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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The end of a great weekend #blogathon2

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Well Blogathon 2 is officially over.  This weekend I’ve taught you how to start planning a canoe trip.  What you haven’t seen is the things I’ve been doing in the background.

I have worked on many aspects of this blog and the social media to go with it.

Thanks for being my loyal readers and I look forward to sharing more adventures with you!

~Enjoy your Trip!

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Planning A Solo Canoe Trip – Pt 5 #blogathon2

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Over the weekend we’ve walked through the process of planning a solo/or really any canoe trip.  We’ve talked about setting your timeline, planning your route, choosing the right gear, and now we’re going to talk about making the right food choices.  If you’ve read all the posts you’re going to notice something with how you choose your food.

WHAT’S YOUR TIMELINE?

What you bring for food is going to depend on how long you’ll be on your trip.  If you’re doing a week long trip, you’ll obviously need more food and food that won’t spoil compared to if you were going for an overnight trip.  As your planning the menu you need to always keep your timeline in mind…especially if you want to bring fresh food/meat with you.  Because you have no fridge/way to keep food cold long term, you have to be sure that the food you take is not going to spoil and make anyone sick.

If you’re going for longer than 2 days then I recommend dried food, either by making your own (Laurie Ann March has a great book out about dehydrating your own food, A Fork In the Trail) or by purchasing some from your local outfitters.  If you do want to take fresh food with you then here are a few suggestions:

  • Freeze your meats before hand so that they act like an ice pack
  • Try to limit how much you take in…especially if going for a long time
  • Only pack what you need

WHAT’S YOUR ROUTE?

Your route will greatly dictate what you bring for food.  If you are staying at one site during the whole trip then you may choose to bring some more food/beverages with you because you don’t have to unpack and repack every day.  However if you are doing a loop then you may want to stick with lightweight dehydrated food.  Again this is up to you but personally for me…I’d rather have my food be light and only require water to cook then worry about al l the ingredients that would go into preparing a meal from scratch.

WHAT ARE YOU TAKING FOR GEAR?

It doesn’t matter what tent you’re taking or what canoe you’re paddling…but it does matter how many cooking utensils/pans you want to bring and carry on the portages.  For me…my Bugaboo Backpacker set works well…it has a frying pan, pot, straining lid, plus 2 bowls and 2 cups.  As a solo paddler that’s all I need.  If you’re going gourmet then you may choose to bring more with you.

Whatever you choose to bring for food is up to you.  My thoughts for my trip are as follows:

  • Bugaboo Backpacker set for cooking
  • Making my own dehydrated food that I can vacuum seal and put in my pack without adding any weight.
  • Taking my water bottles empty and filling them on the way in
  • Packing lightweight snacks.

Even though I’m only doing one portage, weight is my primary concern.  I don’t want to carry more than I have to.

I hope this series has helped you out when it comes to planning your own trips!  Stay tuned to the site as I add a route suggestions page that will not only tell you the routes but show them on the map as well.  If you have any questions or need advice email me or comment on either the site or Facebook and I’ll be glad to help you out!

~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

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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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Planning a Solo Canoe Trip – Pt 2 #blogathon2

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So you’ve decided that you are going to do this canoe trip and you are excited to start planning but you have no idea where to start?  That’s OK!  Everyone starts off here :).  You have a few things to decide first before you go headstrong into planning anyways.   These are things we are going to discuss this morning!  Not only can these be applied to a solo canoe trip, but all these posts can be used for any canoe trip!

So the big question is….

WHERE DO I GO?

There are a few deciding factors before you can answer this question:

  1. Have you done a canoe trip before?
  2. Is this your first solo trip?
  3. Is this your first time camping?

If you answered no to the first question and yes to any of the other questions then as a general plan you should look into the most basic of canoe trips….a paddle in site!

PADDLE IN SITES

The Orange Triangles are Sites on Canisbay Lake that you can paddle into

The Orange Triangles are Sites on Canisbay Lake that you can paddle into

So in all reality every campsite in the interior is considered a paddle in site but for our purpose I’m talking the ones that are attached to a campground or that have no portaging.

