Tag Archives: canoe trip

Algonquin Portage: Chia Seed Pancakes

DAY 3 – BANDIT LAKE TO MISTY LAKE

Chia Seed Pancakes - Algonquin

Chia Seed Pancakes – Algonquin

We started off Day 3 with a hearty pancake breakfast. Usually when I portage I have instant oatmeal and a Boost protein shake but I wanted to try something different. The problem was there was no way to transport an egg. My boyfriend actually suggested to use chia seeds – not only are they rich in antioxidants and fiber but when soaked they expand to create a good binding agent. I used my Classic Pancake recipe and replaced the egg with one tablespoon of chia seeds. You can grind up the chia seeds ahead of time with a mortar and pestle but I kind of liked the mild crunchiness of the seeds in the pancakes. I also found a mini bottle of syrup at the Asian grocery store and so there you have it – outback pancakes complete with real maple syrup!

Chia Seed Pancakes - Algonquin

Chia Seed Pancakes – Algonquin

We had another reasonably light day traveling through Wenona and Muslim lake with only 1400m in portages, however one of them was our first long portage of the trip clocking in at 1030m. By this point we had found our rhythm for transporting all our gear. I preferred to carry the canoe and my pack, and my boyfriend carried his pack with the oars, fishing tackle, camera and bail kit. I actually preferred the canoe, I found that once I had my rhythm even though it was hard work, this position was actually much more comfortable than juggling all the other gear.

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Misty Lake – Algonquin

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Misty Lake – Algonquin

As we entered Misty Lake a light rain started to fall but we were prepared and quickly through a tarp over our packs in the canoe. Our site was just across the lake so we were able to get there before there rain became too heavy. Later that evening the skies cleared and we went for a beautiful canoe ride at dusk and attempted some fishing. As the sun began to set, we spotted a family of loons and quietly canoed up close to them to take some photos. The loons were surprisingly calm and allowed us to paddle right beside them. As they dove away, we would follow, and then to our delight they would pop up right beside us. I actually felt intimidated as I never realized what a large bird the loon was, and with their piercing red eyes, it was no wonder that they felt not fear around us. As we headed back to our site, it was at this moment that I realized my eye felt a little funny. I told my boyfriend and when he looked at my eye it was all swollen and puffy! Turns out a mosquito had bitten my eyelid, and I now looked like Quasimodo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. My eye was a bit uncomfortable but for the most part I just let my boyfriend make fun of me and I laughed it off – it’s always a new adventure out in the wilderness!

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Misty Lake – Algonquin

 

Algonquin Portage: Dehydrated Pad Thai

DAY 1 – RAIN LAKE

I love portaging.  As much as I love the comforts of car camping, I also love the challenge of canoe tripping.  The beauty and peace that surrounds you out on a lake is worth all the hard work. Every time I visit Algonquin I feel so thankful to live in Canada. As much as my heart loves the city, I crave the connection with nature and being out in the wilderness feels like home to me as well.

This was the first time my boyfriend and I were going portaging together.  My ex-boyfriend preferred car camping, so this was also the first time I was embarking on a canoe trip with my better half. Portaging can make or break a relationship – it tests your ability to work as a team, to listen to each other, to be patient, and you have to take care of each other, all while testing your own limitations. But I wasn’t nervous at all, we had traveled and camped together before and I knew we would make a solid team. After two weeks of dehydrating all our meals and buying a brand spanking new two-man tent, we were set to go! I was super excited to leave civilization behind and set out on our adventure.

Day 1 was a light travel day. We set out nice and early from Huntsville, picked up supplies and our permit in Kearney and headed out from Access Point #4 – Rain Lake. The weather was warm and sunny, but pretty windy and as soon as we paddled out of the narrow straight the wind picked up and carried us across the vast, sparkling lake. After about an hour of paddling we arrived at camp – a site hidden away at the edge of the far island.

 

Dehydrated Pad Thai - Algonquin

Dehydrated Pad Thai – Algonquin

For lunch I experimented with a new dehydrated meal: pad thai. I used a standard pad thai recipe and made everything except for the rice noodles that are compact and light to carry. I replaced the egg and shrimp with chicken and tofu, as egg and shrimp do NOT rehydrate well. I tried re-dehydrating scrambled eggs once and they disintegrated into something inedible while rehydrated shrimp was very rubbery. So instead I slow cooked two chicken breasts and a block of tofu. Make sure you diced the tofu as small as possible and finely shred the slow cooked chicken. The chicken and tofu should be as small and as thin as small as possible so that they will dehydrate evenly. My post on dehydrating has detailed instructions for the rest of the process.

