The Attack of the Killer mosquitoes

Sudbury Travel Blog

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car packed and ready to go

I will freely admit there was a brief time during my childhood that I endeavoured to fain the odd illness in an attempt to skip school. I would while away my boring lessons staring dreamily out of the window and wondering what scheme I could to cook up in order to avoid the Friday spelling test, or worse the dreaded school sports day.

On one such occasion I got the idea of 'losing my voice'. This seemed an easy enough concept when you're six. In the morning I entered my parents bedroom pointing to my throat and making rasping noises. Mum asked me what the problem was, and I promptly began and ended my acting career in two lines. Firstly: inhaling in a raspy attenuated fashion I quietly uttered “I've lost my voice”

“What's that darling? I can't hear you?”

“I've lost my voice” I promptly replied at normal volume and intonation.

the kilbear campsite map, luckily i took a picture of it.
Fiddle sticks! A momentary distraction and my plan was foiled! These parents have got me every way I turn!

My cover blown, I returned to my room and got dressed for school with a small black cloud of disappointment hovering above me.

Little did I know that a much more convincing condition - Measles could be obtained,  merely by visiting Canada during black fly season. My Friend E flew over recently and she demonstrated the effect beautifully...

Our plan was simple, I would take the Friday and the Monday off work and make a long weekend. On the Thursday evening we would drive up to Killbear provincial park and camp there over night before heading on to Killarney for three more nights camping, to take in canoeing and hiking.

I hurriedly left work on the Thursday evening.

the camp at Killbear
Having prepared most of the camping stuff the previous night, hope fully if we just threw it all in the car and went we'd be at the campsite before dark. Not that arriving in the dark is something I'm scared of doing, not for a seasoned camper like myself. Its the things that share the dark with you that worry me.

 'There are so many wonderful things in the world to be afraid of, If you just learn how scary they are' - Lester Mouse (Despereaux:2008)

We loaded the car and said our goodbyes before waiting for the customary 10 minutes while the GPS gained some notion of where we were headed. It helps of course if YOU know where you're headed, but that begs the question: If you know where you're headed, why do you need a GPS? I returned to the house and rang the camp-site to get the address.

Georgian bay at Killarney

Back in the car, we sped off for Killbear stopping in at Parry Sound en route for a quick pizza.

Killbear provincial park is very beautiful during the day, but our late evening approach was swirled in fog and occasional rain, (chili con-carne, sparkling champagne). We ended up at the gate house, and by looking at the complexity of the map printed on a sign it looked like it would be no mean feat to find our site. I used my tried and tested method of taking a picture of the sign and then navigating from that if necessary. E gave me a look that said 'amateur' and then took a free map from the rack.

Setting up the tent was no problem, as I had done this many times in the dark and we soon had the tent up and things unpacked.

View from our pitch at Killarney

It was about that time that we had our first 'visit'. This came in the form of an average sized raccoon, who didn't give his name, but instead proceeded to investigate the car. We followed. It went around the other way. We followed. It doubled back. This continued for some time until both parties were getting annoyed, one at being pursued and the other for having a well camouflaged quarry. E and I decided to instigate a pincer movement. Caught eventually in the middle the raccoon looked worriedly at E and then even more worriedly at me and fled into the brush.

We could see its eyes through the darkness as it circled our encampment for a repeat attack. This time it concentrated on the tent, disappearing under the tent flap whilst we were momentarily distracted.

chipmunk damage.
I roused it from its recognizance mission and it fled once more.

It was only when I had just got to sleep that it decided to make its third attempt. Entering my side of the tent by creeping under the outer canvas, it managed to find the section of inner lining closest to my ear. Letting out a quick huff of warm air into my ear-hole the raccoon paused for effect and then ran off. I was rudely awoken under the belief that we were being attacked. I reacted in the only way one can when you're tightly bound in the confines of the sleeping bag. I squirmed violently, shouted and then noisily hit my arm on the lantern as I tried to get the flaming thing on. E seemed totally un-phased, murmuring vague questions at me through the darkness.

We awoke to discover we had camped almost right by the lake and had a superb view for about 10 minutes before we had to hit the road.

George lake: rapids and portage point
We packed up and drove north to Killarney Provincial park, where we managed to secure another superb lakeside site for the next three nights.

Having fought off an onslaught of black flies and mosquitoes setting up the tent, we fled to the Killarney outfitters and got kitted up with 'nets' to stop getting bitten so much. These were tops made of gauze that covered your head and upper body entirely, with a zip at the mouth and draw strings around the waist and wrists. Ha! get through that yer little blighters! The outfitters was also the place to hire canoes, so we reserved one for the following day.

