Our first “real” camping trip.

As you might surmise from reading our earlier posts, Kara and I really enjoy the outdoors – sitting together next to a warm campfire. However, I would have a hard time saying that any of our camping trips were ever a challenge. We started camping out of the back of the car, in a cheap $80 Walmart tent and Kara’s little green cooler, but that was at a campground. The biggest challenge we faced was keeping the milk cold till breakfast the next day. From there it progressed to tenting out of the back of the Navi because we needed more room for the ever growing list of amenities that needed to come along. Then we got the Tent Trailer, and then the Travel Trailer we have now. We are both in agreement that this is as big as we would ever want to go and in fact a smaller more nimble device would suit us better.

But let’s face it, none of this is really “camping”… it’s spending time together, away from the distractions and busyness of life. And that’s all well and good, but it’s not camping. It’s too comfortable, there is little challenge, for example – If I build a shoddy fire that doesn’t want to burn, I whip out the propane torch and give it some incentive! And I think that is one of the reasons I was so happy to hear Kara suggest the Hunters Lake hike on the August long weekend. There would be some Jason sized challenges to overcome – what fun! Here is the story:

We headed north right after work on Friday and got to Sandy Lake and got set up in a “walk-in” tent site just before sunset. After a quick supper we turned in for the night. Saturday morning we were up at 5:45am and after a quick breakfast we drove to the Hunters Lake Trailhead. We got all suited up and started the hike at 7:15. It’s 12ish kilometres to of “moderate” terrain to the lake. After about an hour we came to a fork in the trail but found a signpost laying on the ground in the tall grass. It said “Hunters” (straight) “Spruce Reach” (right) – BUT there were two trails I could see, one straight ahead, one to the left. I assumed that the sign was supposed to be turned the other way and so we took the trail to the left. This mistake cost us about 2 hours and by the time I figured out we were heading south, we had hit the cut line at the south edge of the park. Thankfully we’d just got a “DeLorme inReach Satellite Communicator with GPS” (hereafter referred to as the SatCom) for use with our iPhone. Once I pulled out the phone and had a look I knew we’d taken the wrong trail. Once we got back to the fork, we realized that there was a third trail that was quite overgrown to the right and that is why we missed it. We should have gone straight… We sent out a quick message via the SatCom so that the people tracking us wouldn’t have a conniption. We were quite disappointed to have wasted so much time, but at the same time, happy to be on the right trail at last.

We planned to hike in the morning to avoid the mid-day heat, but we soon learned what that means when on an “unmaintained trail”. The tall dewy grass slowly saturated our pant-legs and socks. There were several low spots where the rain water had completely covered the trail. You could see that the water extended into the trees for a long ways and so there was little point in trying to side step it. We laid fallen trees over some of them and tried to hop along the edges of others. But slowly our feet got wetter and wetter. When we found a sunny clearing we stopped and took off our socks and pulled out our insoles and tried to dry it all out. Thankfully we’d brought extra socks! I think next time I’ll pack some flip-flops for these water crossings. The rest of the hike was pretty average, a fair amount of mosquitoes and tired, grumpy, wet hikers.

When we arrived at the lake it was not what I was expecting. We came up over the ridge and saw the first camp spot and I thought “That’s a nice spot”. When I looked around it dawned on me, “that’s it!” there are no other spots – It was perfect! Situated on a steep ridge on the North East side of the lake, the camp spot was in a clearing about 30 feet around with a fire pit in the center. There was a small outhouse about 30 feet further into the bush, nothing fancy, but there is nothing fancy going on in there anyway. We de-packed and started a fire to dry out our feet and footwear. This would be home for the next two nights.

I’ll try not to bore you with the activities of the day, but I will outline how we did things a little bit. Our water supply was collected from the lake and we ran it through a Gravity Works filter. Pretty impressive to filter 4 liters of water in a few minuets. We ended up using 16 liters over the weekend. For food, we carried in Mountain House Freeze Dried meals that you add boiling water to and then seal up for 10 minuets or so. They work really well and taste fantastic. We often split one single serving meal between us after we bulked it up with rice. We brought tortillas and pita’s and used them as plates, once the meal was done we ate the plate and the only thing we had to clean was a spoon(2).

