Thursday, November 6, 2014

Rene Brunelle Provincial Park : I'm on the Top of Ontario Ma!

The Ballad of Rene Brunelle (If you can't guess the song ask someone who is over 40)

Come and listen to a story about a man named Rene (Joseph Napoleon) Brunelle,
A jack of all trades (teacher, tourism operator, politician, etc.) he treated everybody well.
Then one day he decided to pack it in.
And way up north they decided to honour him. (With a Provincial park that is.)

Well, first thing's first, old Rene was always fair,
But his wife must of said we cannot live near there.
So they moved to Magog, Que. and promised to be back soon,
Kapuskasing didn't care cause they were over the moon.
(Beam that is, UFO spotting site, Where the Provincial Park is.)

Come on I'll show you around Rene Brunelle Provincial Park. This is the south day use beach.
If you didn't guess already, Rene Brunelle Provincial Park was named after someone. Rene Brunelle was an Ontario politician for Cochrane North from 1958 to 1981 and after doing a little research on him, he was a bit of a conundrum.  First, he wanted to allow forestry in some of the largest provincial parks, particularly Quetico, and yet the province still named a provincial park after him?  He came from a family in the pulp and paper business, but later in life ran a tourism company, which, I have to assume, was not deforestation tourism... "On the right you will see where we have chopped down 100 acres of boreal forest to make toilet paper and Kleenex.  Does anyone need a tissue?"  Then, in the end, after serving Ontario for 23 years, he moved to Magog, Quebec; 120 kilometres east of Montreal and 40 kilometres from the Vermont Border.  I guess he got tired of the north? ...or was it the bugs?

A little hard to see but every unidentified speck in this picture is a dragon fly.  There must have been thousands.  Again in the day-use area.
Rene Brunelle Provincial Park is located 30 minutes east of Kapuskasing right above the town of Moonbeam off the northern trans-Canada highway #11.  If you don't know where that is phone your high school geography teacher and ask him or her, when they don't know -- ask google.  It truly is the top of Ontario, unless you use a plane.

Rene Brunelle PP was about to be shut down in 2012 due to low visitation, but the people of the area protested so now the park is open and Moonbeam is on the hook for any shortfalls.  When we arrived at Rene Brunelle we were only staying one night because I figured they only had two trails and I could see everything I wanted in a day and a half.  Well... I was right on the park's two trails:

Vigilance Trail (1.5 km) was a not so leisurely stroll (due to the mosquitoes) around a point on Remi Lake with information signs about the history of bush pilots in the area.  It was beautiful and interesting, but not enough to make us forget about the mosquitoes.  It should take about a half hour (we did it in 10 minutes).

Gene Roddenberry might have something to say about this?  Trail begins and ends at the day use area.
Spruce Lowland Trail (1.6 km) was better when it came to flying pests and was an easy half hour hike with the points of interests being trees, flora, fauna, and an empty bear's den.

They told me it was an empty bear's den, but then why is the barrier rope broken? (Not in the day use area.)
What we didn't know is that right outside the front gate you are connected to 40 plus kilometres of trails for hiking, biking, rollerblading, or in the winter cross-country skiing.  Total amount of Moonbeam Trails hiked -- zero.

For more information :
Remi Lake, the lake Rene Brunelle PP is on, is well known in the area for swimming, fishing, boating of all kinds, and hunting.  Which brings me to my bird picture.

A Blue-winged Teal and next years targets.  Good Luck ducklings.  Picture taken at the day use area.
Rene Brunelle would be a great park to visit if you wanted to do some fishing and didn't worry if you don't own a boat because the provincial park rents them.  Now, you may have noticed a theme running throughout this about whether we were at the Day Use Area or not, that's because if I was staying at this park I would probably never leave the day use area.  It has washrooms, a place to cook, two great beaches, a volleyball court, a park for children, wild life, and a covered eating area.  It's like this park put more time, money, and thought into their day use then their camp sites.  For example, the Camper's Beach looks like this:

Private, yes, but small and not very sandy and not close to any of the campsites.
Versus the Day Use beaches:

This is the north beach for day use.  Private and big and nicely sanded -- but again really not close to the campsites.
Our site was nice, don't get me wrong, but for how far north this campground is I would have hoped for more privacy.  It's not like this provincial park doesn't have the land or waterfront property.  This is the first time (definitely not the last) where the site we stayed at is not on the list of good sites.

