Trip report: Massassauga Provincial Park by canoe – a girls only adventure

After last summer’s successful girls only trip to Rain Lake at Algonquin Provincial Park, we decided to do it again, this time at The Massassauga Provincial Park.

Shortcut to more pictures: Massassauga Aug 2016 (click on one picture, then click on the little i to see the picture descriptions)

Day 1

We headed out early, stopping first at Swift Canoe and Kayak for my friend Cheryl to rent a Swift Keewaydin 15, and then at Oastler Lake Provincial Park to pick up our interior camping permit. We ate our lunch, then continued on to the Three Legged Lake access point, where, according to posted signs, we had 15 minutes to unload our stuff and get our vehicle out of the unloading/loading area. It took us 13 minutes. Phew.

We divided the 3 canoe packs between the 2 canoes (mine is a Swift Keewaydin 17), with my daughter Ailish (12) and I in our boat with Mae (11), and Cheryl with her daughter Anne (14) in the other. We pushed off, and away we went!

We paddled through Three Legged Lake, heading for the 370 m portage into Spider Lake and our awaiting adventure at The Massassauga Provincial Park. There are cottages and motor boats on this lake, but we didn’t encounter any issues. There were canoes going in both directions, but it wasn’t too busy. After about 2 km, we reached the portage. Cheryl and I each portaged a canoe, and went back for a big canoe pack. The kids carried the rest of the stuff (paddles, bailer, etc.).

Once back in the boats, we took a shortcut to the right of an island, and paddled for a little while longer before pulling over and having a quick snack. We continued on for a short while, reaching campsite #14 after about 1 1/2 hours of moving time (including the portage) and 4.3 km of paddling (plus 370m portage).

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View of Spider Lake from way up high on campsite #14.

We spent the rest of the day at our campsite, setting up our tents, a tarp in case of rain, finding a tree to hang bear bags, exploring, swimming, and making our dinner (full menu here). The girls even made pottery out of clay from the lake. Anne spotted an endangered blue lined skink sunning itself on the rocks. We cooked our hot dogs on the campfire, and then had some s’mores. At 9:15 PM when the mosquitoes came out, we called it a night and climbed into our tents. Before the day was done, Cheryl had been stung by yellow jackets twice on her leg. There were yellow jacket nests on our site.

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Cliff jumping at our campsite.

Site #14 is huge, with room for multiple tents. The site is way up high (the review we read said “don’t sleepwalk”), with a great view of Spider Lake. There was a fire pit with multiple grills, a picnic table, great jumping off rocks, and a nice rocky area at water level to sit on.

Day 2

On our second day, we didn’t even leave our campsite! We did a bit of a scavenger hunt, and spent a lot of time swimming, cliff jumping and reading. The girls also built a rope swing and took turns on that! In the afternoon a thunderstorm rolled through, but the thunder was distant and the rain short lived.

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With the exception of 2 dinners, we cooked all of our meals on an MSR Dragonfly stove. In this picture, Cheryl is draining our pasta.

Once again, we abandoned our fire and headed for the tents by 9:15 PM when the mosquitoes started driving us crazy.

Day 3

On our third day, we decided to explore Spider Lake a bit, so we set out in our canoes and paddled into the wind, the kids in one boat, and Cheryl and I in another. We had a snack on an island just off site #9. We only paddled about 2 km.

Since Anne had spotted a five-lined skink, I hoped that I would spot one too by lifting up logs and rocks at our campsite – I never did, but I did spot this salamander!

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Salamander at our campsite (maybe a Jefferson salamander).

Later, when the park wardens stopped by our campsite to check on our permits (they zoomed around in a small power boat all day long it seemed!), we chatted about skinks and they said that they often find them when they lift rocks up in the fire pits. I guess they like the warmth of the rocks.

During the day we made sure to keep the girls’ pottery in the sun, so that their works of art eventually dried.

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Ailish’s small bowl and spoon at the right, which she put hot chocolate powder into. Anne’s big bowl in the middle, and Mae’s on the right.

At some point during the day I was stung on the back of my hand by a yellow jacket, and wow did it ever hurt! My hand also swelled up and I couldn’t make a tight fist. By the time I went to bed it was doing much better, and the next morning I was no longer in pain.

We enjoyed a very delicious dinner – mini tortilla pizzas – cooked on our campfire. In addition to tomato sauce, we rehydrated onions, pineapple, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes and zucchini. Everyone customized their own pizzas and they were a hit.

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Ailish preps her pizza.

Later that evening, the girls became superheroes with capes, so we did a series of fun (and some downright ridiculous) group shots! Afterwards, with four of us in the water and Anne standing in ankle deep water about to get in, she had her toe nibbled by a small turtle. Thankfully it let go and swam away, allowing us to swim in the lake one last time.

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Superheroes!

Day 4

On our last day, we packed everything up, said goodbye to the annoying chipmunks that other campers must feed (and who ate through our tarps that we had connected with a rope tied around an acorn!), and did a bit more art before getting back on the water and heading for our vehicle. We saw and heard loons during our trip, and Cheryl heard an owl one night. With the skink, salamander, and small turtle, we did alright with animal sightings!

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More clay art.

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Heading out.

 

It took us just under 2 hours from the time we left our campsite to the time we arrived back at the shore, including the portage and a short snack break. The portage was very busy, with 6 boats (including us) all heading for Three Legged Lake at the same time, and others coming to Spider Lake. Even the put in/take out was pretty busy!

We had a fun trip!!

Related post: Menu: 4-day canoe trip for 5 people (2 adults, 3 kids)

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2 Responses to Trip report: Massassauga Provincial Park by canoe – a girls only adventure

  1. boristoronto says:

    Nothing worse then a habitualized wild animal at a campsite, even if it is a tiny itty bitty chipmunk. Also ouch with the yellow jacket sting that doesn’t sound like fun. How did you find the Swift Keewaydin? I’ve used the 17 footer before and found it to be a fantastic pack canoe except it floated too high when not fully loaded. So day trips required a large load of rocks being loading in the middle to keep it from tipping.

    Liked by 1 person

    • kyrapaterson says:

      I love our Swift Keewaydin 17. I’ve never found the need to load it up for day trips, but maybe haven’t paddled it in very windy conditions when it wasn’t fully loaded. It’s bigger then needed for 2 people, but we bought it when our kids were small and all 4 of us fit it one boat.

      Like

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