Monday, July 30, 2007

Brief Update

My laptop decided to have a meltdown on Friday morning, so don't think I have jumped ship! I will post with more detail once it is up and running.

CC2007 Update:

  • Jerky is made

  • Food is packed

  • I still have some minor packing left to do , but even that is all but completed.

  • The Weather for Mattawa ( closest town to our Trip) is calling fro thundershowers on Sunday. ...I hope that changes!

  • Strained my neck and lower back yesterday and it is causing me significant pain today. It is all muscular and I positive it will be healed before we leave, but still has me a little concerned.

Have a great day and say a prayer to the "computer gods" for me!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


In preparation for CC2007, which we leave for in just 8 days, I have been reading some of my older posts in hopes of hitting the "refresh" button on some of the details for the trip. After reading about 10 or so of these posts from last year, I started to noticed how the style of my writing has changed from a fact based style to more of a rambling first person narrative. Personally, I enjoy both, but lately I have found it hard to find the time to write it all out and it has greatly reduced the number of times I post. So for now.. I will return to the points, but don't worry, I am far too long winded for it to last long!

  1. CC2007 Prep: All the lists are made, the food has been purchased and for the most part I am already packed. All I have left to do is grab some dehydrated mango and GORP from the Bulk Barn, buy some baby bell cheese ( my IGA doesn't sell it...PS- they suck!) and a few minor items from Crappy Tire and I am ready to go! As I write, 3 lbs of inside the round beef is marinating in the fridge and will be jerky by this time tomorrow. My excitement level for this trip is at an all time high and neither of us can wait to get it started!
  2. How I make Canoe Trip Lists: As many of you will already know, I am crazy about lists! Much of this stems form my need to always be prepared and my fear of forgetting something important. "....I thought you brought a lighter?". Call me obsessive, neurotic or a control freak, but in my life I just feel better when everything is written out and canoe trips are no different. For our trips I have 4 main lists: Gear List, Grocery/Packed list, Meal Plan and To Do list. Here is how I do it. First thing I do is create a meal plan...nothing crazy here just 3 meal a day and what snacks and beverages we will have. From that list I then create the Grocery/Packed list that I use to buy what we need and then check it off as it is packed. The to do list is just a list of things I want to remind myself " pack the freezer food" or "charge camera batteries" or "grab paddles in garage"...that sort of thing. I find this list very helpful for those little jobs that may get lost along the way. The last and most important list is the mighty Gear List. I do my Gear list a little different. I break the list into 6 headings: Clothing (including clothes worn), Kitchen Equipment, General Equipment, In my Pocket, Top of the pack and Other considerations. I then assemble everything on my dining room table ( wife HATES that part) and scratch off items at they are packed. Anything that can not be packed then (like my glasses for instance) I circle, so I will notice it later.
  3. Harry Potter: As I have mentioned many times, I am a total geek and just in case you need more convincing....I was in the line at midnight to pick up both my copies ( one for me and Tanyia...did I mention she's a hot geek?) last Friday night! I love the books and I am already about half way through it. It makes me a bit sad that this is the last one though and even though I am sure this is it, I am still holding out hope for another one. "...hi, my name is Jim and I am a Potter-a-holic"
  4. Training: Not to sound arrogant, but I am kicking ass on the ground and in the water! My running and biking are going well, in fact, I have already bettered ( is bettered even a word?) my projected times for both. But it is my swimming that I am most proud of! I have been doing a swim program that over 3 months escalated in distance, intensity and speed and for the first time I swam the full distance, without breaks, at "race speed". I finished in 13:22 seconds which would put me in the top 100. It is just under a month until race day and I am looking forward to scaling back my workouts after the race. It has been awesome, but after doing 2 workouts a day, 6 days a week for the past 5 months I think earned a bit of down time.
  5. Solo Trip Write Up: First off, thanks to everyone that has inquired and I am pleased to let you know that it about half done and I hope to post it before we leave for CC2007. The experience I gained solo has changed how I look at tripping and I hope that by doing an honest and at times embarrassing account of my trip, that others can learn from some of my mistakes.
  6. History of Brent: I had intended on posting this a while ago, but never got around to it until now. It gives a brief history of the town of Brent (access point 27) and has some great pictures. Thanks Gerry!
  7. Gerry's Car: As Gerry discussed in a recent post, he accidentally caused some costly damage to his car. In hopes of making him feel better about it, I figured I would share some of my more embarrassing car related mishaps. Like the time I backed out of my drive way and rammed in to my next door neighbours car causing $1000 damage or the time I rear ended an SUV at a stop sign because I had to go the the bathroom so bad I was about to pee my pants. This one caused $3700 damage to my car and nothing to the other vehicle! Another good one was while traveling through Quebec Tanyia suggested I slow down and while pointing to the busy highway, I said to her "Look at all these cars...what are the chances of me getting caught?"....5 minutes later I was being written a $300 speeding ticket. See Gerry, stuff like this happens...and fortunately for you, it seems to mostly happens to me!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Solo Trip was a bit on the crazy side..

