Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Thank you!!!

Two big thumbs-up to all of you that responded to my request for comments! It was so great to see the remarks from the people that actualy read my blog and I will do a seperate post to respond to all of your questions.

I was able to get the 20 comments just in time and I am pleased to tell you that Steve will be reluctantly delivering me a bottle of Dunn Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 early next week.

Since I would not have won without your help, I will be sharing this bottle with all of you. We will meet in Algonqin Park August 2, 2007 @ 8;30 pm on Robinson Lake . We will share the bottle while we enjoy another Algonquin sunset.

In the event that no one else is available, Gerry and I will be forced to drink your share, but will be thinking of you while we do...

Thanks again!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

This is where I beg for your help...


Hey everyone!

Today I was just blown away by the traffic on the blog...OVER 100 page views today(and counting) ...simply amazing!

I was talking about it with a work friend and they took a look at the site, counted the number of comments and were quick to point out how almost nobody leaves a comments. From this he (falsly) concluded that the traffic is being generated solely by Gerry and me.

I then bet him that I could have at least 20 comments posted by Christmas eve and this is where I need your help!

PLEASE POST COMMENTS I am begging you!!!

RULES:

1) Gerry and I do not count
2) Each reader can only post once
3) Comments must include your name and comments on the blog


Thanks in advance for your time....oh and Steve if you are reading this, you better have that bottle ready 'cause you are going down!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Monday, December 18, 2006

Weekend Update:

This was another good weekend.

Like many others, this time of year always has me feeling a little better then normal and I try to use this time to focus on my family. I can be a fairly intense person and with that, I often fall into a "can't see the forest for the trees" state of mind. With all the things that have to be done, it is easy for me to get lost in tasks and not appreciate what little time I have to enjoy my family. This weekend I put aside my usual routines and devoted all of my time to my kids and it was a real eye opener...in the best way possible.

We all went to Jacob's hockey practice on Saturday and for a practice, he was much more excited about it then usual and it showed. He has done very well and next Saturday is his first real game. He and I went to get him a new stick on Sunday and he was very happy that he got to pick any stick he wanted. For my part, I was very happy that he chose the $12 one.

Lauren and Ethan are just as excited as there Brother and will be in the stands cheering him on.

Below is a short clip of him at a practice a few weeks ago.

Dealing with Wind and Waves

Although the canoe is a reasonably stable craft, it is definitely affected by wind and waves. A brisk headwind can turn a leisurely paddle into a grueling battle, and a tricky cross wind can mean you spend as much energy trying to keep the canoe on course as you do propelling it forward. This is a lesson Gerry and I learned last year when we left the calm waters of the Nipising River and were suprised by the pounding we took while crossing Cedar Lake.

Large swells from the side can potentially dump you into the drink. Breaking waves from the bow or stern can fill and swamp your canoe in a hurry.

Avoiding Prevailing Winds

Some local winds are caused by sunlight warming air over the land, which rises, drawing in cooler air from over lakes and other bodies of water. This cooler air also warms up over the land mass and rises. This local wind effect can sometimes be avoided by paddling early in the morning or late in the evening.



Heading into Open Water from a Lee Shore

Any time you leave the sheltered lee shore and head into a large body of water, caution is advised. Even on a windy day, the water immediately adjacent to the shoreline will always seem calm, since the land mass is blocking the winds.

As you get a little further out into the lake, the winds will begin to drop to the lake surface and cause some waves. A bit further, the sheltering effect of the land becomes non-existent and you may find yourself in huge rollers or breaking waves. At this point, it is very difficult (sometimes impossible) to turn the canoe around and head back to the shore without taking waves broadside and swamping or tipping it.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Black Bear or Grizzly?

Most people know that black bears are excellent tree-climbers, and grizzly bears are not.

It was recently suggested that this might be a good way to differentiate between the two species if I were to run into a bear.

The approach suggested upon encountering a bear was to immediately climb a tree.

If the bear climbed the tree and ate me, it was a black bear.

If the bear knocked over the tree and then ate me, it was a grizzly.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Trip Related Updates and News


Route Changes?

I have been looking at changing our route for CC 2007. The change would be to the return route and would prevent us form having to retrace the path we will take in....that is the good part. The bad...the alternate route would take us on some serious "low maintenance" portage routes totaling 5895 meters. Although change can be good, neither Gerry or I are sure this would be a good idea and I can not even find a single person that has done our alt. route before. You can check it out on the map to the right.


New Water filter

We have used the MSR Mini-works and it did a great job, but the time we spent pumping the water and worse yet, cleaning the filter was unwanted, frustrating work. For that reason we will be replacing our MSR Mini-works with the H2O Amigo Gravity Filter This simple filter requires no pumping, filter a liter/minute and weighs less then half a pound. For $50 US including delivery, my only regret is that we did not buy this one first!

Toronto Outdoor Adventure Show

Frankly, this show really sucked last year. It will be here again in February and they have made some changes that may make us take another look. You can check it out here. Even if the show is terrible it will give us an excuse to have a night out and maybe grab some BB-Q.....ehhh?

FREE Calendar

The 2007 Ontario Outdoor Adventure Calendar is now out and you can get your free copy by calling 1-800-ONTARIO. It is a beautiful calendar featuring the best photo's of 2006. (...and just in case you are wondering, I already ordered you one Gerry)

New Stove?

We are still thinking about selling our MSR Whisperlite International and moving up to the Dragonfly. The main reason is the lack of any sort of simmer setting on the Whisperlite. This one is still up in the air.

It's a Girl!

As most of you may already know, my best bud and canoeing partner Gerry is now the proud father of his first girl! You can read about it in his latest post.

A BIG congratulations to Both Gerry and Marie!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Great Weekend!

This weekend was one of the best in a while.

I had wanted to get together with Gerry Friday night, but he was going to start finishing his basement Saturday and wanted to get a good nights sleep so he passed. I have to say that Gerry's plan to complete his basement has me standing in the center of my unfinished cellar dreaming of what could be. I already have an almost completely finished bedroom there, but if I could finish the rest it would add so much more living space. Tanyia and I agree that the space would be perfect for a home theater...she is such a cool girl! Before I could do that though I would have to learn some basic framing...maybe between a trip to the library and some help from a good buddy this dream could be my big screen reality.

It is now one week before I re-start my marathon training and although the 2 month break has been good, I am looking forward to getting back to the heavy routine. Since my last half marathon I scaled back my running to 3-4 times per week, but increased the intensity/speed and at the same time continuing with my 3 days/week of weights. My diet I have let slip a bit during the break and put on 10 lbs of "unhelpful" weight. So yesterday I started my high protein/moderate carb/low fat training diet and feel better then I have in a while. For those that don't know me, I love ice cream and it is the only thing I miss when training. I can say no to everything else and don't care a bit, but I do miss having a daily helping of the cold stuff. So during my off training times I always indulge in obscene quantities of ice cream, while keeping the rest of my diet in check. Well for now, those days are over so have some for me...I highly recommend the Presidents Choice Candy Cane Ice cream...ummmm ice cream!

On Sunday I took the kids to the Newcastle Santa Clause Parade. It was great...even had fireworks! Below is a short clip of my kids seeing Santa.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Wilderness Canoeing is Bad for your Health?

Yes, I know ... you've always felt that wilderness canoeing is a healthy activity. The outdoor types who paddle our wilderness areas are all robust, strong, hearty types who are the very picture of good health. They spend long hours in the fresh air, getting above-average levels of exercise from paddling into headwinds and portaging heavy packs and canoes from lake to lake.

I hate to disillusion you. I've been doing some research and have found out the the potential for dangerous and serious medical conditions far outweighs any benefits that may result from the fresh air and exercise.

Impossible you say? I'm sorry, but my research has been detailed and meticulous. I have scoured back issues of the most prestigious medical journals and it is on the basis of this data that I have some surprising results.

Still doubtful? Read on and like me, you'll be discouraged to find out that we're killing ourselves by engaging in this activity. This is just a small sample of the serious medical conditions I've found that are directly attributable to canoeing.

GNS(Gawker's Neck Syndrome)
A potentially serious spinal problem caused by repetitive twisting of the neck. It is the result of the continual turning of the head while driving to gawk at every creek, lake and river that sits adjacent to the highway to gauge their potential as a possible canoe route. It is also worth noting that canoeists have a statistically higher than average incidence of involvement in head-on collisions, since they are always looking at water levels in waterways along the road instead of watching for oncoming traffic.

