Backcountry camping at Frontenac

May long weekend is an important milestone here in Canada. Many consider it the unofficial start of summer and/or the opening of the camping season. It certainly was for us until we started camping year round and May 2-4 lost its special status. So we had to rethink its purpose and for the past two years May long weekend has become the opening of the backcountry season.

campsite 4C on Big Salmon Lake at Frontenac Provincial Park Continue reading

The Best of 2016

It’s hard to believe 2016 is drawing to a close. And it was quite a year when it comes to outdoor adventures, both close and far. With a three-week road trip all the way to Los Angeles, lots of camping with family and friends, my first solo trip and endless microadventures, it is next to impossible to narrow down ten best. But I’ll still try.

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Pokémon Go? No, it’s Algonquin go all the way!

Algonquin’s visitor centre has a board for recording wildlife sightings. When we stopped by the centre a couple of weeks ago, one of the entries read “Mewtwo at Mew Lake” (for the uninitiated mewtwo is a Pokémon, and no, I didn’t know that until our son, who wildlife viewing board at Algonquin visitor centreused to watch Pokémon, told me). I don’t know if it was an actual “sighting” (can I even use the word “actual” in this context?) or if it was meant as a joke (judging by the entry right above it could be). Regardless, it speaks to the latest Pokémon craze, which has been the centre of many debates lately. Proponents of this augmented reality game say it gets people outside and helps them get connected with other players and places they haven’t seen before. The “Pokémon go away” team, on the other hand, doubts if people even notice what’s around them with their gaze glued to the screen. I do think playing Pokémon Go outside is better than ‎Assassin’s Creed in the basement, but I still find it hard to understand why virtual characters are needed to get people out of their house. To me, outside on its own is exciting enough, with all the bunnies, loons, bears and other real life “Pokémons.”

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Paddling my own canoe: my first solo trip in Killarney

“Be strong, O paddle! be brave, canoe!”

The Song My Paddle Sings by E. Pauline Johnson

If you read my previous post, you know that for my 40th birthday I decided to go on my first solo canoe trip in Killarney. Or should I say ended up going, because originally I planned backpacking in Algonquin. I even had sites booked on the Highland Trail. Backpacking seemed easier to execute and required less gear – just two feet and whatever fits into a backpack. Then, after our Killarney trip at the beginning of July, it became clear: I love canoeing way more than backpacking, I love Killarney, and hence I should go canoeing in Killarney. So two weeks before the trip I changed my reservation, got in touch with Killarney Kanoes to book my mode of transportation and started watching Bill Mason’s videos on how to paddle a solo canoe. After some deliberation I decided to go with a solo canoe instead of a kayak for a number of reasons: I prefer canoeing to kayaking, a canoe is easier to portage and easier to pack, i.e. you can just throw stuff in. As a bonus, ‘paddling my own canoe’ works as a figure of speech.

canoeing on Carlyle Lake in Killarney

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On turning 40 and travelling alone

“You don’t have to go, you know,” said my husband as I was preparing for my first solo canoe trip in Killarney.

“I know,” I replied, “but I really want to.”

Good thing he didn’t ask why because I am not sure I would be able to explain.

In books and movies, protagonists usually set out on a solo trip because they find themselves at metaphorical crossroads and feel stuck/confused/lost hoping a solution will reveal itself during those solo nature pursuits.

That wasn’t my story. Apart from occasional detours, the road ahead looked clear if not always level or straight. Sure I was turning 40 but I wasn’t losing sleep over it. I made peace with getting older long time ago. Occasionally I would turn around and think, “Where did the time go?” But then I would look at my children, my husband, my friends, think of all the wonderful things I’ve seen and learned, great trips I’ve taken, and beautiful moments I’ve shared with the people I love and knew: that’s where.

Although, I should say, my 40th birthday did have a role to play in my decision. I felt this important milestone required something bigger and more special than the usual sunrise ritual. So a solo canoe trip it was.

canoeing on Terry Lake in Killarney

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