The trip was a great learning experience and turned out to be more then I thought it would be. That said, I ended up coming home early because of damage caused to my canoe and my hammock when a tornado touched down on the southern part of Pen Lake....that's right, I said a tornado! I will do a full write up about the experience in the next few weeks, but for now I am focused on CC2007!

Gerry and I had planned on staying at the hotel across from McCools in "downtown" Mattawa, but it's completely booked. Who would have guessed Mattawa would be such a popular tourist destination? Anyway, we have booked at the Welcome Inn (same place as last year...) for the night of August 2nd.

I don't have much time today, but I promise to update on Friday!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

It's 4 AM....I must be leaving for Algonquin!

I am just about to leave, but I just wanted to post one last time and I will update when I return.....I am off to Algonquin!!!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Canoe Quote

"What sets a canoeing expedition apart is that it purifies you more rapidly and inescapably than any other travel. Travel a thousand miles by train and you are a brute; pedal five hundred on a bicycle and you remain basically a bourgeois; paddle a hundred in a canoe and you are already a child of nature."

Pierre Elliot Trudeau

What does that mean?

Ever wonder what the weather man really means by scattered clouds? I found at the National Weather Service site...

Technically, the Probability of Precipitation (often referred to as a "POP") is defined as the likelihood of occurrence (in percent) of a measurable amount of liquid precipitation (or water equivalent of frozen precipitation) during a specified period of time at any given point in the forecast area.

The following are precipitation probabilities used by the National Weather Service.

POP Percentage Expression/Uncertainty Areal Qualifiers
0 Percent None None
10 Percent ISOLATED or None ISOLATED or None
80-100 Percent (none) OCCASIONAL or

Forecasts normally include a sky condition unless it is implied from another part of the forecast. Below are terms we use to describe the sky condition:

Descriptive Term Predominant or Average Cloud Cover
CLEAR or SUNNY No clouds
MOSTLY SUNNY or MOSTLY CLEAR 1/8 to 2/8 clouds
PARTLY CLOUDY or PARTLY SUNNY 3/8 to 5/8 clouds
CLOUDY 8/8 clouds
Also used:

Weekend Update and I Leave Tomorrow

This weekend was awesome!Friday night Tanyia and I decided to stay in and rent a movie. I looked at the new releases, but there was nothing that really interested me. Although Hollywood can still occasionally hit a home run, I have found that most new movies are predictable and poorly written. The slide in quality started about 10 years ago and it's not that all new films are's just that most use the same plot line and that's just boring! So, with me unable to find a suitable movie, I decided to rent one that I had seen, but Tanyia had not. The movie Lucky Number Slevin is one of my all time favorite movies. In fact it is number 2 in my top 10, second only to The Shawshank Redemption my perennial number one. Anyway, Tanyia loved the film and I loved seeing it again. If you haven't seen it, you may want to rent it if you should ever find yourself lost in the sea of Blockbusters yellow and blue.

Saturday Gerry and I went over to his brother-in-laws place to watch the UFC event. He has one of those "Free-to-air receivers" and after seeing it in action I am pretty sure I'll get one. The fights were the best yet and it was great to spend some time with Gerry.

Sunday was split between training, my final preparations for the trip and family stuff. I weighed my pack and it came in at 52 lbs . That's food, gear and even my life jacket! I wondered how this compared to our packs from last years trip and so I looked it up in an old post.

