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.
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?]
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
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!
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.
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.
nunikani lake (direct, no loop) november 1st-2nd, 2014
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 →