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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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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Some Special Events This July in #AlgonquinPark

If you are still planning a trip to Algonquin this summer but haven’t yet booked…maybe some of these events might peak your interest!  FYI if you are going during the end of July or beginning of August…Book NOW…that is peak season in the park!   Event Details are from the Friends of Algonquin Park Website.

On Now:

  • Art Exhibit: Algonquin Palette and Experiencing Algonquin
    9am – 5pm

    A joint exhibition, “Experiencing Algonquin” is meant to convey Barbara Simpson’s impressions of the rugged beauty of Algonquin with its diversity of habitat and wildlife. “Algonquin Palette” by Vera Penrose, Susan Sydney and Ron Ward, members of the Kawartha Artists’ Gallery & Studio Outdoor Painters’ Group hope to awaken lasting memories of your visit. Algonquin Park visitors are treated to an ever changing palette of colours.

    Over the course of a year, the Visitor Centre’s Algonquin Room presents six different exhibitions of Algonquin-themed art by area artists. The art is available for sale and a portion of each sale is dedicated to The Friends of Algonquin Park who, in turn, use these monies to enhance the educational and interpretive programs in Algonquin. Stop by to view some exciting work, and maybe meet the artist, too!

June 28 – July 31:

  • Art Exhibit: Images of Nature
    9am – 5pm

    Algonquin photographer Michael Bertelsen is proud to display his collection of prints that define the rugged beauty and wildlife of this great park. Julia Bertelsen’s exhibit includes watercolour paintings of selected plants animals and insects of Algonquin Park. Hand-painted paddles will also be part of this display.

    Over the course of a year, the Visitor Centre’s Algonquin Room presents different exhibitions of Algonquin-themed art by area artists. The art is available for sale and a portion of each sale is dedicated to The Friends of Algonquin Park who, in turn, use these monies to enhance the educational and interpretive programs in Algonquin. Stop by to view some exciting work, and maybe meet the artist, too!

July 6:

  • Rock Bass Family Fishing Day
    Saturday, July 6, 9am – 3pm

    Location: Whitefish Lake, South on Centennial Ridges Road (Highway 60 south at km 37).
    Bring your children, watercraft (all regulated equipment required), and fishing rods for a fun-filled day at Whitefish Lake. Learn fishing, cleaning, and cooking techniques for this easy-to-catch Algonquin delicacy. All participants in watercraft must wear a personal flotation device (PFD). The day includes fishing, lunch, prize draws, and a Park Helper Children’s Program clean-up. Fishing gear (rod and tackle) and PFDs can be obtained on loan at the event.

    EVENT SCHEDULE

    Stay tuned for a detailed schedule of activities for the day.

    IMAGES

    See images from past events on The Friends of Algonquin Park Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150227315796568.319793.169395331567
    IMPORTANT INFORMATION

    All Algonquin Park and boating regulations apply. A valid seasonal, day use, or camping permit is required for participation. Canadian residents can fish license free during this event. All children must be supervised by an adult. Canoes may be launched at event site and boats…

July 13:

  • Discover Trout Fishing in Algonquin Park
    Saturday, July 13, 3 – 8:30pm

    Algonquin Park is home to one of the world’s best trout fisheries. Many anglers familiar with warm water fisheries to the south find Algonquin’s Brook Trout and Lake Trout a mystery and often find themselves in a frustrating fishing situation. Join retired senior fisheries specialist, and owner of Dragonfly Guiding, Greg Betteridge to discover the ecology, behaviour, and techniques necessary to increase your chances of catching Algonquin’s two famous trout species.

    This Experience Algonquin Workshop, presented by The Friends of Algonquin Park, will consist of a short session on land where 12 participants will learn the basic equipment required for trout fishing in Algonquin Park. The group will then rig their equipment with specialized gear provided (see below), plus discover the fascinating biological similarities and differences of Algonquin’s two trout species. Then after this brief indoor session, the group will head to a nearby lake to apply their new knowledge by attempting to…

July 27 & 28:

  • Loggers Day
    Saturday, July 27, 10am – 3pm

    Join us for this highly entertaining and educational day when the Algonquin Logging Museum comes to life, brought to you by The Friends of Algonquin Park, the Algonquin Forestry Authority and Ontario Parks.

