New YouTube video

New video is live! A short one on one of the trips from last year we took with the kids through Temagami. Thanks for watching.

Tips Tuesday #2

We’re back for another tips Tuesday.

Who makes a trip plan?

Who then leaves the details with someone they know? It’s a good idea to leave a detailed version of your trip plan with friends or family. Marking where you’ll be staying and when. This way if something does happen to you help can be sent out right away and search and rescue can target the areas you were supposed to be traveling through? Now some folks might say “wait I have a spot device for emergencies like that!” True it’s great to have a spot device but electronics break so it’s always good to have a backup plan.

Do you take proper precautions before you head backcountry?

What are some other good safety tips that you take before heading out?

Tips Tuesday continues! This time we’re heading back to the basics.

In this day of electronic gadgetry and SKYNET like computing its easy to forget about the basics. Electronics can and will break, run out of power or turn on you and blow you out the airlock. We’d strongly recommend working on your map and compass skills this year. Many classes are held online and locally (I took a course just last year to hone my skills) A great thing to have on your belt as a Canoe tripper. Use the blood thirsty human hating GPS unit but have the skills and tools to back you up if and when T1000 tries to ruin your trip.

Hope everyone’s enjoying their day, I don’t know why but I have a strange urge to watch Space odyssey or Terminator.

Aha! You knew this was was coming . So here we go with some PFD tips for sizing as well as care! Remember to share your photos with us here on FB as well as Instagram with the hashtag #wearapfd and #leadbyexample

Aren’t PFDs uncomfortable?

Long gone are the days of the hard foam strangling boy oh bouy PFDs . There is an insane range of different styles , colours , weights , ect in PFDs now. Not only are they a life saving device but some models are basically 90’s Dad cargo shorts for your chest! Pockets in pockets allow you to become a Swiss Army knife while paddling. Clif bar…top pocket. Knife..side pocket. Compass…oh room for that to. Map?…clip to the front. Fruity Pebbles? Eat your cereal at home you feral animal the canoe is no place for cereal.

Make sure to try them on before you purchase. Roll those arms , crouch, sit, do some burpeees. Make sure it’s comfortable and make sure it’s a proper fit. If not you’ve just purchased yourself a $200 seat pad which is basically the same as cutting your car seatbelts off and stuffing them in your back pocket…which if that’s your thing all the power to you just seems a like more work than just wearing it.

How do I care for my PFD?

Water and feed it three times a day….wait I’ve mixed up my notes here.

Store it somewhere dark and dry. UV rays will degrade fabric and the foam innards.

Try not to sit on it. Compressing the PFD is actually bad for it and will shorten its lifespan. If you’re a clean freak you can wash it with warm water and mild soap just make sure you dry it completely before putting it away, because moldy PFDs are gross. PFDs do have a lifespan so if you’re still rocking that 1970’s was once yellow but now is kinda brown and smells likes Nana’s basement PFD…get a new one.

Forgot yours? Ontario Parks actually has a PFD lending program. See here https://www.ontarioparks.com/pfdlending

It’s your choice though folks we’re not here to judge you on what you wear and don’t wear. My only suggestion is that if you’re promoting canoeing , if you’re taking out new individuals to the life, if you’re teaching a new generation about backcountry canoeing and camping #leadbyexample and #wearapfd.

PRIZES???

Thanks for participating in another great tips Tuesday. As always if you’d like to see some of your tips featured drop us a line at

Paddle.in.ontario@gmail.com

Here’s our final tip for the day and it’s an important one. Something huge is coming this summer to the Paddle In page. Wanna get in on it? Really simple just head on over to our YouTube channel and subscribe. That’s it nothing else fancy log into your account and hit the subscribe button. We’ll be rolling out more hints very soon but I can tell you this you do not want to miss this one.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/

UC0cuWVUvGCpgorWujMk0ZCg

Ode to the Black Fly

“I’ll die with the black flies picking my bones. In North Ontario”

-The black fly song –

So if you’re like me your FB feed is full of people who have already got out for their first paddle as they live further south or are lamenting about the remaining ice and dreaming about paddling a northern lake. I’m just here to remind you what follows iceout just a few short weeks later. Those are not birds in the photo , nor is it a fleet of airplanes soaring in the skies of Temagami. They separate the dedicated from the fair weather, the complaints change from to cold to to buggy, they crawl in your eyes, nose and ears. But truth be told I miss them a little. That constant buzz, the tap tapping on the tent fly, the black halo around your bug net on the portage. The super resilient ones who manage to somehow crawl inside the bug jacket, and you’re not sure if they’re inside or out till you feel that familiar pinch. They’re waiting right now, just for you, they’ve missed you and if you think about it and are honest with yourself you missed them a little as well.

