Bon Echo Provincial Park is made up of a series of three separate campgrounds.  The park is north of Kingston, Ontario.  I had seen it as a drive by several times during my many back road tours and had it in the back of my mind that I ought to go one time.  That one time came on a free July weekend in 2021.  

The trip started with me booking a last minute site after talking to my co-worker.  She had told me about this great place called Bon Echo that had these campsites where you park your car, then hike in a bit - a mini hike to get to your site.  So you are away from the road and your car and a bonus you are not right on top of other campers either.  This seemed a great way for me to get my first solo camping trip in.  It wasn't really car camping and it wasn't really a true back country hiking trip either.  

So on an early Saturday morning I grabbed my side kick Presley!   We had to go pick up my car at the service department of the dealership before we could head out..  So Alice packs up her backpack with her tent attached on top and walks to the corner of Yonge and Eglinton, about 600 metres from my home to catch a TTC bus to get to Scarborough to go get my car!  So me..   I am like a rustic city girl, you know!!    

The scenic route to Bon Echo from Toronto in part takes you across Hwy 7.  The entire trip is  about 300 kms.  For this trip I packed super light. My food was some dehydrated meals, oatmeal etc. Of course every trip I make sure I have my merino wool sweater sometimes two, and other layers.  I also had my sleeping bag, inflatable mattress, and my high mileage and trusty four person Woods tent....  If you know me, you know I like to conserve space and weight so for this trip I didn't pack a pillow.  I would just roll up some clothes to make a pillow out of.  Upon arrival at the park we checked in at the gate, grabbed our bundle of wood then headed to our site.  The drive from the office to Hardwood Hills campground is a bit of a jaunt, but the campground is beautiful so no regrets.  There are lots of trees and rocks, all the things I enjoy!  

Presley and I parked then did our little mini-hike to our site.  It didn't take me long to pitch my tent, and set up my bed for the night.  Then get my fire stuff ready for later.  We then went for a quick run to the beach to check it out. Bon Echo has a huge rock cliff at the lake if you google it you will see the cliff face, it's quite pretty!   We enjoyed the Beach visit.  Presley in particular always loves her swim! We headed back to camp. 

We did absolutely nothing the rest of the afternoon.  There wasn't a soul around.  We sat in our chair and listened to birds, I read a bit.  As we got closer to evening time I started a fire. The cotton ball and vaseline method works well, thanks Kevin Callan for this!!  :) 

We enjoyed a bit of the night sky but not for too late.  When I retired to the tent there wasn't anyone around.  I figured if I get to sleep early I would sleep off my anxiety about being alone and my bearnoia. Yes, bears visit Bon Echo. 

I was nervous, of course I would be.  Presley who usually sleeps at my feet curled up a little closer, I think she knew I needed her comfort.  Sometime a bit after we fell asleep we awoke to lights ,  turns out another tenter down the way had come in late and was hiking the trail.  A small flashlight can sure seem like a torch in the dark.  Who ever it was it sounded like they were dragging a cooler along the very bumpy trail.  They were making noise, so even though they weren't right on top of us, down the trail a bit, I knew there was people around and just enough activity that anything lurking would likely be scared off.  I was still nervous, but I also know the only way over this fear is to face it, practice!  There was no turning back now, I was out there anyways.  I was a little nervous with noises but eventually fell asleep then slept ok.  Except for one thing, I didn't bring my inflatable pillow.  So I woke up with a badly kinked neck.  It actually took about 6 weeks for it to heal..  After this trip I invested (about $4) in a new airline pillow that you blow up, it's way lighter and takes up no space, but should be an improvement from a rolled up sweater! 

As for Bon Echo and me in July, I made it through the night - solo!!!  

Mornings at camp are pretty standard.  Boil some water, make some coffee and a little bowl of oatmeal and break up camp.  Which we did.  Presley bringing me sticks as usual to get her fetching game on.  It was a beautiful morning, birds chirping, fresh air, coffee and a furbaby for company.  What more could a girl possibly need after her first night alone in a tent on her first almost back country experience!  

Though I remained nervous about doing a solo, I would do another solo trip that year, though car camping.  These trips slowly help build my confidence.  2022 is my year to try and get up my gumption to do a real solo, by canoe!  We will see how the year plays out.  

But if you want to give a quick try with solo tenting in an almost back country setting, I highly recommend those little hike in sites at Bon Echo!  A great little warm up for the aspiring solo back country girl!