Davis Moore and Isaac Sanderson can’t wait to spend their summer months outdoors now that the pandemic crisis is easing and Ontario campgrounds are opening up.
Step one of Friday’s reopening in Ontario means access is once again allowed to provincial parks and overnight camping.
Moore, from Paris, Ont., and Sanderson, from the Kingston-area town of Sydenham, typically go on portaging trips with their roommates and friends. These trips usually include hiking through the woods carrying a canoe, swimming in Ontario’s lakes and sleeping in a new campsite each night. It’s been 10 months since they last took a trip.
One memory stands out from their 80-kilometre, three-day trek through Algonquin Park last August.
“We tied our three canoes together and strung some rope through the tarp. It ended up working super well as we sailed from the lake’s access point to the northwest about one and a half hours quicker than if we were to paddle,” Moore recalled.
On the same trip, Sanderson remembers when their group stayed on an island by themselves and found a rope swing. He said it was “one of the best nights of our lives.”
Another highlight from that adventure: before finding their rope-swing island, the group had to battle a stiff wind to cross the lake.
“We paddled through the largest waves and strongest winds I had ever experienced,” said Sanderson. “We had two friends come along with us who were less experienced paddlers and the look on their faces after the short one-kilometre paddle into the wind was hilarious. Next time we go, we’re going to make sure we don’t put the least two experienced paddlers in a canoe together.”
Sanderson and Moore say they are very happy about the reopening and eager to start planning a trip.
“I plan on taking advantage of the reopening,” said Moore. “I will probably start looking into trips at Bon Echo and Algonquin shortly as the restrictions are easing and the weather is warming.”
Sanderson will also be planning a trip later this summer to take advantage of the return to outdoors. “A lot of campers and trippers use this time of the year to enjoy the outdoors and lead youth trips,” he said.
For them, camping and going on canoe trips is a great opportunity to destress and escape from their normal lives.
“I like the feeling of being separated from the business of our lives. Being out in the wilderness allows me to slow down and take some time to live in the moment and appreciate what is around me, especially when I go with friends or family,” said Moore. “I feel like I don’t have a worry in the world. It’s a very stress-free mindset and feeling.”
Sanderson agreed. “I go on these trips for the new experiences and escape,” he said.
The two said they’re looking forward to making more memories with their friends this summer.
Moore said he would have liked to have been able to go on a trip in May after his third-year university exams were over. But Sanderson said the spring’s pandemic restrictions didn’t affect him too much because he doesn’t camp much at that time of year.
“I felt the restrictions were unnecessary. I personally did not feel at risk of contracting COVID-19 when I went camping last summer during the pandemic,” Moore said.
Sanderson said he understands the closure of some parks, such as Sandbanks near Picton, which sees hundreds of daily users. But he thinks the recent COVID-19 prohibitions could’ve been more selective.
“I felt as though a back-country park such as Algonquin doesn’t offer a high risk to its users because it is so vast and not highly travelled,” Sanderson said. “It maybe could’ve been slightly more selective rather than a Parks-wide closure.”
Added Moore: “I am quite excited for my next trip. It’s been nearly a year since the last one, so I am itching to get back out there,” Moore says.