Hike #18: Shield Trail

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Distance hiked: 4.8km
Location: Bon Echo Provincial Park, Ontario
Date: May 30, 2020

We typically don’t visit the cabin in the spring as the bugs are out of control. But sometimes I am quick to forget the misery of the mosquitoes. With two different types of insect repellent in hand, I thought I was prepared. How bad could it be? For the weekend we packed our bags and headed up north to the cabin. Spoiler alert: We did not last the entire weekend due to the mosquito apocalypse. 

We arrived at the cabin late Friday evening during the middle of a downpour, creating ideal conditions for the mosquitoes to come out and play. After bringing all our gear inside (along with some of the mosquitoes), we got our sleeping bags and pillows ready and dashed to the bedroom, quickly shutting the door behind us in the hopes that the mosquitos wouldn’t follow.

We woke up the next morning eager to start the day. The forecast was calling for light showers throughout the afternoon, so we planned to get an early start. After eating a quick breakfast, we drove up to Bon Echo Provincial Park, which is only about a 15 minute drive from the cabin. Bon Echo is situated along several lakes, including Mazinaw Lake, the seventh deepest lake in the province. It also offers several trails through the forest, wetlands, and rugged landscape of the Canadian Shield. 

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Provincial parks in Ontario re-opened a couple of weeks ago for day-use activities, including hiking. When we arrived at Bon Echo, many of the side roads that lead to the campgrounds (and hiking trails) were still blocked off. Instead we parked at the main parking lot by the visitor’s centre and walked along the road to get to the trailhead. 

The mosquitoes were so bad that we started to put on the insect repellent while in the car, which can’t be good to breath in those fumes in close proximity. I sprayed anything and everything on myself, including my clothes, backpack and hat. And they still swarmed. 

We initially planned to hike along the Abes and Essens Lake Trail (17km roundtrip). But after hiking along the road for 20 minutes we had yet to come across the trailhead and we weren’t sure we’d be coming out of the woods alive. Instead, we decided to hike along the Shield Trail (4.8km loop), which we passed earlier on the road. 

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You know it’s going to be bad when the description for the hike includes a warning to bring insect repellent. News flash: it made no difference.

I’m not sure if it was because of all the insect repellent we sprayed (and inhaled), but the trail was marked with an odd assortment of markers, which we found very confusing. There were orange and yellow markers (and sometimes both) as well as numbered signs along the path. We weren’t sure whether these markers were all for the Shield Trail, or to denote a different trail through the area as well. 

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I quickly learned the art of taking pictures while moving. We followed the orange, yellow and numbered signs down to the marsh and beaver dam (more like mosquito breeding grounds) 

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There was a slight breeze down by the water, providing momentarily relief from the swarms of mosquitoes that were stalking us. It was very short-lived and we didn’t linger long. 

We continued onward to Bon Echo Lake. Looked like there were nice views here, but not nice enough to make a detour to the edge. 

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The hike is estimated to take two hours to complete. We finished in just under an hour. Fear really is a good motivator. 

After finishing up we headed back to the cabin to spend the remainder of the day indoors. It rained throughout the afternoon, which was fine for us since it’s not as if we had plans to venture back outdoors. Instead we got a nice fire going in the wood stove and read by the window overlooking the lake. 

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We had initially planned to spend another day here, but decided to pack up after dinner and drive back to Toronto. 

Bugs: 1
Me: 0

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My progress on the 52 Hike Challenge can be found here

16 thoughts on “Hike #18: Shield Trail

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The fall and winter are my favourite times of the year too. In the fall, the days are still warm, but not humid, the nights are cooler, and there are no buggies. I just love snow, so naturally I like the winter as well. There are typically significantly less people on the trails and also no bugs. Thanks for reading.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We should have known better about the mozzie situation as they are usually terrible in the spring. But I’m happy that we were still able to get away, get a hike in (even if we were stalked by the mosquitoes the entire time) and spend some time snuggled up by the fire. (By the way, I am definitely going to be using the term “mozzie” more often!! I like it!)

      Liked by 1 person

  1. ourcrossings says:

    Reading by the window that’s overlooking the lake and listening to the crackling fire sounds absolutely divine. In Ireland, the bugs are out of the control during the summer months and it’s impossible to escape them even with bug repellent! You have to be careful not to leave the campervan door opened come evening, otherwise they’ll eat you alive 😂😂😂 Thanks for sharing and have a good day 😀 Aiva

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I always snickered at those people who wore bug masks. But after this trip, they don’t seem like such a bad idea anymore. In Ontario, the bugs are usually bad in May, June and maybe the first part of July, which is why we typically go camping in the later half of the summer. But because of the pandemic, we have a few camping trips booked earlier than usual as there aren’t many other travel options. I may come to regret that. And yes, keeping the campervan (or in my case, tent) door closed in the evening is a must. Take care.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Haha, they most certainly have not. I’m not sure I would consider myself brave, more like stupid or silly. It’s generally a pretty marshy/swampy area, which we knew beforehand. It’s never ideal to visit in the spring. Oh well, makes for a memorable experience. Thanks for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I often ask myself that same question. Bon Echo is one of my favourite provincial parks in Ontario. It’s too bad that we couldn’t have spent more time there, but we plan on returning near the beginning of September when the buggies shouldn’t be a problem anymore.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Vanessa says:

    Hiking in Bon Echo was in my plans for this summer (still have never been!). But not sure I’m ready yet to face all these mosquitoes! Maybe in fall!

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Bon Echo is such a lovely area, even more so in the fall when the leaves are starting to change. We plan on returning near the beginning of September when the bugs aren’t so bad. We booked one of the canoe-in campsites on Joe Perry Lake. Hopefully you’ll manage to visit it this year, whether in the summer or fall.

      Liked by 1 person

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