Friday, June 29, 2007

Things that make me smile!

I haven't been feeling myself lately and can't put my finger on what (if anything) is wrong. It's not that I am feeling unwell at all, I just don't seem to have the same drive to do the things that usually make me feel happy. In an effort to snap out of this mental funk I thought I would put together a list of the things that make me happy.

NOTE: I have omitted my wife and kids as they it should go without saying

  1. Hockey Night in Canada Theme Song - It still gives me chills.
  2. Cleaning my Home- When the house is spotless I am at peace...crazy but true!
  3. To Do Lists- I have so many lists and each time I scratch a completed task off it makes me smile...I know this too is a bit crazy
  4. Singing while Driving- Few things make me this happy...not so good for anyone else in the car. To quote Gerry " you think you're a good singer eh?".
  5. Post workout Glow- Must feel endorphins!!
  6. Going to my Parents home- They are everything to me!
  7. Watching my Kids play sports- I am the annoyingly loud guy cheering every moment of the game
  8. When the Leafs Score- Everyone gets a high five...even the dog! (family tradition)
  9. Gerry- We don't spend as much time together as we used to, but I enjoy any time we hang out
  10. Algonquin- Going to the park, reading trip logs or writing about it here.

Going Solo in Just 10 days!

In just 10 short days I will be leaving on my first solo trip and I am feeling an odd mix of nervous and excited. This will be the first time I have ever gone on "vacation" by myself and it will be interesting to see how I react to that kind of solitude. I have always been a fairly insecure guy and throughout my life I have surround myself with people with strong personalities to help me make the best choices. It's not that I can't make up my own mind, I just prefer to have someone give a second opinion and more often then not, this gives me a little extra confidence that I am making the best decision. Needless to say, second opinions will be in short supply on my solo trip, so my ability to make decisions without any back-up will be put to the test and it has me feeling kind of scared. I just hope that these feelings are all part of a process that will have me return a more well rounded tripper and person. Hmmm....still not 100% convinced I can handle being alone for that long, but I am eager to find out either way. 10 days and counting!

I plan to do the few things I have on my "to do" list this weekend. Nothing to crazy, but it all takes time and since I have a 4 day weekend I figured it would be better to get it out of the way now.

Solo Trip To Do List:

  1. Clean camera memory
  2. Charge camera batteries
  3. Make beef jerky
  4. Do final gear assembly
  5. Weigh pack
  6. Food pack up (minus freezer stuff)
  7. I am sure there are a few other things as well.... :)
While I was checking out my gear the other day I discovered that I have lost both of the carbon fiber stays to convert my thermarest pad into a chair. I called the company, but they were no help, so I will have to buy a new one before CC2007. Gerry is going to lend me his for my solo trip so I won't have to sit on the ground. Thanks dude!

I had ordered a pair of amphibious sandals from MEC and they arrived yesterday. They are just awesome, but they have given me blisters on one foot. I called the company and since they don't make half sizes there was not much they could do. I love the sandals, but can't deal with blisters, so back to MEC they go.

This weekend it my second favorite day of the year! Yes, Sunday is the first day for NHL's Unrestricted Free Agents and it is always an exciting day. I am not sure what the Leafs will be doing, but I have heard that they are very interested in signing Ryan Smith. Coverage begins on TSN at 10 or 11 am and I will be watching and praying that the leafs can sign some big names and unload some of there garbage IE Pavel Kubina.

My tri training continues to go well, but I have been getting a little bored with biking, so I decided to mix it up a bit. On Tuesday I went for an 80 km ride to my parents place in Uxbridge and it was just what I needed to add some excitement back into my workouts. On all my rides I attach my Garmin Forerunner to the handlebars and it tracks my heart-rate, speed and all the usual GPS stuff. In all I burnt 2800 calories and It took me 2 hours and 30 minutes. On one hill I reached a top speed of 56 km/hr...on a bicycle! It was so awesome! Tanyia and my boys drove up to have a swim before we loaded up the bike and made our way home. What a great day!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Hennessy Hammock Gear Test Video

Last Friday evening Gerry and I did a complete set-up of our hammocks and caught it all on video. This video is not exactly a gear's more of a way of showing anyone who might be interested in buying one just how easy they are to set-up.

One of the things perspective Hennessy Hammock owners can' t fully appreciate from the video is how comfortable these things are. Once I got over my fear of the whole thing crashing of the ground I was able to lye back in absolute comfort as the breeze gently rocked me back and forth. After 5 minutes I was starting to feel like a 220 lb infant and had to get out to avoid falling asleep.

