When it comes to swanky rooftop drinks I’m the first one in line. I’m all for summer dresses and I’ll even dig out some summery shade of lipstick. But when the city gets a little too crowded and the traffic just a bit too congested, nothing beats a weekend camping. Alone.
I like spending time alone. Some of my favorite trips have been the ones I have taken alone. But in a way, camping in Oastler Lake Provincial Park is like coming home. Almost every summer growing up, my parents and I would come here for a week, having booked one of the coveted lakefront campsites which my mom had snagged months in advance. I’m not sure if it was the nostalgia for the childhood campground, the craving for campfire-roasted s’mores or the lack of availability at other campgrounds across Southern Ontario that fueled this last minute booking here but I’m definitely glad I did it.
It wasn’t until upon arrival that I understood why this particular campsite was still available only two weeks before the date of arrival in the middle of August. Located on the smallest plot of exposed land right next to a small washroom station, this site might have been the social reject of the sites across the campground but for a girl from the city living in an apartment with about half the square footage, this was the perfect escape into nature. I arrived at the campground just as the sun was setting over the lake. Having to choose between catching the sunset or pitching the tent in daylight I obviously opted for the sunset. Muskoka is known for some of the best sunsets in the world. There was no way I was missing that view.
After registration and the mandatory purchase of overpriced campground firewood, I got to my campsite, set up my tent in the dark and made a fire. I sat there in my folding camping chair, sipping a boxed chardonnay, willing my muscles to finally relax. I thought of all the beautiful cottages in Muskoka; the potential to rent, buy or visit these incredible summer homes. I thought about the comfort of all the amenities. But somewhere between dreaming of a lakefront cottage and redecorating it in my head I stopped and looked up at the stars. It reminded me of the beauty of nature and the simplicity it represents; the simplicity I’m always looking for. Immediately my little tent became the luxury getaway I needed.
The rest of the weekend was more of the same. Relaxing by the fire, eating a few too many s’mores I made with this handy kit I picked up at a grocery store on my way up, walks through the campground to the lake, reading in the hammock, taking deep breaths of air containing actual oxygen. Lying in the hammock, I closed my book and looked up at the bright blue sky and vibrantly green trees. The campsite had direct afternoon sun exposure and I could feel the sun rays sinking into my skin. The breeze was cool coming off the water and the air smelled equally fresh and smokey from all the campfires. My clothes were permanently infused with the smell of summer.
That evening the sky lit up in the brightest reds, pinks, oranges and yellows as the sun set. It was that overpowering light that makes the air full of color, bouncing it off every object in sight. A real Muskoka sunset. I was grateful for my plot of land for the weekend and the incredible opportunity to enjoy the beauty of cottage country.
On my way home the next day I stopped at the Trestle Brewery patio for lunch. It was a fairly small outdoor dining space furnished with long cafeteria tables, an extension of the brewery itself. The view was absolutely stunning. If I had more time I would have loved to visit in the evening to watch the sun set over the river under the twinkly lights. Just another reason to come back again next year!