Sunday, September 19, 2010

Rowing on the Lakes of Canada: 2008 trip to Killarney Provincial Park, Part I.

Common Loon, Killarney

Common Loon

In an effort to catch up on unblogged portions of my lifei, we're revving up the Wayback Machine once more. In September of 2008 my wife and I joined our newly Canadian friends Seth and Nina for a trip up to Killarney Provincial Park, on Georgian Bay in Ontario. True to typical fashion, I have finally forced myself to sort through and edit my pictures.

After jetting up to Buffalo, we drove over the border to Guelph and environs. Having not been back to Canada since 9/11, I was a bit surprised at the tighter border securityii. But after a bit of a wait, we stopped in Guelph for some fantastic ice cream and then drove up to stay the night at Seth and Nina's new place.

Manitoulin Island FerryManitoulin Island FerryManitoulin Island FerryManitoulin Island FerryGeorgian Bay IslandManitoulin Island Ferry

In order from top; Manitoulin Island Ferry, Open Maw of the Ferry, Ship Monolith, Me Relaxing on Deck, Island in the Bay, Passenger Sleeping.

The next morning, after some minor car rental issuesiii, we booked north up the Bruce Peninsula to catch the Ferry to Manitoulin Island. Driving into the open maw of the Ferry was a somewhat daunting experience, but the ride was very enjoyable. For some of us more than others (see last pic)

Manitoulin Island landscapeManitoulin Island waterfallManitoulin Island waterfallNina and the SheriffMilky Way from CampgroundMilky Way from Campground

In order from top; Manitoulin Farmscape, Manitoulin Waterfall, Flow, Nina talks to the Police, Milky Way from Camp, Milky Way Extended exposure.

We had decided to spend a night on Manitoulin Island, and it ended up being a great idea. The Island is primarily agricultural, with a large First Nations population. We stopped briefly at a fantastic waterfall, and scouted for a place to eat supper. Unfortunately the cozy little bayside restaurants we had been looking for were closed, so we at at a roadside diner. After briefly conversing with a friendly police officer, we found or way to our campground for the evening. We made our camp by the shore of a bay on the Bay. To say this place was dark at night is an understatement of the highest order. The milky way was practically glowing across a sky more full of stars than anything I'd ever seeniv. Needless to say, this necessitated a photo sessionv. I think the only downside of the camp was its outhouses. I have never encountered smell that was like unto a physical barrier before. The truly prodigious stink was so eye watering bad that it physically repelled you at a distance of 50 feetvi.

Manitoulin Island Campground morningManitoulin Island Campground morningManitoulin Island CampgroundFlowManitoulin Island waterfallManitoulin Island waterfallManitoulin Island waterfall photo session

In order from top; Sunrise over Georgian Bay, Morning Sky, Campsite on the Water, Downstream Flow, Waterfall by Morning, Seth under Waterfall, Me at Waterfall.

The next morning I got up early and watched the sunrise over the water. When Seth made an appearance, we set out to return to the waterfall we had briefly visited the day before, to catch some shots morning light. After a brief breakfast on return, we broke camp and headed out to explore the Island a bit.

Cup & Saucer TrailEtched RockGum on StumpGlacial landscapeVistaAmanita sp. (potentially Fly Agaric, Amanita muscaria flavoconia)

In order from top; Cup and Saucer Trailhead, Etched Rock, Gum on Stumpvii, Glacial forest, Vista, Fungi! (Fly Agaric).

We did a short day hike on the Cup and Saucer Trail, through forested fields of huge erratic boulders, to a reward of some really outstanding vistas of the Island and the Niagara Escarpmentviii. Bidding the Island a fond farewell, and headed for Killarney on the mainland.

Killarney arrivalCampsitePersistent Raccoon

In order from top; Killarney sign, campsite, persistent raccoon.

Although Manitoulin Island and Killarney are almost directly adjacent, Killarney is remote enough that getting there involves driving all the way around Sudbury, and back down to Killarney.


We finally arrived in the late afternoon, and set up camp. Or, more appropriately, set up the blood donation center our campsite, for all intents and purposes, was to become. Apparently, mosquitos are normally growing few and far between by September in Killarney. Emphasis on “normally”. We had the unenviable luck of coming in a mild fall that raised a bumper crop of mosquitosix. Luckily we were usually busy enough fending off fairly insistent racoons that it gave us brief respite.

Sunrise VistaMorning SunbeamDouble Spider WebSunbeam through morning mist

In order from top; Sunrise vista, Morning Sunbeam at Cranberry Bog, Double Spider Web, Sunbeam through Morning Mist.

The next morning, Seth and I got up early to get some shots in the morning light. We hiked down the road to the trailhead for the Cranberry Bog Trail. A small overlook put us in a great position to catch the sun rising over the trees and bog. Despite an surprise encounter with a black bear in waist high bog grassx, the morning was very productive, with some truly once in a lifetime views of sunbeams shooting through the pine forests.

Lily Pads in BogUnidentified FungiLily Pads in BogWood and WaterAmerican Toad on StoneLake's edge (faux infrared)

In order from top; More Fungi!, Lilly Pads in Bog, Wood and Water, The Most Photographed Frog (Toad) of Cranberry Bog, Lake's edge (faux Infrared).

