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#getoutside2019 Blog Series : Shiela Wiebe

The Canoe trip …To Prove that I Could.

I turned 50 last year.

I decided to challenge myself.  Each day of the last 50 days leading up to my actual birthday I set out a series of fun, community minded, thought provoking challenges like try a new food, pay it forward, write a letter to your 60 year old self and dontate 50 things to charity… etc.

One challenge was to go on vacation with my yongest daughter. Spend one on one time just her and me. 

Now if you are reading this you will realize the vacation was not to New York or to a fancy hotel.

We planned a 50 km paddle trip (sticking to the 50 in 50 days theme).   We realize that a canoe trip is not everyone idea of a vacation… but to us this was going to be paradise.

Spending 96 hours, in the wilderness alone… with each other….only each other. How was this going to end??  No phones, no makeup, no endless supply of food from the magic cupboard. Could we do it?  Would we still be speaking to each other?

I wanted to try.  So did she.

If you are like me… there has always been a male figure on most of my camping trips…first my dad, then the guys at school (outdoor recreation) then my hubby.  Without expressing it — (was it how I was raised?) the guys assumed the roll of fire starter, firewood gatherer while I set up the tent and prepared the meals.  Wow… talk about leave it to beaver!

Well that was it… I needed to break this pattern. 

Time to challenge ourselves.  Get outside of our comfort zone.  Prove to ourselves that we CAN do it.— paddle, portage, set up camp, cook, clean, protect against any threats – weather or animal…. and still have a good laugh.  

If your teenager is less than enthusiastic, here are some tips on how to get your 15 year old to agree to go on a canoe trip with you The MOM.

Tell them they couldn’t hack it.
even though she had been on at least 4 canoe trips in the last 3 years.
She then said I would not be able to “hack” it.  Even though I had only been on a canoe trip every other year… but had more experience when I was 15 years younger.  Did i still have it?

Start to plan the menu -include the items that she hates, but you like.
With my daughter — that didn’t leave much – she eats just about everything.  But when I mentioned TVP and Pepperettes — she sat up and got involved —”anything but TVP Mom”

Choose a park… a site…with this trip it was a base camp style trip.
Scenic, a few portages and a site where we can see the sun rise and sun set on a lake known for good fishing!

The clincher… plan that they will HAVE to miss a day of school for the travel day… teamed up with the PA day and the weekend and you’ve got yourself a great extra long weekend!

Set goals and expectations for the trip.  Here are the ones we set for ourselves and agreed to uphold.
If we get lost or turned around — who cares… we call that the scenic route.
Mandatory water and GORP breaks AFTER the portages.
Let daughter navigate. (Trust.  If not return to #1)
Share the responsibility of sterning and portaging the canoe.
Share in the making of meals and clean up.
We will wake up when we want.
We will sleep when we want.

Things I learned about myself:

I am hillarious.  
Found out that  my daughter has similar sense of humor and we can crack each other up with just a look.

I am stubborn.
   I will get the fire started.  I will catch dinner. I will win a game of cribbage (never did).
   Found out that my daughter is just as stubborn.  She is going to go places!

I have a poor sense of direction.
   Thank goodness for compasses and GPS’s… and a daughter who HAS a good sense of direction.

I am resilient.  
   Expect that on any trip it will rain and you will have a head wind.  In this particular case we did not have a drop of rain or even a threat of it.  We also did not have any wind to speaks of!  However we did have a cheaky red squirrel who made it its mission to hit us with jack pine cones…. true story!

I am creative.
   If first you don’t succeed try try again.  There’s more than one way to dry wet clothes, catch a fish or protect your food/ head from being hit by a pine cones!

I strongly encourage you to take the opportunity to take your kid on a backcountry canoe trip.  Having to work together as a team and realizing that YOU are the other persons safety net.  Memories and misshapps only the 2 so you can share!

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#wegetoutside2019 Blog Series – Brad Jennings

Okay it’s Friday and we’re back with our #getoutside2019 blog series . This time around we have Brad Jennings of

talking about the West Spanish Forest. make sure you check out his page as well as his YouTube channel for more great videos. Hope you enjoy . As always anyone interested in writing please feel free to drop me a line.

The Wilds of the West Spanish Forest

I’m not quite sure how I got myself into this predicament. One leg was wedged between a rock while the other was submerged waist deep in the river. The canoe was precariously balanced on my shoulders, slowly slipping while the weight of my laden pack threatened to pull man, boat and gear into the adjacent waters. It was mid-July and we were somewhere on the Shakwa River, deep in the wilds of the West Spanish Forest.