We are both very excited to use these on our trip this year and without further delay, here is the video...

PS- Make sure you listen carefully to here Gerry scream like a girl with excitement...and no, I am not kidding. It's just that good!

Leave No Trace

I found a great site that descibes the 7 elements to the "Leave No Trace" method of camping and conservation. It's a great summery and I figured some of you may be as interested in it as me.
Leave No Trace Principles

The Leave No Trace Principles of outdoor ethics form the framework of Leave No Trace's message:

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
3. Dispose of Waste Properly
4. Leave What You Find
5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
6. Respect Wildlife
7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Plan Ahead and Prepare

  • Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
  • Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
  • Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
  • Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
  • Repackage food to minimize waste.
  • Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.

Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

  • Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
  • Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
  • Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
  • In popular areas:
  • Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
  • Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
  • Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
  • In pristine areas:
  • Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
  • Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.

Dispose of Waste Properly

  • Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food, and litter.
  • Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep at least 200 feet from water, camp, and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
  • Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
  • To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.

Leave What You Find

  • Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch, cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
  • Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
  • Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
  • Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.

Minimize Campfire Impacts

  • Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
  • Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
  • Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
  • Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.

Respect Wildlife

  • Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
  • Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
  • Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
  • Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
  • Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.

Be Considerate of Other Visitors

  • Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
  • Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
  • Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
  • Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
  • Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises

Friday, June 15, 2007

We lost the contest?

OK so we entered the Algonquin Adventures photo contest and neither of us won. I am surprised that either Gerry or I didn't win something, as I thought our pics were good....but I guess not good enough? I think I was looking at our photos through the same eyes as a new mother would look at her ugly baby. Does she ever think her baby is ugly?

The ones that one were great and I begrudgingly congratulate all the winners.

CLICK HERE to judge for yourself.

If this doesn't get you missing Algonquin...

Found this great video on youtube of two friends trip to Crow Lake. It includes some wild video of the climb up the abandoned fire tower and the view from the top. There are also some great shot of the tow of them that has given me some great idea for my trip with Gerry.

Take a look!

It's official....I am getting excited!

With only 24 days remaining until my solo trip and just 48 days before Gerry and I leave for CC2007 it is all becoming very real. Until now I have been able to distract myself making lists, collecting gear and reading the countless trip logs available, but with just a few weeks before I go on my first ever solo trip the reality of what I am doing has started to set in.

Solo tripping is going to be very different then what I have done in the past. I have always had someone with me and almost every time, that someone has been Gerry. Having a friend like him is like being able to pick someone to be a member of your family. We have a "brother-like" friendship that is perfect for canoe tripping and despite our relative inexperience, there was always a feeling that together we could face whatever challenge stood before us. I found I was able do things collectively that I am not sure I could do on my own. So in many ways, my solo trip is as much about testing my abilities then it is about seeing a section of the park that is new to me. I am feeling a bit anxious about being alone for that long and what feelings that may evoke. I remember a section of Chris Lawsons trip log of his first solo trip and where he was trying to sleep, but his mind kept racing with every bump in the night. I have a feeling I will be much like that for the first few nights and plan to record it all for a trip log of my own. Here is an exert:

"At around 1:20am I was just coming out of my third or fourth abortive attempt at sleep. I desperately wanted the night to be over so I could get up. Not since I hit puberty have I ever left bed willingly to say nothing of longing for it. I heard a wolf howling off in the distance.

But then I heard what seemed like half a dozen wolves howling in response. Only these were close. From what I could gather from the direction, they were maybe across the river from my site, maybe 50m away? I could hear their footfalls. Some were howling, some were whimpering. I could hear one (some) growl while others cried in response. Clearly there was some disagreement going on.

This went on for a few minutes. Distant howl, next door neighbours' chorus. Then I heard a splash. One or several or all were coming across to check out the food smells from my site. And when they found nothing but granola and cocktail rye, were they going to be pissed. Maybe the one that lost the fight was coming over to pick on something easier. Like a chipmunk, or me.

Of course, wolves don't attack humans. They just howl a lot and chase the things they like to eat. And it's estimated that there are between 30 and 35 packs of them ranging throughout Algonquin Park. And had I been in a better frame of mind, I might have just considered myself lucky to have encountered them and might have longed for an actual sighting.

But I wasn't. I was scared. The howling stopped after a few minutes and I hazed in and out of consciousness.