We met the ladies back at the campsite for breakfast, and then set out to hike the Cranberry Bog trail. The hike wound around the eponymous bog, through dense woods, and around a small lake. It was a good introduction to Killarney, with the famous white quartzite rock showing through in places, and dotted with white pinesxi. Our hike encountered yet more fungi, as well as one very photogenic, and patient, amphibianxii.

Killarney Village sceneYou down with OPP?Afternoon Light in Pine ForestCar SkeletonLines in StoneGroup at SummitLight on Birches

In order from top; Killarney Village scene, You Down with OPP?, Granite Ridge Trail Pine Forest in Afternoon Light, Old Car Skeleton, Lines in Stonexiii, Group at Granite Ridge Trail Summit, Last Light on Birches.

After the hike we made a brief sojourn into Killarney, a small fishing town located on Georgian Bay. It had beautiful scenery, a small grocery, an Ontario Provincial Police stationxiv, and most importantly, a beer store. We got back in the mid afternoon, and decided to get in another hike before the day ended. We hiked the Granite Ridge Trail, and caught some fantastic light coming through the forests of pine at its base. A grand old car lies quietly rusting on the side of the trail, and the end point opened to a grand vista over a ridge of granite, making the trail, well, aptly named. We hiked back out, had a nice campground supper, and got to sleep early in anticipation of hiking “The Crack” the next day.

To be continued in Part II.


iBecause, in 2010, no aspect of our lives is allowed to escape the all seeing eye of Sauron, I mean, the internet.

iiPerhaps it was just the 1000 Islands Bridge crossing, but my recollection of the security protocol in years past was answering all of three questions: 1) What's your business, 2) how long will you be in Canada, 3) any drugs or weapons in the car. Then you got a hearty “Have a good time, eh!”, picked up your complimentary moose-shaped bottle of maple syrup, and went on about your business.

iiii.e. the car we had intended to take developed a slight smoking issue, forcing us to rent a car. The available vehicle, a Jeep Grand Cherokee, was not an altogether unwelcome (though costly) upgrade, given the volume constraints of packing four adults and camping gear into a decidedly smaller station wagon.

ivEven growing up in rural upstate NY, we were close enough to the lights of Fort Drum and Watertown that we didn't have the sort of skies that a place this remote gets.

vMy traveling companion Seth and I are both avid amateur photographers. It doesn't take much to necessitate a photo session for us...a beautiful landscape, interesting flora and fauna, it being a day that ends in “y”, etc.. While this trait is often bemoaned by our respective significant others, when we travel together we have a great time staying up/getting up at all hours in pursuit of the perfect shot. Our wives are quite happy to sleep in, and not have to be dragged along on such occasions.

viI was caught between being inconvenienced, and honestly, kind of impressed at the sheer magnitude and scope of the stink.

viiApparentlly it was tradition here to post one's gum on this stump. It lead to speculation about grand Canadian Traditions of the Stumping O' the Gum.

viiiAlso, our first encounters with what would be a surprising large number of mushroom/fungi species. It started to be a thing later on in the trip; a quest to photo the most species of fungi. Giving that none of us especially cared about fungi, this should speak either to the preponderance thereof.

ixWe tried every combination of sprays we could think of, but the deterrent that worked best were bug spray infused wipes. At the end of the trip, as we began to run low, they became more valuable than gold.

xI really really wanted to see some bears, and Killarney is a good place for it. Unfortunately, I didn't see one all week long. Our sole encounter was during our first morning photo shoot. Seth dropped down a ledge to the bog, to get a better angle. As I stayed up top to work on a shot, I suddenly heard BEAR BEARBEARBEAR!, and only seconds later Seth came running toward the ledge at full speed, practically vaulting to the top. Apparently as he had been lining up a shot, a bear head had popped up from the grass 10-20 feet away. They unexpected meeting scared both parties, leading to mutual flight, in different directions. Once the adrenalin wore off, we had a good laugh at the event. As we were walking back to the campsite, a camper along the side of the bog said he had seen a mother bear and cub tear through his site at full speed looking like the wrath of hell was harrying them. Nope, just Seth.

xiKillarney was a prominent focus of the Canadian artists known as the Group of Seven, and it's easy to see why. While not having the overt majesty of taller mountain ranges, the austere beauty of the area is truly art-, as well as awe-, inspiring.

xiiThe poor fellow was subjected to a barrage of photography. We dubbed him “The Most Photographed Frog of Cranberry Bog”. I actually started writing a poem/book for children about it, based pretty much on the catchiness of the title. Sadly, the “frog” turned out to be an American Toad. I plant to take poetic license....

xiiiI was told this was lines of quartzite in pink granite, the two primary rock colors/types of Killarney.

xivYou down with OPP? Yeah, you know me. Growing up near the border, this joke never stopped being funny long after it stopped being relevant.


Joel said...

You're right about the Canadian border crossing protocol. When I was in college, we walked across the bridge in Niagara Falls, and I don't think we even had to show ID. It's much more strict now.

Vincent said...

whoa. Ridiculously excellent pictures.

JMBower said...

stay tuned, some of my favorites are in Part II, probably coming tonight.