Just days before, we had embarked on an extensive 130km expedition through a series of seldom travelled interconnecting lakes and rivers. Located 100km North-West of Sudbury Ontario, the West Spanish Forest is renowned for its sprawling wilderness capped by rocky knolls and flanked with towering old growth pines. The gateway to this vast backcounty, Rushbrook Lake, can only be reached after hours of driving down dusty logging roads. However, the reward for enduring the lengthy drive and dodging speeding logging trucks is immediately apparent the minute you arrive at the launch. The lake is encircled by towering old growth red and white pine and its crystal-clear waters shimmer brilliantly under the midday sun. Launching the canoe, we found ourselves gliding across the placid waters of Rushbrook. Shortly afterwards we would enter the Shakwa system, and head deep into the unknown of the West Spanish Forest.

Lining our TuffStuff Expedition Prospector upstream against the minuscule and boney Shakwa River, we would soon reach the Shakwa Lakes. A 100ft fire tower stands guard over Upper Shakwa Lake. Once a strategic outpost in the Ontario forest fire protection network, the tower, like many others across the Province, was abandoned in the 1970’s as aerial fire spotting and fire fighting crews took over. Today, the fire tower stands as a lone sentinel, standing guard over the rugged beauty of the Shakwa Lakes.

Continuing northward, we canoed through a series of tiny picturesque lakes before embarking on a lengthy paddle across the expansive and windy Mozhabong and Indian Lakes. After a partial bushwhack portage over the watersheds’ height of land, our journey soon has us paddling the Sinaminda Creek system. From its headwaters at Winnie Lake, the creek meanders through dense northern bogs before opening up in a chain of small lakes. Tumbling over shallow rapids and washing over remnant logging sluices, the creek shortly empties into the vastness of Sinaminda Lake.

Leaving Sinaminda Lake, we faced two route options; return the way we had come via Shakwa to Rushbrook or, paddle the rarely travelled Agnes River and portage overland to Tee Lake and the Shakwa River. As far as we know, this route hasn’t been attempted by any modern-day adventurer, and probably for good reason. There were a couple of unknowns with the second option, namely the 3.8km portage was a series of abandoned logging roads whose existence could not be verified and the water levels on the Agnes were a complete mystery. Further, the connecting section of the Shakwa existed only as a tiny blue line on our topographical maps and the condition of its watercourse was a topic of pure speculation. Thus far, the majority of the ‘established’ portion appeared as if it hadn’t been traversed in decades, with overgrown to non-existent portages and bush sites that hadn’t seen a tent in eons. So really, how much rougher could the unknown segment be?

Feeling adventurous and seeking the added thrill of a potential whitewater run, we chose the exploratory option and soon found ourselves at the base of the Sinaminda Lake dam, where the Anges River begins its southward descent towards the mighty Spanish River. Almost immediately, we were greeted with a fast-flowing stretch with just enough water to funnel our canoe through a narrow channel enclosed by a dense canopy of overhanging conifers. The experience was akin to paddling through a giant covered water slide.

Ecstatic with the results of the initial set, we paddled on, eager to meet what awaited us beyond the next bend. Unfortunately, we were only met with disappointment as the next set was incredibly boney and the deepest channel was riddled with numerous strainers, sweepers and logjams. Picking our way along, we quickly concluded that the Agnes was a river of despair as the realization that the remaining 10km of travel would be an arduous slog set in. With the day wearing on, we still hadn’t come across the supposed logging road and our escape route from the Agnes’ torturous grasp. Grey skies turned to drizzle, and drizzle turned to rain as we pushed, pulled, waded and lined our way downstream.

Finally, after what seemed to be the hundredth boney swift, we spied an old bridge abutment and the location of the much sought-after logging road portage! Loading up, we set off down the trail, eager to reach the Shakwa. Initially, the going was good, but after half a kilometre we encountered the first in a long series of blow downs. Jack Pine as far as the eye could see lay scattered across the road, cast astrewn like matchsticks from a broken box. Pushing our way through the wall of green, we made slow progress as the now heavy rains pelted down. The deluge soaked us to the core and when we finally made it to the banks of the Shakwa we resembled a pair of drowned rats. Unfortunately for these soggy explorers, the logging road had led us to a boney rapid. Dismayed, we continued to portage in stream until we reached the shores of Tee Lake. By now a heavy fog had settled in, but we were relived the challenging sections were behind us. Or so we thought…

This is where I found myself between a rock and a hard place on the Shakwa. Leaving Tee Lake behind, we were certain only smooth paddling lay between our current location and the takeout at Rushbrook Lake. Instead, we found ourselves portaging in stream through a lengthy section of chutes and riffles. Now wedged in the river and slowly slipping, I took one fatal step and ended up tumbling into the river. The canoe, now free of my shoulders slowly drifted downstream as I attempted to recover myself. Cursing at my misfortunate, I shouldered a now sodden pack, retrieved the runaway canoe and soldiered on with the only injury being my bruised ego.

