A Refresher Course if You Will

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Happy May 1st!  THE ICE IS OUT!!!  The long weekend is not far away and for some of us (although not me) that means the first trip of the season is close at hand!  Algonquin Park has updated it’s advisory with regards to opening up the back country and Hwy 60 campgrounds.  The update is as follows:

  • Open on May 2nd: Tea, Kiosk, and Achray campgrounds in addition to Mew Lake (year-round).  As well, permits will be issued for the Western Uplands and Highland Backpacking Trails.  Be advised there may be flooding in some areas.
  • Open May 6th:  Permits will be issued for interior canoe trips except for Kingscote (southern tip) as there is a washed out culvert making it inaccessible at this time.
  • Rock Lake and other areas are expected to be open on time for May 10th.
  • http://www.algonquinpark.on.ca/news/2014/spring_2014_update.php

With the camping season starting and the long weekend close at hand, it may be time for a quick refresher course on the rules of the campgrounds….especially the ones pertaining to alcohol bans during the season.

  1. Keep the volume of the music and your voices at a respectable level.
  2. Drinking Alcohol is only permitted while on your designated campsite.  You are not allowed to walk around with it.
  3. Take note that 30 parks have an alcohol ban from the second Friday in May until Victoria Day.  Other parks  may include other long weekends like July 1st and Labour Day.  Please check with your park
  4. It is against the law to destroy or remove anything from Provincial Parks.  I have seen people evicted for cutting down trees for firewood.  
  5. Make sure that you have a vehicle permit in your car at all times and one on your campsite post
  6. The maximum stay is 23 days in a year
  7. Pets must remain on a leash and under control.  Take note of the no dog signs
  8. Only 6 people allowed per site
  9. Campfires must be contained within the fire pit 
  10. No firearms or fireworks allowed
  11. Please clean up after yourselves.  This environment is on loan to us and we must take care of it to ensure that it’s around for years to come!

Some parks may have more specified rules than others!  Have fun as we dip our paddles into the lakes this summer and enjoy our times with friends and family.

~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

solotrip

 

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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Planning a Solo Canoe Trip – Pt 2 #blogathon2

solotrip

 

So you’ve decided that you are going to do this canoe trip and you are excited to start planning but you have no idea where to start?  That’s OK!  Everyone starts off here :).  You have a few things to decide first before you go headstrong into planning anyways.   These are things we are going to discuss this morning!  Not only can these be applied to a solo canoe trip, but all these posts can be used for any canoe trip!

So the big question is….

WHERE DO I GO?

There are a few deciding factors before you can answer this question:

  1. Have you done a canoe trip before?
  2. Is this your first solo trip?
  3. Is this your first time camping?

If you answered no to the first question and yes to any of the other questions then as a general plan you should look into the most basic of canoe trips….a paddle in site!

PADDLE IN SITES

The Orange Triangles are Sites on Canisbay Lake that you can paddle into

The Orange Triangles are Sites on Canisbay Lake that you can paddle into

So in all reality every campsite in the interior is considered a paddle in site but for our purpose I’m talking the ones that are attached to a campground or that have no portaging.

Canisbay Lake and Rock Lake are the only two campgrounds along the Highway 60 corridor that have paddle in sites available.  Each lake offers a different experience in terms of paddling and distance to the sites.  The picture above is of Canisbay Lake.  It’s a smaller and less windy than Rock Lake.  The sites along Canisbay are great!  The one at the far end of the lake (the last site on the left hand shore) is my favorite!  It has a nice rock that you can jump off, a great campfire spot, and you get some gorgeous sunsets!  It’s also the most remote of all the sites so it’s quieter!

The Islands (if you can get them) are the best places to camp!

The Islands (if you can get them) are the best places to camp!

Rock Lake is a different paddling experience all together.  There are islands available for you to camp on, but be prepared that they are the most popular sites!  Rock Lake also allows motor boats and because it’s attached to Galeairy Lake and Whitney you tend to get some slightly bigger boats than fishing boats.  The thing about Rock Lake that I’m not the biggest fan of is that it’s a windy lake.  Typically on the paddle out.  You tend to head straight into the winds.

Overall Paddle In sites are the way to go if you’ve never done this before or are just testing out your ability to handle sitting around the campfire talking to yourself haha.  Because these sites are attached to campgrounds you can always do a one night trip and camp the night before in the campground.  This is also great if you have a family camping trip and you want to try it while people are within an hours paddle away.  That way if you can’t handle it or Yogi visits you…you have the option of going back.

INTERIOR SITES

If you are a confident canoer and are ready to tackle the challenge of doing a portage solo then doing an interior canoe trip is probably your style.  Before you go out on your own though, as a safety precaution, make sure you have a way to communicate with someone in case something goes wrong…better to be safe!

