Friday, February 24, 2006

Toronto Outdoor Show

A few months ago, Gerry had seen an advertisement for The Toronto Outdoor show. We thought that it would be cool to check out the vendors of gear and just have a night out, so we agreed to go.

Well today was the first day of the show, so I had made plans to leave work a few hours early, grab the GO train to Union Station, north on the Young subway, then just a short walk to Gerry's office. Then we could hit the show and go out after without having to take separate vehicles. So far so good!

Everything was going fine until I was about to leave the office to catch my 2:50 train. I had just come back from the gym and getting dressed when I realized that when packing my bag I had forgotten one pants! After franticly checking my bag for the third time to no avail, I knew I had to go home to retrieve my trousers and time was not on my side. I rocketed home in record time and switched my stinky workout gear for the neatly pressed pants. In no time I was back on the highway speeding (literally) towards the train station. As I got off the highway, I could see my train was already in the station. I managed to nail both of the notoriously long lights when green, parked in the farthest/only parking space available and sprinted to the station. I bought my ticket and the race was on, as I now would have to run all out to make it. As I started to run, several people behind me started to laugh, I am sure I looked crazy, but I had to make this train! Just as I stepped through the doors of the train they closed and the started to pull away.

As I took my seat, I could see the 3 teens that were "too cool to run", throw their arms in the air as the stood on the platform. If this was the Olympics, my seat was the gold medal and the only reward for the 4th, bronze and silver place teens was a 45 minute wait in the cold. Sometimes it pays to be uncool.

Unfortunately the show was very disappointing. There were more travel agents then anything and it seemed that most of the vendors had the same things. I guess I was thinking that this was going to be a show of new products and that, it was not. One of the highlights of the show was when we were looking for a parking spot and Gerry had dismissed some of the available spaces as being " too far" from the entrance. After finding a satisfactory space and he pointed out how being to lazy to walk an extra 20 feet was "probably not in the spirit of the outdoor show."
To summarize : the most memorable part of the show was the parking lot.

After the disappointing show, we went for dinner at Dipamo's barbecue. I had never been there before and is was great. This is what we had and a brief description:

"Barbeque heaven

$45.00 "Put some south in yo’ mouth!" A heapin’ helpin’ of slow cooked heaven. St. Louis side ribs, pulled shoulder, brisket and chicken served with sides of French fries, Dipamo’s pit beans, mustard slaw and roasted corn."

I think this would be a place my dad would enjoy as well. The portions are best described as perfect. I give this restaurant my highest rating 5 Canoes out of 5!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Recommended Reading

  1. The Backpacker's Handbook-This enormously practical guide includes everything from essential techniques such as map and compass work to the skills needed for more remote wilderness journeys—such as how to ford rivers safely and how to choose a route through untracked terrain. This book is unequaled. You''ll find the last word on:
    -How to choose packs and footwear—and make sure they fit
    -What clothing to take on the trail
    -Tents, tarps, stoves, water purifiers, and other gear
    -GPS, cell phones, and other electronic devices
  2. A Paddler's Guide to Algonquin Park- Only 200 miles from Toronto, Algonquin Park is one of Canada''s foremost canoeing destinations, a paddler''s paradise of spectacular lakes and rivers. This book features a variety of routes, from true wilderness adventures to less rustic excursions.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Gear, Gear and More Gear!

Since this years trip is going to be lightweight, I have had to do my homework on what is the best gear for my application. This has resulted in a constant battle:

What I want VS. What I can afford

A couple of months ago, Gerry and I nailed down a realistic needs list and this is what we have acquired:
  • MSR Miniworks Water filter- This was a no brainier. We will need to filter water as required as it is far to heavy to carry. The filter is handheld, very lite and like all products form MSR it is well designed and field serviceable. I considered buying a used filter, but there was no significant savings. We ended up buying one retail at MEC.

  • Internal Frame Backpack- This was a great deal! I didn't want to go cheap on my pack, as everything I read placed this as the one piecee of gear that can be the difference between a good trip or one in constant discomfort. I was fortunate to find a used 75+ Liter pack on MEC's gear swap and ended up getting a practically brand new, high end pack for $150.

