Some camping trips are filled with a lot of activities, while others are for relaxing and taking things slowly. Our camping trip this past weekend was of the latter kind: relaxing, slow-paced, with good friends, delicious food, beautiful music and interesting conversations.
We headed to Silent Lake Provincial Park near Bancroft in Eastern Ontario. This park is named after a beautiful, placid lake with a rocky shoreline typical of the Canadian Shield region.
The park has no shortage of activities. For instance, there are over 19 kilometres of hiking trails. The longest trail, Lakeshore Hiking Trail, follows Silent Lake shoreline and is 15 km long. There is also a mountain biking trail that features three different loops: 6, 12 and 19 km. Canoeing is another popular activity in the park. Befitting its name, the lake is indeed very calm and quiet (no motor boats are allowed) and offers excellent, relaxing paddling. And, of course, no summer camping is complete without swimming, and for that there are two beaches in the park.
For our trip, we booked one of the walk-in sites at the Pincer Bay campground. Walk-in sites offer a great compromise between car camping and backcountry. For relatively little effort, we were able to get away from cars and noise and get the feeling of remoteness and quiet I was craving in the city. Our site, #77, was less than a five-minute walk from the parking lot. It was pretty big but a bit uneven with a slight slope and some rocks and roots. We still managed to find space for all our tents. Food storage building was a short walk away so we didn’t have to carry our food back to the car every time we left the site or before going to bed. The best part was the lake that was visible through the trees just down the hill so sunsets and swimming were always within reach.
We arrived late on Friday night. Carrying all our stuff from the car to the site and setting up in the dark wasn’t too much fun but we managed to do it fairly quickly and were soon snuggled up in our tents listening to the calls of the loons. The next morning, I woke up early to take pictures of the sunrise as I always do on my birthday. Unfortunately, the sky was overcast and no sun was anywhere to be seen. I still got out of the tent and headed to the lake. After all, this tradition is about more than just a pretty picture. It’s about finding time to think about the year that has passed and make wishes/plans for the next one. And there is no better time for it than the dawn when everyone is still asleep and the world belongs to me alone.
After the photo session, I returned to our cozy tent to get a bit more sleep and woke up two hours later to our son’s usual “I am hungry” refrain. Soon everybody else started trickling out of their tents, some in search of food like our son, some heading for the bathroom but mostly craving coffee. After a long, leisurely breakfast and multiple cups of coffee (camping coffee is the best), we decided to hike part of the Lakeshore Trail.
To be honest, it was more of a walk in the woods than a hike with frequent stops to take in the view, bathe in the smell of the forest, splash in the water, pose for pictures or even work on the Rubik’s Cube.
Needless to say, we didn’t get very far. More friends were joining us later in the afternoon so we retraced our steps back to our campsite. The rest of the day was spent making and eating great food, taking dips in the lake, relaxing in the hammock, playing the guitar, singing and talking.
We capped the day with a spectacular sunset.
That night, we fell asleep to the patter of rain on the tent roof.
Luckily, the rain stopped by morning and didn’t start again until we hit the road allowing us to pack and go for a long swim in the lake.
On the way home, we stopped at Jeff Purvey’s in Peterborough for some fish and chips. The group consensus was that the food was pretty good, and the nautical decor with a large mural on the wall was, surprisingly, a focal point of our conversation.
All in all, it was a fantastic trip and a great birthday celebration, one the best thanks to the amazing company and the beautiful place that is Silent Lake Provincial Park.
*As I was going through pictures for this post, I realized that I wasn’t in any of them. As always, in my pursuit to capture nature and other people, I forgot to include myself in at least one of the shots. So my friend sent me a picture she took. Here is the proof that I actually was there.