Canoe Lake to Tom Thomson Lake

Canoe Lake to Tom Thomson Lake

When looking into going beyond the first lakes along Hwy 60 you need to take some things into consideration:

  1. What is your skill level?
  2. Are you ok with portaging?
  3. How much does your gear weigh?
  4. Do you have a way to communicate in case of emergency?

These are all things you need to consider.  If you are embarking on your first solo trip but have only done a handful of other canoe trips you may not want to choose paddling up Opeongo and tackling the Dickson-Bonfield portage alone.  You’ll want to stick with something simple like Canoe Lake to Joe Lake (see the pic above) because there is only one portage involved.  However if you’ve been doing canoe trips for years with the guys and want to tackle a solo trip then you may be able to handle two or three portages.  For me…to start out..the less portages the better!  The other thing to take into consideration is the weight of your canoe and pack together.  It’s one thing to have a super light canoe and a light pack…but once you add them together the weight can add up.  Do you really need those three pairs of jeans?  Do you need to put on your makeup out in the wilderness?  Can you live without your pillow?  Ask yourself these questions before heading out!

So…we’ve looked at our options and we’ve decided the type of trip we’re taking…next post we’ll be planning the route.  That post will be include a video so we can look at various routes.

~Enjoy your trip!

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Planning A Solo Canoe Trip #blogathon2

solotripThis summer I’m planning to embark on my first Solo Canoe trip for my annual birthday trip.  As scared as I am, I’m also very excited.  What am I scared about?  I think I’m scared the most about maybe not being able to hang my pack in the tree well/high enough.  This is a legitimate fear as I really don’t want my food to disappear.  Other than that I’m looking forward to it and can’t wait!

I’m writing these posts to take you farther in depth in the planning stages when it comes to a canoe trip.  Last year I did a pre-planning series including a video walk through.  I’ll do that again but this time you’ll see me actually planning my trip step by step.

These are the steps we’re going to cover:

  • deciding my timeline
  • deciding my route
  • deciding on gear (as much as I can before I go)
  • taking all safety issues into account

The steps that I’m taking can be put towards your own canoe trip!  The differences would be, you have a different route or timeline.  After this weekend series I will also have a page up that will give you a variety of route suggestions that you can take into consideration for your own canoe trip within Algonquin Park.

~Enjoy your trip!

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Fall in #AlgonquinPark

It will soon be time for apple cider, cozy fires, and beautiful colours!  Algonquin Park is the best place to experience fall to it’s fullest.  If you’ve ever wanted to do some fall camping you can!  Some campgrounds are open right until Thanksgiving Weekend (Canisbay, Two Rivers) and Mew Lake is open year round.  I love camping on Thanksgiving Weekend with the crisp air and gently falling leaves.

Fall is also a great time to just visit for the day!  All the trails along Hwy 60 are open and may give you some great opportunities to see some wildlife and beautiful colours.  The best place to see the fall colours?  The Lookout Trail!  Once you are done your hike you can go and visit the Logging Museum and Visitor’s Center.  The Visitor’s Center is another perfect viewing area for the rich reds and brilliant golds of fall.  If you are in the mood to do a canoe trip or backpacking trip you can as well.  There will be very little to no bugs and the park traffic will be quieter then in the height of summer.

Fall is my favorite time to visit the park and I hope that you can get the chance to do that as well.

~Enjoy your Trip!

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Coming up Over the Course of the Summer!

This summer I have the opportunity to go to Algonquin Park more often than normal.  During the course of these trips I will be taking video/time lapse shots of the lakes that I canoe so that I can create a database for you.  This will allow you to see potential routes, day trips, and what lake you might be camping on while at a campground.  We will start it off with Kearney Lake.  This lake is a gentle paddle for beginners and pros alike!

Keep watching as I paddle Canoe Lake this weekend up Potter Creek and into a time in history that Tom Thomson knows well.

~Enjoy Your Trip!

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How NOT to do a Canoe Trip in #AlgonquinPark!

One of the things I’ve learnt over the years is how to get more efficient in my packing skills.  Because I used to travel with my family all summer long in Algonquin it didn’t matter what I packed because we weren’t having to carry it.  Now as I get older and go on my own I’m really starting to get choosy on what I pack and how much weight it means on my back!  In 2008 we went on a canoe trip with another family.  It was their first time so I’ll cut them some slack but I swear we brought everything but the kitchen sink!  The pic below is just SOME of the gear we packed….the rest was in my truck.  I’ve never had to do a portage in multiple trips…especially  between Smoke Lake and Ragged Lake.  It was bad.  Last year the same thing happened but it was slightly justified by the fact that we took the water taxi and had a fire ban so a stove was a must.

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That all being said…I’ve also seen some canoe trips where people have left behind some key gear!  Below are some things that have been seen/done that I would hate for you to do and ruin your trip!

