Length of stay: 4 days
Visited: January 2021
Ontario has been under a strict province-wide lockdown since December 26, 2020. So to safely ring in the New Year we decided to head up to the cabin for the long weekend. There is no running water or electricity there and the road leading into the cabin is not maintained, so we usually have to walk in with all our supplies, including water, during the winter months. But we were up for the challenge.
And speaking of challenges, last year we completed the 52 Hike Challenge and went for a hike at least 52 times throughout the year. So this year we decided to set a new goal for ourselves, one that assumes that travel restrictions will remain in place for most of this year. Our challenge for 2021 is to visit as many of Ontario’s provincial parks as we can. Since the cabin is located near a few provincial parks, some of which are open all-year round, we figured this would be a great way to start the year and challenge.
Day 1: New Year’s Eve
We left Toronto shortly after lunch and made the 3 hour drive to the cabin, stopping in Belleville to refill one of the empty propane cylinders that we took back the last time we visited the cabin in November. There was next to no traffic on the road and we made great timing. We rolled into the cabin, or rather the road leading up to the cabin, shortly after 3p.m. We parked the car at the top of the road and walked the rest of the way in. It wasn’t too bad of a walk in, there were some icy patches, but there was enough snow to provide some traction. It also wasn’t too chilly outside (-2°C).
I made two more trips back and forth to the car to carry mostly the rest of our supplies in while K stayed behind to get a fire going in the wood stove and heat up some water for tea. I made it back just as it was starting to get dark outside.
We played some board games for the remainder of the evening and ended up going to bed at 10p.m, which is considered quite late for us. The wine we brought will just have to be used up another night.
Day 2: Happy New Year
We woke up bright and early and were ready to start the year off on a good foot by going for a hike and crossing the first provincial park off our list. After eating breakfast, we walked out to the car and drove to Murphys Point Provincial Park. The park is open all year-round and is a popular place in the winter for cross-country skiing and snowshoes. We brought our snowshoes with us and were optimistic that we’d be able to use them. Not today it seems as there was less snow (and more ice) at Murphys Point than at the cabin.
We spent the morning “hiking” (more like sliding around) a few of the “easy” trails (more like strenuous given the ice) and decided to call it quits earlier than planned due to the conditions. This is why we really should buy a pair of microspikes or ice cleats.
When we returned to the cabin we got a nice fire going in the wood stove and spent the remainder of the day reading by the fire and playing board games.
Day 3: Let it Snow
We received 10cm of snow overnight and woke up to a wintery wonderland. I was eager to get out and enjoy the snow. After eating breakfast, we walked out to the car and drove to Silent Lake Provincial Park. This is where it would have helped if we had taken our snowshoes into the cabin with us, but instead they were in the trunk of our car.
Silent Lake is open all year-round and is quite busy during the winter. There are over 34km of groomed cross-country ski trails and around 8km of snowshoe trails. The park also offers a few winter camping options, including yurts, cabins and electrical sites. We contemplated booking one of the cabins after staying in one when we visited Killarney last November, but figured our cabin was close enough that we couldn’t really justify it.
Silent Lake did not disappoint. After spending the morning strolling through the snow covered forest, we returned to the cabin in the early afternoon. We took it easy for the remainder of the afternoon and just played a few board games and sat by the wood stove. As an added bonus, since the cabin faces west, we were able to enjoy a beautiful sunset.
Day 4: Heading Back Home
We spent the morning cleaning up around the cabin and restocking the firewood for the next time we visit. After eating a late breakfast, we made a couple trips back and forth to the car to carry out our stuff. The hike out is usually easier, but there was a lot more snow than when we had to hike in.
Just in case we didn’t get enough exercise, on the drive back to Toronto we stopped at Ferris Provincial Park to go for a winter hike.
While 2021 is shaping out to be another strange year, I’m glad our provincial parks are still open for us to enjoy and that we’re able to visit the cabin. All-in-all, we had a pretty decent start to the New Year and have already made great progress on our Ontario Parks Challenge.