Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Curse of Lake Nagagamisis Provincial Park

So for halloween I thought I would tell you a horror story of a camping trip...

Almost out of gas we pulled into Nagagamisis Provincial Park which is about a half hour south of highway 11, the northern Trans-Canada highway from Nipigon to North Bay, on the lonely highway 631 towards Hornepayne.  The closest city on highway 11 is Hearst an hour away.  Now if you don't have the faintest clue where I am talking about, think of an isolated campground perfect for a horror movie farther north than Timmins (Home of Shania Twain -- Scary).  I imagined Nagagamisis would be like Wakami just farther north and I was hoping to catch fish, look at mushrooms, and enjoy a fire by the lake. To begin I was right on the money, our site #32 was gorgeous.

Looking north onto Lake Nagagamisis before the Horror.

Wakami; similar, but not cursed!

After we set up camp I went to talk to a ranger about renting a canoe for the next day and found some white elfin saddle mushrooms; not edible but totally cool looking -- everything was working out perfectly.

They were everywhere at Nagagamisis, never saw an elf though.
Beverley and I had a lovely dinner and decided to go to bed shortly after dark. I must point out it was the second week in September 2013, so the night was not likely to be a warm one.  An hour and a half into a lovely slumber I awoke to find a ghost had let the air out of our mattress.  I thought simply, 'pesky ghost', refilled the mattress and went back to bed.  Another hour and a half ticks away and we again wake on a cold smooth rock under the tent. This time I was a little more upset with the ghost and, after marking my territory and filling the mattress, I was sure that would be the end of our problems.  But no, yet another hour and a half and I awoke on the very cold Canadian shield that was slowly breaking my back.  What is it people say about doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome? So this time we checked the mechanism of the mattress and realized that the ghost had really got us as they had magically set up the mattress ever so slightly incorrect so that it would leak all night.  After fixing a mechanical defect it was off to a chilly dreamland fearing only Freddy or the Sandman.

Photographic representation of the nights sleep.
The next morning we woke up to the burly ranger asking us if we still wanted the canoe.  As I exited the tent, the ranger looked haggard from what I have to assume was a night of being a werewolf or vampire. The morning was calm with a slight wind and I was still hopeful that we might have a meal of fresh fish so I answered affirmative and paid for a day canoe rental a mere $25. Upon inquiring about bait the ranger gladly gave us the rest of his minnows, howled, and was on his way.  After a quick breakfast we quickly went to the canoe on Park Lake (the second lake at the campsite with no motor boats) and prepared to depart.  I don't know if it was the unfulfilling sleep or if we were poisoned sometime during the night, but when we embarked onto the water we maybe got 10 yards from the dock before the wind picked up and the lake monster grabbed our canoe stopping us dead on the water.  Bev and I paddled for probably 15 minutes before giving up and floating back to the dock.  We did fish from the dock and shore for about 20 minutes but it must have been a north-easter wind because we had no luck and so retreated back to our campsite.

I know it looks calm, that's why it must have been a Ogopogo. If you look closely Rob's about to Hulk out.
Beaten, we decided to do something that couldn't fail -- we went for a hike.  The Time Trail (1.7 km) was hidden along a roadway to an interpretation site. We drove by the trail and hiked to a point and back before we actually found it.  

The point at Lake Nagagamisis where we were happy and notice the beautiful clear sky (important later).
There were tonnes of mushrooms; boletes, chanterelles, and flat top coral,  and they slowly made Robert crazy.

"Come out, come out where ever you are. Little pigs, little pigs let me come in. Not by the hair on my chinny, chin, chin. Then I huff and I puff and I'll blow your house in.  Here's Robbie!" (2 points if get the quote)
The Time Trail is an easy loop hike with a brochure of points of interest you can get from the Park Office.  The second trail The Shaganash Trail (4 km) leaves Shaganash campground and heads south to Park Lake follows it and then loops around the front of the park to Lake Nagagamisis  following it until it returns to the opposite end of the same campground.  The Shaganash Trail is a moderate loop that looks more at old growth forest and its relationship to the lakes, again with loads of mushrooms. It ends at a special feature of the park -- the fish smoker.  Many of the parks have fish cleaning stations, but this is the first one I have seen with a fish smoker. Too bad we didn't catch any fish.

And while your fish is smoking, you can play tetherball.

Returning to the campsite, the sky became as black as sack cloth and the dead started rising and Bev and I decided to put up our eating tent -- yes we have an eating tent.  A fire was built to keep evil spirits away and soon it was time for bed again.  An hour after I fell asleep Bev woke me up to calmly inform me that the tent was eating her alive.  Thinking that the tent was broken I went outside to realize that indeed the tent was attacking her with help of the wind, but it wasn't broken.  If I had my camera I could have started work on Paranormal Activities 17 or maybe the Blair tent project. I returned to the tent to sleep, but it was too much for Bev -- "To the car!"  Rob "Noooooooo!  The Horror.  The Horror."  Within an hour the storm was gone but my sleep in the car had barely begun.  The next morning I was up at sunrise, cleaned up the site in 30 minutes and we left promising never to talk about the Curse of Nagagamisis again. The End.

There are so many good sites at "The Nag", but again they follow the normal rules of by the water and private.  Of the 107 non-electrical sites (generators are permitted) in Shaganash Campground #64, 68, 70, 72, 73, 77, 80, and 82 and in Bedwash Campground #23, 24, 25, 27, 29, 30, 32, 36, 38, 40, 42, 43, 47, 49, 51, 57, 59, 61, 62, and 63 were all excellent.

Site Cleanliness: Great.  It was almost perfect when we arrived, plus you had your own driveway.

Privacy: Excellent.  Again more space up north to make the sites more private.  

Hiking and Activities: There are two trails which isn't a lot, but you could fill your days with activities like canoeing, fishing, beach volleyball, tetherball, swimming, or boating.

Fire Pit and Amenities: I am getting rid of this category as all the parks seem to have good to great for this category.  And even though this park had a fish smoker, I'll just mention it in the blog.  I am replacing this with the new category:
Park Class:  This 8,131ha park is a natural environment class and it is not hard to see why as a great deal of land around the park is being used for forestry.  

Beach Quality or Ease of Getting to the Water: We didn't swim because of the weather, but from the look of things the water was beautiful and the day use beach was good, small, but good.  It says there is beach all along the shore, but it's more of a rocky beach just to warn. It is very easy to get to the water from all of my recommended sites.

Recommended Length of Stay: If you are canoeing or fishing: 7-10 days, any less than that and there isn't a point in going so far.  If you are not, I figure 3 days is enough you could rent a boat for a day, hike for a day, and relax the whole time.

Overall Impression: I really did love this park, we were just unlucky. The ranger was so nice that I really wanted to thank him before we left, but because of the hour I decided not to bother him. I would definitely return to this park for a longer stay.

Rating out of 107: #23 I hold it in the same high regard as Wakami, but there is no need for a gun at this park so... Wakami is #22 now because you might need your 22 for the bears in the area and Nagagamisis is #23 for the classic mystery, drama, thriller of the same name starring a talented Canadian boy named Jim Carey. Happy Halloween everyone.

If you're keeping track:
#2 Algonquin
#19 Sandbanks
#22 Wakami Lake
#23 Nagagamisis
#29 Pancake Bay
#33 Chutes
#93 Rainbow Falls
#101 Turkey Point

See you in Movember.

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