Trip Report: Backcountry Hike-In at Bon Echo

Essens Lake in Bon Echo

Once I received the news from my doctor that there were no torn ligaments involved with my knee injury, I made plans to head into Bon Echo Provincial Park.

I didn’t ask her if it would be okay. I figured if worse came to worse, I could hobble out. I only wanted to get into the first campsite on the Abe & Essens Overnight Trail and get out.

My ulterior motive was to film a little vignette about my tent for a University of Toronto class I’m taking.


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I confirmed with my in-laws when our Canadian Thanksgiving gathering would take place. Then I booked my site through Ontario Parks’ online reservation system. I was the only one with a reservation on the trail for my one night out.

I picked up new hiking boots from MEC and a few other odds and ends. (Yep, I’m breaking all the rules. Breaking in a never-worn pair of boots and doing it on a knee injury, over uneven terrain.) My REI hikers had no traction left in them and I didn’t need to be slip-sliding all over the trail after the remnants of Hurricane Nate had blown through.

I packed everything up in my backpack and threw it on to gauge the weight. 40-45 pounds? No problem…


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[su_plan name=”My Shelter”]

  • Tent, fly, poles, stakes, and footprint
  • -10 degree Celsius sleeping bag, fleece liner, fleece-lined stuff sack (pillow)
  • Thermarest

[su_plan name=”My Clothes”]

  • PJs, a set of base layers
  • Winter hat, rain jacket, long sleeve technical tee
  • 1 extra underwear and wool socks
  • Plus what I was wearing when I left (hiking pants, hiking boots, wool socks, technical tee, undergarments, cap & sunglasses)


[su_plan name=”My Safety Gear”]

  • Whistle, multi-tool
  • Compass, DeLorme inReach personal locator, cell phone
  • Headlamp, matches
  • Medium-sized first aid kit
  • Hiking poles



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[su_plan name=”My Food”]

  • 1L Nalgene, Aquatabs
  • Trail mix, oatmeal, Starbucks VIA packets
  • MRE
  • Some rope, a carabiner, and a dry bag to hang food/toiletries

[su_plan name=”My Toiletries”]

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Toilet kit

[su_plan name=”My Luxuries”]

  • Tripod
  • DSLR, microphone, two lenses
  • Camera cleaning equipment, spare memory cards
  • {Totally forgot the spare camera battery}
  • Rite-in-the-Rain and pencil



Daily Log

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Date: October 9, 2017     Temp (Hi / Lo): 21 / 7 Celsius     Precip: 5 mm

Route: Parking lot to Essens Lake site 526, ~1.5 hours. The rain had stopped by the time I started hiking. Lucky! Once at my site, I took photos and video. I ate my dinner. I listened to what birds were left and the frogs. I fell asleep before 8:30pm.



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Date: October 10, 2017     Temp (Hi): 20 Celsius     Precip: 0 mm

Route: After a sound night’s sleep, I retraced yesterday’s route. Out in an hour.



Map of Bon Echo backcountry trailPros:

  1. The trail is/could be beginner friendly. It’s just rugged enough that I was happy I had my hiking poles. (Keep in mind, I was dealing with a sore knee.)
  2. There is easy access to water. Bring a purification method.


  1. The trail markers change colors regularly.
  2. The maps isn’t to scale nor particularly technical.

Published by Kate Monahan

Travel happy. Outdoors professional. Writer. Photographer. Educator.

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