By the time we eventually reached Rushbrook, the daylight was quickly fading. In silence, we swiftly paddled across the foggy shroud that engulfed the lake. A ten hour drive home still awaited but despite the struggles, both of us did not want to leave this magical wilderness. The breathtaking scenery, fantastic fishing, wildlife encounters, majestic stands of old growth and an incredible sense of solitude made every struggle worth it!! Journeying through the wilds of the West Spanish Forest was a mesmerizing experience and you can be certain that we will return to once again explore its vast unknown.

West Spanish Forest Canoe Route Map –

Trip video:

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#getoutside2019 Blog Series- Joe Donoghue

It’s Friday!! As you all know that means it’s time for the #getoutside2019 blog series. Brought to you by the maniacs at, Revelry Outdoor Equipment Co. and us.

As you all know we are big fans of pups here. There’s nothing better than having one of our faithful companions out with us on a trip. It just so happens that this time around we have a piece from Joe Donoghue as he sits and ponders “is my dog ready for canoe”

“Here is something I was thinking about today as I walked my dog through the forest. I have never taken my dog in my canoe. It’s been a number of years now, and finally I am at the point where I want to take my little companion out for a paddle.

The reason I haven’t done it yet – I bought myself a dream canoe, 16’ Swift Prospector finished in kevlar and carbon fibre, I love it, and absolutely baby it!

So here I am, asking myself – is my dog ready?! So, I have come up with a pretty simple guide to figure out if your dog is ready based on simple yes and no’s.

Go through this checklist, and figure out if it’s time!

1. Can your dog swim?

2. Does your dog like water? Can he/she handle current?

3. Does your dog like car rides?

4. Will your dog jump out of the boat?

5. If your dog decided to jump out, could you lift him/her back in?

These are all questions I am asking myself. personally, I have a Blue Heeler (Australian Cattle Dog), and a Rottweiler. Most of the questions are all no for the Rottie, but the Blue Heeler, I think is good to go!

So what’s stopping me?

Well, I will dig a bit more into the questions with some answers, from my perspective.

1. Should I strap a PFD on my dog?

I personally won’t. I am comfortable with my dogs swimming skill. I have seen her fight current, and use current on a river to her advantage. If anything, the PFD will limit my dogs abilities, and probably freak her out!

2.My dog loves water! She doesn’t hesitate to jump into the water, even on the coldest days. She loves chasing toys and returning them, it’s a breed characteristic. So, check!

3.Kind of, she is always right by me – which is a concern. This means she’ll probably be on my lap for the first little while as I paddle!

4 & 5. Definitely. Knowing my dog, she’ll want to play with the toy and use my canoe as a diving board. She’s strong enough to fight the current, I am quick enough to catch her, and she’s small enough I can easily lift her into the boat after. The Rottweiler on the other hand, scared of bath tubs, and weighs about 90lbs!

All-in-all, I do believe my dog is the perfect canoe and camp companion.

What about you? “

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#getoutside2019 Blog Series- Buck Miller

It’s Friday!!! What does that mean? It’s means it’s time for another addition of the #getoutside2019 blog series. Up next is Buck Miller of Crossing Algonquin 2018 and many other adventures. So pour a coffee , pull up a chair and enjoy the read. I cannot stress enough that you should read this whole piece. Buck has. A great message to share here and I really enjoyed reading this.

The Big Adventuring Dad Life

I get asked often about how I manage to pull off the lifestyle I keep. So for the #getoutside2019 blog challenge, I’ll try an offer some advice to help you get out there. Here’s a little background about said lifestyle. I’m 36 years old. I work 40 hours a week, all year, as a Facilities Coordinator for a kids camp. I’m the president of the Huntsville Mountain Bike Association. We live in Lake of Bays township and are the last house on a dead end road with our own 50ac. I’m happily married with one daughter nearly 5 and a son who just turned two. My wife is a Social Worker and is doing her Masters in Counseling Psychology full time, while working full time. We also own a rental income property. We’re busy.

Here’s a short list of some of the trips I’ve done while Dad’n it up hard:

The Sutton River, canoe trip, 12 days, September 2017

Crossing Algonquin, winter ski traverse, 11 days, February 2018

Moose River, canoe trip, 6 days, September, 2018

James Bay Descent, fat bike expedition for charity, 12 days, February 2019

Now, I’ve done a bunch more between those trips, but all five days or less. Regional trips, close to home. My wife loves to paddle. Together, we won the Mattawa River canoe race this past summer in the Rec category, she’s strong and stoic. We paddle that river at least once a year, even during our time living in Moosonee we’d head south to make the trip. It’s a great river to put kids in the canoe for the first time. With big lakes and a tight, twisty river section with safe rapids, it’s a central Ontario gold medalist for entry level paddlers wanting to get their first taste of river travel. Jen needs to maximize her time in the outdoors and canoe trips are her favorite. It’s a delicate balance, but when she jots the date in the callander, we stick to it. We have to prioritize that weekend over anything else. If Eleanor, our daughter has swimming, or we have a family birthday party people would like us to be at, we choose paddling first. The kids will remember every trip we take them on, and Jen’s work and school are so tight that if we skip that weekend, she won’t get in the boat that month. Sacrifice is the name of the game. There’s no magic potion that lets you please everyone, and still accomplish the things you want to do in the one season the recreation is available.