The Black Fly.

Food Barrel Friday #3

What’s the one piece of kitchen/cookware you can’t leave at home on a backcountry trip? Let us know in the comments below or better yet show us a photo.

Food Barrel Friday continues….

As some of you may or may not know it’s Canada Water Week . Now I think we can all agree that without water we wouldn’t get very far as Canoeists. We travel on it, we fish from it, most importantly we drink it.

So here’s a question for all of you. With choice of beverages in short supply on a canoe trip. What do you do to your water for a change of pace? Add crystals? Lemon? Wintergreen? Whisky?

Let us know in the comments below.

What’s your go to snack on the portage?

Candy?

Jerky?

Are you a die hard blue berry addict?

Let us know in he comments below.

Here’s one of our favorites around the Paddle In homestead

Maple Trail Mix

3/4 cup maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup oats

1 cup mixed nuts

2 cups whole natural almonds

1/2 cup golden raisins, a couple of handfuls

1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries

1/2 sunflower seeds

1 cup M & M’s or Reese’s pieces

Pre heat oven to 375

Warm and combine Maple syrup and vanilla extract

Mix wet and dry ingredients (except the m&m’s they’ll melt!!) . Spread on a baking tray and bake 15 minutes. Remove cool and try not to eat it all right away.

Food Barrel Friday #1

What’s your favourite meal to bring on a canoe trip??

Welcome to our new feature “Food Barrel Friday”. A new weekly post we’ll be rolling out to all you folks.

Today we’ll be bringing you three different posts through out the day that focus on….you guessed it FOOD. If anyone out there has some amazing recipes or meals you’d like to see featured on a food Barrel Friday please send us a message.

Here’s our recipe of the day. Let me say this we tried this recipe on a recent winter camping trip and man oh man it was delicious. We got all fancy and added some double smoked cheddar.

Bacon and Cheddar Bannock

Our recipe today is brought to all of you by My Outdoor Adventures. Dave was kind enough to share this with us. So in turn we’re sharing it with all of you. So make sure to pop by his page and check out what else he has going on. Warning! There are pictures of delicious moose burgers on his page and you won’t be able to get them outta your head.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tbls baking powder

1 tsp kosher salt

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup cubed smoked sharp cheddar

1/2 cup cooked, chopped thick sliced bacon

1 cup water ( may require more or less depending on ingredients )

Mix all ingredients, slowly add water until mixture is consistent

Heat oil in a frying pan and cook over medium heat

carefully flip when the first side is golden brown. Check the middle with a small thin stick (toothpick)

If nothing sticks then its done inside

Throw out the potatoes and grab yourself some crickets? Okay okay maybe don’t go that extreme but since it’s food Barrel Friday our resident beast Johnny is going to share with you his meal plan for his trip to the Adirondak peaks (where he currently is right now) . This is not for everyone but it is interesting to see the planning involved to trip while on a ketogenic diet. Enjoy folks and send Johnny warm thoughts as he hikes the Dacks!

Fueling for the Dack’s

Food preparations have been made for my upcoming trip to the Adirondack Mountains to hike the High peaks in Winter. Something you will notice as you look through the pictures of food below that I will be taking, is the lack of foods like oatmeal, pasta or breads. The reason for this is because this trip will be fueled by a ketogenic diet, low carbohydrates, moderate protein and high fat. The macronutrient ratio is approximately 5%-10% calories from carbs, 15%-30% calories from protein and 60%-75% from fat and in the case of fat, even sometimes more. I have dabbled with this style of eating in the past and have experienced ketosis. This time however I went through a 38hr fast to kick start the process of depleting my glycogen stores and producing ketones in the absence of glucose. I transitioned into a ketogenic diet immediately following the fast and have since fasted each day from approximately 8pm until between 9am and 12pm the next day. I have narrowed my eating window to 2 meals a day with some light snacking on a handful of nuts or seeds. I feel very satiated in times of a lengthy absence from eating as well as my relationship with food and hunger changing. My upcoming trip will be a true test of my ketogenic state and how I respond. My energy levels have increased so I am very optimistic about my performance in the mountains, however only time will tell. Below I will breakdown the foods that will be going with me on this trip.

