Learning to Camp: Part 1

Camping was never something I yearned to do nor — but it is necessary to get outdoors.

So camping is a necessary evil?  Yes and no.

If you’re accustomed to the day-to-day luxuries like running water and electricity, then like myself — you’ll start off finding it quite the struggle.

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I have a confession.

Camping was never something I yearned to do nor — but it is necessary to get outdoors.

So camping is a necessary evil?  Yes and no.

If you’re accustomed to the day-to-day luxuries like running water and electricity, then like myself — you’ll start off finding it quite the struggle.

Fear of mosquitoes and other flying insects doesn’t help either.

So what to do?

It’s easy to say, okay fine — only do day hikes and I will simply rent a room or cottage somewhere.

One of my early attempts at camping with an inexpensive Coleman's 6-person tent. One of my early attempts at camping with an inexpensive Coleman’s 6-person tent.

However if you want to go somewhere more remote, you can’t rely on that solution.  So it’s time to push beyond the threshold of your comfort zone:

Start somewhere easy.

1.  Borrow a tent or rent one for a weekend and set it up in your backyard or a friend’s backyard.  Get acquainted with how to set it up.  Sleep in it overnight and get accustomed to how it feels.

2.  Practice, and then move to a more remote location like a local provincial or state park with facilities (i.e. showers, flush toilets, etc.)

3.  Repeat steps 1 or 2 until you feel you are ready — but be prepared for discomfort.

If you can, find a friend or someone who is willing to join you.

What if … you don’t have a tent or access to one?  Local communities, provincial or state parks often run programs to help people learn how to camp.  For those in my home province, Ontario Parks offers their Learn to Camp Overnight Experience

They even have a graduates program for those who have more experience and want more.

I think this will suffice for those who find the thought of camping quite a challenge to overcome — but it is possible and I believe anyone can do it.  Stay tuned for part 2 of Learning to Camp!

Any thoughts or challenges of your own?  I’d love to hear about it.

Returning to the Adirondacks

In a month or so my friends and I intend on visiting the Adirondacks again in the late Spring. It’s been quite some time since we visited at this time of year.
I had just started in a new job for a few months and this was my first little bit of time off over a long weekend.  My friends and I drove into the Adirondacks region for the first time.  Unfortunately we arrived when it was raining so rather than try and set up camp immediately and make dinner, we found a small local restaurant serving mainly the campers in the area.

My friend noticed that they served fiddleheads and exclaimed we had to try them.  I had no idea what they were but apparently they were only picked at this time of year because they eventually will grow and become too hard to eat.

Anyhow, after we finished enjoying our meal and got back to our campsite, the rain had stopped.  At least, long enough so that we could comfortably set up our tents and avoid the rainfall later that night.  The next day was a beautiful sunny one.

fiddleheads... apparently a delicacy in the spring... who knew?

I’m looking forward to hiking in the Adirondacks once again in the Spring.  A nice quick road trip to satisfy the travelbug until July.  Don’t know if I’ll have fiddleheads again but we’ll see!   Currently, we’re looking at what trails to hike while we’re there for a few days.  Recos would be great if you’ve got any!

Kabeyun Trail to Top of the Giant

Ever since I stumbled across photos of Sleeping Giant Provincial Park a number of years ago, I’ve yearned to explore the area.  Unfortunately the park being close to Thunder Bay makes it a little far for me to drive there from Toronto.  It’s a 19 hour drive, if not more. Finally opportunity arose when I had a single vacation day remaining and extended the weekend.  Add on a discounted flight with Porter and bonus!

Ever since I stumbled across photos of Sleeping Giant Provincial Park a number of years ago, I’ve yearned to explore the area.  Unfortunately the park being close to Thunder Bay makes it a little far for me to drive there from Toronto.  It’s a 19 hour drive, if not more.
Finally opportunity arose when I had a single vacation day remaining and extended the weekend.  Add on a discounted flight with Porter and bonus!