TF(Terminal Flatulence)
Caused by over-consumption of packaged dehydrated meals with high levels of beans and grains. There is also a theory (unproven) that this condition is exacerbated by the speed with which canoeists eat their meal, due in part to the fact that they are always hungry, and also because they have to wolf down their food before they are completely eaten by mosquitoes and blackflies.

CIIV(Chef Interference Induced Violence)
A psychological condition in which a normally peaceful person will suddenly snap and commit a violent act upon another. The condition seems to occur when a person is designated chef or food-preparer for the evening, and cannot cope with the persistent interference of the other paddlers, who hover around like vultures, asking over and over when supper will be ready. The worst cases seem to take place in situations where the paddlers are continually reaching over the shoulder of the chef and sneaking bites of the food during the preparation process.

FRC(Fear Related Constipation)A debilitating condition which affects those who are afraid to take the nighttime trek back in the bush to answer nature's call due to fear of being eaten by bears, wolves or other local wildlife.

BFICE(Blood Flow Induced Cranial Enlargement)
An serious condition manifested by gradual cranial (head) enlargement. The theorized cause of this problem is sleeping on sloping ground with the head at the low end of the Thermarest. Not seen much in the prairie provinces or the barren lands, where all ground is flat, but a common and serious affliction in other parts of the country.

SIH(Snoring-Induced Homicide)
Obviously not a disease or syndrome, but still a serious risk factor for paddlers. Statistics compiled by life-insurance companies show a 30% higher risk of death by homicide among tent partners where one person snores and the other doesn't. Watch for a question about this to appear soon on life insurance medical questionnaires.

Source

Gerry and I on our first Canoe Trip together...

Protecting your Food!


If it smells good to you..it smells GREAT to them!

Animals will do anything to get to your food or to get into a place that smells like food. Take wildlife seriously. In Algonquin, hang all food and food-related items to protect your food against bears, mice, skunks, porcupines and other hungry critters.

Outsmart mice and other small critters

Mice can scale walls and climb down the rope that leads to your hanging food bag. Put in their path an obstacle they can't get around; a tin can or plastic lid usually works. Cut a small hole in the bottom of an empty can or in a plastic coffee-can lid and thread stringor rope through the hole. Tie a knot in the string so the can or lid rests on the knot. Attach your food bag to a stick on the bottom of the string. Most mice cannot get around the lid or can. You should also leave zippers and pockets on your backpack open so the critters can explore without chewing holes through your pack.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Capsized Canoe 2006 The Movie!

After much editing and re-editing here is the final version of the CC 2006 video. Basically, this is a compilation of the best pictures taken by Gerry and myself, put to a fantastic music soundtrack.

I am very proud of how this one turned out, especially how the music blends so well with the photos. It really captures the mood and feeling of being there. I also made a real effort to have most of the changes timed with the music...I think it makes it much more dramatic. One of the best examples is in the first minute when the pictures change from the blurry "old film" affect, too the crisp digital pictures and at the same time, the tempo of the music changes...very effective in my opinion.

Music Included:

1)Guster - Keep it together
2)Ottis Redding - Siting on the Dock of the Bay
3)Jack Johnson - Upside Down
4)Alexi Murdock - Blue Mind

I think it is pretty good, but I want to know what you think! You can check it out by clicking below and PLEASE don't forget to leave your comments!

...and Turn on your speakers!

Monday, November 13, 2006

I am as bent as my paddle


I have been looking at these bent paddles for a while and have decided that I am going to have to get one before our next trip.

There are some big advantages ..mostly the increase in the forward motion on the power stroke. When used on flat water (as Gerry and I do) this can make long distance paddling easier as the paddle does more of the work and at the same time, you move much quicker through the water. All of the details are explained better then I ever could HERE

For Gerry and I this means you end up taking shorter strokes at a slightly faster pace. Add up thousands of faster, more efficient strokes over a day, and we will cover more ground with less effort.

As luck would have it, one of the largest producers of paddles in Ontario is located about 30 minutes from my home. They are called Red Tail Paddles and are sold everywhere...even our beloved MEC carries there entire line. You can check out there site by clicking HERE

Everything I have read has said, that when comparing straight to bent shaft paddles,it is no contest.....the bent paddle wins every time. The best comparison is the one I read in "The Wilderness Paddler's Handbook",so I have included it below.

The first canoe trip I took using bent-shaft paddles was in northern Quebec. They were light, a little strange at first, shorter than I was used to, and I wasn't entirely sure which way the blade should face.

We like the paddles almost right away. They seemed efficient, and our backs and shoulders felt less fatigued at the end of a long day on the water. We didn't know how truly great they were until we met a couple of guys from Montreal and traveled with them for several days.

"You ever use these bent-shaft paddles before?" I asked them one afternoon.
"We heard about them, I guess, but they didn't seem worth it."
"Want to trade for a bit?" I asked.

We handle over the light, short bent paddles in exchange for he heavy straight-shaft boards they were using. They took a few strokes. With-in half a minute they suddenly stopped.

"We have to give these back now," the stern paddler said.
"If we don't, you'll have to fight us for them."

Monday, November 06, 2006

It's a Secret...shhh!



So I am on lunch at work reading the Wilderness Paddlers Handbook, by Allan Kesselheim...specifically, a chapter about little things you can do to make any down time on a canoe trip fun. One of the suggestions really strikes a cord with me.
So much so, that I even find myself saying aloud ..."what a great idea" and the person in another office responds "are you talking to me?"Anyway here is the idea...

Both Gerry and I allocate...hmmm...let say $10, to a secret treat and bring it on the trip. Now neither of us will know what the other has brought until actually there! It could be anything...liquor, pastry, gag gifts...you get the idea. I want to try this next year, provided Gerry is cool with it.


RULES:

  1. We can not tell each other what we are bringing

  2. It has to be something we can both have, use or wear

What do you think?

BLOG UPDATES

After re-examining the Gear and Meal lists from last year, I have updated both to reflect all the changes and both are available for download. (In M/S word format)


GEAR LIST CHANGES: From the Gear list, I have removed some of the heavy objects that I thought would be useful, but were not used on the trip at all. Like the GPS we did not need and the solar battery charger that works great, but not needed when I also have 3 sets of triple A's for the digital camera. Oh...and least I forget about the full water bladder then seemed to work well for Gerry, but I just did not want to add another 5 lbs of weight. The other changes are mostly of the extra pair of socks....one less t-shirt variety.


MEALS LIST CHANGES: Added some more complete meals, while eliminated much of the food we did not touch. For the most part we are bringing what we need, plus an extra days food and snacks.






Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Capsized Canoe 2007 Meal Plan

On C.C 2006 we brought WAY too much food. After it was over we calculated we had taken over 10 lbs of food, we did not eat on a 5 day tour of Algonquin. A great vacation for the food, but it made a tough trip a little harder then it had to be for the two guys lugging it around. The flaw in last years meal plan was how we overestimated how hungry we would be...of all the things we learned last year, this might be the most important.

For this year our meals will be less fuss, but very good and filling. After taking a quick look at the food, I would guess that we have about half the food we brought last year...but I am sure we will add to it over the next 10 months.

C.C 2007 Five Day Meal Plan

Day 1:

  • Breakfast- ON THE ROAD
  • Lunch- Bagels with deli meat, cheese, tomato
  • Dinner- Spicy Sausage on a bun, Red wine, carrot cake

Day 2:

  • Breakfast- English Muffin, eggs, bacon, hash browns, coffee
  • Lunch- Bagel, bacon, tomato, cheese
  • Dinner- Ham Steaks, instant mashed potatoes, Red wine

Day 3:

  • Breakfast- Pancakes, maple syrup, coffee
  • Lunch- Tuna Wraps, Soup
  • Dinner- Steak Rice

Day 4:

  • Breakfast- Protein/Oatmeal , coffee
  • Lunch- English Muffin, Bacon
  • Dinner- Outback Oven Pizza

Day 5:

  • Breakfast- Protein/Oatmeal
  • Lunch- ON THE ROAD

Snacks:

  • Jerky
  • Dehydrated Mango, Watermelon
  • Flakies
  • Granola Bars ( the ones Gerry brought last year were the best..can't remember the name)
  • Oatmeal/Protein
  • GORP
  • 1 Brownie , Outback Oven

Liquids:

  • Coffee
  • Gatorade Crystals

Summery of Best Trip Tips from Kein Callan's The Happy Camper:

As I mentioned a few posts ago, I read the book again and after doing so, have decided to post the best tips from the book. There is a tone of info. packed into it's 320 pages, so don't think that this is all the book has to offer, but these are the things that I found insightful and hope you do as well...

