2017-09-08 Sharbot Lake

I finally got my cast off my right arm mid-August and I was definitely feeling like I had not camped enough this summer. I had started physio and I was feeling like the wrist would not be a problem if I went off for a few days by myself.  Sharbot Lake is about 90 minutes from home and I had found a nice looking walk-in site right on the water.

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The weekend was going to be beautiful, but getting pretty cool in the evening so my only real concern was staying warm enough. A good opportunity to try the sleeping bag liner I picked up earlier in the summer, and I also brought another sleeping bag along to use as a blanket.

So after work on Friday, off I went. Arrived at the park west of Perth around 6pm and had my tarp and tent up and supper underway by 7pm. It was a nice fall evening, and a good fire kept me warm as the sun went down. Since it is dark by around 8pm now, I was ready for bed by 9. I did not have to hang food, just had to walk up to the truck to store things overnight. In anticipation of a cold 8c night, I had a base layer, sleeping bag liner, bag, plus another sleeping bag to use as a blanket. As it turned out, sometime in the night I got rid of all of it and was comfortable just in the sleeping bag (which is definitely a summer bag).  The park is close to Hwy 7 so I did hear highway noise through the night, the only other noise was the odd acorn falling. I managed to sleep in until after 8am, likely because there was nobody else camping around me.

Saturday turned out to be a beautiful day. Breakfast was pancakes with blueberry honey and percolator coffee. I had been on a bit of a slant during the night so I adjusted the tent a bit, took my time and wasn’t on Black Lake with my kayak until close to 11am. Had a nice paddle followed by lunch and a rest in the hammock. I was reading a book I had picked up in my work lunchroom, and dragonflies were all around me. With a warm sun I was soon napping.

By mid-afternoon I decided I should get the kayak moved to Sharbot Lake and do a bit more paddling. It was good to know that my arm could handle getting the kayak on and off the truck with no issues (this is how I do it). It was a great calm afternoon and I ended up paddling and fishing for a couple of hours.

I had decided to eat earlier today so had a fire going on stuffed peppers warming on the grill by 5:30. A tasty supper followed by just relaxing by the fire with my book and a glass of wine. By the time it got dark I was stargazing with the help of the SkyMap app on my phone, with Saturn and Antares standing out.

I thought I would be warmer tonight so slept in just my summer sleeping bag – but I did end up pulling the second bag over me as it did get chilly! Shoulders and hips were a bit sore so that may be an issue going forward. It was a much quieter night with less road noise. It is hard to sleep in once the sun is up, but it did warm up quickly so I just lazed in the tent. Breakfast today was just oatmeal and coffee, and I just soaked up the morning sun.

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Winter is coming!

Packing up went quickly and I was on the road home by around 11am. It was another beautiful day, and a nice relaxing drive home – no trailer to pull!

Good things about this trip:

  • the $8 gear hanger I picked up in Maine was fantastic. It can be hung vertically or horizontally, and you can clip just about anything to it.
  • the  fold up “stadium chair” from Dick’s was also great, a padded backrest anywhere you want it.
  • no freeze dried food!

When I arrived home I was chatting with Denise and my mother in law about this trip, and m-i-l asked why I liked doing this. Good question.  Why go sleep outdoors on hard ground, wear the same clothes for days,  cook on a tiny stove or a fire, and wonder about every noise you hear in the night.

I’m not really sure. I’d like to say I am totally comfortable doing this,  but I’m not. Every noise in the night has me thinking a bear is out there. I do enjoy the planning, set up, cooking, kayaking, and just being outside. So maybe that little bit of fear is part of the fun. Next spring I am going to do some more paddle in camping. I’ll be 60, and still learning and building up a comfort level. Maybe when the zombies come, I’ll be ready, but probably not.

