Silent Lake Glamping and the 15k Trail Adventure

On Saturday afternoon Evan and I packed up the car and headed up north to Silent Lake Provincial Park for some camping action. Well, we actually rented a yurt, like a permanent tent, so I am not sure if I can call it camping. Compared to staying in a tent it felt quite glamourous, so I think it’s fitting to call it ‘Glamping.’

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Still no running water or electricity, but at least we had a bed! Camping for the weekend was a last minute decision, and we forgot at the time that we didn’t have a tent. Our friend Ian was borrowing it last week while on a backpacking trip in Killarney Provincial Park with some friends. So, hence the yurt. It was more expensive but this was really the only summer vacation Evan and I took together so we thought we should do it right. It was a cool experience and the inside of the yurt was quite luxurious!

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It’s going to be difficult to go back to a tent after that.

Silent Lake is one of my favourite parks in Ontario. I used to camp there every year when I was a kid with my parents and our family friends. A family vacation tradition! Silent Lake is also where I was camping with my Uncle Donkey when I decided it would be a good idea to pee my sleeping bag.

I was really excited to introduce Evan to my childhood stomping grounds. I haven’t been for years, but the park was just as beautiful as I remembered.

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And there were just as many friendly chipmunks as I remembered!

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I remember them eating out of my hands when I was a kid. And every chipmunk I come across will always be named Chippy.

By the time we arrived on Saturday it was already dark, so we unpacked the car and headed down to the beach for a late night swim before we came back to our site for a campfire. It was a beautiful night and the stars were out in full force.

On Sunday after breakfast (eggs and bacon) we decided to check out the Lakeshore Hiking Trail, an undeveloped 15k trail that winds around the entire lake.

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I estimated that it would take us about an hour to hike each 5k, so I thought the trail should take us three hours in total. I mean, 15km is not THAT far. But I underestimated hiking on a trail compared to a smooth surface. It’s not the same. I wish we had seen this sign before our hike and not at the end:

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That may have convinced us to try another activity that did not include walking for six hours. We stupidly did not read much about the hike in advance, and did not see that the trail was very rugged terrain and suited for experienced hikers (we are not). Once we got on the trail and started to realize what we were in for I totally felt like Cheryl Strayed in Wild. We were completely unprepared to be trekking for six hours on a narrow, uneven trail that was covered in rocks and roots and was uphill for a good majority of the time. We didn’t even bring enough water with us.

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The “trail” is just in front of Evan here, up the hill and to the left of the rocks. Evan is still happy because he doesn’t quite yet know what he’s gotten himself into.

It’s a really good thing the trail was beautiful.

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There were many scenic spots for pictures on the first half of the trail, while the second half of the trail was in the deep woods further from the shore (and by that point I was tired and I didn’t care about taking pictures anymore). We saw fresh bear poop DIRECTLY on the trail at kilometre 9, and shortly after that we smelled something really strong that can only be described as “beastlike”, so that was slightly terrifying and helped us pick up our pace a bit.

In the end, the hike took us about 5 hours, including a couple of quick rest stops and a picnic along the shore (I am SO GLAD we brought sandwiches with us). The last two kilometres were a painful uphill battle and we were so thirsty and my feet were craving an even surface to walk on and Evan was in so much pain I thought I was going to have to carry him, but we made it. We passed the day-use beach area first (our campsite was an additional 2km from there) and we nearly collapsed in front of this pop machine.

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It was a beacon of hope. I’ve never been so happy to see anything in my life (and I was even happier to discover there was money in Evan’s backpack, because what a tease that would have been if we couldn’t afford to get anything). If you’ve read Wild by Cheryl Strayed (or watched the movie) you may remember her going on about how obsessed she became with lemon Snapple and how she had to get it every time she stopped at a campground after hiking all day. I totally get it. We bought a lemonade and a Brisk lemon iced tea and two bottles of water and we drank everything within 5 minutes. Best drinks I have ever had.

If you had asked me immediately after the crazy hike if I would ever do something like that again, my answer would have been hell no. I asked Evan and he said he never wanted to see the blue sign with the man hiking ever again.

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However, later that evening we started reflecting on the experience and I realized that I actually kind of enjoyed myself. It was long and grueling, but we felt super accomplished afterwards. So maybe we would…

My Fitbit sure liked it.

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That’s a record!

We slowly made our way back to our campsite, immediately chugged more water, changed into our bathing suits, and headed down to the beach. I needed to be submerged. We found a spot on the rocks away from the action and spent the rest of the afternoon swimming and recuperating on the rocks.

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I love the pine-studded rocky shoreline. This is what I remember most about this place.

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Silent Lake has comfort stations with showers, so we stopped by there on our way back to the campsite for the night. I’m so glad I was able to shower after that hike because I was a sweaty mess and I’m not sure swimming in lake water helped at all.

Our yurt came with a barbecue, which was very handy. Grilled chicken with rice and veggies for dinner!

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And a ton more veggies with hummus and Heluva Good Dip. I don’t know why food tastes so much better when camping, but it does!

After dinner we played cards and had a campfire and drank beer. We were sitting around the fire when we heard rustling on the yurt porch so we went to investigate and found this this cheeky minx was dragging our garbage bag off into the woods.

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He was the fattest raccoon I’ve ever seen, and incredibly ballsy. The garbage bag was RIGHT behind us and we were still awake. We were able to chase him off, but it wasn’t easy and he kept coming back until we moved everything with a scent into the yurt.

We stayed until Tuesday to make it a real vacation, so more to come tomorrow!

Hope you had a great weekend!

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2 responses to “Silent Lake Glamping and the 15k Trail Adventure

  1. That yurt looks amazing! I want to build one in our woods! WOW..16.5 miles hiking that terrain is super impressive! I am exhausted just reading about it! Like you said, thank God the scenery was drop dead gorgeous! Thank goodness you had money for that vending machine..wow! That had to be terrifying knowing there was a bear close by! Yikes.

    I can’t wait to hear about the rest of the trip..what a gorgeous place!

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