Now, you might think “well, it’s easy for you, Buck, you live in Huntsville!” We never paddle in or around Muskoka. I’ve only camped in it to cross Algonquin last winter. I’m from Northern Ontario, I came into the bushlife through the front door. I was raised in it. My dad’s a long in the tooth trapper. My mom is from northern Manitoba and a 2x provincial trap shooting champion. Making the move to Huntsville from the James Bay Coast in 2015 with my new family was met with great trepidation. I didn’t want to leave the North. So when we paddle, it’s no farther south than Mattawa. That’s over 2 hours north of my home. There’s a multitude of paddling routes and camping options within 2 hours of “The City”. You just have to commit. Remember what it’s like when you finally load the canoe, check ten times that you have your keys and wallet, and push off from shore? Or the purest form of freedom the canoe offers that we all know and love. Let those be the reasons you make sure to stick to that date on the calendar . Now, if you have kids, the hardest part is packing, loading up and finally getting on the road. Once my kids are in the canoe the worry is gone. PFD full time means if they want to act up and fall in, I let them. Lessons are learned this way. I remember my daughter reaching too far to grab a lily pad one time. She wasn’t 3 yet and took a dive. Now she rides along just fine, and often sleeps on top of a dry bag. Try hard to find a campsite with the best wading options for kids. They’ll spend hours and hours splashing around no deeper than their bum, naturally, and this gives mom and dad maximum time to sit back and enjoy seeing the kids having an absolute blast.

The next layer to my advice is one that hits some people the hardest. They (the rat racers) don’t like to hear it and will always believe that wilderness can be conquered in a weekend, but I’ll toss it out anyway. If you love the outdoors, and you wish you and your family could be spending more and more time in it, there is one thing you can do, so let’s get into it. The north is a vibrant place. Because there’s so many people living in the south, you’ll find a surprising amount of work when you turn the needle to the north. However, as long as life is about money, the commute, and work, you’ll never fully satisfy the beast inside you that is the wilderness. Meaning, if you can’t afford to take more time off to travel north, or you don’t want to take your kids out of one or two of the ten extracurricular activities they’re likely in, your time spent in the outdoors will never be enough, and a long weekend will always feel like a few hours. My wife, Jenny, often tells me to stop the preaching around this time. But, in true Buck Miller style, please allow me to go one step more. Move here. Live here. Here, being in the Boreal Forest. “Buck! You’re a madman!” I can hear you through the world wide web, yelling at me. Should you heed my advice, here’s what will happen:

No commuting (yeah, we don’t do that here, downtown or the country is close)

You’ll find work, there’s enough of it (unless you’re an Astronaut)

No traffic (soon, you’ll get nervous driving to Barrie and costco scares you)

You’ll have tons of money (and buy a house easily with all that freed up cheddar)

Visits to the family in the south will be better quality

You can paddle, or winter camp from your doorstep (I literally do this, from my door)

You can actually have a reason to complain about the cold (now that you’re a northerner and all)

You’ll be happier (really, just like that!)

Encore bonuses

Bug season (just means the trout are biting, go get some!)

You’re always the last person to get picked up by the carpool when planning canoe trips with your southern friends (bonus en plus!)

Look, I know it’s easier to say than do. But we don’t live on the moon up here. We’re normal people, you can live here too. Plus, it’s scientifically proven that living close to, or in, the places you love to recreate increases your mental wellbeing and personal happiness by 23,000% (probably). Further to my point; I have many friends in the city who love to paddle and winter camp. Just because of where I live, I get out so many more times a year than them. Living where you vacation is a slam dunk in the net of life. I’ve dunked that net so many times I’m swishing from the 3 point line now. My wife and I also value a career solely on the amount of time off it affords. In the middle class range, jobs with more money tend to come with less vacation. We’ve made life choices that ensure our work, life, ballance schedule is tipped in the ‘life’ side of things, and I can’t recommend enough that you do the same.