I recall spending borderless periods of time analysing noises: stubble scraping sleeping bag. Breathing through nose impeded by slight congestion. Stomach grumbling. Breeze rustling tarp. Squirrel climbing tree - fuck there he goes. Oh well, just so long as he spares me a tablespoon of coffee.

The next thing I remember is needing to go to the bathroom, being overjoyed at the fact that it was 6:10am. And my food bag was still intact. Hallelujah. "

I will be bringing my small waterproof point and shoot camera and my other digital camera that has a viewfinder. The waterproof Olympus is a far better digital camera, but I have found it difficult to frame a subject given the glare on the 4 X 3 screen. Anyone have a suggestion? The point and shoot also has a fairly decent video mode and I plan to shoot as much video as possible....maybe even a video diary.

I have been thinking about getting a small USB voice recorder to track my progress/feelings on the trip to use when writing the trip log and maybe a podcast.

My kids are a little to young to do any serious camping, so we are pulling them out of school next week and taking them to Sandbanks Provincial Park for 3 days. We are all very excited and looking forward to spending some time together without any distractions. I booked it about a month ago thinking the kids would be done school by then...but it turns out they are. Oh well, all the grades are already in and they don't get homework for the rest of the year anyway. I plan on bringing my Hennessy Hammock and giving it a real test drive one of our 3 nights as well. I just hope the weather at Sandbanks remains as nice as is predicted.

The countdown continues....thanks for reading everyone!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Fat Rage

Gerry wrote in a recent post about how athletic types are likely to voice there intolerance for fat people. We had recently talked about it and when the subject was first brought up I figured it would be directed at those that are overweight and chose to do nothing about it. But if seems that it is a much broader then that. Gerry points out that for many of these people they walk a thin line that at best is intolerance, but at times boarders on hate. Hate of them being at the gym, exercising, dieting or doing anything to change the habits that contributed to their obesity in the first place. Huh? How the hell are they supposed to lose weight then? It even

I have observed it happening a lot at my gym. These uber fit guys quietly (sometimes loudly) make fun of the fat people working out. It's just disgusting!

I have my own issues with people that are overweight, but only for those that are doing nothing to change. For example, anyone that is overweight and is suffering life altering or even potentially life ending health problems as a direct result of being fat should be doing WHATEVER IT TAKES to address the problem and if they do I applaud any effort....even one that fails. But if someone decides to do nothing to change their, smoking, diet, activity and lifestyle......then just shut up and live with the decision you have made. Don't whine to the rest of the world how unfair it is that you can't have another triple bi-pass surgery....please just shut up and quietly wait to die.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Stop bugging me!

It's no secret that Gerry and I love Algonquin Park. The Lakes, wildlife and unspoiled wilderness are just a few of the things that keep us coming back year after year. The only down side are the relentless army of mosquitoes, black and horse flies that also call the park home.

We have been fairly lucky when it comes to bugs. Most sites we have had are exposed and windy, so the bugs are not a factor. The same can not be said for the portages and I have found them to be much worse when I am carrying the canoe and unable to swat them away. This is where repellent is a must.

There are lots of repellent products that have DEET in them, so I thought I would collect some information that would be useful to those considering this product or that.

Which insect repellent is most effective?

DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide, N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide) is the most thoroughly studied insect repellent, and is considered to be the most effective agent available.

Is DEET safe?

DEET is considered to be very safe when used as directed. Few reports of serious problems with DEET exist, and most have been associated with long-term or excessive use.

Are there non-DEET alternatives?

Citronella oil, lavender oil, and p-menthane-3,8-diol are also registered insect repellents available in Canada. While they have been shown to provide some protection against mosquitoes, they generally do not provide the same level or duration of protection as DEET.

How long do insect repellents protect against mosquitoes?

Approximate protection times against mosquitoes for registered repellents are listed in Table 1. For DEET, duration of protection is related to its concentration in the repellent. Products with 30% or less DEET will provide sufficient protection against bites. Higher concentrations may be associated with increased health risks when used long-term. This is why Health Canada is phasing out repellents which contain more than 30% DEET.

• Products containing 30% DEET provide up to 5 hours of protection.
• Products containing 20% DEET provide almost 4 hours of protection
• Products with 10% DEET provide almost 2 hours of protection
• Products with 5% DEET provide an 1 hour of protection.