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2017-06-18 Algonquin Park

This spring we visited Pog Lake again with Chris and Rod. We had ‘across the road” sites which worked out great. We all arrived on Sunday, got set up, and had a great evening. Denise is still not at 100% mobility with her hip, Rod was having some issues with walking, my arm was still not right, so there were enough medical issues to go around. Even so, Chris and Rod had their bikes, and we had our bikes together with canoe and kayak.

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Lunch stop in Barry’s Bay

A quick shower blew through before sunset, resulting in some nice rain pictures.

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Water view from our campsite

 

On Monday we headed to Toronto for Brian’s York University graduation ceremonies (Graphic Design). We were lucky to have a beautiful day and enjoyed our quick trip and visit.

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Always interesting to visit our largest city.

It made for a long day of driving, so it was around 11pm when we finally turned onto Hwy 60 from Huntsville to the park. With another hour to go, we were both worried about wildlife on the road. We had not seen another vehicle for ages, when around a corner there was a cow moose and her calf in the middle of the road. Since I was going pretty slowly we were able to stop and watch  them make their way back into the bush – but we were doubly watchful the rest of the way.

In general the weather was pretty good, but we did have showers especially Thursday night and part of Friday. That prompted Chris and Rod to decide leave a day early on Friday. In between we did get some paddling, biking, and sight-seeing in.

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The campground was quiet the whole week, but even on Friday night we could sense it was going to be noisier and more crowded for the weekend. There is much to be said for visiting the parks in spring or fall.

Of course Saturday when we left turned out beautiful and the drive home was pretty uneventful.

2017-06-09 kayak-in camping at Murphys Point, Site 402

I spent Friday to Sunday at a kayak-in site on Big Rideau Lake, having put in at the provincial park boat launch. During the wet and cold months leading up to this I viewed lots of videos and read many posts about how best to do this. We already have most camping necessities, but geared to trailer camping. Over the spring I researched and acquired (as cheaply as possible) a new mini-stove, camp cookware, a warm weather sleeping bag, underpad, tarps, dry bags, water purification, and various other odds and ends (Amazon, Trailhead-Paddleshack, Canadian Tire). I test packed to make sure everything fit and was balanced – the main criteria was my hatch openings are 8″ diameter, pretty much everything had to fit in there. It sure seemed like alot of stuff to take along, I even took pictures and made diagrams so I would know where everything went. It was also going to be my first attempt at over-nighting in a hammock. I had not had much luck with that at home on the deck, as I ended up inside every time I tried it (should have paid more attention to that red flag)

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Packing layout 2017

I had taken Friday off as I had other things to attend to in the morning, but was ready to head out by 1 PM. Arrived at the park, checked in and started packing the kayak. Everything went in pretty much as planned. It was tight and I had to open up some of the dry bags to stuff them in the hatches, then rolled them closed once they were in. It was a beautiful afternoon and soon I was off! The site was not far, the lake was calm, and I was feeling great.

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Since I had already checked out the site on a previous visit, I knew where I was going to hang the hammock, and setup went as planned. The little bit of knot study I had done was a big help, especially this video I found, 4 knots to set up a tarp .

I put up a tarp over the hammock but as the forecast was good I didn’t even hang my second one. The only wildlife I was concerned about was raccoons, so I hung my food bag on a nearby branch not quite according to “protocol“, but I figured it was safe enough.

Supper was sausages over the fire and a package of Sidekicks pasta. I had brought 2 beers with me so I enjoyed a Sidelaunch with supper. Water was all lake water, filtered though my new Sawyer Mini. It seemed to work great, the water tasted great and absolutely no ill effects.

I had figured out that I had to put my Thermarest sleeping pad inside my sleeping bag so it would not move around, and hoped to have a good nights sleep. That did not happen. I was up most of the night trying to get comfortable and probably slept 2 hours – not good (it was also a huge full moon – looked like someone had left the lights on all night!). By Saturday morning I had made my mind up to head into Perth and pick up the cheapest tent I could find at Canadian Tire. On a surprising good note, the sun had me up around 5 AM and I was treated to a beautiful sunrise.

