We decided on something a little different this year for our camping excursion. It’s a little unclear at this point how camping in the 1000 Islands National Park came up but we thought why not, we’ll take the kayaks and make it a three night camping/kayaking event.
Any kind of camping experience requires planning especially when its a place you’ve never been before. We knew we wanted to spend the first day paddling to a central site where we could set up camp and then spend time paddling around over the time we were there. We contacted 1000 Islands Kayaking for advice on where the best place to set up camp would be. Keeping in mind that we had convinced our 13 year old niece and a good friend with his 3 teens, a 15 year old and two 13 year olds to join us. Judy and I are far from expert kayakers but we are experienced. The only experience that the others joining us had was paddling around on a calm lake. We were informed that Camelot Island was a good choice for what we wanted to do. We were told that the paddle would take about 4 hours to get to our site and that beginners would be able to handle it.
With our site booked we all converged at the Gananoque Marina to pick up the rented kayaks and to load them up for the trip into the St. Lawrence River. The sun was shining bright which we were all very pleased with but the wind…oh how those winds were blowing strong…and of course not in the direction we wanted them to. We set out to be sure we arrived to set up camp before dark.
The heavy winds created waves that were not very paddle friendly so it was a very challenging trip across to say the least. There were a few comments about arms feeling like rubber and the typical are we there yet but we all managed to endure the rough conditions and arrive safe.
We decided to spend day two resting from the paddle and explored Camelot Island on foot. The island has only 6 camp sites and from what we could tell, is a very popular spot to dock sail boats. Normally when we camp we’re so far away from civilization, so I have to admit that camping on an island where large sail boats are docked was a new and somewhat strange experience.
Another strange backdrop for us were the homes/cottages that lined the shore across the river that were easily seen from the dock. It felt like we were out in the wilderness after the 4 hour paddle to our island site and yet when at the waters edge the feeling was completely different.
On day three, the winds had died down so the water was a lot calmer. It took some convincing, but we managed to get the kids on board for a paddle around some of the islands close by. We packed up a lunch and headed out for a few hours. We found a great lunch spot high up on a rock on an island that was uninhabited that also had a perfect spot for swimming.
Unfortunately, the winds were back on day four which was our paddle out day. We braced ourselves and headed back out into the wavy St Lawrence River. A very kind fisherman we met along the way informed us that the route we planned to take back to the marina was extremely rough and gave us another route to paddle. We all agreed that if we had to paddle a bit longer to avoid the rough water it was worth it! But, it turned out that it wasn’t any longer and it was a much more enjoyable paddle.
It was definitely a different kind of camping experience than we were used to and if you were to ask 3 out of 4 of the kids they’d say they had fun but wouldn’t do it again. I think that had the winds been a lot more co-operative during our paddle in and out we all would have enjoyed the experience a lot more but there’s nothing you can do about mother nature!
Two weeks after we arrived home we heard a story about controlled fires being set in 1000 Islands but they never mentioned that the island was Camelot Island. It’s strange to think that the island we were just camping had parts of it set on fire! The fires were set to help preserve the islands rare Pitch Pines. You can see the article and watch a video here.