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Bon Echo Back Country Trip Report

by on Sep.01, 2011, under Travel

For our first trip backpacking into the wilderness Jane and I chose Bon Echo Provincial Park as our destination of choice. With 17 seemingly easy kilometers of trail sneaking through pristine Canadian wilderness what could go wrong?

We both had sub 25lb packs even though they were fully loaded with camping gear, food, water, and fuel, which made us think we were going to have a nice leisurely stroll through the wood.

While our gear worked and we weren’t overburdened our biggest problem turned out to be one of the smallest things… BUGS.

The mosquitoes in the park were ferocious and both Jane and I came out covered in bites. Things were so bad at some points we were literally running down the trails to get away from them. Now this was in mid July, still the height of bug season, but it was still way worse than expected. So be warned, if you plan on camping during June or July bring bug spray, nets, suits, and a flamethrower if you have it.

The Abe’s and Essen’s trail has two shortcuts to give hiker the option of doing a shorter loop or to simply go for a day hike. For our trip we hiked the entire 17Km circumference opting to not explore the shortcuts. Along the trail there are 5 campsites that need to be reserved through parks Canada and a permit is necessary for access to the park.

 Click on the map to get a larger version

Get the .GPX file HERE (Right click & Save As)

One of the biggest hurdles in preparing for this trip was finding information on the trails and the sites. We even found it difficult to find a good map of the trails to book out sites and had to rely on photos from a trip report by Suluk 46.

From looking at Google earth and referencing what information I could find online I chanced on site 529 and made a booking.

We arrived in the park on Friday night and camped in the car camping area so we could leave first thing in the morning.  When the sun rose we packed up our gear, grabbed our backcountry permit, and headed to the trailhead. Once there we were putting on our packs as a father and two kids tromped out of the woods and call a warning over to us. “I hope you have some bug nets, It’s crazy in there” he said. Luckily we were prepared and pulled out our bug nets, sprayed ourselves down, and prepared for battle.

Jane suited up for the battle of the bugs

 

The trail was wonderful, much more rugged than either of us had expected, but still manageable for our first trip. We hiked up hills, over rocks, crossed beaver dams, and tried to enjoy ourselves while being eaten alive. We did get a few moments of refuge when the trail neared lakes and a breeze could be felt vanquishing the biting menace.

Jane and I enjoying a breezy break from the bugs

 

My triumphant mounting of a small rocky hill

 

We passed our fist camp site, site 530, and I stopped to snap a few pictures. The site is up on a rocky rise overlooking a small lake with lots of lillypads around it’s edges. It’s a bit of a hike to get water and swimming it a bit weedy but it’s proximity to the trail head makes it doable for almost anyone regardless of pack weight.

The next bit of trail, the most northerly section, is difficult to navigate and crosses several beaver dams. At some times we had difficulty locating the trail but after a bit of searching we usually found a trail marker in the distance. It appears that not may hikers make it back this far to beat down the underbrush and really define a path. After this we emerged from the woods at our home for the night Site 529.

Jane checking our our swimming options

 

This beautiful site overlooks the larges site on the trip. Despite the look in the photo of weeds there was an excellent rock just to the left of this photo that slopes gently, and weed free, right into the water. We peeled off our clothes and slipped in the water to soak away our pains and wash away the stink of sweat and bug spray.

We had a beautiful evening of roasting marshmallows and relaxing around camp before heading to bed early, exhausted from our hike.

The next morning we awoke, rested and relaxed, to a beautiful day with a nice bug vanquishing breeze. Breakfast was eaten, camp was packed, and we hit the trails.

Our next site to visit was Site 528, This site is within visual distance of site 529 but far enough away that you have more than enough privacy. 528 has amazing swimming as well and lots of room to hang hammocks and setup tents. From there the trail plunges back into the woods, crossing streams and dodging swamps.

Putting my sticks to use crossing a stream that was mostly blocked by a beaver dam


Jane making short work of some technical trail sections

Nearing lunch time we came across site 527 up on a hill overlooking Essens lake. We dropped our packs and pulled off our boots to let our feet dry why nibbling Clif bars and relaxing in the shade.

Lunch at site 527. Note the great swimming rocks!

 After lunch we grabbed our packs then took the short hike to tour the nearby, and last, site 526.

Site 526 is on a point with a beautiful view of the lake

 

After visiting the last site we had a nice hike out of the woods stopping to enjoy the view whenever we could. Then finally, tired but smiling, we arrived back at the car, threw our packs in the trunk and promised our selves we would come back… just maybe in the winter when there are NO BUGS!


View larger map

 Get the .GPX file HERE (Right click & Save As)

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Northern Quebec by Motorbike – Bonus Photos

by on Oct.16, 2009, under Travel

Here are a bunch of photos taken by the other riders on the trip.

Me making some time on the North Road

Crazy Stop Sign. The lower line is in Cree. Looks like they really like Christmas with all the candy canes and Christmas trees!

The Might Rupert River

Blasting The Trans Tiaga

Me and my gear

Camping in a gravel pit

Me Riding along

End of the Trans Tiaga!

Caribou ?

Wipeout – No one got hurt. This was a steep hill of loose gravel.

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Northern Quebec by Motorbike – Day 7 & 8

by on Oct.15, 2009, under Travel

Having sworn off boil in bag food at this point the full plate of bacon and eggs was a welcome site in the morning. After having my second shower (third for some) the bikes were packed and the tanks filled for the long ride out. The neares gas station at Km 381 meant that we needed to carry a full load of gas for this streatch. Feeling confident we all took off at top speed spaced out so everyone could go at their own pace, dust free, and enjoy the peace of the morning. Comming over one hill I came face to face with a black bear and cub. I slammed the breaks and came to a stop a safe distance away but it was too close and they made a break for the woods. Too bad, no photo. A few Km later same thing but this time it was a grey wolf! I rolled by an saw it down in the ditch so I stopped farther up the trail. It hopped out and started walking down the road away from me. In the end everyone on the ride saw it.

