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.

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….

Day One Nipissing to Opeongo


I felt like a traitor as we rolled into the Kearney permit office. Which was made even worse as I walked in and the girl at the desk exclaimed ” oh wow haven’t seen you in a while”. We used to spend a lot of time on Algonquin’s west side but the last few years we’ve been paddling further and further north. Her next statement made me smirk she said “I hope you have reservations cause everything is booked” . It was the beginning of the long weekend, what was I doing in one of Ontario’s busiest parks. I grinned and replied that I doubted anyone would be camping where I was headed. Sure enough an hour later my canoe hit the water at the Tim River access point and I paddled out, my destination for the day would be a campsite just east of Grassy Lake on the Nipissing River a river which I would have all to myself for the next three days.

The morning went by in a flash Tim River into Tim Lake. Then a quick series of portages and small lakes. Chi-Bia-Bos, Indian Pipe, West Ko-Ko and Big Bob. At the end of the last portage from Big Bob to the Nipissing my biggest fear was confirmed. The put in was dry. Not just low water but no water! I had to walk my gear anther few hundred meters through mud, over a log and down into a low lying field till I could find enough water to put my canoe in. My stomach sunk a little as I stated out at the Nipissing and saw only aquatic vegetation and muddy shoreline. I had known that water levels would be down, but this was really low.
My quick progression was instantly slowed as I creeped along getting stuck on floating mats of vegetation and everything else that resided on the bottom of the river. Saving grace being the absolute lack of people. The portages are grown over, campsites fairly pristine, thunder boxes empty. Smalls signs of people seen here and there but all in all an amazing place to get away from the masses in Algonquin. The amount of wildlife is astounding as well. The first few hours on the Nip had me passing by fifteen moose and almost the same amount of otters. Beaver activity seemed to be at an all time high. I lost count of all the dams as I hopped out and pulled my boat over each one. It was these dams which were allowing me to continue paddling though. The joy of not hitting my paddle against the bottom was something I experienced very little of on day one and the pools created by these dams were life savers. The last obstacle before Grassy Lake is a winding section of alders which reach out from the bank trying to grab everything in their path. Twisting and turning along the shoreline they slow your travel considerably. But just when you feel like they will finally reach out and pull you in, the scenery changes. Grassy shores pop up and the river deepens. I stood up in the canoe to peer over the banks and could see the calm flats surface of Grassy Lake, I’d made it. I could tell by the sun that it was getting late, I was hungry and tired that was for certain. I hit shore , quickly made a small dinner. Set my bivy up and was out like a light by 7:30.
This first section of the Nipissing had it’s challenges. Low water being the main one. But as I stated above it is one of the most private and gorgeous areas , I feel, in Algonquin.
Tomorrow day two and deeper water!

Cheers

-Paddle In

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

Grand River Parks Membership

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Just a quick blog for those in The Grand River area or those who visit it frequently.

The GRCA has revamped the membership this year. Instead of the car sticker it comes in the form of a card. We feel as this is an excellent change for a few reasons.

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1)Those folks with multiple vehicles aren’t stuck having to use the car with the sticker on it

2)The ability to hop in another persons car with your card and still get into the park.

We will definitely be using a lot more than we normally did because of these changes.

So some of you may not be familiar with the GRCA membership card so I’ll do a brief run through. The card will run you 125.00 taxes in at any GRCA gatehouse or online. Having the card on your person allows you and anyone in your car unlimited day use access to 11 Grand River parks.

You also receive a series of coupons with your card

1) 2 hour canoe/kayak rental for the price of a 1 hour rental

2) Free Cross country ski/ snowshoe rental

3) Free tubing equipment rental

4) You get two, one day passes for friends and neighbors

5) Ten pool passes

For those of you who frequent the parks its a great way to support the parks and to motivate yourself to get outside a little more.

But wait what is there to do at any of these GRCA parks? Well to start the GRCA has some of the best fishing,paddling opportunities in the area. How about camping, hiking, picnicking, sailing, group event areas, boat rentals, swimming (either river,lake, or pool). Plus they always have events going on all through the year.

