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.

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