Canisbay Lake and Rock Lake are the only two campgrounds along the Highway 60 corridor that have paddle in sites available.  Each lake offers a different experience in terms of paddling and distance to the sites.  The picture above is of Canisbay Lake.  It’s a smaller and less windy than Rock Lake.  The sites along Canisbay are great!  The one at the far end of the lake (the last site on the left hand shore) is my favorite!  It has a nice rock that you can jump off, a great campfire spot, and you get some gorgeous sunsets!  It’s also the most remote of all the sites so it’s quieter!

The Islands (if you can get them) are the best places to camp!

The Islands (if you can get them) are the best places to camp!

Rock Lake is a different paddling experience all together.  There are islands available for you to camp on, but be prepared that they are the most popular sites!  Rock Lake also allows motor boats and because it’s attached to Galeairy Lake and Whitney you tend to get some slightly bigger boats than fishing boats.  The thing about Rock Lake that I’m not the biggest fan of is that it’s a windy lake.  Typically on the paddle out.  You tend to head straight into the winds.

Overall Paddle In sites are the way to go if you’ve never done this before or are just testing out your ability to handle sitting around the campfire talking to yourself haha.  Because these sites are attached to campgrounds you can always do a one night trip and camp the night before in the campground.  This is also great if you have a family camping trip and you want to try it while people are within an hours paddle away.  That way if you can’t handle it or Yogi visits you…you have the option of going back.

INTERIOR SITES

If you are a confident canoer and are ready to tackle the challenge of doing a portage solo then doing an interior canoe trip is probably your style.  Before you go out on your own though, as a safety precaution, make sure you have a way to communicate with someone in case something goes wrong…better to be safe!

Canoe Lake to Tom Thomson Lake

Canoe Lake to Tom Thomson Lake

When looking into going beyond the first lakes along Hwy 60 you need to take some things into consideration:

  1. What is your skill level?
  2. Are you ok with portaging?
  3. How much does your gear weigh?
  4. Do you have a way to communicate in case of emergency?

These are all things you need to consider.  If you are embarking on your first solo trip but have only done a handful of other canoe trips you may not want to choose paddling up Opeongo and tackling the Dickson-Bonfield portage alone.  You’ll want to stick with something simple like Canoe Lake to Joe Lake (see the pic above) because there is only one portage involved.  However if you’ve been doing canoe trips for years with the guys and want to tackle a solo trip then you may be able to handle two or three portages.  For me…to start out..the less portages the better!  The other thing to take into consideration is the weight of your canoe and pack together.  It’s one thing to have a super light canoe and a light pack…but once you add them together the weight can add up.  Do you really need those three pairs of jeans?  Do you need to put on your makeup out in the wilderness?  Can you live without your pillow?  Ask yourself these questions before heading out!

So…we’ve looked at our options and we’ve decided the type of trip we’re taking…next post we’ll be planning the route.  That post will be include a video so we can look at various routes.

~Enjoy your trip!

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2014 Toronto Boat Show

Whenever the Toronto Boat Show is on, you know that the canoeing season will begin soon!  This is my second trip to the show and I must say once again I was blown away by the large amount of boats there!  The Boat Show is not necessarily the place to go for canoes, however there are always one or two companies there to represent the industry.  Swift Canoe, Clearwater Designs, and Necky Kayaks were there to represent the industry!

As far as reveals go…Swift had something to offer everyone for the 2014 season!  They unveiled their 2014 lineup at the show and as always…they did not disappoint!  Meet this years members of the Swift fleet!

1.  Keewaydin 14 Pack Canoe

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This boat is by far my favorite!  This streamlined pack canoe is extremely light and offers you enough storage space for the canoe trippers.  It can also have a traditional solo canoe seat instead of the pack seat.  Mike from Swift Canoe (and Badger Paddles) tells us more!

