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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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

solotrip

 

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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How to Keep Track of Your Gear!

So it’s fall and with it comes the crazy business that is back to school, Thanksgiving, and Christmas preparation.  For some of us (like me) it means back to the daily grind.  Still that doesn’t mean that you have to “vacate” the camping mood.  For some of you, it could mean going for a trip this winter down south or some of you might even give winter camping a try!  The big thing is though that even in this “off-season” you should know where each piece of your gear is so that you have easy access if you quickly decide to take a trip.

This is where a gear inventory comes in handy.  This is especially important if you are like me and you have gear in two different homes.  Part of my gear is up north and the other part is here in the city.  So how do I keep track?

I write down every piece of gear I purchase on a spreadsheet.  This way every year I can check off that I have put it away or I can state that it got damaged or sold.  This makes my life so much easier!  We have a large number of tents, sleeping bags, cooking gear, and Thermarests.  Each sleeping bag is rated for a different temperature, the Thermarests vary in thickness, and our tents vary in sizes.  I want to know that I’m using the right gear at the right time of year.

How you set up your inventory is up to you.  I have it saved on my computer but I know someone who has it laminated so that they can easily write down which trip dates they took the gear.  All you need to do is make it work for you!

I apologize for being absent on the blog lately but this is always a busy time of year for me as I change my schedule from 1 day a week in the summer to 5/6 days a week during the school year.

~Enjoy your trip!

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Off on an Adventure!

Good Morning!  Loving the sunshine this morning as I do some last minute packing.  I’m heading out on a 5-day camping trip today.  I’m spending the night in Toronto thanks to the civic holiday tomorrow.  Normally I would leave Hamilton at 4:30am but all busses are on Sunday schedule.  Oh well…I don’t have to get up as early this way :).

I’m spending the week camping in Kearney Lake again.  I am really in love with this campground.  It’s quiet, small, and it has a lot of waterfront sites.  No canoe this time but I will have my ipad so that I can blog throughout the week.  Part of the things I’m thinking of doing is:

  • hiking the Old Railway Bed bike trail
  • walking to the Lookout trail and hiking it
  • relaxing
  • and catching up on some good books.

There may also be a chance of a wolf-howl but I need to figure out how to logistically do it since I don’t have a vehicle.  Maybe I’ll find some nice friends lol.

I’ll be camping on site 135 if anyone wants to stop by for a visit :)

~Enjoy your trip!

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Park Helper Program in #AlgonquinPark

Have you driven down Hwy 60 and wondered what those Children’s Programs signs are all about?  Or maybe you’ve seen the buttons hanging in various locations around the park?  These are for the Park Helper Program.  This is a way for your child(ren) to learn about being environmentally responsible for the nature around them.

What exactly is the Park Helper Program?

This is a program that helps keep our campgrounds, beaches, and campsites clean.  Designed for kids, this program usually takes place 3 times per week (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday) at campgrounds and beaches through out the Hwy 60 corridor.  The locations are announced in the This Week In Algonquin Calendar that hangs on all the information bulletin boards in the campgrounds and museums.  Families can then take their kids to these locations and they help clean up the campground or beaches with others and the program leader for the day.

What does your child get after completing the program?

Your child(ren) will get a badge every time they complete one of the programs.  I think this year I saw 4(?) different ones for them to achieve.  They are the Clean Campsite, Clean Beaches, Clean Campground, and the Good Camper, which they receive after getting all the other badges.  The badges change every year but this is what they look like:

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I have participated in this program numerous times and I have probably close to 10 sets of badges?  At one time they also had a bottle cap collector badge.  The badges that I posted are mine.  This program is a lot of fun!  It keeps the kids busy, gets them interacting with other kids, and helps them learn about keeping the park clean so that their kids can enjoy it in the future.

~Enjoy your trip!

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Eureka Chrysalis Tent

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This weekend I had the chance to use my new Eureka Chrysalis Tent, which is a hammock that includes a tent sleeve.  The Chrysalis can be used as a hammock or a tent, it’s really up to you!  I originally saw the tent set up at the Sportsmen Show in Toronto.  I tried it out there and found it interesting.  I then saw it again at the Outdoor Adventure Show and decided I’d have to try it.  This tent is a DREAM!  I’m not that old (just turned 33) but I still have issues sleeping on the ground.  This tent was probably the best nights sleep I had camping in a while.  This is the inside:
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SET-UP:

So the one downfall I had was that this tent didn’t come with instructions.  Not usually a big deal as setting up a tent isn’t rocket science.  However, because this tent is not your usual tent…I did have some issues.  I ended up having to go online and downloading the pdf instructions, which on my cell phone…were not easy to read.  Once I figured it out…it was fairly easy to put up.  The nylon webbing was kind of slippery on the trees but I made it work.  The flaps on the camper sleeve easily velcro to the ridgeline so that you can have air flowing through the tent…they also attach to the bottom of the hammock if you want to keep warm.

COMFORT/SLEEPING:

This was the biggest thing for me!  I was able to put my Therma-Rest through the sleeve on the hammock.  This tent was beyond comfortable!  Like a hammock it adjusts according to your body weight.  You are able to comfortably stretch out or curl up like do.  The only issue I had, which is common with hammocks, is that your sleeping bag tends to travel to the middle of the hammock.  A little sewing could fix this or even adding velcro to a piece of flannel will stop that from happening.  As well with that flannel you could use it as a “bottom sheet” and use a blanket instead of a sleeping bag…just unvelcro it from the hammock and wash it after your trip.

WEATHER:

We didn’t have any violent weather so I’m unable to fully comment on this however we did have rain and I was extremely dry even with the flaps up.

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

Overall I’m glad I have that tent!  There were a few issues like set up and it slipping down the tree trunk during the night…but those can be fixed with a little bit of ingenuity.  Had there been instructions with the tent, it would have been up in a flash but that is a minor detail.  If you get motion sickness I would not consider this tent.  We didn’t have any wind so I don’t know how much it would have moved but when you switch positions or when you first get into the tent you do sway quite a bit.  The nylon straps are durable but very slippery.  If a person who was new to camping and unsure of their knots were to put this tent up..the chances of them falling in the night are pretty good.  Originally the tent came with clips for tie up…unfortunately it doesn’t now.

My final score: 9/10 – the instructions and nylon straps are what lost the point for me.

If you are interested in the Chrysalis Tent then visit your local Eureka Dealer or go to www.eurekatent.com

~Enjoy your Trip!

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