Solo Camping

I expect that, when most people go camping, they go with at least one other person. I do enjoy having someone along for company, but I also like to get out there on my own as well. It’s a much different experience, and it tends to remove all distractions from the natural world around you.

For this trip, I will be heading out on Esten Lake, to the islands near the end of the lake. I woke up at 4:30am and I looked out the bedroom window. I saw that the tree just outside my window was waving it’s arms a bit in the wind. This was not what I wanted to see. I really love going out on a paddling trip when the water is just like glass and the current wind situation was not going to allow that.

Anyway, I got up about a half-hour later and had some breakfast. After having breakfast and doing a bit of internet browsing, I looked out the window again to find that it was dead calm. The sun had not come up yet, in fact it was still quite dark outside. So, just like that I decided it was a go. I had most of my stuff in the truck already. I just had to grab my food bag and my camera equipment and off I went.

As I arrived at the boat launch area on Esten Lake, I could see that the conditions were excellent, so I unloaded the kayak, inflated it, and got all the gear in place.

I parked the truck in the parking area next to the boat launch, which is something that I’m never all that comfortable doing. ATV’er’s have access to this launch area, and they are an unpredictable breed up here. Why they do the things that they do is beyond me, but I’ve seen enough to make me wary of giving them any opportunity to unload their anger covertly, in the middle of the night.

One might think that way out here, in the middle of the bush, there’s no one around to worry about, but that’s not the case. Even though you may go through a whole day without seeing a soul, it’s just that fact that allows anyone, who may have ill intentions, to perform their mindless acts of vandalism, and make good their escape. The fact is, you could park in this area every day for a whole year and not run into any problems at all. It’s all a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, something like a game of chance.

Anyway, it is what it is. Life is not safe anywhere, whether you live in a big city with all kinds of law enforcement around, or whether you live in the middle of the wilderness, where you’re lucky to have cell phone coverage. You just make your move and you take your chances. So, off I went.

It had gotten down pretty close to the freezing point last night, so the air was quite chilly. I was dressed warmly and I brought a pair of leather gloves to keep my hands warm while paddling.

In this next video, at about the 40 sec. mark, a fish jumps right in front of the camera. It happens quickly, so you might have to double click the pause button to move ahead frame by frame, but you can actually see the fish if you do this.

I haven’t included a google map for this trip because I’ve been to this area a number of times already, so the location is familiar. I’m just trying to cut down on the page loading times, since including maps does cause a bit of a slow down.

As I was paddling along the shore of Long Island, I came across a couple of little rascals searching the shoreline for something to eat.

It’s about an hour and a half paddle from the boat launch to the area of the islands at the end of Esten Lake.

I’m heading to an island that I refer to as Second Island, because it was the second island that I explored when I first paddled Esten Lake. When I reached Second Island I made a surprise discovery. Here’s the rundown;

The destruction was unbelievable.

Anyway, like I always say, it is what it is.

I proceeded to set up camp on the island and make myself at home.

Once everything was set up, I decided to do a bit of paddling around the area.

I know that it seems that I keep harping on the ATV riders, who are the only ones that can get into a lot of these places, other than by boat, but when I see beautiful natural places senselessly destroyed, it bothers me. Here’s a prime example.

This beach was empty the last time I was here, and it could be, and was being, used by campers to enjoy the solitude of a wilderness lake. Again, this is all Crown Land around this lake, and as such, it is open to everyone for recreational use. But, when someone comes in and claims the land as their own, by putting permanent, or semi-permanent things there, it ruins it for everyone. Like I’ve said before, I’m all about live and let live, but I’m also about respecting the land, and the rights of everyone to use it in a non-destructive way. It’s sad that some people just don’t get it.

Anyway, even though these things exist in this area, once you leave them behind and get back into the wilderness, it’s once again peaceful. I paddled around the end of Esten Lake and then headed back to the island to get things set up for the evening.

I carry my music with me everywhere I go. I know it sounds loud in the video, but it’s not really that loud. I can hear everything that goes on around me as well, even birds singing along.

As you can see, I got the fire started and settled in for a nice long evening. There was lots of firewood and I did set up the fire pit on top of the hill also but, as it ended up, I only used this one, by the tent.

I was getting a bit hungry by this time, so I set about making something to eat.

One time I’ll break down and buy a nice steak and bring a bottle of wine along but for now, I’m on a hobo diet. I filled my gut and did the dishes and then settled in for an enjoyable evening.

The quiet of darkness was descending upon the wilderness.

I sat beside the campfire until around midnight. I heard one mosquito just before dark and then nothing for the rest of the night. It was fantastic. Here are some shots of the sunset.

A fitting end to a beautiful day.

Unfortunately, this was a narrow window of opportunity that would allow for only one night camping this time. Unfavorable weather was heading this way, with high winds, so I got up the next morning with the intention of beating that weather to the boat launch.

I caught this cormorant drying it’s wings in the early morning sun.

Looking back at the islands, Second Island is on the far right.

Things are changing fast around here but one thing never changes and that is the awesome and indifferent beauty of this rugged landscape. I leave you with the infamous words of Arnold, “I’ll be back!”


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