Our trip “Crossing Algonquin” last winter managed to get a cover shot and feature in Mountain Life Magazine. I met a bit of resistance from some friends when I headed out on that trip. Much like a two week whitewater trip down the Katawagami River two weeks after my daughter was born. Friends telling my wife she’s “crazy for letting him do that” and telling me I’m the most selfish Pr*%k known to man. The truth is, my wife is proud of me, and she makes these adventures a big deal with our kids. They follow us along, look at maps, the kids are in the basement, ripping everything apart that I’ve laid out the day before I leave and asking a thousand questions. I got home from the James Bay Descent this February and the magazine my team made the front of was in glass, mounted on the wall of my five year old daughters room. She loves it, and always shows it to me. To you, dear reader, I’m just a carpenter. But to Eleanor, I’m a hero that goes on “a big trip” every now and then. The most recent trip being “a big trip to help indigenous people” according to her. The sacrifice is huge for my wife, obviously. I’m only able to do these trips with her support. But ultimately, this isn’t about me. As my kids grow up, I’ll shift my time with friends on northern, remote trips and substitute them with my wife, daughter and son. I was brought on my first remote access canoe trip when I was 5 years old. It was a moose hunt northwest of Kapuskasing with just my dad, his friend and myself. I’ve got big plans for my family in the future. Between now and then, I’ll hone my skills in the bush of Northern Ontario as often as possible and be thankful every minute of it. Inspiring our kids to get outside in a exponentially growing, digital world has never been more important.

If you’re interested, you can check out @xalgonquin and @jamesbaydescent on Facebook. Instagram @buckyjmiller and @jamesbaydescent for some killer photos.

Youtube Crossing Algonquin 2018 for a 17 minute video. But remember, social media isn’t an accurate portrayal of one’s life. Studies don’t have to show that those who spend less time on these platforms are the baddest ass folks out there. So, forget following. Start leading.

Buck Miller

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Customer Profile- Taiga Adventures

People often ask where they can purchase our products . So we’re here to start introducing you to our amazing customers who stock our gear. Up first we have Dean from Taiga Adventures to tell a little more about his company.

Taiga Adventures

Taiga Adventures was started about six years ago, to get things in place for my retirement from government as a Park Supervisor/Conservation Officer. In addition to providing quality outdoor equipment, I offer Leave No Trace training, Adventure Smart sessions and plan on adding other training opportunities in the near future.

Living in rural Saskatchewan, access to quality outdoor equipment is limited, other than on-line and many outdoor enthusiasts appreciate the hands on approach when purchasing outdoor gear. My focus from the very start was to only carry quality brands that ensure that your outdoor experience is enjoyable and safe. I travelled to the Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City a couple of times and found that there are tons of brands out there, some available world wide and some restricted to certain countries.

I wanted to have brands that were not available at your local Walmart or Canadian Tire, and started with brands like Osprey Packs and Sea to Summit. Over time I added others such as, InReach and GSI. More recently I added Armytek lights, One Tigris, Mora and Hultafors products, Vargo Outdoors and working on Sawyer water filters.

Anyone that has tried getting quality products to market here in Canada, knows the struggles of importing gear, paying duty and shipping and the exchange rate (most companies make you pay in American dollars). Working with Revelry Outdoors has been a breath of fresh air. Quality equipment available from a Canadian company with excellent customer service and a great social presence is hard to beat.

First we’d like to say thanks to Dean for the kind words. Secondly we’d like to say…what are you waiting for . Go check out his page and website (linked below)

Don’t Just Go Outside …… Revel In It


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#wegetoutside2019 blog series – Jim Baird

It’s Friday folks and that means one thing.

The #getoutside2019 blog series is back. Brought to you by the distinguished gentlemen of Paddle In, and Revelry Outdoor Equipment Co. This time around we have Jim Baird – Adventurer. Talking about paddling, bears and a really big portage.

“That’s a tough river. No one paddles that one,” the Quebecois float plane

dispatcher blurts over the phone. We already knew that from our research. Other than the late Herb Pohl in 1999, the last people to travel the East Natashquan by canoe were probably indigenous Innu in the 1940s.The thought of traveling such remote country was unsettling, but as Pohl himself wrote about this enchanting river, “I can resist anything but temptation.”

In early August my girlfriend Tori and I load gear and our sled dog Buck into a float – plane. This would be Tori’s longest, toughest, and most remote trip to date. We’re both feeling a little anxious. Buck, on the contrary, seems cool as a cucumber, napping until the plane touches down on Lac Fontenau. We’d spend the next two weeks traveling some 190 miles back to the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.

One of the reasons so few paddlers have

attempted this route is a brutal six-and-a-half-mile carry around a 150-foot waterfall and the gorge it thunders into. We reach this crux on day five and decide to skip the traditional portage. After bushwhacking around the falls, we run three miles of very pushy Class II-III white water, with Buck standing tall on the Spray Deck like a giant furry hood ornament.