Site 87.  We could see our neighbours on both the right and left; not seen in this picture,

I could accept this if the campsite was right on the water, but it isn't.  The good sites at Rene Brunelle are numbers 9, 33, 34, 39, 41, 49, 54, 56, 57, 82-85, the best one being number 88.  None of these are near the beach, but some have views of the lake which is the next best thing.  In summation, Bev and I had a great time at this park, however most of our fun was had at the day use area where we hiked, swam, relaxed, and saw some amazing wildlife.

Dragonfly landed on Bev with its Mayfly lunch in tow.
Well now it's time to say goodbye to Rene and all the merrymaking,
I'd like to thank you folks for kindly dropping in.
I highly recommend this park's locality,
If only it wasn't ten hours away.
(By car that is, straight time with no breaks, and that's from Toronto -- you figure it out from where you're from and unless that's Moonbeam or Kapuskasing it's far.)

Site Cleanliness:  Good.  There was some garbage but nothing that couldn't be cleaned within ten minutes of arriving.

Privacy:  Not great.  Out of 88 campsites only 13 had what I would call adequate privacy.  If it was up to me this is where I would spend money on fixing up the sites.  You could easily fix some of these privacy issues with some well planted trees -- and you have experts in tree planting living as close as next door.  As well they have room to build new sites, even if they were walk-in's.

Hiking and Activities:  Better than expected.  I was saddened to find out there was so much hiking that we didn't get to enjoy.  As well, there are ample boating and fishing opportunities for people who have a little more time.

Park Class: Recreational Park class for all the things you can do here.

Beach Quality or Ease of Getting to the Water:  Beach quality was quite good, but as for ease to getting to the beaches they were quite a distance from any of the campsites.  As far as ease of getting to the water, every site by the water has a path to it which is great for canoeists, but not great for swimming.

Recommended Length of Stay:  I would suggest that if you are going to Rene Brunelle you absolutely book ahead of time to get one of the best sites and stay for at least 5 days.  A couple of days for hiking and a couple of days for fishing. I'm certain you would never get bored.

Overall Impression:  I liked the day use area the most I have ever liked a day use area at any provincial park.  Unfortunately, because it was so good it made the campsites look less desirable.  This would be a great park for a fishing trip.

Rating out of 103:  I'm going for number 58 for the year Rene Brunelle the politician retired.

Again if you're keeping track:

#2 Algonquin
#3 Quetico
#19 Sandbanks
#21 Neys
#22 Wakami Lake
#23 Nagagamisis
#26 Pancake Bay
#30 Chutes
#51.5 Silent Lake
#52 Restoule
#53 Point Farms
#56 Inverhuron
#58 Rene Brunelle
#92 Rainbow Falls
#101 Turkey Point
#102 Bronte Creek

P.S. If you still haven't gotten the song here is a clue, Jed Clampett.

Friday, July 25, 2014

White Lake Provincial Park Revealed -- From the Semiwite to the Fully White

To begin I would like to talk about our friend Google maps.  I use google maps every time we go camping so I really do appreciate the service, however if you ever drag the cursor and change your course so that the roads you are travelling on have no names; be prepared, Google maps can seriously screw you around.  North of Mississagi Provincial Park first there was a logging road... no problem, we have taken the Sultan's Road out of Wakami Provincial Park and that one is crazy.  (We had to dodge rocks so big they'd take out you're carburetor and you'd be lucky if a logging truck wasn't barrelling down on at 110km/hr.)   Thank heavens we didn't encounter any logging trucks or really big rocks on the 'No Named' logging road.  What we did encounter was a turtle in the middle of the road.  Bev really just wanted to help it get across the road.  Me I'm a little more cautious and really just wanted to stop playing in the middle of a logging road.  You know like your mom use to tell you.

