Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Tent Camping on the Pickerel River in Ontario...Enjoying the river and lots of wildlife

We haven't used our Surveyor trailer since our Maiden Voyage as  it got rat damage while at an RV shop waiting for warranty items to be prepared. Now that it's being fixed we are thinking of selling our Surveyor to a friend as we will be staying local for the next year or two while my husband finishes his pilots license. When we do hit the road again, we want to get a 5th wheel.

This weekend we tried tent camping with the kids to see how we can all manage while we explore our province this summer without the trailer.

We had a fantastic 4 days on the Pickerel River. I mean who wouldn't love camping here for free!!!

The first day we arrived it was raining so everyone went fishing until the rain passed.

 Aayla caught the first fish on her first cast.

 She was so excited that on her next cast she couldn't understand why her bobber wasn't going under water so she could reel another fish in!

After fishing everything was still wet so the girls went to explore a bit so the guys could get the tent up. We found a rock that looked like a puppy dog...with a bit of imagination (see by her foot and a better close up in the other).

Can you see the dog rock?

 Sierra and her cousin Charlie explored the big rocks along the shoreline.
 Then they found a little cove where they put their feet in. However this little cove had no running water and Sierra got a leech on her. I didn't get a picture as it was very traumatic for her. Thankfully we had salt with us and we were able to get it off quickly.
From across the lake I saw a turtle crawling out of the woods towards the lake. It looked like it's shell was close to a foot in diameter from where I stood. I let out a squeal, raced around the road to get to where I saw him and he was gone. There was only a small trail of over turned rocks left to show that anything was there at all. I was sad to not get a picture but it was so exciting to see him at all.
Upon returning home I did a bit of research and I think it might have been a Blandings Turtle as his shell looked big and rounded from across the lake. The other possibilities due to it's size would be a Snapping Turtle or a Wood Turtle but I was too far away to know for sure. My gut with the shape of it's shell and size even from a distance makes me believe it was a Blandings Turtle.

While we were over on the other side of the lake Sierra and Charlie had fun exploring.

 Charlie found the remains of a fish and thought this fin cartilage was very interesting.

They also spotted a beautiful wild Iris.
Our camp site from across the lake as Ian and Mark get the tent set up.
This space is just off the road but there was hardly any traffic. Part of this logging road is still used but we didn't have any logging trucks pass us where we were camping.

After the sun came out we could barely keep everyone out of the water all weekend! Here is how we enjoyed the lakes and the river while camping here. Due to the close proximity of the current the kids all had to wear their life jackets even when just throwing rocks from the shore to be safe.

Pretending to surf... 


 There was sliding down rocks on a natural water slide...

and getting dunked in currents by uncles...

 riding on whales...

 wading in near the shore...

Warming up and jumping back in again...

There was cliff jumping...

and cliff jumping watchers from the sidelines...
With silly poses and silly faces.

 There was swimming...

 and riding the currents down river...

 Ian even managed to go downstream and saved his coffee! A true Canadian!

 There was also a lot of rock climbing during our time here.
Charlie and Kali
Aayla the Mountain Goat

There was more fishing

Sierra caught a little fish too and kept him close by for a couple hours before letting him go.
 and canoe rides...
Aayla loves the canoe and wants to get a small paddle of her own.

 There was of course more fishing out on the canoe too... The lakes were so peaceful and beautiful to canoe around in.

 With fishing come fish tales...see the fish below? It was almost lunch for a Pickerel. Ian caught it and had it attached to a line in the water to keep it fresh when a large Pickerel came up and swallowed it hole. Ian said it was the biggest one he has ever seen! See the white line behind the gills where it bit. Ian spent the rest of the weekend trying to catch that Pickerel but he ended up being... the one that got away.

He did catch a couple other fish and we cooked it (and all our camping meals) over the camp fire.

The guys were happy to get in some target practice.

There were many beautiful sunsets... none with a lot of colour but the sun rays were beautiful to watch set behind the tree line every night.

There were lots of rocks thrown into the river...and a few sticks too...

We saw so many dragonflies. Every night they flew continually around the fire at dusk. We did see them throughout the day as well. Here are some of the varieties we saw:

We saw many other creatures as well

This Northern Watersnake scared the life out of me. I almost stepped on it as I was out taking some pictures. I managed to snap a couple before it slithered away.

The girls found a couple of little American Toads and set them up a little habitat to watch them while we were camping.

 Charlie even tried to kiss one to see if it was a luck though.

 The Eastern Dobsonfly was a first for me. It was such a weird and wacky creature. It looked almost prehistoric. I had to research this guy to find out what he was. It turns out he was a she and she can inflict a painful bite. Lucky for me, since I was the one handling her quite a bit, she did not bite me. We found this as one of the kids awoke screaming. It was in the tent on his pillow and he was terrified. I picked it up and brought it out of the tent so we could investigate him (or rather her) a little.
Female Eastern Dobsonfly

It's body was about 3" long but it's wingspan was closer to 5" so seeing this on your pillow I think would freak out almost anyone.
Wingspan of the female Eastern Dobsonfly
Some prettier sights were the White Admiral butterflies. I thought we were seeing different butterflies around the camp on different days but after seeing the pictures I realized all my pictures are of this one butterfly. We did see Swallowtails, Monarchs and other butterflies but none that I could get close enough to for a decent shot. We also saw a deer jump across the road while driving, and a grouse or partridge family but while driving I couldn't get a picture.

I have never seen a caterpillar like this one before either. I thought he was beautiful and I loved his suction cup feet. However after researching to try to find out what type of caterpillar he was I learned he was a Gypsy Moth caterpillar and are an invading species to Ontario and possibly should have been destroyed.

We saw many of these all over the rocks. I believe they are what dragonflies emerge from when they hatch to fly.
We learned a great camping trick when a friend of Marks joined us on the second day. She brought us a Take Ten pack from Tim Hortons and what we didn't drink the first day we warmed up in a pot over the fire the next morning... the perfect camping trick! Thanks again Charlene!

One of Aaylas favourite thing to do while camping was either drive the truck
or sit in the back as we went to gather firewood, or run to town. She had a blast out there signing songs at the top of her lungs.
 Sierra preferred to ride inside the truck.

So as you can see we really enjoyed our first tent camping trip and hope to do many more this summer. Trailer camping is wayyyyy easier with kids but I think we will manage just fine.

We also took a hike at French River Provincial park which you can see HERE.
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