Alright, it’s Friday the 5th of July and we didn’t go anywhere…but hey, Killarney deserves more than one day.
Last night, just before going to bed, as we were packing up the car, we opened the passenger side door and discovered our little reptilian friend. He (she) was sitting on the seat, staring up at us and looking very comfortable. It was an Eastern Hognose snake, about 4 inches long (sorry, I don’t do cm) and about as big around as Wendy’s pinky. After speaking to him about the benefits of leaving our car, I snatched him up and placed him in a grassy / wooded area. I thought I was ninja-like in grabbing him on the first try and then Wendy reminded that since it was cooler out…and he was a snake…it was likely that he was just moving more slowly. Either way, it was a big of a relief to identify him and get him safely out of the car…considering that there are Massassauga rattlesnakes at Killarney. It was also a great reminder to be aware that wildlife is abundant and can get into the darndest places.
We slept in out tent without the fly, as the sky was clear and the temperature absolutely perfect. Just as I was falling asleep, our little varmint friend began snuffling at the tent, right next to Wendy’s ear. She claims that it sounded just like our dog, Mookie. Wendy told the raccoon to beat it…and he did.
We woke up to birds singing, woodpeckers knocking and red squirrels chirping. Another beautiful day was upon us. Right then we decided that we would stay for another day, so we drove over to the park office and re-registered. Our present campsite was pre-booked so we grabbed another that was available. After downing a protein drink, we packed everything up, stashed it in the car and then drove into the town of Killarney, which is about 12 km from our campsite.
Some Killarney history (because everyone loves history)…In 1820, Etienne Augustin Rocbert de la Morandiere and his wife Josephte Sai Sai Go No Kwe (which means ‘Woman Of The Falling Snow’) arrived to establish a fur trading outpost. At the time, the village was already known as Shebehonaning (which means ‘Safe Passage’ in Anishnaabek) and was already well known as a sheltering spot for voyageurs and as a major transit point for the fur trade. Today, Killarney is just a little less busy. There is a marina, a general store, a liquor store, a fine looking inn (right on the water) and a great fish and chips stand (more on this later).
After visiting for oh…about two minutes…we drove back towards the park and stopped at the Killarney Outfitters to buy some ice and gas up the car. Word of advice here, no matter where you are traveling from, do NOT gas up at the outfitters…$1.46 per litre of gas.
From there we drove to Chikanishing Creek Road (about a kilometre and a half from the park) to hike this historic trail. I’m not sure what Chikanishing means in Anishnaabek, but it probably translates into ‘don’t walk this trail if your back is still sore from two days of moving’. The information states that it ‘is a 3 km trail and moderately difficult, with lots of ups and downs over granite outcrops’…the truth is that it’s absolutely gorgeous. It isn’t a long hike, we did it in about an hour and a half, but it is a workout…up and down and the footing is treacherous. The views of Georgian Bay are breathtaking and so are the climbs.
After our hike we drove back to the town of Killarney (using up some of that expensive gas) to get some of the previously mentioned fish and chips. Fantastic! Serving out of some kind of old bus, the chips are home cut and the fresh fish is delicately battered and deep fried to perfection. Wendy insisted that we have a second helping of fish and I obliged…my gawd I spoil her.
After dinner, we returned to the park, stopped and picked up some more firewood (which we are now placing directly into large green garbage bags). As we were driving in, we happened upon a very thin, yet still healthy looking, fox. She walked along as if she were a permit holder.
After setting up our new campsite, we indulged ourselves with a shower. Man, the showers at Killarney are awesome! It felt like someone had turned a firehouse on you. Wendy said that the blast of water actually drove her back against the shower stall wall (kind of like the hair dryer scene in Woody Allen’s ‘Sleeper’…a great movie). We both agreed however that it was exactly what we needed to clean the camping and hiking gunge off.
While we were at the shower area, we decided to use some of the park’s power to revitalize the IPhone. This gave us a chance to speak with another of the park staff, a co-op student from the University of Waterloo. She was great (actually every staffer we’ve met has been great) and she filled us in on some of the neater aspects of the park. Apparently, our raccoon friend is so popular with the staff that they’ve given him a nickname…’Bobcat’ (Wendy said “well of course his name has Bob in it”) and that he (Bobcat, not Bob) will pull on your pant legs and give High Fives for food. Pretty cool. Not so cool is what he does if you reject him. Bobcat has apparently learned to open the zippers of tents and will pilfer your belongings. Hmmm…they should have called this dude Yogi. We were also informed that the skinny little fox we saw was actually a mother of five kits and that she is so lean because she has been nursing all five of here babies. Lastly, we were advised to go over to ‘Jumping Rock’, which is just past site #63. Apparently called Jumping Rock because you can jump into the deep water of the inlet that comes right up to the cliff face, it is a favourite amongst staffers because it also affords a beautiful view of the sun setting.
We returned to our campsite (#60) just in time to head over to Jumping Rock and catch the show. As we approached, we were a little surprised to see a whack of people already there (actually it looked like the scene from ‘Close Encounters Of The Third Kind’ where everyone is sitting on the cliff waiting for the aliens to do a flyby). We found a seat on the rocks and marvelled at the scenery and the sunset. It’s readily apparent why the Group Of Seven loved to paint Killarney landscapes. Breathtaking!
While we were sitting there, Wendy noticed that the boulder she was sitting on had a little divot in it, filled with water, mud and other debris (and probably home to some kind of larva)…and of course all of that goop was now covering her clean pants and her clean body. So, we hiked back to the washrooms so she could change her clothes.
That’s it for today, another really good one. Time to sit by the fire and watch the stars. Tomorrow we are heading towards Sault Ste. Marie…and this time we really are going as we’ve already reserved a site at Lake Superior Provincial Park. As Etienne Augustin Rocbert de la Morandiere would say to his wife each night…Bonne Nuit
Moose and Wendle