You’ve got to love a campground where they bar people for abusing the help.
When I pulled up to the campground registration office at Killbear Provincial Park, I noticed a sign advising that abusive behaviour (as they call it in Canada) would not be tolerated. If there’s anything worse than a jerk who sublimates his feelings of inadequacy by taking it out on powerless service sector employees, it’s a jerk who feels obligated to do so even while on holiday.
Enough about that.
Another thing I liked about Killbear was the help. When I mentioned to the young woman at the campground office that I wanted a campsite with as much privacy as possible, she was gracious enough not to laugh in my face. In the course of our conversation she told me that, on a summer weekend, Killbear Provincial Park has a higher population than the town of Parry Sound in the winter.
I thought she was joking. She wasn’t.
The population of Parry Sound is about 6,200, which probably doesn’t account for those who board up their summer homes in the winter and head for one of Canada’s sun-and-fun Meccas — comparatively tropical places such as Toronto.
There are nearly 1,500 campsites at Killbear, but you’d never know it. The campsites are situated in such a way that you could drive through the park and never see more than three dozen people at any given time. Assuming there would be at least four people in a camping party, there could easily be 6,000 people or more on summer weekends.
Sadly, the same can’t be said for Massasauga rattlesnakes. Their population within the park has plummeted in recent years. Among other things, cars have taken their toll on this threatened species. Volunteers and park employees initiated a program to prevent road kills. They put up 3.6 kilometers of snake fencing to keep them off the roads and built four ecopassages (tunnels under the roadways) so the snakes could cross safely.
The Massasauga rattlers are not out of the woods, so to speak. But these measures might help salvage some of the population.
I planned to spend the night at the park, sleep in my car, then press on for Lake Nipissing in the morning. I didn’t want to have food at the campsite, especially with malnourished bears lurking in the shadows.
Ontario’s black bears have been particularly obnoxious this year. They have every right to be. A June frost wiped out the blueberries, one of their main food sources. On top of that, it’s been a bad year for wild nuts. They don’t serve bears at Tim Hortons, so they’ve been left to fend for themselves, raiding campsites and backyards in urban areas.
When the campsite registration lady advised me of the bear situation, I responded with a stale joke about always camping with people you can outrun. She burst my bubble by telling me that running is never a good strategy when encountering aggressive bears. The guy who’s running is the one they’d go after, she said.
I wanted to tell her to mind her own damn business. Then I remembered the sign.
Next— Where can a guy get a meal around here?