I'm a teacher who is an introvert so I usually start every summer with an extended solo trip but recovering from a bad ankle, lack of fitness, and a wetter than typical start to July convinced me to take a shorter trip and somewhere closer to home.
So my destination was the Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands, a non-operating provincial park a bit more than an hour north of Toronto. Non-operating in this case means there are no facilities and essentially no established camp sites. This also means no fees. Also, in an effort to keep nature in a natural state, there's no camping permitted in anywhere easily accessible. Essentially if you hike more than half an hour, LNT camping is permitted. The park includes some trails which are a part of the Ganaraska trail, a 500 km trail through Southern Ontario. As a perk for those so inclined, I had cell reception pretty much the whole way.
So my plan was to hike about 15 km the first day, spend two nights at one of the established sites, and then hike back to my car by a different route, resupply then do another 5 km to another lake for one night.
I had a track of the trails on my GPS and the trails were reasonably well marked at the start. Of course since I was following the trail instead of actually navigating, I did make some reroutes, following moose trails and the like. I actually felt strange worrying about where the actual trail was instead of just navigating. The way back was especially so since the terrain was filled with open rocky patches of Canadian Shield.
I arrived at the Victoria Bridge trailhead at about 3:00, downed a sandwich and some water then set out. The temperature was about 28 C and very humid. When I got out of the car, I was hit with a dozen or so deer flies but they seemed to lose interest and went away so I wasn't too worried (turns out they just went ahead to inform all their friends). I guess partly because of the terrain, the bugs weren't too bad on the way in. For the first part, I followed along the Black River having some nice views. One of the other reasons I picked this trail was it was fairly flat which suited my fitness level. The highest points were about 280 m and the lowest 240. A neat part of it was the route crosses over several beaver dams.
After about 4 hours of hiking, I was feeling tired and hit a nice little lake about 2 km from my intended target and decided that was a good place to be. A short side trip about 50 m off the trail led me to a nice set of trees near the water. Set up my gear and decided to try a more minimal insulation so went with a 40 degree TQ and an underquilt protector.
Then came the bugs. Had dinner and slipped into my hammock (I just left my food in a loksak on the ground 30 m from my hammock). As 9:00 approached, I noticed a definite increase in mosquitoes. By 9:30 I counted at least 2 dozen on the bug net at one point. I was also amazed at how loud they were (reason to be explained later). My phone has a decibel meter app and it had a pretty consistent 40 decibels. Of course the bladder was slowly filling and being a warm night, I was in the hammock wearing just underwear. Oh well, a few bites. I also discovered another use of cell phones. If you use them in the hammock, the heat and light attracts them so the ones that do sneak in your hammock are easy to hunt down.
Morning was even worse for bugs. Got out of the hammock for the groggy bladder emptying and was interrupted by a deer fly bite on the back side. Cooking breakfast meant more bugs and it was far too warm to be wearing long sleeves and pants so I decided to go back and take a nap.
Back to the loud buzzing. I decided to loosen up the UQP to let the breeze in and was confused by the dirt inside of it. Turns out the dirt was really dead mosquitoes, probably about 50 of them. Seems the loud buzzing was the mozzies were able to get in but couldn't get out. Sadly 50 dead ones didn't seem to make a dent in the population.
By about 7:00 it became better as it started cooling down enough for the deer flies to go away and not dusk so the mosquitoes weren't bad yet. Sat around watching the 'good' wildlife, dragonflies, birds, and frogs. Was serenaded by a sound that I didn't recognize, sort of a cross between a woodpecker, a frog, and banging sticks together.
Next morning packed up, had a very light breakfast to avoid the bugs and hiked out. Hiked with long pants, gaiters, hat, and bug net. By the time I got to the car, I was able to count at least 30 deer fly bites on one hand. I really felt like the pied piper of deer flies, leading dozens of them along the trail.
Random deer fly fact, they've been clocked at over 60 miles per hour.
Needless to say, I skipped out on the third night.
For Toronto area people, especially hammockers who don't need flat ground to camp on, the park is a good place. There are several canoe options too. Only suggestion I would make is go in September or October.
I did have a nice highlight on the drive out. Drove around the corner and there was a moose standing in front of me. I sat and watched it for a little and it didn't seem that concerned about me. Having to go, I honked at it and it responded by slowly jogging along the road for about a minute before finally jumping into the bush.
73a - the view from my hammock - avoiding bugs
74a - my setup
75a - the lake I camped on
78a - my moose encounter