Please swing by the Ontario Parks blog page to check out our new guest blog.
Titled “what are you doing this weekend”. It talks about our year travelling through Ontario’s parks system.
Let us know what you think.
Take a moment, and picture this. You are sitting in the middle of a lake, the wind has died down and not a single ripple can be found on the water anywhere. The birds are chirping in the trees, and the wailing call of a loon can be heard off in the distance. As you cast out your fishing line, the only thing to break the silence is the plop of a lure hitting the water. You gently reel back your line, and take a deep breath.
For many people this is a perfect image and one that is easily attainable but often overlooked. It doesn’t necessarily have to be in the middle of a lake, or even in a forest, but the chance to get outside, in nature and enjoy the quiet is something that should never be taken advantage of. Even though this time of year isn’t the most convenient for sitting in a boat in the middle of a lake, is doesn’t mean that you can’t find that peaceful moment. The winter affords us equally, many great opportunities to relish in the peace and quiet.
Given that the busy holiday season is fast approaching, and it becomes all too easy to get caught up in the day-to-day rat race, this is when it is the perfect time to stop and take a minute. It’s as easy as walking out your front door, to a nearby wood lot. Why not take a drive to a nearby provincial park, with a pocket full of bird seed? Why not grab a buddy and go snow shoeing or cross-country skiing? All these things are great ways to get out and enjoy the silence. I know it does wonders for me, and helps me recharge. You really can’t beat the peacefulness the outdoors has to offer, so go ahead, get outside and see for yourself, what a difference a little quiet can make.
“Don’t tell fish stories where the people know you; but particularly, don’t tell them where they know the fish”
Okay this week we are starting up a new addition to the blog and it’s all to do with angling. Not a single member of Paddle In is by any means an expert angler. But we do spend an awful lot of time sitting around in a boat with fishing rods in our hands. That has to count for something. Before you head out on your first fishing trip make sure to consult your Ministry of Natural Resources page. For example in Ontario all rules and regulations can be found here Ontario’s Fishing Laws . Also make sure your outdoors card is up to date. Finally whenever possible practice catch and release, obey the seasons and keep to catch limits.
This weeks piece comes from Andy who somehow manages to catch fish on every trip we head out on. He says it’s skill, I think it might have to do a bit with horseshoes 🙂
Once you have picked your lures, and have your kit assembled, it is always a good idea to have a pair of pliers, or a multi-tool handy, to get the hooks out of the mouths of some of the greedier fish. It can prevent you from getting a hook through the finger if your grip slips, or the fish shakes. An injury in the back country, when you are relatively far from aid isn’t a situation you want to find yourself in.
Like I said earlier, when I’m camping, I spend most of my days enjoying the quiet moments casting and reeling; looking forward to that next big hit that gets your heart racing, and brings the biggest and goofiest smiles across any adventurers face. It is a therapy to fish in the back country, when there is not much entertainment, you have to learn to be alone with your thoughts, be one with the water, and land that next monster fish.
Last weekend we spent some time up at Rondeau Provincial Park. We watched kite boarders on Rondeau Bay. We experienced an amazing hunters moon and listened to owls all night. The park is large and has a variety of trails to walk. The visitors center is very impressive with a variety of reptiles on display. I can see why so many people travel here during the spring and summer. We’ll be back next year for an extended stay for sure.
Precaution has to be taken with children and pets at Rondeau as ticks (possible lyme disease carriers) are found there. Simple precation and warning to everyone on the trip is more than enough to keep everyone tick free.
There is 13km of beach running along the side of Rodeau which faces out onto Lake Erie. It was overcast and damp when we were out there but that didn’t stop the kids from hanging out at the beach for a few hours. The campsite at Rondeau are not the most private we’ve seen but being towards the end of the season we had the whole non electrical side to ourselves.
We had a blast as always. We’re hoping to close out the season at Sauble falls this weekend but that depends on the weather. Thanks for stopping by and taking a look.
Andy blogs this week about a new piece of equipment he brought on our fall trip. While I only used it a few times I can say it definitely helped us bush wack through Birchcliffe creek, and made quick work of the wood we brought back for evening/morning fires. The only downside I see with this saw is that it binds fairly easy. But with a little maneuvering it seems to make a great compromise for someone looking to go lightweight.
Every bushman has his tools that he takes into the wilderness with him, be it a small knife, machete,hatchet, saw, tomahawk, sling shot, or shotgun. One of the best parts about getting outside is testing and trying new gear to add to your arsenal. This season, I decided to leave my heavy, clumsy camping hatchet behind in exchange for a Meyerco folding saw. I chose to change it up because the hatchet just ended up being stuck in dead logs at different points around the site, not really doing much wood chopping.
I would say that the only downside that I saw with it would be the size limitations. Obviously a saw of this size is not able to saw very well through large logs without getting jammed up. With a little bit of maneuvering however, large logs were quickly cut through just enough that they could be snapped into more suitable sizes for any fire you are building.