On the top in the containers, starting on the far left in the GooTube I have avocado oil. Working our way right I next have MCT oil. The next container is almond butter. To the right of that is Frank’s Redhot powder and pepper split. Lastly at the far right is coconut oil.

Going back to the far left column going down is dehydrated lemons for my water which helps boost metabolism first thing in the morning. I then have green tea and instant coffee (much prefer coffee done in a French press) which I drink both black (or green in the tea’s case).

Below that is a baggy with Pink Himalayan salt which provides up to 84 trace minerals.

Next column starts with Hemp seeds and below that a mix of hemp seeds and super seeds which will provide a full protein profile. Organic pumpkin seeds are next on the list and are very high in healthy fats along with the previously mentioned hemp and super seeds.

The next baggy contains organic dark chocolate wrapped super seeds as a nice sweet tasting healthy snack. Below that at the end of column #2 is everybody’s favorite, roasted crickets containing 100% of daily B-12 as well as a good amount of sustainable protein. So far what I have mentioned are mostly snacks, drinks, spices and things to add to meals to help compliment the macronutrient ratio.

The next column we get into the meat and potatoes. Wait… no potatoes, they are not keto friendly, just meat lol. First of we start with a bag of chipotle beef jerky. Next is dehydrated ground chicken and last in that column is a yummy salmon jerky.

Now what would all this food be without veggies (all dehydrated), which brings us to the last column on the far right. The top bag is onions, followed by green and orange bell peppers. Second last is chili pepper topped tomatoes. Finally I put together a baggy of celery and cucumber.

Other food items not shown in this picture include a package of salami, a mozzarella ball, two baggies of spinach and some eggs from our backyard chickens.

As an afterthought and as I write this post I also have sausage jerky and cinnamon avocado slices in the dehydrator to take as well. All of these items that I have listed fit nicely in 2 large freezer baggies that will go into a ditty sac in my backpack.

The oils and seeds will be added to the spinach and meats for the fats and the veggies will provide fibre and low amounts of carbohydrates. Most likely I will be in a fasted state for most of the morning and if I do get somewhat hungry I will have an egg or add MCT oil to my coffee to help satiate. Hopefully I have calculated everything properly but the trip will be my source of feedback.

If you have any questions regarding details around the foods or any other questions regarding keto, fasting or health in general when tripping, please feel free to comment or send us and email or message and we will gladly try to help. I hope this inspires you to take a hard look at what you are using to fuel your outdoor trips. We want to be as healthy as we can for as long as we can so we have many years of tripping ahead.

New video up!

New video up!

We’re very thankful to all of you who’ve subscribed to our channel , commented and liked our videos. We’re slowly but surely finding our legs when it comes to bringing you weekly content and we hope you’ve been enjoying what we’ve been dishing out. There’s lots more slated to be released as team members go through old footage of trips gone by. So make sure to check our channel Wednesday’s and Saturday’s for new video releases.

Many of you read through the trip reports our Paddle In compatriot Tom wrote up for us . They detailed his trip to Woodland Caribou Provincial Park. Well we have a quick video mashup from that trip. It’ll give you a taste of the scenery and portage conditions on Tom’s route.

For more detailed info make sure to check out his trip reports

Part One: https://paddle-in.com/2018/02/01/woodland-caribou-part-one/

Part Two: https://paddle-in.com/2018/02/02/part-two-woodland-caribou/

Part Three: https://paddle-in.com/2018/02/03/woodland-caribou-part-three/

Part Four: https://paddle-in.com/2018/02/04/part-four-woodland-caribou/

Part Five: https://paddle-in.com/2018/02/05/part-5-woodland-

caribou/

Part Four Woodland Caribou

Day 5 began earlier than I expected due to my choice of sleep shelter. Even though the open setup provided loads of crisp Northern air that knocked me out cold for the night, the site’s wildlife didn’t agree with my plan to sleep in the next morning. Not long after dawn, a red squirrel bolted over the midsection of my sleeping bag, jerking me right out of my deep sleep and into fight-or-flight mode with the thought that I was being attacked. You’re definitely not falling asleep after that, especially when the sun starts to penetrate the tree canopy and heat the morning air. I grabbed my fishing rod and went down to the water for a few early morning casts before breakfast. Dan must’ve had the same idea, since he arrived rod-in-hand at the shoreline just in time to see me reel in two consecutive 28-30 inch pike. I kept and cleaned the second one, and we shared the ample fillets for part of our breakfast.

