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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Creating Your Camp Kitchen

We’re halfway through April and still wondering when the ice will go out.  Especially since over the weekend the Algonquin area got another 2 inches of snow.  I’ve been keeping myself busy by working out my paddling muscles while painting my house.  I’m now starting to think about getting gear organized and ready so that when I get the chance I can just grab it and go for a weekend.  One thing that I’m constantly re-organizing every year is my camp kitchen for both base camp and canoe tripping.  Yes you read that right….I have 2 camp kitchen sets.  Today I’m here to help you create your own camp kitchen sets for your next trip (unless of course you are getting a complete outfitting package in which case this is for future reference).

Courtesy of thetoolman on Instructables.com

Courtesy of thetoolman on Instructables.com

The first thing you are going to need is something to store your camp kitchen set.  For base camp you could simply use a Rubbermaid tote or I use wooden boxes called wanigan’s that my dad made years ago.  They are just square boxes made of plywood with a lid and webbed handle.  I’m in the process of designing and building a Chuck Box or camp kitchen.  This is a box that has some shelves, drawers, and opens up to create a work space.  There are some Instructables out there on how to make a chuck box.  The ones I like are:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Chuck-Box-Camp-Kitchen (pictured)
http://www.instructables.com/id/Ultimate-Camp-Box/

Once you have your box or storage solution for your base camp kitchen you need to choose what will be a part of your kitchen set.  Here are my necessary items that everyone needs:

  1. Utensils: No brainer…we need to cook and eat with something.  You could pay for expensive items or you could do as I do and go grab what you need from the dollar store or thrift store.  I have 2 flippers, 1 slotted spoon, a whisk, vegetable peeler, paring knife, can opener, cheese grater, 4 complete sets of eating utensils, a funnel, a spatula, and cutting board.  For your cooking/eating utensils may I suggest a travel pouch or pencil case that is long enough?  
  2. Spices: This is up to you…some people cook extremely gourmet while camping.  We had friends that made a curry every summer in Pog Lake.  The only thing I suggest is to find a way to carry only what you need.  There are some tutorials on how to store spices…some involve straws and tape, others involve pill containers.  I typically take them in the containers they come in however you may want a space saving solution.
  3. Pots and Pans: You should have probably 3/4 pots and 2/3 skillets (frying pans).  If you have a stove top griddle you can include that as well.  The reason I say 3/4 pots is that you should always have one extra that is solely used as a water pot for dishes.  You should also have a kettle and stove-top coffee maker/percolator.
  4. Plates/Bowls/Serving Trays: Take 1 set per camper and some extras for serving or in case you want to only do dishes once a day.  You can take paper or plastic if you wish…just keep in mind when buying them that they should be environmentally safe.
  5. Foil/Saran Wrap/Ziplock Bags/tupperware: The foil can be used for cooking or storing leftovers.  Saran Wrap, ziplock bags,  and tupperware are great for storing items.
  6. Towels/rags/sponge: Again this is pretty obvious.  I have dollar store towels and dish clothes that I use
  7. Dish soap: I use campsuds for my dishes.  It’s biodegradable and the lavender scent is quite nice.
  8. Mugs/Cups:  Because you can’t drink coffee straight from the pot :)
  9. Juice mixes/Coffee/Tea:  Tang is my go to drink of choice while camping.  I never take frozen juices.  Sometimes I will grab the 4 pack of Tropicana orange juices that are like drinking boxes for the mornings…but typically I drink tang/water.  I store them in plastic storage containers with the instructions laminated and taped to the lid.  Coffee/tea are also stored in air tight containers.
  10. Stove:  Last but certainly not least is your stove.  Most of the time my stove is stored separately as its a little too big.  However if you have a big enough storage bin then you may be able to fit it in.

Our Site

If you are going on a canoe trip your camp kitchen is going to consist of the same basics only on a smaller/compact scale.  For example, you could always get a set of pots that fit inside of each other but now you can get a couple of different nesting cooking sets from GSI.  I like the Bugaboo Camper set:

The Bugaboo set includes everything you need for cooking and eating except for the utensils.  Everything nests and locks together so that it can fit in the bottom of someones back easily.   Check out your local outdoors store to see what GSI products that they carry as they offer a wide variety or check out the website link above.  Everything you take with you is going to be downsized to save weight and space but you can still have gourmet meals while out on a canoe trip :).  For your coffee needs you can get a drip coffee maker that you pour hot water through as it sits on top of your mug.  The spices can still be stored the same way as well as your powdered juices.  you do need to keep in mind though that unless you are doing all your cooking on a campfire (like me), you’ll need to have a single burner stove.  Again talk to your local outfitter for their suggestions.

I hope this helps you as you start planning for the summer camping trips!  Feel free to email your questions!

~Enjoy your trip!

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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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Annie’s Bay Photo Story

So we went up Opeongo to Annie’s Bay for a 3 day canoe trip.  This was my first trip ever up Ope and I really enjoyed it!  I’m definitely going again.  We had great weather the first day and we were able to get one of the best sites in Annie Bay.  It drizzled on and off on Tuesday but we were still able to go for a canoe ride.  The hardest part of the trip was not being able to have a campfire to cook on or to sit by at night.  There was one set of people who decided they were above the rules and had a rip roaring fire Tuesday morning.  I was not impressed.  Wednesday morning I was able to go for a nice solo canoe ride which was peaceful and amazing.  I loved this trip!  Working on a trip video…which includes videos from the water taxi and my solo canoe ride.

Can you have a campfire?

Fire bans can be quite common some seasons and other season’s they are very scarce. I remember back in the summer of ’92 it rained 90% of the time. There were even times that it was so cold the puddles froze overnight. If the spring/summer is fairly dry chances of a fire ban are pretty good. Before you head camping you may want to check in with Algonquin to see if there is a fire ban or what the fire rating is. It’s fairly simple to find out this information. All you have to do is go to the following link:

http://www.algonquinpark.on.ca/visit/park_management/campfires-and-the-fire-rating-system.php

Another thing about campfires that you need to know is that you are not allowed to bring in firewood to Algonquin or any other provincial park. This is because the chances of transferring insects and bugs that could damage the ecosystem is pretty good. Always buy your firewood on site. I know it’s expensive but it will allow us to enjoy Algonquin for many years to come.

Now all you need is some marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate and you’ve got the recipe for a great campfire!

~Enjoy your trip!

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