"Bev that's a Snapping Turtle.  You might not want to get too close?"
Then we took a right onto what I have come to understand is a snowmobiling trail -- an OFSC Prescribed Trail?  I'd never heard of them before.  I don't know about you, but I haven't been on a dirt road in a long time and I've never been on a dirt road in a Nissan Versa.  I have to admit I was kind of having fun; a scared fun, but fun.  Beverley astutely pointed out that we had no business being on a dirt road, but there comes a point of no return where you either cross your fingers and keep going forward or you just keep talking about how you should have turned around.  And we did both.  Other than it taking a little bit longer and some rattled nerves and teeth we came out the other side without incident.  And now without further ado here is my first attempt at a video in this Blog.

We arrived at White Lake Provincial Park and the staff said the bugs were bad, so we got prepared.  It seems the staff at White Lake either doesn't know what bad is or at least have never been to Mississagi to experience true bug badness.  Due to a bridge closure on the Trans-Canada Highway we had to rush this provincial park and to give you a sense of what that's like... here we go.  We set up in half an hour at site 84.

Site #84 all set up and ready to go.  Bev waiting for me to take the picture so we can go... for a hike.
Most sites along the water have a designated path to the beach/fishing/pick-up boat area.

 I don't know about the whole beach but there were leaches a few feet in so for us = no swimming.
With swimming out we decided to hike the Deer Lake Trail (1.5 or 2.5 km).  This trail was an easy hour long hike through the forest around Deer Lake and an adjacent beaver dam.  There was an abundance of wild life around but it was near impossible to take a good photo of anything.  This is where I acquired my first true taste of bird photography and how amazingly stupid/difficult it is.  I must have taken 10 blurry pictures of in front of and behind birds before getting an only slightly blurry picture like this.

A Swamp Sparrow I think?
Then this in focus one.

If you look really closely I think it's a Black-throated Sparrow.  But why won't it look at me?
And my favourite is this one of baby Ruffed Grouse.  See if you can spot them in the original photograph.

I know there are 4 baby Ruffed Grouse in this picture.  
And now the Close-up.
The easy one is on the branch.  Then the 2 down and to the left behind the Bunchberry plants.  And the last one is on the white moss to the left of the 2. 
How did you do?  Having finished being frustrated for the day and with dusk on it's way, Bev and I visited a logging water sleigh display, then ate, showered, and went to bed so we would be ready for a whirlwind day on Wednesday.

Bev giving her Blue Steel pose with the Water Sleigh.
While we're sleeping let me tell you a little about the park.  White Lake is known for it's fishing of Walleye (Pickerel), Northern Pike, Whitefish, and Perch.  A family camping near us comes every year to fish and on their first night they only caught "about 25 fish" and "put most of them back" because they were staying for a week.  As well, if you are a fish snob there is Clearwater lake which can only be hiked to and is stocked with Speckled Trout (no live bait can be used).  White Lake is also an excellent start off point for a canoeing trip as the White River Canoe Route is ranked in Ontario's top ten routes.  White Lake Provincial Park is 6085 hectares, which is 60 km squared, and was created in 1963 as a Natural Environment Park.

The Best Sites are # 6, 8, 12, 13, 57, 61, 63, 69, 73, 80, 81, 84, 85, 86, 89, 90, 92, 97, 101, 156, 159, 161, 164, 165, 169.  The cream of the crop are 6, 8, 12, 13, 80, 81, 84, 85, 86, 159, 161, 164, 165 because of how close they are to the water.

View of the lake from site #84.  And the fire pit is pointing the right way.
Bev and I awoke Wednesday morning to the news that they had closed the Trans-Canada Highway (What???) due to a bridge problem in Nipigon meaning we would have to take a detour to the northern highway adding 2-3 hours onto our trip into Thunder Bay.  So we had a choice either spend another night and hope the bridge was fixed by the next day or try to fit in as much fun in the morning and head out.  We chose the latter and luckily we did because the bridge was closed for 3 days.  So here is what I call The Party part 2.  We packed up our site then went to the Exercise Trail (0.5 km) 45 minutes is what is suggested but it really all depends how good shape you are in and what level you wanted to accomplish.  I have created a slide show out of our photo's of this hike to give you a sense of it.

After a great morning warm-up we hiked the Tiny Bog Trail (4.5 km) about 1 hour and a half.  This trail was at one time about viewing spots, but I think nature has taken them back.  Here is viewing spot number one.

Score one for the trees and zero for the views.
The second viewing spot was even funnier as the Dragon Flies had claimed it.

