Building a Winter Freight Toboggan, Pt 2

Late February/Early March, 2016

For Part One, Click Here

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they really work!

The second half of our toboggan build did not go as smoothly as the first. Andrew and I both encountered problems with our individual portions of the project, and the final assembly took much longer than expected. There are still some kinks we are working out with our rigging system, but I’m pleased to report we are now the proud owners of our very own handmade freight toboggans for winter backcountry travel!
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Forty Below Zero

February 13th-15th, 2016
Testing our new winter gear and our mettle against blisteringly cold temperatures in Algonquin Provincial Park

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here it is! our new winter tent! custom 30″ side walls and an 8′ peak!

We had been planning to go camping for the February long weekend ever since we ordered our new Atuk Alaskan winter tent and Kni-Co Packer trail stove. That’s the only part of the plan we actually stuck to. Originally our goal had been to finish our winter freight toboggans and head out to some quiet and remote piece of crown land for a weekend of relaxation and exploration, but despite spending many long and frustrating hours in a vicious battle with a sewing machine (me) and confusion about placement of the pulling bars (Andrew), we still hadn’t quite managed to finish all of the rigging to get our sleds ready in time. Then, we checked the forecast: Highs of -35C for the entire weekend. For safety’s sake, we decided against wandering into the bush with a tent we had yet to even unroll completely, and chose to head to Mew Lake campground in Algonquin Provincial Park, where we knew there would be other people around to save us in case of a catastrophic tent fire or frozen digits. Also, the campground has a “comfort station”, and pooping in the warmth of a heated washroom is always a bonus when mere minutes of skin exposure can cause frostbite.

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Building a Winter Freight Toboggan, Pt 1

January 31st, 2016

For Part Two, Click Here

Winter hot-tenting is something Andrew and I have wanted to do for quite some time, but it’s taken a while to save some money for all the gear we will need. We decided to go easy on Christmas presents for each other this year, and instead put that money towards a canvas tent and portable wood stove so we can get out and enjoy the “hard water” season. Our tent, the Alaskan model from Atuk Tents in Quebec has arrived, and so has our Kni-Co Packer stove, but with the tent weighing in at 24lbs and the stove at 22lbs, we can’t exactly throw them in a backpack and hit the trail. The solution? Winter freight toboggans!

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New Year’s Eve at Camp Bongopix

It’s 2016!

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party at the common room, camp bongopix

A week before Christmas, I was scrolling through Instagram, as I frequently do, when a “ping!” let me know I had just received a direct message. @Bongopix and I had been following each other on Instagram since late summer – I knew that Bongo Mike and Andrea had just recently opened a cool, retro-style Airbnb cottage resort near the East Gate of Algonquin Park – but other than throwing each other lots of likes and comments full of nature emojis, we hadn’t really spoken much before. Needless to say, I was intrigued when I saw a message from them and opened it straight away.

They were writing to me to invite Andrew and I up to their Backpacker’s Bunk for a big New Year’s Eve party! As I never have plans on New Year’s Eve, and couldn’t think of a single better way to ring in the new year than up in Algonquin Park with other awesome camping freaks, I said yes immediately. As our Bunk would have two queen-sized beds, we invited our friends and adventure buddies Jacob and Sonia to join in the festivities.

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Snowed In, Late November, Algonquin Park

november 20th-22nd, 2015

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saturday morning, rain lake access point, algonquin park

After our trip to the Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park in October, I didn’t feel as if we had given our canoe a proper farewell for the season, so after a few weekends of working and staying in the city, we planned on one last canoeing adventure before we became landlocked for the winter. I decided on a relatively easy trip to the Rain Lake access point in Algonquin, where we wouldn’t have to deal with big lake crossings or strenuous portages. Really, we just wanted an easy escape for the weekend where not much could go wrong. Oh, how false my predictions proved to be!
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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