The Best Tips:



1)Things to include in your trip Log:

Ever read a trip log and after finishing you know more about the person the the trip? The tips below will give a great balance of information and personality.

  • Where you camped
  • How you like the Site
  • Wildlife Sited
  • Unique features visited
  • Fishing success
  • Difficulty finding portage/ camp sites
  • Condition and difficulty of portages
  • Approximate times from point to point
  • Funny stuff, mistakes made , laughs shared
  • Description of events and feelings they evoked...the best ones always have you feeling like you are experiencing it with the writer.

2)Clean stove with carburetor cleaner before winter storage:

  • Fill tank to the brim with fuel and add one cap full of carburetor cleaner
  • Burn tank dry
  • This will do a great job cleaning the fuel jet on most MSR stoves

3) Don't Use Old fuel:

  • In the spring don't use that old white gas that has been sitting in the garage all winter. Buy some new stuff and dispose of the old gas at a recycling center, as using the old fuel could cause your stove to fail, when you need it the most. So don't be cheap!!

4) Tent Zipper Maintenance:

  • Rub the zippers with a bar of soap before a trip. This lubricates the teeth and avoids decreases the likelihood of having a problem while in the interior.

5) Bring "On the way Home" clothes:

  • After days in the bush, you no longer smell yourself...but trust me, the people at Tim Horton's will, so always bring a change of clothes for the drive home and just leave them in the car.

6) Colour coded food Bags:

  • This is another one I liked. Instead of digging around in the food bag for that elusive last flakie, be sure to separate food into 4 different bags: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Snacks. At least you only have to look through a quarter of the food!

7) Keep Meat fresh:

  • Bring Sausage/bacon, as they will last much longer then other meats 'cause they are loaded with preservatives.
  • Ask you grocery store too vacuum seal you meats. This has them last 4 times longer then normal and most will do it for free.
  • Meat can be kept bacteria free for up to 4 days by wrapping it in cheese cloth that has been soaked in vinegar. The vinegar taste/smell vanish the second the meat is cooked!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Canoeing Quote of the Day:

"Campsites are punctuation marks for a voyageur, signifying the end of the day . I may forget portages, rapids, and lakes, which merge into a bevulous montage of country traveled over, but there are some campsites that stand out vividly in my mind as special places to be remembered."

Sigurd F. Olson, Of Time and Place

Monday, October 23, 2006

Portaging = Pain

Let's face it. As Gerry and I learned last year, portaging really hurts. Whether you are carrying over from one lake to another or avoiding nasty rapids, each trail has some painful characteristic: slippery rocks, steep inclines, but-infested hollows, shoe sucking mud and wrong turns.

So why do it? Well it's one of those necessary evils that comes with canoe tripping. That brief moment of pain is the only thing standing in your way of absolute solitude. In the end, the moment you spot that bit of blue peaking through the thick canopy of green, and realize that you're alone in this wonderful place, it all becomes worth the price.

Quote of the Day:

"I always think rating rapids is sort of a silly thing, because if you tip
over in one, that's a five to you."

Robert Perkins, Talking to Angels

Friday, October 20, 2006

Our next Must Have: Clamp-on Yoke Pads

One of the things that came out of the post mortem after CC 2006 was that we wanted to make the canoe carries more comfortable. The distance of the portages was never a problem, but the pain from the yoke digging into our necks was and this was one of the big things we wanted to correct before CC 2007.

The solution was simple...buy a basic yoke pad. Now my first thought was to buy one that was flat and would match the curves in the yoke, but these seemed nothing more then a piece of foam and we wanted something better.

After refining my google searches I stumbled across this canoe accessories site and knew that this was exactly what we have been looking for!

This is a sling type yoke pad (sold in pairs) that bolt on to the yoke and rest between your shoulder and neck. It is designed to wrap around the shoulder, spreading out the weight load over a much larger area, avoiding the painfull pressure points associated with an unpadded wood yoke.

Availablle in original or thick padding sizes, after discussing it with Gerry we decided to go with the original, as the thick looks like you would have to give up some balance for comfort.

The bolt on original size pad are $50 US/ pair....but will be worth there weight in gold next year if they are even half as good as they look.

Required Reading" The HAPPY Camper", by Kevin Callan

I read this book earlier this year and decided to take it out of the library again while there with the kids last weekend. I can not believe I had not posted this book here before, but for anyone that has not read it....get it! It is brimming with the stories, experiences and hands on how to's that only decades of experience can teach. All of this combined with Kevins humor make this by far the best book I have read on canoe trips to date.

Rating: 5 canoes (A Must have)

Full Review:

The Happy Camper and Essential Guide to Life in the Outdoors, by Kevin Callan


The Happy Camper is a comprehensive, heavily illustrated, highly entertaining compendium of basic wilderness instruction and well-tested campsite advice. One of North America's top canoeing and outdoors experts, Kevin Callan explains how to get the most from your camping experience--no matter where you pitch your tent, what you forgot to pack or what the weather.

Step-by-step, the book shows:

  • How to plan a trip for a day or even a few weeks
  • How to pack only what is needed
  • Choosing the perfect campsite
  • Using maps and compasses
  • Camp cooking
  • Camping with dogs and kids
  • Canoe and kayak camping
  • Cold-weather camping
  • How to beat the bugs, stake a tent, build a fire, ward off unwanted wildlife, paddle a canoe and much more.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

"How far did you travel?"

The quote below can be found HERE and although it is a little long, in my opinion...this is why we love Algonquin...

Looking up, I saw another canoe approaching the
landing near where I had dropped my borrowed Duluth sack and "loose" gear. I was
stretching my body and mind before the paddle back to the links with the "other
world". Lost in thought, feeling the excitement of nearly completing my first
solo wilderness canoe trip, I don't remember my answer.

I know now that I had traveled "farther" than at any other time in my life
but not because of the distance paddled and walked. While planning this trip I
must admit that the measurement of distance using rubber bands, string and a map
wheel was almost ritualistic. Yet by the time I reached that landing on my last
day, I no longer measured distance in miles or portage trails over which I had
to carry my canoe and gear from lake to lake or around rapids too difficult to
paddle.

Each of us face life that is somehow defined for us by others or by other
factors. Sometimes those definitions are enhancements while at other times we
find ourselves confused by the ideas or limiting framework which others provide.
We often get drawn into a pace or a way of life which is detrimental to life
itself. Much of life for western society has become a rush. At times it is a
headlong rush toward an unclear horizon which shrouds any goal which may have
been seen at one time.

While navigating white water stretches it often is necessary to position the
canoe with a "back ferry" or by paddling in such a way as to force the canoe to
go slower than the current. At times the proper positioning of the canoe is a
matter of determining to not give in to the urge to "rush" with the current.
When asked what was the most important piece of advice he could give,
mountaineer and wilderness preservation advocate Harvey Manning responded, "Slow
down."

Friday, September 29, 2006

Capsized Canoe 2007...our plan is set!

With the 2007 trip being over ten months away, it may seem a little funny to some that we are planning it already, but we enjoy the planning almost as much as the trips themselves. In fact , the only reason we had not decided on the route while on C.C 2006 was for a lack of time (and energy) after our long travel days.

So with no further delay, here is the route and itinerary for Capsized Canoe 2007!

Capsized Canoe 2007: Thursday Aug 2nd - Tuesday Aug 7th

Day 1 (Thursday): Gerry and I depart Newcastle at 2 pm and arrive at the Voyageur Hotel in Mattawa by 6:30 pm. After checking in we will drive to the Ontario Parks Ranger Station at Brent and pick up our park passes (as we will be here before they open the next morning) and then return to the Mattawa for another entertaining evening at McCools.

Day 2 (Friday): Plan to be on the dock at Brent for 7:30 am (this means being being up, fed and at park entrance by 6:40 am...hope McCools was less fun then last year or this could hurt..but we will manage).
This is a travel day and we will be going even further on this leg then we did last year , all the way to Robinson Lake. It will be a very long day, (10-11 hours of paddling/portage), but this will allow us to have the next 2 days for relaxing...something that was absent from last year. The 06 trip was great, but we were so tired that we did not have much time for some of the little things that make the trips fun...like photography, the journal, watching the sunset or laving a few laughs.

Days 3 and 4(Saturday, Sunday): Rest days! Unlike last year, we want to be able to have some non-travel days and these will be spent on this beautiful spot we passed on last years trip, it is an island site that has great views in all directions and because it is off the beaten track it feels far more isolated. I would guess that the fishing will be good as well. ( I have included some pics we took when we stopped to check out the site last year, note the pic of my taking in the view while using the facilities...thanks for that one Gerry!)