Hence the reason White Lake has fewer bugs.
"Find your own place to sit!  Can't you see we are sunbathing.  Martha cover yourself."
This hike was actually a great deal of fun and more moderate than easy.   White Lake Provincial Park is an amazing park that has things to do for everyone.  I really do want to come back to fish, but I think we would have to rent a motor boat to get the full experience.

Site Cleanliness:  Great.  Not much garbage at all and in the park guide they have an article on how to treat the tree's in the provincial parks I think every park should adopt and put in their guides.  Skip the tick warning and focus on how to preserve the campgrounds for future generations.

I only have one problem: If the PP doesn't sell kindling it is sometimes difficult to start a fire without some twigs.
Privacy:  I would say 75% of the sites have some privacy, but because there is so much fishing there are so many pull through sites.  The cream of the crop sites are all completely private.

Hiking and Activities:  Fantastic.  There are four hikes, canoeing, swimming, fishing and birding (as long as you are not taking pictures - brutal).  The park also offers guided hikes and children's programs on the weekends, guest speakers, and Log Drive Days where the park celebrates the area's logging history.

Beach Quality or Ease of Getting to the Water:  This park was made for ease of getting to the water as it is the reason most people come to here.  Beach quality I'm giving a 'be aware' that there are leeches in the water, but again maybe somehow in the roped off swimming area they have found a way to get rid of them. (Maybe they have paid fish to guard the swimming areas?)

Recommended Length of Stay: I'm going to say 5 days as you could fish every morning and evening and still go for a hike everyday or a canoe in the afternoon.  You would not get bored -- let's put it that way.

Overall Impression:  As with all the northern parks I was very impressed, I just wish we caught a fish.  

Rating out of 103:  Because of a slight difference in beauty and leeches I am placing White Lake Provincial Park at number 30 and moving Chutes back to 29.  White lake is just going to have to accept that it's a little bit older, but looking good for it's age whereas Chutes can keep lying to itself.  29 for ever baby!

Again if you're keeping track:

#2 Algonquin
#3 Quetico
#19 Sandbanks
#21 Neys
#22 Wakami Lake
#23 Nagagamisis
#26 Pancake Bay
#29 Chutes
#30 White Lake
#51.5 Silent Lake
#52 Restoule
#53 Point Farms
#56 Inverhuron
#92 Rainbow Falls
#101 Turkey Point
#102 Bronte Creek

Showing off the "White" before a hike at White Lake.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Mississagi Provincial Park : Paradise Amidst the Swarm (or Every Martin Short Film I saw as a Kid)

I know some people don't like camping because of bugs and I always think, "Suck it up butter-cup.  If they are bothering you just start a fire or wear bug repellent."  That was before.  This is now.  Bev and I are still swatting at ghost bugs on our bodies a month after leaving Mississagi Provincial Park.  If you didn't know any better you'd think we had nervous ticks -- and not the sort of ticks you keep until you can show the MNR.  Seriously there was no fire big enough and not enough bug spray in the world to avoid getting bit at Mississagi (until they create a 100% Deet cream or spray that doesn't melt flesh).

Only now do I realize I have never talked about the non-human pests you can encounter while camping.  Personally I always carry a flyswatter just like Grandfather Elwin did, but that was just for house flies.  Here at Mississagi Provincial park I carried it constantly and used it while doing everything -- hiking, swimming, and even for fanning the fire.  Suffice to say I need a new flyswatter as mine is now broken.  For most people the worst pest while camping is the Mosquito:

Seriously if I was taking this picture the mosquito wouldn't live.  But I would never take this picture.
I can hear the photographer now, "Honey a mosquito is biting me, what are you waiting for, get the camera."
The first morning in Mississagi we awoke to five hundred of these little beggars on the mesh of our tent in the first of three Mexican stand-offs.  They were licking their own proboscises waiting for us to come outside.  It was like I was El Guapo and Bev was Hefe and the plethora of mosquitoes were the Three Amigos and the rest of the townsfolk surrounding us.  When my ears woke up the hum was so loud I thought we were under the hydro wires, but then I remembered Mississagi doesn't have hydro -- they're off the grid and all I could think is that no matter where the bug repellent was, because it was not in the tent, it was too far away.  Female mosquitoes are the ones that use a vampiric proboscis to suck your life blood, while the males are out drinking nectar and other sugary liquids.  Hmmmm.  The best bug repellent we have found is called Watkins.  It's a cream that goes on smooth, seems pleasant on the skin and works for four or more hours.

