Friday, April 11, 2014

Restoule now tell me, Am I really going to love you forever, Oh, Oh, Oh, Or am I caught in a Hit and Run?

If you've ever been on a long trip there is often a moment where you'd rather be home, or in a bed, or dry, or any place, but where you are.  Upon arriving in Restoule Provincial Park, right after Cheaters Park and before that the curse of Lake Nagagamisis, I was on the brink.  Thankful for the great rest at Cheaters park and a chance to refresh ourselves, we were now camping well into the second weekend of September and the weather was not showing signs of being an Indian summer.  (Should be First Nations summer as it is not referring to a summer in the land of curries.)  While driving the long and winding road into Restoule, I was shocked at how many deer we spotted and it made me think of how, in a month, my father and brother would be shooting them.
"O.K. I'll make you a deal.  Don't tell your family where we are and I'll stop giving you the stink eye," Deer.
"Stupid deer" Me.
Not all of the provincial parks are open in September, so you have to check which ones stay open later, but if they are open, and you're game, you pretty much have the place to yourself.  We had our pick of the sites and chose a nice one by the beach.
Bev in welcome/tah dah pose at site 236 at Restoule.
The site was fairly private, but as always,  provincial park + hardwood bush = you can see your neighbours.  Luckily for us we were the only ones around so we had no neighbours.  After setting up we set off on a hike and mushroom hunt (Shhhh. We're hunting mushrooms).   The first hike we did was the Angels Point Trail (2.5 km) -- an easy hike where we killed a lot of mushrooms.  This was the sort of hike that you take with your kids or your parents just to get off the campsite.  That being said, because it was prime mushroom season, Bev and I enjoyed ourselves thoroughly.
Pave this trail and it's a scene from Miller's Crossing.
The second hike we did was the River Trail (2 km) -- more of a moderate hike through another hardwood bush, we were surprised we didn't get to murder any mushrooms.  I think they got word and all went into hiding.  This hike was more our speed and beautiful, but because there were very few mushrooms, we enjoyed ourselves ever so slightly less.   Rangers Point (1km) is a flat easy trail that takes you along a river to Stormy Lake.  It is suggested that you take a picnic and go on this trail, but personally I think this is a trail to teach your one year old how to hike.  There is a nice view of Stormy Lake, yet let's put it this way; we didn't take a picture of it.

I now must confess.  We decided that we were only going to stay one night at this park sometime during our first day and when you do that, you have to be choosy on what you do and what you skip.  I don't feel right anymore only going to a park for a night and reviewing it, because I find that you always miss something (maybe a second night?).  On that note, the other two hikes are Gibs Trail (? km) which is a linear trail meaning at some point you have to choose to turn around and travel the same path back.  Gibs travels outside the park into crown land which I worry about because I think I would want to see the end of the unmarked, unmaintained trail and may never be seen again.  If we had the time I think this would have been our favourite trail and many a mushroom would have perished.  Lastly, Fire Tower Trail (7km) is a challenging hike to the top of the bluffs and a historical fire tower.  We did the tiniest bit of this hike through a pine bush and enjoyed it, however I have to assume if you have seen one fire tower you have seen them all.
There, now you've seen one.

It may seem like we didn't enjoy ourselves at Restoule and that is simply untrue.  We walked down to the beautiful beach, we did as many hikes as we had time for, and we checked out the entire campsite which is mostly a smart set up, with many sites at various elevations so no site is staring at their neighbours.  Due to this, I was confused by a bit of the history.  This park was originally a farm, but with all the hills I have to wonder what they were farming?

One of the Beaches at Restoule.  Pretty eh?

In an effort to include other points of view I want to say that a friend of mine, Charles Lehmann, really had a bad time here.  Upon further questioning (using the comfy chair and the pointy cushions), he admitted his drive to the park was long and uncomfortable, the water was too warm, the floor of the lake was mucky, he had a run in with an Ontario outhouse cobra and there was a fire ban.

Charles after his run in with the Ontario outhouse Cobra!
All of these things can ruin a camping trip and we are usually very careful to avoid these things at all cost.  For example: Fun Fact: to anyone who wants to go camping on May 24 weekend watch out that there isn't an alcohol ban at your park, unless you like it that way.  Personally I don't like being told what to do.  For us camping is about being together and great food over an open fire.  Enter the internal monologue : I'm not one to show off my food normally and a part of me is already feeling guilty for wanting to do it and another part hates the first part, but I do want to show the wild mushrooms and I've done that in the past without any problems.  Hell I do it again at the end of this Blog post.  Screw it, I'm going to do it.  Exit the internal monologue. Here is what we ate at Restoule.
Steak, and wild mushrooms.  I'm sure we had a vegetable not pictured here.
Restoule is also a great jumping off point for canoe trips, they have back country sites available all the way to lake Nipissing.  It looks amazing, but unfortunately I don't think we'll get a chance to try it for about 7 years from now.  The best sites are; at Kettle Point Campground numbers 424, 426, 430, 432, 435, 437, 438, and 440.  At Putts Point Campground numbers 233, 234, 235, 236, 253, 257, and 309.  And at Bell's Point Campground numbers 4, 7, 8, 16, 29, 39, 41, 43, 44, 47, 49, 50, and 53 -- be warned at Bell's it's a bit of a walk to the beach.

Privacy:  Decent.  There are private sites (look at the suggestions) and if you set up your equipment you can block sight lines to other campsites.

Hiking and Activities: Very Good and by that I mean there are quite a lot.  I was impressed with the amount of hikes, if you like canoeing you could easily spend 5-7 days at this park.  They also have programs run by the campground during the high season.

Park Class:  I'm guessing recreation.... and I am wrong.  This park is a Natural Environment class of park which means: "Natural Environment Parks are selected to protect large, representative, and ecologically viable areas throughout Ontario."  I really am no good at this game.

Beach Quality or Ease of Getting to the Water: You can get to the water from every site within minutes.  The beach quality was good, but to be honest we just got our feet wet due to the weather so I can't be sure Charles wasn't correct in his assessment of the water quality.  Note that you can also swim at Stormy Lake.

Recommended Length of Stay:  If you are canoeing then you could stay for two weeks in the back country enjoying yourself, but if you are on a family trip I would suggest 4 days.  A hike a day, a swim a day and rent a canoe for a day to check out some of the close lakes and fishing.

Overall Impression:  I liked Restoule, but we were there at a good time of year for me.  Privacy I think would be an issue if this park was full and it wouldn't be hard to fill that beach in the same circumstances and if the bottom is all weeds and muck well then you might not want to be in the water for long.  Two of the hikes were silly easy, but they had three that were/would have been fun. 

Rating out of 107:  Tough call really because I liked it and it has drawbacks, but I think it has to fall at #52 for all those times I played cards with my family and was left cleaning the floor of the cards.

Again if you're keeping track:
#2 Algonquin
#3 Quetico
#19 Sandbanks
#21 Neys
#22 Wakami Lake
#23 Nagagamisis
#29 Pancake Bay
#33 Chutes
#52 Restoule
#53 Point Farms
#56 Inverhuron
#93 Rainbow Falls
#101 Turkey Point
#105 Bronte Creek

And now a mushroom moment with Robert Fidler:
First we saw...
Oyster mushroom or Pleurotus Ostreatus. Edible.
Amanita Muscaria or Fly Agaric. Poisonous.
Hygrophorus Russula. Edible.
And lastly.
Amanita Flavoconia or Yellow Patches. Poisonous.
Thank-you and good night.