Friday, November 8, 2013

End of season thoughts

I hate to admit it, but I think our camping season is over.  I may be able to convince Chris to do a trip to Mew in the Boler in November, but I won't be holding my breath.

While I was going through the trip logs, adding links to the Log page for easier navigating, I started thinking about the summer as a whole.

1) We went on a fair number of trips this summer!  Yay us! 11 camping trips is pretty good.  We also managed to camp at least once a month, for 8 months straight.  That's pretty good for us.  I'm really proud of us for taking the chance on the early spring excursion, even though it seemed crazy to be camping with snow on the ground.

2) We didn't do as much hiking this year.  Though we did some trails while camping, there were less day trips.  I had planned to do a lot of picnicking but that didn't really happen.

3) All but one of our trips was front country!  This was the biggest bummer because we all really wanted to go back country canoeing this year.  So why didn't we?  Well, we had booked a lot of trips early in the spring, and those took up a lot of Chris's time off.  The trip with our friends is an annual thing we don't want to give up, and my mum and I have so much fun planning trips, it was hard not to get all excited about booking them.  Here's the thing.  By mid February, I'm getting antsy, and I want to be assured of some camping time being locked down.  Booking early means WE ARE GOING.  While the thought of crown land camping, or going somewhere that doesn't require a reservation (unmaintained provincial parks) is very appealing, there's that niggling worry in my mind that if we haven't booked it, and paid for it, something small will come up and we will cancel or postpone the trip and it just won't happen.  It's easy to say this summer we are going to do this canoe route and this one...but unless we actually put it on a calendar and lock it down, it doesn't happen.

So what can I do to avoid this?  I think being prepared is the best thing to do.  Having food already for a back country trip will ease the stress and reduce the excuses. It can be surprisingly expensive to shop last minute for a camping trip.  I suppose you could always go with a few boxes of instant oatmeal for breakfast, KD for dinner, and granola bars for lunch, but I want to eat real food out there...not just garbage.  So that's one of my goals over the winter, have enough dehydrated trail meals made up and hidden away in the freezer so that all that's left to do for a trip is pack the food into our barrel.  It would be much easier to do spontaneous short trips if there wasn't days of preparing dried food to do before we could leave.

4) I really want to do at least one long trip next year.  Short trips are fine, but it seems like so much effort and time goes into planning them, and you don't get all that much actual camping time.  I am hoping next year to do a week long trip to Achray, giving us lots of time to get to all the things we wanted to do this year.  Is there much difference between planning and packing for a long trip and for a short one?  Other than maybe more clothes, and a bigger menu, I guess not.

5) We tried a fair bit of new things with our food this year.  We did a lot of spaghetti last year, but this year we tried nachos, experimented with spam, cooked a turkey dinner and made a variety of pre made dinners for the night of our arrivals.  Oddly enough, when I asked the kids what their favourite camp dinner was from this summer, Bubbie's response was spaghetti. She says there's something so much better about eating spaghetti when camping..Squatch's was the Spam hash.

It's kind of sad to be cleaning out the boler, packing up the gear and putting away things for the winter. I've been putting it off but there's no denying it's cold and yucky outside.  I guess it's time to pull out the snowshoes and skis and make sure everything still fits.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Trip Log: Arrowhead Provincial Park - September 20-22, 2013

This trip to Arrowhead ended up being put off twice.  Originally, it had been booked for the sunday/monday of the august long weekend but plans for Chris's sister fell through, so we ended up rescheduling it to the second weekend of September...then Chris couldn't get that weekend off and we bumped it to the following weekend.  Our friends were going to join us, but then they had family obligations and we ended up heading up to Huntsville on our own.  We didn't get to the site until well after dark, probably about 9 or 9:30.  We simply backed the Boler into the middle of the site, and went to bed.  It was raining and a bit chilly, but inside the trailer we felt like we were in a sauna.  It was so humid and warm, we all ended up on top of our sleeping bags.

The next morning was chilly and still drizzly.  I cooked up some Spam Hash and we set up the screen tent over the picnic table to give us some shelter from the rain.  We also moved the trailer so it wasn't right in the centre of the site.  Unfortunately, the extension cord we brought was about 5 feet too short (it was a 100ft cord.)  This wouldn't have been an issue if the electrical outlet wasn't on the site of the site with the fire pit, meaning we couldn't get any closer to close the gap.

Chris carrying Biscuit down the stairs to Stubb's Falls
We all hiked down to Stubb's Falls before lunch.  There were a lot of people there, including some men who were camped down the river. I took a few pictures while Chris tried fly fishing in the little pool at the bottom of the falls.  Biscuit made things difficult because he was so eager to check everything out he ended up dragging the kids all over the place.  I didn't get much chance to play with the camera because I had to hold him or risk Squatch falling into the water.

Before we walked back, we took a walk to the site we would have been staying at had we gone on our original dates back in August.  As we were heading back, we noticed a campsite I'd passed that morning while walking the dog.  Two young men had been at the site then, and it was clear they had left.  Their tent and gear was gone, but they'd left the fire going, and they'd left both picnic tables covered in garbage.  I've seen a few sites with the odd bit of garbage on it, or people who leaved their bags of garbage hanging from the site's number post thinking there is a garbage service coming to clean up after them, but this was just laziness.  There were scattered bottles and wrappers, a foil baking pan, an empty firewood bag.  It wasn't just a "oops didn't notice that can tucked behind the picnic table leg" it looked like a very small high school party had happened and partiers had fled before the parents showed up.  It was very disheartening.

Heron near the base of Stubb's Falls
The plan was for my parents to drive up for dinner, so when we got back to camp, I started up the charcoal for a yummy Dutch Oven beef roast with potatoes, carrots and squash.  Mum and Dad showed up not long after and we left Chris with the food while we walked down to the falls again.  Dad had just bought a GoPro and wanted to try it out.  (They also picked us up a 10 foot extension cord to add to ours so we could use the heater that ended up being pretty darn chilly and we were thankful for the warmth.)

When we got back, dinner was ready, and we all crammed into the trailer to eat since everything was wet out side.  We had our screen tent over the picnic table, but the picnic table didn't dry much with the air being so damp.  Mum had brought salad, and a cake for dessert.  Poor Biscuit was so tired he kept nodding off while leaning against Mum's leg but he was to worried he might miss a yummy treat if he fell asleep.

Mum and Dad left shortly after dinner for the drive back south. The kids and Chris had spent a good part of the day playing cards and after dinner we taught them how to play a game my parents and their friends came up with a long time ago.  I'm hoping to do a how-to video of this game because it really is a lot of fun...especially if you and your friends have had a few drinks.

When we went to bed that night, Biscuit did his normal pre-slumber routine of chewing lightly on his sleeping bag...but he was so tired he fell asleep face down with a mouthful of blanket. I seriously thought he was dead.  I went to nudge him and he woke up snarling. He really doesn't like his sleep being interrupted.

It was still drizzling and cold the next morning.  Breakfast was cereal this morning.  Everyone else lay around in their beds in the warm trailer while I took Biscuit for a walk.  He gets annoyed being cooped up in the Boler, but hasn't yet learned to just relax while tied up outside either.  He wants to be right with us, and since I'm usually cooking, that also means he has plenty of opportunity to get up on the table.  

On the way home we stopped in Gravenhurst for some coffee and a bathroom break. Chris managed a 3 point turn in the parking lot there, which, if you've ever been to that Timmies, you'll know it's quite a feat with a trailer.