The rest of the day could only be described as complete and absolute sloth. Swim, eat, drink, nap. Repeat. I don’t know if we’d gotten too much sun the day before, but none of us could find the motivation to leave the campsite that day for much more than a quick paddle out from the site to take a few casts. Granted, it was our “rest day”, but in retrospect we really should have taken more advantage of the fishing that Wanda has to offer. Oh well, next trip to WCPP maybe? In the midst of the utter laziness that defined our full day on the lake, there was a minor incident that occurred that afternoon: Crispy dislocated his shoulder. That’s right – one of our group members, who also happened to be the only solo paddler on the trip, DISLOCATED HIS SHOULDER in the middle of a 12 day canoe trip. I know you’re all hoping for an emergency helicopter airlift and/or Mel Gibson-esque, Lethal Weapon shoulder relocation story, but I’ll disappoint you on both fronts. Crispy went for a swim, and the simple motion of raising his arms out to dive in the lake had popped the shoulder out. Yep, he’s one of those guys. He’d already put it back in by the time he got back to our campsite, but from his description, the crawl out of the water along a sloping, slippery underwater rock face was somewhat of a challenge. Thankfully, Crispy had opted for the solo canoe/kayak paddle method for the trip, so there was a little less concern with how he’d fare for the rest of our time in WCPP. The fact that he’d dislocated it many times before (thanks for the heads-up, Crispy) also helped with knowing what he’d be physically capable of following the injury. I had my SPOT messenger with me as well, so there was always the airlift option as a last resort. I’d also been sending daily “OK” GPS check-ins to our group’s email list on a daily basis….or so we thought (more on that later). I’d like to say that the injury snapped us out of our lazy ways for the remainder of our stay on Wanda, but the lounging and napping continued into a night of star-gazing and drinks around the fire.

DAY 6 would give us our first real taste of late-season Woodland Caribou “creek” travel, after receiving a hefty dose of overconfidence from the wildly fortunistic conditions along Simeon Creek a few days prior. That stretch has been marked on the maps as “seasonally low” but we’d made it through without too much of a struggle. A little more “seasonally low” creek to the east couldn’t be THAT much more challenging, right? Wrong. We had to leave Wanda via the same portage we entered it, then hook east at where the creek forked towards a long series of thin, unnamed lakes that would lead us down into Royd Lake and our next campsite. We had the impression that it would be similar to the conditions we experienced on the way into Wanda, but we quickly realized after turning at the fork that there was significantly more sawgrass than there was water to paddle in the direction we were heading. The creek bends in this section were incredibly tight as well, so it quickly became an excruciating game of ram the creek edge with the bow… back up… squeeze through the turn… pry off the creek bottom slop for a few yards… ram the creek edge with the bow… You get the idea. This continued for longer than any of us expected, and the creek became so thin at points that we ditched the canoes several times, and trudged through the marshy grass to scout ahead for open water.

We questioned ourselves repeatedly, but knew we were headed in the right direction and simply had to push through this ungodly section of creek. Our “glass half full” was that we had at least eight km of unfettered paddling after clearing the creek and a tiny 90m portage. Following that, a 40m, 150m, and 800m portage were all that stood in the way of us and Royd Lake. We struggled… good lord, we struggled. Eventually we made it to the 90m portage, having to pull a good 50m over nothing but grass and mud as we approached it. It was that dry.

 

 

The paddling over the next section of a chain of long, narrow, unnamed lakes was some of my favourite canoeing of the whole trip. We had a slight tailwind, and the sun was beginning to hang low in the afternoon sky after the ridiculous amount of time we spent “creek” travelling. Sparse treelines to the southwest and towering rock faces to the northeast were found through almost the entirety of this stretch. Finally hitting the north end of Royd as dusk was approaching, we bounced around several potential sites before making camp on top of a sloping piece of Canadian Shield as the sun set. The aforementioned slope also happened to drop off a good 15-20 feet straight into the lake, so a fair amount of nimble footwork was required around the campfire that night.