  1. Forgetting your Life Jackets!  This is one that is seen all the time.  Novice canoers who can’t swim or who have limited swimming ability thinking that a canoe is impossible to tip going out without their life jackets.  The thing is…it can be easier than you think to tip a canoe and even if you do know how to swim…it can be extremely dangerous as the weight of your clothes can weigh you down or there’s no one around to rescue you.
  2. Over Packing!  The picture above is a key example of over packing.  If you can’t make your portage in one trip and you are only going for a few days then you’ve packed way to much.  Even if you are going for 20 days, you still need to pack light.  There is a ton of ultra light gear available if you are willing to spend the money or if you wish to rent it from one of the many outfitters.  Your back will thank you in the long run.
  3. Planning a Trip that a Pro Wouldn’t Do!  I would never even think of taking on a 4 day solo trip where I didn’t have a base camp or if I’ve never done the route before.  I’m not a pro…I would rather do something I know I can accomplish rather than being defeated on day 2 and having to head back early because I hurt myself.  If you are doing your first trip why plan something difficult!  How do you know you are going to like canoe tripping?  Plan something easy and basic.  There’s nothing that says you HAVE to do the hardest trip out there to prove yourself.
  4. Packing Food that will Spoil!  I love having fresh food on a trip but I’m not about to risk it spoiling because I didn’t plan ahead.  If you are dead set on having that fresh steak then freeze it first.  It will thaw on the way so it’s ready for dinner.  The same with hamburgers.  They will act like ice packs for the rest of your food.  However if you are going longer than a couple of days then you will want to pack non-perishable or dehydrated food.
  5. Not Being Prepared for Rain!  Algonquin Park tends to have it’s own weather patterns.  Always be prepared for rain because the weather may say that there is none forecast but you don’t know what will happen further into the park.  I always have a poncho and a tarp in my gear.  This way I can stay dry and keep my cooking area/fire covered as well.  That being said…have some warmer layers just in case as well.  If you get wet you will want to get warm.

This is just some of the things I’ve seen over the years.  I really want you to be able to enjoy yourself so I hope that this will help you prepare a little bit more!  Next week marks the 96th anniversary of Tom Thomson’s death.  In honor of that I will be paddling Canoe Lake on July 12th.  I would love for you to join me.  If you are planning joining me…shoot me an email and let me know :).

~Enjoy your trip

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Eureka Chrysalis Tent

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This weekend I had the chance to use my new Eureka Chrysalis Tent, which is a hammock that includes a tent sleeve.  The Chrysalis can be used as a hammock or a tent, it’s really up to you!  I originally saw the tent set up at the Sportsmen Show in Toronto.  I tried it out there and found it interesting.  I then saw it again at the Outdoor Adventure Show and decided I’d have to try it.  This tent is a DREAM!  I’m not that old (just turned 33) but I still have issues sleeping on the ground.  This tent was probably the best nights sleep I had camping in a while.  This is the inside:
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SET-UP:

So the one downfall I had was that this tent didn’t come with instructions.  Not usually a big deal as setting up a tent isn’t rocket science.  However, because this tent is not your usual tent…I did have some issues.  I ended up having to go online and downloading the pdf instructions, which on my cell phone…were not easy to read.  Once I figured it out…it was fairly easy to put up.  The nylon webbing was kind of slippery on the trees but I made it work.  The flaps on the camper sleeve easily velcro to the ridgeline so that you can have air flowing through the tent…they also attach to the bottom of the hammock if you want to keep warm.

COMFORT/SLEEPING:

This was the biggest thing for me!  I was able to put my Therma-Rest through the sleeve on the hammock.  This tent was beyond comfortable!  Like a hammock it adjusts according to your body weight.  You are able to comfortably stretch out or curl up like do.  The only issue I had, which is common with hammocks, is that your sleeping bag tends to travel to the middle of the hammock.  A little sewing could fix this or even adding velcro to a piece of flannel will stop that from happening.  As well with that flannel you could use it as a “bottom sheet” and use a blanket instead of a sleeping bag…just unvelcro it from the hammock and wash it after your trip.

WEATHER:

We didn’t have any violent weather so I’m unable to fully comment on this however we did have rain and I was extremely dry even with the flaps up.

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

Overall I’m glad I have that tent!  There were a few issues like set up and it slipping down the tree trunk during the night…but those can be fixed with a little bit of ingenuity.  Had there been instructions with the tent, it would have been up in a flash but that is a minor detail.  If you get motion sickness I would not consider this tent.  We didn’t have any wind so I don’t know how much it would have moved but when you switch positions or when you first get into the tent you do sway quite a bit.  The nylon straps are durable but very slippery.  If a person who was new to camping and unsure of their knots were to put this tent up..the chances of them falling in the night are pretty good.  Originally the tent came with clips for tie up…unfortunately it doesn’t now.

My final score: 9/10 – the instructions and nylon straps are what lost the point for me.

If you are interested in the Chrysalis Tent then visit your local Eureka Dealer or go to www.eurekatent.com

~Enjoy your Trip!

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