Monday, April 29, 2013

Day Trip: Sibbald Point Provincial Park

Yesterday we decided to enjoy the beautiful weather and took a picnic to Sibbald Point Provincial Park.  The kids too their metal detectors and scoured the beach looking for treasures but only managed to find a few pennies, a metal tent beg and a toy car.  There were lots of pop tabs and bottle caps, and a few nails...even a bobby pin (which was hard to find!  It looked like a little twig covered in dirt.)

As I didn't have much at home for making a picnic, we stopped at a grocery store on the way.  It's actually kind of hard to find things to put together a picnic when you don't have plates, utensils or anything.  I managed to buy plates and some plastic cutlery, but cutting into the wrapping of a piece of kielbasa with a flimsy plastic fork wasn't easy.  It was doable, but I mangled the kielbasa pretty badly.

I think I'll have to put together a little kit for impromptu picnics to keep in the car.  At the very least, we should keep a steak knife in the glove compartment...except after we use it and I bring it in to wash, I probably won't remember to put it back.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Book Review: Cooking in Canoe Country by Robert Black

I picked up this book at the Algonquin Visitor's Centre the other day and thought I'd give a quick review on it.

First off, if you're looking for recipes where everything is dehydrated, this isn't the book for you.  This is, as the title says, for canoe camping (or car camping I suppose) where a mix of fresh and dried ingredients can be taken along.

What I liked most about this book was the way it was divided.  Unlike most books who categorize recipes in the typical breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks way, this book takes it a bit further.  You have a section on fancy dinners for the first night out, where you may take frozen meat, another section for mid-trip dinners on travel days, and another on late trip dinners on travel days. There is also a chapter on what the author calls "duff-days"or what you might refer to as rest days.  This is a nice approach and gives you a better idea of what kinds of meals you can make during the stages of your trip.  It's easy to simply take all dehydrated meals, but if you can make the first night's dinner a fabulous feast, why limit yourself to dried chilli?  Similarly, if you are taking a rest day and have time to bake brownies or cook something that takes a bit of time, why not?  That's the beauty of canoe camping.

Though there isn't a huge number of recipes in the book, they all look good and don't require odd ingredients.  (I hate that, when 75% of the recipes in a book call for things you can't buy because they are only available in the USA.)

The book also discusses camp stoves, cooking over a fire, preparing fresh caught fish and packing tips. I'm really looking forward to trying out these recipes and will post my thoughts on them when I do.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Trip Log: Mew Lake April 21-23, 2013 Yurt Camping

Last week, my dad got a big telephoto lens for his camera, and we were eager to take it for a test run during moose spotting season in Algonquin, so we checked the weather and booked a yurt for a few nights.

With all the flooding in Algonquin this spring, we weren't sure we'd be able to actually do much.  A lot of trails were closed, and many of the roads as well, but we spent most of the trip driving back and forth along the highway looking for moose.  The moose, unfortunately were pretty elusive until monday night when we finally spotted a few.

Western Uplands Backpacking Trail
But, I'm getting ahead of myself.  We arrived at the west gate just after 2 on Sunday afternoon.  The sun was out, but it was pretty chilly. We stopped at the Western Uplands Backpacking trail entrance and checked out the water levels.  You could probably canoe the first part of the trail right now.

After unloading all the bedding and kitchen stuff at the yurt, we had a quick lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches, then piled back into the truck to begin our moose hunt.  We didn't see any, but we did spot a Great Gray Owl perched on the top of a dead tree.  I've never seen an owl that close before, nor had I seen one twisting its head around.  I mean, I know they can do it, but seeing it was pretty cool.

We stopped at the visitor's centre (I bought a book) and took a few pictures from the viewing platform.  You can see how high the water levels were in Sunday Creek.  I hope to canoe there this summer, and usually, when you see it from the deck, it looks so narrow it's hard to imagine canoeing on it.

We headed in to Whitney after passing the east gate because we realized we'd forgotten a few things for meals (sauce for pita pizzas being one thing) but the store was already closed.  We spent some time checking out the very high level of the water flowing over the damn and under the bridge.  It was kind of scary really, standing on the bridge looking at that much water flow beneath you.  I'm not even sure why it was so eerie, when we've stood by other fast flowing rivers.  Maybe it was because the river isn't usually that high or fast, and it's kind of unnerving to watch huge waves barrel over an entire island.

