Back to Back-Part Two

So, after finishing a great trip with my brother, I came home on Monday afternoon and had a bit of a rest.  Then I got up, had a shower and sorted out my camping gear for another round of camping with my son, who was to arrive on Tuesday.

This was to be a walking/backpacking trip, but circumstances on my side persuaded me to look at alternatives to this mode of transport.  When I was camping on the island with my brother, I noticed that, far on the other side of the lake,  there were vehicles parked on a beach that I thought was only accessible by ATV.  Those vehicles could only have gotten there by road, or a reasonable facsimile thereof.

It crossed my mind that, if they could drive in there, I could drive in there also.  I started to formulate a possible alternative to walking into the bush.  If the roads were passable with a four-wheel drive vehicle, then there’s no telling how far I might be able to drive to different camping locations in the area.

I did know where those vehicle would have had to enter the forest in order to reach the point where I saw them, so that’s where the trip with my son began.  Early on Wednesday morning we headed into the bush on a road that, at first, was the same as any other dirt road you might see.  But things were to get progressively more challenging the farther into the wilderness we ventured.

At this point, I had lived in Elliot Lake for almost a year and, even though I’ve done extensive travelling in the bush since arriving, I had never come across a bear in this area.  I had seen signs of bears in the area, but I’d never encountered one.  So, what’s the first thing me and my son see when we enter the bush?  Yep, a bear.  That bear wasn’t hanging around for pictures though.  It took off as fast as it could when it saw us, and this is usually what happens in human/bear encounters.

However, had the bear not taken off, both me and my son have these kits called TrueFlare Pen Launchers.  Actually, my son had bought mine for my birthday and he bought himself one also.  These are pretty neat little gadgets and they are apparently 90-95% effective in all bear encounters.  They are very small and come with a set of 3 different colour flares and two bearbangers.  The bearbangers look something like a shotgun shell, and they sound much like a shotgun blast also.  Here’s what the kit looks like;

Here’s a bearbanger ready to fire on the pen launcher;

I would highly recommend these to anyone who does a lot of hiking in bear country.  They are very easy to carry and use and, as I’ve already mentioned, they have very good results when used properly.

Anyway, we didn’t need them this time, nor did we need them for the rest of the trip, but it was somewhat comforting to know that they were there should we need them.

After we encountered the bear, we continued on down the dirt road, which became more like a wide ATV trail.  Slowly but surely we made our way to the first beach area that I had seen from the island that me and my brother camped on during the long weekend.  The beach was deserted when we arrived, so we picked out a nice spot and set up our equipment.

One of the bonuses of bringing the truck in was that we could carry more stuff to make our stay a bit more comfortable.  Granted, we didn’t think to bring some things like lawn chairs, which would have been nice, but we did have this huge Turbo Screen Machine tent that I had purchased long ago but had never used yet.  This would prove to be our salvation from the hungry black flies and mosquitoes.  Here is our first night setup on the beach at Esten Lake;

The small tent was my son Dan’s and I slept in the Turbo Screen Machine.  Of course the bigger tent would have easily fit us both but, as with my brother, we just felt that separate tents would allow us to go to bed, or wake up whenever we wanted to without disturbing each other.

This was the first time I had ever set up the Turbo Screen Machine and, once I got used to setting it up, it did go up and take down in just a few minutes.  It’s a very nice roomy tent and the screens are so fine that they almost look like tinted windows that give a certain amount of privacy even when the inside zippered window covers are open.

Here’s a look at the beach we were on;

And a short video of our camping area;

We were alone on the beach for quite a while but later on a man and his young son arrived in a pickup truck and set up camp out of our line of sight.  This is Crown Land and certainly anyone is welcome to camp on it for free.  I was just glad it wasn’t a bunch of noisy youths, who would probably have kept us up all night with loud music and voices.  Little did I know……..

Once Foghorn Leghorn started to yell at his kid every now and then I started to think that peace and quiet was just an illusion.  Nevertheless, he was relatively quiet once the sun went down, so we were thankful for that.

Anyway, another benefit for taking the truck in here was that I could bring my inflatable kayak, and I knew that Dan would be anxious to give it a try.  I inflated the kayak and sent him on his way to the island that me and my brother had camped on.

I told him to take a nice long paddle in order to get used to how it worked.  He was gone for about two hours so I was pretty sure that he was enjoying the ride.

Here’s Dan testing out his new water wings.

I think I heard this guy laughing at him;

We had a pretty neat setup inside the big tent, with a bench and a table to cook and eat on.

Also, with all the windows in the big tent, we had a 360 degree view of what was going on around us.

We had a relatively quiet first night at Esten Lake and in the morning we packed up our stuff at a leisurely pace and headed off into the bush in search of another isolated camping spot.

The further into the bush we went, the rougher the roads became and it wasn’t long before the roads started to look more like washed out riverbeds.  Four-wheel drive is not optional in here, it’s a must.

Granted, I’ve seen some real extreme off-road four-wheeling, but if this doesn’t look all that bad, I can tell you that it’s much worse than it looks in the picture.

Sometimes it was hard to tell the difference between a road and an ATV trail.

However, we did make it to our next camp site, which was a beach on Quimby Lake.

Since we had reached Quimby Lake relatively quickly, we decided that we would continue on to see if we could make it all the way to Elliot Lake Falls.  It was a bit of a challenge to say the least, and it became obvious that some vehicles didn’t quite make it, like this one lying in the bush.

It wouldn’t have been such a concern if I was driving an old beat up Jeep, but this was my only vehicle and I needed it to stay in good shape.

With a little bit of negotiating, we did make it to Elliot Lake Falls;

We did stop, occasionally, along the road to check out some interesting features.  Here are some shots of interesting tracks we found in the sand;

This next one appeared to be a cat track, possibly a bobcat or lynx;

Dan did take some pictures of other tracks, including bear tracks, with a camera that he brought.  Unfortunately, that camera met it’s maker when it fell into the water.

We headed back to the beach at Quimby Lake for our last night of camping.

Both Dan and I took turns taking the kayak out on Quimby Lake.

The day ended with an appropriate sunset;

When we woke up in the morning, after a very windy night, it started to rain, so we packed up as quickly as we could and headed out of the bush and in to town, where we stopped at Timmies for a quick coffee and tea.

Another great trip was had and the back to back camping trips are now in the history books of blogdom.  I think that I have Dan hooked on kayaking now and he just might be back for more.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Avril Frame on June 7, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Looks like you and Dan had a great time. Great shots of Dan …….. don’t forget to put some photos of you too…… even better, both of you together!


    • Ya, we did have a pretty good time, although it wasn’t the 40km backpacking trip that we intended. Dan really enjoyed the kayaking. I’m not really much for having my picture taken but sometimes, when the mood strikes me, I might point the camera in my direction.


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