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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To Connect or Disconnect?

Parks Canada announced that it is looking for bids for contractors to install WiFi Hotspots in up to 50 of it’s parks this year.  Now just so you know…that doesn’t necessarily mean campgrounds as Parks Canada has 44 National Parks, 167 National Historic Sites, 4 Marine Conservation Areas and 1 National Urban Park.  The reasons people have given though are, what I think, a picture of what society is like now.  People want to be able to:

  • Keep connected to work
  • Keep connected to friends and family
  • Keep in touch with the daily news
  • Give you a play-by-play of what they are doing (hello Twitter and Foursquare)
  • To plan on the go (weather bulletins, road maps, directions)
  • and to monitor their home security.

Some of these reasons are valid like connecting with family or being able to plan on the go…you never know what the weather is going to do and you need to be able to change plans.  However, I go away to Algonquin to get away from work….I may receive texts while I’m there but I ignore them until I get home.  I am one to tweet or check-in while I’m in Algonquin if the cell service allows me to but I blog about the park and I want people to know the various things they can do.  That being said…if I don’t have service I don’t worry about it.

This decision though makes me wonder about the future of WiFi in Algonquin and it’s got me thinking….why can’t we just take the opportunity to disconnect from the world around us and connect with our families?  To me it’s a no brainer kind of question as I grew up when there were no cell phones, other than the huge Motorola’s, or WiFi.  We played outside until the street lights came on and we went camping every summer, all summer as a family.

How do you feel about this?

~Enjoy your trip

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Making Your Trip a Rewarding Experience

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Going camping is great fun for the whole family.  If its your first trip it can be a little daunting.  Here are some general things to remember when staying within any organized campground.

  1. Staying on a hydro site may be more convenient for your hairdryer and tv but do remember they cost more.  You’re here to enjoy the great outdoors and most trailer batteries will last a long time if you use them sparingly.
  2. Be courteous of your fellow campers.  We don’t all want to hear you new speakers or loud parties especially at night.  Remember that there are families around you and people who are there to enjoy the peace and quiet.
  3. If you are there for the quiet, then perhaps look into the Radio-Free sections.  Music is only allowed if you use headphones.
  4. Driving everywhere in the campground is not necessary and will cause problems with the eco system in the future.  Besides walking after dinner and around the campground is a great way to relax and enjoy the surroundings.
  5. Take advantage of the activities available.  Most provincial parks have an evening interpretive program and a lot of them have museums and hiking trails.  There’s a program that teach the kids how to take care of the park so that it’s around for years to come, called the Good Camper Program.  Utilize them, you’ll learn a lot about the park’s history that way.
  6. Make sure that your food is properly stored.  Countless times there have been bears spotted within campgrounds because people have left food scraps out or didn’t lock their fridge up at night.  (Believe it or not, last year someone at Canisbay lake tent camped on a hydro site and brought with them on a trailer a FULL SIZE FRIDGE AND FREEZER.  They left said fridge/freezer unlocked.  Needless to say…that night we had bears in our area).
  7. Prepare for rainy days.  If you are camping with the kids bring along lots of rainy day activities like crafts or books.  It makes the time go faster and they are occupied rather than saying “I’m bored”.  For some great rainy day activities/crafts check out my Pinterest Board.
  8. If you are camping with kids then entertaining them could be challenging if they aren’t accustomed to being outside for long periods of time.  Have a bucket of games, puzzles, and books that they can read/do.  Go on nature hikes and discover the park.  I have another Pinterest Board that can give you some more activity ideas.
  9. Take advantage of canoe rentals if you don’t have your own canoe or you want to try it for the first time.  At Algonquin Park you can rent canoe’s on your way into the park from Algonquin Outfitters in Huntsville or at their Oxtongue Lake location. You can also go to their Opeongo Lake location or have a canoe delivered to your campground from the Portage Store.  Prices vary so check out your campground bulletin boards.
  10. Take time to relax and unwind.  This is your vacation so treat it as such and return to work fully refreshed afterwards.
  11. Most importantly…spend time together as a family!  It builds memories that will last for years!  Kids don’t remember their best day gaming but they will remember the time you spent with them.

~Enjoy your trip!

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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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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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Trip Report August 5-9, Kearney Lake

It was a wet but enjoyable week in the park!  I really enjoyed the break from work and everyday life.  There’s just something about being up there that recharges you and gets you relaxed before heading back to reality.  Even if the campground was noisy or it rained most of the time.