We tested out the nets with a walk down to Georgian bay. Intermittently our walk would be punctuated with a low rumbling noise that for once was not my stomach.

George lake: stillness after the rain.
It sounded like someone a mile away was starting a Harley'  and letting it idle for a second before stopping it. Or maybe a large predatory cat lurking in the shadows. We moved quickly on before E asked too many questions about Bobcats and Cougars. The view at the end was superb and having brought the trusty GPS with us, we zoomed out so we could work out which islands we could see.

Back at the camp-site the following morning E prepared sandwiches and I put the breakfast things away. We loaded up the canoe and set off to explore George lake. The scenery was amazing and we left the bulk of the black flies at the shore to await our return. I stayed pretty much unbitten while the locals feasted on my friend. I knew I'd brought her along for a reason.

We canoed up and then down the lake, taking in the sights of the sheer cliffs, the blues, whites and pinks of the rocks and a waterfall or two until we ended up right the way down at the other end of the lake.

our canoe in sepia
We decided to do a mini 'portage' to the next lake along. Mid portage we stopped for lunch and that's when we found out what happened to the sandwiches. It seemed another visitor was also partial to sandwiches and had taken the liberty of sampling them by biting through the sandwich bag as they lay on the picnic table at the camp-site. Unbeknownst to us we had put them in the rucksack and now here they were. Two perfect little notches cut through the layers of bread and cheese. The tyke obviously didn't enjoy Branston pickle (an unrefined chipmunk palette none-the-less) and had abandoned the effort.

We trimmed off the munched area and ate them anyway.

Next was E's canoe lesson. So far I had been at the helm and it was only fair that E should have a go.

Kilarney marina
The two lakes were linked by a short river with some pretty steep rapids. We launched into the next lake and paddled madly to get out of the current drawing us back. Having got out into the middle of the first lagoon E took charge and I took up a purely advisory role. We went around in several large arcs, some marginally more terrifying than the others. Then we went around the other way. This continued for some time until E had it pretty much sussed/exhausted. Then we paddled into the next part of the lake and saw a huge snapping turtle and an otter.

It started to rain on the way back to camp, but relented as we entered the last bay before the shore. The air cleared and the water turned to an almost mirror like stillness, we stopped paddling and drifted gently taking pictures of the hills reflected in the lake.

rocky outcrop at the crack

The following morning we drove up the road to the start of a 3 hour hike to a rock feature called 'the crack'. We did a quick breakfast of scrambled egg and bacon out of the back of the car and then headed off into the forest along the trail. The route wandered its way to the end of one lake and then abruptly cut up into the hills. Above the forest we emerged onto a huge boulder field, with cairns to point the way. Eventually we came to the base of 'the crack' which is a huge section of rock divided roughly in two, with the path picking its way in between. Up past this we rounded a sharp bend to the top of the hill. This awarded us with fantastic views of the Killarney lake system.

I had a quick nap at the top. Lost my camera, then found it again after a frantic search of the rucksack.

view from the summit
After a few pictures we headed back, again hearing the strange low rumble noise.

After a small snack back at the campsite we then went for another wander, this time to a view point south of the park. Luckily we had once again brought the nets, as this time the bugs were out in force. For the briefest time you could take your hands out of your pockets, any exposed flesh would be set upon like the last chocolate crispy cake square in the dish.  The air was thick with mosquitoes so we kept moving to keep them at bay.

Even as we walked a quick pace they descended and worked their way into our clothes and gaps on our ankles and wrists. Eventually we were so covered up with every available piece of clothing we started to bake. Making a final dash for the car, we circled about arms flailing to distract the mozies until finally we shot into the car and slammed the doors shut quickly before they worked out where we had gone.

fashion statement.
Several of the larger specimens slammed into the glass, the quiet was interrupted by little pecking sounds at they tried to get through the glass, then the low rumble started in the distance...

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car packed and ready to go
car packed and ready to go
the kilbear campsite map, luckily …
the kilbear campsite map, luckily…
the camp at Killbear
the camp at Killbear
Georgian bay at Killarney
Georgian bay at Killarney
View from our pitch at Killarney
View from our pitch at Killarney
chipmunk damage.
chipmunk damage.
George lake: rapids and portage po…
George lake: rapids and portage p…
George lake: stillness after the r…
George lake: stillness after the …
our canoe in sepia
our canoe in sepia
Kilarney marina
Kilarney marina
rocky outcrop at the crack
rocky outcrop at the crack
view from the summit
view from the summit
fashion statement.
fashion statement.
not a camp without a fire.
not a camp without a fire.
foxes on the highway
foxes on the highway
Sudbury
photo by: row-zzzzz