Day 5 (Monday): We leave today and travel double back the way we came in until we reach upper Catfish. There we break off to the left and make our way north to Lucckless Lake where we will make camp for our last night in the park.

Day 6 (Tuesday): Plan to break camp early and be on the water by 7:30 am, our biggest challenge today is the massive 2835 P from Luckless Lake too the Nippising River. After that we have a few more smallish P's and we are back in Brent. After we stop and have our annual traditional luch at Dixie Lee we head home for another year.


NOTES:


  1. Are we doing almost the same trip?- Yes, we know the trip is very similar to the one we did last year, but although we enjoyed last years trip we both agree that it was harder then we thought it would be and so we want another shot at it knowing (hoping?) that it will be a little easier now that we have our 2006 experience to draw from...plus we did enjoy the route.
  2. Same work, but more fun: Last year I was so focused on getting from point to point in "good time" that it distrated from the real reasons we do the trip. This year I still want to work hard, but we will stop to enjoy ourselves more and worry about the pace less.
  3. I may be yella' but eI still want the Yoke...pad: We will be getting these bolt on yoke pads. The portage distance was never the problem last year, it was the weight of the canoe on the back of my neck that made it much harder then it had to be....this should make it much more tolerable.
  4. Staying on Robinson Lake: We are both looking forward to spending 2 days on this site. It is almost perfect and is the best combination of Interior Camping and our "Car Camping" island site.
  5. Bring Less Food: Last year we brought way too much food ( enough for 2 weeks?). I guess I thought we would eat more due to the the increased activity, but in fact we ate less. So this time we will bring what we need, plus one extra days supply (in case we get wind bound). We will also be bringing food that requires less prep work, like the Oatmeal/protein powder combination that we had for our daily breakfast.
  6. Water Filter Problems: The MSR Mini Works water filter worked great, but the constant cleaning of thefilter was a pain. This year we will add a pre-filter ( Fuel Filter from Canadian Tire) to the system. This should cut our filter cleaning in half. We will bring 2-3 of them.
  7. Hotel Change: We will be changing hotels this year to the Voyageur Hotel located in Mattawa. Last years hotel was good, but it was a 10 minute drive outside of town and this meant Gerry could not drink much, as he is the driver. The Voyageur is across the road from McCools, so I am sure we could manage that trip...even if we had to crawl.
  8. Other Gear List Changes: We have made many other changes to the gear list we posted last year and it will be available by CLICKING HERE! (NOTE: When I post the new list I will change the updated date on the file and as last year, it is available for download in M.S Word format)





Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Blog Updates:

I have made some changes to the template and added some new stuff:

  • Added "Capsized Canoe Trip Logs" section to the links list and put a link to the 2006 trip and to the CapsizedCanoe.ca HOME
  • Updated the Countdown Timer
  • Updated the Flikr picture viewer with pics for Capsized Canoe 2006

Enjoy!

Half Marathon Results


Ok...it has again been WAY too long since I last updated, so I will start with an update on my quest to complete the half marathon in under 2 hours.

As most of you already know, I completed my first half marathon on Saturday September the 9th. I trained for 6 months for the event and when the day came I felt ready...albeit a nervous ready.

I finished 84th out of 275 runners in a time of 1 hour, 50 minutes, 21 seconds and my entire family was there at the finish line to cheer me on. This was one of the greatest feelings of my life and although I am very proud of my time,I hope to shave off 10 minutes off my time in my next half marathon on Febuary 25, 2006 in Peterbourough.

Here are the Port Perry race results .

Many of you have supported me in some way over the last 6 months and I wanted to be sure that you know how much I appreciate your help and encouragement.

I would like to say a special word of thanks to the following:

-To my Mom, Dad, Jo-Anne, Hayley, Kate, Jeff, Leah, Emma, my wife Tanyia and our 3 kids Lauren 6, Jacob 4 and Ethan 3 for coming out to cheer for me on race day...it means more then you can know!
-To Brian and Lena Bradley for your advice, encouragement and the stack of running magazines.... that I promise to return!
-To Gerry and Marie for your friendship and constant encouragement
-Again To my Mom and Dad for looking after the kids while I trained on the weekends
-To my sister Kate for suggesting the Port Perry Marathon in the first place
-To Kevin, for encouraging me to start running, answering all my many questions and designing my training program. It is you that started it all buddy....thanks.

Thanks again everyone....I could not have done it without you!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Capsized Canoe 2006 was amazing!


The trip was more then I thought it would be in many ways. This is it, the full trip description and summary of the trip highlights.

At the end I have added a section of things we will change for next years trip.

You can find all the pics from this years trip by following this link.

Thursday Aug 3, 2006

Gerry and I left Newcastle by 4:00 pm and arrived at the Welcome Inn Motel by 8:00 ($50 a night..great deal and only 15 minutes from the Brent access point)

It took us all of 30 seconds to move our gear in the room and we were in the car again heading for a local watering hole. We found the bar on the main strip and it was called McCools. Despite the lack of draft, it was just what we needed and was full of lots of "local colour". I had one beer and noticed that it was hitting me really hard. Before I knew it , Gerry ordered a second and once we killed those we decided it was time to leave. On standing I remembered that I had been taking muscle relaxants for my back and was not too mix them with alcohol. Well needless to say, with in 10 minutes I was pretty much hammered and was having problems walking. After some laughs at the expense of some locals, we made our way back to the hotel and I were asleep before 11:00.

Friday Aug 4, 2006

We were checked out of the hotel and on our way by 7:00 and after breakfast at a greasy spoon restaurant next door to the Dixie Lee in Mattawa we made our way to Brent.

Erin (from Ontario Parks) was at the main gate again this year and she was very pregnent. Judging from Gerrys smile , you would think he had something to do with it. Erin told us how the storm the had caused all kinds of damage several weeks ago in Algonquin had blocked the road going into Brent, trapping her there for 4 days. As for the trail conditions, she was quick to assure us that all of the trails have been cleared of storm damage....we would find out later that she was somewhat misinformed.

We were in Brent talking to Jake by 8:30. Always an interesting guy, Jake seemed to like the idea that we had managed to get up early to beat the long weekend crowds. He told us a poem that sums up his personality

JAKES POEM :"Here I sit by the fire starring at a log, the more that I meet people the more I like my dog"

The entire trip from Brent to Burntroot took us 10 hours and 15 minutes, ( 2 hours over my original estimate). The longest portage of the day was the 2380 and it felt even longer. I had planned on carrying the canoe for the entire distance, but needed to exchange it with Gerry after the first 1/3 and then carried it again for the final 1/3. This took the wind from my sail a bit, as I realized that I had underestimated the difficulty the portaging was going to be. It was not the weight, I was having trouble finding the right balance with the canoe and so the yoke was causing some pretty severe pain at times as it dug into my neck.

Catfish Lake was very rough and this had me feeling fear for the first time on the trip. We also met up with a pair of younger guys named Matt and Graham that Gerry nick-named "The Frat Boys". After talking with them, we discovered they were gunning for the same Table Top site that we were. The huge waves combined with the fire of competition had us cowboy up another notch and kept us within a few hundred yards of the speedy Frat Boys. In the southern part of Catfish we saw a moose of in the distance (Moose #1) and

We ran into the frat boys again as we reached the portage on Pearley lake and this would prove to be the last we would see of them, they were just too fast. Once we had conceded the site and as the fatigue of 8 hours of tough canoeing set in, our stroke was a little slower and our smiles all but absent. Near the end of Pearley we saw another moose and this managed to raise our spirits a bit (Moose #2)

By now I had started to find a good balance with the canoe and Gerry helped me to adjust my pack a bit. Between the two, I had found a comfort zone and this made the long portages much better.

At the end of the portage going into Burntroot Lake both of us were happy to finaly be there, but also silently cursing the Frat boys for beating us to the site we so badly wanted. We then geared up and started to paddle towards our secondary site, located at the opposite end of the preferred table top site island.

As we approach the island, Gerry suggested that we go to the other site to check to see it it is indeed occupied. I was reluctant to do it, as the last thing I wanted was to see the frat boys enjoying our site. As we paddled up to the site to our surprise the site was empty! We happily made short work of setting up camp and within the hour we were sitting down to sausage on a bun and a cup of a very nice Pino Noir. After a late night skinny dip (that would become our trip ritual) we were both in bed by 9:30

Saturday Aug 5, 2006

We were up, fed and on our way to the south or Burntroot by 8 am. Our mission was to find the Barnet Farm and the Aligator.

