On Friday afternoon we loaded two boats with 13 people and four dogs and set off for two nights of beach camping in Red Lake.

To truly appreciate our neck of the woods, you need a boat. This area is covered predominately in water (check out this map and you’ll see just what I mean) and dotted with hundreds of islands to explore along the way. If you’re lucky, you’ll come across one with an old crumbling log cabin whose wood is slowly being reclaimed by the forest around it.  

With blue skies above us, we set out for Goldseekers Beach. The area where we were headed is steeped in history. It’s near a narrow passage to another bay where The Hudson’s Bay Company—you know the one who created the iconic striped blanket?—established a post in 1822.

It’s also close to Mars Island named after the intrepid female prospector Mabel Mars. In the summer of 1926, Mabel moved alone to the wilds of northwestern Ontario, a bold decision for a woman in those times. She was the talk of the camps, and was said to have her own unique way of doing things. One night she had a dream that showed her the location of a gold deposit on this island. She sketched her “spirit drawing,” which she tried to use to retain rights over the claim. Unfortunately, she lost the property during the stock market crash in 1929.

We arrived at Goldseekers to find an awesome setup. Previous campers had crafted a table between two trees and a rope swing from a tree near the water. We set up our tents, cracked a few beers, and settled into our camp chairs for a lazy night around the fire.

Alas, Mother Nature had other plans.

What started as a few raindrops quickly turned into a torrential downpour with constant wind. All humans and dogs huddled under a tarp hung between four trees. We were soaked and sandy. At last the tarp gave way, dumped water on us all, and we ran for the tents.

We quickly discovered that several of our tents had been ripped up from the ground and tumbled three of four times back into the woods. Our bedding and clothing were soaked. Somehow everyone managed to restake their tents amidst the pouring rain and climb inside.

It was a rough night of sleep to say the least.

The next morning we found out that there was a tornado warning and more storms headed our way. We decided it was time to throw in the towel.

It wasn’t quite the idyllic camping experience I had in mind, but you’ve got to have a few misadventures to experience the good ones.

Plus, an afternoon of Trivial Pursuit, peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, and Neil Young spinning on the record player back in our cozy home can make up for even the crappiest of camping trips.