Week of ManCamping Women – Getting Lost and Making Friends
We met Nicole last year in Killarney Provincial Park, running down an 800m portage … barefoot. I spoke up to tell her how awesome that was, Nicole informed that she was barefoot because her feet were blistered. Blistered and barefoot running a portage? This girl is a perfect fit for ManCamping lol.
A story by Nicole Hughes
I’ve been on a lot of back country trips in my life and there are a few trips that stand out from the rest, one in particular that will always be a night to remember.
Every summer my friend Erin and I always take a trip up to her cottage in Kearney ON for a week, we decided to do an over night back country trip to Park side bay, Algonquin to kick off our holidays one year. What we didn’t realize is that the night we booked our site for happened to fall on the Aug long weekend… yeah well we got caught in terrible traffic and took us 5 hours to reach the park…
When we finally reached the permit office at the portage store (or P Store for short), it was about 6:30pm. We decided to go onwards with our trip anyways. (why waste more time) We hit the water by 7 and started our journey across smoke lake. Had some head winds but nothing we couldn’t handle! Anyone who has done the portage from smoke to ragged lake knows the incline that you have to carry the damn canoe up.
By the time we packed our canoe back up and headed out to ragged lake it was getting dark. Erin was up at the front of the canoe and decided to put her head lamp on meanwhile I was rummaging around in my pack looking for my trail mix cause I was starving and getting a little hangry.
We proceeded down the lake, checking our map and making sure we didn’t get turned around in the dark. After all this was our first time on this lake and didn’t know it well. We came across a family having a fire and decided to pull over and ask them if we were going the right way. Well this did not work out in our favor, the family told us to go over to the right to get to Parkside bay… when in fact we still had some ways to go before we turned right. I don’t know why we listened because were sitting in the canoe looking at the map and thinking we shouldn’t turn yet but we did anyways…
By this time its about 9:30 at night. Would you know it had to get cloudy, so we didn’t even have the moon to light up the lake. We paddled for another 20 min and decided to check the map again cause where there should be campsites… there were none, no campfires, no sounds from other campers, no nothing. It was pitch black out, so we decided to canoe about 5ft off the shore line and still could barely see anything. Canoed for a little longer just to make sure but ended up in a swamp with dead trees everywhere. I cannot tell you how creepy it looked! It got really quiet so we stopped paddling only to hear a huge splash in the water behind us! I look at Erin, Erin looks at me and we HIGH TAILED it out of there as fast as we could! At this point I’m thinking were sleeping in the canoe in the middle of the lake.
We start paddling back the way we came and noticed wayyyyy across the lake was a small flicker of a camp fire. FINALLY civilization!
Both Erin and I turn on the beacon on our head lamps to notify the people we were heading their way and were in distress. (It is now 11 at night and I’m starving and also out of trail mix) Were making our way down the lake to this campsite, we can see the people’s flashlights flicking around on their site but no one is paying attention to our distress call. When Erin and I finally reach the campsite we call out to them so they didn’t freak out to random people sneaking around their site at 11:30 at night. Turns out is a group of guys on their annual end of the summer trip. We tell them what happened and asked them if they seen our lights flashing. Well obviously these guys had been drinking and thought we were on a campsite across the lake and didn’t know how to work our flashlights……. LIKE NO it’s a distress signal.
Once that was all cleared up they invited us to share the site with them, Erin pitched the tent while I prepped our VERY late dinner. We all sat down and started talking, go figure these guys were also from Toronto. Erin and I didn’t stay up much later since we had such an exciting day.
When we woke up in the morning, we unzipped the tent only to find out we had pitched it on the side of a cliff. Good thing one of us didn’t have to go pee through the night… We packed up our gear and shared breakfast with the rest of the group and headed out on our journey.
When we started canoeing back to the portage we saw the turn off to Parkside Bay as well as an empty campsite that we could have bunkered down for the night at. Lesson learned always trust your instincts. When we reached our car we decided to make it a tradition to go back to Ragged lake every year!
Half way through the week up at Erin’s cottage, I get a call from my mom saying that my dad had bumped into some old friends, who started telling him about a couple girls who ended up on their campsite at 11:30 at night. Go figure such a small world! Will always be a trip to remember !