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

Food Bag 30 lbs!

I thought that my bag was lighter then last year, but considering I am carrying everything myself I think I did a good job of keeping it fairly lite. The food is bag weight is hilarious. After seeing that we brought 30 lbs of food last year I had to see what my food bag was. Including 750 ml of wine, all meals and snacks it weighed in at a whopping 5.5 lbs! I learned a lot last year and so I only brought what I needed plus snacks, wine and an extra days food should I get wind bound.

All weekend they were predicting rain on 2 of my 4 days in Algonquin, but that all changed this morning when I checked the weather network site for Dwight....nothing but sunshine all week! I am still prepared for the possibility of rain, but let's face it....the trip would be much better without it! Keep your fingers crossed for me.

I will try to post again before I leave, but just in case I don't get the chance 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 their day to check out my blog, it makes keeping it up to date so much easier with all of your help. Thanks everyone!!!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Awesome Gift

Like many people, I love coffee. The aroma of fresh pot of java is one of those things that can make me feel at home, regardless of where I may be and our canoe trips are no exception.

We have tried a few different ways of preparing coffee while in Algonquin. The first was the French press which worked well, but is just not practical for interior camping. We have also used these little bags you fill with coffee, then using a little stick hang it over your mug. This worked OK and was light, but it was too easy to get coffee grounds in our mugs. It seemed there was not a perfect solution.

That all changed yesterday when Gerry arrived at my place with a gift he had picked- up from MEC. It's called the GSI H2JO! Coffee Filter and it's a metal coffee filter that converts any Nalgene bottle into a a simple coffee brewer! I plan to try it tonight, but it looks amazing and will no doubt become a staple on all our trips.

Thanks Buddy!

Rain Rain Go Away...

Yesterday the weather for my trip took a turn for the worse. In the area surrounding Dwight (closest town to Rock Lake) they were calling for rain for most of next week....DOH!! Not that big a deal, but when I imagined my evenings to be spent by the fire, with a wine in one hand and a book in the other, not hunkered down under a blue tarp.

This morning though, everything is looking up! They are now forecasting for rain most of the weekend and clear sunny skies for my trip....YEAH! It seems funny that the weather can change that much in such a short time. It makes me wonder how accurate these "predictions" really are.

Rain or shine I leave in just over 3 days...

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Fishing Cedar Lake

Someone mentioned that Jake Pigeon has a map on display where he has circled all the best fishing spots. Something Gerry and I should check out when we are up there for CC2007.

Here is the quote:i

"...Your best bet for information is to talk with Jake or Bonney Pigeon who run the store for Algonquin Outfitters at Brent. There is a map displayed under glass at the counter that shows where to target for what species. They won't give you a copy (for good reason) so you'll have to do your best to remember those that are close to where you are camping."

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

A few links for Rock Lake Solo

  1. Driving directions
  2. Mark in the Park Rock Lake trip log

9. Rock Lake (Copied from Algonquin Adventures trip logs)

(9.1) Loop: 3 - 5 days - via Pen, Welcome, Florence and Louisa Lake - Margaret Kean's "Visitors". (Brief text account, with e-mail contact)

(9.2) There and back: 2 days - to Welcome Lake - Cheryl's "Rock Lake to Welcome Lake" trip-log. (Substantial text account with three photos and email contact)

(9.3) There and back: 3 days - to North Grace Lake by way of Louisa Lake - Randy Born's "Rock, Louisa and North Grace Lakes - May 8-10, 2004 " trip-log. (Text account with three photos)

(9.4) There and back: 4 days - Pen, Clydegale, Welcome, Harry, Rence, Clydgale and Pen Lakes (with detours to Galeairy Lake) - Randy Born's "May of 2004, Phase Two" trip-log. (Text account with six photos)

(9.5) Loop: 5 days - Pen, Welcome, Harry and Louisa Lakes - May 12th to 16th, 2005 Markus Rubino's "Pen - Louisa Loop" trip-log. (9.6) There and Back: 3 days - north of Highway 60 to Redfox and Hiram Lakes - extensive portaging by logging road - May 21-23, 2004 Markus Rubino's "Hiram Lake Portage" trip-log.