  • MSR Simmerlite Stove- This is one of the best and most compact stoves available. It is lite, durable, fuel efficient and field serviceable. The only problem is the cost. Once you factor in the cost of the stove, 2 fuel bottles, field service kit and tax, it will cost over $170. I would have paid it, but I put a "stove wanted" posting on the MEC gear swap page and managed to negotiate a price of $92 including delivery form British Columbia. It included all the accessories I wanted and I managed to save over $80. Another great deal!
  • Thermarest mattress/Chair- On one hand this is a need, on another it is a luxury. It will be used as a mattress at night, but by day it converts into one of the most comfortable chairs I have ever sat in. I found one for sale on eBay, won the auction over 5 weeks ago and still no mattress. When I contacted the seller he claimed it was a "shipping error" and blamed UPS for the delay. I spoke to him last thursday and he claimed he sent it again and that it should be here by tomorrow (Tuesday). Track the delivery of my "mattress of mystery" UPDATE: It arrived as promised and just as described.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Algonquin Video Clips 2005

Here are three 20 second video clips from last years trip. They were taken using a digital camera. They are short but still kind of cool.

This is a video compilation of the digital pictures from the same trip. I am particularly proud of this one, as this was my first time doing anything like this. I think it turned out rather well. You be the judge! (for this one turn on your speakers)

The route

We have decided on where will be cutting our teeth this summer. It will be a "loop" that starts in Algonquin Parks northern most access point in Brent on Cedar Lake and then cut through Catfish and Burntroot lakes before slowly winding our way back up the Nippising River and returning to Cedar Lake. This will be a good challenge for both of us and it will be invaluable experience for our future trips.
The map is one I borrowed from one of the great sites in my links. We plan to make it all the way to our site on Burntroot Lake by the end of the first day (marked on the map by a "2"). We will then spend nights 1 and 2 on the site on the island on Burntroot and while there do some day trips to the southern part of the lake. Day 3 we will continue on and go and check out the remains of an old World War 2 German POW camp and spend the night at one of the sites at the top of High Falls. Day 4 we will continue up the Nippising River and plan to stay at an incredible site described in the link below and indicated on the map by a number 3.

The Details:

  • Distance: 60 km
  • Duration : 4 days
  • No. of Portages : 21
  • Total Portage Length: 13,860 m
  • Average Length: 250 m
  • Longest Portage : 3,345 m

So that's why?

Now that we have been planning the 2006 trip for almost 6 months, I realize why the folks at the Algonquin Outfiters in Brent (where we rented our canoe and put-in) were quietly laughing at the amount of gear we had. I think Gerry put it best when he described it as "car camping without the car". How much gear did we have? Take a look at our canoe loaded for bear.
I now realize that by backpacking standards, this was disgraceful and we deserved all the smirking and finger pointing we received.
In retrospect, I do remember having trouble fitting everything in the trunk of Gerry's Jetta which should have been an early clue. After taking another look at this picture it should not have come as much of a surprise. Damn that's allot of crap in that canoe!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

And so it begins..

Hey, I am Jim and the picture below is Gerry. This is my first attempt at logging everything that goes into planning our annual canoe trip through Algonquin Park, located in Ontario , Canada.

I live in Newcastle, Ontario with my wife of 8 years and our 3 kids. Newcastle is a small town and I would not have it any other way. My canoe partner and best friend Gerry is also my neighbor. He is also married and has 3 children of his own. Having my buddy live as close as he does is very cool and that is just another reason why I love my little piece of suburban paradise.

It was Gerry that first introduced me to what canoe camping was all about. The fist time I went on an Algonquin trip was in August of 2005. We spent five days on an island on Cedar Lake and on day 3 we did a portage up the Petawawa River to see the small and large waterfalls. The portage was a smaller one (715 m) , but it gave both Gerry and I a taste of what doing a "real" canoe trip would be like. As we returned from the falls and dipped our 75 lb Gruman aluminum canoe back into Cedar Lake, both of us vowed that next year we would plan + complete a serious interior canoe trip and along the way, earn back our camping self respect. We then paddled back to camp, plugged the radio into our portable power generator, pulled our lawn chairs up to the Coleman coolers and started to plan.