    Take in the demonstrations around the Logging Museum trail and try the old-timer loggers’ lunch served in the sawlog cookery from 12:00 to 2:00pm (or while quantities last).

    See previous images on Facebook at: www.facebook.com…

    Keep up-to-date about this event automatically. Select “Other Event Actions” (below) and then “Notify me of changes” and enter your e-mail contact info. You will receive automatic updates for this event as they are posted.

  • Wakami Wailers Concert
    Sunday, July 28, 7 – 9pm

    The award winning Wakami Wailers are scheduled to play an open air concert at Algonquin Park’s Outdoor Theatre on Sunday, July 28, 2013 at 7:00pm. Listen to the music of the Wakami Wailers >

    The Ontario-based Wakami Wailers will get your toes tapping through lively music sharing Canada’s logging history, park and protected areas, plus much more. Join the Wailers for a fun-filled evening of entertaining stories and songs from their popular releases – The Last of the White Pine Loggers, Waltz With the Woods, and River Through the Pines.

    The Wakami Wailers will also be playing at Loggers Day on July 27, 2013 at the Algonquin Logging Museum.

    This concert is brought to you by The Friends of Algonquin Park as one of summer’s Special Events. Admission to this event is a minimum donation of $2.00 per person.

To see more scheduled events/interpretive programs visit http://www.algonquinpark.on.ca/involved/calendar

~Enjoy your trip!

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Walking Through the Past

Algonquin has a vast history beginning long before it became a Provincial Park.  Though human history is very little before the 1800’s, the land was scattered with various family groups of Native’s.  They hunted, fished, picked berries and lived within Algonquin’s borders.  When the logging boom hit is when we start to see more information about Algonquin’s human history.  The tales of the logging camps is told through exhibits and Logging Day’s at Algonquin’s Logging Museum.  The human history is also displayed throughout the Algonquin Visitor Center.

The Logging Museum is a fascinating walk through the past where you have the chance to “become” a logger for a day.  You start out at the bookstore where you get to watch a brief  video about logging in the park and how it has changed drastically from the 1800’s.  I’ve included the youtube video below (From http://www.youtube.com/user/FOAPAlgonquinPark):

Once the video is done you proceed through a big garage door that takes you out onto the circular trail. This is where visiting the Logging Museum during Logging Days (July 27 10am-3pm) is great because there are actors portraying various aspects of logging whether it is in the camboose shanty or down by the log chute.  The trail allows you to explore at your own pace.  It is a great activity for families as there are exhibits that the children can experience.  Not going to lie….I always go and explore the Alligator and the Locomotive engine :).
Another way to explore the history of Algonquin Park is by walking through the Algonquin Visitor’s Center.  Not only does the Visitor’s Center teach you about the natural history of the park in regards to the life cycles of the flora and fauna, it also walks you through the human history.  With exhibits such as a look at the Highland Inn and a celebration of the camps that have long been a part of the Algonquin landscape, the museum offers you a rich educational but fun experience.  On site at the Visitor’s Center is a bookstore that provides you a chance to sink your teeth in some books about the faces/spaces of Algonquin’s history.  I mean what is a trip to Algonquin without a day of sitting on the beach reading?
We’ve talked about the museums that you can go and visit but did you know you can get a mini history lesson on the many hiking trails along the Hwy 60 corridor?  Each trail provides you with a booklet (at one time they were 25 cents) that describes either the history, ecology, or an interesting fact about the trail.  The Big Pines Trail, across from the Rock Lake Access Road, is a walk through the history of the logging camps and giant white pines.  It even has a fenced off old logging camp.  Spruce Bog Boardwalk provides a look at the ecology past and future of Algonquin.  Booth’s Rock takes you along J.R.R Booth’s old railway bed.
Another spot that is fairly recent (probably no more than 4/5 years old) is at the Cache Lake parking lot.  This interpretive area allows you to explore the original park headquarters as well as the footings of the Highland Inn.  You are transported back in time as you see the old railway ties, steps leading up to where the Inn once stood, and walk along the old railway bed.  As well, if you are interested in the railroad history of the park you can bike/walk along the old railway bed from Rock Lake to Mew Lake (Cache Lake extension is coming).  Along the way there are signs posted that will tell you about the history of that area.  There is on particular spot that I like by Whitefish which is the remnants of an old lumber mill…you can’t walk up to it but it’s pretty cool!
booth-rail
I hope that this has given the history buffs a chance to see where they may “discover” Algonquin’s history.  I’m hoping to get up to the Park still on Mother’s Day weekend.  As well, in case you didn’t see my Facebook or Twitter post, I’m looking for Parkbus testimonials/reviews for an upcoming article that I’m writing.  If you wish to contribute please email me through the link at the top.
~Enjoy your trip!
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A Time to Heal

