Financial constraints prevent me from hiking across Europe, so I've made the resolution to travel Ontario as I rehabilitate my bank account. Though I'm not much of a camper, when asked by my friend to join him on what he claimed was a relaxing camp trip, I reluctantly agreed to spend two days and one night with three friends. Fall camping is out-of-this-world beautiful, but it's also really hard for someone who's not used to camping, drastic weather changes, and a bunch of survivalist-camping enthusiasts; thus began my unique Fall camping experience at Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park!
Saturday began grey, that was the only constant through the day. We arrived to the location already drenched in rain and rented canoes from two slightly intoxicated men. We were quickly off on an hour and a half canoe ride through the scenic river of Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park, even the thick grey sky didn't diminish the beauty of bright trees and nature around us.
Though we planned meticulously for what equipment to bring, we were recklessly unprepared for the weather. It rained all day. After collecting branches under a temporarily dry sky, we returned to the site with the first trickle of a night-long downpour. In the freezing cold, we set up shelter with our now slippery tools and stiff fingers. Finally, the flimsy tarp hung precariously over a small burning stove for our soaking-wet burrito dinner, and another shielded the stubbornly dim fire. We rejoiced like cave men when the fire finally strengthened, and though our stomachs were already full of soggy burritos, we celebrated the end of a hard day with s'mores.
Sleeping (or lack of sleep) is the ugly face of camping. The four seasons sleeping bag barely worked, and my whole body shivered on the cold ground, convincing me that I had fallen asleep on an ice-block. I woke up in the middle of the night to the paranoid whispers of friends' claiming to hear a bear breathing; Needless to say, I didn't sleep.
Thankfully, the next day was spectacular and bear-free. The sun was out above the bright red trees, and the lake was mirror-still. We fished, embraced the dry day with a camp-fire dinner of chicken, potatoes, asparagus and wine. Although it was cold, there was no need for shoddy tarps. We brought our canoes out to the middle of the lake and got toasty under the bright sun.
Looking back, I had a great time. When I asked my avid-camping friend who dragged me to come along how he enjoyed it, he said it was the worst camping trip of his life. I guess it's all about perspective.