Follow these links for more information

1) Belwood Lake – Located in Fergus

2) Brant – Located west of Brantford

3) Byng Island – Located west of Dunnhill

4) Conostogo Lake – Located in Wallenstein

5) Elora Gorge – Located in Elora

6) Elora Quarry – Located in Elora

7) Guelph Lake – Located in Guelph

8) Laurel Creek – Located in Waterloo

9) Luther Marsh – Located in Grand Valley

10) Pinehurst Lake – Located in Ayr

11) Rockwood – Located in Rockwood

12) Shade’s Mill – Located in Cambridge

So what are you waiting for? Get out for a paddle! Get those fishing rods out and hunt down some trout this spring. Grab the family and go for a nice day hike. We love the GRCA and all it has to offer and hope you get out an experience at least a little of what they have to offer Ontario.

Cheers

Paddle In

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Hot Tenting- A review of the SnowTrekker EXP Crew 10×13 canvas tent

wintercamp9

Hot tenting! Glorious hot tenting. It’ll be pretty hard to convince this guy to ever again go winter camping without a hot tent again.

wintercamptrip

On January 31 2014 Team Paddle In set out for five wonderful days in Algonquin’s interior. But first we made a stop at Algonquin Basecamp. Chris and Robin were absolutely great to deal with. We strongly recommend them they have a wonderful outfitting store located near Access point 4 at the Amalguin Highlands information center. Lots of cool gear to rent or buy we’ll definitely be back. Chris ran us through the basic safety and setup of the SnowTrekker, we paid for our rental  and we were off into the park.

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“These guys were great! Go check em out!”

Okay before we get into set up let me give you some stats on the SnowTrekker.

10×13 EXP Crew

Ridge Height:78.5″
Ridge Length:102″
Tent Weight:16.2 lbs
Frame Weight:  6.84 lbs
Total Weight:23.04 lbs

And the Stove

SnowTrekker Large Stove

Length: 24″
Width: 12″
Height: 12″
Setup Height*: 19″
Stove Pipe: 5″
Package Weight: 24.5 lbs

Description from the SnowTrekker Website

“The lineage of our time-tested Snowtrekker™ Expedition tent remains the unbroken. The Snowtrekker™ EXP Crew canvas tent starts with our classic Expedition design, the modified wedge, and adds 17 years of tent design modifications based on our personal observations and invaluable customer feedback to give you our best canvas tent to date. In this canvas tent you will find our newly designed asymmetrical oval door and our structurally integrated horizontal guy-out system. We build this tent with our 7 oz custom canvas, and keep standard all of the things that count: reinforced stress points, 12” wide synthetic sod cloth, shock-corded Easton aluminum frame and stove-jack. Just as our Expedition tents in years prior, we are confident that the EXP Crew will be the first choice for guides and winter wilderness seekers in need of a light, nomadic and durable tent with amazing set-up simplicity. The Snowtrekker™ EXP Crew is destined to be the undisputed champion of traditional winter camping tents. What’s left to say? You best start planning your expedition today!”

Sounds pretty amazing doesn’t it? It is! It really is. This tent went up so fast. Simple A-frame design made set up a cinch. Both the stove and tent fit onto one pulk which made carrying it in a snap.

Have you set up an A-frame before? It’s very easy. Having some extra hands while setting this up makes it go much faster.

Wait stop! Did you pack down the area you wanted to set your tent up in? Get those snowshoes working. Stomp ,stomp, stomp. make a larger area than the tent so you have room to walk and work. Make a path of into the bushes as well for when nature calls. Trust me you don’t want to be walking around in the middle of the night, up to your waist in snow and only wearing your long johns. Okay, have a nice area packed down? Take a break have a snack, gather some firewood. When you come back it should of already started to freeze.

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Lay your poles out. Find your center pole and the four legs.

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This is where we found having someone there to help you was great. Have one person begin to insert legs. While the other person holds up the center pole. As Chris from Algonquin Basecamp stated the tent acts a bit like a baby deer, all wobbly on its legs until you get the canvas on. Once all your legs are on go grab the canvas.

tentsetup2

Insert legs on either side into the pockets at the corner of the canvas. Pull the canvas over the frame and insert the legs on the other side into the pockets in the canvas. Voila! That’s pretty much it. Side poles can be installed and the tent can be pulled out using grommets and string at all four sides.