2.  Northern Canoes

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The Northern Canoe line is the latest canoe line by Swift.  This is for the recreational canoer who wants a canoe at their cottage or campsite.  It can be used as a tripping canoe too.  These canoes come with either an aluminum or vinyl trim and they have a shoe keel as well.  The Fibreglass canoes weigh 68 lbs and the Expedition Kevlars weigh 54 lbs.

3.  Textreme Carbon Fiber Hull Design

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The Textreme Carbon Fiber Hull is pretty cool!  I love the checkerboard look to it!  These canoes are ultra-light and extremely strong.  The Textreme creates a sleek design that still gives you a remarkable strength:weight ratio.

Swift also unveiled a new Kayak model – the Kiwassa 14.  I was so blown away by the Keewadin 14 that I forgot to get pictures lol.  Check out Swift’s Blog for more information about their 2014 line up http://swiftoutdoors.blogspot.ca/2014/01/welcome-to-2014-swift-canoe-kayak-line.html

Clearwater Designs didn’t necessarily unveil a new Kayak or Canoe but they did unveil a new furniture line?  Yes you read right!  ClearWater Designs has created the ultimate recliner!  Best of all, it floats!  Made out of the same material as their recreational Kayaks, the chair and matching table are floatable.   Owner Ian is demonstrating in the picture below :).

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Of course there were the usual ski boats, yachts, and seadoos there too!

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Well that’s it for the Boat Show.  Next up is the Biannual Blogathon in a week and a half.  After that it’s the Outdoor Adventure Show.

~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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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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Trip Report – June 21-23, Kearney Lake Campground

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As far as trips go, this was probably one of the best.  It started off early but was worth every second!  I took the Parkbus up to Algonquin Outfitters from Toronto and met my dad.  You can see my review of the trip here.  We got to AO around 11am, which was fine because it still gave us most of the day to set up and do stuff.  After shopping around AO & Swift Canoe we headed out to our site.We had a great site right on the water.  For those who may want to camp there it’s site 129 at Kearney Lake.  We had the whole loop to ourselves pretty much.  There were a couple other people but they were far enough away that we didn’t hear them or even notice them.

1010240_10151700579521203_745319935_nWe were able to put in our canoe and paddle the lake that night.  The canoe we brought with us this time was our handmade Cedar Strip.  I love this canoe!  It travels swiftly down the lake and doesn’t take a ton of effort to portage.  The rest of the day was spent curled up in front of a campfire.  I ended up reading while in front of the fire.  The books I was reading was The Kane Choronicles!

 

1017101_10151700584021203_909136884_nSaturday was rainy so after breakfast we went out and looked for moose.  It’s like this big guy knew it was my birthday because he stuck around for a bit and let me get some good pictures.  Is that a smirk I see?  He was the only moose we saw all weekend….however we did see a ton of turkey’s running around.  I don’t know if I’ve just missed them in the past but I’m pretty sure I don’t remember that many turkey’s running around before.  We also did the Logging Museum and went into Whitney for a bit.

988604_10151700587061203_1685579377_nOn Sunday we packed up in the morning and then headed to do a hike.  I decided I wanted to do the Big Pines trail as it’s one of my favorites.  If you want to learn about the history of some of the logging in the park and see some of the tall pines then I highly suggest this trail!  Overall it was a great trip!  I love spending my birthday in the park for a couple of reasons.  One – its my favorite place to be.  Two – it’s always so quiet that week before school gets out that you can relax fully and truly enjoy the park without a lot of people around.

I’m going again July 26-29th for Logging Days and the Wakami Wailers.  As well I’m a Parkbus Ambassador for a few trips!  If you have the time off and want to come along I’d love to chat with you on the bus!  I’m doing 3 trips with Parkbus: August 5th – 9th (5th to the park, 9th home), August 16th – 19th (16th to the park, 19th home), and September 7th – 8th (7th to the park, 8th home).  I’d love to have my readers join me!  Both trips in August I’ll be staying at Kearney Lake.

~Enjoy your trip

 

 

 

 

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