Sunday, July 31, 2016

Boldly going where I haven't gone before...preparation

July 28 and 29, 2016 - Lac La Peche, Quebec

LT and I make a pretty good team. We are used to travelling with each other. We each have our own tasks we do while canoe camping. He's a foot taller than me, so he gets all the jobs that are high up (like tying the center line for the bug shelter). And he's much stronger than me, he does all the heavy lifting.

This summer I happen to be a bit more flexible for when I can go camping and he's less flexible because of, well, life. So I decided to ask a friend to go on an overnight trip with me to Lac La Peche. This trip was about going somewhere I'd never gone camping and taking on tasks I'd never done because LT is always there to do them for me.

This lake is fairly close by, just under an hour's drive from home. It's in the Gatineau Park. It does not have any car camping, like at Lac Phillippe. You can make the reservations online. It even has pictures you can check out of the campsites before you select one. All the camping sites are canoe-in sites. There are no hike-in sites. 

Here's a link to the website:

Here's what the map of sites looks like:
Map from the Gatineau Park website
The online reservation system works pretty good. I did change our reservation from Monday night to Thursday night due to weather, which cost an extra $11.50. But that was money well spent to ensure a more pleasant experience.

My friend, Liz, had never been canoe camping before and I thought this trip would be a good introduction, mainly because I wasn't going to make her portage. When I checked with her for gear, she was able to get a sleeping bag. Other than that, I would provide all the gear and she would bring her own lunch and snacks. She came over to my place a couple of times so we could talk about what to expect for the trip. I talked with her about what food I'd supply, I showed her most of my gear. I have two regular tents (not lightweight or small). We set up both of them in the park behind my place to see which one we'd bring. And to check that I had all the gear needed for either tent. We chose the newer one.
Set up at the campsite
I would have to drive over to LT's before he left for work on Thursday and pick up the canoe. Then our adventure would start!

Day 1                                            Day 2

Monday, July 18, 2016

Hiking the Luskville Falls Trail

Last week I was able to schedule a hike with my friend, Liz. She had been on part of the trail many years ago so some of the trail was familiar to her. I had last hiked it about a year ago, okay, maybe 2 years ago. Even still there's been a few changes to the trail, predominantly trail maintenance.

They've put down stone dust in the parking lot, built a large map billboard with a roof, added boardwalks over potentially muddy spots in the trail and even added a couple of ladders. 

I've been here on a busy weekend day in the fall, there were cars parked on the entrance road, so many people hiking! They almost could have enlarged the parking lot. Today it was busy enough and we were often bumping into others on the trail. Everyone is friendly and says hello.

To get to this trail, you need to take highway 148 West out of Aylmer. You get to the turnoff when you are close to Luskville. Turn right on the road right where the old town hall sits, "Hotel de Ville".

There are outhouses at the parking lot with some picnic tables.

It's a high climb, 300 meters up in the first 800 meters distance of the trail. There was lots of huffing and puffing going on!
The stream flowing down a rock face
More rock face
Some of the trail
Looking down the trail
My hiking buddy, Liz
The trail is about 2.5 km from the parking lot to the fire tower. There's a second trail for a portion of the hike if you want to take a different route. However it was closed for us today. I guess they're working on "improving" it.
The last lookout before heading in the woods to get to the peak
The apex of the trail
Close up
At the fire tower the trail connects with the #1 trail for Gatineau Park. However it's a long, long way to get anywhere close to civilization on that side of the mountain. I think it's mainly used by mountain bikers.

On the way down, we stopped by the stream for a break. I took my hiking boots off and enjoyed the cold stream on my feet, mmmmmmm.
Chilling the piggies
I found it easier to climb, much harder to go down the rocky trail. I had my hiking poles and the next day my arms were more sore than my legs. However, during the hike we were both suffering from spaghetti legs. I hope the next time I ask Liz to come for a hike, she'll join me. I promise there won't be so much of an uphill climb! She was a great sport and I've talked her into joining me on a backcountry canoe trip in a week or so. Stay tuned for that adventure!

P.S. some pictures are courtesy of Liz, thanks!

Friday, July 01, 2016

Let's Pretend....a Learning Experience

I've been asked to help my sister with a couple of days of hanging out with my 8 year old nephew, Logan now that he's off school. When she asked me if I'd babysit I asked her if she thought he could carry a canoe and we'd go camping. I was joking. He's old enough to accompany LT and me on a trip, but that's not in the cards. So I thought he and I would have a "pretend" camping day. 
Our map
This pretend trip is completely on dry land. We'll drive to a park near my place and go for a short hike to a place where we can set up a campsite just for the day. It's a park meant for picnics, it has lots of picnic tables with barbecues with a river running along it. We won't have a fire, but we'll eat lunch. The menu is lasagna with apple pie for dessert.

I'll be printing out a map for him to follow, it's the one at the left.

When LT bought me my Hennessy hammock for Christmas they sent him a Cub hammock. It's meant for kids, up to 5'8", 120 pounds. We'll set up both hammocks and pretend we're going to sleep over and maybe just take a nap after lunch. 

Even though I don't need most of my gear, I'm going to bring it to show him how it works. It may be many years before he goes off on a backcountry canoe trip, but hopefully I'll pique his curiosity enough that when the opportunity comes for him, he jumps on it instead of like me, taking over 50 years to get to that place.

I've packed my stove (which I'll use to make lunch), my water filtration system, my hammock, sleeping bag, pillow, mattress. I have my chair, plus the tripod chair I had before. I picked him up his mess kit at LeBaron the other day:
Bowl, cup and KFS
The Day of the Adventure:
We had gorgeous weather. I parked my car about 1.5 kilometers from our camping spot and we hiked on the paths to the site I had chosen each of us carrying our packs.

Logan had a backpack that we put his camping hammock into as well as his mess kit. I had my usual large pack with a lot of what I usually carry.

We found our spot and set up camp, including both hammocks.
Logan is already in his hammock
 It was nice to have a picnic table for a change to keep stuff off the ground.

We lay in the hammocks and chatted to each other. We listened for birds. He recently did a school project on birds and has taken an interest in the large variety of birds he gets in his backyard at home.

Using my stove to make lunch
I brought my stove and my water filtration system. I carried 2 Nalgene litre bottles with water. I showed him how I filter water using my tap water from home. 

For lunch I brought dehydrated lasagna. For dessert I had my new apple pie recipe. I had also brought some cheese strings for the lasagna. He wasn't as eager of a fan of the dried food as LT. Maybe it has something to do with not having worked a bit harder for it without paddling. And Logan doesn't do any of his own cooking yet.

Less than eager about lunch
We climbed back into the hammocks for a short break before packing up and walking back to the car. It was getting pretty hot and we ended the day stopping by my local outdoor pool (which was empty because the Ontario kids were still in school) where Logan got to have the diving board all to himself. I know the water was fresh as I had seen the truck filling the pool up 3 days earlier. All in all, it was a great day!