One of the craziest things about Ontario is that it is incredibly difficult for majority of its population to reach some of the province’s most unique and stunning landscapes.  It is both a good and bad thing.

Had the lucky opportunity to set up camp on one of the most beautiful campsites (in terms of non-back country sites) I’ve encountered.  My tent was set up mere steps away from from the interior lake Marie Louise.  Stunning views, although we had noisy neighbours and a family of ducks that kept visiting.

Best Campsite in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

What I did not know was that the hiking trails were located so deeply within the park.  After driving to the trailhead, there was still at least a 6km hike just to get to the real hiking trails.  Most people brought mountain bikes to make the trek shorter or made use of the back country campsites.

Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

Once on the actual trail towards the top of the giant, things got a lot more interesting as did the landscape.  Often stumbled across deer and rabbits — even the odd wolf and red squirrel!  Sorry no photos of those 😦

Crazy split tree in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

I was initially weary of the hike up the giant as I wasn’t seeing any truly good views but in the end, the climb up the giant was definitely worthwhile as we got to look out over Lake Superior.  Ran into a couple of hikers with glasses of red wine … interesting locals … and they were very kind to point out that it was worth hiking further to the Chimney rocks (cliffs).  Apparently there used to be a trail along those cliffs that got shutdown after a number of people had fallen or were injured by falling rocks.

Looking out over the lake was amazing, Ontario is often recognized for having a lot of lakes and not a whole lot of mountains.  We don’t.  But I’m glad we have steep cliffs such as these to sit on and look out from.

Views from the Sleeping Giant

After hiking further and going through some really peculiar turns and twists in the trail, the reward was one of the best places to rest and eat lunch.  The cliffs you see below are absolutely jaw-dropping in person.  I wish I were able to get a better shot but I was reluctant to get too close to the edge, although I did dangle my feet along the edge while having lunch.  You could even see Thunder Bay across the lake.

Chimney Cliffs of Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

On the way back, there were people who did not carry enough water and they had not even reached the point of climbing the giant.  The way to the top of the giant is a long one and I am actually happy that it isn’t easily accessible to everyone and that there is a challenge to reaching this point.

It just wouldn’t be the same if this cliff were crowded with people.

Long Weekend at Bon Echo’s Abes and Essens Trail

As much as I loved spending time at Bon Echo, the trail was a bit bland.  Add to the fact that the mosquitoes were out in force and seemed to have a taste for Chinese food … we decided to really motor it through the trail.  That said, there were quite a few great views of the lakes that the trail weaved around.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted.  I’m afraid the road trip to Utah, work, school, and life in general has taken a lot of time.  I hope to have some photos from Utah posted soon.
Over the August long weekend (in Canada) a couple of friends and I went up to Bon Echo Provincial Park.  I’ve been meaning to hike the full Abes and Essens trail — one meant for overnight back country camping, so this was the opportunity I’ve been waiting for a long time!

After arriving at the park around noon, we hiked into our first campsite.  Took a couple of hours and it was insanely hot and humid.  We were consuming water at a faster rate than expected.  Thankfully, we arrived at the Little Lake Rock just in time to relax and take a swim.

Little Rock Lake

Alas, I forgot my swimming trunks but Little Rock Lake was very tranquil and it was a great isolated location with no one passing through.  We were surprised to find hundreds of sun fish following along hoping for food.  I’m guessing they are accustomed to having campers washing their dishes in the lake.

As much as I loved spending time at Bon Echo, the trail was a bit bland.  Add to the fact that the mosquitoes were out in force and seemed to have a taste for Chinese food … we decided to really motor it through the trail.  That said, there were quite a few great views of the lakes that the trail weaved around.

Overall, not a bad hike.  Excellent campsite at Little Rock Lake but I came out of this trek with 50+ mosquito bites.  Let’s just say it was quite the itchy time.