To our delight, rapids are followed by 12

miles of shallow swifts, which we would have missed if we had made the long portage. I wonder whether more people would paddle the river if they knew the portage isn’t necessary. Turns out, it’s not that simple. The next day we’re faced with another massive canyon. This time there’s no question—it’s a mandatory portage. What’s left of the trail is horribly overgrown and littered with burnt and fallen trees. Tori tells me several times that it’s the last canoe trip she’ll be coming on. I hide the Personal Locator Beacon, on the off chance she would think to summon a chopper. The carry takes us 18 hours. Days later, as we eat our dinner on a picturesque sand bar, a hulking black bear bursts out of the bushes. Buck charges straight at it, barking wildly, and the big bear spins in its tracks and bolts. Tori is frozen with terror. “Don’t worry, it’s not coming back,” I tell her, trying to sound like I believe it. The next morning we watch the bear pacing the opposite side of the river. Tori hasn’t slept much.

Our last night is spent camped in a beautiful site near a 200-yard wide

falls. We settle into a soft pebble beach and watch a dancing display of

Northern Lights. Tori sits with Buck and me, soaking it all in. It hasn’t been

easy, she says, but it sure has been wonderful. Maybe there will be another canoe trip after all.

Thanks for following along. As always those of you who’d like to participate in the blog series just drop us a line here. We love reading your stories and sharing in your experiences.



Paddle In


Don’t Just Go Outside …… Revel In It




#flashlight #headlamp #outdoorstore #edc #outdoorlife #outdoorgear #shoplocal #ontario #canada #Armytek #getoutside #exploreontario #outdoorbloggers #explorecanada #camping #backcountry #campvibes #wildernessculture #beprepared #knife #knives #fishing #cuda #camillus #dmtsharpeners

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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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#getoutside2019 Blog Series- David Bain

Okay it’s Friday which means we have our #getoutside2019 blog coming at you. This time we have a piece by our friend David Bain . Oh thank name sounds familiar , of course it does. David is the driving force behind the Ontario Backcountry Canoe Symposium and the Ontario Winter Camping Symposium. Enough from me though here’s David.

The Monarch of Muriel Lake

They say that some stories grow in the telling. This is not one of those. 

This is one of the others… the ones that fade with each repetition, until like oft-read letters, they crumble to the touch. This one has already faded much over the years, and so I’ll tell it now for the last time, keeping what then remains in that special part of the mind where memories are stored that feed the soul on the long winter nights of our lives…

The clear waters of Killarney Provincial Park in Ontario are a tragic blessing… a welcome (to some) by-product of acid rain that we embrace since its affront to nature is as easily ignored as the benefits are obvious. These “Windex Lakes” are beautiful, clear… and almost dead. Their beauty masks a dark reality. To a neophyte camper and canoeist however, the opportunity to swim in the crystalline blue was to be savoured.

On this particular August trip, the three of us had even brought masks and flippers, and were busy exploring a small cove next to our campsite. Images of sunken Birchbark canoes rapidly died in the reality of the featureless rocky bottom. Disappointed, I had returned to the surface for air, when Dave, a little ahead of me, got my attention with a cautious, fierce whisper. “A Loon!”

There, no more than two meters ahead of us, surfaced a loon. Living. Breathing. Curious, perhaps, at the unexpected aquatic visitors to its blue room. Now, a loon seen from water level is a VERY LARGE BIRD… with a long beak. And beautiful. The bird that launched a thousand Northland dreams.

I swam past my human companion, and slowly glided towards this Monarch of Muriel Lake. I was close enough to see every detail of black feather, and red eye. Its head swivelled side to side, taking in, I’m sure, the reality of this unexpected intruder. Then, with an almost serpentine movement of grace, it dove.

I dove with it.

Tiny colourless air bubbles escaped the feathers and rose towards the surface. Wing and webbed foot were tucked away, and this natural torpedo headed towards the bottom. I reached out, and with my hand, stroked the broad, living back of this wonderful, regal creature.

I then ran out of breath.

Turning for the surface, I was somehow not surprised to see this Master of both water and sky turn with me. We broke the surface together, then dove again. I watched it accelerate into the blue twilight of the lake … and it was gone.

Each morning, for the remainder of our stay, I heard the loon fly over our campsite, its wings singing their distinctive theme, and I would watch from shore as it fished the lake’s unknown depths. Too soon, my human companions and I packed and paddled for home and loved ones.

Some stories fade with the telling. Tonight, however, as I type these lines, and watch the drifting feathers of snow silently gather in my back yard, in my memory I can still reach out, and stroke the feathered robe of the Monarch of Muriel Lake.   

-David Bain

Thanks so much for tuning again this week. We appreciate the support. As always if you’re interested in getting your own piece published with us. Please drop us a line.