We saw lots of beautiful scenery

Rolling Hills

My shiny new bike isn’t so shiny and new anymore

Being back on the pavement was weird. Instantly my body begain to cramp up and be sore. After being loose and standing alot for the past three days I was suddenly sitting very still and my bum knew it. We regrouped at a designated rest stop and celebrated our latest victory while preparing ourselves for an anticlimactic few days on the bike to get home.

Our planned stop for the night was to camp where the James Bay Road crossed the Rupert River. Getting there around 4:30 we all pulled off our helmets to relax and start setting up camp when we were swarmed by bugs. Screw that.

Looking at the GPS it was only a 2 hour ride to cold beers and a hotel room. COLD BEER & NO BUGS !!! We set off with a very disapointed John following along (He wanted to camp) and blasted our way into town. with only one quick stop to fill up the bikes along the way.

The bugs were brutal and totall destroyed visibility.

The next day was a leisurly ride home. Feet up, lean back, one hand on the throttle cruise back to Ottawa. Meeting up for one last gas outside of town we all shook hands and congratulated each other on a trip well done before each going our own direction.

Thanks again for the invite Ted! Until the next one !

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Northern Quebec by Motorbike – Day 6

by on Oct.14, 2009, under Travel

Today started off as cold as any other day. Frost covering anything still hidden in shadows. In a routine now we broke camp and packed up our bikes, taking turns to climb up on a big rock to shake out our tents to remove both frost and gravel. In the mean time I rolled my bike out from the shadow of a hill of rocks into the sun to help melt some of the frost that had formed on my seat.


(Thank’s for the idea Ted)

Chris’ bike with it’s shiny new battery started first try and we breathed a sigh of relief as we set off for out next great destination. Once we had left the nice gravel pit and descended into the lower areas we quickly discovered that every valley was filled with thick soupy fog that coated both sides of our visors and slowed us to a crawl. Eventually the sun did come up and we picked up speed as the fog burned off.

That’s when I came over a small rise to see the contents of Chris’ pannier spread over the road. “Oh Shit” I’m thinking as I slam on the breaks and ask him what happened. With the weight of a battery and gas Chris’ home made pannier came lose and spread its contents across the road.

A few straps later it was all re-attached.

Then we hooked up with Throttlemeister! Here’s Dan giving autographs.

We knew we were close when we started having to cross the huge rock piles.

And this huge spillway that had been blasted out.

We all grouped up for a team shot as we made it to the end of the Trans Tiaga. YAY! now we only have 666Km of dirt to get out of here.

Me at the end

End of the TT. If you come bring a marker to sign this. And a ADV sticker (I forgot mine)

After that we stopped at Air Saguenay and filled up with gas. $1.90/L Ouch! but better than running out half way home. While waiting to fill up a blackfly got in my helmate and took a chunk out of my eyelid. Had me worried it was going to swell shut but it never got that bad.

Cruising back to Mirage after driving into the sun all morning then turning around and driving into the sun all afternoon we were all a bit burnt and worn out. As the shadows got lower and lower I came to a blind hill that was covered in shadows. I slowed a bit because I couldn’t see over it then bam, I was airborn! A rock I didn’t see had launched me in the air. I knew right away it was bad so I slammed on the breaks and made a quick inspection of my bike. There was still air in the tires and I couldn’t hear it leaking. Rims look ok. Tires are still ok. I thought I was luck and headed out. Meeting up with Ted, it turns out we had both squared the same rock. I check again and sure enough I had dented my front rim. DAMMIT!!!! Not much I can do now. Then we had a nice 40+Km of soft graded road to welcome us to our home for the night at Mirage. Every muscle aching in my body I gladly paied the $127CDN for a room and meals then sat sipping beers on the patio between long showers.

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Northern Quebec by Motorbike – Day 5

by on Oct.13, 2009, under Travel

Today we were up bright and early to tackle the next big leg of our journey. Since the Funduro didn’t want to play the day before at James bay Chris decided he was going to get up early and make sure the bike started. Unfortunatly the Funduro didn’t sleep well and decided to not co-operate. Chris in frusteration left the bike and proceded to walk down to the visitors center and make full use of their public toilets.

After returning to the site he decided to try the bike again. I guess it was feeling guilty about earlier and decided it was going to start right up. Weird.

This prompted a search for the local parts store. Luckily because everyone, and I mean everyone, owns either a 4wheeler, a ski-doo, or both there was a NAPA autoparts that had an extensive selection of batteries. Now with a new battery in hand and everyone loaded up we could begin!

First stop at the start of the Trans-Tiaga!

Making time

Next stop was this tiny gas station in a “tornado magnet” of a trailerpark town called Nouchimi (Or nuchachu, or nastysnatch, or whatever else we could come up with when we couldn’t remember the name). Here we filled up and headed out for Mirage outfitters

NOTE: IF YOU CAN AVOID IT DON’T BUY GAS HERE. IF YOU CAN MAKE IT ~80Km TO MIRAGE YOU WILL SAVE ~20Cents/L.

Shortly after Nouchimi is a “Belveder” or lookout where you can ride up a small hill with a killer view. Here’s a shot of me at the top of it.

After a good day of riding and making Mirage in record time we opted to push along for another hour to try to make our next day easier. Eventually we came upon a gravel pit that we had heard about in other ride reports and setup camp in the setting sun.

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