On the way back into the park, just before the east gate, we spotted a fox sitting in the sun.  We pulled over and took a bunch of pictures, and he just sat there watching us.  After a few minutes he came close so he was only maybe 5-10 feet away (it's hard to remember when I had the camera pressed to my face almost the entire time, looking through a 300mm lens.) and posed some more before running off.

Trail leading to the bridge over Madawaska River
After a few failed attempts to get pictures of Great Blue Herons we kept seeing in swampy ponds, we headed back to the yurt then hiked to the falls near the junction of the Track and Tower offshoot trail and the Highland Backpacking trail.  The backpacking trail was closed and we soon saw why.  The water level in the river was so high, you couldn't get within 30-40 feet of the bridge.  We bush wacked our way along the water edge and managed to get a few pictures (not good ones as you can see, the trees were pretty thick.  In August when we were there, Chris and the kids walked along the bottom of the river and walked under the there's maybe a foot of clearance beneath the bottom.

It was starting to get dark when we got back so we made dinner and headed into the yurt.  We heard wolves howling a few times during the night.

High water on Madawaska River

The next morning was pretty chilly.  Dad, Bubbie and I went up to the field by the garbage area to see the morning sun on the frosty trees and took a few pictures then we headed back to make breakfast.  We headed back towards the west gate for more moose spotting. We saw one, a young one, dead in the ditch (about km10) with several vultures hovering around it.  As we sat there, observing it and wondering if it had been hit by a car the night before, we noticed a wolf on the ridge behind it, partially hidden by trees.  I tried to get a picture as it stalked off, but it was gone so fast all I got was a blur.  Other than that, we had no luck, but stopped to take pictures of run-off waterfalls, ponds and some beavers.  Then hiked the Hardwood Lookout Trail before heading back to camp to wait for Chris.

Once Chris arrived, we had dinner and started on a bottle of wine (much to the kid's horror) when we decided to try moose spotting at dusk, since early morning and mid day had been a bust.  Mum doesn't drink, so she drove.  We headed towards the west gate and spotted two moose at about KM17.  On the trip back, we spotted another one, a big male this time, in close to the same spot.

The next morning, we went out moose spotting again, this time going east with the intention of heading to Whitney to show Chris the high water levels.  On the way back towards Mew Lake, across from the Pog Lake Campground entrance, we saw Hydro employees and a truck driver watching a male moose.  We pulled over and walked right up to about 10 feet from him and he completely ignored us.  When the truck driver pulled away it startled the moose and he ran back a bit, but came back to his drinking hole a few minutes later.

Back at camp, we made a late breakfast and packed up the yurt to head home.  Along the way we stopped at Ragged Rapids Provincial Park, a day use only park just outside the west gate.  Chris and I had stopped before and only ever checked out the bottom trail, and so we didn't realize the falls is actually pretty big.  With a crazy amount of water rushing over it, it was kind of scary.  Even scarier, Chris and I ended up scrambling down the cliff and shooting pics from closer to the bottom of the falls. I saw on the Friends of Algonquin FB page that others had done the same, only they used safety harnesses which would have been smart (had I even owned any)  It was pretty tense going, especially since if you slipped you'd fall into frothy, freezing water and probably have no chance of surviving it.

All in all, it was a great trip.  We saw lots of wildlife, which is a rarity for us.  We always find it strange that in the park we see hardly anything, then on the way home, see tons of deer and other animals closer to Haliburton.  We also took a lot of pictures, saw some impressive sights (thanks to the flooding) even though a lot of the side roads and trails were actually closed.

Lunch day 1 - Grilled cheese sandwiches, chocolate chip cookies
Dinner day 1 - rustic vegetable ragout with rice and caeser salad
Breakfast day 2 - Red River Cereal, bagels, toast, coffee
Lunch day 2 - pita pizza
Dinner day 2 - stir fry vegetables  with noodles and caeser salad
Breakfast day 3 - french toast, hot chocolate pancakes, fried potatoes, maple baked beans, bacon

Wild Turkey
Canadian Geese
American Black Ducks
Common Mergansers
White Throated Sparrow
Great Blue Herron
Great Grey Owl
Common Flicker

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Moose Sighting in Algonquin Anyone?

This time of the year, I get itchy to drive through Algonquin to look for moose.  My parents did a drive through yesterday and saw two, so we are hoping to head up there this weekend.  

Anyone else gone moose spotting this spring?  Any success?  A few years ago we spotted 11 in one trip, but last year we didn't spot any on our trip.

Off Season Walk Thru - Mara Provincial Park and Bass Lake Provincial Park

Chris and I took a drive earlier in the week and checked out these two parks close to Orillia.  Both of them are small, with limited amenities, but we figured for a quick night away, they might be worth checking out.