After a 2 hour paddle we found the farm easily and took lots of picks of the what is left of the buildings. We took a short hike around the clearing that would have been used as the garden and found overgrown strawberries and raspberries everywhere. The strawberries were gone, but there were many raspberries and as we ate them it was amazing to think that they have survived over 130 years.

We then set off to find the alligator and it proved a little harder to find, but after 30 minutes of searching I spotted the roof of it through the brush. This was an amazing site and we spent a lot of time exploring it and taking countless pics.

We then set off home and after another 2 hour return paddle we were back on the table top site.

The rest of the day was spend swimming and resting ourselves, as we would be on the move again in the morning. Little did we know how much we would need the rest on Sunday.

Sunday Aug. 6, 2006

We were fed, broke camp on our way out of burntroot by 8:30. Our goal today was to make it to the high falls site, make camp and then travel up river to see the POW camp. By now both of us had all but perfected our portaging skills and so it was no longer a task either of us dreaded. I carried the canoe for the first three and Gerry carried it for the entire 1900 (talk about crushing it...way to go dude!).

We arrived at the Nippising River by 11:30 and made our way up river to get to the high falls site. We were paddling against the current and the closer we got to the falls the more difficult it was to paddle, but it was manageable. Once we turned the final corner and were with in 100 feet of the portage, the current really started to whip our buts, but we kicked it up to 10 and were making some headway, but the 2 steps forward one step back was really tiring. Now only 20 feet from the portage and paddling all out, that feeling of fear came back as the current started to pull us sideways. This would capsize us...the overwhelming fear enabled us to kick it up to a level neither of us thought we had and as the foam from the rapids sprayed all over us we managed to pull into the portage....Barely!

After some nervous laughs about what had just happened we geared up and made our way to the beautiful high falls site. This is where the Saturday started to go wrong...the site was awfull! No cover, no room just a firepit and a place to drop the tent. Worse yet, with the current being as strong as it was, there was no way we could swim. So we decided to have lunch and look at our options.

I should mention that our MSR mini-works water filter has been working well. On burntroot lake the filter needed to be cleaned after every liter or two. On the Nippising River however, the water is much dirtier, in fact in looks like dark tea. Here we were lucky to get 500 ml of water before the filter would clog and when your thirsty that filter is a lot of work. Just remember this for later...

Back to the lunch on high falls...we looked our options a) Stay at the shitty site with no shade, no room and no swimming b) Leave and shoot for the Nippising Hill top site that we had planned on spending Monday night on. Well we choose the later and after a much needed lunch of tuna wraps, granola bars and filter tea water, we were off again by 1:30

The Nippising River was long and the first hour was cool, but I have to admit that after 3 hours of the same high banks and never ending winding river, it got a bit boring. At one point I was so sick of having to clean the water filter after every 500 ml that I announced to Gerry that I was going to just drink it straight from the river. I know it seems crazy now, but at that time I was tired and the filter had become work..10 minutes work for 500 ml did not seem worth it. Gerry managed to talk me out of it and I worked on filtering the water while Gerry paddled. After 20 minutes, we had added Gatoraide to 2 liters of filtered tea water and were happily straining silt through our teeth.

We came around a corner near the site and were stunned to see a moose less then 10 feet from us (Moose #3). He turned out to be a great model as he stood there for 5 minutes and let us snap away. All the time we were almost close enough to touch him. This made the tea water seem not as bad.

We arrived at the Hill top site Near the end of the Nippising at 7:00 and made short work of making camp, dinner and hanging our first bear bag of the trip. The site was another bad site unlevel ground, a hike to the water and not much of a clearing, but at this point neither of us cared. After our ritual skinny dip, we decided two things: 1) Despite being only 8:15, we would go to bed 2) In the morning we would break camp and head for Brent

This had us coming home a day early, but because we had traveled so much distance the previous day, we were a day ahead of schedule. We considered spending the last night on Cedar Lake, on the island we were on for last years trip. But in the end we decided we had out grown the island and it would have to wait at least another year for a visit form us.

We then went to sleep for the last night of Capsized Canoe 2006.

Monday Aug. 7, 2006

With military percision we broke camp and were on the water by 8:00. As we approached the end of the Nipising River where it starts to widen, we saw another moose (Moose #4) that charged across the water in from of us. Gerry and I stood back in awe of this powerfull animal, all the time knowing that our trip was coming to an end. We watched as the moose slowly disappeared into the brush and without a word Gerry and I new it was special moment.

The Nippising widened into Cedar Lake and despite being so close to the end, the park would not let us have and easy crossing. The wind had picked up and the waves forces us to paddle hard in to stop being pushed off course.

We arrived at 10:30 took a few pics, loaded the car and set off home. We did however, stop for lunch at the Dixie Lee in Mattawa (another tradition) before winding our way back through the highway congestion of long weekend traffic. We arrived home just before 4 pm filled with rediscovered appreciation of our family's and a feeling of accomplishment. We had done it!!!

Things to Change for next year:

  1. Bring less food- We brought enough food to last us 2 weeks and it added a lot of weight.
  2. Outback Oven- It works great, but at the end of hard day it is just to much to spend 20-30 minutes preparing a meal. Next year more simple meals and leave the oven at home
  3. More protein - Next year we will bring more protein powder and textured vegetable protein
  4. Just spoon- Not a big deal, but why did we bring a knife and fork?
  5. Solar battery Charger- Did not use it once
  6. Clothes - Bring one more t-shirt and another pair of Merino wool socks, by the end I was getting too smelly

I am sure I will add to this later, as I do not have my trip notes with me.

Lastly, I just want to say something too my buddy Gerry. Thanks for being there brother!

P.S- Capsized Canoe 2007 is only 336 days 5 hours and 6 minutes away!

Overdue update and someone forget there medication?

The trip was more then I could have ever hoped for and I want to give you a summary of the experience. To the scores of people that have been asking/demanding that I do a post trip update, my next post will be for you, this one is to the fans of this blog.

I am still blown away at how maney people read the blog and how upset a limited few get when I have not updated for a while. Of the angry email I have recieved since my last post, this one is my favorite:

Dear ***whole,

Where the *uck are you? You left over 2 weeks
ago and still no update...I have followed this blog for months and now just
before we get to the end of the story you decide to say *uck it, I am out of
here? Well I have had it with this bullshi* ...........later
shi*face!

ElectricLatte

P.S - I was just thinking that
maybe you were injured on the trip and that has stopped you from
updating. If so GOOD, I hope it hurts prick.

Reading that makes me wish Gerry and I were back in the middle of the park again...isolation has so many advantages.

Trip summary next folks!


Thursday, August 03, 2006

We Leave Today!!!!

After a year of planning and learning, we leave for our trip in a few hours.

We have everything packed and ready to go. The only thing left is making our chicken wraps that we will have for lunch on day one and as I write, the breasts are on the BB-Q.

I am a little concerned about the weather. On two of the days we are away the weather network is calling for a 30% chance of rain/thunderstorms. I never reallly got what that meant...the way I look at it, this means that it is not likely we will have rain...is that right? Either way, we will be moving ahead with our travel plan, but sunny and warm would beat rainy and cold any day.

Well I have to go have a shower and get ready to go, so this will be my last entry before we return from Capsized Canoe 2006. I will post pictures and of course keep a journal of the trip and post upon our return.

Lastly, thanks to everyone that has taken time out of there day to check out my blog, it made the learning process so much easier with all of your help. Thanks everyone!!!

Wish us luck,

Jim

EDIT:

After posting this I looked up what POP or "Probability Of Precipitation " means. I am glad I found this 'cause I feel much better about our chances of NOT getting rained on

Monday, July 31, 2006

Photo Contest

On last years trip Gerry and I shared a digital camera and that worked out well and provided us with some great pictures. This year it will be much different, as now we each have our own cameras and will be going head-to-head in our privite competition to get "the shot".

Despite the fact the Gerry and I are far from professional photographers, we managed to get some very good pictures last year and plan to build on those with some technical shots as we play with shutter speed, f-stop ect.

We will have our own competition, but for anyone else that might be interested, Gerry shot me this link to the Ontario Parks Photo Competition. Check it our...but if you win, can we get the prize?

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Download Updated Gear List

I have made our gear list available for download. It is posted on our site www.capsizedcanoe.ca , and here is a link to download the Gear List in Microsoft Word Format :

http://www.capsizedcanoe.ca/gallery/Canoe%20Trip%20Gear%20List.doc

...and don't forget to let me know what you think!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Everything is coming together

Gerry and I got together at my place last night for the final gear check and pack-up. We assembled everything we are bringing (from equipment to food) in an attempt to divide the weight evenly. We started by laying everything out on the floor, so it would be easier to see it all and as we packed each item, scratched it off the gear list we had created a few months ago. We then did the same thing for the food list.