 

 

Day 7 promised to be one of our shorter travel days, but began with a great deal of concern. We launched fairly early from our site on Royd in search of the 80m portage that would take us into the lake’s east arm, and eventually towards Constellation Lake where we would be staying that night. We’d only seen one canoe on the lake, right before we reached our site the night before (probably from the fly-in lodge at the south end of Royd – these were the first people we’d seen since Larus), but I commented shortly into our paddle about smelling a campfire. The smell became stronger as we paddled south along Royd, but we still couldn’t see any evidence of another group camping on the shoreline. Earlier we’d noticed (what we thought was) either a lingering morning fog, or the impending haze of a humid day when looking across the expanse of the lake. It was now late enough in the morning that the sun should have burned off the fog, and if it was developing into a humid day, the temperature should have started to climb. Noting that there was still a bit of a chill in the air, the wheels began to spin. It wasn’t haze or fog. It was a forest fire.

We didn’t panic. We could tell by the wind direction that once we started travelling northeast, we’d be moving away from any spreading fire (temporarily, at least). We learned later from Harlan that the annual forest fires in northern Manitoba pour so much smoke into the air that the entire Red Lake area is often is often blanketed with ash in the summer months. This would’ve been handy information heading into the trip, but it didn’t bother us much by the time we reached Constellation Lake. The haze was still there, but we didn’t seem to be in any immediate danger, and shrugged it off for the remainder of our time in that section of the park.

 

Constellation is another beautiful lake, located in the centre of the park. The site we chose had a perfect rock ledge embedded just under the water offshore, and straight out into deep water. Perfect for swimming. We did some camp laundry after getting our shelters set up, and easily gathered enough wood for several days’ stay on the lake if we needed to. I should say at this point, that coming from southern Ontario and frequenting parks such as Algonquin and Killarney, the firewood situation in Woodland Caribou was a dream. Everything is bone dry (hence the forest fires) and you only need to step a few feet into the forest to find an unlimited supply of deadfall. Another afternoon was spent swimming and lounging, capped off with a massive White Man fire that night.

 

Day 8 turned out to be a fairly routine day in terms of strenuous travel, but it marked our entry into a recently opened canoe route. This was another big draw for me while planning the trip; being some of the first people to recreationally portage a remote canoe route in northwestern Ontario was impossible to pass up. We’d be making our own campsites for this section of the trip, as none were even marked on the topographic maps provided by the outfitters. We made fairly decent time to Lightning Lake that afternoon by way of smaller unnamed lakes, and a series of 300m, 100m, 150m, 125m, 50m, and 100m portages along the new route. I spotted what looked to be somewhat of a rocky clearing across the lake as we finished our final portage of the day, and we agreed that it was worthy of investigating. The wind was fairly strong at this point, so we had a tough paddle directly into it, towards what would be our campsite for the evening. The skies were gloomy, but we were fortunate enough for the rain to hold off that afternoon. The clouds parted shortly after we pulled our boats ashore, offering us some late afternoon sun. This makeshift site of ours really required a decent amount of work. There were a few rocks laying together that looked like they may have been used for a fire at some point, but the grass growing throughout the cluster indicated that it would’ve been quite some time since this spot had last been visited. Beyond the rocks, there was no evidence it had been camped on. Some deadfall clearing was required to accommodate our shelters, but the bulk of the work put in was to the sloping rock face where I’d set up my tent, and we’d build our new fire pit. Massive hunks of lichen had to be stripped off of the rock to ensure that it wouldn’t catch fire, and Nick spent a considerable amount of time scavenging rocks to build a new pit. It didn’t look like much when we arrived, but we hoped that someone would have the opportunity to use our newly forged campsite after we vacated it.

 

We were treated to a hazy sunset that evening, with the effects of the forest fire smoke still evident on the horizon. We could all sense that the weather was about to turn and none of us were remotely prepared for what lay ahead of us the next day.

 

To be continued..

Part Two: Woodland Caribou

Part Two: Woodland Caribou

Almost 7 months later, and it was finally time to depart for Red Lake. Word of warning: the drive from the GTA to Woodland Caribou is a LONG one. A straight shot from East York would have been approximately 20 hours, but with breaks for gas, food, and driver changes, we completed the drive in 24 hours – not an easy feat. Harlan messaged me on our way up to inform us that we could fly into the park a day early due to a group cancellation. We jumped at the opportunity, as even though we were feeling pretty road-weary from the drive, we were even more anxious to get the trip underway. We met up with Harlan at Red Lake Outfitters shortly after sunrise, and he was kind enough to offer up his bush lot just outside of town for us to camp at for a few hours of sleep before our flight out that afternoon.