Don’t Just Go Outside …… Revel In It


#flashlight #headlamp #outdoorstore #edc #outdoorlife #outdoorgear #shoplocal #ontario #canada #Armytek #getoutside #exploreontario #outdoorbloggers #explorecanada #camping #backcountry #campvibes #wildernessculture #beprepared #knife #knives #fishing #cuda #camillus #dmt #armytek


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#getoutside2019 Blog Series- Stride and Stretch

Gooooood Morning FB.

It’s Friday so that means our #getoutside2019 blog series is back. Brought to you by, Revelry Outdoor Equipment Co. and of course the dashing gentlemen of Paddle In.

Today is a little different every few weeks we’re going to highlight local groups that make it their purpose to get outside. So on that note I’d like to introduce you to a group from my hometown Stride & Stretch

“Stride and stretch is a hiking group with a yoga problem.

Stride and Stretch was founded in 2014 to inspire people to get outdoors, connect with nature and practice yoga. Our events are a form of holistic multitasking, that allows you to savour nature as you deepen your life-force or vitality known as “Prana” from the earth, trees, and the sun. Nature does most of the work, but with a little help from our instructors, Stride and Stretch has become a phenomenon in the Guelph, Ontario area enabling people to connect with a community of like-minded people. Since 2015, Stride and Stretch has hosted more than 500 events across the province.

Stride and Stretch continues to grow in popularity and welcomes outdoor enthusiasts of all levels to enjoy a heightened yoga experience while surrounded by some of the world’s most beautiful natural scenery.

The unique and unforgettable experiences are perfect for all skill and experience levels.”

I also asked them a few questions to get a little more information.

Where are you guys based?

“Based in Guelph, but we hike all around the Bruce Trail – Niagara to Tobermory. Some events like Backcountry Canoe & YogaHikes in Algonquin, and Grey County. Cycling in Pelee & Niagara.”

Who can join ?

“Anyone is welcome to join. Suitable events for all fitness leveles.”

Do you have any events coming up?

“Upcoming events: Mono Cliffs YogaHike on Sunday. Mount Nemo on Mar. 16, Nottawasaga Bluffs – Mar. 23. Not to mention our Pi(e) Day Potluck Social on Mar. 14. and we have a Winter Women’s Retreat on Mar. 8 – 10 in Beaver Valley. 🙂”

So if you’re interested in getting your yoga on and doing some hiking make sure to head on over to

Thanks for following along folks. If you have an organization that you’d like to see featured on our weekly profile feel free to drop us a line.



Paddle In

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#getoutside2019 Blog Series- The Antle Family

Well folks it’s Friday! Which means one thing. Our next instalment of the #wegetoutside2019 blog series brought to you by Revelry Outdoor Equipment Co. and Paddle In.

This time around we have Shaun of Antle Family Travels talking about their first hot tent experience. We all started somewhere right? I think it’s a testament to just how great our community is seeing all the info and gear shared to get these guys out on their first hot tent experience. ….. now for us to convince them to go on a canoe trip with us.

Making Memories ~ Leaving Footprints

Our family of four’s search for the next crazy and wild experience!

Winter Camping in a Hot Tent

Mew Lake, Algonquin Provincial Park

Feb 15-18, 2019

As a family of four, we’ve travelled the world in many ways, with the objective being: making memories and leaving footprints. It’s cliché we know, however, it’s also very true. I, my wife Tara and our two kids, Ethan and Callie (7 and 4 years of age) decided that this winter we would give it a go and try winter camping. So far, we’ve experienced (whether just I and my son or all four of us) camping in a cabin, yurt, cold tent and now a hot tent.

A few months ago, we booked a site for the Winter in the Wild Festival at Mew Lake, Algonquin and began preparing (much to Tara’s dismay lol). My son and I did a couple cold tent trips to the, you guessed it, back yard. We got an idea of things and then set our eyes on a hot tent experience with Tara and Callie.

Fast forward to the week of Feb 11th and the packing and anticipation began growing. Ironically though, as I’m sure some may attest to, we procrastinated and ended up trying to pack everything on the Wednesday and Thursday (as we’d planned to leave Thursday evening). Well, we didn’t. We didn’t even leave by 6am Friday, even though our alarms had told us to. We left at 8:15am… BUT, the beauty of it was, we had a destination ahead. For us, it’s the journey that is a big reason for our travels. Seeing the world as we go. We agreed that Tara and the kids would dictate the aspects of the trip, as I didn’t need to warm up (no pun intended lol) to the idea of it all. However, they needed to be able to enjoy it and I didn’t want to push any sort of agenda on them.