I can say with a great amount of certainty, that for back woods trail blazing, or firewood collection, this has been a great addition to my toolkit. Its light weight, and durability will make it handy for many seasons to come. Its the closest I’ll come to being a beaver.
Company description from http://www.meyercousa.com
“Features stainless steel blade that locks open and locks closed, special pattern for teeth allow it to cut through wood and bone, comfort grip rubber handle, and nylon sheath. Measures 15” overall. Limited forever warranty. Clamshell. ”
Weight- 0.61 lb.
Cost- $11.00 from http://www.mec.ca
We spent three days camping,hiking,exploring on Biggar Lake.
We attempted to make it to the portage just north of our site but our efforts were thwarted by a very well constructed beaver damn. So we turned our boat around and made our way to Birchcliffe Creek to see if we could find the campsite which was half way down it.
As you can see from some of the photos the trek down creek was no easy matter. Six beaver dams, a couple of log jams and a lot of downed branches. Andy had luckily brought his Meyerco folding saw and began to make quick work of any branches which swept across the creek. What should have been a quick half hour paddle turned into quite the long venture. But it is moments and experiences like these that keep me coming back to the back country.
We eventually made it to the campsite on Birchcliffe creek. A small campsite with a great set of benches made up. We could tell that no one had used the site for quite awhile. A quick survey of the area found and a few pieces of the old bridge which connected a logging/access road and crossed the creek. We also noticed that the forest around us which had once been random and hodge podged was now neat and tidy and dominated by tall pines. The area had obviously been clear cut in times past and then re planted.
After a bit of exploring and a small trail snack we headed back for the site. The trip back down the creek was much easier as we sailed over the beaver dams. At the mouth of the creek is a nice beach which we decided to explore and walk. It would make a great place for a shore lunch which we’ll try to make happen next year.
The nights on Biggar were very active. Three species of owls were called out/in to the area surrounding our campsite. The Northern Saw-whet owl, Barred owl and the Great horned owl. I don’t know what it is about this year but we have heard owls and called them in every trip we’ve been on. I have grown very fond of these birds and am always excited when we receive a call back. We use the iBird Canada app to call in the owls and a iPhone with a small speaker or the iPhone placed inside a right side up canoe which makes a great speaker. The nights were capped with some amazing star gazing, satellite watching and some crazy shooting stars.
(Photo credit Wikipedia)
On Saturday we started to make our way back to North Tea Lake. Pete took off ahead of us, with Andy and myself took our time exploring every aspect of the lakes and rivers in between Biggar Lake and North Tea Lake. We made camp in the late afternoon and watched as quite a few canoes made the way down into North Tea. The site was large and sheltered. The only downside was the extremely noisy neighbors we had. Chopping down trees and yelling late into the night, I often wonder what possesses people with that sort of mid set to come back country.
The next moring, as is tradition with any Paddle In camping trip, it was raining. We waited for a break in the rain, jumped out of our tents and quickly broke camp. A quick paddle across the last quarter of North Tea lake and then a small paddle back down the Amable Du Fond river was quiet and uneventful. Until we came to the beaver dam we had previously shot over. The beavers had been busy all week and there was no way of paddling across it. A little cursing and some wet boots later we were back on our way to Kaywawaymog Lake and the truck.
This fall trip was great. We could not of asked for better weather. I’m always amazed at how much there is to see in Algonquin. We’ll be back to do this route again some day. This was also the last interior trip for the season, which when I see the canoes all hung up in the garage is always a bit of a sad moment. But that does not mean we are done camping for the year. We have some weekend trips planned, some yurt camping and of course we have to throw in a couple of walk in winter trips.
Stay tuned this week for even more blogs highlighting some of the new gear we used as well as a couple of weekend photo blogs.
Matt – Paddle In
P.S The blog name! If a tree falls…twice. Well on our second day we all heard something that we had never experienced before. A massive tree fell somewhere near us scaring the wits outta all of us. We spent the next hour talking about how none of us had ever heard that while being in the bush. The next day, same thing. So if two trees fall in the forest and Paddle In is there to hear it , do they make a sound?
On Wednesday October 9th we began our second annual fall paddle. Starting off in Cambridge Ontario, Peter and myself loaded the truck and headed off to Barrie to pick up the other member of our team,Andy. A few short hours later we were picking up our permits on Kaywawaymog. I had read there was a local outfitter who would let us park for a fee (20$),Cutting off about half of the lake. We arrived at Northern Wilderness Outfitters parked and were on our way by about 8:45 am.
A quick paddle along the shores of Kawawaymog leads you into the Amable Du Fond river. The river is small and winding. Grey jays followed us along the shore line as we leisurely paddled down the river. The beavers had been busy this year blocking the river in a few places. As we were paddling with the current the dams stood no chance against our loaded down Scott canoe.