To boil our water we have a cute little 700ml stainless pot that holds insulated two insulated plastic cups inside. It fits perfectly on top of a White Box stove which burns ethel-alcohol. We can boil 700ml of water in about 8 minuets.

We had a great time, the weather was perfect and we spent two days there relaxing in each others company.  The pictures describe it better, so I will leave it at that and let you see the photos of our time there.

The hike out we smartened up. I made gaiters out of white garbage bags and hip waiters out of green garbage bags. One the way out we hardly got wet at all and we did it in record time, 12km in 2hr 27min

Categories: Adventures | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Does anyone still read this?

Well, it seems as though we have gone several months without a post and so it’s high time we get one done.

This year our plans are to do less and see more (of each other). In recent years we have been spending our whole vacation travelling and going and seeing and doing – No More! This years vacation we are heading west to the mountains and then taking it easy. So that’s what’s coming up, here is what’s happened since we last wrote.

Nothing.

We started making much bigger supper meals and portioning them into proper meal size portions that we freeze. This way we have good lunches to take to work and it keeps is from over eating at supper. It’s too tempting to “finish off” this or that – this way, when your done – Your done!

Kara has been finding time to get to the gym too and has lost a whole heap of weight since new years. I too have lost about 40 pounds to date. I would like to say that it is only due to the Traeger Grill, but I think that the more likely reason is Kara and Lincoln dragging me along for walks.

In more project related news, the trailer had some renovations this year. We decided that long-term Boondocking required additional power. We researched generators, but decided that solar was a better choice for us. I found a supplier of solar panels and charge controllers in Shenzhen that was willing to ship directly to me. We bought two 140 watt panels, and a MPPT charge controller.

When I went up on the roof to measure for the solar, I was saddened to find that the plywood had de-laminated in some areas. This required a complete roof overhaul which was hecticly fit in between spring rainstorms (thanks to good friends). We removed the thin Luan wood that was originally there, and reskinned the whole roof with 3/8 inch good one side plywood before a fresh sheet of EPDM rubber membrane. It feels much more solid to walk on now. While the roof was wide open, it was a perfect time to structurally reinforce for the solar and run the necessary wires. I also ran extra wires for the new power roof vents and other things. We opted to leave off the air conditioner, FM radio antenna and crank up TV antenna, we never use any of those anyway.

We managed to get the repairs all buttoned up before May long, just in time to go camping at Shell Lake with Tim, Crystal and Luke. We were glad to go somewhere we had not been before, it’s a nice lake – and it’s not too far from home.

This spring Kara took another photography course, she seems to be really enjoying it. She was flattered to be asked to take some grad pictures for a friend’s daughter. We went to the local camera shop to buy a light reflector and when we were there we saw the Canon 60D in the display case on consignment at a very good price. As you may have guessed, we picked it up and have been having a lot of fun with more advanced features of this camera. Anyway, Kara went out with Fay to practice, and then pretty much went through the same routine for the grad photos the next day. I will post some of the pictures below.

One of Kara’s coworkers offered to take us fishing at Lake Diefenbaker. After deep deliberation which lasted about three seconds, we jumped at the offer. Him and his wife graciously took us out on their pontoon boat for most of the day, and then fed us a wonderful supper. It was without a doubt the best fishing trip we have ever been on. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you very much Mr. unnamed coworker.

The navigator is out of commission for a couple of weeks, and so we can’t take the trailer anywhere. So for the July long weekend Kara pitched the idea to backpack into Trappers and see why it had been closed. I was very surprised to hear this, but gladly scrambled together enough gear that we could safely go. We applied for a random back-country permit and got a ride to the park with Jay. The hiking was easier than expected as the trail was in good condition, the only thing that slowed us down was 25 L of water. We don’t have a good filtration system yet, so we needed to haul in water.