I think this system worked well, 'cause after we had everything packed I went through the gear list and circled the things that were left, as a reminder to either get it or forget it.

After all the packs were....well....packed, we brought them upstairs to be weighed. In my kids bathroom I have an old school Doctors office scale and this was perfect for finding out how many lbs. of crap we were going to be hauling around Algonquin.

Gerry' Pack 53 lbs (with full water bladder)
Jim's Pack 47 lbs (with empty water bladder)

It is worth noting that our food weight was just under 30 lbs, so as the trip goes on our packs will be getting much lighter. With 30 lbs of food to eat, I think it is same to say the same can not be said of Gerry or I.

Lastly, Gerry and I have changed our travel plans a bit. The original plan was to leave at 4 pm on the Thursday, drive to the entrance road at Brent and sleep in the car, so we could get an early start Friday morning. Well that sounded like a great idea a few months ago, but the thought of waking up with a soar back has changed our minds. So instead, we will be leaving a little earlier (2 pm) and have made reservations at a motel about 30 minutes from the Brent service road. The $60 for the night is nothing, and well worth it when you consider asoar back wrecking a trip we have been planning for over a year.

Today I am going up to my parents place with the kids. They have a pool and the kids love it there. On the way I am going to pick up my fishing licence and a few other things.

You know as I sit here trying to figure out what to say next, I am just blown away that we leave in 5 days...we have been planning this trip for so long and now it just a few days away. It is hard to beieve. We are both very excited and know that this will be the trip we have both always wanted to do. JUST FIVE DAYS PEOPLE!!!!!!

5 days 3 hours and 35 minutes....tick, tick, tick....:)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

UPDATE: Tent?, Drying out, Shopping, Packing

Before I hear anything sarcastic, yes I am posting twice in the same day . Lots of good stuff going on and I will update below sticking with the bullet update format for now.

But before I do that, I just want to give a big thank you to my Dad, who gave me a crash course on fishing basics this past Monday. He was awesome, showed me how to tie on leaders , use lures, spinners and some other fishing related info that will be put to good use on the trip. When I was a kid, I remember going fishing with my Dad to catch rainbow trout while we lived in Labrador, NFLD. It was one of those moments that even now makes me smile. As we stood in my driveway this week, reviewing fishing tactics, I had that feeling again and for a few moments, I felt like a kid again. Thanks Dad!

  • Tent?- True to his word, Andrew met me and we have our MSR Hubba Hubba tent!(I take back everything I said Andrew). The tent is brand new, unused and tags still attached. I was so excited that I could hardly wait to set it up. Gerry came over and we put it up together (of course). Keeping in mind this was the first time either of us had put an MSR tent up, it was assembled in 3 minutes and is truly a thing of beauty! It is a self supporting, simple design yet, deceivingly sturdy. One the coolest features; the one piece pole system is wild and had Gerry and I standing in awe of those MSR engineers once again! The tent has a removable fly, that would allow for stargazing...something we hope to have the right weather to use!
  • Dehydration Round 2- The lessons learned the first time we tried to make jerky will be put to good use as we try again tonight, Gerry picked up the meat from a butcher friend of his today and from what he has said...this should make some very good jerky! I will update with the results. I have also dehydrated some spicy tomato sauce and successfully reconstituted a test sample. It was great and will add some great flavors for the trip.
  • Final Grocery Shopping- If anything, this makes the fact that the trip is almost here the most real and tomorrow we will pick up the food that will make the journey with us...part of the way.
  • The Pack Up- Now that we have everything we need, this weekend Gerry and I will assemble all the food/equipment and decide who will pack in what, in the hopes of keeping it even. At this time I would like to lay down a personal challenge to Gerry...lets see how much you could carry buddy, I am sure you could carry like twice as much as me? Let me know...

Storm Caused Much Damage...Jim Clueless!

As a guy that prides himself on trying to know all there is to know on a subject before actually doing it, I am embarrassed to say, this one got by me. I was 100% clueless as to the severity of the damage done to parts of Northern Ontario in the storm a week ago. In fact, I was worse that clueless...I was even unaware the storm happened...at all!

JUL.18 - LARGE STORMS LAST NIGHT, POSSIBLE TORNADOES, 2 DEATHSA woman was killed outside of Peterborough after being crushed by a tree, and another death in Algonquin Park. Possible tornado near North Bay, damage to houses, large amount of trees down, planes flipped over, etc. Over 300 trees knocked down in Peterborough and large areas of power down in that city. UPDATE: 2 CONFIRMED TORNADOS IN NEWMARKET (F0, F1)


Click here to view a TV news summary (Global) of the event, courtesy of SouthernOntarioWeather.com



Now that I have removed my head from my ass I find out that this storm devastated large parts of Algonquin Park and has left the portage routes in shambles. Downed trees are the biggest problem and although the progress of removing them is well under way, at this point there is no way of knowing how much will be completed by the time we wil be leaving. Below is a quoted from a tripper who just returned from the area will be visiting...


Posted: Tue Jul 25, 2006 9:11 pm

We came out at Brent on Saturday afternoon. We saw the crew working the 2.4k port on the Pet about noon on Saturday.. They were about 1/2 of the way to the Narrowbag lake end. Hard to say what your situation would be, I would think the main "hiway" portages would be cleared first, then the secondary routes, and finally the dead-enders. Some had no blow-down at all, others we were wishing for a skidder or chainsaw at minimum
This is a Link to the Official Ontario Parks Storm Damage Blog. Here you can get the most up to date info on what progress they have made in the park.

I also wanted to say a big thank you to Jen who was the person that let me know about the Algonquin situation in the comments section. Also, if you Jen or any of you are reading this and have been to the Cedar / Burtroot Lake area since the storm , please contact me at jim@capsizedcanoe.ca , as I would love to here descriptions of the trail conditions and see any pictures you would be willing to share.

Thanks for you time!!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

WAY to long since I last updated...

As usual, I post like a nut for a few weeks and then take what some have coined a "Jim-baticle" for the weeks to follow. I look at like this...I post here 'cause I enjoy it or get something out of it and if that drive is not there, I won't post. Would you really want to read about how I had a bad day at work and my back hurts? Back to the blog...

There are many things to update and so I will summarize it all:

  • The F***ing Tent- After much bullshit, I am picking up the MSR Hubba Hubba tent from "Absent Andrew" this weekend (with fingers crossed).
  • Jerky Issues -The dehydration thing was good... as an experiment, but bad to eat for the most part ...too dry. I have since corrected the errors and man, is dehydrated watermelon GOOD! (ask Gerry..LOL) Gerry and I are going to have Jerky, ( round 2 ) next week.
  • Maps- Sent away for the 2006 version of the Algonquin Canoe Routes Map, Fishing Guide and the Backpacking Trails Map. They arrived and there was quite a few changes from previous versions.
  • My Training - I am up to 16 km's running, in a time of 1 hour, 18 minutes....so I am on pace for a my goal of 1 hour 45 minutes for the half marathon. Weight training continues and it has now been almost 4 years since I starting lifting.
  • Counting Down in Days- It is hard to believe that we leave 2 weeks from tomorrow! I am so pumped ....and worried I have not got everything organized. My plan is for Gerry and I to have our bags packed AT LEAST 24 hours before we leave and avoid any last minute running around.

Lastly, I want to say something about Gerry. I couple of weekends ago we took our kids camping and they had a great time at the beach and around the campfire. After my kids fell asleep I had a bit of a breakdown while talking to Gerry about some questions I have about myself as a parent. It was one of the rare moments in my life where I stopped pretending I had these doubts and just let everything out. It was a conversation that has greatly influenced many things about the way I parent and for that it was great, but in retrospect, days later I realized something else...Gerry is beyond friend to me....he is my brother and I consider myself lucky to have him as my buddy and unofficial member of my family. Thanks dude!!

14 Days 22 Hours 10 minutes

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

UPDATE: Dehydrating, Kids Camping, Cool Links

With the trip being counted down in days (29 days 8 hours and 18 minutes), Gerry and I have started to put together some of the things that can not be done in advance (TRANSLATION: "Holly crap we are running out of f***ing time"). With that in mind, last night we started the process of dehydrating some of our trip food and trying our hand at making beef jerky.

We are using a dehydrator Gerry got from his Mom. It is one of those ones that has the stackable rings and a base that blows warm air through the stack.