Once I had breakfast, I paddled into the boat launch, drove to Perth, got the tent, and headed back. I knew before hand that it was going to be a small tent – I ended up lying in it on a diagonal so that the pad and sleeping bag would fit. That said, it was easy to put up by myself, fit right under the tarp I already had up, and I had a nice test snooze. I was able to sleep on my side and my stomach very comfortably.

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That afternoon the wind picked up to the point that it would not have been fun to kayak around, so I snoozed in the now relocated hammock and just totally relaxed. Great way to spend an afternoon.

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Supper was Mountain House freeze dried beef and vegetables. Um, not so good, but a hot meal none the less. One of the things I enjoy most about camping with Denise in the trailer is how well we eat, so I definitely have to work on the food prep if I’m going to keep doing this.

Due to my lack of sleep, I was ready for bed by 9:30. I had a campfire going and had enjoyed a bit of 40 Creek and the tent was looking good. And…I had a great sleep. The wind stayed pretty strong all night but everything was secure. Sunday morning the wind was still pretty strong, and I saw all the other paddle-in sites pack up and leave by around 7 am to avoid the typical later-in-the-day wind pickup. I had a quick breakfast of oatmeal and started packing myself. Everything fit in well and by 9 am I was paddling back to the boat launch. The wind was at my back and the 2 foot waves didn’t bother me much.

When I got to the boat launch there were fishermen with outboards who said the wind was too strong for them to go out. I was glad I had left early. So, everything worked pretty well, and I was able to adapt to what did not. A fun weekend!

 

 

Summer 2017

After an incredibly wet spring it finally feels like summer might get here. We had a camping trip to Adirondack Park in New York State all booked and we were getting packed and ready to go, when our 4 legged pal Toby started having some serious health issues. We had planned to bring him with us but with the realization that a vet might be hard to find or get to in a new area, and that we might have issues coming or going over the border, so at the last minute we decided to just stay home. As it turned out, after a few scary weeks he seems to be better now, at least temporarily.

So the next trip planned is a 2 night paddle in site on Big Rideau Lake. I’m heading out tomorrow on my own with the kayak and hammock (and what still looks like alot of stuff). Forecast is pretty good for the weekend and I’m not going too far so it will be an interesting experiment!

Figuring out packing has been fun but basically everything fits into a medium sized duffel bag. Items I needed to get were pretty inexpensive on Amazon (mini stove, cookset, tarp, water purification etc) but getting it all set up and working will be a bit of an adventure. Should be fun!

 

February 2017 -spring is coming!

So this is not a camping post, but it is feeling like spring as it will be well above freezing most of the coming week. Still the middle of February so I’m sure there will be a bit of winter still to come.

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Some of the summer camping is already booked (Murphy’s Point, Algonquin), excited to be going to New York state in June (Buck Pond Campground).

Seeing as it was so nice today, we took Toby out for a walk in the woods, also getting Denise more active with her new hip. Still trying stuff out with the GoPro, here is a video from today.

Charleston Lake (254) & Murphy’s Point (257) Sep 2016

Our last 2 trips for this year. Both times we left on Friday after work so we were onsite and set up by around 6:30-7:00 pm.

We enjoyed being on the water site at Charleston in the spring so took the same site again. The water was much lower so messier to get in but enjoyed the weekend. Did a little more fishing this time and did get a couple of bass (released). This Tarpon kayak is just so much fun to paddle and fish from.

A quick edit Jan 2017 to see if I can link to video – if this works then you will see me out for a paddle on the lake through a YouTube channel.

Had a big storm roll through Saturday night (tornado watch) but as usual it wasn’t nearly as bad as it sounded. When we got home we did find that we had lost a tree in the front yard due to the wind.

The next weekend we were at Murphy’s Point on a site Denise liked but had always been booked. The drive to the park is twisty, around one turn was a deer just 3 feet off the road, and around another turn was a flock of turkeys crossing the road.

