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#getoutside2019 Blog Series: Derek Kulker

It’s Friday which means the good folks at, Paddle In and of us are bringing you another instalment of the #getoutside2019 blog series

What drives me to #getoutside? My Husky Lupe would probably be my first answer. Whether it’s just around the block to get some fresh air or a ten day trek into the wilderness, Lupe is there by my side. Here’s a little background on Lupe, he is a Husky and White German Shepherd cross and will be 10 years old at the end of March. I got him north of Kingston after my first solo trip into Algonquin in 2009, when I realized I wanted a companion to join me on my adventures.

We had our first canoe trip in Algonquin when he was only ten weeks old. We did a 100km loop from Canoe lake to Big Trout. That’s when I realized that no matter what the adventure I’m planning he’s going to be right there by my side. Flash forward almost ten years and together we’ve canoed and portaged over 3000km, hiked over 4000km and even ascended two mountains over 5000ft . He even has better canoe etiquette than some of the friends I’ve canoed with over the years. He knows the routine; coffee and breakfast, then pack up the gear, put on your life jacket and head out onto the water. Once we arrive at the destination we set up camp, start a fire, have dinner and then hang the food before we climb into the tent. Rinse and repeat. He tells you when it’s bedtime by disappearing and curling up under the vestibule.

We’ve had our share of scary moments, and have had to overcome tough times in the back-country both mentally and physically exhausting. I couldn’t ask for a better companion to be by my side. Last year when we were in the Adirondacks we had one of the toughest days we’ve ever had to overcome. Day two of our trip we decided to go through the mountain pass between Mount Algonquin and Mount Marshall. It was early May so the snow had melted enough that it was hard enough to walk on without snow shoes. After getting to the top of the pass with only slight trouble breaking through the snow, we started heading down and the weather was so warm that the snow became almost impossible to stay on top for an extended period of time. By the end of the day we still hadn’t made it to Lake Colden after 12 hours of punching through one to four feet of snow. We decided to make an emergency campsite before we lost light. Lupe’s pads were so cut up from the hard icy layer on top of the snow that he was barely able to walk. My shins were also really cut up and I was exhausted mentally and physically. We got some rest and woke up in the morning to finish our journey to our planned site. The snow was even softer so I decided to take the route through the creek flowing to Lake Colden because it was easier than struggling through the deep snow. Lupe hates water and swimming, especially when it’s fast moving, so he was struggling and whimpering from the pain trying to walk through the ice. It was at this moment that I broke down crying, seeing Lupe struggle with every step he made. It hit me so hard not knowing if he would be okay and that I may have pushed him too far this time, so many thoughts raced through my head about his mortality and all the other days we had overcome over the years. I picked him up in my arms and between his 75 pound body and my six days worth of gear and food I struggled to walk through the snow. Eventually we made it to the side of the mountain blocked by the wind where there was next to no snow remaining. We followed that shoulder for another kilometer and finally made it to the well traveled path along Lake Colden. The feeling of relief was incredible. We made it to our site and took the rest of the day to enjoy the sun and recover. The next morning we woke up and Lupe was walking fine again which made me very happy. We went on to summit Mount Algonquin that day and while we were at the top basking in the sun I knew that no matter what we were both tough and determined that we could overcome anything.

Anytime that I’m packing up my truck to head out for a trip he’s laying next to my Tacoma making sure I don’t forget him. We just got back tonight from some light hiking in the snow at a local conservation area so I decided to sit down with a nice glass of whiskey and think about what 2019 has in store for us. I couldn’t imagine not having Lupe in the bow of my canoe, next to the campfire or curled up in the vestibule of my tent hiding from the rain, snow or the bugs.

I hope you guys enjoyed reading this and feel free to follow me on my adventures on Instagram @derekridesbikes88 because I’ll be using #getoutside2019 and I would love to hear about your adventures with your pup.


Derek Kulker

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