Travel Options – Revisited

Courtesy of Parkbus

Courtesy of Parkbus

Travelling to any Provincial Park is difficult if you don’t have a car at your disposal.  I’m one of those people who rely on other forms of transportation when it comes to getting into Algonquin.  Even though we don’t have the option our ancestors and Tom Thomson did years ago when it comes to getting into Algonquin Park, there are still a few options available to those who don’t have a car.

  1. Park Bus:  The Park Bus is THE BEST travel option.  Since I posted about it in 2012 the Parkbus has gone on to expand to a variety of parks and their schedule takes you in almost whenever you want to go.  The Park Bus takes you to various points through out the HWY 60 corridor.  This is the schedule and stops that the Park Bus makes:
      TORONTO – ALGONQUIN
    T1 York Mills   7:00 am
    T2 30 Carlton Street 7:30 am
    T3 Dufferin and Bloor 7:45 am
      ALGONQUIN – TORONTO
    A6 Lake Opeongo 1:30 pm
    A5 Pog Lake 1:50 pm
    A4 Lake of Two Rivers 1:55 pm
    A3 Canoe Lake 2:10 pm
    A2 West Gate 2:25 pm
    A1 Oxtongue
    Wolf Den
    2:35 pm
  2. Ontario Northland:  Since I’ve posted this you are only allowed to take the bus now to Huntsville.  You can then take a cab into the park from there…be warned it is an expensive option unless you have family/friends in the area.
  3. Greyhound:  You can take the greyhound to Maynooth which is at the south east tip of the park.  There is an outfitter there (Algonquinbackpacker.com) that offers daily shuttles into the park.

Overall the Park bus is your best option.  You are not able to take Canoes on the bus but it does stop at Algonquin Outfitters on Opeongo Lake where you can rent canoes as well as the Portage Store.  The bus will also drop you off at two campgrounds: Pog Lake and Lake of Two Rivers.  Two Rivers has a store on site so you can grab any groceries that you need like your perishable foods.  I hope this helps you try to find the best way into the park this summer…I plan on riding the Park Bus again this summer!

~Enjoy your trip

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Ice Out Update

I was up in the Algonquin region yesterday and I’m sad to report that the lakes around where I was were solid ice still.  Its still going to be quite awhile until we are able to dip, dip, and swing!

What are you doing to keep from going stir crazy?

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Outdoor Adventure Show #OASToronto

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The Outdoor Adventure Show, in my opinion, is the best show to visit in the off-season if you’re a paddler or camper.  Everything that you could possibly want or need, whether it’s tripping advice from Algonquin Outfitters or a new canoe or paddle, you can find right here.  Sure it’s not every outfitter or canoe company but you are able to comparison shop in a way.  The one thing I am finding though is that the show is very repetitive.  Same exhibitors, same layout, same thing.  It’s time for the show to grow and take over more space so that more people can show off the products they have.  Otherwise you’ll start losing visitors.

This year the show added an Adventures in Paddling Stage where they had various people speak including Hap Wilson, Preston Ciere (Portageur.ca) and Kevin Callan.

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The speakers above are from the Bay of Fundy Symposium(L) and Hap Wilson (R)

 

As always they had the demo pool where this year things got a little furry!  Preston Ciere and his paddling dog Nancy were showing how to take our furry companions on canoe trips.

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Something else that they added this year was a zip line above the show floor.  There were a ton of people who took part in that.  I myself didn’t feel like waiting in that line up but I still would have done it :).  Over all it was a great day.  I got to meet up with some old friends from Algonquin Outfitters and Swift, met a new friend from Some Eventful, Gayle, and got a chance to catch up with some of the speakers from TEDxAlgonquin like Preston Ciere, Kevin Callan, and Boris from Parkbus!

For more photos check out the Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/AWalkInAlgonquinPark)

~Enjoy your Trip!

Needing Some Healing Time In #AlgonquinPark

Mowat More than ever before, Algonquin will become my hide away.  Before Christmas my dad was diagnosed with Leukemia – which is a blood cancer.  It’s been not only a rough road for him but also the rest of our family.