Solo trip Meal Plan

Four Day Meal Plan for Solo Trip

Day 1:
• Breakfast- ON THE ROAD
• Lunch- Bagels with deli meat, cheese,
• Dinner- Sausage on a bun, White wine, flakie
Day 2:
• Breakfast- Protien/Oatmeal, coffee
• Lunch- Bagel, bacon, cheese
• Dinner- Side Kick/ TVP, White wine
Day 3:
• Breakfast- Protein/Oatmeal, coffee
• Lunch- Tuna Wraps,
• Dinner- Side Kick/ TVP, White wine
Day 4:
• Breakfast- Protein/Oatmeal , coffee
• Lunch- English Muffin, Bacon
• Jerky
• Dehydrated Mango,
• Flakies
• Granola Bars
• Oatmeal/Protein
• Coffee
• Crystal Light

Grocery List:
1. 3 – Bagels
2. 1/4 lb. Ham
3. 4 oz Cheese
4. 2 – Sausage
5. 2 – Buns
6. White Wine
7. 1 packs – Pre-cooked bacon
8. 4 servings of coffee, whitener, sweetener
9. 4 servings of green tea
10. 2 – Side Kick Pastas
11. 2 – Servings of TVP
12. 12 – Instant Oatmeal
13. 6 – Servings of protien
14. 1 – Tuna in a bag
15. 2 – Whole Wheat wraps
16. 1 Lg Pack of Beef Jerky
17. Dehydrated mango
18. Dehydrated Watermelon
19. 6 Flakies
20. 10 Sweet and Salty bars
21. Crystal light crystals
22. 1/4 lb GORP

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Absolutely Hilarious Canoe Related Stand-Up

Why... Why...Why?

"Why would you ever want to do a canoe trip like that?"

To anyone that has experienced the many things Algonquin has to offer this may seem like a strange question....or at least I thought so, when asked recently. The funny thing is it wasn't the first time I have been asked this and I am sure it won't be the last either. As Gerry and I can attest, once you have been exposure to the natural beauty that the park has to offer there is no escaping its lure, but trying to explain that to someone that hasn't... is almost impossible. Since the main reason why I love our trips is based on the feelings they evoke, I am at a complete loss to explain all of that to anyone hasn't done it. So I have a simple way of answering...

Some people really "get" canoe tripping and some really don't. For my part I am glad both Gerry and I do.

Albert Einstein, although not talking about canoe tripping, sums it all up quite well...

"A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."

Albert Einstein, 1954

Meal Plan Finalized.....Again

Gerry and I have finalized our meal plan for CC. 2007. It was actually done some time ago, but either our palates have changed or the fact that we leave in in a mere 57 days has forced us to take a hard look at what we need and not got caught up in last years trap of "...this would be nice".

So without further delay, here is the Final (...I hope) meal plan for CC 2007 and below that you will find our Grocery list. At a glance it would appear that we are bringing about 1/3 the food we did last year, so that equates to about 10-15 lbs of food. Compared to the whopping 36 lbs of food we brought last year, of which we ate less then half and even that was often forced down.

C.C 2007 Five Day Meal Plan

Day 1

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

Day 2:

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

Day 3:

• Breakfast- Protein/Oatmeal, coffee
• Lunch- Tuna Wraps,
• Dinner- Steak , Side Kick Pasta

Day 4:

• Breakfast- Protein/Oatmeal , coffee
• Lunch- English Muffin, Bacon
• Dinner- Pasta Side Kick/ Textured Vegetable Protein

Day 5:

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


• Jerky
• Dehydrated Mango, Watermelon
• Flakies
• Granola Bars


• Coffee
• Gatorade Crystals

Grocery List:

1. 4 – Bagels
2. ½ lb. Deli Meat
3. 8 oz Cheese
4. 4 – Sausage
5. 4 – Buns
6. White Wine
7. Small Carrot Cake
8. 6 – English Muffins
9. 500ml – Flavored Egg whites
10. 2 packs – Pre-cooked bacon
11. 3 cups – Hash Browns
12. 14 servings of coffee, whitener, sweetener
13. 6 servings of tea
14. 2 – Ham Steaks
15. 1 – Side Kick Mashed Potatoes
16. 2 – Side Kick Pastas
17. 12 – Instant Oatmeal
18. 2 – Tuna in a bag
19. 4 – Whole Wheat wraps
20. 2- Steaks
21. Roast for Jerky
22. Dehydrated mango
23. Dehydrated Watermelon
24. 8 Flakies
25. 26 Sweet and Salty bars
26. Gator-aid crystals
27. ½ lb GORP