Touring Temagami: A 17 Day Expedition PART ONE

August 2nd – 18th, 2016

The Big One. 17 days and 16 nights through the heart of the Temagami wilderness. Our longest, most challenging, most spectacularly scenic route to date. This canoe trip took us on a journey of over 250km through some of the most rugged terrain in the region, with abundant wildlife, magical old-growth forests, sacred spiritual sites and ancient portage trails in use for over 5000 years, through areas of historical significance in relation to industry and environmental activism, and travel upon 5 rivers and 31 different lakes.

PART ONE: Against The Flow To Flo
Alternate Title #1: Always A Headwind
Alternate Title #2: I Fucking Hate Alder Bushes

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My Huckleberry Friend, Moon River, & Me

June 11-12, 2016

Moon River Loop via Kapikog and Healey Lakes

It’s that time of year again, folks, when I decide to go camping on a whim and search out a gnarly weekend route with little to no notice or planning. Freaks Andrew out every time. Maybe he was right to worry: The route I chose was roughly 30km long, we both left work at 21:30 the night before, we had to pack everything and pick up our canoe on the Saturday morning, and I had only procured the map from Brad over at Explore the Backcountry a day ahead of time. [It’s a great map, and I would love to share it with you wonderful people, but as it is yet to be published I must refrain from showing you the details of the route we took through Muskoka’s Georgian Bay cottage country region and down the lower third of the Moon River, and trust that my photos and descriptions of the area will be enough for you INSATIABLE trip report readers who have been BADGERING me non-stop to write up this little story for you. Well, this paragraph has taken a strange turn. Where was I?]

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kapikog lake, wild muskoka

Ah, yes. The Moon River. I chose this route for several reasons:

1.Reasonable drive from our home on the shores of polluted Lake Ontario in Toronto

ii) Could turn a river trip into a loop and thus avoid annoyance of organizing shuttle

three: Our friends have a cottage on one of the lakes we would be paddling through

and d) We had a map.

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Ice Out!

May 7th-8th, 2016

Backcountry openings for Algonquin Park were delayed twice this spring due to lingering ice. Considering the mild winter this year, we were expecting an early ice-out, but cool temperatures and a late freeze-up meant we were anxiously awaiting the paddling season opener. The original opening date of April 22nd was pushed back to April 29th, and then again to May 4th. Finally, the park’s canoe-in sites were available, and we made plans to meet up with a couple other people to celebrate springtime.

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after the portage between canoe and joe lakes

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March: In Like a Lamb

March 12th-13th, 2016

Backcountry Hot-Tenting Near Arrowhead Provincial Park

It’s been a rather lousy excuse for a winter here in southern Ontario this year, which makes perfect sense considering we just spent all of our money on a canvas winter tent, trail stove, and materials for building our own freight toboggans. We did get out on the Family Day long weekend, which was really fucking cold, but that was pretty much the most extreme weather we saw all season. Refusing to let our new equipment gather dust for eight months, we acted on a tip from some fellow adventurers (Canadian Pathfinders) and set off for a nice and easy crown land trek just north of Huntsville and Arrowhead Provincial Park for the weekend.

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loaded up and ready to glide at the access point

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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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