Algonquin is known as the wilderness playground.  It offers beautiful vista’s, picturesque lakes, and a chance to get away from it all.  Often explored by outdoorsmen and families it is a great get away.  But what about it’s ability to heal?  I’m not talking physical healing where you go and you’re cured of whatever ails you.  I’m talking more of emotional healing.

Over the last 5 years Algonquin has become my hiding and healing place.  When I lost my mom I immediately went into survival mode.  I had a family to care for and as the oldest I felt responsible.  When mother’s day came along I went to the one place that I felt whole…Algonquin.  Being one with nature, miles away from the everyday, in the serenity of that beautiful park gives you time to think and to reflect on things that you often can’t focus on in the busyness of life.

The thing about Algonquin is that you don’t have to go far into the interior to begin to feel the healing powers of the park.199_16528381202_4794_n  For me often all it takes is a hike up the Lookout Trail and sitting on top of the lookout to start to feel at ease and less anxious about life.  I always have a notebook, a camera and a pen with me.  That way when I need to I can write what I feel and help sort out what’s going on.  The other place f0r me to get away as weird as it sounds is on Canoe Lake.  The mysterious lake already hides a great mystery so I feel at home there.  Sometimes I climb up to the cairn…other times I go to the Joe Lake Dam.  The cairn is where Thomson often camped so I feel at home there.

Another way that I find healing in the park is by camping solo!  It may be within a campground where you are close to people if you’re new to this…or it could be jumping in the canoe and going on a 2/3 day canoe trip.  The key thing is…do what makes you feel in control and relaxed.  Other times you may feel that you need just a day.  That’s cool too!  My life may be in a bit of turmoil emotionally at times but I know that there’s a place out there where I can become whole again and have a different outlook on life…a positive one.  I hope that you can find a place or spot within the park that you can call yours to get away from everything and heal.

~Enjoy your trip

 

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Why Do I Go to #AlgonquinPark?

155_8974591202_2273_nPeople I’ve met over the years have often asked me why Algonquin?  What’s so special about it?  Those who have been to Algonquin many times get it and understand.  It’s hard to describe that feeling I get when I’m in Algonquin.  It’s one of peace, serenity, and the feeling of being able to breathe.  As I said it’s hard to truly understand but I’ll try to explain.  When you live in the city and go through the daily life you sometimes find it hard to breathe.  That life is passing you by and you are missing everything.  Algonquin is my place to breathe, to take in life, and to get rid of all the stress that builds up during the year.

 

I was introduced to Algonquin when I was around the age of 2.  I don’t know what exactly we did whether2071_62528811202_9479_n it was a canoe trip or just a camping trip and I really don’t remember the trip at all but there is photographic evidence down in my basement.  I’ve grown up there though pretty much every summer since I was around 5/6.  It has been my summer vacation playground.  My home away from home.  It’s where I learned how to canoe and be considerate of nature.  It’s where I discovered who I am as a person.  It’s where I watched my mom come alive.  Where my family felt the closest with no worries or fears.

2071_62528896202_4667_nWhen I saw my mom in Algonquin camping or at our Dorset cottage she was a completely different person.  It was like all the stress of the school year melted away and she was able to relax with us.  She was happy all the time but she was even happier when we were camping.  It wasn’t uncommon for her to make friends at the campgrounds that have ended up being life long friends.  She sat on the beach either reading or knitting, talked with other mom’s, or swam in the lake with us.  There were many times where we would swim from the beach in Canisbay lake to the island across the way or we went for a canoe ride at sunset.

Algonquin is my place to run away from the everyday.  It’s my sanctuary, my place to breathe, my place to live.

Part of me is baffled that there are many many people out there that haven’t had the opportunity to experience it like I have.  My family used to go on overnight canoe trips.  My dad took us kids out for two or three nights at a time.  When we bought a cottage I started to lose that love I had for Algonquin…it was harder for me to have the same feeling and I turned away for a few years.  It wasn’t until I was older and I started camping by myself that I realized how much I missed it.