My week started off in Toronto at a Hostel for the night before heading up the next morning on the Parkbus.  It was the Neill-Wycik Hostel.  In the school year it’s a dorm but during the summer it’s a hostel.  In the female dorm you get 1 room in a 6 room dorm apartment.  It includes a full kitchen and two bathrooms.  It’s a pretty nice and comfortable stay for 25 bucks a night.  The best part is that it’s a 5 minute walk to Yonge and Dundas Square.

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I was the Parkbus Ambassador for Monday’s journey up to Algonquin.  It was great to get to know some of the passengers and talk to them about their trips.  I met dad at Opeongo so that he and I could set up in Kearney.  He was only here for the first night.  I camped on site 135 for the week.  It’s a gorgeous site!  It backs on to a marshy area which provided viewing opportunities for frogs and ducks.  The firepit was pretty close to the marsh too so you could watch the sunset.

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I spent the rest of the week by myself which was heaven!  I took advantage and read some books.  How many books?  Lets just say I almost read the entire Harry Potter series (I was in the middle of book 7 when I boarded the Parkbus).  Reading by the campfire every night was so relaxing.

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Wednesday was very wet!  We were under a severe thunderstorm watch all day.  I spent most of the day reading under the tarp.  By dinner time it had cleared up and I was able to have a nice campfire.

I didn’t do anything that week and I really enjoyed that.  I love alone 90% of the time but I find that being in the city I don’t want to sit still…I want to be out and on the go.

I headed back to the city Friday which in a way was a drag but it was still a nice vacation.  Next up…TedxAlgonquin in September!  Speakers include Kevin Callan, Preston Ciere (portageur.ca), Jeff McMurtrie (Jeff’s Maps), and more!

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Off on an Adventure!

Good Morning!  Loving the sunshine this morning as I do some last minute packing.  I’m heading out on a 5-day camping trip today.  I’m spending the night in Toronto thanks to the civic holiday tomorrow.  Normally I would leave Hamilton at 4:30am but all busses are on Sunday schedule.  Oh well…I don’t have to get up as early this way :).

I’m spending the week camping in Kearney Lake again.  I am really in love with this campground.  It’s quiet, small, and it has a lot of waterfront sites.  No canoe this time but I will have my ipad so that I can blog throughout the week.  Part of the things I’m thinking of doing is:

  • hiking the Old Railway Bed bike trail
  • walking to the Lookout trail and hiking it
  • relaxing
  • and catching up on some good books.

There may also be a chance of a wolf-howl but I need to figure out how to logistically do it since I don’t have a vehicle.  Maybe I’ll find some nice friends lol.

I’ll be camping on site 135 if anyone wants to stop by for a visit :)

~Enjoy your trip!

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Being Bear (and critter) Proof

Over the last couple of trips there have been signs at almost every campground regarding the fact that there is a bear in the area.  Yes you read that right…there are bears wandering around the campgrounds.

DON’T BE ALARMED.  Bears are actually more scared of you than you are of them.  As well, if you take the proper precautions then you won’t be seeing a bear on your site anytime soon!  Unless your neighbours don’t read this post and leave their food scraps around.

  1. Pack all food away when you are finished, going to bed, or leaving your site!  Obviously this is common sense but hey there are still people out there who don’t do this!  Last year I was next to a group of campers who left EVERYTHING on their picnic table.  How they didn’t have a visit in the middle of the night is beyond me.
  2. Keep your site clean!  Again, it’s kind of a no brainer but you sometimes need to be reminded.  Don’t leave that empty milk carton or that empty cheese wrapper on your table thinking you’ll put it away later.  Do it right away and then enjoy the rest of your day!
  3. Put your garbage in the Molock containers at the end of each day!  I get criticized sometimes for this but I’m a very clean camper so I try not to have any traces of food around at all.  I’m also the type that has to throw out that bag of garbage even though it may only have a small amount in it.  I’d rather be safe than sorry.
  4. Hang your food bag/barrel!  This is for those in the back country.  There are still bears out there.  They and the raccoon’s will still eat your food if you leave it out.  Hang it up high and away from the tree trunk.
  5. Don’t hang fish from a clothes line (or any food) to attract bears!  Yes folks…I’ve seen this happen.  The campers wanted to get a picture of the bear.  I’ve also seen people put honey on their hands to get a picture of a bear licking their hands.  For your own safety don’t do this!  Bear’s are not Winnie the Pooh….they are not toys.  You will get hurt.
  6. Bring a cooler not a full size fridge!   Again…seen this happen.  A full size fridge is not going to stop any animals if they want your food.  Even if it’s padlocked.  Bears are pretty smart!  Bring a cooler that you can store in a vehicle.

