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The Great Moose Rescue – Courtesy of Wild and Misguided Adventures

Bonnie Couchie and Gord Martin co-operators of  Wild and Mis-guided Adventures have a joint philosophy that while it is important to enjoy hiking, paddling, and camping with skill, competence and awareness, you need to leave yourself the space to get a little bit lost, a little bit wild and very open.

They could never have imagined that this philosophy would be affirmed so magically in the inaugural season of their guided outdoor adventure business.  Who would have believed that they’d end up rescuing 2 tiny shivering moose caught in the fast current of the Black River and that Gord along with friend Ian Erskine would end up carrying one of the grateful moose to safety in their canoe?  Or  that the calf would then try to follow Gord home!  But that is exactly what happened.

“We knew that things could have gone really wrong and we didn’t make the decision lightly, but in that moment we knew we had to try to help’” says Martin.  After helping the first calf to shore, they carried the smaller one in their canoe, dried him off, fed him and calmed him.

“Gord and the moose connected in a way that we never imagined possible in such a short period of time. Even after he had regained his strength, he wanted to stay with Gord and appeared determined to get back in the canoe, after being put ashore twice.  It was almost heartbreaking to watch Gord and the moose part.”

To see more pictures of the rescue, check out their website.  To hear Bonnie tell the story, listen to the interview she gave about it to CBC’s Lisa Laco.

“I am grateful for the gifts of understanding and a renewed sense of wonder that I receive each time I complete one of our traditional Anishnabe fasts,” continues Couchie. “I am always struck by the fact that when you allow yourself the opportunity to slow down and get away from your comforts, the universe will often take you on an incredible journey that you never thought possible. Gord and I find these same gifts when we go into the backcountry on canoe, hiking, or camping adventures. We would like to share those journeys with you.”

 Our family had the pleasure of staying in the gorgeous teepee that Gord and Bonnie built after we finished our hike in Pukaskwa National Park.   I only wish that we had been able to spend more time with them and we would have loved to have gone on trip together.  It’s not too late for you to join them though!  Wild and Mis-guided Adventures is running a 10-day canoe and hiking trip in Northwestern Ontario’s Splendor running from August 1-10th.  This really is the nicest backcountry we have ever tripped in and you couldn’t find two better hosts, so check out their website for more details on this amazing opportunity.  Also don’t miss staying at the Pic River Guest Suite while you’re in the area.

For more information you can contact them directly:

Bonnie Couchie and Gord Martin 807 229 8790

I Am Canadian!

And proud of it!


The Biggest Adventure – Kids

So you’re on the fence about having kids.  You’re not sure if you’re ready to give up the lifestyle to which you are accustomed.  You haven’t ticked off all of the trips that you wanted to take down before you settled down. You trip endlessly and you’re good.  Some would call you hardcore.  You shrug it off as no big thing but you secretly tuck those accolades away, pulling them out and rolling them around in your head when you need a boost.  I’m here to tell you that bringing little ones into the fold will only increase your enjoyment and your achievements, not to mention your street cred.  I know this from personal experience.  My favourite tripping partners are my husband Fraser and our kids, Luke 11, and Zach 8.  They make everything more fun and I honestly can’t remember how I entertained myself before they came along.  The soundtrack to my life is one filled with laughter, commentary and endless inquiries.

What is better than coming to the end of a 3k portage without losing my lunch?  Watching my kids complete the same trek with fully loaded packs all the while chatting non-stop about every leaf, snail and rock that they pass.  I marvel at their strength, passion and attitudes.  Relative to their size, they are hauling as much as I am.  Their faces are flush and little beads of sweat form on their upper lips.  The breathing comes hard…for all of us.  It’s difficult, but there is no complaining, just pride in accomplishing what others believed was too difficult, beyond their capabilities.  And I don’t often have to wonder what they are thinking because they share their thoughts freely and without filters.  They are not like other tripping partners…they trust me completely and care about me as much, if not more, than themselves and I reciprocate the sentiment. There are no egos and no competition, just encouragement and a hand up when necessary.

The gift of seeing the world through their eyes is one that I wouldn’t trade for all the first ascents and records in the world.  The truth is we get out far more often now that we have kids than we ever did before.  Their enthusiasm to climb higher, hike farther and paddle longer drives us to attempt ever more ambitious adventures.  This summer saw us hike Pukaskwa’s Coastal Hiking Trail, a grueling seven day slog through some dauntingly rough terrain that had us crossing suspension bridges, wading through ice-cold rivers and sharing beaches with the local black bear population.  And if that weren’t enough, we will follow up this trip with a three-week canoe expedition dissecting the entire maintained length of Algonquin Provincial Park from north to south.

The accolades will still come.  People are even more impressed with what you’ve accomplished when they find out that your progeny were by your side from launch to take-out.  The thing is you won’t need their praise anymore.  You have the best motivation there is…your kids.

The Best Backcountry Dad

I get all the glory being the writer in the family, but it is in reality my amazing husband Fraser who deserves all of the credit, I’m just along for the wonderful ride.

