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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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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Happy December!

Hard to believe that another year is almost done!  With December comes…Christmas!  So what do you get the outdoors person in your life for Christmas?  My guess is…like me they have a list of gear that they would love to receive!

Here are some suggestions:

These are just some of the many gift ideas to get that outdoors person in your life.  So what do I want for Christmas?  Well if I could…I’d have a new Keywadin 15 Flax Fusion solo canoe…but alas I know there just isn’t room under the tree.

On an unrelated note…A Walk in Algonquin Park has made the shortlist for the Canadian Weblog Awards!  I was beyond stunned this morning when I woke up to a tweet from Evan over at Trailswag.com!  Its just an honor to be nominated!  Looks like this year is going to be awesome!  Last year we finished off with 4200 views…we are well above that now and closing in on 7000!  So thanks everyone for your support!

Oh one last gift idea….why not go winter camping?  In a Yurt?  At Mew Lake in Algonquin?

~Enjoy your trip!

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Thinking Outside with #TedxAlgonquinPark

DSCN0236This week marked the return of TedxAlgonquinPark at the Algonquin Visitor’s Center.  I was thrilled to be able to attend this year!  As I posted on Tuesday some of the speakers included Kevin Callan, Preston Ciere, and Jeff McMurtrie.  The visitor’s center’s theatre was full and decorated really cool!  As you can see in the pic above they had a canoe and the Tedx logo on the stage.  To the right of the stage behind the speakers was a map made by Jamie McCrae from McCrae Lumber in Whitney!

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As I said the theatre was full!  As was the lobby!

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The theme was Think Outside.  From the very first speaker (Kevin Callan)  right to the very last (Preston Ciere) we were inspired and encouraged to get outside.  Some of the memorable quotes from the day are below!

“One month in the wilderness can change your life!”Kevin Callan

“To reconnect with yourself, you need to reconnect with nature”Kevin Callan

“Bears can’t help themselves. If natural food sources fail, they will look for other alternatives. They have no choice.”Martyn Obbard

“It’s important to be still, be silent!  I get my best ideas that way”Lyndsey Mask

“If kids are having fun, they’ll get something out if it. (Silly nature songs ) open up doors for questions.”Lyndsey Mask

“A map is a lens that shines perspective on the world around you.”Jeff McMurtrie

“Context can enliven the world around you.” – Jeff McMurtrie (Knowing what’s there is important!)

“64% of Toronto’s tree species are non-native and about half of the once native tree species are gone.” – Eric Davies

“Find a tree, get some seeds and plant a new tree!” – Eric Davies

“Barriers to camping: no experience, need comfort, no equipment, no transportation, no interest.” – Boris Issaev

“We need to refocus our message about our parks to get more people to embrace the opportunities out there.” – Boris Issaev

“Want to talk to aliens? The radio telescope in #AlgonquinPark will soon be able to let you do that” – Chris Soucy

“Get outside. It’s good for you! (And encourage other people to get outside, too!)” – Preston Ciere

It was great to rub shoulders and converse with fellow outdoors people!  The highlight for me was meeting people that I’ve admired for years like Kevin Callan, Preston Ciere, and Jeff McMurtrie.  During the breaks and evening reception we all got the chance to talk, mingle, and share ideas!

For those of you who went I’d love to hear from you your thoughts!  Thanks to the organizers for a great day and I look forward to next year!

~Enjoy your trip!

 

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Think Outside

It’s finally here!  On Thursday TedxAlgonquin will take place inside the Algonquin Visitor’s Center!  This year’s theme is Think Outside and with the line up of speakers it looks like we all will be looking to the outdoors for inspiration and lifestyle changes!

The speakers this year are:

  • Martyn Obbard – A researcher with the MNR based in Peterborough, ON.  Martyn has studied black bears and polar bears with the MNR since 1989.
  • Kevin Callan – Known as the Happy Camper, Kevin brings his experiences to life on his website and in his books.  When he’s not out exploring the wilderness, he’s out traveling the outdoor show circuit sharing his adventures and tips with the rest of us.
  • Jeffery McMurtrie – After discovering that the existing canoe routes map of Algonquin Park didn’t quite live up to expectations, Jeff went out and created his own series of maps in Algonquin Park and now Kearney.  Not only are his maps easy to read and waterproof, they also help share the history of the park and it’s people.
  • Lyndsey Mask – An Educational Coordinator with the Shaw Outdoor Center in Renfrew, Lyndsey helps spread the message that children and nature go hand in hand.
  • Boris Issaev – Boris is co-founder of Parkbus, an initiative to get city bound citizens out of the city and into nature by creating a bus network that connects Toronto and Ottawa to some of Ontario’s Provincial Parks
  • Preston Ciere – Preston, owner/creator of portageur.ca, believes that “If you’re not having fun, you’re doing wrong” and helps others discover tips, guides, and resources so that they too can enjoy the great outdoors
  • Chris Soucy – VP of Business Development for Thoth Technology, Chris still finds time to explore Canada’s vast expanse of nature by canoe tripping and as a member of Canada’s Ski Patrol.  When he’s not doing that, he’s a canoe instructor with the Ontario Recreational Canoe and Kayak Association.
  • Eric Davies – Eric is currently a PhD candidate at U of T and has done research on sustainable use of Wilderness areas.  He has since started studying on how to bring wilderness back to the urban centers of North America.

With the event happening on Thursday, I pose this question to you!

How do you think outside?

~Enjoy your Trip

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VOLUNTEER NEEDED!

Hey folks!

Parkbus is in need of a volunteer this Friday to Monday to cover my run that I was scheduled for.  You would meet at York Mills Station in Toronto at 6:40am on Friday and then head to Algonquin returning to the Toronto area by 6/6:30 Monday night.  As a volunteer you are responsible for pick ups at the three locations in Toronto as well as drop offs within the park on the way up.  On the way home you are responsible for the pickups in the park and drop offs in Toronto.  As well you will be administering a survey, answering questions, and raffling off prizes.  You need to book your own site…there are a few left at Kearney for sure (223 is my old site so I know it’s available) or you can take a chance and hope that a non-reserved site is available.

If you can do this trip please email Alex: alex@parkbus.ca

Thanks!

Jenn

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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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Mark Your Calendars

TEDxAlgonquin Park is returning for it’s sophomore year on September 5th.

A little bit of history for those who have never heard of TEDx:

TEDx is a branch of TED which is all about Ideas Worth Spreading.  TEDx events are locally organized events that bring people together under one roof to celebrate one common theme.  Each speaker is limited to 20 minutes (acutally more like 18) and they must encompass the theme within their topic.  TEDxAlgonquin started last year and was a success.  With speakers like Olympic Athelete Adam Van Koverdyn, Artist Gene Canning, and Terri LeRoux, it was a well rounded event and took place at the Visitor’s Center in Algonquin.

Speakers have yet to be announced for this year but I encourage you all to apply to attend the event.  The application can be found here:

http://www.tedxalgonquinpark.com/attendee-registration/

Just so you can get a glimpse of what the event was like, here is Terri LeRoux speaking about Algonquin Deficit Disorder:

I hope to see you all there!

~Enjoy your trip!

 

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