(9.7) There and Back: 6 days - South to a basecamp on Pen Lake, with daytrips to Clydegale, Welcome and Harry Lakes "Rob W's Algonquin Spring Fishing May 9 - 13, 2005 trip-log. (text, photos and website).

(9.8) There and Back: 4 days - Portage to Pen Lake, with daytrips to adjacent lakes Mike and Laurie’s 3 Nights On Pen Lake trip-log. (text & photos).

(9.9) There and Back: 6 days - to Pen and Welcome Lakes, with a daytrip to Harry and Rence Lakes - Tom Yates' "The Yates Group Trip 2006". (text & photos).

(9.10) Loop: 5 days - solo "folbot" trip through Pen, Welcome, Harry, Rence, Frank, Florence Lakes and Lake Louisa - Jim FitzSimmons' "Algonquin Journal - 2006". (text & photos).

"What canoe did you rent?"

I was just asked the following question:

"Hey, for your solo trip, what canoe did you rent? Like size and weight? I am wondering if I should rent a solo, or a 15-16 foot lightweight. I am leaning to the latter. Thanks."

I considered renting a larger canoe, but it can be difficulty to maneuver a tandem canoe solo and I wanted it to be lite. The best compromise of weight and stability was the Swift Shearwater Kevlar fusion and it weighs in at a slender 38 lbs!

For any other details on the Shearwater click HERE and thanks for your interest!

Robinson Lake...Hammock?

A few weeks ago Gerry pointed out a potential problem with our using our Hennessy Hammocks while staying on Robinson Lake. Gerry said "...I wonder if there will be enough trees"....DOH!

We had spotted this site while on the 2006 trip, but that was almost a year ago and I couldn't remember the size of any of the trees. But while I was sifting through some of our pics I came across the ones we took while surveying the site and the answer was clear.

It will not be an issue....

Solo Trip Countdown Continues...JUST 5 DAYS!

Last night Tanyia and I took the kids to see the new kids movie Ratatouille. As we sat in the theater Tanyia leans over to me and whispers in my ear "...a week from now you'll be in Algonquin", then smiles. She knows how much I have been looking forward to this and she has been so supportive. I reached over and gave her hand a little squeeze in appreciation. Even before she said it, I knew it was just a week away, but at that moment it really struck a week I will be in Algonquin...alone. In fact, this will be the first time I have ever been alone for more then a couple of hours. Earlier I wrote about how I was feeling anxious/excited about the trip, but over the weekend any anxiety was devoured by my excitement as I did the bulk of my trip preparations.

Gerry was kind enough to lend me his dehydrator, so I could try me hand at making beef jerky again. This was the 3rd time I had made jerky and by far the best. I used the same soy sauce based recipe that we enjoyed last year, but kept a real eye one the beef this year to avoid over drying. Gerry also suggested that I rotate the rings of the dehydrator every couple of hours, moving the one closest to the heat to the top. I also used a bit of the hot sauce that I had left out last year. All of this, combined with a 48 hour marinate in the fridge produced my best jerky yet! It is almost the perfect texture... not to wet or dry and the flavour is awesome. After a couple of bites you stat to feel a bit of heat coming, but just as you think it might get hot, the heat pulls back. PERFECT!
Here is the Recipe if anyone is interested:

2 pound eye of round
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoon brown sugar
2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

I also spent the weekend packing all of my gear and most of the food. The pack is already so much lighter then last year, but I will weight it and post the final total a little later in the week. I have decided to bring a few luxury items, like my hard cover of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, three 250 ml tetra packs of a very nice Pino Grigio from Three Thieves and the Therm-a-rest chair..thanks

The weather for my trip is looking great! No sign of rain and sunny every day. The only down side is at night is will drop to just 9 Celsius, which seems pretty cold for July, but who cares I will be asleep. With the temps dipping that low I imagine the night sky will be clear for stargazing.

At this point I have done everything I can do. I've realized that I need this level of preparedness to feel confident I can handle a trip like this. The last thing I need is to get out there and realize I forgot to bring *BLANK* and that *BLANK* would have made the trip so much better. obsessive compulsive personality compels me to make lists, then triple check the lists to make sure I haven't forgotten anything. Once this is done, all I can do is worry I left something off of one of the lists in the first place...but that would never happen right? ....RIGHT?