MowatAlgonquin 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 4 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.

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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A Glimpse of What Was

Back in 1917, probably not much later in the year than this, Tom Thomson started making his last trek into Algonquin Park.  Back then there were no cell phones, internet, computers, voice mail, or even phone lines really.  There was just the regular mail and telegraphs in the park.  However something astonishing happened last year in the world of twitter.  Thomson emerged from the misty lakes of Canoe Lake and started tweeting.  He tweeted his thoughts, his art, but mostly a glimpse into his very private and unknown life.

Thomson tweets specifically about his last spring in Algonquin Park.  There have been a ton of followers and interest but whats captured and captivated me was the chance to interact with the famous Canadian artist.  As mentioned in a few of my posts lasts summer there are 7 possible fates that were wildly discussed in twitterverse.  These fates vary from murder by a few people to suicide and accidental drowning.  Joining Thomson in exploring the mystery is his lover and possible mother to his child (still speculated not yet proven) is Winnie Trainor.

Follow along as he and Winnie rise from the mist and engage us all in solving one of the greatest Canadian mysteries!  Also keep an eye on my site because as events within the Algonquin area come up I will post and advertise them as we celebrate 100 years of Thomson in the area.

To follow Tom and Winnie on twitter:

Tom Thomson Last Spring: @ttlastspring
Winnie Trainor: @winnietrainor

~Enjoy your Trip!

Tom100Logo small

 

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Why I Love Algonquin

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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Getting the Paddling Itch!

I’m kind of done with winter already and I’m dying to get on the lakes.  With it being the end of January, it means I can start planning and reserving for the spring.  This year I’m planning on doing a few camping trips and possibly at least one if not 2 canoe trips.  Not to mention the day trips I wish to go on :).  IMG_0647

My first trip is looking to be on the Mother’s Day weekend.  Typically I just go for Mother’s Day however this year I think I want to spend the weekend.  Chances are it will be chilly at night but that’s what my good sleeping bag is for :).

That being said…I’m going to do a series of posts (both video and not video) on how to plan for your next trip to Algonquin.  I’m going to focus on all aspects of staying in the park from car camping to backpacking and canoe tripping to staying in a lodge.  There will also be 2 features from the Outdoor Adventure Show and Sportsman Show.

I’m looking forward to helping you plan your next trip!

~Enjoy Your Trip!

National Paddling Week

Did you know there’s a National Paddling Week? It’s true! June 15-23 is National Paddling Week!canoe

National Paddle Week has been started to celebrate and boost awareness about Canada’s heritage. How they are celebrating National Paddle Week is by encouraging local paddling groups to host events to celebrate and teach others about paddling!

I plan on celebrating in Algonquin and would love to know how you’re planning on celebrating! If anyone wants to join me in Algonquin that’s cool too!

You can check out the details at http://www.paddleweek.ca/

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