WhaSUP?

With paddle boarding (SUP) increasing popularity every season it’s a difficult market to stand out above the rest!  Yet there is a paddle board company that is starting to do just that!  We’ve all heard of BluWave or SUPLove…those names are big here Ontario.  The problem with those boards (not that it’s a big problem per say) is that they can be hard to transport.  You need a vehicle in order to carry them to and from your campground or have someone else drive you.  This is where whaSUP stands out above the rest.  Their boards are inflatable and portable!  Don’t believe me?  This is their paddle board…

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And this is their paddle board folded up….

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Yup that’s it!  It’s folds into a backpack the size of my Eureka Dry Pack!  Inside that backpack is your SUP board, your paddle, your leash, the pump, and a guage.  For those who travel by Parkbus to the Provincial Parks…this is your answer to how to transport something like this up…this will fit easily under the bus!  Live in downtown Toronto but can’t take your SUP board onto the subway to get down to the lake?  Just throw this on your back and away you go.

Don’t get me wrong…I don’t work for the company…but I know an ingenius product when I see it and I want to share it with you!  I’m looking forward to testing one this summer!  In case you’re interested…the price point is about half compared to other companies.  They are only $750 for the model that I showed you…which is a show special right now and it includes the taxes.  Plus you get everything I told you about!  If you are still set on getting a regular hard SUP board they also carry ROGUE paddle boards!

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Next week I’ll be chatting more with Scott and Peter from whaSUP about their product while at the Outdoor Adventure Show!  If you want to find out more about them visit their website: www.whasup.ca, follow them on Twitter: @whasupboards, or check them out on Facebook: www.facebook.com/whasupboards.

~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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Coming up Over the Course of the Summer!

This summer I have the opportunity to go to Algonquin Park more often than normal.  During the course of these trips I will be taking video/time lapse shots of the lakes that I canoe so that I can create a database for you.  This will allow you to see potential routes, day trips, and what lake you might be camping on while at a campground.  We will start it off with Kearney Lake.  This lake is a gentle paddle for beginners and pros alike!

Keep watching as I paddle Canoe Lake this weekend up Potter Creek and into a time in history that Tom Thomson knows well.

~Enjoy Your Trip!

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Parkbus Review

This weekend I had to travel to Algonquin via The Parkbus from Toronto.  I was beyond impressed!  Typically I travel up north via Ontario Northland…it used to be by train but now they only use busses.  The trip is so long and not that comfortable.  Parkbus however is the exact opposite.

First off, finding your stop isn’t very hard.  They have three within Toronto to make it extremely easy.  The stops are York Mills, Carlton & Yonge, and Dufferin & Bloor.  I got on at Carlton & Yonge which is right outside of the Holiday Inn.  When the bus pulled up we were greeted by a bus volunteer named Norman!  He was organized, polite, and made sure that everything was taken care of.  After we got out of Toronto (which took a while due to construction) it was a peaceful and relaxed ride up to Webbers where we stopped for Tim Hortons.  During the trip Norman chatted with passengers about their journeys and made you feel welcome aboard!.

The second half of the trip was just as nice and comfortable!  I really enjoyed learning about people’s trip plans, talking about the park history with first time trippers, and learning about the other passengers.  The trip was versatile so you were pretty much able to be dropped off whereever you needed.  On the way there I got dropped off at Algonquin Outfitters and on the way back I got picked up at Canoe Lake.  It was refreshing to be able to travel with other people who share the same passion and desire for the park and the outdoors that I have.  Parkbus has also added on to their experience by putting food bins in each of the campgrounds in Algonquin for those who take the bus and have no cars to store their food!

Norman was a great volunteer!  He really knows his camping stuff and his knowledge about ultra light camping was impressive!  He is very knowledgeable about backpacking especially when it comes to the backpacking in the States!  He got to know all the passengers and found out about their trips and made sure any questions they had were answered.  On the way back he raffled off a bunch of stuff like Parkbus shirts and a couple of Jeff’s Maps!

Overall it was a great experience and I look forward to riding it again.  Who knows…maybe I’ll get a chance to volunteer this summer :)!

~Enjoy your Trip!

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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Trip Planning Part 4

Back in January I did a 3 part series on how to pre-plan for you next trip to Algonquin Park.  Today I’m revisiting that with the next part.

In just under a month I’ll be embarking on a 3 day trip into Algonquin.  I’ve already gone through the Ontario Parks website and booked my site in Kearney Campground.  (I know it says unavailable but that’s because I booked it haha)

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I’ve picked this site based on a few different criteria.

  1. Privacy – The site is surrounded by trees
  2. Water Access – The lake is right there :) which means some really amazing photos and quiet paddles
  3. One of my readers and friend Katie stayed there last summer and I loved it so I wanted to stay there :)

Now that I’ve picked my site and my dates I need to start my planning phase.  Remember that checklist I put on on here last year?  Those have made it to my computer desktop and are being edited away.  Planning ahead like this makes your trip alot easier to deal with.  As well it allows you to enjoy it more as you already have meals planned so all you need to do is prepare them!

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This year I have a bit of a dilemma that I’m facing and something you may face if you are planning on travelling to the park by transportation other than a car.  I’m going up via Parkbus this year and this means I need to plan extra carefully as I need to take up space on the Go Bus and TTC to get there.  Everything I take has to be able to fit in 2 bags…a cooler and my big dry bag.  Luckily for me my kitchen set (cutlery, knives, and cooking utensils) all fit in one travel bathroom bag.

