October in the Kawartha Highlands (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Rain)

october 24th-25th, 2015

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getting soggy on wolf lake, kawartha highlands provincial park

The title of this report is a bit of a misnomer. It wasn’t so much that I was worried about the rain itself; it was more that I was worried about how Andrew would react to a proposed late-season weekend canoe trip when the weather forecast was calling for rain, and lots of it, the Saturday we intended to set out. Poor conditions tend to make him crotchety, but I had just finished a really lousy week at work and wasn’t about to let a bit of rain stop me from getting my Nature Time. As we drove north from Toronto under a steady downpour, I obsessively hit ‘refresh’ on my weather app, and, with a heaping spoonful of optimism, informed Andrew that it couldn’t rain all day, the showers would be localized, and if we waited for perfect weather we would never get outside. As luck would have it, the rain stopped as we reached the Wolf Lake access point and loaded our gear into the canoe.

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Campfire Baked Apples

a tasty autumn treat. just look at that oozing butter!

a tasty autumn treat. just look at that oozing butter!

Here’s another use for the delicious spiced compound butter detailed in my Hot Buttered Rum recipe. We ate these for breakfast on our most recent outing, but they make an equally good dessert, especially for cold-weather camping. The butter, prepared at home, is the most fiddly step of the process. The apples themselves can be assembled in just a few minutes, and require about 20 minutes of baking over a campfire.

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Hot Buttered Rum

It's rainy, it's cold. Butter will keep you warm.

It’s rainy, it’s cold. Butter will keep you warm.

Is there anything better than booze, apple cider, and butter, all in one mug?

No. No, there isn’t, especially when it’s cold and damp outside. For cold-weather camping, you need a lot of extra calories to sustain you and keep you warm during the night. This libation does just the trick! The recipe is a bit involved, and requires lots of at-home prep work, but once you’ve made your butter you can keep it in the freezer, ready to go for your next adventure.

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Grilled Halloumi Kebabs

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cheese that’s ooey-gooey on the inside and crispy on the outside? yes, please

This is one of our signature camping meals. We first made it several years ago and have been including it on trip menus ever since. It’s a good way to get in some fresh vegetables during the first few days of an extended backcountry trip, and an excellent use for that squashed loaf of bread that’s going a bit stale on the third or fourth day. If you leave out the bread, the ingredients will last at least a week without refrigeration. Nothing like grilled vegetables on day seven!

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Haliburton Highlands Water Trails, Part 2

nunikani lake (direct, no loop) november 1st-2nd, 2014

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a bit of snow doesn’t scare me away from camping!

A little over a month after we first visited Haliburton Highlands’ Frost Centre, we went back for our final canoe trip of the season. Our brand new Ostrom canoe packs had just arrived in the mail, and we wanted to test them out before the lakes were iced over. Heading out for just one night with giant packs sure had its advantages: we were able to bring along extra blankets, butt-warming hunting cushions, extra dry bags full of warm clothes, and winter parkas. Continue reading

Haliburton Highlands Water Trails, Part 1

the nunikani lake loop, september 27th-28th, 2014

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big hawk lake, frost centre

Finding a weekend backcountry trip is usually pretty easy for us. Most of our trip ideas have come from Kevin Callan’s book Top 50 Canoe Routes of Ontario, and this route was no different. After briefly thumbing the pages for the millionth time, we decided to check out the “Nunikani Lake Loop” in Haliburton Highlands’ Frost Centre. Booking a reservation online was very similar to using the Ontario Parks website, except instead of picking up a permit at an access point, we could just print off the booking and go.

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Weekend on the Severn River

train bridge over the severn river

train bridge over the severn river. don’t worry. you’ll hear it.

September 12-13, 2015

I’m always looking for new and exciting places to go on quick weekend backcountry trips. After visiting the Massasauga Provincial Park, Haliburton Highlands, and the Canoe Lake access point in Algonquin numerous times, I was searching for a different fun area to explore. My requirements were that the trip had to be a maximum three-hour drive away from our home in Toronto, less than 10km of paddling and portaging to reach a campsite, and preferably Crown Land or in an unmaintained provincial park (free camping is a major bonus). It seemed like a tall order at first, until I put in a request on the forums at My Canadian Canoe Routes for advice. The response was overwhelming! After much deliberating, I decided on a little-known route just outside of Cottage Country in Muskoka, easily accessible from a government dock, no camping fees, and only a two-hour drive from our front door.

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Frozen Beer

launching with an icy, just-defrosted craft brew? pop it in a canoe cup-holder for safekeeping

launching with an icy, just-defrosted craft brew? pop it in a canoe cup-holder for safekeeping

If I’m lucky enough to be camping in an area without a ban on bottles and cans, you can bet I’m bringing along some beer. I’m a beer drinker, nay! connoisseur, and there’s nothing quite like cracking a can of frosty brew on a hot summer day after sweating my ass off carrying an eighty-five pound food barrel on my back over mosquito-infested portages on a canoe trip.

How do I keep my beer chilled and delicious without refrigeration, you ask?
I freeze it.

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