Our Dehydrated Fruit Experiment:

  1. Watermellon: Yes, I said watermelon...stop laughing already! We did a quarter of a mellon and I was surprised how little fruit I got once the Rhine is removed.From what I have read, this should be one of the best fruits to dry. It is a fruit that is very sweet despite being diluted with all that water, so removing the water should result in a natural candy.
  2. Grapefruit: Gerry and I both like this one fresh, so dry should not be too much of a stretch. The contrast of the sweet and bitter, combined with the coarse texture should be a real treat...thats the theory anyway.
  3. banana: A backpacking staple...you can never go wrong with banana chips.

Beef Jerky Experiments:

1)Quick and Easy Recipe (Jim's):

  1. INGREDIENTS:1 pound eye of round, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  2. DIRECTIONS: In a medium bowl, combine the soy sauce, ground black pepper and brown sugar to taste. Mix well and add the steak slices. Place entire mixture with meat into a sealed plastic container and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours. Place in dehydrator for 24 hours (more time may be needed)

2)Dry Cure Southwest Jerky (Gerry's):

  1. INGREDIENTS:1 ts Salt,1 ts Pepper1/2 ,ts Cayenne pepper,3 tb Chili powder,2 ts Cumin,2 Cloves garlic minced,2 lb Steak sliced thinly
  2. DIRECTIONS:Combine ingredients and thoroughly mix together. This is a dry marinade so there is no liquid. Sprinkle the spice mixture on the meat slices and work into the grain with your fingers. Cover and marinate overnight. Place in dehydrator for 24 hours (more time may be needed)

We statred the fruit last night and it should be done tonight...just in time for our marinating beef to be thrown in for 24 hours, before it is made into mouth watering (we hope) beef jerky!

We will update with the results...

On a different note, this coming weekend Gerry and are are taking our kids (Gerry's 3 boys and my 2 boys, 1 girl...sorry Lauren) camping. Gerry and his crew will be spending Friday and Saturday night, we will be joining them for the last night. We are going to Sibbald Point Provincial Park and it is a close call as to who is more excited, the kids or the adults...but I am going to have to go with the kids. My guys have been wanting to go camping with me for a while, so this will give them a taste for what it is all about and for them, this will be quite an adventure.

Lastly, I have found some very cool links for stargazing. For this you need to input a city, so I used Mattawa, as it is the closest to Algonquin. This is part of the Weather Network site and allows you to input a date / location and print the moon cycles and how to view start and other celestial point of interest. Check it out HERE

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

UPDATE: Weekend, Wet Run, Trip Stuff

What a great weekend! For the most part the weather was great and we had a lot of family fun. Friday was the start of the Newcastle 150th celebrations and we attended the suprisingly large parade. The kids loved it and after the parade, we had just enough time to walk home, get the kids into pajamas and drive up to see the fireworks. A great night!
Saturday we spent in town at Laurens soccer tournament and Sunday we went to my parents for a day in the pool. The weekend was just about perfect, the only thing missing was Tanyia who had to work...as usual.

My running continues to go well. I pushed it too hard at the start by refusing to take "off days" and this resulted in some minor injuries. I have now been regularly taking the days off and have seen a big gain in my time and stamina...so much for my second guessing the experienced folks that designed my program. I ran 14 km yesterday and for the last 20 minutes was running in heavy rain and wind and of course both stop the second I turned on to my street. It turns out that there was an Immanent Tornado Warning for our area....so that's why the rain was sideways! Tanyia was talking to Gerry's wife Marie on the phone when she found out and when Marie asked if Tanyia had me insured, Tanyia dismissed it saying I would be fine 'cause "he has his ruby slippers on". Good to hear they weren't worried...I guess?

Trip Notes:

  • I have emailed our tent guy to arrange a pick-up date and he has not returned any of my messages. I am not exactly worried about it, but I would feel better if he at least let me know what is going on? Andrew if you are reading this...RESPOND!!!
  • As I posted a while ago, we changed the arrival and departure dates a bit and I still have not received the confirmation from Parks Ontario ( Maybe Andrew works for them)
  • After spending a day searching my entire house for my digital camera it was found with the unintentional help Gerry...next time I will remember to call you first!

I have included some more pics I found that just suck me in to the Algonquin feelings. Gerry and I will be making some new Algonquin memories in just:

30 days 3 hours and 29 minutes but who is counting?

Thursday, June 29, 2006

UPDATE: All the gear, new tent (again), trial run

We did manage to go down to MEC and bought all the last few odds and ends (see list in previous post). It was fun to go down and surf through all the gear available. At one point, I turned to Gerry and suggested that our bigger purchase for next year should be a high quality tent...this comment was enough to get us both thinking (see below). We did well to keep to our list of "needs" and made it back home in time for Gerry to accompany Marie to an appointment.

That afternoon, Gerry and I decided to put the tents up in the back yard. We first put up my big 3 man dome tent, that weighs in at a booming 10 lbs and then the much lighter 2 man bivy. As we stood staring at both of these very different tents, we both saw a problem with each.

The Dome Tent: Too Big, Too heavy and more tent then we even need

The Bivy Tent: Tight fit for both of us, Water resistance questionable

So where does that leave us? Looking at getting a new tent this year of course. I give Gerry full marks for pointing out that we might be able to get away with using the Bivy, but once we starting looking at getting an MSR Hubba Hubba, he was quick to get on board. We ended up getting a brand new one from the Gear Swap on the MEC website for a good price and will be picking it up early next week.

On a different note Gerry and I fired up out MSR simmerlite stove last weekend and even tried our hand at baking using our Outback Oven. We made brownies and a pizza, both turned out pretty good...despite some errors on our part. I am glad we did this trial, as it will be good experience when we are on the trip. We took pictures and video that I will add to this when I can get it from Gerrys cam.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Uncivilized Behaviour - Sometimes you can't get far enough away

This is a great article written by Kevin Callan that I thought everyone should read:



True, proper wilderness preparation should plan for a range of eventualities, but I’m not feeling too badly about the reason we’re stranded on this beach.  The bush pilot scheduled to pick us up today was arrested yesterday for being involved in a pornography scandal. I’m not sure I could have seen that one coming.

Now our crew of six paddlers is waiting as patiently as the cold and wet will allow for another pick-up, which we were told could be two or three more days. Our food supply consists of half a bag of GORP, a package of instant potatoes, a dozen prunes and possibly, a trusting cottontail who’s hanging around our camp looking for companionship. The battery in our satellite phone is on its death bed because our of our group insisted on calling his wife twice a day throughout the trip for conversations that usually ended in heated marital discussions at four dollars a minute; another is green from trying to drown his sorrows with the majority of our spirits; and we were informed by the air service that the tires on both shuttle vehicles we left parked at the end of an 80-kilometer dirt road were slashed by some local militants who had a dislike for canoeists intruding on their secret fishing grounds.

It’s not a good day. The truth is, it’s not been a good week. We’ve been paddling upstream the entire trip, when there was enough water to actually paddle. Water levels were low enough that we left a trail of Royalex shavings on the river bed like Hansel and Gretel leaving  bread crumbs through the Black Forest. The only way out is to paddle six more days or wait for another float plane to arrive. I hope it’s flown by a law-abiding Baptist minister with a family filter on his we browser.

I spend a lot of time traveling the bush, and I spend my fair share of time worrying abut marauding bears, violent storms and becoming hopelessly lost. Never have I worried about being stranded in the wilderness with an overly communicative husband and a tapped-out drunk due to a pervert and some insecure fishermen.

I guess it just goes to show you that the ugliness you’re trying to escape back home can still reach you out here. I think I’ll stop worrying so much about bears, storms and getting lost.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

How to fit your pack

Fitting a pack properly is one of the most important things you can do to make you trip as comfortable as possible. With that in mind I have put together this post to make the process a bit more easy to follow. Now it should be noted, there are many different instructions on "the right way" to fit a pack...this is simply the one I liked the best.


