Students from Cornell University on Camelot Island granite cliffs. Photo courtesy of KayakJock
Like anywhere you’re going to live for a few days or longer, you want to know a bit about the “neighborhood” and who your neighbors are, right?
Kayak camping is a little different though. You never know who your island neighbors are going to be until you get there. It’s a transient crowd. They are on the move.
During our three-day kayak camping trip to Camelot Island in mid-August, we had lots of neighbors.
When we arrived, there was a large group of 12 kayak campers from Cornell University, who were already set up on two of the six island campsites closest to the kayak-friendly ramp at the south side of Camelot Island.
They were part of Cornell’s Outdoor Education Program, where they learn wilderness survival, paddling, navigation, safety, natural history, and camping skills. The two guides from the program had come out to the 1000 Islands in May to survey the area beforehand and learn their way around.
I didn’t understand how 12 kayak campers could fit onto only two small island campsites. So I took a peek. On each site, there was a large low hanging tent fly or what you would call an open pitch tarp tent, hovering just above a row of six sleeping bags.
I didn’t see any mosquito netting. Now that’s what I call, “togetherness” and “roughing it”.
Suddenly, my tiny Big Agnes SL2 backpacking tent seemed like luxury accommodations. Everything is relative. Everything around you has a relationship to something else. Your perception of each thing can suddenly change. This is one of the things I love about tripping.
Our group of four kayak campers set up on the east side of Camelot Island on campsites 3, 4, 5, and 6. The sites are very close to the motor boat docks where the big cruisers come to rest, and one of the island’s two composting outhouses.
The 1000 Islands are a mecca and playground of choice for Ontario boating. Snuggled up to the docks, the recreational motor boats remind me of giant turtles enjoying the sun. But, I much prefer setting up camp under the shade of the old oak trees. It’s hot and sunny in August!
On the south side of Camelot, the sailboats were quietly moored in the little cove off the kayak-friendly ramp.
But, the full moon after sunset seemed to be the most welcome neighbour of all.
Once you meet your neighbors, you start to notice their habits.
They usually aren’t the same as yours. When you want to sleep, they want to party, or get up at dawn and jog past your tent. When they want to sleep, you want to get up and start making noise.
As paddlers, we spend most of our time out on the water, and are only home at basecamp for breakfast, dinner, and sleep. I think this is one of the reasons we take up paddling – to get away from home and the neighbors. We like to be free!
One thing to know about neighbor habits in the St. Lawrence Islands National Park of Canada is generators. Many of the park islands allow generators. They are noisy things. Where generators are allowed, they will be!
Camelot Island allows generators. “Is that a vacuum cleaner I hear!?” It seems motor boaters like to keep a tidy boat. But, there are some islands where generators are prohibited, like Mulcaster, where you can kayak camp in generator-free peace. You can check the St. Lawrence Islands National Park of Canada website for more information.
But alas. Neighbors bring news from afar and usually have the daily weather report. Neighbors greet you with hello or bonjour. Sometimes they have an extra supply of TP when the island outhouses run out, or invite you over for a beer.
Kayak camping neighbors usually have some pretty awesome sea kayaks! The more the merrier! There is never a more beautiful sight to me than sea kayaks out on the water or parked along a shoreline.
Be a good neighbor
Camelot is a pack-in, pack-out island. It does not have any facilities for garbage, recycling, or composting of leftover food, so you need to plan for hauling away used containers and food stuffs.
Now, how do I close this picturesque post about Camelot Island neighbors?
Here it is! Your ever-present friends and neighbors. The things you love to hate. The awesome composting outhouses!
If you’d like to plan your own awesome kayaking trip in the 1000 Islands, you can contact 1000 Islands Kayaking for complete outfitting, lessons, day tours, and tripping with certified, experienced guides.
Happy trip planning!
Publisher of the BaffinPaddler http://baffinpaddler.blogspot.com
Read other stories in this series: My first kayak camping trip to Camelot in the 1000 Islands with the Boreal Baffin: Awesome!