For our second route, we would be traveling south to north along Loop Lake Road and Much Lake Road. This route lies west of The Shoals Provincial Park and is identified as The Shoals route 175. To do this route, we would ideally have the option of setting up camp in the provincial park but, for some reason, it is the last provincial park in the area to be opened in the Spring and its opening occurs a week or so later than our scheduled dates for the breeding bird survey.
Last year, a forest fire to the west of the survey route was chasing bears, wolves and other creatures into the area in large numbers, so we decided not to tent. We had looked at potential camping spots along the route and identified a couple of potentially good ones for this year.
As we traveled along the gravel road, we encountered many locations where Swallowtail butterflies were congregating at damp, sandy spots right in the middle of the road.
Then we encountered a sign posted along the route saying the the road had been washed out! Undaunted, we continued along and found that a new culvert had been installed but the gravel fill was still rather loose. Getting through this stretch, my car’s exhaust pipe sections separated so I needed to do some roadside repairs with plenty of mosquitoes and black flies treating me like”fresh meat”.
With a bit of hammering, the exhaust system was back as good as new (well, not quite – but fully serviceable) and we headed on to potential camping site #1.
It still looked like a great site but, with high water levels this year, we decided that any rain overnight might leave us floating at this site, so it was on to the end of the route were a nice flat section offered us plenty of room. Choosing that site meant that we wouldn’t need to get up quite as early. We set up tents as quickly as possible. I have never experienced so many black flies!
I was certainly wishing that the little toads in the area would do their job and consume a few more bugs for me. The black flies were so plentiful that the sound that they collectively made, as they bumped into the tent fly, very closely resembled the sound of a drizzle raining down on my tent!