If you are facing the same dilemma as I am then you will have to cut down on the amount of stuff you take.  For instance, you may need to cut down on the camping “luxuries” that you want to take.  Do you really need that camp stove or are you willing to cook on an open campfire?  Do you need to take those down pillows or are you ok with either a small travel pillow or inflatable pillow?  Remember that inventory I told you to take?  This is where it comes in handy.  You will be able to look at all you have and decide what you need to take based on how much room you truly have.

Other than equipment now is the time to plan my menu as well.  As I said, I have to carry a cooler bag with me…which limits how much weight I can carry realistically.  The question posed to me right now is do I want to take fresh/frozen foods with me or dehydrated meals.  I’m leaning towards a mix of both but because I only have 2 breakfasts, 3 lunches, and 2 dinners to worry about I’m thinking I’ll be ok with all freshly frozen foods like burgers, chicken, and hot dogs.  The menu below is what I made last year and I’m considering doing it again as it was very tasty!

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On the next post I’m going to walk you through my inventory and take pictures for you that way you can see one of the many ways that you can organize your equipment.

~Enjoy your trip!

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Travelling to Algonquin: Parkbus Style

Algonquin Park is an outdoor paradise that is loved by a lot of people.  There is one issue however.  Those without a car cannot access it.  It used to be that you could catch a train from Toronto up to Algonquin….of course that stopped in the 1940s/50s.  You can take a bus to Huntsville or Maynooth but even then you need to find alternative transportation into the park.  This is where Parkbus comes in!  Alex and Boris give us some insight into why Parkbus started and the services they offer.

Alex Berlyand and Boris Issaev - Parkbus Founders

Boris Issaev and Alex Berlyand – Parkbus Founders

1.        Why did you start Parkbus? 

My family lived in Toronto without a car, so I didn’t get to go camping until I turned 18 and 19 and started driving. Realizing what I have been missing all these years, I teamed up with my high school friend Alex Berleand, whose experiences were similar, and we started this as a private initiative.

2.       What was the initial response?

Initially we approached MEC in Toronto, asking them to conduct some surveys in the store. They agreed, and survey results (showing overwhelmingly positive response) helped us approach Ontario Parks and other partners and we conducted a small 3-weekend test pilot in the summer of 2010. We consequently formalized the initiative under the umbrella of Transportation Options, non-profit organization, which was founded back in 1992, and which is dedicated to developing sustainable tourism and transportation in Ontario.

The initial response from everyone was overwhelmingly positive. At the same time, there was a fair share of scepticism, as many people felt that going to Algonquin buy bus won’t work, except for rare cases of single travellers for whom car rental would be too expensive. As our experience showed, however, single travellers are definitely a minority – most people come in 2s 3s and larger groups.

Courtesy of Parkbus

Courtesy of Parkbus

3.       For readers who may not be familiar with Parkbus can you explain how it works? 

Parkbus is simply a bus network which connects Ontario cities (Toronto/Ottawa) to campgrounds, canoe access points, backpacking trails and lodges/motels in and near provincial and national parks in Ontario. By dropping people off right where they will be spending their time, or starting their trip, we are eliminating the need for a car completely when it comes to accessing parks, making park visitation experience greener and more equal. We are also bringing new segments of population and new tourist dollars to targeted areas. Finally, our Parkbus Ambassador Program, with volunteers riding the buses and providing guidance and advice to campers with less experience, is another important aspect of the program.

4.        I see you have recently expanded into Ottawa, congratulations!  Do you think there will be even more expansions in the future? 

Yes, Ottawa will start off as a new pilot service this season, with the hope of making it as regular as the rest of our routes based from Toronto. We are doing our best to expand and improve the service each season, based on the overwhelming feedback we continue to get from our passengers and general public. We certainly have many other destinations in mind, and would like to gradually offer people the opportunity to explore all the beautiful parks and outdoor destinations we have in Ontario.

5.       What, if any, are the chances of the bus running earlier in the season for people like myself who may not have access to a car but still want to enjoy Algonquin in the winter time?

Some of our passengers have also expressed interest in winter service, and that is something we are looking into for a potential pilot next year. As with every new run, we need to make sure there is enough interest focused on one or two winter runs in order for us to make them happen.
6.       Tell us where else Parkbus travels to from Toronto so that my readers are aware of other outdoor opportunities.

Parkbus currently provides service from Toronto to Algonquin, Killarney, Grundy Lake and French River Provincial Parks. This year we are also starting our newly added regular service to the Bruce Peninsula, with stops at Bruce Peninsula National Park (Cyprus Lake Campground), Lion’s Head as well as the town of Tobermory, where passengers can connect to Manitoulin Island via the ferry.

7.       For those who are thinking of taking the parkbus, what restrictions are there when it comes to gear?

We are fairly flexible when it comes to gear allowance on board the bus. Each passenger can take a reasonable amount of the necessary camping equipment. We also allow a limited number of bicycles on each bus. If you would like to bring a bike, please call 1-800-928-7101 before booking your tickets to make sure the space for your bike is still available. Canoes and kayaks are not allowed on the bus, but are available for rent from outfitters in the park, and firewood is also prohibited due to the firewood importation ban.

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