A nice big site but like many at this park, not very level. It was nice to be able to tie the kayak up just down a bit of a slope from the site. The weather was iffy all weekend although there was not much rain, but it was always threatening. It was much quieter here than the last weekend at Charleston. I paddled out to the Big Rideau but after a bit the clouds started to gather. I didn’t get wet but it did rain at our site. I had fun with the GoPro also, but can’t upload video to this site unless I upgrade to a paid version – bummer.

So that’s it for camping this year, but in 3 months I can start reserving for next year! Now that Denise has her paperwork done to cross the border (and will soon have a new hip) we will be looking at camping in Adirondack Park.

Next thing to do – winterize the trailer! No falling off ladders allowed!

 

Parks of the St.Lawrence 2016-08-01 Site 25

We just wanted a quick couple of days somewhere close so first trip to Parks of the St.Lawrence, Morrisburg Bird Sanctuary Campground.  We weren’t quite sure what to expect but this was a nice campground and we had a great couple of days. Our site was right at waters edge. A bit different than provincial parks, no real defined site, but set up anywhere between posts. Worked out fine.

Enjoyed watching the freighters go by several times a day and had fun out in the kayaks. A bit odd that the dump station is right in the middle of the campground, and no hoses provided. Had to make a run into Ingleside for a garden hose for dumping, but as it was very hot it was a good excuse for ice cream too. Fire ban was on for our last night but that didn’t bother us too much. A nice relaxing start to holidays – trip to Nova Scotia coming next.

 

2016-06-19 Algonquin Park (Pog Lake site 118)

We had not been to Algonquin Park in years so it was time for a visit. Booked a water site on Pog Lake (5 months in advance!). Because of Denise’s hip we did not bring the canoe, but did bring a kayak and our bikes. Felt pretty heavy as we pulled out, but it was a hot sunny day and the drive was fun. Filled up in Barry’s Bay and got to the park with half a tank of gas left.

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Check in went fine, we were warned about bears and keeping our site clean, which we do always anyways. The site was great, easy in and out and a short path to the water with a nice view. Also because kids were still in school the park wasn’t full and was very quiet.

We did a bit of biking but again Denise’s mobility was limited. I got out in the kayak every day. A new route for me was from Lake of Two Rivers up the Madawaska River. Saw loons, ducks, and geese but nothing bigger. We did see a moose along Hwy 60 on our way back from a visit to Swift Canoe and Kayak in Dwight, just outside the park.

Weather was great our entire stay, I was able to swim right from our camp site so didn’t even go to the beach. It was a great relaxing week.

Had another beautiful hot day for the drive home, we were on the road around 11am to miss traffic going into Ottawa. Filled up in Whitney and again in Golden Lake.

2016-06-09 charleston Lake site 254

We were a bit delayed this year with our first trip due to a nice vacation in St. John’s NL for a week at the end of May, and by Alex’s UNB graduation (MBA). So we didn’t get out until June, and even at that Denise missed the first night due to St.Lawrence College’s graduation ceremony on Friday. So Toby and I were on our own for Thursday night and Friday.

Site 254 is a water site, one we had tried for years to get but they were all always booked. This is a nice site, easy to get on to, and right on the water.

Denise is having alot of trouble with her hip (replacement coming this winter) so we did not do alot of hiking, I did get in some nice kayaking. we are back on this same site in the fall .

More on trailer repairs

So this spring when we opened up the trailer, we were still noticing a damp smell. I decided to check the floor in the front storage hatch, and sure enough there was black mold under the flooring. Over the course of a few weekends I pulled up all the linoleum floor, washed underneath it with bleach, and also removed any soft wood I found. After another few weeks of drying it out I layed down some new hardboard floor from Home Hardware, and covered that with a plastic runner from Canadian Tire. All told, cost was about $60 but no more moldy smell and a happy wife. Nothing is worse than water damage in a trailer.