Since both of these parks are pretty small, I'm just going to write a quick review of them...

Bass Lake is just west of Orillia, off highway 12.  There is a small beach (easily accessed to day users) and a park store (was closed when we were there, obviously) which is close to the beach, so even if you're just there for the day you can probably get drinks or snacks, or sunscreen if you happened to forget yours.

The sites here are pretty much all woodland type sites, and range in quality from a rating 2 to a 4.  (Keep in mind it's a bit hard to judge accurately when there's no leaves on the trees and still 2 feet of snow on the ground...) Also, if you plan to head to Bass lake, remember the entire outside of the park is bordered by small roads (there is a fence with barbed wire and stuff) so if you get a site on the edge, you'll hear cars going by.  I doubt any of them would get a lot of traffic though, they seemed like cottage access roads.

Mara is pretty much 5 minutes down the highway from McRae Point and is a bit smaller than that park. We didn't have time to check out the beach, but the sites were more private, and were woodland sites compared to the more open sites at McRae.  The outside sites back onto a cottage road, just like Bass Lake, but again, I'm doubtful there would be much traffic on them.  The only thing that might bother you is that having cars driving by a few feet from your campsite would detract from your "wilderness experience" then again, camping 5 minutes outside of a city isn't likely to fool anyone into thinking they are getting a real wilderness experience.

In all, I'd say both parks would be good for a quick weekend away, where you don't want to travel too far because you only have a night or two.  I think both have good fishing opportunities, so if you have a boat and are looking for a place to go where you can spend the day casting your line out, followed by a quiet night, both parks would be a good bet.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Off Season Walk-Thru - McRae Point Provincial Park

Chris and I spent the morning walking around McRae Point Provincial Park, just to get an idea of what the place offered.  I like to do this, especially when the park isn't open.  It's nice to be able to walk around, poke around campsites, and not have anyone looking at you like you're crazy.

McRae Point is just outside of Orillia, on Lake Simcoe.  It's a pretty small park, with two campground areas, a good sized beach, and one hiking trail.

Though it's not easy to accurately judge privacy levels on the camp sites, we would rate them at 2 or 3. Most of the sites in the South Campground (sites 126-203) would get a 3, while the North Campground holds more that I'd rank as 2s. (See here for a description on how I rate privacy and definitions of how I classify campsites)

The North Campground was mostly field sites.  There were plenty of trees to provide shade, but we had a hard time picking out the border between sites sometimes.   Sites 119, 125, 123, 124, 122, 120, 121, 103, 102 and 101 back onto a forest.  Some of them are pretty open, looking more like a cleared spot where you could pull your car over than a camp site, but a few of them have a bit of privacy, and go deeper back into the trees.

The South Campground's sites were meadow sites.  The ones along the water's edge don't back onto the water itself, but most have trails leading down a hill to the lake, as well as the hiking trail.  The sites themselves have a bit of slope, which may make finding a flat spot for your tent a little difficult.

The beach area is pretty nice.  It would be a good spot to take a picnic and hang out for the day.  It was hard to tell if the beach was sandy or pebbly, because there was still ice covering most of the lake.  There was a volleyball court, a sandbox as well as horseshoe pits.

We didn't try out the hiking trail (3.5km) but when we followed a path down from site 154 to check out the lake, we crossed it.  It runs along the shore, and looks like it would be a nice little hike.

So, based on visual inspection alone, I'd say McRae Point would be a nice place to camp, especially for a quick one or two night trip when we don't want to go too far.  As for how busy it gets, my thoughts were, with it being so close to a city, it would be pretty busy.  But I just did a quick check on the Ontario Parks website, choosing random nights during the week in the summer, and on the holiday weekends.  Less than half the sites were booked.  Even the May long weekend was pretty quiet.  Maybe because there are several other parks within 40 minutes of Orillia and Barrie that offer more activities.  

If anyone has camped there, and would like to share their thoughts, I'd love to hear how you liked the park.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Choosing a campground in Algonquin's Highway 60 Corridore

For many campers, their first experience in Algonquin will be staying in one of the organized campgrounds along Highway 60.  There are six to choose from, and all of them have their own reasons to recommend them (or not.)

In the last two years, I've stayed at most of them, and it's always struck me how the camping experience can be so different when in the same park.  So I started to wonder, what attracts different people to the different campgrounds?  What things do the twenty-somethings look for on a boys weekend?  What about families?  Obviously a retired couple will be after something very different as well.

I'll start with Tea Lake, though it is the only one I haven't gone to yet.  From my research on the Ontario Parks reservations website, I know all of the sites are fairly small and only accommodate one tent.  The average size of the sites is about 6 meters by 6 meters.  Also, the smaller number of sites (there are only 43) would lead me to believe this campground is likely to appeal more to couples looking for quiet.  Also, since there is no comfort station, and no electrical sites, it is more likely to appeal to the type of camper who more use to rustic conditions, possibly even those who are heading up for an interior trip and plan to spend the first or last night at a campground so as to get an early start the next morning.  I don't know for sure, as I said, I've not stayed at Tea Lake, so if anyone has any input on this, I'd love to hear it.

Travelling from West to East, the next campground you come to is Canisbay Lake.  This one was a little harder to categorize for me.  There was a good mix of families, retirees and partiers here when we stayed, so maybe this is one of the campgrounds that just has a broader appeal.  The sites are pretty private and of good quality (less so in the radio-free area, and there is a nice beach.

When I drive along Highway 60, and pass Mew Lake I often wonder why anyone would want to camp so close to the highway.  You'd hear traffic noises all night.  Actually, the electrical sites, and those at the bottom of the radio-free area are really nice, and with it's close proximity to the Two River's Store, The Old Railway Bike Trail, and the side trail for the Track and Tower Interpretive Trail, this campground has a lot to offer someone who wants to park once and not have to move their car again.  Also, a short walk down the highway gets you to the Two River's Trail, as well as the Bat Lake Trail, so really, you have several activities within walking distance, as well as easy access to supplies or a meal if you don't feel like cooking.  We've stayed here three times now, twice in the spring and once in late August.  On our spring trips, we stayed in the electrical area, and during the summer, at a non-electric site right on the water, fairly close to the highway.  The highway noise wasn't as annoying as I'd thought it would be, though when a big truck is coming you can hear it from a long ways off.  As to what kind of camper this campground would appeal to, I'd say it would be pretty broad, from the quiet zen type to the college kids out for some fun.

Next door at Lake of Two Rivers Campground, we certainly got a lot of the latter.  Mind you, we were starting our trip at the tail end of the August Long weekend, so there were more of the partying sort about than normal.  Two Rivers is perfect for lazy campers, or for someone who is on their first trip and isn't confident that they've packed everything.  You have a store and restaurant right at hand, so if you've forgotten a can opener, or dish towels, you can easily get what you need.  Dying for a coffee you don't have to make?  Or ice cream on a hot day? Two Rivers offers these luxuries as well as one of the nicest beaches in the park.  Also, you have access to the Old Railway Bike Trail, which is perfect for those who want a fairly flat trail.  What Two River's doesn't offer is much in the way of privacy.  The sites are pretty open, and really aren't that appealing...mind you it's sometimes hard to judge when they are full of other camper's gear.  That's not to say Two Rivers doesn't have some nice sites, because they do.  The sites lying on the North Madawaska River are pretty nice.  Maybe another aspect of this campground that appeals to more energetic type, is the fact that you can have motor boats on Lake of Two Rivers (up to 20hp) so anyone who likes to fish from a boat would find Two Rivers a good choice.

Next up is Pog Lake.  I've stayed here twice and what I remember most is that the women's room at the comfort station was always full of teenage girls doing their makeup.  I kid you not, I saw girls with huge bags full of facial cleanser, creams, and more makeup than I've owned in my lifetime, blow dryers, curling irons and there are always lineups for showers in the morning.  It's like Pog Lake attracts a more upscale kind of camper or something.  And there's me, waiting 20 minutes to clean the worm dirt from under my finger nails after I took the kids fishing, not a spot of makeup on me, and possibly smelling a little ripe unless I'd been swimming earlier in the day.  Pog's sites are beautiful, set under tall pines but they don't offer much privacy for the most part.  There are two nice beaches though, and easy access to the middle of the Old Railway Bike Trail.  It's also the biggest of Algonquin's organized campgrounds, and therefore, you're more likely to have someone close by who is up late being loud, or accidentally turning on their car alarm at 5am.

Kearney Lake has the same feel as Pog Lake (They are right across the highway from each other) but Kearney has no electrical sites and the sites are generally smaller and most of them are only able to accommodate a single tent.  We only did a drive through of this campground and it was hard to judge the quality of the beach, but for the most part, we decided it would be a nice place to stay.  You do have to watch though...some of the sites were down a hill, and you could tell heavy rains had dug channels in the ground as the rain water ran down into the campsites.  Watch where you set up your tent, or you could get washed away in a good rain storm.

