Biking Across Canada Day 32 — Mine Centre Rest Stop to Quetico Provincial Park: No Rest for the Wicked

The rest stop I stayed at last night had a big sign say no camping 9 PM to 5 AM. I wasn't about to bike a few more hours to another place to stay so instead of hiding in the woods I had the bright idea to sleep inside one of the concrete privy huts. It was spacious and very clean inside, with a heavy duty deadbolt to lock the door. I could bring my bike inside, lock the door and no one would know I was there. I wouldn't even have to set up a tent so I could get an early start the next morning. I felt very clever. What I didn't consider was the hordes of mosquitoes that would invade the hut overnight.

There's a phrase I kept reading in hiking forums called bug pressure. I never understood why they used that term until last night. It was like being surrounded by a gas that would force its way onto any exposed skin and bite me. It was too hot to sleep in my sleeping bag, so I put on all my rain gear since they couldn't bite through that. That still left a lot exposed like my hands and ankles and even with a bugnet on my head they would still find ways to bite through that. Every once in a while I'd have to get up and murder a horde of mosquitoes so they would leave me alone…until the next horde arrived. Needless to say I did not get a lot of sleep and was very eager to get up when the sun rose. On the plus side, I set a new record breaking camp—I was on the road in half an hour of waking up.

I rode for a few hours until my exhaustion started getting the better of me, so I pulled over at the blocked-off road leading to a cell phone tower, set up my tent, and had a very hot and sweaty nap. But having a bug-free environment was a relief, and I felt a lot better after the nap. 

Watching the swallows fly over the Seine River
Site of my hot and sweaty nap

Shortly afterwards I came upon Lerome Lake, one of the access points for Quetico park, where I spotted a group of paddlers making their way out. It's here that I had my first swim of the day.

Paddlers on Lerome Lake
Lerome Lake put-in and swimming hole

After a few more hours of riding I made it to the Atikokan visitor centre, where I stopped to cook lunch. Spots to get supplies have been few and far between. This was the first place to stop and get water in nearly 150 kilometres. A gentleman from Rainy River spotted my bike and asked some questions about my trip. Afterwards he said he was out of the Rainy River pins he usually carried, so he gave me a Nascar lanyard instead.

Another 30 km or so and I arrived in Quetico.

Grouse I flushed off the trail
Quetico hiking trail

I did a lot of canoe trips in my youth starting in Algonquin Provincial Park then moving on to Temagami and Killarney in search of a more rugged and less-populated experience. (I once ran into someone from high school on an Algonquin portage.) There's been two parks I've always wanted to go canoeing in: Polar Bear Provincial Park and Quetico Provincial Park. Polar Bear because my friend Bryn spotted it on a map and the idea has haunted me ever since (much like this bike trip did before I started it). Quetico because my uncle Bill did a lot of canoe trips here and made it sound massive like Algonquin but without all the people. I won't have a chance to canoe on this visit but at least I fit in a hike to French Falls. There were another 8 km of trails I wanted to do but the impending thunderstorm told me that was a bad idea.

The French River
French Falls
That sign makes we wonder what kind of traffic they are expecting on this trail.

Two other trips I'd like to do sometime is see Canada's three northern territories (possibly by bicycle), and a bicycle trip in Iceland (my only international case of wanderlust).

My site here is great. It has a little path down to the lake with a sandy beach, spot of my second swim of the day.

Today's Distance: 128 km (plus 13 km of hiking!)

Cumulative Distance: 3535 km

John Kyle @JohnKyle