In early August of 2009, on the long weekend, we stayed at the Achray drive-in campground. We arrived Friday about 4 pm (and left Sunday at 2:30 pm). Our group was the kids, myself and our two dogs. The dog Hintza was the reason we had to car-camp. He doesn’t do canoes. My wife was in Victoria for the week and unavailable to dog-watch.
The weather was hot, humid and sticky. But, the campsite was well shaded, we were right on the water and had our own private beach. The temperature reached 29 C during the day, feeling like 35 C. It rained midnight Saturday night for about 30 minutes – heavy but without thunder showers.
There were no running showers, but the toilets all had plumbing and sinks with running wash/drinking COLD water. Much to our disappointment, no meteors or northern lights were observed Friday night.
The kids enjoying their favourite breakfeast .. equal parts cap’n crunch and honeycomb .. a standard on their trips.
Red squirrel displaying its rodent talents .. acrobats on a redpine trunk.
Mutt and Hintza relaxing in the grassy shade. Mutt is protecting her food.
Jurnee examines a ladybug.
Aidan with his leech. He called ‘her’ Samantha). Note the two baby leeches on momma’s back.
Only two leeches were observed over the weekend. We found one of them stuck on Aidan.
While I was taking a close-up of this shoreline flower, a fly landed!
We spent most of our time, unsurprisingly, on the water trying to beat the heat. We were either
swimming, boating or dock fishing. Here’s Jurnee in the kayak, putting her skills to the test.
Aidan paddling about in the kayak ...
There was a dock 50 meters from our site. It provided the kids
with a productive fishing and jump-in-the-water platform ...
Jurnee fishing ...
Motorboats are allowed on this lake, one of the few in the park on which they are allowed. They are restricted to 10 hp or lower. At one point, when the kids were on the dock, a Park float plane landed and docked there – a very exciting and loud experience for the kids.
Jurnee got very comfortable handling and releasing her catches. All the catches were released.
Aidan with a rock bass he caught. Seconds later that hoodie came off and he was jumping/swimming off the dock. But kept his canoe gloves on!
Meanwhile, the dogs had all the water they could drink. When they weren’t with
us, they were kept in the car, windows down, which was parked in the shade.
A constant breeze off the lake helped keep the temp cool for them. Biting
insects were not an issue at all. There were very few about.
Hintza laid down in the shallows and cooled down. I think the lake level went down an inch during our stay ..
.. due to his GIANT slurping up of the water.
The south end of Grand Lake is this location where Tom Thompson captured his famous ‘Jack Pine’ painting.
A scenic 1.6 km shoreline trail from the campground gets you here. He spent much time in the Grand Lake
area. He worked as a Fire Ranger in the summer of 1916 and was stationed at a cabin not far from here.
Saturday night, the park naturalists hosted an entertaining hour talk about Tom Thompson's life and mysterious
death and of course the legacy he left us with. The cabin he stayed at (called "InSideOut") is at the Achray
campsite and is now a museum of sorts describing the local geographic area and a blurb on the Park’s
forestry industry. Next morning, a fun parent-versus-children nature quiz was hosted by another naturalist.
Looking north up Grand Lake.
On the walk back along the old and now defunct CN railway line, we spotted these blackberries. They weren't red
raspberries or black-cap raspberries, but actual Blackberries. This was the first time I’ve encountered them
in Ontario. They are dominant out west. Some were ripe, so we indulged. What a tasty treat!
This cage was covering what I assumed was a snapping turtle nest's buried eggs, to protect the eggs/hatchlings from
predators such as skunks, racoons and foxes. There were 4 such cages we passed by on the old railway bed. The
railway line's tracks and supporting infrastructure have all been removed and what is left is now an actual 16 km+
hiking trail that takes you to the 'water slides', down part of the Barron Canyon and back up to Achray Station.
Small frogs and some HUGE adults bullfrogs where everywhere along the shore of our campsite’s beach.
We saw five snakes .. 3 northern water snakes (including 2 babies) and 2 adult garter snakes.
Here’s one of the two garter snakes. This one is photographed in the process of making
a meal of one of the zillion of baby bullfrogs .. with both back legs sticking out!
The snake kept ‘wacking’ the frog against the ground. I guess that helped kill it and push it further down its stomach.
Testing the underwater features of the Canon D10. Here’s a freshwater mussel .. one of millions growing in the
shallow sandy warm waters of Grand Lake. The lake water was rather murky, so only close-ups were good.
There were two official beaches at Grand Lake. This is the ‘no dogs allowed' section of the campground beach,
on the last day. Shortly after this swim we left for home, with one last stop at the office for
popsicles and to say our goodbyes to the nice park staff.