Weekend Trip Log

What a fantastic weekend! Camping, participating in the 2nd Annual Lock ‘n Paddle, touring the Kingston Penitentiary, and driving through angry weather!
We started out Friday afternoon in the pouring rain, packed up our kayaks & camping gear, and hit the road. The weather reports had shown a lot of rain with a bit of sunshine, which was a bit disappointing, but we’re not strangers to inclement weather!

Jeep all locked & loaded!

The rain subsided and soon we were driving away from the sunset… from our home in Hamilton up to Emily Provincial Park.

We stopped to pick up a late dinner at Mary Brown’s chicken (the pulled chicken was delicious!) and continued along. The clouds lingered for the latter part of our drive, but the rain never fell (#awesome!)

The ominous clouds are chasing us, but we’re headed to the sunshine even if it’s raining…πŸš£β€β™‚οΈπŸ•οΈπŸŒ² . . . #thatcouldbeasong 🎢

Emily Provincial Park is situated just a wee bit northwest of Peterborough, Ontario. We arrived around 7pm and were told that our original campsite in the radio-free zone (#11) was swamped from the recent heavy rainfall. I had to quickly decide where to move to, and #53 was the winner (the choices were slim on a Friday night!)

I have to say, whoever didn’t pick #53 for the Friday to Saturday night was seriously missing out! What a great spot. There was bubbling creek behind us, and it was quite a large spaces dotted with tall, tall trees. And flat! (#thankful!)
You never quite realize how important flat land is until you’re sleeping on a pad in a tent with even a 5% slope… it’s weird! πŸ™‚

The next morning the sky was absolutely clear and the sun was warm! We quickly stuffed sleeping bags into duffels, the tent back into its bag, and smothered the fire. We had slept late so we decided to enjoy breakfast at a local spot – PJ’s Diner in Peterborough. We devoured almost the usual; coffee, tea, a breakfast burger and a breakfast burrito!

Off to the next stop: The Peterborough Lift Lock, #21

Between Locks 20 and 21

A Parks Canada guide greeted us at the entrance to the Visitor’s Centre parking lot and advised we could drop off the boats at this location, but we would have to park up the street. After we unloaded and brought the boats to the edge of the canal, I walked back up to the Centre for a pre-event rest stop πŸ˜‰ Along the way, the Canadian Canoe Museum had a tent set up and they were selling event t-shirts. I bought one in green, as well as a sticker for my kayak to commemorate the event.

It was about 11:30 when we got on the water and there were already so many kayaks and canoes everywhere! It was so colourful and festive. Paddlers were clinging to the edges as motorized boats were still using the locks while we were waiting our turn.

Finally, the first lock “tub” was filled with boats – 166 total! Last year only 138 showed up, and this was clearly going to be a much bigger turnout.

After what seemed like forever, everyone remaining was cleared to start entering the second tub. By this time, we had split our kayak paddles in half to use them as canoe paddles. This helped us to avoid hitting anyone nearby in the head; it was very cozy in the lock!
And then someone brought beach balls!

With the first tub filled with 166 boats, and our tub filled with 162 (we had more canoes in ours!) the total number came to 328 – a little bit more than last year. WOW! How fantastic to be a part of this moment.
The lock operators brought both tubs to equal height, and we sang O Canada and then Happy Birthday to our country for 150 years. It was so neat to hear the echoes of everyone singing along.
Our tub finally went all the way to the top, and we took advantage of the option to paddle out from there. It was just after 2pm by the time we were back on dry land. Time to hustle! We had to be down in Kingston for 6pm!

Next stop: Kingston Penitentiary

Tickets for the regular tour in hand, we arrived at the Kingston Penitentiary with plenty of time to spare. We were greeted at the entrance and received our “team orange” bracelets. It was an interesting tour; photos on the walls displayed how the various areas used to be set up for the inmates, including photos from the 1971 riot.

Two former correction officers and a human resources employee were part of the tour and provided stories and additional information. I could have listened to them for hours!

One thing I found interesting was the guide telling us the guards would go around frequently and bang on the bars to ensure they were still intact and not loose. Hence, the rust spots on the bars where they hit with their batons.

After the tour we enjoyed a somewhat fancy-pants dinner at the Grizzy Grill on Princess Street, still in Kingston. We sat on the patio and enjoyed the emerging nightlife with a burger for me and a sirloin steak for Len.

A brief drive after dinner, we checked into our hotel in Belleville and I kept a close watch on the boats from our window. We had locks on them, but still, if there’s an opportunity for someone to steal a kayak… it just made me nervous. Thankfully everything was still on the Jeep in the morning πŸ™‚
The complimentary breakfast was fantastic and got us off on a great start. Though Len didn’t get to use the pancake machine (it was overrun by kids) everything we did eat was delicious. Having stayed in Belleville, we weren’t far from our usual camping spot up north… so off we went for a very brief visit!

The final part of our trip was heading back to Hamilton. We drove through torrential rain and even two little hail storms. It was amazing, except the high winds! We had tied down the kayaks to their j-racks very securely, including the bow and stern tie-downs. The winds were not having any of it… we had to pull over about five or six times along the 407 just to check the security! I had been watching the boats just wave and wobble through the sunroof and I was scared they were just going to take flight (they didn’t.)

Roadside boat security check

The bonus part of our trip, and unfortunately with our kayaks on the roof… but I LOVE storms and watching clouds flow and form and grow into scary, angry things… and that’s exactly what we saw heading into Peterborough and right through to Markham!

The Lock ‘n Paddle GoPro video:


Flowerpot Island Memories

We travelled to Flowerpot Island last summer (already?!)

I came across this photo of us at one of the flowerpots. I love it. I’m thankful our friend snapped it for us!

Hike at Eramosa Karst Conservation Area

Saturday, April 22, 2017
Found 2 geocaches
Approx. 3.5km

Determined to use my Hamilton Conservation Annual pass, I picked the Eramosa Karst Conservation Area to explore. Mild trails, easy to walk or run. Tall, tall trees and hills.

I discovered various caves along the trails… I’m not a cave person, so just glancing into some of them was just fine by me!

Every time I step out of my house I realize just how lucky we are that all these conservation areas are here, and so close by. I absolutely love it and never want to take it for granted.

Homemade Trail Mix

Just something I thought I should make for myself!
A friend and I are heading out tomorrow to kayak in Burlington Bay. We’re starting early so a good breakfast at home to start, this trail mix, and lunch after should suffice.

My trial trail recipe!

In a Ziploc bag, 1/3 cup each:
Pumpkin seeds, roasted and unsalted
Cashews, unsalted
Dried cranberries
Banana chips, sweetened (I wish they weren’t, but next time…)
Pepperoni bites, honey garlic flavour
Hemp seeds
Carob chips
Corn nuts, roasted and unsalted
Dried coconut
Waffle pretzels

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

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

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!

Hike #24 – Long Sault Conservation

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

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 πŸ˜‰

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.

Hike #23 – Crane Park

Hike #23

Crane Park

Guelph, Ontario

January 29, 2016

Sunny, sunny, sunny day… was incredibly deceiving! It was -10C but -17C with the windchill. Just have to dress warm and get out there, which I did.

I was actually looking for another trail when I found Crane Park. Parking for one of the entrances to the Niska Trail was signed β€œNO PARKING; Snowplow Turnaround” only; I guess I’ll have to try again in the spring πŸ™‚

The trees in the forested part I walked through… just cracked so loudly I was sure with just one gust they were going to collapse down onto me. In this video you can also hear the baby squirrels squawking πŸ™‚

Crane Park is a leash-free area, and it made me (again) wish I had a hiking dog. One day:)