Outdoor Adventure Show #OASToronto

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The Outdoor Adventure Show, in my opinion, is the best show to visit in the off-season if you’re a paddler or camper.  Everything that you could possibly want or need, whether it’s tripping advice from Algonquin Outfitters or a new canoe or paddle, you can find right here.  Sure it’s not every outfitter or canoe company but you are able to comparison shop in a way.  The one thing I am finding though is that the show is very repetitive.  Same exhibitors, same layout, same thing.  It’s time for the show to grow and take over more space so that more people can show off the products they have.  Otherwise you’ll start losing visitors.

This year the show added an Adventures in Paddling Stage where they had various people speak including Hap Wilson, Preston Ciere (Portageur.ca) and Kevin Callan.

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The speakers above are from the Bay of Fundy Symposium(L) and Hap Wilson (R)

 

As always they had the demo pool where this year things got a little furry!  Preston Ciere and his paddling dog Nancy were showing how to take our furry companions on canoe trips.

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Something else that they added this year was a zip line above the show floor.  There were a ton of people who took part in that.  I myself didn’t feel like waiting in that line up but I still would have done it :).  Over all it was a great day.  I got to meet up with some old friends from Algonquin Outfitters and Swift, met a new friend from Some Eventful, Gayle, and got a chance to catch up with some of the speakers from TEDxAlgonquin like Preston Ciere, Kevin Callan, and Boris from Parkbus!

For more photos check out the Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/AWalkInAlgonquinPark)

~Enjoy your Trip!

Trip Report August 5-9, Kearney Lake

It was a wet but enjoyable week in the park!  I really enjoyed the break from work and everyday life.  There’s just something about being up there that recharges you and gets you relaxed before heading back to reality.  Even if the campground was noisy or it rained most of the time.

My week started off in Toronto at a Hostel for the night before heading up the next morning on the Parkbus.  It was the Neill-Wycik Hostel.  In the school year it’s a dorm but during the summer it’s a hostel.  In the female dorm you get 1 room in a 6 room dorm apartment.  It includes a full kitchen and two bathrooms.  It’s a pretty nice and comfortable stay for 25 bucks a night.  The best part is that it’s a 5 minute walk to Yonge and Dundas Square.

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I was the Parkbus Ambassador for Monday’s journey up to Algonquin.  It was great to get to know some of the passengers and talk to them about their trips.  I met dad at Opeongo so that he and I could set up in Kearney.  He was only here for the first night.  I camped on site 135 for the week.  It’s a gorgeous site!  It backs on to a marshy area which provided viewing opportunities for frogs and ducks.  The firepit was pretty close to the marsh too so you could watch the sunset.

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I spent the rest of the week by myself which was heaven!  I took advantage and read some books.  How many books?  Lets just say I almost read the entire Harry Potter series (I was in the middle of book 7 when I boarded the Parkbus).  Reading by the campfire every night was so relaxing.

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Wednesday was very wet!  We were under a severe thunderstorm watch all day.  I spent most of the day reading under the tarp.  By dinner time it had cleared up and I was able to have a nice campfire.

I didn’t do anything that week and I really enjoyed that.  I love alone 90% of the time but I find that being in the city I don’t want to sit still…I want to be out and on the go.

I headed back to the city Friday which in a way was a drag but it was still a nice vacation.  Next up…TedxAlgonquin in September!  Speakers include Kevin Callan, Preston Ciere (portageur.ca), Jeff McMurtrie (Jeff’s Maps), and more!

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VOLUNTEER NEEDED!

Hey folks!

Parkbus is in need of a volunteer this Friday to Monday to cover my run that I was scheduled for.  You would meet at York Mills Station in Toronto at 6:40am on Friday and then head to Algonquin returning to the Toronto area by 6/6:30 Monday night.  As a volunteer you are responsible for pick ups at the three locations in Toronto as well as drop offs within the park on the way up.  On the way home you are responsible for the pickups in the park and drop offs in Toronto.  As well you will be administering a survey, answering questions, and raffling off prizes.  You need to book your own site…there are a few left at Kearney for sure (223 is my old site so I know it’s available) or you can take a chance and hope that a non-reserved site is available.

If you can do this trip please email Alex: alex@parkbus.ca

Thanks!

Jenn

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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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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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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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Outdoor Adventure Show 2013

DSC_0020As most of you know I am a HUGE fan of the outdoor shows!  Growing up it was a given that we would be spending one day of the March Break at the Sportsmen Show in Toronto.  It was always just a matter of which day dad would have off.  When we went to the Outdoor Adventure Show (from here on OAS) last year, dad and I knew we had found our new Sportsmen Show!  It had what we wanted out of a show – crazy and weird for him (I’m not kidding…yesterday he bought a colour changing shirt that activates in the sun…last year it was a moose hat complete with antlers) and for me its the chance to talk with those in the outdoor industry and of course visit with my friends from Algonquin Outfitters and Swift.  It’s always a nice little reunion of sorts getting to catch up on stuff and finding out what I can look forward to finding in store come the summer.