There are three landmarks used in fitting a pack:

  1. The hip belt should be centered at the hip bone
  2. The lift strap locator at the collar bone
  3. The lift rising at an angle between 30 and 45 degrees from horizontal

The following steps will walk you through the process, so keep your landmarks in mind and the result will be a perfectly-fitted pack.:

  1. Load the pack with 20-30 pounds of gear. Try to pack the weight as you would when actually carrying the pack–if it is one dense lump at the bottom of the pack, it will be difficult to fit the pack properly.
  2. Remove the back pad (if possible) this will be replaced after fitting. Then, loosen all straps which include lift straps , shoulder straps , anti-sway straps , and reverse lift straps .
  3. Pull the lift strap locators to their lowest position.
  4. Ensure that the shoulder pads are spaced at an even distance from the wedge for your height. For small-framed people with thin shoulders, the pads should be touching the wedge; for average-sized people, allow about an inch of webbing between the wedge and the pad. For those with weight-lifter shoulders and barrel chests, start with at least two inches of webbing between the pad and the wedge. Micro adjustments of the shoulder compensator will be addressed later; however, before you proceed, it is essential that both shoulder pads have the same amount of webbing between the pad and the wedge.
  5. Put the pack on and tighten the belt with the center seam on your hip bone . If you prefer the belt to ride a bit higher or lower, make sure the belt is at that position before you proceed. At this point, you are essentially wearing a 30-lb fanny pack; have a friend hold the pack in to your back, but do not tighten the shoulder straps.
  6. Have your friend hold the lift strap locator at your collar bone. You should then pull webbing through the shoulder strap adjustment Tensionlock until all slack is out of the webbing and the bottom of the straps are touching your chest, a few inches below your underarm. If you are a smaller person, you may want to slide the lift strap locator up an inch or so.
  7. Now have your friend push the wedge system down, until the shoulder pad wraps smoothly around your shoulder and the lift straps are rising at a 30- to 45-degree angle off horizontal when pulled snug. The wedge should end up approximately one inch below the top of your shoulder blades with the lift strap locator
    still at your collar bone. If you need to adjust the width of the shoulder pads in or out from your neck, slide a credit card under the diagonal strip at the top of the pad (15) to release the hook and loop.
  8. When putting on the pack, loosen the lift, shoulder, and reverse lift straps . Put the pack on and tighten the belt at your hip bones. Pull the shoulder straps to a comfortable tension and adjust the lift straps to shift the weight to your shoulders or hips as desired. Then pull the reverse lift straps up tight. The anti-sway straps should only have moderate tension when in use mostly on rough terrain. Otherwise, the anti-sway straps should not be needed. As you hike, adjust the lift strap to shift the weight between the legs and shoulders as desired.

UPDATES: Going Co-op, Topic of the week, Countdown Continues...


















Well the much anticipated trip to MEC is scheduled to happen Thursday and unless there are any major problems, we will have all of the remaining gear for the trip. In case you are unaware, we are going down to get certain items, but as is usually the case with Gerry and I, we leave room for a few last minute "must haves" as well.

I must say, I am always pumped to do anything related to the trip, but this trip has a bigger meaning. At times, neither Gerry or I were sure if the trip would be able to happens this year and so going to get the final items on the list mean that it is actually going to happen! Very cool!!!

The things on our official "Algonquin 2006 Shopping List" are:

1. MEC Wave Waist Pack
2. backpackers Pantry Cinnamon Coffee Cake (3)
3. Nalgene1L Wide-Mouth Lexan Water Bottle
4. Source C-2 Hydration System 3 Liter
5. Outback Oven 10"
6. backpackers Pantry Wicked Good Brownies (4)
7. backpackers Pantry Supreme Pizza (4)
8. MEC Large Tent Gear Loft #(4014-227)


As many have already noted, I will be posting a weekly article (or more if I feel like it) on topics relating to backpacking and canoe trips. They will be a compilation of all the info. I have gathered on a given subject and then put down the way I interprets it. It will be a healthy mixture of opinion and fact. As usual all input is welcome...

Lastly, the countdown continues and we are now so close I can almost hear the waves washing against the shore. The picture above gave me that "Algonquin feeling" the second I saw it and for those that have experienced a sunset in the park, you know how it has a way of imprinting itself on you and the only way to experience that feeling again, is to return.

51 days 4 hours and 47 minutes and counting...

Monday, June 12, 2006

Making Camp in Adverse Conditions

Know your tent so well that you can pitch it even when you're too tired to think. For greatest weather resistance and strength, pitch your tent very taut and tighten guylines until, you can play a tune on them. This also minimizes flapping and noise. In some areas and at certain times, setting up camp is not so easy.Making camp on rocky terrain, in snow, in high winds, in the rain.
In rocky terrain where stakes won't go in you may have to attach loops to the staking points and tie them and the guylines to rocks to hold down the tent.

In Wind:

If it's windy, stake out the end of the inner or outer, whichever pitches first, that will face into the wind, then thread or clip the poles into position before raising the tent off the ground. In a strong wind, you may have to lay on the tent while you do this. Once the basic shape is established, the rest of the staking can be done in a more relaxed manner.
If the site allows, rectangular or tapered tents should be pitched with the tail or end into the wind; keeping the door in the lee of the wind is a good idea for cooking, too.

In extreme cold/rain:

When striking camp, pack the tent last so that it can air out and any condensation can dry. Remember that shock cord-linked poles must be pushed out of their sleeves. If you pull them, they're likely to come apart.
In rain, pack everything under cover. In very heavy rain, you can collapse the inner tent, leaving the fly sheet staked out, withdraw the poles, and then stuff the inner into its bag from under the fly sheet so that it stays dry.
In very cold conditions, pole sections may freeze together - don't try to force them apart, and they may break. Instead, rub the joints with your hands until the ice melts. If the poles are frozen together, the chances are that any condensation will have frozen to the fly sheet. If the fly sheet is coated with ice on the inside and frost on the outside, shake as much of it off as you can before you pack it. If the day is sunny and you have time, you could wait for it to thaw and evaporate.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Gerry and Jim going to Mt. Everest ?

I will never forget the first time I saw a picture of Mt. Everest.

It was as a kid (maybe 7 years old), while looking through a stack of old National Geographic magazines in the basement of our home just outside of Montreal. I picked up a copy and opened to pictures of men at the Everest Base camp preparing to assault the summit. As I continued to flip pages, still in awe of the the incredible photographs, a map slipped out and fell to the floor. I remember so clearly, opening that map of the Napal and wanting to be there....and now it may actually happen.

I will be turning 40 in 5 years and to celebrate I want to go on an exhibition to the historic Everest Base camp. This would be the trip of a lifetime for me and not to sound girlie, but I get goosebumps just thinking about it. It is a 3 week trip and is not cheap, but is a once in a life time trip that I have always wanted to do. I have talked to Tanyia about it and she was fine with it, as long as: a) She does not have to come b) We go to Hawaii for our 10 year anniversary. For me, this confirms two things about her: a) Tanyia really want to go to Hawaii b) I have the coolest wife in the world!

I briefly pitched the idea to Gerry the other day and my hope is that he will want to go. This trip is the kind of thing best shared with a friend and since this is not Tanyia's idea of a vacation, there is no one I would rather go with then Gerry...but no pressure buddy!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Backpack:Packing your Pack

Strategically loading the items in your internal-frame pack can dramatically influence your speed, endurance, and enjoyment of an outing. With that in mind, I have compiled information from many sources to help anyone pack a their pack better.

Generally, concentrate the load on your hips and avoid loading your back and shoulders. For on-trail travel, keep the heaviest items high and close to your back. Off-trail, for better balance, pack heavy items lower down.

  • On trails, carry the load high and fairly close to the back, as this will allow your hips to take the majority of the weight. To implement this strategy, load your lightest, fluffiest articles (sleeping bag, extra clothing) in the bottom; l place the densest items (water, food, stove fuel, rope) up top, near the shoulder blades.
  • For more difficult terrain, revise your trail-packing strategy. Pack the heavy items slightly lower and ensure they are as close to the back as possible. This will force more of the load onto your back and shoulders but will lower your center of gravity and allow you to more easily keep your balance.

Quick list to packing your internal frame pack:

  1. Loosen all comression straps.
  2. Fill bottom compartment with sleeping bag and clothes.
  3. Fill main compartment with rest of gear, keeping the heaviest items high and close to your back.
  4. Put frequently used items in top compartment or top pockets.
  5. Tighten all compression straps to compress the load and keep it from shifting while you hike.

Easy access to frequently used items.

Along with arranging items in your pack for optimum weight distribution, organize them for quick access. Articles like gloves, hats, sunglasses, maps, and insect repellent, which are sometimes needed at a moment's notice, are ideally carried in side and top pockets. Such gear can also be kept handy in jacket pockets or in a fanny pack that is worn on the abdomen in combination with the main pack.Keep your contents dry.


Determine a strategy to keep your pack contents dry in rainy weather, because even packs constructed from waterproof materials are not necessarily waterproof. Water can leak through seams, zippers, pockets, the top opening, and places where the coating has worn off. Individual plastic bags or good stuff sacks can help protect pack contents, especially when you have to set up or break camp in the rain. Most pack manufacturers offer waterproof pack covers as accessories. You may also choose to simply use a large plastic trash bag as a waterproof liner inside your pack.