My love for Algonquin is the main reason I started the blog.  I love being able to share my experiences with others.  I love helping people discover what Algonquin is all about and hopefully discover how much they love it.  Algonquin isn’t for everyone I know that but one can dream.  I hope this makes it a little clearer about why I love it.

~Enjoy your trip!

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WhaSUP?

With paddle boarding (SUP) increasing popularity every season it’s a difficult market to stand out above the rest!  Yet there is a paddle board company that is starting to do just that!  We’ve all heard of BluWave or SUPLove…those names are big here Ontario.  The problem with those boards (not that it’s a big problem per say) is that they can be hard to transport.  You need a vehicle in order to carry them to and from your campground or have someone else drive you.  This is where whaSUP stands out above the rest.  Their boards are inflatable and portable!  Don’t believe me?  This is their paddle board…

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And this is their paddle board folded up….

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Yup that’s it!  It’s folds into a backpack the size of my Eureka Dry Pack!  Inside that backpack is your SUP board, your paddle, your leash, the pump, and a guage.  For those who travel by Parkbus to the Provincial Parks…this is your answer to how to transport something like this up…this will fit easily under the bus!  Live in downtown Toronto but can’t take your SUP board onto the subway to get down to the lake?  Just throw this on your back and away you go.

Don’t get me wrong…I don’t work for the company…but I know an ingenius product when I see it and I want to share it with you!  I’m looking forward to testing one this summer!  In case you’re interested…the price point is about half compared to other companies.  They are only $750 for the model that I showed you…which is a show special right now and it includes the taxes.  Plus you get everything I told you about!  If you are still set on getting a regular hard SUP board they also carry ROGUE paddle boards!

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Next week I’ll be chatting more with Scott and Peter from whaSUP about their product while at the Outdoor Adventure Show!  If you want to find out more about them visit their website: www.whasup.ca, follow them on Twitter: @whasupboards, or check them out on Facebook: www.facebook.com/whasupboards.

~Enjoy your trip!

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The end of a great weekend #blogathon2

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Well Blogathon 2 is officially over.  This weekend I’ve taught you how to start planning a canoe trip.  What you haven’t seen is the things I’ve been doing in the background.

I have worked on many aspects of this blog and the social media to go with it.

Thanks for being my loyal readers and I look forward to sharing more adventures with you!

~Enjoy your Trip!

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Planning A Solo Canoe Trip – Pt 5 #blogathon2

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Over the weekend we’ve walked through the process of planning a solo/or really any canoe trip.  We’ve talked about setting your timeline, planning your route, choosing the right gear, and now we’re going to talk about making the right food choices.  If you’ve read all the posts you’re going to notice something with how you choose your food.

WHAT’S YOUR TIMELINE?

What you bring for food is going to depend on how long you’ll be on your trip.  If you’re doing a week long trip, you’ll obviously need more food and food that won’t spoil compared to if you were going for an overnight trip.  As your planning the menu you need to always keep your timeline in mind…especially if you want to bring fresh food/meat with you.  Because you have no fridge/way to keep food cold long term, you have to be sure that the food you take is not going to spoil and make anyone sick.

If you’re going for longer than 2 days then I recommend dried food, either by making your own (Laurie Ann March has a great book out about dehydrating your own food, A Fork In the Trail) or by purchasing some from your local outfitters.  If you do want to take fresh food with you then here are a few suggestions:

  • Freeze your meats before hand so that they act like an ice pack
  • Try to limit how much you take in…especially if going for a long time
  • Only pack what you need

WHAT’S YOUR ROUTE?

Your route will greatly dictate what you bring for food.  If you are staying at one site during the whole trip then you may choose to bring some more food/beverages with you because you don’t have to unpack and repack every day.  However if you are doing a loop then you may want to stick with lightweight dehydrated food.  Again this is up to you but personally for me…I’d rather have my food be light and only require water to cook then worry about al l the ingredients that would go into preparing a meal from scratch.

WHAT ARE YOU TAKING FOR GEAR?

