Friday, August 29, 2014

CANOEING AND CAMPING IN RESTOULE PROVINCIAL PARK IN ONTARIO, SEPTEMBER, 2013



Paddling in Restoule Provincial Park

When in 1999 my friend and I wanted to go camping in September, we ‘discovered’ this not-so-well known park, located south of Nipissing Lake. Although the park’s campsites did not offer as much privacy as those in some other parks, it did not bother us: there were not any other campers around us and we hardly saw anyone else—most of the campers were staying at the hydro section of the park, and most, if not all of them, had trailers or RVs. Unfortunately, the next day the temperature drastically dropped, it was raining and we saw frost in the morning. Since we were not prepared for such adverse weather, after a few nights in the park we packed up and rented a cottage in the area. Nevertheless we did like the park and returned to it the next year, as well as in 2011—each time in September, so that we could enjoy the solitude and the wonderful fall colours. We always stayed on drive-in campsites, not realizing that there were a number of interior campsites as well. In 2011 we saw one of them; I liked it and I hoped to stay there in the future.

At our campsite between two lakes at Restoule Provincial Park

Thus, two years later, Catherine (who had never visited the park) and I decided to go to this park, also in September. According to weather forecast, the next 6 days were supposed to be warm (at least during the day) and sunny, so it did not take much convincing us to visit this park.

We left Toronto on September 23, 2013. On the road to the park office we saw a number of relatively tame deer. As we expected, there were not any other people occupying interior campsite, so we hoped to get the campsite straddled between two lakes. It took us about 15 minutes of paddling from the parking lot to reach this campsite, which was vacant and absolutely beautiful. We could see the sunset (and the parked car which was about 1 km away), there was a small beach and another lake, full of beaver lodges. There was a beaver lodge between the main lake and the small lake; I suspected that at one point the smaller lake was just a bay of the bigger lake, but when the beavers created this huge dam, they also gave rise to another lake.

Morning mist
I quickly set up the tent and started a fire which was a very good idea: the temperature dropped significantly after sunset and it was cold; we stayed as close to the fire as possible, eating delicious grilled ribs. We went to the tent at 11 pm, putting on extra sweaters and socks. The temperature was below freezing at night since we saw frost in the morning. Nevertheless, as long as it was warm, dry and sunny during the day (and it was), we did not complain: we had several very warm sleeping bags and were not bothered by the cold at night. Besides, there were no mosquitos whatsoever and this was the real advantage of camping in the fall!

We counted 7 beaver lodges on this small lake

Next day we were up at 7:00 am; we put on our winter clothes, carried the canoe for about 25 meters and launched it on the smaller lake. Due to the cold there was thick mist rising from the water and we spent over 2 hours paddling on the lake, enjoying it very much! Soon, the sun was up and it was getting warmer, yet the mist enveloped the whole lake all this time. We saw about 7 beaver lodges (but not beavers) and I took plenty of photos and videos. Before 10:00 we were back at the campsite and took a nap. Later we just relaxed, read several recent issued of “The Economist” and just wandered about the campsite. I listened to the news; the hostage crisis in Kenya just ended.

Morning on Stormy Lake

The next day we paddled in the morning on Stormy Lake. There was plenty of mist rising off the water surface, sometimes it looked as if a volcano suddenly erupted in the middle of the lake! We paddled around islands, some with cottages, but we did not see many boats. Well, there were some fishermen on the lake, but I did not think they were very successful in their endeavours.

Stormy Lake in the Morning
In the afternoon we went into the town of Restoule. The ice cream parlor was closed, but the general store was open and it even had an LCBO outlet. In the evening we again paddled on the Restoule River, had to do an easy lift over and reached Restoule Lake—nobody else was around and we absolutely loved the serenity and solitude!

Ghosts... 
There was an excellent sandy beach near our campsite—we canoed there (for 20 meters) and then could sunbath and swim in the lake. There were water snakes and apparently they were attracted by our swimming—at one point I noticed a big water snake swimming just a meter from me. Once it realized I was not a fish, it swam away. We also loved paddling in the evening and in order to find out way back to the campsite (we were often coming back in total darkness), we left a blinking flashlight attached to a tree, which was visible from at least 2 km—it acted as our ‘lighthouse’. While paddling in the evening, we saw a bunch of guys on another interior campsite and checked a number of other campsites. Overall, it was a very nice area; most of all, we enjoyed the fact there were very few motorboats.

At our campsite
On September 28, 2013, we packed up, paddled to the van and drove to the town of Restoule, where we visited the ice cream parlor. Inside, there were plenty of very interesting photographs and information of Restoule’s history and the owner was quite knowledgeable on the town’s past. Catherine had ice cream and I ordered French fries. We also visited the local garbage dump, hoping to see a bear or two, but did not see any. Then we drove to Powassan, did shopping at the local grocery store and headed back to Toronto.

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