Isn’t it next to impossible to not enjoy camping? It’s something I’ve enjoyed since I was a youngster in Scouts, cramming 4 of us into a 4-person tent (whoever makes those ratings must be tiny!). While I don’t get a chance to do it maybe as often as I’d like, I try to have some sort of camping experience at least once a year. Whether that means going to a provincial park and being in the woods for a couple days or going to music festivals and sleeping in a tent for a couple days, it’s all good to me.
Ever since I bought my camper van, The Patchbus, I’ve had even more desire to go camping… Although some people would sooner refer to that as “glamping,” and that’s fine. But I mean who wouldn’t want to use what’s essentially a tiny house on wheels with its own engine?!
So when I got a couple days off this past week, I packed up the Patchbus and hit the road.
It was a last-minute decision on where I’d be going, and I made the reservation for the campsite only a couple hours before showing up. I wanted to go to a park I hadn’t visited before, and everyone raves about Algonquin Provincial Park, so I figured now was as good a time as any to find out what the hype is all about.
— Ken Elrick II (@DrPatchbeard) August 11, 2015
I passed through a few rainy spots on the way there, but by the time I got into the park, the sun was back out and I was greeted with a rainbow! Off to a great start!
Though when I pulled into my campsite at Canisbay Lake and got the Patchbus into camping mode, it was getting too dark to do too much other than get started on dinner. So I got my grill going and cooked up some burgers that ended up keeping me fed for a good chunk of the time I was there, since I was alone.
The next morning, I decided to snap a couple shots of my home away from home.
The inside of the Patchbus is actually really comfy when it’s in camper mode. There’s curtains all around to give you some privacy and shade from the sun, and the bed is… well as far as van beds go, it’s pretty nice.
And the front of the van turns into a storage area, with a table that I like to set up my non-cooler food on. And of course I’ve got a boom box for the tunage.
Going into the park, I thought “This is awesome, maybe I’ll see some cool wildlife like a bear or a moose!” Well, I didn’t see either of those, but I DID encounter a rather ballsy chipmunk.
After eating some breakfast, I grabbed one of my chairs and walked down to the beach at Canisbay Lake… and it was gorgeous. Just a heads-up, I’m going to have a number of panoramic photos in this post, so if you want to see the full-scale high-res versions of any of them (and it’s worth it), just click on them. Here’s Canisbay Lake beach:
After that, I set out to complete my day’s goal of exploring at least one of the bike trails in the park. I got the bike all set to go, and headed out onto Highway 60. I had forgotten to pack my helmet, so going down a hill on the highway was both exhilarating and just a little bit scary. It had been since last summer that I’d gone out on my bike, but something didn’t feel quite right. Less than a kilometre away from the Canisbay Lake campground entrance, I heard a pop, then a whoosh… and I started slowing down. Yep, I knew something would happen. Turns out my rear tire couldn’t handle it anymore, and went ahead and blew out on me. So this photo about sums up my biking adventures:
As soon as I got back to my site, I started looking for the listings of outfitter stores inside the park, and the Lake of Two Rivers store offered bike rentals, so I figured they’d have to stock bike tire tubes, right? RIGHT?! But in order to get there and still have time to hit the trails, I’d have to convert the Patchbus back into driving mode (and back into camper mode again after the fact), and I just wasn’t feeling that motivated. So instead, I looked at it as an opportunity to crack open a beer. That, and get a fire going to roast some corn and a potato on.
And I got my BBQ going again too, to cook some sausages.
Really, I just like fire a lot. And for that reason, I’m so grateful that the park sold me a couple bags of straight birch wood that burned quite nicely. It totally made up for the time at Silent Lake last year where I bought two bags of wood that turned out to be wet and wouldn’t burn at all. This stuff burned real nice.
In case you’re wondering, the corn turned out really well.
And most of the rest of the night was spent sitting by the fire, listening to some tunes, and occasionally cracking a fresh beer. Relaxing, to say the least. It would have been prime time viewing for the Perseids meteor shower, and I had planned to go down to the beach once again to watch there (which really would have been perfect)… But I went to bed instead, like a chump.
To be fair, I had to get rested up, because my plan for the next day was to hike a number of the interpretive trails inside the park. I wasn’t going to do the more demanding and time-consuming ones, because I wanted to get some variety. So I stuck to the shorter loops. Here’s what I saw on each:
Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail
Big Pines Trail
The Lookout Trail
When you first enter the trail, you encounter a giant boulder that the trail guide refers to as a “pebble.” I decided to snap a selfie in front of it.
And then, the actual Lookout from the trail’s name.
After hiking a few trails, I decided to stop and have something to eat and cool down by taking a dip in a lake. East Beach is on the east side of Lake of Two Rivers, and it’s awesome. It was while sitting in the water here that I thought to myself “I could just spend the rest of my life here and it would be great.”
Two Rivers Trail
After a little relaxing time, it was time to get hiking again. I had three more trails I wanted to do, and not a ton of time before I’d be out of daylight.
I had spotted a little area where you can pull off Highway 60 at Smoke Lake and go out onto some rocks that jut out into the lake. It was too perfect to not take a couple photos.
Hardwood Lookout Trail
Okay, I dropped the ball here. I didn’t really take any photos, I was more focused on just booking it through the trail. I more than made up for it with the next trail, however.
Whiskey Rapids Trail
Huge kudos to the people who hauled all the wood for this bridge and the numerous others into the back country and built it all.
And also on that trail, I found numerous instances of this particular sign. I kinda wondered if the park staff knew that in posting these signs, they’re giving people ideas they may not have had otherwise. I mean, I probably wouldn’t have even considered throwing a stone into the canoe channel until I saw this. I didn’t do it, but I’d bet there’s people who would see that and say “eff you sign!” and do it anyway.
And, well, that just about wraps up my adventure. After finishing this trail, I hopped back into the Patchbus and set sail for home.
You know, I get it. I totally understand why people love Algonquin Park now. I’ll be back, just not soon enough. And one day, I hope to explore some of the back country of the park.
Have you had great experiences at Algonquin Park or any other provincial park? Tell me about it in the comments!