Summer 2016 Bucket List

It’s finally spring (maybe? Today we experienced flurries, hail, and rain!) so the plans for this summer are happening!

It may be only Monday, but we're already dreaming of the weekend #adventures to come!

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Technically, BF and I have gone camping in the wilderness: No running water, no electricity, no cook stove, no bathrooms. But we haven’t spent more than 12 hours in the woods without going into town for a proper meal or washroom, or to charge our phones. That fact bothers me every time we head up to the same family-owned camping property. Don’t get me wrong, I love it there! Fresh air, cool breeze, and very private land, but…It’s been on my heart to go camping more frequently and to try new places, I just haven’t started looking for anywhere to go.

Until now.

A good friend of mine said they had booked a backcountry camp site this summer, and suggested we join in… so we did!

I plan to share photos (of course!) and the experience of the trip on this blog of mine, originally started as my 52 Hike Challenge tracker.

So, on the list for this summer:

-taking BF’s nephew for his first camping trip
-Flowerpot Island backcountry camping
-Gananoque and Thousand Islands
-Kayaking, kayaking, kayaking!
-Canoe trip into Algonquin Park to a backcountry camp site
-Presqu’ile Provincial Park after the Trenton Air Show

And more adventures I haven’t even thought of yet… I’m so excited for this summer!

Trip Log: Kayaking Laurel Creek

May 19, 2016

This Creek is right in my backyard, so to speak. It was time I got to exploring it by boat!

I packed up the GPS, GoPro, and snacks, and got the kayak on my car. Off I went.

The first thing I quickly learned about Laurel Creek was there are stumps in the water – lots of them. I got my boat caught on more than one during the paddling adventure. They looked like ancient volcano crators!

Hike #26 – Hydrocut

Hike #26 – Halfway!
Hydrocut, Kitchener/Wilmot
04-March-2016

I love the silence of nature.

I also love this space; the Hydrocut has been on my wishlist for awhile! I checked out their website (www.hydrocut.ca) and saw the available trails and parking areas. It’s mostly for mountain biking, but the multi-use trail is excellent for the rest of us on foot, horse, or bike.

I will definitely have to revisit this place in the summer.

Hike #25 – Bruce Trail/Dufferin Quarry

Hike #25
Bruce Trail/Dufferin Quarry Bridge
Milton, Ontario
28-February-2016

I woke up today with my leg still aching, but a few quick stretches later I was ready to get going. The weather was unbelieveable: 14 degrees Celsius in FEBRUARY?! I couldn’t resist.

I picked up my Bruce Trail guidebook and planned out where to go.

There’s a gap in the escarpment in Milton, and I wanted to explore it. Turns out there’s a quarry in there, with a bridge that keeps the Bruce Trail connected.

I headed out with all my gear and found parking along Dublin Road. The trailhead was where it seemed like private property, but all the trails online showed this to be an entrance, so away I went.

I’m glad I had my icers on, as it was uphill for almost a kilometre until I reached the white blazes of the Bruce Trail. At the top I met a couple coming from the direction I was heading into, and asked if there was ice along the trail. They said no, but I quickly realized that was not the case. Back on the icers went; there were a few crevices with ice around them that I didn’t want to risk anything preventable happening. I don’t want to be “that hiker” in the next news article.

A majority of this hike I was alone with no one else in sight. I know, this is also a huge safety risk that I’m told over and over. I can’t help it. I like hiking alone, and generally just being alone. It’s nice to have company sometimes, but if your hike mates aren’t going the same pace it kind of defeats the purpose. Plus, I stop and just breathe it all in or take photos frequently. None of this is a race to me. I’m out there to be out there in nature. I don’t know how else to describe it. Thinking, appreciating, being.

I could smell skunks that I likely scared while trekking along that rocky, muddy trail. It was nearer the end when I passed more couples, and dogs, enjoying the unusual February warmth.

At the completion, I emerged from a hole in the wall -literally- onto a narrow shoulder along Sixth Line Nassagaweya, covered in mud and hungry for the barbecue we were going to afterwards!

Bruce Trail Membership

It’s all official now – my Bruce Trail membership arrived today! And with a new patch!

As a trail I grew up trekking on every summer, it’s about damn time I gave back monetarily and by hand – physically improving it. I’m looking forward to it!

I should find those old, old photos of my early hiking days…

Hike #24 – Long Sault Conservation

Hike #24
Long Sault Conservation Area/Oak Ridges Moraine
Barnowl and Bluebird Trails
Clarington, Ontario
27-Feb-2016

Two more hikes to go until I can say I’m halfway completed my challenge to 52! The challenge is going really well, and I’m glad I have been getting out during this (lack of?) winter!

Today’s hike was about 2 hours from Kitchener, but I don’t mind commuting. I’m used to it now; driving all over southwestern Ontario it seems.

Well, this week I signed up for a Bruce Trail membership, and made the Toronto Club my base. I’m excited! So excited that I started browsing the available hikes and signed up for this one the day before! The website has a list of all kinds of group hikes with all the pertinent details.

This one was broken into two parts; the first half was a scheduled 9km with a dropout point back at the parking lot, and the second half was another 8km on the other side of the forest.

It was my intention to do both hikes, if time allowed (we had to be back in Kitchener by 7pm, but I didn’t want to be rushed, and also wanted to leave some time for a nap if needed… hiking can be exhausting!)

About half way into the first hike my knee started feeling a little annoyed with me. Climbing over rocks, on ice, through snow. Shortly after that, my leg started to seize up and it was actually painful to walk uphill. Thankfully I invested in walking sticks and icers the night before, but even they weren’t exactly helping. I limped for the last 4km, and the worst part of those last kilometers was that the trail was undergoing some work… cut trees and branches were strewn across the trail, making my already-challenged hobble even more challenging (and painful.)

Wincing along behind the other 11 hikers, the trail sweeper (Marilyn!) and I eventually made it back to the parking lot. Trail Leader Glynn came up and suggested I try electrolyte pills next time – I’m pretty sure my pain was partly due to the lack of water in my body. Winter is so harsh that way. I think I’ll give them a try, or at least bring along a bottle of Gatorade next time.

Shortly before my leg started to annoy me, Glynn stopped us all for a quick breather and casually reminded us that there could be bears out in the woods. That was excellent news (!!) as I had left my bear bell in the car! No bears were spotted anyways 😉

The hike overall was awesome. We started out at a face pace, the weather was fantastic… I absolutely love when the sun is shining; even if it’s freeze-your-face-off frigid. The sun makes everything so happy.

I’ve been slacking with my hiking challenge, but I haven’t given up. Life just gets in the way, like sickness, and terrible weather, and… Now I’m just making excuses.

At my current job I have the ability to listen to music or podcasts, or my more recent muse – audio books. I signed up with the Amazon company Audible.com and got a free book. I saw this title (A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson) at the local bookstore and thought it might be a good first choice. Well, almost 10 hours of listening and I finished it today. Bill wrote about his experience on the Appalachian Trail, or “AT”, with a long lost friend. Hearing his descriptions of nature and peacefulness, (blended in of course with complaints of heavy packs and blistered feet), makes me desperate to get back outside and on a trail. Any trail. Trails with more substance.
In short, it was a great book and a great intro to audio books. I have one more credit with Audible, but I’m not sure what to get next!