Fraser quietly dreams up and plans all of our trips down to the smallest detail. From the next park and the best route to the prettiest site at sunset with most awesome jumping rock…Fraser thinks of everything. He hauls the lions share of the gear without any complaint. In fact he constantly offers to take some of our load to help make our time more enjoyable. He has been known to carry the biggest pack plus a canoe on portage only to RUN back to beginning to shoulder another load. And he always offers to make that bonus run to grab our second boat. My ego won’t let me allow this, but I know that he genuinely means it when he offers.

Daddy-o also plans, packs, preps and prepares EVERY meal on trip taking the time to include the kids so that they feel like they are contributing. Even though it takes longer with their “assistance”, he loves showing them the ropes and they love learning. Afterwards he cleans all of the dishes and packs up and sets the bear hang. Did I mention that he can also get a fire going in any weather? He’s a fire guru. After all that, he finds time to play with the kids when the work is done. And when the boys are asleep, he chronicles all of the days happenings in a journal so that they will be able to read about and remember every trip forever.

Fraser always knows the right way to go and shows us all on the map how to tell where we are and where we are going. He is calm, assured and supportive and regularly tells us what great campers we are, especially when he can see frustration and exhaustion beginning to show on our faces. He never expects the same in return, but then again he never seems to need it. What has happened though is that our boys have picked up this kind trait and show support for each other (and me) the way that their dad has always done for them. Encouraging words, helpful hands and a shared load. These are the lessons that Fraser teaches by example.

It is probably because he makes camping so easy and so much fun that we are all in love with it. His genuine love of the outdoors is what has sparked the same in our sons. I can see in their eyes the awe for their dad. You can tell that they want to be just like him when they grow up. They want to build the fire with him and put up the tent with him and gather water with him…anything and everything they can do to mimic their hero.

I take credit for marrying the best man in the world, but his dad George deserves the credit for showing him how to be that man. Thanks to all dads that are willing to put in the effort to raise their boys up into kind, strong, loving men. Happy Father’s day.

Today is Camp Day at Tim Horton’s. You’ve still got time to run out and grab a coffee to help send kids to camp. Here is a post I wrote last year about Camp Day. Enjoy!

backcountry with the kids

No one can accuse us of being high brow. Classy we ain’t. Sure we buy our share of $5 coffees, but we’re simple girls. Our preferences lean towards donuts and away from tiramisu. We love a good cup of Tim Horton’s (double double, no fooling around here) and a chocolate dip. On Wednesday June 1st, there’s an even better reason to haunt your local Timmy’s than the Ice Cap’s.

I was waiting for the subway today and I took my usual place on the platform. Instead of the boring old ads that I usually ignore, one bright one caught my attention. Six happy kids in pfds enjoying themselves at camp. It was an ad for camp day at Tim Horton’s. Here is an excerpt from their website:

Camp Day is the one day a year when Tim Hortons Restaurant Owners across Canada and the United States donate every penny from…

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Because today is the actual anniversary of our blog, here is a repost of the most popular article from the last year. I won’t speculate as to why! Enjoy and have a great weekend.

backcountry with the kids

Does a girl pee in the woods?

Of course she does.  Does she do it without getting her pants or shoes wet?  That’s a different story.  Peeing successfully en plein air is all a matter of technique.  This is something that I perfected years ago when my dad used to take me fishing.  We used to go night fishing in the middle of nowhere.  If there had been a washroom, it would have been locked up tight hours before our arrival.  I took to peeing where I could and I learned to do it quickly (in order to sustain the fewest mosquito bites possible) and efficiently (in order to avoid being stumbled upon by a stranger).  As an adult, I’ve taken this expertise for granted.  I was reminded of its importance when on our latest trip, my brother asked if aunt Jenny had any tips for my niece Charlotte on…

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Blogging Award Nomination

Mrs. Sparkly’s Ten Commandments Award.. Thank You!

Very cool!  Family Outdoor Adventures has passed this award on to me.  Thank you!

The rules for this award are that you must answer the following ten questions and nominate ten blogs that you think deserve the award.


1. Describe yourself in seven words. 

Family, funny, crazy, adventurous, persistent, awkward, content

2. What keeps you up at night?

A million little things running through my head…the peace and quiet at bedtime allows my mind to run when it should be resting

3. Whom would you like to be?

Nobody but myself.

4. What are you wearing now?

Jeans and a t shirt, no socks.

5. What scares you?

Standing still.

6. What are the best and worst things about blogging?

The best: Trading ideas with like minded people and broadening my perspective with those who aren’t like minded.

The worst:  Time suck! I’ve got a very busy life and blogging requires a time commitment that I wasn’t prepared for!

7. What was the last website you looked at?

8. If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?

I’d like to able to lift small cars with one hand and also to read minds.

9. Slankets, yes or no?

What’s a slanket?

10. Tell us something about the person who nominated you

I was nominated by Family Outdoor Adventures. I love reading about a young family trying to get outdoors!

Here are the blogs I’d like to pass this on to!

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