One issue that can be controversial is whether to burn garbage while out canoeing.  I buy environmentally safe products but if I have paper plates I will burn them.  That being said DON’T BURN ANY PLASTIC PRODUCTS!  It’s not good for the environment.  I know people who do and that’s their choice but if you think about the carbon footprint and the effect that the chemicals in plastic have on the environment then you’ll think twice about it.

For those who take the Parkbus up to Algonquin there are bear proof food lockers available at the campgrounds that Parkbus stops at.  For a small deposit ($25) you can use it for the duration of your trip to store food and toiletries so that they don’t attract wildlife.

On a side note: This summer marks 30 years of visiting Algonquin Park for me!  The first campground we ever camped in was Pog Lake!  I was three at the time :).

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~Enjoy your trip!

 

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Loggers Day – July 27th, 2013 #AlgonquinPark

Logger’s Day is held at the Logging Museum in Algonquin Park.  This event lets you experience (in a sense) what life for loggers was like.  This years event as always was great and did not disappoint.  The event itself cost $2 to get in and you also had the option to purchase a $10 lunch which included fried bologna, salad, beans and so much more.  We opted out of the lunch but still had a great day.

The day started out visiting the Camboose Shanty and watching the Wakami Wailers sing a few songs and tell a few stories.  The Wakami Wailers consist of Mike Bernier, Mark Despault and Rob Hollet.  One major missing piece of the Wakami Wailers was the raconteur (story teller) Raoule (Jeff Allen).  In the past the park had baked beans cooking inside the camboose shanty on Logger’s Day however this year there was none.

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Up next was a demonstration on how the loggers would square a white pine log.  It’s actually a three step process that starts off with scoring a notch in the pine, then using a broadaxe you plained the pine, then you score the remaining wood off.  Sometimes they had to repeat the process quite a few times depending on how big the pine is.

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There were so many exhibits to see and experience.  Ron Tozer, retired Algonquin Park Naturalist, spoke to us about the Alligator and how it worked.  Then there was an electric alligator pulling a log in the bog behind the Alligator.

Farther along the trail we got to try out a crosscut saw and make a timber “cookie”.

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You then could get that “cookie” stamped or you could have a piece of wood stamped if you didn’t cut the tree.  Where they were stamping the wood there was also a gentleman carving a broadaxe handle by hand.  My dad also got to try out making a piece of rope.

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Overall it was a great morning!  I enjoy getting the chance to learn hands on about the history about the park.  I love history but I really love learning about the people of Algonquin.  Hope to see you all next year at Logger’s Day!

~Enjoy your trip

 

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Crossing Into The Unknown

I’m a born and raised car camper who has dabbled in yearly canoe trips.  That being said…I usually have said car with me.  Well this summer I’m crossing into the world of camping without a car.  Because I’m taking the Parkbus up a couple of times this summer I’m limited to what I can carry on my back.  It’s not like I’ll have a trunk to pile everything into.  I also have to carry it through a very busy subway station and Go Station.  This makes it even more tough.

What am I going to do?  I’m going to pack dehydrated meals and the bare essentials.  Basically I’m going Ultra Light!  My hammock tent weighs 3 pounds so that’s not a big deal.  My clothes I’m bringing are probably minimal.  The only real weight I have to worry about is my cooking gear and my food.  I’m looking at bringing a small stove like the Broadstone at Canadian Tire:

0762648_1This single burner stove is big enough for a frying pan and pot, but still weighs less than a traditional campstove.  I also plan on taking dehydrated food.  I’m looking at making my own spaghetti sauce, chili, and other pasta dishes.  I’m a pasta lover so this isn’t hard to imagine me eating.  I’m also looking into getting some other dehydrated meals for me to try.  The beauty of the Parkbus is that there are now bins in the campgrounds where you can store your food…so I don’t need to worry about finding the right tree.  I can also pick up any fresh food that I want at the Opeongo store of Algonquin Outfitters like bread and buns.

It’s an adventure I’m looking forward to and it should be something that pushes me into solo canoe tripping in the future because if I can handle this…I can handle that!

 

~Enjoy your Trip!

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