This year I went in with high expectations after really enjoying it last year and again I wasn’t disappointed.DSC_0028

The show has everything that an outdoor enthusiast would want: canoes, tents, backpacks, awesome trip possibilities, the weird stuff that only my dad wants to buy, and great speakers!  This year the line up for guest speakers was phenomenal and I really wish I was able to stay even if it was for Les Stroud and Kevin Callan.  Adam Van Koeverden is speaking today which is really cool!  Jeff from algonquinmap.com was there and I had to leave just before he was supposed to be at a booth which disappointed me because I use his maps constantly when planning trips.  Kevin Callan was also signing books at one of the booths later yesterday afternoon.  I’m pretty sure he’s back there today as well.

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As I was walking around I got the chance to talk to a number of outfitters and gear companies.  Expedition Toys from Ottawa (www.expeditiontoys.ca) was just one of the many companies I spoke to.  One of the products that Brenda showed me was called the Inertia X Frame Sleeping Pad.  This is an inflatable sleeping pad that can roll up as small as a pop can.  The great thing about these pads is that it takes the pressure off of your body because it “cradles” the points on your body like the hips, shoulders etc. that would typically get sore from sleeping on the ground.  The only issue I have with the sleeping pad is that I’m a side sleeper and I was told specifically that its made for sleeping on your back.  But for those who do sleep on their back..it may be worth the $100 price tag.  Check out their website because they have a lot of products available.

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Standup Paddleboards (SUP’s) were pretty big at the show as they have been at most of the shows this year.  In the pool they were doing demos of not only how to stand and paddle on a SUP board but also how to do Yoga and workouts.  It was pretty cool!  SUP Love (the two boards on the left) was there and I got chatting to the girl from there again.  The board on the left has a custom made pad.  The pad is made with whatever photo you may want to put on it.  I think that it’s pretty cool!  Paddle Shack  also had some SUP boards with them (pic 3).  I’m beginning to think that maybe a SUP get together in the Toronto area might be a cool idea :).

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They had a diving tank there this year which was pretty cool.  Of course the divers wanted their picture taken so of course I obliged :).  The Complete Paddler (twitter: @completepaddler) was there with their assortment of gear as was Eureka Tents as part of Tent City Outfitters.  But the company I have to mention the most is the Education Outdoors Game Company.  Part of that reason is he gave us free admission (well technically just my dad…I had my media pass) but they also have a ton of different board games for camping.  Ever seen the game Camp at your local outfitter or store?  It’s a pretty cool game and great for kids.  It reminds me of the Algonquin Park game that I used to have years ago.  Hmmm….wonder if I can still get that game ;).  Derek Martin from Living Waters Wholesale is the person that I was talking to and the games they carry are neat.  Games like S’mores, Hit the Trail, Mysterious Creatures, Camp, and Fishing Camp.  My dad bought a game consisting of magnetic stones that you have to keep separate I think?  I am going to invest in a few of these games myself just for the kids at work alone :).

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Of course a day at the show wouldn’t be complete with out a visit to Swift Canoe (twitter: @swift_canoe).  Bill Swift, Skip and Bob were all there and all trying to get me to purchase the Keywadin 15 which is pictured with Bill there.  Once again…it’s a gorgeous canoe…and I will get it haha.  I was told next year by my dad.  The nice thing about that canoe is that rather than the carbon gunwales, this one has wood and really makes the canoe that much more appealing to me.  It will be mine one of these days and it will be my main tripping canoe.   Overall it was a fantastic day and I did end up walking out with a Chrysalis Tent (see my sportsmen show review post for pictures) which I am looking forward to using this summer in Algonquin.
Btw, my birthday trip is booked for June 21-23 and I would love for you to come celebrate with me!  I’ll be camping in Kearney but even if you just wanted to meet up with me for a day of exploring some of the waterways around Mowat and seeing relics of the old train bridge, post office and the town let me know via twitter @algonquin_blog or via email walkinalgonquinpark@gmail.com.
~Enjoy the trip

Outdoor Adventure Show and Fond Farewell

This weekend marks the return of the Outdoor Adventure Show to the International Center in Toronto.  Touted as Canada’s Largest Outdoor Adventure show…it truly is a great experience.  I had the privilege of winning passes from Swift Canoe last year and I really enjoyed the show.

Some of the highlights this year include:

There are also a ton of outfitters and adventure tourism exhibitor’s for you to peruse.  I plan on being there most of Saturday.  If you see me stop and say hello!

With that being said I also want to take this time to wish my friend, former coworker, and fellow Algonquin enthusiast, Randy Mitson a fond farewell from Algonquin Outfitters and the best of luck in his new position over at Explorers Edge.

~Enjoy your trip!

 

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Sportsmen Show Review

DSC_0003 The Toronto Sportsmen Show took place over last weekend.  I don’t know about you but this used to be a family March Break tradition for us.  Every year there would be huge amount of camping gear, trailers, boats, and of course Bart the Bear!  Slowly over the last 10 years the show has changed.  In fact it has changed so much that I don’t feel the connection to go anymore.  It’s just not the same it used to be.  For starters, its about fishing and hunting now rather than being about everything outdoors.  Secondly, the exhibitor list has gotten smaller.

