Archive for April, 2013

Living the Northern Dream

There are only two places on earth that I’ve always dreamed of visiting, but never thought I would.  One is Norway.  I had a childhood friend whose family was from Norway and she’d tell me amazing stories of home that planted the seeds that dreams are made of.  The other place is Canada’s North.  I want to see the taiga and the tundra.  I want to see caribou run.  I want to fish the icy rivers and climb the white-capped mountains.  I want to fall asleep in the midnight sun.  Last week I found out that I am going to get the chance to do just that.  I’m going to the Yukon.

Canoeing on Kluane Lake - photo courtesy of travelyukon.com

Canoeing on Kluane Lake – photo courtesy of travelyukon.com

This is the first trip since my older son was born almost 12 years ago, that I’m not doing with my family.  I am both exhilarated and terrified.  It is going to be like nothing I’ve seen before with people whom I’ve never met.  I’m going on a 30 day NOLS Outdoor Educator course.  Half of our time will be spent on a looong hike (12 days?) and the rest of the time will be running whitewater in canoes.  Luckily these aren’t new concepts to me, but we will be learning a whole bag of new skills and how to break them down and teach them to others.  What I most hope to gain from this experience is the ability to help others safely navigate the outdoors with confidence.

My ultimate dream is to run the Nahanni river with Fraser and the kids.  This is one big step in that direction.

I want to thank my wonderful employers (Mountain Equipment Co-op) who fund this amazing experience for two staff every year.  This was my lucky year and I’m going to take full advantage of this unbelievable opportunity.

I haven’t even gone yet, but I’ve already learned this…dream big, do what you love and no matter where you are in life, never stop growing.

First Family Canoe Trips : Where to go in Southern Ontario

So you want to take junior on their first canoe trip…good for you!  I often get asked for suggestions on where to take the kiddies for their first outing in Ontario.  For a first canoe trip with younger children, I suggest lakes that have paddle in sites to warm up to the paddling experience, or try one short portage into a second lake.  You can get a sense for how your little one is going to “take” to the boat without the risk of pushing it too far.  You can always take a longer trip next time.

The following lakes don’t see super big water like some larger ones and if needed, can have you back to your car in an hour or less.  May I also suggest sticking to the summer months so the water and air are warm and inviting?  If circumstances require that your first trip happens in the spring or fall, remember that it can be really cold and you MUST dress and gear-up for the elements.  Stay warm out there!

all together in one boat

all together in one boat

Algonquin Provincial Park

From the west side of the park near Kearney, enter at Rain Lake (really pretty) and stay at a paddle in site or do a short portage into Sawyer Lake.

Enter at Magnetawan Lake (also on the west side) and portage into Hambone Lake or push on into Ralph  Bice.

Off of the Hwy 60 corridor, you can check out Cannisbay.  It doesn’t feel very backcountry, but it’ll get the family into a canoe and into a tent.

Use the Achray Campground access on Grand Lake and stay, or pull a very short portage (30m) into Stratton Lake where there are numerous sites and you can visit beautiful High Falls, a swimming area with a naturally formed water slide.

Killarney Provincial Park

This park requires a bit more portaging, but you can still go to Bell Lake.  Use the Bell Lake access point and stay, or paddle through into Three Mile Lake.

Two words…George Lake.

Frontenac Provincial Park

Stay on Big Salmon Lake.  The lake has paddle in sites and no portages.

If you have any suggestions of your own for getting out on a canoe trip for the first time, be sure to let me know!  For all those families who are getting out for the first time this year, good luck and have fun!

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