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!

Enhanced by Zemanta

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!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Pre-Planning Pt 2

This morning I took you through the basic run down of pre planning for your next canoe/camping trip.  This afternoon we are going to walk through picking a campground/campsite for you and your needs using OntarioParks.com.

So for my trip in May as we saw the only campgrounds open are Mew, Tea Lake, and Rock Lake.  As easy as this makes my choice campground wise…it also makes my choice that much more difficult because the sites are limited.  The biggest problem is finding a site that fits everything you need it for.  You need to decide what you are looking for in a site:

  • privacy?
  • do you need a site for a tent or trailer?
  • close to water?
  • close to bathrooms?
  • water access for your canoes?
  • close to camp store?
  • any other criteria?

Once you figure out what’s important to you then it makes finding the right site easier.  Everyone’s needs are different.  For me…typically it’s just me so I don’t need that big of a site however I do need one that’s big enough to fit my truck if I have it.  I also prefer a site close to water as I always have my canoe.  Being close to the bathrooms is not a draw to me as it’s always busy with traffic.

So…for my trip…I’m looking into going to Mew Lake.  Here are my reasons:

  • A lake to canoe in
  • Access to the Madawaska River…via a road and trail
  • Access to trails and camp store
  • Rock lake’s sites are very open
  • Tea lake’s are small and open

Here is a map of Mew Lake:

mew

See this section here:

mew1It is a dog free and radio free section.  That can be both a good thing and a bad thing.  The good thing about it is that you don’t need to worry about people being inconsiderate by blaring their radios or dogs getting lose and wondering around.  The bad thing is though that you are not supposed to have music playing without headphones.  It can make it a little too quiet at times if you like to have your radio playing.

I have camped in this section before and I did enjoy the peacefulness of it.  At this time of year the only sites that are going to be busy are the hydro sites so you may get that whole section to yourself.  You must keep in mind that you do have different sections when booking a site and hydro sites…will cost more.

 

 

For my trip I’m thinking I’m going to go in the radio free section for the fact that it will be more secluded and I will have access to the waterfront with my canoe.  Let’s take a more in depth look at that section!

mew 2So as you can see on the right here…most of this section is wide open and can be reserved.  All the yellow triangles that you see are non-reservable.  These are first come first serve only.  There are waterfront sites available which makes my life easy if all I want to do is canoe in small Mew Lake.  If I wish to canoe somewhere else I will have to either portage my canoe to the Madawaska or put it on my car and drive it to my drop off point.  There is a downside to this section…the comfort stations are a fair distance away.  Not that I mind but if you were to camp with small children or if you really can’t live without flush toilets it can be a hike.  All that I ask is that when you camp in a campground and need to access the comfort stations….please don’t drive unless you absolutely have to!

 

I’m beginning to have a few second thoughts about Mew lake for the reason that I really can’t canoe anywhere.  It’s leading me to consider Rock Lake.  I have access to the Madawaska River and can access a couple of portages at the end of the lake…one of which will take me into the town of Whitney on the east side of the park.

rock lake

I think I’ve found my site…it offers decent privacy…adjacent to the lake…water tap right beside it (will create traffic issues).

site106

That’s it for today.  Tomorrow I’m going to do a video blog on planning a canoe trip.  A lot of what I’ve put in today for a campground applies…the difference is the process that you have to go through to get to the step of booking.  Closer to my date I’ll update you on my Mother’s Day weekend plans by showing you my packing, booking, and the actual trip itself.

~Enjoy your trip!

Pre-Planning pt 1

Good Morning!

The sun this morning is deceiving…but nice anyways :).  Going on a canoe trip or camping trip is great and very relaxing.  However there is a lot of work that goes into a trip and usually I start in January.

Planning for a trip consists of a number of things.  Step one is typically done at the end of the season which is to take an inventory of all your gear.  This is so that during the off season you can repair what needs to be repaired and stock up on gear that needs to be replaced or any new gear you wish to purchase.  Step two is planning when you are going to take your trips and start planning your route/base camp.  Step three is to finalize your route/base camp and reserve.  Step four is to organize your gear, food, and anything else you need for your trip.  On a side note: everyone plans their trips differently.  This is how I plan my trips and you yourself needs to find your own method.  I’m planning my first trip of the season which is looking like it will be on Mother’s Day weekend.

So let’s get to planning.  My family is in the process of moving so we’ve already taken an indepth inventory of what we have.  Closer to the beginning of the season it will be leaving the boxes and stored where I have quick access to it.  I suggest maybe making an excel spreadsheet of your gear so that you can quickly pull it up anytime.  This is really important if you have people coming with you that have never camped before so you can make sure you have enough gear for everyone.  This spreadsheet can then be printed if you like or emailed to people in your family so everyone has a copy on their computer.

Step 2…choosing the date and location of your trip.  This is going to be my first trip of the season so I’m looking at May 10-13th.  Because I’m camping on a Friday and Monday…I’m going to have to make sure I book the time off of work.  This is where a planning binder can come in handy.  Typically I’m a very spontaneous person in the fact that my trips are booked and planned within a week or so but I do like to be organized when it comes to trips that I plan well in advance.  You can get some handy printables from A Daily Dose of Davis.  Or search on Pinterest.com.  I will post some planning templates later today on my pinterest site.

So we have the dates – May 10-13th.  Now we need a site or route in mind.  Because it is early in the season…there are only a few campgrounds open along the HWY 60 corridor in Algonquin Park.  This is a very important part of planning as it can make or break your trip.  You need to take into account that your favorite site may not be available yet.  Let’s go onto Ontarioparks.com to check availability

Image

 So for the dates in question this is the availability:

opensites

As you can see…the only campgrounds open/available are Tea Lake, Mew Lake, and Rock/Coon Lake along the HWY 60 Corridor.  There are other campgrounds up north and to the east as well.  For all intents and purposes we are going with HWY 60.  Part of your decision in picking a place to camp requires you to find out information about the campground you want to choose.  All three campgrounds here are great..however they do have some con’s as well.  For example, Mew Lake has a great location with the airfield behind it and access to the Track and Tower or Highland Backpacking Trail.  However, a bunch of the sites back onto the hwy and can be quite noisy.  Rock Lake is fairly secluded from the main road however the sites are fairly open to each other.  So you need to decide what is right for you and your family.

This afternoon I’m going to walk you through choosing a site using Ontarioparks.com and making sure you choose the right site for your needs!

~Enjoy your trip!

Enhanced by Zemanta
%d bloggers like this: