know of no greater freedom than loading my canoe with food
and gear and setting off into the wilderness. tripping has given
me intimate glimpses of the boreal forest of northwestern
Ontario, excitement on free-flowing rivers north of lake Superior
and encounters with moose in algonquin Provincial Park. But
before the freedom comes planning: your safety, comfort and ability
to minimize your impact on the surrounding environment depend
on it. Here are four essential things to do before you dip your paddle
into an Ontario lake.
Decide where to go algonquin, massasauga, Frontenac and
other provincial parks are good places to start because their
portages and campsites are well marked on the map and on the
ground. Plot your route on topographical or park maps and get
more information from guidebooks and websites, such as Canadian
Canoe Routes (www.myccr.com). novice trippers should stick to
lakes and slow-moving rivers with portages of less than 500 metres
and expect to paddle no more than10 to 20 kilometres per day.
Gear up car-camping and backpacking tents work equally well
for canoe trips, but lighter is better, and wilderness tent sites are
usually smaller than the drive-in variety. Purchase the most compressible
sleeping bag you can afford and a self-inflating sleeping
pad. Pack quick-drying apparel for on the water and comfy cotton
for in camp, and do not cut corners with rain gear. Stuff everything
into small, waterproof bundles (use drybags or plastic-lined
stuffsacks) and carry them in portage or hiking packs. almost
any 15- to 17-foot canoe will do for weekend trips.
Plan your menu Freeze-dried meals are expensive and salty;
lots of cheaper, healthier alternatives are available in supermarkets
and bulk stores. Pesto pasta with sun-dried tomatoes and
Parmesan is a great meal. most fruits and vegetables will last a
weekend trip or longer, as will cheeses and cured meats like
summer sausage. For coffee connoisseurs, unbreakable plastic
presses are a must for getting that morning fix. treat drinking
water by boiling or filtering it with a pump, or adding chemical drops
to it. many trippers use watertight barrels to pack their food,
although you can also get by with an ordinary backpack. just
remember to keep provisions out of the sun and to secure your
food pack out of reach of bears, raccoons and mice when you
retire for the night.
Leave no trace minimal-impact camping starts with planning:
repackage food to minimize waste, bring a gas stove to avoid the
need for a fire that leaves scars, obey park regulations regarding
maximum group sizes and bans on cans or bottles, and stay at
designated campsites. Dispose of human waste and dishwater
in shallow-dug pits at least 60 metres from bodies of water, and
pack up all garbage, including food scraps. indulge in a campfire
only if a safe fire pit has been provided, and use only small pieces
of dead wood.
,rock solid: malcolm Bluff Shores is secured.
You did it!
Thanks to you, Ontario nature's campaign to purchase
malcolm Bluff Shores, now our second largest nature
reserve, was a success. the spectacular property is
the largest remaining tract of forested land on the niagara
escarpment, designated a uneScO World Biosphere reserve.
three years ago, Ontario nature and the Bruce trail conservancy
joined forces to launch an ambitious initiative to save
the ecologically important area from development. many
individuals, foundations and organizations gave generously
in support of this effort.
malcolm Bluff Shores includes four kilometres of pristine
georgian Bay shoreline, towering cliff faces, vibrant wetlands
and lovely wooded areas. the reserve is large enough to
support rare and edge-sensitive species such as the ovenbird,
scarlet tanager, peregrine falcon, wood thrush and canada
warbler. it is a major flyway for migratory songbirds and raptors,
connecting them with their northern breeding grounds.
We invite you to visit the reserve anytime to hike the Bruce
trail along the top of the bluff or explore the beach far
below. Pack a lunch if you plan on walking the length of the
property and back as it will take most of the day - longer if
you get distracted by the ancient cedar trees and Hart'stongue
fern, a rare species found almost exclusively on
For more information about Ontario nature's 22 nature reserves
that together add up to a total of 2,428 hectares of publicly
accessible protected landscape visit:
- John Hassell
Onnaturemagazine.cOm Summer 2012 on nAturE 9