Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Charleston Lake, Ontario

A couple of Ottawa friends and I spent the weekend exploring Charleston Lake near Kingston, Ontario last weekend. I'd never heard of this small provincial park before but it turned out to be a gem of a place. Full of rocky little islands, interesting wildlife and some bug-free campsites, this lake provided all we needed for a great getaway.

The park has a number of campsites which can be reached either by boat of via hiking trails and it was one of these that we used. These sites provide tent platforms, firepits, tables and backhouse facilities. Not exactly wilderness camping, but perfect when returning to the same site each evening after a day's paddling.

Given about half the lake is located within the park, it is easy to get the feeling you are miles from anywhere. Paddling alongside granite cliffs adds to the feeling. We were continually amazed at the number of loons on the lake and particularly how approachable they were. In the evening, whip-pour-wills, a bird species I'd thought was endangered seem to surround us with their calls. Another species which was widely noticed were zebra mussels. These little mollusks coated the bottom of the lake in many areas. Inadvertently introduced into many of Canada's waterways, their presense results in nice, clear water, but they have also proven to be a nuisance in many other ways, clogging pipes and other underwater items.

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