Seems a long time ago this. My step-daughter, Abi, was only about 9 or 10 years old and we took her over to Ontario for the summer holidays. We spent some time with my parents – who lived in a town called Dunnville at the time – but just couldn’t resist getting out into the outdoors for a short backpacking trip as well.
Abi had done loads of day walks with us in the UK, but never any overnighters, so as this was going to be her first one we made sure it was both easy and only for one night.
She had to carry her ‘fair share’ of gear mind – although of course we were very kind to her and did in fact carry all the heavy stuff ourselves – including a three-man tent. Abi definitely wanted to be snuggled inbetween us overnight in bear country – not on her own!
There are no great mountains in Ontario but miles and miles of rolling, tree-covered hills and Algonquin Park was only about a half day’s drive from my parent’s house, so seemed like a reasonable place to go.
The park is mainly known as a canoe packing place with over 1600km of canoe ‘routes’, but also has several backpacking and day walk trails.
It’s also know as a haven for a thriving wolf population and many people go out hiking to try and ‘howl’ with the packs on an evening.
Anyway, for our little trip, we chose to do a short section of what is known as the Highland Backpacking Trail.
This route took in a circuit of Provoking Lake, although views of the lake were infrequent through the density of the trees.
Being the middle of August, the weather was not only decidedly hot, but also incredibly humid. Black flies – Canada’s equivalent of the dreaded midge – abounded and munched on us ceaselessly as we wended our way.
We walked about eleven hot kilometres on that first day. To be fair, Abi never moaned at all, but just kept trudging wearily along.
I have to say that even to us it seemed like an eternity before we spotted the wild ‘campsite’ where we planned to spend the night.
It was a lovely spot though, right on the shore of the lake and we soon got the tent up and started preparing a meal.
There was even a private toilet for the site!
And as the evening wore on and everything cooled down a touch, the spot took on a very atmospheric feel.
We even tried howling for wolves – but none answered.
We all had a peaceful night, no bears disturbed our sleep and the next day dawned bright and cool.
After breakfast, we packed up and set off on the 7km back to where we’d parked the car.
Every so often, our path would cross with a canoe portage trail.
The walking this day did end up more pleasant than the previous one, as it was still lovely and sunny but a touch less hot and a lot less humid.
And once again – though I’m not entirely convinced that she was totally enamoured with the idea of backpacking – Abi gamely plodded on without a single winge.
But I do believe, that she was secretly quite pleased to get back to the car……..