The only reason we could find that Trappers would have been closed was that the culvert underneath the bridge was plugged with debris causing water to run over the bridge and road. Well, that and the dozens of massive jack pine trees that had been blown down a few days earlier. But that wasn’t the reason the area was closed. We were sure that we would be the only ones there that weekend, but we were surprised to be greeted by three other parties who biked in to see the condition of the campground.

We had a wonderful time together. It had been a long time since I’d backpacked anywhere, so I learnt a few things. Overall, we did very good in our preparation, a little bit too much food and a little bit too much water. Good problems to have.

This is getting a little bit long-winded, so I’m going to cut it off there. Enjoy the random photos that I dig up.

Categories: Adventures, Everyday Stuff | 4 Comments

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

♫ Oh the weather outside is frightful, ♫
(not so bad actually, it’s been a mild winter)
♫ But the fire is so delightful, ♫
(Got the gas fireplace going again)
♫ And since we’ve no place to go, ♫ (camping)
♫ Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! ♫ (deep sigh)

Not a great deal to report this winter, other then it has been a very mild. I’ve been keeping busy with nerd stuff and Kara has been enjoying obedience training with Lincoln and the new friends that come along with that. He is almost 8 months old now and he seems to have stopped growing already, he only weights 16 pounds and I can’t see him weighing more then 20. That is fine with me. He is still very playful and seems to always find a way to make us laugh. He’s a goofy little guy, but all business when that clicker comes out.

We’ve been taking Lincoln out for walks mostly every night and I’m really enjoying it more than I thought I would. As you will see in the video below Lincoln really enjoys it too, he seem to gravitate to the biggest dogs to make friends with.

In sadder news, we just wrote to Parks Canada and asked about Trappers Lake, their reply:

> Good Morning Jason
>
> Thank you for your inquiry about the Trappers Lake
> road and your  interest
in Prince Albert National Park.
> The Trappers Lake road will remain closed to camping
> and group
camping again this summer.
>
> Have a Great Day !

Well, that’s disappointing. The hunt is on to find Trappers 2.0

Without any further ado, a short montage of Lincoln,
♫ walking in a winter wonderland! ♫

Categories: Everyday Stuff | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Lincoln turns 5! (months)

Categories: Everyday Stuff, Interesting Stuff | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Herb Roasted Chicken

Now that the cold has set in, we are stuck indoors dreaming of springtime. What better time to hone ones culinary prowess. This short dorky video shows my take on the Herb Roasted Chicken. (Original Recipe Below the Video)

Herb and Lemon Chicken with Roast Vegetables

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme +5 Springs
4 tablespoons extra Virgin olive oil, divided
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
The Zest of one lemon, save the lemon to stuff into the chicken!
Salt and fresh ground pepper
6 shallots, halved
3 carrots cut into long pieces no more than 1 inch thick
3 parsnips cut into long pieces no more than 1 inch thick
3 Russet Potatoes
1 (5 pound) roasting chicken

  1. Place roasting pan in oven and preheat to 450°F. Mix Thyme, 2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic, lemon zest in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Toss shallots with remaining olive oil, and season with salt and Pepper.
  2. Rinse chicken, patch dry. Rub mixture under skin of chicken, and cut lemon in half an place in cavity of chicken. Tuck wingtips under and tie legs with string. Place chicken in heated roasting pan, on the rack.
  3. Roast chicken for 20 min. Meanwhile, combine fingerlings, shallots, carrots, parsnips in a bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and five sprigs thyme.
  4. Very carefully remove chicken and rack, and place vegetables under the rack in roasting pan. Be sure that potatoes are flesh side down. Return chicken and rack to roasting pan.
  5. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F roast chicken until the juices run clear, about one additional hour. Lift chicken and tilt slightly, emptying juices from cavity into pan. Transfer chicken to cutting board. Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.
  6. Place vegetables on a serving platter and tent with foil to keep warm. Carve the chicken after it is rested for 15 min. Place chicken pieces on platter with vegetables and serve.
Categories: Everyday Stuff, Interesting Stuff | Tags: | 2 Comments