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You’ll notice a black snow liner around the bottom. Its up to you if you want that inside or outside the tent. I have seen people do it both ways. We kept ours on the outside. The 15cm of snow we received the next few nights covered it and created a nice “seal” to the ground. No drafts coming in at all. Open the vents at the top of the tent and you’re set.

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Okay stove time.Pull open the legs, now stop. A major concern is that you keep your stove level and stable. This is accomplished very easily by creating a float with logs underneath it (pictured below) These can be wired to the legs and to each other with small gauge wire.

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Okay depending on which tent you have and what level the stove it at the next steps include putting the elbow stove pipe in and then placing the nesting stove pipe into the elbow. Don’t ram it in. It fits very nicely and the pipe is thin metal and can be damaged by to much force. Ok you’ll need a bi-pod or tri-pod. Go grab some nice sticks and slightly heavier gauge wire (Thanks again Chris). Make yourself a sling to hold the pipe up. Like so.

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See those little shovels up there? Its a good idea to keep one of them inside the tent. This way if there is a fire or something is heating up to much. Snow can be scooped and dumped very quickly.

A word of warning. The pipe gets HOT! (really a stove pipe Matt?) Yes it does. So make sure you are wary when lumbering around your campsite like a bear.

Now it should look something like this.

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Now go get more firewood lot of it if you want to stay warm. The 10×13 EXP Crew was more than enough space for the Three of us and two dogs. We had a nice kitchen area near the stove. Gear stowed to the side and all our sleeping bags laid out with our feet pointing toward the stove.

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With the stove stoked and filled we could damp it down and enjoy the warmth while we ate dinners and talked about mysyery adventure survival novels about guys named Devon (don’t ask). When night came we let the fire die out and then tucked in to bed. The stove was never run unattended. If someone was cold, they got up stoked the fire had a drink and sat around. You don’t want a tent full of smoke or a fire on your hands. So if no one is awake/around to watch it don’t run it. Believe me the tent will heat up. I was amazed at the temp difference that was created by that stove. Its great to be able to dry wet gear and just warm yourself up.

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“So warm its like I’m at the beach”

In closing we want one of these tents. They would be great for any type of base camp camping. Late fall trips, early spring trips and dead of winter trips would all benefit from having one of these amazing tents along for the ride. if you haven’t tried hot tenting get out there. the groundhog said six more weeks of winter. Enjoy and have fun. Be safe and gather lots of wood.

For rentals contact: Algonquin Basecamp 

To purchase a tent contact: Snowtrekker Tents

Cheers

-Matt

Another Food Review – Natural High Products

image…fresh pan fried Bannock…

imageOn our trip in August we thought we would review some of Natural High’s products. we chose them because they were the lowest in sodium. One of our favorite meals on the trip was Natural High’s country beef stew. The meal comes with separate mashed potatoes. The sauce and general taste was gentle and satisfying and this was a group favorite for sure. We added fresh onions, sweet peppers and mushrooms to it. Awesome meal! 4.5/5 was our overall group rating.

ImageOur first meal was the Kung Pao Chicken. I must admit it was not one of my favourites. It had a distinct unique taste that was alright but I didnt want to go back for seconds. Some may like this meal…not sure what spice created the different taste but…to each his own. Among the 4 of us we would rate this meal at 2.25/5.

Specs for all these products can be found at http://www.mec.ca and search freeze dried productsimage.                   The Caribbean Black Beans and Rice were a hit with our group. The taste was wonderful and the servings very filling. I would suggest leaving the package for about 20 minutes before serving to allow the beans to fully rehydrate. Served beside stir fried veggies and fresh caught fish – perfect!

our group gave this product a 4/5 rating.

We also had Natural High’s Spicy Sausage and Pasta which was quite good as well. Our team gave this meal a 4/5 rating.

all in all we like the products and really appreciate the low sodium content.

There’s nothing better than a tasty meal and cup of coffee at the end of a paddle.

-Pete