You can buy it at MEC or the Trading Posts and it's distributed out of Winnipeg a place that knows about bugs.
Early in the season (May to early July) mosquitoes are not the only problem, you also have to look out for black flies too.  Wait are there green, blue, and purple flies?  Because all the flies I know are black and yet this is the only one called black fly.  But I digress, my mother, Margaret, will be the first to tell you black flies germinate wild blueberries and that's a good thing, but that's the males of the species working all day on that, where as the females feed on flesh and blood.  Right.  In my experience, if you wait until after a week of plus 20 degrees or about mid-June all the black flies are gone.

"I'll die with the black fly picking my bones in North Ontario I-O, in North Ontario." Wade Hemsworth
I really don't understand these photographers.
Now much to our dismay, Mississagi had not gotten a week of plus 20 and therefore these little beggars were still around.  The worst part of these bites is the female flies take a chunk of your skin with them, but on the plus side -- no West Nile Virus just a beautiful welt.  If you've not seen the NFB video for The Black Fly Song please, please I demand you to check it out.  It's part of the 1970's animation boom Canada was known for and therefore a part of our heritage.   The only reason why I know about it is because they'd show it in between Hammy the Hamster and Rocket Robin Hood when I was a kid.  Again check it out.  It's as easy as hitting the link above.  Lastly there are deer and horse flies.

There is nothing really dear about these flies and again what is with people photographing these flies.
Part of the same family these flies use their mandibles and cut a razor sharp X into your skin then lap up your blood using an anti-coagulant in their saliva.  A key to the wild deer fly or horse fly is that they commonly go after your hair as they are use to biting animals so if you have a light coloured hat on they will pester you less.  I can't say any deer or horse flies actually got me at Mississagi, but I killed over 20 that were caught in my hair or in the eating tent.  Again the males of the species collect nectar and the females need the blood to have babies.  To sum up when it comes to the flying pests: While the men are working or getting drunk on sugary liquids and nectar's the women are sucking the life out of you so they can take care of the kids, but you can't have one without the other.  It's something almost like a lesson there... or a mirror in nature... I'm not quite sure.  Maybe someone can point me in the right direction.  Ah there it is.


Flyswatter at the ready.  While I took this picture I was bitten over 30 times.

Here is a little recent history of Mississagi Provincial Park which was created as a natural environment class park in 1965 and is 4900 hectares or 49 square kilometres in size.  A funny thing about this park is that they boast about it being quiet and not having many visitors.  "Mississagi Provincial Park sees as many campers over the course of a year as Algonquin receives in just one long weekend." or "At Mississagi, there's no need to reserve a campsite.  You can just show up whenever you feel like it."  Seems like the reverse advertising team was on this job.  Like you're supposed to say, "Well if no one is going there, it's the place for me."  Hence in 2012 the Ontario Provincial Park system announced they were closing the gates on Mississagi because of low visitation rates.  Because of this, the city of Elliot Lake, outraged as a retirement community can be, stepped in because old people with boats love to fish and if they closed the gates they would close off Semiwite Lake, and Flack Lake to the public (you could walk in but motor boats would be out).  So now Elliot Lake and the Ontario Provincial Parks are working together to keep the park open, but Elliot Lake has to pay for any operating shortfalls.  You'd never know any of this by going to Mississagi, with the only differences between this park and others being a glossy park guide (Bev was very upset) and the park store wasn't quite set up when we arrived June 2014 (No ice -- you have to go into town;  25 minutes there and 25 minutes back.  If no one is coming why would they need ice?).

Our Site #1.  Not much shade and the fire pit is backwards, but otherwise I think it's perfect.
The campsites at Mississagi are split into two groups; there are four walk-in sites (#1-4),

Site #1. Not all walk-in sites are made equally as Bev makes the 10 foot stroll in from our car.

