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Sunset over Keji site 38

Thanksgiving in Keji

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After being cooped up indoors for a couple of consecutive weekends I decided it was time to get back outside for a good, long hike. I recruited a friend to join me and decided to book a couple of nights in the backcountry of Kejimkujik National Park , one of my favourite places to visit in the province. The weather forecast was as good as it gets in these parts for October: temperatures in the mid-teens and no sign of rain or wind. I called up the park to see what was still available for backcountry campsites and found the place almost completely booked up. No surprise there. I managed to get site 39 at Poison Ivy Falls for Saturday night and — score! — the yurt at site 28 for Sunday night. This was going to be good.

The hike to site 38 starts at Eel Weir, about a 15km drive from the visitor’s centre. From there you hike around 17.6 kilometres through the woods along the access road that makes its way through the south side of the park. It’s not a difficult hike by any stretch, just lengthy, especially with a loaded pack on. The terrain is gently rolling and the old road is easy on the feet. The forest changes in composition a few times along the way and you pass by a few lakes. This time of the year the squirrels and chipmunks are quite busy storing up food for the winter. They were quite vocal and I think they felt we were intruding on their activities during our time at site 38. The sure let us know with their loud chattering.

Trail/old road to site 38
Trail/old road to site 38

We cooked up a small feast of freeze-dried Beef Stroganoff for supper and s’mores for dessert, along with a couple cans of beer. The Stroganoff was surprisingly good but the s’mores in a bag didn’t quite cut. Serves us right for not bringing the real thing. It wasn’t long before the darkness and tiredness from the day’s hike got the better of us and forced to our tents for the night. It was a chilly night — two degrees or so — but that’s what good sleeping bags are for. Add a toque for good measure and sleep came quickly.

Up with the sun the next morning, it was nice to feel the warmth after a chilly night. We were quick to boil some water for coffee and oatmeal as we had to pack up and hit the trail again for our hike back to site 28 and the comfort of the yurt. I always try to put the longest hike on the first day and then split it up over the next two days. I think it makes for a more enjoyable few days. The hike to the yurt was 11.9 kilometres from site 38 back along the same road. Again, the day was sunny and relatively warm. After a few hours we found ourselves at the yurt, definitely a site for sore feet. That little yurt is a treasure in the backcountry. This was our second time visiting the yurt, the first being in the winter when that wood stove makes for a more comfortable cool-weater backcountry experience.

After warming up with a cup of hot chocolate we decided to explore Peskowesk Brook with our cameras. There’s a small falls a short walk downstream from the bridge that makes for an easy photo opportunity. The water was high this autumn so the river was quite energetic and loud. After poking around the river and taking almost two rolls of photos it was back to the yurt to get supper started. We decided to have curried noodles for an appetizer, chicken vindaloo with rice and potatoes as the main course and apple brown betty for dessert. We had worked up quite an appetite so we easily devoured it all. Once again it was a fairly early night, I could barely keep my eyes open past 9:30. With a few logs in the stove it was off to bed.

Small fall on Peskowesk Brook
Small fall on Peskowesk Brook

Since it was a short 5 kilometre walk back to Eel Weir from the yurt we decided to sleep in a little and relax. Another breakfast of oatmeal and coffee warmed us up. Packing up was a quicker affair since the tent was already in its bag and ready to go. We hit the trail at 11:15 and made our way back to the car. After a little over 5 kilometres the bridge came into sight and we were back at the car, happy to get our packs off and relax for a few minutes before driving back to the visitor’s centre to check out. We made it!

As usual, I made a map of the hike. In total it was about 35.2 kilometres round-trip. Thanks Keji for another memorable trip into the backcountry!

Check out a map: Thanksgiving in Keji