A quick paddle interrupted by two small portages, 135m and a 255m, later we were putting in at North Tea Lake. At the end of the 255m portage there is a memorial to park rangers Tom Wattie and Frank Robichaud. Frank Robichaud was caught in a blizzard and died on duty in the cabin on 3 Mile Lake.
North Tea is a long lake. Broken into two arms ,west and east, it measures around 11km. This makes for a long paddle. We planned to go all the way to the end of North Tea and camp on what we thought was a campsite beside the portage.
The campsite ended up being a quarter of the way down the portage into Hornbeam Lake. Rough and unused don’t begin to describe the site. A very small clearing with enough space for two small tents,couple of logs on the ground made up the site for the night. Dinner was made stories were told and we turned in for the night getting ready for the paddle tomorrow.
Two small portages, 240m and a 90m, separated us from our final destination of Biggar lake. A very short paddle later we were arriving at one of the nicest campsites I’ve ever been to in Algonquin Park.
A huge site with plenty of space for multiple tents. Great fire pit area and a fantastic shoreline to fish,paddle from. We set up camp, gathered fire wood from a neighboring site and settled in for our three day stay at Biggar Lake.
Stay tuned more to come this week
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Highlight of September for me was celebrating my wife’s birthday at MacGregor Provincial Park. The last time I had been to MacGregor was 10 years prior when I tricked my girlfriend (now wife) to spend a snowy,cold April weekend in the park. It was nice to come back and reminisce about old times,cold times and our general unpreparedness when we were younger. This time around we were accompanied by our three year old daughter turned super camper. We enjoyed each and every moment in the park and my wife rang in her 30th birthday drinking wine in the tent vestibule as the rain poured down on us. We couldn’t have been happier.
MacGregor Point sits on the shores of Lake Huron just a hop skip and a jump away from Port Elgin. A nice sized park which is open year round (we plan on going back this winter to take advantage of the yurts there) With nice private campsites and a variety of trails/beaches. Wildlife was very active in the park. Which seems to have a very healthy white tail population. There are a few benefits to coming out to MacGregor Point in the fall. First, no bugs. That is self explanatory. Second fall brings cool nights which ,for me , make some of the best sleeping conditions in the world. Third the color change that can be found in MacGregor Point PP or anywhere in Ontario for that matter is stunning in the fall. Go outside right now! I’m telling you it’s fantastic out there.
September was a busy month for us. Not a lot of paddling but definitely a lot of outdoors activity. We had quite a few weekend trips into a variety of provincial parks and we also participated in The Pinery 2013 Shoreline cleanup. More on that in another blog.
With winter quickly approaching we are going to make the most of the fall and try to cram in as much paddling as possible. A couple interior trips and a variety of sleepovers are planned for the month of October.
So get outside! Whether you go fishing,paddling,camping,hiking, the fall is gorgeous here in Ontario. Get outside and experience something.
Quick sleepover at Pinery Provincial Park. My wife and children had never been here before so we decided to spend Sunday night and all day Monday exploring this amazing provincial park.
A little under two hours drive from Guelph we made it to the Pinery with plenty of time to set up. A nice night telling stories around the fire was followed by an unexpectedly cold sleep.
We woke early to get a good start on the day and wolfed down a great breakfast of eggs,bacon and beans.
First up was nice hike along one of the Pinery’s many trails. We decided on the Carolinian Trail (1.8 km). This trail is located in a floodplain forest dominated by Carolinian plants and animals that are at the northern extent of their range.
After the trail we headed down to Lake Huron’s shore. A long sandy beach boxed in by rolling sand dunes is what we were met with. Now here is my only gripe about the park. There was garbage everywhere. Everywhere, I realize that the park staff could not possibly keep constant tabs on garbage blowing in off the lake. But pockets of beer bottles, pop cans and discarded clothing really put a damper on the day.
Garbage aside we had a very nice outing. We will definitely be booking again next season and we’ve decided to make a week of it. I had gone to the Pinery with the goal of photographing a hognose snake. A snake which has eluded me for years. Unfortunately no snakes. Ah well, there is always next year. they can’t hide from me forever.
Many more photo blogs to come. We normally try to cram in as much camping/paddling as possible in the fall for a few reasons. First, fall colors in Ontario are gorgeous. Secondly, I go stir crazy in the winter from lack of paddling so I try to bank up as much as I can. And lastly, NO BUGS!
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This weekend we had the opportunity to spend some time at Craigleith Provincial Park. About an 1.5 hours from Guelph, Ont we made the drive in record time, hit the park and set up camp.
A great time was had late into the night swapping stories and playing with the kids. We had a wicked storm roll through about around five a.m on Saturday. Our new family tent was put to the test and passed with flying colors. In the morning everyone was down at the shale beach looking for fossils and taking photographs.
Great park, great weekend. Hope you enjoy the photos.