Just wanted to post a brief summary for anyone who cares about Canadian camping. It has taken me a while to get around to doing this – I was up in northern Ontario in Algonquin park in the first week of May this year. The weather was unbelievably good while I was there – which means there was zero rain or snow (last year we got snow at the same time) and the days were clear and mild (average of about 13 Celsius, don’t ask me about F) and the nights were crisp and cold (averaging about -3 Celsius). We go at this time because it is before the black fly season, and it was nice to have no bugs at all. The water levels were high, and the water was drinkable right from the rivers and lakes, but I was treating it with my chlorine drops anyway. No sign of bears, but we did have a good show by a young moose in a marsh across from our second camp site. Amazingly, he hung around about 100 yards from us for almost a full 20 minutes, just sloshing around and munching. This is the first time that I have brought binoculars with me, and I really think that although they are a additional weight, they are more than worth it for seeing wildlife, looking for trail markers, and general amusement.
What is notable is that I have been a hammock camper for a while now, and after this trip I believe I have officially switched back. From now on, I will reserve my hammock only for the wet/ hot season. Otherwise, it is just not my thing, I have learned. My first night out, I slept in the hammock, and I was warm, no problem there – I used the Hennessy hammock with under pad plus reflective material and a -7 C rated western mountaineering barrel bag. But you know, after all this time, I really don’t think I am that comfortable in a hammock all night. Sure, it is comfy at first, but I think I don’t really enjoy it for a whole night. It is amazing that it has taken me this long to figure that out, but I realized it when on the second night, it was plain that it would be a glorious clear night, and I didn’t even unpack my hammock. I just threw my sleeping bag on the ground and had one of the nicest nights ever. There is something particularly attractive about sleeping on naturally springy ground, and waking up in the middle of the night to pee and not having to wrestle with anything, and just opening your eyes to see the stars… Yep, that did it for me. I haven’t unpacked my hammock since. The other nights, which were all clear, I just slept out in the open, and it was truly glorious. Way better sleeps than when in my hammock. So there you have it. All that fussing over the hammock and now I realize that sanely speaking, there is absolutely no reason to fuss with it unless the combination of wetness, insects, and uneven ground really make it a stand out improvement. So, I am going to invest in a bivy sack, and improve my tarp techniques for the rest of the time.
On another note, my kit was very well planned, I must say. And my new experiments with the alcohol cat stove proved awesome. I am sold on that one! At any rate, I can’t wait to get back up there. Algonquin park must be one of the more beautiful places in Canada – all you Americans look it up on the map and see how enormous it is. This national park is probably the size of some smaller states. And once you get in, you don’t see another soul for days. You have to plan ahead, though, because you have to register each campsite you will be at for each day, for safety reasons. Now, it is not like we ever stick to that, but the maps allow for precision if you need it.
Any hoo, I don’t know if this is interesting for anyone, but let me know if you have any questions.
Have a great summer!