I won't get into Whitefish Lake because it's designated as a group campground, so unless you are a scout leader or something, you probably aren't looking for that kind of site anyway.  It is possible to reserve a site here for a family reunion, but youth groups and special groups take priority.

The last organized campgrounds along the corridor are Rock Lake and Coon Lake.  Both are approximately 8km down a dirt road, giving you a much quieter camping experience as far as highway traffic is concerned.  Coon Lake's sites are small and not too private, and are the only ones I'd class as meadow sites.  Rock Lake doesn't offer much privacy either, with a few exceptions, but I really enjoyed camping there.  There are several sites right on the lake, Booth's Rock hiking trail is a short walk away, and you can access the Old Railway Bike trail and bike the 10km to Mew Lake if you wanted to.  The comfort station is pretty far away from the non-electric sites, but there are 4 bathrooms in the area with flush toilets and sinks.  Also, the Visitor's Centre is only 3km down the highway from the entrance to the Rock Lake road.  The beach at Rock Lake wasn't great when we were there at the end of august.  Water levels were really low, but the kids waded a bit and said it wasn't mushy or gross, so I imagine when water levels are normal, it would be good swimming.  The lake is also nice for canoeing, with some scenic bluffs and a water fall at the far end where it flows into Pen Lake.

Hopefully this helps a few people choose which of Algonquin's campgrounds they'd like to stay at.  With so many options, it's hard to decide.  Our first time, we stayed at Two Rivers because it was the only one with a site available the two nights we were planning to go.  We loved being close enough to the store to walk for coffee in the morning and pick up things we didn't bring (a dish pan and tin foil) but weren't too thrilled with the guys a few sites down playing horseshoes until midnight while blaring country music....the weepy depressing kind, not the more pop-country type.  We still had a lot of fun, and would go back to Two Rivers again without hesitation.  You can't control what your fellow campers do, so remember to pack a sense of humor.  You'll probably need it for other things anyway, like raccoons eating your marshmallows or burning half your dinner.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Spring cleaning your camping gear

Okay, so yeah, there's still snow on the ground but since it is officially spring...and spring means the dreaded spring cleaning torture, I figured why not at least reward myself with a reason  to get all the camping gear out.

If you have a trailer of some sort, now's the time to scrub off any grim that's accumulated from leaves and dust sitting on top of it.  Chris loves scrubbing the Boler down each gives him a chance to play with his power washer. CLR works really well to get rid of the mildew from leaves rotting on the roof.  Inside, scrub down all the shelves, cupboards and counters with soapy water...if there's any evidence of rodent activity, you might want to use a bleach/water mix.  You should check the tires as well, and any other spring maintenance tasks that are recommended for your type of trailer. On a nice warm day with a bit of breeze, open all the windows and spray some Febreeze on the cushions (or Lysol if there's any evidence of rodent activity)  Let it air out for the day to get rid of any musty smell.

If you store most of your camping gear in your trailer, you'll probably want to bring in any dishes and give them a quick wash.  Not only is there a chance mice made a pass through, but several months of dust should be cleaned off before you use them.  Heck, I do it just cause I like to reorganize everything and remember all the camp gadgets I've got.

Now is also a good time to do an inventory of what you have in your gear.  If you're like us, you might not have a dedicated camp can opener, or maybe you ran out of fluid in your BBQ lighter at the end of last season and need to pick up a few more.  Sometimes, something might have gotten lost, or broken and you figured you'd just get a new one in the spring...chances are, unless you made a note of it, you've forgotten by now.  Also, if you got any camp gear for Christmas or birthdays during the winter, you've probably got those items in the house still.  We bought a bunch of IKEA cutlery this winter so we didn't have to keep taking forks from the kitchen for each trip, and we got a whole bunch of bungee cords and other things like that for camping.  They've been sitting in a bin in my office since Christmas.

If the weather forecast calls for a warm sunny day, and the ground is dry enough, set up your tent(s) and any cooking shelters you might have.  Make sure all the poles are all accounted for and no mice nibbled on the tent fabric over the winter.  Sometimes, in the fall, when we are packing stuff up for the winter, we don't always think logically.  For example, last year, our 6 person tent had been a bit damp when we brought it home, so we didn't wrap it all up, just bundled it into Boler to wait for a dry day.  After we spread it out to dry a few days later, we rolled it up, but didn't realize the pole for the rain fly wasn't in the bag with the other poles.  We found it in the Boler later, and told ourselves to remember to take it next time we used it.  In the process of putting everything away for the winter, it got separated from the rest of the tent.  If I hadn't noticed it when searching for Chris's camp mug last week, we might have gone camping with it sometime this summer and not had the pole.  I guess the smart thing to do would have been to unroll the tent right when we'd realized it wasn't where it should be.  