Day 1. The flight into the park was nothing short of spectacular. The float plane experience was a first for all of us, and seeing the waters and forests we’d paddle and portage over the next 12 days was simply incredible. Large swaths of burn were coming into view as we neared our destination and we had an aerial perspective of the huge role that fire plays in the Boreal. Lightning strikes often cause massive stretches of burn in these forests; the most recent in Woodland Caribou coming the summer prior to our visit. Our plane ( the legendary de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver) began a hard turn to the West and began to descend – we were preparing to land on Larus Lake, which would be the kick-off point for our WCPP journey.

We were dropped off almost right on shore at a sandy beach in the lake’s east end. Crispy would be paddling a solo canoe for this trip, so he arrived by himself in the first plane. Fulton and I flew in the second, with Nick and Dan in the final plane. Regulations permit only 1 canoe tie-up per plane, so keep this in mind if you’re planning a similar group trip. Immediately we were treated to a scattering of massive wolf tracks in the sand….a definite eye-opener that our adventure had begun and that we were finally deep in the North Country. After a celebratory beer on the beach, we decided to push off south towards a portage where the Bloodvein River enters Larus Lake. Beginning at Lake Winnipeg, the Bloodvein is a Canadian Heritage River and is on Canada’s tentative list of potential World Heritage Sites. This wasn’t the direction of where we’d be camping that night, however. One of our must-haves on the trip was seeing some of the many Indigenous pictographs that are scattered along the rock faces of the Bloodvein and we were advised of some just south of where the river empties into Larus at a series of falls. Nick, Fulton and I made quick work of the 750m portage through the regenerating burn, while Crispy and Dan remained at the falls to focus their efforts on losing some monster pike. The side-trip was absolutely worth the effort as the pictographs didn’t disappoint. We were slightly confused by some of their placements, though. Due to their situation in between the water and the top of the sheer rock face, the only plausible explanation would have been for their artist to have been standing on someone’s shoulders while in a canoe. There was also what looked like a stencilling of a two-thumb/six-fingered hand (probably two hands placed on top of each other). The near-impossible placement of the drawings and the mutant hand had us a little creeped out, so we took our pictures and made our way back.

Travelling back across the portage and paddling to what would be our first campsite, we were all fairly relieved that our stay on Larus would be the extent our time spent in burn areas. It’s impressive to see the lush regrowth pushing up against the scorched, sparse forest and witness how quickly the land recovers from fire. The novelty wears off quickly, though, and we were all ready to experience the rest of what the Boreal landscape had to offer. It was sundown by the time we found our campsite that night. We were all exhausted after virtually no sleep over the past few days and we were in our shelters not long after dinner; Nick and I in solo tents, with the rest of the group in hammock set-ups.

To be continued….

Woodland Caribou: Part One

Okay folks after a severe puppy incident which had me thinking my laptop was for for the pit. I’ve salvaged it all. So over the next few days we’ll be bringing you Tom’s first trip report for the team.

Part One:

Woodland Caribou Provincial Park

August 23rd – Sept 4th 2017

By: Tom Donnachie

Photos – Instagram: @thomas_rowan / @ey_pep / @zmp

Bucket List canoe trips: Quetico, The Nahanni, Mackenzie River….these are all names that arise when paddlers talk of destinations and routes that exemplify their idea of the remote, wilderness adventure. The planning and coordination alone of such a journey often rivals much of the adversity faced during the course of one of these “trips of a lifetime.” Often, the task of simply reaching the start of the route can almost exhaust as much time as travelling the route itself. These challenges, however, only add to the lure of the Bucket List trip, and with a lot of patience and preparation, experiencing an adventure of this scale can become a reality.

