Canoeing and Island Camping in Kejimkujik National Park

Two and a half hours from Halifax, the metropolitan city centre of the entire Maritimes, lies a National park of outstanding beauty. Where lakes, islands, trees, rivers and streams converge and form the 404 square kilometer national park known as Kejimkujik National Park. Looking at the name of this park, one might think “That has to be a typo” – Afraid not! Kejimkujik (Or “Keji” according to the locals) is very much real, and is actually an old M’ikmaq word that means “Tired Muscles”. Upon entering the park, its surprisingly easy to see why. The terrain in this park, is astounding. One would have to be in peak physical form in order to cross this entire park in any reasonable time. Fortunate for me, that wasn’t the plan. 11 friends from all over the maritimes decided to rent an island, canoe out to our campsite together, and celebrate the nations birthday, otherwise known as Canada day!

Welcome to Jakes Landing

After a relatively long and cramped road trip, we pulled up to Liverpool Adventure Outfitters, located along the water of Jakes Landing. We promptly unloaded all of our gear from the car to the canoes. At $35 a day, we were all laughing. After the gear was finished, it was time to unload the beverages. I performed the famous awkward beer unload. I had an excuse saved up already, waiting to be questioned by a Park Ranger. “No Mr. Park Officer Sir, these beers are for the entire group…We plan on having a quiet evening looking for nocturnal birds while enjoying a beer or two”. A towel was ready nearby to toss on top of the other six “Two-Fours” and the bottles of liquor still in their brown bags. No need to make a reputation for ourselves before we even get a taste.

Note: Most parks allow drinks (Cans & Plastic only – but always double check); however, it’s an unwritten rule that you shouldn’t start cracking them nor flaunting them until you’re out of plain view of workers, children, and other thirsty patrons waiting in line for their canoes.

Low Riding Lake Chariots

Our lake chariots were full and riding low with the sheer amount of camping gear & wobbly pops. I carefully entered my canoe, in hopes of not being that boob on the trip who tips all of our stuff and watches as the river takes our drinks for a ride. Fortunately, my paddle eventually dripped into the water of Kejimkujik. The water was a still mirror. Part of me felt guilty for ruining the tranquility of the entire scene. Birds were chirping, a light ripple bubbled from what I assume was a fish, a calm breeze pushed through the green of the trees, and here we were. Two beer deep, laughing, listening to the Beastie Boys on a set of crappy speakers and paddling out to our own private island. I thought to myself, its a good thing we’re on a remote island, because I would hate to be the Nature-Loving solo camper who got stuck with the campsite next to us. Can someone say “No Sleep Til Brooklyn!

Transforming Engaged

Paddling our rental canoes soon became a game of cat and mouse, followed by the occasional game of transformers, where we’d join canoes into a colossal mega-canoe. Hell-bent on having a good Canada Day. The sun was out in full force, scorching the trees, warming the water, and burning the uncovered shoulders of campers. I breathed in the sunshine, “Not gonna get me this time sunshine…SPF 30 my friend, do your worst!”. As the minutes approached further into the hour, the horsin’ around slowed down and we began concentrating on paddling.

That’s our island!

The paddle playlist continued, keeping us  on time with one another. With each pull, the canoe approached closer and closer to our new home for the weekend. Roughly an hour later, we pulled our canoes over the natural beach of our island. Laughter, Woots, and a high 5 or two were shared as we laughed at the immensity of this campsite. It was the size of a city block, with designated areas for tents, its own outhouse, a firepit, two picnic tables, and a giant pile of wood. Pretty standard for a campsite, but for some reason, everything seemed better here.

This is where things get a little hazy, and I’d be hard pressed to do much more writing about the rest of that day. Maybe it was the bottle of whiskey, maybe it was the beer, maybe it was the good people and the great weather. Whatever it was, that experience was my own, and I look back on that with my own fond, short bursts of memory and hilarity. I celebrated my 23rd Canada Day and survived. Beans, sausages, hangovers, pancakes, bacon, whiskey, beer, and all. Nobody said Canada Day was healthy, but it is always worth a smile or two.

What did you do for Canada Day?


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