And then every other site is a pull-through site for RV's or vehicles with boats.  That being said there were a number of great sites at this park.  In my opinion 1-4 are the best and the only issue with them is there is a path along the front of all of the sites, but I don't think any reasonable person would use it unless they knew the people on the next site or they were being chased by a black fly covered bear. If you did camp at one of these sites you could easily block off the path with a tent.

Our view right into site #2 and 3 and if you have eagle eyes 4.
As far as the pull-through sites go #5-7, 9, 11-16, 19-24, and 26 are all great sites.  If you want to be close to a beach then #1, 4, 9, or 11-14 have ten foot walks to one of the two public beaches.  You may look at a map and say there isn't a beach close to #1 but if you refer to my first picture of the site you can walk off site #1 into the water.  It is a little mucky, a little weedy and you have to watch out for the vicious tadpoles, but if you are looking to cool off  or get away from the bugs it is perfect.  (Bev did it.)
The Bullfrog tadpoles visited everyday-- those pests.  The middle one we named Clifford and the one with the eye patch is Captain Ron.
Planning to go to this park I knew there was an enormous amount of hiking (60 km of it) you could literally hike for seven days and we did get four of the seven trails in during our three days there.  On the first day we hiked the Semiwite Creek Trail (1.2 km) a lovely trail from the gatehouse right to our site (where we applied more bug repellent) and then back to the gatehouse (wish we had known this when we started then we wouldn't have driven).  This trail looked at the old logging run from Semiwite Lake to Chris*man Lake.  If it wasn't for the black flies and mosquitoes, this would have been fun -- not Pure Luck fun, but fun all the same.  It says to allow 30 minutes for the trail but I would suggest that it takes more like 45 minutes to an hour with a lot of slapping in between.  

A 50 year old logging chute.
Second we hiked the Helenbar Lookout Trail (7 km) a fantastic journey, like Inner Space, through some pristine wilderness.  Along the trail there are a couple of stand out stops, the first being some 'erratic' boulders that were dragged by glaciers to strange locations, like half way up an old mountain.

Erratic Boulder: a boulder that differs from the surrounding rock.  I've never seen two the same.
Then you follow a ridge with some truly stunning views of Helenbar Lake and what's nice is they have picnic tables so you can stop and relax to soak up the view.

What a Hell-enbar view of the lake.
I don't know about you, but I've gotten into this weird habit of when I'm startled (you can say scared, but I won't) I let out a loud half giggle, half laugh until I know what I just about stepped on.  About twenty metres from the view above this happened and then I got this...

A Ruffed Grouse getting Ruffed. And my second bird for the blog!
Ruffed Grouse were abundant during our trip to Thunder Bay this time and I have to assume it has to do with the time of year, because every time we saw them they had a brood of Cheepers with them.  My understanding is that a lot of Cheepers don't make it to adulthood that's why Ruffed Grouse lay Cheepers by the dozen.  After that excitement and about three quarters of the length of the trail you come upon a back-country campsite that has the nicest beach in the whole park. Too bad it is a 30 minute hike from the closest campsite.

Now, Bev try to give me the most fake smile you can muster.  Perfect!
Helenbar Trail says to allow 4 hours, but Bev and I did it in 2 hours with a couple breaks.  At one point you follow the portage between Semiwite and Helenbar lakes and if you choose to go left and visit Helenbar Lake there is part of a Gloster Meteor plane that Lt William 'Hugh' McKenzie crashed there in 1946.  We didn't know until after, which is always the way, so we didn't go to see it.

Part of the HelenBar Lookout Trail follows Semiwhite Lake Trail (12 km) which is a difficult trail that travels around Semiwite Lake.  The reason why this is a difficult trail is because you are hiking on rocks and roots for most of the hike, so it is a great work out for your ankles as you slip and slide over these modernly ancient obstacles.  We only did parts of this trail so I cannot comment on it fully, but by our calculations it says to allow 6 hours for this hike and we figure you could do it in 4 and a bit.

Pink Lady's Slipper and Bunchberry plants were everywhere on the Semiwite Lake Trail. 
Lastly we did the Flack Lake Nature Trail (0.8 km) which is an easy trail with a couple of picnic spots and really only one point of interest which is the "ripple rock" right beside another old logging chute.  On the "ripple rock" where an ancient ocean once was there are fossils that can be found, but we looked and didn't find anything really cool.  This "ripple  rock" should not be confused with the underwater mountain that use to be in Seymour Narrows off the coast of British Columbia.