My first exposure to Woodland Caribou Provincial Park was through Kevin Callan’s YouTube series in 2012, which documented his 10-day trip across the vast stretch of Boreal wilderness in northwestern Ontario. I was immediately struck by the many elements of the park that were foreign to me as an avid paddler & portageur: Fly-in entry to the park, unmarked/unmaintained portages, little to no chance of encountering other paddlers, CARIBOU (!?!?)…. Before long I had watched the video series several times and while an actual trip there didn’t escalate beyond pipedream status at the time, the park definitely had its hooks in me. Established as a Provincial Park in 1983, WCPP covers a massive 1 million+ acres along the Ontario/Manitoba border and offers an impressive 2000+ kilometers of canoe routes throughout the park. The biggest draw for many is the fact that only several hundred paddlers pass through the park each season. Factor in world-class fishing for walleye, pike, and lake trout and one can easily see why Woodland Caribou represents the pinnacle of so many canoeists’ tripping goals.

Fast forward several years later: a quick chat with Harlan from Red Lake Outfitters at the Toronto Outdoor Adventure show, a few “maybe next year” discussions with friends, and Woodland Caribou still remained out of reach, despite its graduation to a potential trip destination. I simply couldn’t get anyone to commit to specific dates, let alone the scale of the trip itself (cost, travel, duration, etc). Anyone who’s attempted to organize a trip like this knows how frustrating it can be to try and coordinate so many factors into a successful plan. Family, careers, and life in general are huge obstacles to overcome while planning, making the human aspect among the most difficult to work around. I continued to float the idea around of a WCPP trip while backpacking the length of Pukaskwa National Park’s Coastal Trail (DO THIS TRAIL) in August, 2016. We’d managed to gather an enthusiastic and capable group for that trip, so when we hadn’t murdered each other by the midpoint of the 70 km hike along Lake Superior’s North shore, I figured this would definitely present some options for making the Woodland Caribou trip a viable possibility.

January 2016: Time to see who’s still on board, and as luck would have it, everyone was looking forward to Woodland Caribou as much as I was. This trip was actually going to happen. Apologies to those who wanted to join us, but on an adjusted schedule. If we didn’t stand firm on the chosen dates, one concession turns into twenty and suddenly it’s “maybe next year” all over again. Nick, Fulton, Cristian (Crispy), Dan and myself would all be making the long drive to Red Lake, Ontario to begin our adventure at the end of August, and we began the planning with Red Lake Outfitters. This would be my first time using an outfitter for a canoe trip. I like to be as self-sufficient as possible, but seeing as we’d need to use them for the flight into the park and ground shuttle at the end of our route, we figured they’d also be the best resource for route planning. WCPP isn’t exactly a park that someone from the GTA will visit frequently, so we wanted to ensure that the route would be optimized for what could quite possibly be the only chance some of us would ever have to paddle Woodland Caribou. Harlan was great with assessing what our priorities were (big/small water, solitude, fishing, etc), and before long we’d roughed out an approximate route for our 12 days across the park. One of the added benefits of undesignated campsites is that we did have some leeway to deviate from our planned route if need be, due to the ever-changing conditions that can affect travel over such a long distance and time frame.

Whisky

Everyone seems to be posting pictures of their adventure dogs this week, so we figured we’d throw some photos of our guy up.

Whisky is an extremely important member of our team. What does he bring to the table you might ask. Well for starters he keeps all camp sites squirrel free, he has the ability to bring as much sand,dirt and water into the tent each night, he’s a big help in our “leave no trace” camping style as any snacks dropped by the kids are quickly devoured. But all joking aside he’s the best dog I’ve ever had in a canoe. Every once in a while he’ll peek his head over the gunnels and stare out at the water straining to see where the next portage is so he can stretch his legs. Other than that he can be found snoring at the front of the canoe or laying between my feet in the stern. He sleeps for as long as we are on the water. I sometimes forget that he’s even in the canoe with us. When he’s tired of being in the canoe or if he’s to lazy to join us for an evening of fishing, or for a quick day paddle. He’ll sit and watch us intently from the shore, ready to swim out and save us at any sign of trouble. The kids have noticed this and have taken to leaping out of the canoe when we/re headed back in so that Whisky can come and rescue them. Most importantly he never complains about portages, bugs, lack of fish, or how crappy the freeze dried meals are. He plods along with a huge smile on his face enjoying every minute of it.

I’ll be leaving my furry partner at home for my solo trip this week and I feel awful. He’s seen me get all my gear out and he gets very excited each time I head for the door. He knows what’s going on but unfortunately he doesn’t understand that he won’t be coming this time. But don’t worry Whisky we still have lots of trips planned this year. You’ll have plenty of time to kill evil sticks, chase fish, and clean dishes for us.

Cheers
-Paddle In