Last fall, I spent 5 days on a solo camping trip in Algonquin Park. It was a quiet time to reflect and get away from the everyday rush of life. I enjoyed the trip so much that I decided to do it again this year. In mid-October, I spent 5 days in Killarney Provincial Park on the coast of Georgian Bay, about an hour drive south of Sudbury, Ontario.
If you follow this blog, then you will know that I’ve been shooting film almost exclusively for the past while, and this trip was to be a continuation of that obsession. In Algonquin, I shot mostly digital and came out with about 1,000 photos to sort through. This time around, I wanted to slow down and be more deliberate with each shot, so I mostly was shooting medium format film, where you only get 10 or 12 shots per roll… so the cost really adds up. Below is a recount of my day-to-day adventures. Feel free to skip to the photos, or check out all the photos on my Flickr album.
I left home on the Wednesday with the canoe on the car, mountain bike disassembled, and a bunch of camping gear… and some photo gear too. Got up to the park in mid-afternoon and after setting up camp, decided to go for a short hike on the nearby Granite Ridge trail. This gave me my first views of the La Cloche Mountains which I didn’t even know existed and are quite the sight. I only had my small Canonet G-III with me and a half used roll of Ilford HP5, all of which I used up before reaching the lookout. There was an old abandoned car on the trail that I couldn’t resist taking photos of. As the sun was going down, I headed back to camp for dinner and a fire before hitting the tent.
I wanted to get an early start on the day. The plan was to hike up to The Crack trail to photograph in some early morning light. This was a difficult 6km loop which had me using my hands to help climb up certain steep sections of trail. It was made more difficult by carrying 2 medium format cameras, a 35mm camera, water, food, and rain gear. Did I mention that it was pitch black at 6am and I could still see the milky way with my bare eyes? I did the first 2km in total darkness with only a crappy LED flashlight to lead the way before the light of day started to ruin my night vision. I made it up to the top, shortly after sunrise and spent about 1.5 hours shooting before making my way back to the car.
Back at camp, I had some lunch before heading into the small Town of Killarney to pick up some groceries and to have a look around. Yes, I came camping without food. I brought my small Canonet with me and a roll of expired slide film. You can check out the photos from that trip on the previous blog post, and the couple I’ve posted below. When I got back to camp the rain started coming down and my dining shelter tarp was less than adequate so I basically hid in my tent and read all evening.
I slept in. Despite crawling into my tent at 6:30pm the night before, I still managed to sleep in until 7:30am. While planning this trip, I had wanted to paddle into O.S.A. Lake a 10km trip one-way with 3 portages, but shortly after departing, I was blown into shore by some crazy heavy wind, and larger than normal waves. I figured it probably wasn’t safe to try and make that trip in those conditions. I spent the entire morning paddling around a sheltered part of George Lake, stopping frequently to exposure some rolls of film, before heading back to camp for lunch.
After lunch, I went on a 4km hike on the Cranberry Bog trail which visits Proulx Marsh, the Cranberry Bog and famous A. Y. Jackson Lake. The weather was perfect. The sun had come out and I left my coat back at camp. I was the only one on the trail and spent time setting up shots and just enjoyed being outdoors.
After dinner, I spent some time exploring the campground. I wanted to finish off a roll of some super slow black and white slide film. I have mixed feelings on how they turned out. I think they were exposed correctly, but I messed something up on the development times. I think the results give off a very moody look and feel. Afterwards, I had a fire and called it a night.
When I woke, it was dead calm. The wind had died down to nothing, and the sun was out in full force. The canoe was begging to go out again. I packed up my gear and headed out… well… most of my gear, since I forgot to bring my tripod bracket, rendering the tripod useless. I made it about 8km and 2 portages in before out of nowhere the wind picked up and slammed me against the rocks. I made the wise decision to abandon my hopes of reaching O.S.A. Lake and return the way I came. It was a head wind the entire way back, and since it was just me in the canoe, it was very difficult to maintain a straight course. It took nearly twice as long to return, but I made it back safely after 2pm. I did manage to take a couple photos, mostly from the canoe.
After resting up back at camp, I went for a 2km evening hike on Chikanshing Trail down to the rocky shore of Georgian Bay. It was a relatively easy hike, and when I got to the shore, the wind was fierce. Waves were crashing on shore making huge, dramatic splashes. I decided not to bring the tripod with me and see what I could shoot handheld. I exposed a couple rolls of Ilford Delta 100 and a roll of Kodak Ektar 100. Went back to camp for some dinner and to burn the remaining firewood.
By Sunday, I had exposed all of the film I brought and was tired, so I just packed up camp and made my way home to my family and a nice warm shower. Thanks for those who took the time to actually read my ramblings. Check out more photos from the trip over on my Flickr site, and feel free to leave a comment below.