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 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..

The Itch *updated*


You’ve been asleep, it feels like months have gone by in a frozen murky blur. A dense fog has fallen on your normal routine and you feel helpless inside it. You’ve tried to break free, hell you’ve even convinced yourself that sleeping out in the snow at -35 would help, what were you thinking? Let’s be honest, you weren’t. You were just biding your time.  But then, a sliver of hope, a break in the fog, a light at the end of the tunnel. The temps begin to rise and spring bursts on to the scene. The birds sing, the sun shines down, the rain washes away the last signs of winter and then ,the rivers and lakes of southern Ontario begin to open. But don’t get to excited…it just gets worse from here. That’s when it really starts, this weird feeling, small and almost unnoticeable at first, it creeps into your life. It sits there in the back of your mind and try as you may you can’t get rid of it. You take the canoe out of storage and it goes away, for a bit. Then you go through gear or maybe even replace a few things and it goes away again but this time it’s even shorter. You find yourself looking through old trip photos, calling friends up north to talk about old times…but really to see how the conditions are. It’s the itch, we all experience it. We’re surrounded by perfect paddling conditions yet we know our favourite lakes and rivers are still locked beneath a sheet of ice up north. We check each day to see if maybe through some miraculous event the 24 inches of ice that was reported yesterday has vanished. But it doesn’t does it? In fact it never does, each year we go through the same feelings the same scenarios . But still we hope. Paddle in hand and canoe at the ready, we sit and we wait. Because when that day comes, when that paddle slices through the water, the first loon of the season calls across the lake, the first Trout pulls your line tight, you relax , you settle in and forget all about the itch that had you scratching all winter. 

Thanks for reading 

-Paddle In 

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.

basecamp2 basecamp1

“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.

tentsetup3

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

tentsetup1

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.

tentsetup6

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.

tentsetup7033

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.

tentsetup5

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.

tentsetup4tentsetup8

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.

basecamp12

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.

tentsetup9

“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