We arrived 7 hours later at Mew Lake and that was after battling a whiteout from Barrie, ON all the way to Algonquin. We had decided to overpack and bring everything we could (for obvious reasons as stated above, to ensure Callie and Tara had an enjoyable trip) so between our truck and U-Haul trailer, we did so. Now, some may see that as crazy, however, if I had any shot of Tara and Callie enjoying this, I cared less about whether or not we looked crazy (we soon found out, we were part of the majority in bringing trailers) and more about ensuring their comfort for the duration of the trip.

After settling in, getting the Snow Trekker set up (what a tent to start with I might add – when we buy it will most likely be one of them), we began having fun in the snow. We checked out the infamous Mew Lake Ice rink and the superbly set up warming stating and community fire. We were overwhelmed (in a good way) by the beauty of the immense snow that had fallen the week before and that day. It was surreal and a life long dream to be in the middle of what most winter postcards from all over the world look like, but you always think, “yeah right, that doesn’t exist – it’s to perfect…” Well it does and it was!

Words can NOT express the feeling of standing in the “airfield” (a certain location in the park that I believe was once used as just that, an airfield, and now is overgrown with trees) either during the day and seeing the gorgeous views of a true winter wonderland or by the light of the moon showcasing the crystals of snow… It was stunning!

Over the four days we were there, we hiked to Mew falls, into a portion of the Highland Trail (just to purely say we hiked the Highland Trail lol) and enjoyed ice skating, built a snow resort (which we believe was epic and so did a lot of others – it consisted of a lounger with drink holders, a sizeable curved wind breaking wall and two footstools along with a couple quinzhee style dug outs) and meeting and hanging out with new friends.

We enjoyed taking pictures of the Pine Martins (of which we’d never seen or heard of before) along with the many birds hanging around. We also enjoyed playing some good ole fashioned Crockinole (true Canadiana right there) and just walking around the park, seeing the many different winter camping set ups. We spent a lot of time with the Lebel’s (Andre and Carole) who were absolutely some of the friendliest and kindest people we have ever met!

Tara summed it up on the Winter Camping Enthusiast Facebook Group with these few lessons learned from her perspective:

Things I learned while winter camping….

1) Winter camping is hard work. Every (usually simple) activity is harder while camping. Getting dressed, cleaning up, cooking/eating, going to the bathroom (especially with a 4-yr. old girl in snow pants!), sleeping, and especially getting up and out of bed in the morning.

2) Winter campers are very kind, generous people. We had thought we might need more wood for the last night, and then suddenly, we had more than we needed because people gave us their leftovers without even knowing we needed it. We had people checking on us daily as they knew we were new, and they were always willing to help or offer advice if we needed it. Winter campers are also very tough people… Not everyone is willing to put themselves through that kind of environment.

3) Winter camping fashion is like a whole other level of fashion. It’s amazing what people wear to stay warm and how it really doesn’t matter what you look like, as long as you’re warm.

4) Cold feet can cause epic meltdowns. Poor Callie is all I have to say about that one (oh and Bogs are great boots for southern Ontario – not Algonquin in February)

5) A quiet, crisp nighttime walk with only the moon as your light can be very peaceful… Even if it’s frustrating to walk in the cold, just to go pee.

6) Ontario is beautiful. 3+ feet of snow didn’t mask its beauty, it only made it something else!

7) Winter camping is incredibly exhausting. See point #1 for why.

All in all, it was a great weekend… I’m glad I went, even though I’m not in love with it the way Shaun is. I can handle it… But maybe only in spurts 😉

So, as you can see, over all, the experience was amazing. My son and I are hooked; Tara and Callie, well, they make take some more time. Regardless, as a family, we can all say that we’ve Winter Camped and that we owned it!

For us, the memories, the experience and the lasting impression we hope it leaves on our children, makes it worth it all! We are excited to continue our journey into the Great Outdoors and I’m so glad it wasn’t a flop. Although two of us are in and 2 of us are not quite in, Winter Camping is in our future for sure. Whether in a tent (cold or hot), yurt, cabin, rv or any other possible way, I know we, as a family, will be out there soon enough (heck, we will be at the Pinery in a yurt in 2 weeks 😉 )

For those considering the crazy notion to winter camp; outside of the many different opinions and advice you WILL receive, if you remember anything, remember this: Just get out there. Do your research, ask questions and share your journey – it’s absolutely worth every second of it.

Happy Camping and we hope to see you out there!

The Antle Family


Don’t Just Go Outside …… Revel In It


#flashlight #headlamp #outdoorstore #edc #outdoorlife #outdoorgear #shoplocal #ontario #canada #Armytek #getoutside #exploreontario #outdoorbloggers #explorecanada #camping #backcountry #campvibes #wildernessculture #beprepared #knife #knives #fishing #cuda #camillus #dmt #armytek