Campalot - Where's Wilderness Obsession?
There’s a line in many old tv shows and movies that describes perfectly what Wilderness Obsession has been like over the past year or so…
In these shows the hero walks into an ominous setting like a dark forest or perhaps a dungeon and says… “It’s quiet. Too quiet…”
That’s largely what our site and social media has been like over the past months and even more than a year… due to circumstances beyond our control. But instead of a foreboding sense of danger like those old TV shows… we want you to have a feeling that things will be better and we’re going to provide you with more outdoor content… or at least we hope to!
For those of you who have been wondering where we’ve been been… and what we’ve been up to… it comes down to one word: campalot. So let me tell you this story… it’s been a long one (and a good one).
In 2015 we saw notices that the province of New Brunswick was going to open up some new crown camp lot leases… reportedly the most new crown camp lots in their history! They would be granted via a lottery… in around a dozen places in the province. Each of these locations offered the creation of a new “camp cluster” which would be 8 camp lots… and they were going to be for a period of 10 years (renewable). Without further ado: Here is a slideshow of our progress so far, from Forest to the magical world of Campalot. On mobile devices, we recommend you view this in landscape (widescreen mode). Story continues below
Having spent many happy times through the years at our father’s camp in Harewood, NB… and having watched that area go from being one of the best deer hunting areas in the province to one of the worst
in our lifetime… we were intrigued with the possibility of perhaps finding a new location to hunt and fish. We set out that fall examining some of the locations of these camp cluster and came to an
agreement that we would apply for a lot in one in Charlotte County, in a place known as Hall’s Brook.
The area has not been under intense forest management to date, and we saw a great deal of unspoiled wilderness with great fishing, good moose and deer habitat, and a high population of black bears. There
also happens to be a growing population of wild turkey in the area. We got a group of friends and family together and 5 of us applied on the lottery, since we’ve never been known to be very lucky in lotteries.
We hoped to win a single lot, but when the results came out… we had won four lots.
We went and examined the lots. One of the lots (number 8) was literally in the middle of a swamp and beaver dam. Knowing that we would never be able (or permitted) to build a camp on that one, we chose the one we felt would be the highest and driest of the bunch: lot 7. We let the rest go back to the province to be available for others to choose.
As the area hadn’t been surveyed, that was the camp lot owner’s responsibility. They had to be surveyed before the lease could be finalized at our cost. We contacted a few local surveyors and found one to do the work. As he examined the area that was intended for the cluster, he saw the same problems with lot 8 and told the province they couldn’t have one there. They allowed him to move the lots further up the road where he surveyed all of them for the owners. With a bit of trepidation at now having a new lot… site unseen, we visited it in the spring of 2016 and were pleasantly surprised. The lot was high and dry as well, and we already had visions of where to put the driveway and camp.
One thing we didn’t expect in the camp lot process was how long the surveying (and the paperwork) would take. After the survey was completed we received the application package in spring of 2016. We
did our best to complete it quickly, have it notarized, and pay the fees… and finally got our approval in early July, 2016. It was official! We had our ten year lease. Now what?
Being crown land, we needed a “work permit” to get permission to do something on our lot, along with an “X permit” to be able to cut trees, which could be obtained through DNR. We told the staff at DNR in
St. George that we had thought about taking the logs to be milled, and use them as lumber for the camp. Their advice was “don’t do it.” They informed us that as long as the trees were not removed from the lot, there would not be a charge for the x-permit. If we were going to be using the wood on site (whether for construction or as firewood to heat the camp) then we could do so without further fees. If we wanted to remove the trees, we would have to have them examined by the company that had rights to the crown land in the area (in our case it would be JDI), to see if they wanted them. If they did they would be able to take them. If not, we would pay the stumpage fees for the trees we had cut. We would be allowed to mill them on site and use the lumber… but it couldn’t be removed and returned.
We decided we didn’t want anything to do with that approval process to remove wood, and so the permits were obtained free of charge from staff at DNR who were very helpful and quick.
We set out beginning some work on the lot, and got some of the underbrush cut… cleared the area by the road in the front of our lot, and brought in a mini-excavator and put in a driveway.
2018 was when we really got busy with the work on our camp lot, and when our website work kind of went off the rails. Intending to bring in a portable mill, we were told we should cut the trees during the winter… so we started clearing the lot in February of 2018. We worked until spring breakup and had most of the large trees cleared by the time the snow started melting to the point where we couldn’t get through any longer. We had a bit of bad luck with a broken trailer and a “keys locked in the truck” incident on some of the trips… but all in all it went well.
We were perhaps a bit unaware of how much work the clearing of the lot would be. It was very long and a lot of work as we cut the trees, cut the logs to length, dragged them by ATV and rolled them into large piles. Brush had to be piled and burned, stumps had to be cut low or ground down, and it took a ton of work. The work continued once we were able to get back into the lot after things dried up. Week after week we made the trek down, staying in a tent once the weather got warmer… and it often didn’t seem like we had accomplished much.
Finally after many weekend trips we were ready to build on the Canada Day long weekend. That weekend we were able to get the camp floor built and on skids… and to get it in place and leveled. Things progressed and we got the structure done in a single weekend, with everything sheathed,tyvac’d, and tar-papered. The first night was spent in the camp on August 8, 2018… when we could finally stop bringing a tent to the lot!
We hired a local portable mill owner to come in and mill our logs into boards for the siding and inside. Windows and doors went in. The metal roof went on in another weekend. Although the majority of the work was done by our father and just the two brothers… we did have some friends come in a few trips, for which we are very thankful.
By the fall of 2018 we had our siding on and a small deck built, but very little done inside. This spring and summer our priority has been finishing the inside. We’ve hard-wired it for outlets and lights for a generator to power. It’s been insulated and has much of the inside walls boarded, along with a bedroom which will soon have two double-sized bunk-beds in it. The flooring has been installed and more work has been done to the finish inside.
It’s been a ton of work, and a huge sacrifice to go there regularly… and we haven’t had much time for fishing or hunting as a result. But at the same time, it’s been very rewarding and we have shared so many laughs and stories of the good, bad, and ugly throughout the process.
Being just a couple of redneck IT guys, we didn’t have any formal training and sometimes didn’t really know what we were doing. But we relied on the advice of others and researching the skills we lacked. Sometimes we even watched YouTube videos to learn our next steps.
We’ve named our spot “campalot” by inspiration of David’s young son Wesley. As we were traveling there several times each month for the past two years, he would hear that we were going to the “camp lot.” But he mistakenly thought we were going to a place called “campalot,” like Camelot where Arthur and the knights of the roundtable lived. The name has stuck… and we love it.
If you happen to find us in the backwoods of Halls Brook… stop in to say hi. If we’re not there, the door is always unlocked and there’s a guest book to sign… and coordinates to contact us if anything has been damaged. It’s not fancy… but it’s special because campalot represents all the blood, sweat, and tears that have gone into it…
If anyone is interested in a crown lease camp lot and wants more details about the process feel free to contact us! Let us know what you think of our adventure and tell us about your own!
Contact us and let us know!