I was not expecting to find such a nice site for this one night trip.
Part of the reason for using my car as a camper is to have the ability to park and sleep wherever it is safe to do so.
It’s called boondock camping or Boondocking, which means to camp for free at sites with zero or limited facilities.
This is my first night boondocking and I struck gold.
This is an actual campground that is “closed” for the season. You can no longer make reservations (and pay) but the sites are still open. And probably stay that way till the road is snowed in.
Between locks 3&4 Merrickville.
Our camping spot for the night.
We have been so impressed with Parks Canada and the service and accommodation they offer to paddlers.
We’ve camped so cheaply ($5.01 per person per night, when they charge. Also if you arrive after the lockstation closes and leave before it opens you don’t pay).
The lock staff are very helpful. Most lockstations have bathrooms and places to charge phones and batteries.
The Rideau Canal is a treasure and I’m so glad we’ve discovered it for ourselves.
I would highly recommend the route to any paddler interested in natural beauty and history.
Makes me proud to be a Canadian and so thankful that the government has preserved this.
9:30pm and we’re all tucked up in our tent, lights out. We hear young guys talking outside. As a mother to a young guy these boys sound like they might be 17-20 year old. Maybe students from the nearby private prep school?
There a few of them, maybe three. And they’re talking about jumping in the lock. (This is forbidden, but they’re teenagers and there’s no one around, well except us and the other paddlers camped by the 2nd lock, also retired to their tents.)
After a lot of talking and posturing and laughter we hear a countdown and finally a splash.
It’s a chilly night so we know they won’t be lingering and sure enough within a few minutes of climbing out they are gone into the night with a story to tell, which is the whole point!
I felt myself smiling the whole time, first listening to their bravado and challenge, reminding me of my own son and knowing he’d be in the thick of it.
Smiling as someone finally jumped because it will be a good story, and we all need those.
Smiling because this pandemic has taken so much from us all collectively but here we are camping in a beautiful countryside town in rural Canada, listening to flowing water and laughing kids.
It’s a good life.
We arrived in Merrickville 2:30-ish, went through the first lock and set up camp along the second lock, close to parking lot for loading tomorrow.
After setting up our stuff we walked downtown to find hot coffee and to secure a ride back to Kingston Mills Lock tomorrow am.
Originally we thought we could catch an Uber out here. You can’t. But there are good old fashioned cab companies. So we booked a cab for tomorrow morning to drive Damien back to our car. The biggest expense of the whole trip but we were anticipating that.
While he’s on the road (3 hours round trip) I’ll pack up our stuff and chill (our stuff doesn’t take that long to pack). He’ll bring the car and we’ll load our stuff and take the long way home. I’m in no rush to get back to the city! Though a hot shower would be welcome.
Merrickville, jewel of the Rideau, is an adorable little tourist destination in its own right and was a great place to end our trip. There is a lot of history here with the town founded by a Massachusetts Loyalist, last name Merrick, who started a mill here in the early 19th century. Then the Rideau Canal brought more traffic and a town formed (or something like that). There’s also an historical hydro dam here with lots of old architecture still standing.
Lots of history, old buildings, cute stores, award winning gelato (didn’t try, too cold), campground, and the Rideau Canal and Parks Canada lockstation - nice little town.
It was a good place to end our journey on a September Saturday afternoon.
Last couple kilometres into Merrickville. This is close to, or maybe part of the Rideau Bird Sanctuaty.
Today’s route was an easy 18.5 km. We had enough energy and lots of daylight hours to go further but this is the end of the line for us.
This trip has been full of unique moments and experiences and one of those has been all the birds we’ve seen.
Hiking we haven’t seen a lot of birds but on the water is a different story.
Next trip I want to have binoculars (Christmas is coming...) and eventually I’ll be getting another camera to replace my non-functioning 8 yr old weather-beaten Sony NEX 6, and then hopefully I’ll get photos of birds also. For now here’s a list of what we’ve seen this trip:
A farm on Kilmarnock Island.
Since leaving Rideau Ferry at the junction of Big Rideau and Lower Rideau lakes the shoreline has been marshy with occasional farmland like this.
This section of the waterway, Lower Rideau Lake and the wider, upriver sections of the Rideau River remind us of prairie lakes.
September morning at Edmunds Lock.
Some cyclists arrived last night also and camped here. You can see their tent in the far left trees. @toesalad is preparing breakfast at the picnic table on the dock at far right.
Our campsite was right next to the public boat launch and this sunny September Saturday morning is a good time for fishing. A couple boats were launched from here and a dad and his son were fishing from the dock, Tim Hortons hot drinks in hand.
Slices of life along the Rideau River.
Making hot cocoa before “going to bed”.
You can see the lock and lockmasters house in the background.
It’s cold tonight. The temperature will be dropping to 2C and by the river feels colder (to me).
We’re headed into the tent by 6:30 just so we can keep warm.
I’m writing this entry wearing all my clothes and my sleeping bag. But I’m warm!
Tomorrow is our last day of paddling, final 18.5 km to Merrickville locks, and the chilly weather is making it easier to think about going home.
I hear a train whistle, the white noise of distant traffic, and the occasional passing of Canadian geese.