To rehydrate simply fill your ziplock bag with water until the food is covered and soak for 30 minutes. Soak your rice noodles separately and then mix everything together over medium heat. I had a couple of small packs of peanuts from McDonalds that I sprinkled on top – and voila! Outback Pad Thai! I’m pretty happy with how it turned out even though the shrimp was a bit rubbery. The sweet and spicy pad thai flavour really came through and all the carbs and protein were particularly comforting after our busy morning.

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Rain Lake – Algonquin

DAY 2 – RAIN LAKE TO BANDIT LAKE

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Moccasin Lake to Bandit Lake – Algonquin

The next day we headed north towards Bandit Lake. We had 1835 meters of portages as we headed through Sawyer, Jubilee and Moccasin Lake but the distance was actually quite short and after four hours of travel we arrived at camp. We had another fun island site, and we spent the rest of the afternoon swimming around the island and lounging in our portable hammocks. That evening we sat by the campfire drinking 40 Creek whisky and watching the full moon rise over the calm, dark lake.

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Bandit Lake – Algonquin

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Bandit Lake – Algonquin

 

Ultimate Camp Food at Bottle Lake

Bottle Lake, Kawartha Highlands, Ontario

Bottle Lake, Kawartha Highlands, Ontario

Our first canoe trip of the summer was out to Bottle Lake, a pretty, peaceful lake just north of Peterborough in the Kawartha Highlands.  After a short 300m portage, we set off on this beautiful morning in our very full canoes across the sparkling, calm waters.  We took our time canoeing across the lake taking in the calls of birds and bullfrogs echoing from the shores.  Our site was one of the furthest from the portage launch, nice and private and we spent the afternoon lounging around our very own sandy beach.

Bottle Lake, Kawartha Highlands, Ontario

Bottle Creek, Kawartha Highlands, Ontario

Later in the afternoon, we headed out for a magic hour canoe ride down Bottle Creek, snaking our way along the winding waterway, exploring the marshland and searching for frogs.

Bottle Lake, Kawartha Highlands, Ontario

Bottle Lake, Kawartha Highlands, Ontario

As the sun began to set we headed out to the middle of the lake, relaxed and fished a bit.  While we didn’t catch anything, we snapped some lovely sunset photos.

Bottle Lake, Kawartha Highlands, Ontario

Bottle Lake, Kawartha Highlands, Ontario

Bottle Lake, Kawartha Highlands, Ontario

Bottle Lake, Kawartha Highlands, Ontario

Bottle Lake, Kawartha Highlands, Ontario

Bottle Lake, Kawartha Highlands, Ontario

While we were hiking around our campsite we found some discarded tiki torches.  My boyfriend came up with the brilliant idea to turn them into campfire roasters by removing the top portion, sharpening the edges and wedging little pieces of wood in between the base sticks to keep them separated.  There you have it folks…s’mores for everyone!

Tiki torch campfire roaster, Bottle Lake

Tiki torch campfire roaster, Bottle Lake

The Ultimate Smore, Bottle Lake

The Ultimate S’more, Bottle Lake

I shall now bestow upon you a new level of s’more making.  My friend brought along those butter biscuits that are covered in chocolate.  Why has no one thought of this before?  No more drunken fumbling in the dark trying to align all your ‘mellow ingredients!  This biscuit – or two if you dare – holds everything together with one quick smush!  We made some Jiffy pop – another must-have campfire snack – so I stuck some kernels into the oozing marshmellow and BOOM!  Sweet, salty, creamy, compact goodness.

Tiki torch campfire roaster, Bottle Lake

Tiki torch campfire roaster, Bottle Lake

For my next trick,  I would like to bring back those canned sausages, you know the ones I’m talking about…those tiny cans of Vienna sausages that sit around gathering dust on your grocery store shelf.  Forget all you’ve been told about the evils of canned food for the sake of backpacking convenience and give these sausages some love – there’s nothing a campfire can’t fix!  Who doesn’t want a roasted hot dog?  And with this handy dandy tiki torch, everyone can enjoy their crispy, salty perfection together.

Dehydrated Swiss Chalet Festive Special, Bottle Lake

Dehydrated Swiss Chalet Festive Special, Bottle Lake

Finally, we ended off our canoe trip with my favourite dehydrated meal: my homemade Swiss Chalet Festive Special.  After marinading and slow cooking a whole chicken in the Swiss Chalet marinade, I dehydrated the chicken, packed up some instant mashed potatoes and stuffing, and brought along some Swiss Chalet sauce and gravy packets.  Ta Da!  Swiss Chalet, wilderness-style – you can’t get any more Canadian than this!

I loved Bottle Lake – it was the perfect quick canoe getaway for the weekend.  Approximately 2.5 hours from Toronto it’s the perfect balance of portaging and car camping, as the short portage allows for some luxuries like a full Coleman stove, chairs, a regular tent and a small cooler.  I think we’ll have to add tiki torches to our camp list from now on as well…

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