Throw your sleeping bags onto the clothes line for the day and let them air out as well, same with backpacks.

You might find things aren't as organized as you'd like them to be.  In the fall, it's easy to just throw things in random places, but now that spring is here, and camping season is so close, you'll want to organize drawers, bins and bags.  Maybe you came up with new ideas for organizing your camping gear over the winter, or got inspired to build a chuck box or portable camp kitchen during those long cold months. (If so, I'm so jealous!  I'm still waiting for my dad to make me a reflector oven.)

Unfortunately, once you get done spring cleaning your camping gear, you still have to do the traditional spring clean in your house...but maybe the term won't cause so much dread next year, because you'll have something to look forward to. 

Day Trip: Algonquin - March 12, 2013

Weather has such a huge impact on what we Canadians do, especially at this time of year.  Last March Break, when we went to Algonquin, all the parking areas at the trail heads were full of cars and we had to wait in line at the gatehouse for our permit for what seemed like ages.

When we went up yesterday, the gatehouse parking lot had less than five cars in it, and nobody came in to buy a permit the entire time we were in there talking to the lady working the desk.  Rain the day before might have deterred some people, leading them to believe the trails wouldn't be good for skiing.  We almost didn't take our skis, but Chris, ever optimistic, stuffed them all in the car just in case.

My parents weren't so hopeful.

The plan was to do a hike where we could take lots of pictures.  Bubbie had my dad's spare Canon DSLR in hand before we even got out of the cars and was eager to work on her photography skills.  After going over our options, we decided on the Whiskey Rapids Trail.  We'd done this one before, in late summer or early fall, when the water levels were low, and wanted to see if there were actual rapids when the levels were high.

The start of the trail winds its way down into the river valley, and at times was quite slippery.  Chris and Squatch simply ran straight down the hills while the rest of us were a little less brave.  Once down at river level, the trail is easy and winds its way around the banks.  Squatch wanted a closer look and ended up going down the bank...then promptly got his foot stuck in deep snow so I had to go pull him out.  Of course his boot got full of snow (neither of them wanted to wear their snow pants) and by half way along the trail his foot was cold enough he was limping.  We switched out his wet sock for one of mine but that only helped a little.  Once we got back to the car, I gave him my other sock and he traded out his winter boots for his ski boots.  It should also be mentioned I hiked most of the trail with his wet mitts hanging on my belt loop and that wet sock hanging from my back pocket.  I'd also like to say that hiking with no socks inside your boots?  Not easy.  You wouldn't think a thin sock would do much, but without them I was sliding around in the boots, especially when climbing back up the hill to the car, and my feet were sweaty and gross.

Lesson learned.  Always take a change of socks for everyone...and a few plastic grocery bags to use as liners in the event of a soaker.

Anyway, other than that little hiccup, the trail was pleasant.  The kids took lots of pictures, Squatch threw lots of snowballs into the river, and Chris even got to climb on some rocks and ponder the possibility of running the rapids in a canoe or kayak.

The plan for the day had been to find a spot to heat up a pot of chill on the Vital Stove, and we'd originally thought to do this at the Minnising bike trail parking area while Chris skied the Sugar Bush Run section of the trail.  We figured this way, some of us could warm up inside the shelter while one person (probably me) fed the stove twigs and got the food ready.  Once we got there though, there was no fire going in the shelter, and no wood to get one going.  It had started to snow a bit by then, almost sleet to be more accurate, and I wasn't too keen on standing outside alone while everyone else huddled in the truck eating goodies from Henrietta's Bakery in Dwight (just to the right on Highway 60 after turning off Highway 35....they have some really yummy treats, so if you're headed to Algonquin, you should check this place out) so while Chris skied, the rest of us waited, then we headed to Huntsville to get dinner (after a stop off at Walmart for dry socks for everyone)

I was kind of disappointed I didn't get to use the Vital Stove...and that I now have to eat a dozen corn muffins all on my own...but we had a fun day.  Chris has decided the ski season is over...and he won't likely suggest me and the kids join him on a difficult ski trail since he said he spent the whole time cursing the constant hills and realized it would have taken a whole day if he hadn't been alone.