The not exploded "Ripple Rock" with picnic area, logging chute, and hard to find fossils.
The other three hikes are:

The McKenzie Trail (22 km) they say allow 2+ days for this hike and it sounds like a doozie.  Named after the Pilot that crashed into Helenbar Lake.  This hike we didn't plan for, as one would have to carry everything needed to camp for the night.

Jimchrist Trail (11km) the blasphemous trail goes by Chr**tman Lake and then to Helenbar Lake.  Since we already saw Helenbar Lake and could check out C**istman Lake from the campground and the highway we decided to skip this trail.  If we had more time we definitely would have done it just to say "Jim Christ-man that was a good trail."

Cobre Lake Trail (11km) is a funny one and not just because of the way they spell Cobra, but because it's not even part of Mississagi Provincial Park.  It is 11 km north of the park just off the highway and seems to have more to do with mining than hiking.  There are stops along the way at copper exploration sites, an old diamond drill camp, and a chalcopyrite mine.  This one would have to be a day trip and therefore we chose not to do it.

Dragon Fly making a nest of my boot means no hiking until he's ready to feast on mosquitoes. We were like Three Fugitives waiting for it to grow up. Which like the movie only takes about an hour and a half from this...
To this...
And finally to this.
All in all Mississagi was a great way to start our long camping trip for 2014.  Great hikes, some fishing -- nothing worth keeping, but we caught something every time we cast into Flack Lake, and some great memories with Bev and a red fox that visited every night -- not the comedian.  The only down side to this trip was the bug bites, but my boot buddy will hopefully turn the tide.

Site Cleanliness:  Site #1 was very clean for being so big (more space = more places for garbage) and the layout was good except for the fire pit facing the wrong way.

Privacy:  Again our site and many of the sites here were private as is the norm with the northern provincial parks.  The difference between this park and others is the pull through sites open your site up on two sides instead of one which can make it more open than some campers desire.

Hiking and Activities:  Simply one of the best.  With so much hiking there is always something to do -- seven trails with four of them 11 km's and over.  Something I didn't talk about are the canoe routes which they have 6 planned routes you could take ranging from simple day trips to trips that can last for five days.  The fishing, even though we didn't have any real luck, would have been great if we had the proper equipment like a motor boat and down riggers.  The swimming was good even though a local asked right away "You out-of towners?" when we didn't jump right in the water.  He said they had been swimming since May to which I silently thought to myself 'I'm too old for that stuff.'  There are no planned talks or walks, but since Elliot lake has to pay for any short falls it is not surprising.  However if you are in the area for the August long weekend they hold Lumberjack Days at the Provincial Park.

Park Class:  A Natural Environment Park meaning Ontarians are saving it for future generations.

Beach Quality or Ease of Getting to the Water:  For most of the sites its a hop, skip, and a jump to get to one of the two beaches, unfortunately the best beach (because of the sand) is a 30 minute hike from the campground.

Recommended Length of Stay:  This is the tough one.  I would honestly say that 7 days would be a great length of time to stay at this park.  Two days of fishing from a canoe and four days of hiking and swimming with a day to relax.  You could stay a lot longer if you were canoeing, but 7 days of camping and using a single site at the park is about right.

Overall Impression:  I really loved this park because of all the things it had to offer, but the insects were a giant pain on our skin.  I really wonder wether it was the time of year or the year itself, but make no mistake - come prepared for the bugs.

Rating out of 103:  I'm probably being generous but I'm going with 40 because this park is unquestionably in the back forty of Ontario.  A hidden gem that I hope we don't lose due to low visitation even though that looks like what they and the bugs are advertising.

If you are keeping score;
#2 Algonquin
#3 Quetico
#19 Sandbanks
#21 Neys
#22 Wakami Lake
#23 Nagagamisis
#26 Pancake Bay
#30 Chutes
#40 Mississagi
#51.5 Silent Lake
#52 Restoule
#53 Point Farms
#56 Inverhuron
#92 Rainbow Falls
#101 Turkey Point
#102 Bronte Creek