Algonquin Park, Ontario : Hiking

I apologize for the big gap in my posting.  It’s been a rough last couple of months.   Let’s try to start this all over again, shall we?

I have never backpacked or portaged for camping before.  The past summer I went to Algonquin Park in Ontario to try it for the first time.  Depending on if you like camping or not, this trip was as expensive as a small weekend trip to New York.  Why, you ask?  Because It was my first time, I had to buy a lot of expensive things.  I am, by all means, not an expert on hiking and portaging, but this blog is about some Things you definitely need for a backpacking trip:

  1. A very light tent.  I never knew this was even available!  I went to Sojourn in Barrie to pick out one on sale.  A good brand for this is Eureka.  I bought a single person. I was about 10 lbs. and packs very small.
  1. A light backpack with lots of pockets.  Usually there is a pocket on the bottom to hold the sleeping bag and two zippered pockets on the side.  Mine also had a zipped pocket on the top of it.  On the sides, it had mesh pockets for water bottles.
  1. Two water bottles.  You need this because you’ll be thirsty as heck as you’re hiking and paddling to your site.
  1. Waterproof hiking boots.  Luckily I once bought waterproof hiking boots for a snow shoeing excursion, I already had these.  A good brand for this is Salomon.  Though the ones that I bought were cheap and kind of ugly, it protects me from deep puddles to mud.
  1. Headlamp.  You can always use a flashlight, though I would suggest bringing both, headlamps help you see during the night when you’re trying to take out you’re contacts or trying to get your PJ’s on.  With flashlights, you will only have one hand to do anything.  It also makes an awesome reading lamp.  You can change the brightness of these.  A good brand for this is Diamond.
  1. Fire starters.  Don’t be too proud to bring some fire starters just in case you’re not able to make fire without it.  If you’re not familiar in making fire, it will be very hard for you to start a fire on the first few tries.
  1. Thermal layer.  I would suggest getting a wool hat (toque), wool socks, a thermal long sleeve shirt, and long thermal pants.  Though I went in late May, the morning were freezing.  I went to Mark’s Work Warehouse to get mine.
  1. Water Filter.  There are things like the Life stick that filters water as you suck into the straw.  You need this because many first world countries have filtered water for everywhere (restaurants and home).  There are possibilities that even the water in Ontario isn’t clean enough and has no bacteria that drinking it won’t give you diarrhea.  They say you can use the Life Stick in pond of the dirtiest water in Africa and you would still be fine to drink it.  I probably would never take that chance.
  1. A lightweight and temperature appropriate sleeping bag.  The final thing that you absolutely have to have is a good sleeping bag.  I never noticed until that backpacking experience is that sleeping bags are heavier that you realize.  I bought mine at Le Baron.  They had two different types: mummy style and rectangular type.  The mummy one is designed to hug you tight to keep you warm.  The rectangular ones are the ones that you see everywhere, the top Is an unclosed rectangle.  There are different designated temperatures for the sleeping bags.  Apply as needed.

The goal of backpacking anywhere is to keep things light so that you don’t wear yourself out.  On the way back out of the hike, I was really tired.  I almost had to get my friends to carry my backpack out.  I sucked it up and I pushed through.  The few lbs. that you don’t have to carry the better it is.

On my trip, we hiked for four hours to our camping site.  The way it works for backcountry camping is that you book an area you want to camp at.  Then when you get there its first come first serve to get a good camp site.  Just a tip, book early so you don’t have to hike four hours on your first time for a backpacking trip.  I would say the hike was half rocking and half flat.  The first two hours was basically flat, walking beside the lake.  Then we hit steep hills and lots of water.  I found out something interesting about myself for this: I am scared of slipping into small water rivers.  For some reason I was very scared to step onto the rocks.  I practically yelled at friend for rushing me. Eek.  As we walked into our area, we found a nice camping site that was as flat as possible and had a very, very, very small “beach”.  I say this was a “beach” because it was about a 8 food sand area to the water.

We settled down and first looked for firewood.  This is an important step because you want to get a fire ready before its dark so you can make food.  To answer the question you’re thinking about: no, you don’t need to kill animals in the forest to eat.  You bring preserved foods that aren’t too heavy.  We brought things like small cans of flavoured tuna and instant noodle.  My friends also have a _ that pulls out all the water from the food to make dried food (which is lighter).  I think maybe I was too tired or just in a different environment, I didn’t really want to eat.  Except for marshmallows.  On a dare I ate 20 marshmallows and in return my friend ate two cans of my tuna (makes my return backpack way lighter).

Fire and smoke is also good for scaring off bugs.  I was so annoyed at the black flies by the evening of the first day I started sitting in the smoke just so I didn’t have bugs flying into my eyes.  I didn’t get many bites because I drenched myself in bug spray.

My friends bought filter bags where the cap of the bag is a water filter.  You fill up the bag from the lake and squirt the water into you water bottle to drink it.  E

Essentially the whole time we were looking for wood and separating them to make fire.  We sat around talking about different things, watching the fire and trying to make fire with two pieces of wood.  It proved to be very hard but we did it.

All in all the trip was beautiful.  This was what we woke up to:

No showering was possible – unless in the lake with environmentally friendly soap.  Pooping and peeing had to be done in the “thunder box” (a wooden box that is covering a hole in the ground).  The verdict is, the hard work trekking into a campsite was worth it because of the beautiful and quiet atmosphere.


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