It’s a return to the forest and a primitive way of living; it’s an escape from city life and the technology of our present time. It’s a natural extension of the beard-and-plaid aesthetic so popular today – and it’s having a huge moment online.
This is bushcraft: The art of practicing wilderness skills while enjoying the great outdoors. It’s not about survival skills or preparing for the apocalypse, although the techniques do share similarities. Survival is staying alive long enough to be rescued and get home, whereas bushcraft is about using wilderness skills and knowledge to stay out in the bush longer.
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.
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.
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! Continue reading →
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!
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! Continue reading →
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.
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.
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.
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!