It doesn’t matter what tent you’re taking or what canoe you’re paddling…but it does matter how many cooking utensils/pans you want to bring and carry on the portages.  For me…my Bugaboo Backpacker set works well…it has a frying pan, pot, straining lid, plus 2 bowls and 2 cups.  As a solo paddler that’s all I need.  If you’re going gourmet then you may choose to bring more with you.

Whatever you choose to bring for food is up to you.  My thoughts for my trip are as follows:

  • Bugaboo Backpacker set for cooking
  • Making my own dehydrated food that I can vacuum seal and put in my pack without adding any weight.
  • Taking my water bottles empty and filling them on the way in
  • Packing lightweight snacks.

Even though I’m only doing one portage, weight is my primary concern.  I don’t want to carry more than I have to.

I hope this series has helped you out when it comes to planning your own trips!  Stay tuned to the site as I add a route suggestions page that will not only tell you the routes but show them on the map as well.  If you have any questions or need advice email me or comment on either the site or Facebook and I’ll be glad to help you out!

~Enjoy your trip!

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Planning A Solo Canoe Trip – Pt 4 #blogathon2

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So we’ve covered deciding on a timeline, planning your route, and paddle in sites.  Today it’s all about your gear, food,  and making sure that you can carry it.

When you’re planning a solo canoe trip its important to remember that everything you do is on your own.  I know that sounds like a obvious statement but it’s true.  You are the only one carrying all your gear, food, and canoe.  You need to make sure that everything is thought out according to weight.  The more you pack…the heavier it is…and the better chance you may have to make multiple trips on a portage.  Your gear doesn’t have to be the latest in ultra-light gear.  It just has to be efficient enough for you.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT GEAR

Think about what gear you own…do you have a list or do you have to pull it out?  Do you really need to bring that 4-man tent or do you have a single man tent?  Is there any gear you may need to rent/buy?  These are all questions that you need to take into account when planning for your trip.  Here are my answers to these questions:

  • I have a list of all my gear
  • I have both my marmot twilight 2 tent and my eureka chrysalis tent (the chrysalis will be my tent choice)
  • I have all the gear I need however I may need a new tarp

As you’re going through those questions…another question might arise…how much does everything weigh?  A 4-man tent will weigh more than a single-man tent.  A single-man tent will weigh more than a hammock tent etc.  My suggestion as you pack is to try on your pack every once in a while.

Besides a tent, you’re going to need a canoe, a stove, camp cookset, sleeping bag, paddles, life jackets, and my personal favorite – iPod!  I have a single burner stove like this one:

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It’s fairly lightweight.  The only thing that weighs down this stove is the propane tank.  I’m thinking of getting a MSR stove just for canoe trips as it’s better for the environment…but that being said I’m also one to cook on the fire when I can.  I have a GSI Bugaboo Backpacker Cookset:

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What I like about this system is that it all fits together in the pot and is very lightweight.  The best part is that you can shove it in your bag and it takes up very little space.  If you’re going during the warmer summer months you may get away with no sleeping bag or just a lightweight one.  I have an ultralight sleeping bag that rolls up pretty small.

When it comes to canoes, lighter is better for a solo canoer.  The main reason for this is because of having to carrying everything in one trip if possible on portages.  You can use a traditional 2 seater canoe for a solo trip.  It would give you room for your gear.  You could also try out a solo canoe.  If you don’t have access to one (friends or your own) you can rent one or test paddle one to see if it’s for you!

No matter what gear you choose…it should all fit into one pack…to be slightly easier on your portages.

Tonight I’m going to talk about food choices for your trip.

~Enjoy your trip

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Planning A Solo Canoe Trip – Pt 3 #Blogathon2

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One of the most important aspects of planning ANY trip is when you plan on going.  In my case…I’m going June 20-22.  This gives me 3 days of paddling.  Because I’m going on a Friday to a Sunday some of the major canoe routes may be busier than others so I plan on going up the night before so I can leave first thing in the morning.  As I mentioned before we are going to plan our route.  Before you plan any route though..you need to decide your timeline and how much you want to do on your trip.

ROUTE PLANNING 101

Hope this helps you guys with starting to plan your routes!  What scares you the most about planning your first trip?

~Enjoy your trip!

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