I was nominated by Liberate Wings to post one travel photo a day for the next 10 days. Each day I will share a photo and challenge someone else to do the same.
I also decided that though pictures say a thousand words… There’s always something more to the photo so enjoy each of the mini- stories of these photos over the next 10 days!
This is the story of Maple Lake Winter Camp in Ontario. Circa 2010.
I was living in Toronto, Ontario between the years of 2008 and 2010. The main focus was to study Dental Hygiene.
I figured this also provided me with the opportunity to access the Ontario outdoors and I did my best to take advantage of this time and essentially embarked on a new adventure weekly.
During this time I was seeing a guy that had never winter camped before and being someone who loves to share experiences I jumped at the chance to take him outside!
We planned a trip to snowshoe to Maple Lake and camp a night or two (depending on how the weather held.) The total distance was less than 10km round trip, so it was a nice easy- moderate adventure for my partner and gave me room to make safety calls if necessary.
We rented our snowshoes from MEC, reviewed our gear list and set off to Muskoka Cottage Country.
The drive was fun, full of jokes and snacks and laughter and by the time we arrived to the trail head we were both pumped to get going. The weather was nice and even inviting enough for us to pack up our outer shells.
We passed a couple day hikers alone the way and as the day wore on the sun started to set and I suggested that we make camp soon. We hadn’t reached the lake yet by this time and my partner really wanted to see the lake.
I conceded and agreed to hike a little more but I was wary of the fast setting sun and after another 20 or 30 minutes I told him we really should find a spot to make camp. Disappointed, he gave in and we stopped.
We both started looking for an ideal spot to set camp in snow that ranged from calf heigt to waist height. I found a sweet spot sheltered by two large fallen trees forming a corner and a flat area with few dead fall to clear, only snow to pack down.
I indicated to my partner that I found an ideal spot and he glanced at it and said no he wanted the “perfect” spot. I figured this was his first rodeo so I said okay and kept working on the spot that I found.
A few minutes later he yelled over at me and asked if his selection was good.
I took a look. It was on a slope, in the middle of a depressed piece of land, filled with brush and dead wood. I told him it probably wouldn’t be ideal because we would exert too much energy clearing it and we were losing daylight.
He was determined and said it was good and began to clear it.
I started worrying about the time frame as we still had to make dinner and a fire and the light was quickly fading.
Normally when I clear a camp spot I increased efficiency by piling all the wood I find to a spot where my future fire would be. I had been doing this and had a nice pile of wood started near my little corner. I figured if he didn’t want to camp in my spot, the least we could do was use it for a fire pit.
As I was doing this I see his guy throwing logs and branches left and right into the deep snow surrounding us. I tell him to just pass it to me so we could use the wood for fire and we won’t have to go looking for the wood later.
He smiled and said it was not a big deal and continued to throw hither thither. Sigh. I figured I might as well help him o speed up the process. After about an hour of this he decides he’s not getting anywhere, and says okay let’s just use my spot. Which by now was already cleared, the snow was packed down and against the fallen tree corner to act as a wind barrier. The wood pile was already a nice size and a tinder and kindling was set to go.
It was pretty dark by now so he set up his tent and within 20 minutes we finall had our camp set up.
I don’t remember what we ate for dinner. Most likely one of those dehydrated camper meals. You see this guy was all about the gear. He would own all these things that indicated he was outdoorsy and make him seem appealing, when in fact he was he type that just wanted to look the part, take he photo, and tell the story that probably never happened.
So we ate our fancy, expensive alpine meal and hung out by the fire and chatted. My boots were wet from the day and I was exhausted from all the counter productivity. I made myself a hot water bottle and called it sleepy time.
He decided to stay up and enjoy the fire.
The next morning I get up and search for my boots. They were sitting next to the fire. It seemed as though he tried to dry them by the fire and like Icarus – flew a little too close to the sun.
The insides of my boots were singed and melted. The synthetic material had melted into these hard sharp edges. Great.
I did my best to cut away the melted pieces and we agreed maybe it was a good time to head back. All our gear was wet and my boots felt like someone put tiny razor blades glued to sandpaper on them.
The hike out was a quiet one and though there wasn’t any extraordinary mishaps I think in the end I realized there’s some people you can’t camp with.