a peek inside the fishbowl

01 Aug, 2017

One last trail at Bon Echo (plus a challenge that is both disgusting and cool)

Posted by andrea tomkins in: travel talk

I’ve often said that if you want kids to enjoy hiking, it’s a good idea to offer incentives. (Hopefully, they aren’t incentives that involve mobile devices, as per my wee rant in this previous post.) For us, the payoff of a great view is a big one. Or, as Misty commented, a special snack is also a good idea. As an added bonus, it gives the kids the energy they need for the hike back. This year I decided to offer up a different kind of incentive, one that is both disgusting and cool in equal measure. (More about that in a bit.)

I should point out that the bugs in Bon Echo were at ideal levels in the camp and beach area. Given the wet weather we’ve had, we were expecting a bloody massacre upon arrival (our massacre, that is). As evidenced by this archived post, Bon Echo has stood out as our buggiest camping experience in our family’s history. We expected the worst this year but it didn’t happen. Mosquitos levels were actually very low, and there were no horseflies spotted anywhere. There were, however, deer flies and mosquitoes in the woods and along the trails, which is to be expected. This year, I made special preparations with this in mind. We bought these deer fly patches at Lee Valley. (Go and read the product description. “Silken feet” ? Too. Funny.) It’s essentially fly paper that has been trimmed to fit on the back of a cap.

I hatched a plan. We’d stick these to our hats during a hike to see who caught the most flying insects. The girls were, shall we say, hesitant, until I mentioned the winner would get a pair of cozy flannel pj pants from the park gift shop. Suddenly, they were very excited.

It was easy to install the patches in place as per directions. Unfortunately, I put one of them on upside down and that individual had to be compensated with extra bugs since she started off with a disadvantage.

Bug patches installed, we were off on our merry way to explore the length of Shield Trail. It’s not a little bad hike; about two hours long through varying types of forest. Here’s the official description of it via Ontario Parks:

Shield Trail – 4.8 km (2 hours), loop, moderate
Follow a section of the old Addington Road as it penetrates the rugged landscape of the Canadian Shield where you will see hardwood forests, cedar lowlands and a beaver swamp.

This is what the trail looked like:

Along the "Shield" trail at Bon Echo Provincial Park

The swamp is where the bugs tend to lurk and when they see you coming they rise like a cloud from their breeding grounds. I’m certain all the rain we had created many NEW swamps and mini ponds in the lowlands. It’s always a good idea to scurry uphill to dry land wherever possible:

Mark on the Shield Trail at Bon Echo Provincial Park

I’ll admit it was pretty enough, but not the most scenic or interesting trail we’ve seen.

Want to see the final results of our deer fly patch challenge? Do you want to see what the patches looked like AFTER we completed this hike? Prepare yourself for the reveal:

Deer fly patches from Lee Valley Tools

Hey, it’s me, modeling for Cabela’s! ;)

Me and my deer fly patches!

And yes, some of them were still alive. Barely. (#horrorshow)

The way I see it, it’s better them than us.

And the winner is...

Here’s the hat of our youngest daughter, who is now possibly scarred for life:

Close up. (Disgusting, I know.)

In case you were wondering, the final tallies were:

Eldest daughter: 41* (Declared THE WINNER.)
Me: 40
Youngest daughter: 27
Mark: 16

Both girls were real troopers so I bought them both the much-coveted flannel pants with Bon Echo written across the rear. Bravo girls! You deserve them.

* This may not prove anything from a purely scientific perspective, but the eldest has always insisted that she’s highly attractive to bugs. The bugs don’t bug Mark in the same way. Maybe this confirms it!


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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our two daughters Emma (18) and Sarah (16). I am the managing editor of our community newspaper, the Kitchissippi Times. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger, and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999... which makes me either a total dinosaur or a veteran, I'm not sure which! The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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