will definitely try to book on a non-motor boat lake.

    • Christina October 23, 2018 at 10:29 am - Reply

      Hey marissa! I’m sorry to hear about your experience there. I have camped a few times on lakes that you have to portage into and they are all awesome. A few you can hear the boats a tiny bit in the distance but otherwise, nice and quiet most of the time. Hopefully, your next trip will be much better, as will mine. 🙂 Thanks so much for checking out my post and taking the time to comment. I really appreciate it! Cheers!

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