Winter at Silent Lake: revisiting our yurt stay

Winter finally showed up in Toronto late on a Monday afternoon. Its arrival was heralded by snow blobs the size of cotton balls tearing through the December twilight.  As I watched their graceful dance outside my office window, I could feel familiar longing.

“Let’s go camping this weekend,” I greeted my husband later that night.

“Where to?” he replied without missing a bit.

“Wherever there’s a yurt or cabin available.”

We didn’t hold our breaths since roofed accommodations get booked far in advance. To our surprise, we had several options to choose from. We ruled out Quetico (too far), MacGregor Point (too flat), Algonquin (we camped there a couple of weeks ago), which left Silent Lake. The next question was: a cabin or a yurt? And while we have the best memories of staying in a camp cabin in Killarney, we decided to go with a more rustic yurt, the same yurt # 5 we stayed at a few years ago. It had a wood stove, no electricity and was a walk-in – just the way we like it. That last one didn’t exactly pen out –the park roads had been cleared so we were able to drive right up to our yurt. But the rest was just as we remembered it, except for a new wood shed outside.

yurt 5 at Silent Lake Provincial Parkinside yurt 5 in Silent Lake Provincial Park

In a constant chorus of complaints about winter, I often feel like an outsider. I love winter and I love snow. That, however, wasn’t always the case. My love for winter grew out of fascination with its artistic flair and magic abilities to reinvent landscapes and brighten even the gloomiest of days. It blossomed on snow-covered trails as I ventured into slumbering woods, my steps muffled as if not to disturb their dreams.

winter forest in Silent Lake Provincial Park

Every nature outing helped turn months of misery that have to be endured into a season to love and enjoy. I embraced the crisp cold that makes the snow sing louder under my feet and stars shine brighter at night. I learned to appreciate early darkness that provides an extra excuse to huddle around the campfire and more time to play games. So as others head south to escape the cold and snow, we drive towards it, albeit slowly because winter comes with bad roads and terrible traffic.

winter forest at Silent Lake Provincial Park

That was certainly the case when we left for Silent Lake on Friday night. The drive to the park took us twice as long. The world was turning whiter and whiter as we travelled north until we finally rolled into the snow-decked park around nine.

yurt 5 in silent lake

It was freezing inside the yurt so we immediately got to chopping wood and starting the stove. An hour later all the gear was unpacked, the stove was roaring, and our abode was nice and toasty. We fell asleep watching orange reflections dancing on the yurt walls. And yes, I had to wake up three or four times during the night to add more wood. Still, I will take a wood stove with its soft glow and joyful crackling over a blaring electric heater every time.

Plus, a wood stove doubles as a cooking space so we didn’t have to run aside for every cup of coffee, which was especially appreciated in the morning.

wood stove in yurt 5 in Silent Lake Provincial Park   making eggs on a wood stove in a yurt in Silent Lake PP

coffee with shortbread

wood stove in yurt 5 in Silent Lake + french toast with jam   coffee on wood stove in yurt 5 in Silent Lake PP

We only had one full day at Silent Lake and we couldn’t wait to venture into the woods. Our snowshoes were also happy to finally hit the trails and taste some snow. Bonnie’s Pond Trail, which starts right next to the Pincer Bay campground where we stayed, seemed like an excellent choice for our outing. At three kilometres (a little longer if you count the side trail to the lookout), it is not particularly long but with snow and snowshoes on, plus all the stops to take photos, it took us over two hours.

snowshoeing on Bonnie's Pond Trail in Silent Lake Provincial Park

snowshoeing on Bonnie's Pond Trail in Silent Lake Provincial Park   snowshoeing on Bonnie's Pond Trail in Silent Lake Provincial Park

snowshoeing on Bonnie's Pond Trail in Silent Lake Provincial Park

snowshoeing on Bonnie's Pond Trail in Silent Lake Provincial Park    snowshoeing on Bonnie's Pond Trail in Silent Lake Provincial Park

snowshoeing on Bonnie's Pond Trail in Silent Lake Provincial Park

The skies were blue, the air crisp, and the snow fresh and fluffy after a snowfall the day before. Trees wrapped their white coats tightly around themselves, and lakes and ponds hid under the armour of ice. Only the bravest of streams continued their journeys uncovered, defiantly interrupting the monochromatic landscape.

winter forest at Silent Lake PP

winter forest in Silent Lake PP   winter forest in Silent Lake PP

snowshoeing on Bonnie's Pond Trail in Silent Lake Provincial Park

snowshoeing on Bonnie's Pond Trail in Silent Lake Provincial Park   snowshoeing on Bonnie's Pond Trail in Silent Lake Provincial Park

snowshoeing on Bonnie's Pond Trail in Silent Lake Provincial Park

Occasionally, the wind, or our son, would strip branches of their coverings and the gauze of their white garments would float in the air, glistening in the sun.

snowshoeing on Bonnie's Pond Trail in Silent Lake Provincial Park

snowshoeing on Bonnie's Pond Trail in Silent Lake Provincial Park

snowshoeing on Bonnie's Pond Trail in Silent Lake Provincial Park     snowshoeing on Bonnie's Pond Trail in Silent Lake Provincial Park

winter forest in Silent Lake PP

Upon our return, we chopped more wood and started a fire, this time outside because no trip is complete without a campfire even if you have a wood stove. We kept waiting for our bird friends we met during our previous stay to show up again but they seemed to be avoiding us. So eventually we retreated inside for a night of games.

warming hands in front of a campfire, site 5 in Silent Lake PP

chopping wood at site 5 in Silent Lake PP    campfire in front of yurt 5 in Silent Lake PP

butternut squash soup and campfire

playing settlers of catan in a yurt in Silent Lake    veggie burger

The next morning, we took it slow trying to store up a bit more of winter magic before heading back to the city with its traffic and grey snow. As we were about to leave, we finally got a surprise visit from chickadees. They looked happy to see us or, maybe, it was the nuts. And with that happy memory we left. Until next time.

chickadees in Silent Lake Provincial Park

chickadees in Silent Lake Provincial Park    chickadees in Silent Lake Provincial Park

chickadees in Silent Lake Provincial Park   chickadees in Silent Lake Provincial Park

chickadees in Silent Lake Provincial Park

One thought on “Winter at Silent Lake: revisiting our yurt stay

  1. Pingback: The story of Black Bear’s Den or a glamping trip to Silent Lake (plus our first attempt at a video) | Gone Camping

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