Ever since I moved to Abitibi-Témiscamingue in 2018, I’ve been hearing about Sépaq’s latest addition to its outdoor network: Parc national d’Opémican! Last December, I had the opportunity to get a first look at this new park, and I couldn’t wait for summer to return to live the Opémican experience to the full… Spending a week-end in a ready-to-camp sounded quite exciting!!! So, guess where I spent the first weekend of July this year?
A National park nested in a century-old forest
As my friend and colleague Réjean wrote in a previous article, as soon one takes the road that goes into the park, it is impossible not to be impressed by the vastness of this forest of tall red and white pines. I just couldn’t help lifting my foot from the accelerator over the few kilometers between Hwy 101 and the Pointe Opémican Service Center so astounded I was by the magnificent trees standing around me. I opened the windows and the magic happened: the scent of the pine trees, the moment of grace… It felt like being on holiday!
An employee at the Service Center, where I received a warm welcome, showed me how to find my ready-to-camp. I headed back down the road until I saw the road sign for “Boucle des remorqueurs”. I followed the loop road leading to the Étoile ready-to-camps. Still surrounded by magnificent pine trees, I was eager to discover where I was going je to spend the night.
Étoile ready-to-camp, site #64
I drove very slowly, looking for the ready-to-camp site where I was going to spend the night. 62, …, 63, … and 64! Oh wow, what a great place! The pine trees were still around, and their pleasant scent made me feel like being on holiday! I parked my car in front of the ready-to-camp and took a look around the site. I had never been in a large semi-tent, semi-cottage accommodation, and I was more than pleasantly surprised by this innovative accommodation concept offered by Parc national d’Opémican.
My camping site included a fire pit circled by four super comfy chairs, impatiently waiting for the sun to set and campers to start a fire and sit quietly. Just a few steps further, I saw a brand-new picnic table made of light wood. Then I walked up the few steps leading to a small terrace with a direct view of the forest; two chairs facing the forest invited me to sit down for a few minutes, listen to the silence and catch a glimpse, between the trees, of Lake Témiscamingue below.
Luxury camping at Parc National d’Opémican
After letting myself be pervaded by the feeling of peace and tranquility, I continued to explore my site. The terrace where I was sitting minutes ago was equipped with a propane cooker and a small kitchen counter, both sheltered under the canvas covering the wood structure of the ready-to-camp: the ideal setup for cooking meals on a rainy day! When I finally opened the patio door of my ready-to-camp, I discovered a luxury camping space.
The kitchen corner includes a large table covered with a nice checkered tablecloth, six chairs, yellow, a small fridge, a convenient kitchen counter and ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING you need for cooking. When I saw the three double beds opposite me, I realized that my ready-to-camp can accommodate up to six people. Much to my surprise, each bed comes with sheets designed to provide privacy during the night. I never knew camping could be so comfortable. I now realize how lucky I am to have experienced this.
I cannot help but thinking that this is just the kind of camping experience, in a national park, that my friends and family back in Belgium would truly enjoy, especially after travelling all the way from Europe! No need to bring your own camping gear. This setup is perfect! All the joys and advantages of camping without the fuss. All is needed for a memorable stay is a sleeping bag and food!
Sunset on the beach and evening by the fire
After I unpacked my stuff and made myself at home, I decided to walk down to Opémican point. I sat on the beach of Lake Témiscamingue and watched the sun go down. It had been a windy day and the water quite rough. As soon as the sun started to sink behind the distant hills, the wind dropped, the lake took on a mirror appearance and the show began.
I saw the horizon take on an orange color, then intensify in increasingly dark shades. As the sun set, the sky went from a pinkish hue to a light lavender, then became a dark blue. Sitting on the dock with my feet in the water, I watched this magnificent sight in complete silence. It felt really good to live in the present and think of nothing at all.
After the show, I walked up the trail to my ready-to-camp and started a fire with firewood I had purchased earlier in the day. I let myself be completely hypnotized by the flames dancing above the logs, the stars shining brightly in the sky and the fireflies glowing in the darkness. Here I was, at Parc national d’Opémican, spending a beautiful summer evening, the kind of evening I had been longing to experience in my adopted region.
Spending a night in a ready-to-camp gave me the opportunity to enjoy nature and only the good aspects of camping. I needed only to open the window-like opening at the head of my bed and look out through the fly screen to observe the sky, smell the pine trees and hear the sounds of the forest in the nighttime. With the cool night air and soothing scent of pine trees flowing freely into the room, I fell peacefully asleep, rocked by the soft music of nature. I woke up early in the early morning to the singing of the birds and the first rays of the sun.
It was the beginning of another beautiful and adventurous day at Parc national d’Opémican, packed with great activities such as board paddling, canoeing, hiking, biking and much more. With batteries fully recharged and total peace of mind, I was ready to make other discoveries.