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PostPosted: October 18th, 2020, 1:49 pm 
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I think I timed the fall colours right this year, entering in the Park on Oct 11 and coming out and exiting on the 15th. This was my second time in this park, the first trip took me through Spider Lake - Bay - Clear Lake and Back. This one I decided to explore the small ponds at the north of the park including Speyer, Creswicke, Vicory and Canoe Lake.

My route was a sublimly simple 26 km with 12 ports. The only unexpected one was the port between Vicary and Creswicke which was labelled as 100 m but has since be re-routed to circumvent a dried up wetland to 400 m. Largest ports were from Spider to Canoe Lake (540 m) and Spider to Beaver Pond (towards Vicory) 500 m. Both the latter were very easy ports with the newer 400 m vetween Vicary-Creswicke being the most difficult (but it is not really that hard).

Oct 12 was an extremely blustery day with wind gusts up to 42 km/h and the night was a miserable combination of constant wind and rain. But most of the other days were very nice (a bit windy on Oct 15 coming out and fighting wind in the main bowl of Spider Lake) but I can't complain too much. It was also unseasonably warm for most of the days compared to the cooler temps at the start.

The Massasauga Park has luxury style backcountry camp sites. All with very even and generous tent pads plus picnic tables and vault toilettes. Some of the firepits border on ridiculous opting for giant pits with huge stone mounds that don't really let you cuddle up to them. I encountered many people going in (most of them were coming out of the park at the end of the Thanksgiving weekend) but after the Monday holiday I had most of the area to myself and the little ponds were enjoyed in isolation.

The bad - price hike for 2020 was something spectacular. The Massasauga Park went to a flat fee of $42.50 per night regardless of party size. This is almost 4 times the typical backcountry fee for most parks sitting around $12/night. Also, the change seems counterintutive since as a solo paddler/camper my footprint is going to be so much smaller than a party of 9 which the same flat fee would cover. I suspect this change in policy arose because of the motor-boat access points on the Parry Sound/Georgian Bay side and having water-access sites available to motorboats probably comes with a lot of clean-up and maintenance issues compared to true backcountry sites accessed through Spider, Clear, Vicary, Speyer, Cresswicke and Canoe Lake. I generally don't complain about camping fees, wanting to support our parks but it seems if the motorboat vs canoe access is an issue and reason for the price policy then why not charge different fees based on location in the park? Anyhow, enough of that complaint. The park was a nice respite from the covid-19 isolation I've been forced into for most of 2020 and I wanted an easy and scenic wilderness experience. The Massasauga provided me with that experience so I'm happy. I would still recommend this park to those wanting a simple and relaxed route that still offers a lot of beauty and rugged scenery. It is also very close to the GTA.


Gorgeous reds and yellows to be had this time of year. However strong winds experienced that week were rapidly depleting the trees of their glorious foliage!

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Beaver pond just before entering vicary

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The is a shot of the wetland (formerly navigable) between Vicary and Crestwicke Lake. It is totally dry right now and I can't envision it being that much wetter in the spring.

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Campsite on Vicary adjoining Wesphal Lake

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Evening fishing on Wesphal

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Landing between Creswicke and 50 m port to Speyer

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Speyer Campsite

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Oyster mushrooms on the 540m port from Spider to Canoe Lake. I harvested some of these for eating - delish!

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Stream entering Canoe Lake prior to campsites.

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Evening fishing on Canoe Lake

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Milky Way shot from Spider Lake campsite 007 on Oct 11.

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PostPosted: October 18th, 2020, 1:56 pm 
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Youtube Trip Video is available Here:

https://youtu.be/od9Bz1b9rZA


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PostPosted: October 18th, 2020, 2:58 pm 
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Lovely photos, thanks for sharing!

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http://www.algonquinbeyond.com


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PostPosted: October 18th, 2020, 3:44 pm 
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Location: Kingston, ON
Beautiful pics thanks for posting! Unfortunately, the change in fee structure is a harbinger of things to come. Massassaugs and Lady Evelyn rolled out this fee structure in 2020 as a beta program. The intention is for the remainder of southern and central parks to follow suit by 2022.


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PostPosted: October 18th, 2020, 7:15 pm 
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MartinG wrote:
Beautiful pics thanks for posting! Unfortunately, the change in fee structure is a harbinger of things to come. Massassaugs and Lady Evelyn rolled out this fee structure in 2020 as a beta program. The intention is for the remainder of southern and central parks to follow suit by 2022.


Thanks for the warning MartinG. That is really too bad to hear and I suspected stripping Ontario's parks from MNR to ME-SEE-PEE (err, MECP - post OMOE) by Dougy F would have some ramifications that would show themselves at some point. On the price point, its not so much a provlem for the old buggers like myself that are well enough off to afford them but I think about the highschoolkids going off and wanting to do a one week hike/canoe trip on their own and having to save $250 just to pay the park fees let alone all the costs of buying their gear. Its just another financial hurdle for our youth in the way of finding the great outdoors on their own terms like so many of us had the pleasure to experience.

If there is any hope to this it's that the pandemic has massively increased visitations to all of our provincial parks [I realize there are good and bad aspects to this]. Hopefully the public will remember the value these precious places have given us during these times of severely constrained social activities and enough new outdoor lovers have been created in 2020 to make their collective voices heard to politicians.

Ken


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PostPosted: October 18th, 2020, 9:10 pm 
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Joined: April 16th, 2003, 1:50 pm
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I was out this weekend to Massassauga myself, for all the same reasons despite the whopping fee. Your photos are outstanding and would serve any park well - but at the end of the day I think this park outdoes a few of its nearer neighbours in the scenery department and is well worth any fee. Certainly if fees become prohibitive they are counter-productive as folks will find ways to work around them, and one thing you can say about provincial parks these days or anytime as long as I've ever been canoeing is that you will never, not ever, see any staff in the interior.


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