This year since it was back at the Exhibition Place, I thought that it would be a bit better.  DSC_0002When it was in the Metro Toronto Convention Center it was too spread out between the two buildings so that it was hard to find everything.   The nice thing about the Direct Energy Center is that it’s all in one building.  This year it was different in the fact that the hunting showcase was separate from everything else.  This was odd to me but I guess it’s so that they can keep minors out?  They only had one door in and one door out.  The fishing section was kind of a joke.  In the past there has been more fishing gear than anything else.  This year there was only maybe 5/6 rows of gear.  The big section this year was the boats and the outdoor travel section.

DSC_0012What I go for every year is the camping section.  I was thoroughly disappointed.  They had maybe two rows of camping  gear and the choice for outfitters was limited to Eureka and Tent City.  There were a few more but I can’t quite remember who they were.  There were also two canoe companies, Clear Water Designs and Souris River Canoes.  It took me a while to find the camping section as well.  The signage was poorly laid out and hard to see as it was all hung from the ceiling.  Some of the displays though were really tall so it made it hard to see the sign.

There was on thing that I found cool and impressive and that was the Chrysalis Tent from Eureka.

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This tent is actually pretty cool!  I got to test it out while I was there.  The sleeping area is surrounded by mesh and a tent fly material.  You can choose to keep the mesh open while you sleep so that the air is circulating around you.  Or you can close the sides around you and you are protected from the elements.  The space where you sleep is actually a sleeve that will hold a Thermarest.  It’s a big enough sleeve that it could even hold my Dreamtime Thermarest.  Underneath the hammock is a mesh area where you are able to store light gear.  On either side are gear pockets.  Again the gear would have to be lightweight but it’s still a place to store stuff.  The Chrysalis is easy to get in and out of.  It also easily hooks up to the trees.  It comes with 9 feet of mesh strapping that is comparable to a tie down strap on a truck.  As a solo canoer this could be the perfect tent but I would highly recommend it for backpackers as it is only 5lbs to carry and can be hung anywhere you can find two trees!  The cost of the tent is around $250.

Overall I was disappointed with the Sportsmen Show and will probably never go again.  I’d rather take the time to go to the Outdoor Adventure Show because it is more geared to what I want to see.  I don’t care about the fishing or hunting.  I’d rather try out canoes and tents.  This week I was supposed to go up to the Winterfest in Algonquin however due to a nasty cold I will be staying home and getting better :).

~Enjoy Your Trip!

 

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Toronto Boat Show

So yesterday I spent most of the day at the Toronto Boat Show.

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The show started on Saturday – with a preview on Friday – and runs until Sunday, so there’s still plenty of time to get out.  The main area of the show is covered with power boats and yachts.  I’m a canoer by heart but I do like a little bit of speed in my life :).  The usual companies were there…Bayliner, Lund, Pride of Marine Group, etc.  So as you walk into the main exhibit hall all you see is wall to wall powerboats, ski boats, wakeboard boats, and sea-doos!

DSC_0206That wasn’t what I was there for though.  I came to see the canoes and kayaks *as limited as the section was.  Swift (as always) was my first stop.  Last year I told you about the Flax Fusion canoes that they were showing at the Outdoor Adventure Show. They brought them again this year!  The top canoe in the pic to the left is a Prospector 16 Flax Fusion.  I’m looking at the Keywadin 15 Solo Flax Fusion canoe.  The thing about these canoes is that they are super light.  The solo canoe is 30 pounds.  For me thats probably the best weight to portage.  I’ve carried a 75 pound fibreglass before and it’s not nice.

The one thing that stood out to me from all of the show is the huge popularity of Standup Paddleboards or SUP’s.
Most of the companies that were there had a selection of SUP boards.  Swift and Suplove were two companiesDSC_0240 that I checked out.  The boards on the right are from Swift…however I think the coolest boards were from SUPLove.  After speaking with a few of the exhibitors the consensus is that it’s fairly easy to switch over from a canoe to a SUP.  All companies agree that you have to start out on your knees to get used to the balance then slowly work your way up to standing.  The paddles have a long shaft but a short blade.  I was watching a demonstration in the lake at the show and these things can move quite quickly!  I’m looking forward to giving this a try this summer.

Overall the show was cool!  This being my first time, I was a bit overwhelmed by all the toys.  Believe me, I wish I wasn’t selling my cottage because those ski boats were pretty cool!  I’ve taken a ton of pics and 1 video.  These are posted over at my flickr account as there are way too many to put here.  The video is pretty cool as its a demo done by Bill Swift (Swift Canoe & Kayak) on Standup Paddleboards.  It shows how to get on the board and paddling basics.  You can find my boat show set here: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjDCd7y4 and my video is here: http://youtu.be/L_hZpQIXEVo

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