|Posted on August 20, 2018 at 4:25 PM||comments ()|
Having just posted my recap of my first trip to Algonquin and the air mattress mishaps that went along with that trip, I thought it would be a good time to post my thoughts on my current sleeping pad- the Klymit Static V Sleeping Pad.
This sleeping pad has been great so far! It measures 59cm x 183cm, takes between 10-20 breaths to blow up, and packs down to the size of a water bottle, which is amazing, and far better than the bulky air mattresses that I've used in the past. The Static V weighs in at 18.1oz and has an R value of 1.3. It holds the air well, possibly only needing one breath to top it up in the morning (if that). What really intrigued me when I was researching sleeping pads was that this one was supposed to be good for side sleepers. I've taken it on three trips since I bought it, and I've found it to be quite comfortable, whether I'm sleeping on my back, side, or stomach. I just pop it inside my sleeping bag, and I'm good to go! If you're sitting or kneeling, you will absolutely still feel the ground, but once you lay down and your bodyweight is spread over the entire pad, it works very well. I'm still on the fence about whether or not I should have spent a little extra and got the insultated version (with an R value of 4.4) as I tend to be cold when I sleep, but overall, I'm very happy with this purchase! You can click the Amazon link, and check it out for yourself!
|Posted on August 20, 2018 at 3:55 PM||comments ()|
I haven’t posted much recently, because… well, life. With a serious backlog of posts to get through, I thought now would be a good time to delve a little into my first trip to Algonquin. This was the trip that rekindled the campfire (ha ha … get it?), so it seems a logical place to start. Let’s head off on a little trip down memory lane…
In 2016, my younger sister was going to come up to visit from the US. I don’t remember how we came to the decision that we should go camping, but as camping was what we did for family vacations when we were growing up, it seemed like a great idea! Being the compulsive planner that I am, I was all over that! But where to go?? The campground we used to visit as children has long since been turned into an annual RV campground. I immediately took to Facebook and polled my friends on their favourite campgrounds. I got many suggestions, most of which were Provincial parks, and Algonquin was amongst them. I was intrigued, but… wasn’t Algonquin all deep woods, scary wilderness camping and really, really far away? I jumped online and started researching. Funny how our perceptions of things change as we get older. I must have gone through the site maps for every campground along the highway 60 corridor, and my sister and I decided on a lakeside site in the Mew Lake campground. Booked! Perfect! But wait… a little voice started creeping into my head… *real talk alert* ‘You’re camping alone. Without a man in charge. YOU are the one in charge. You’re the older sister, so you damn well better make sure everyone comes home safe and with all limbs intact!’ Anyone who knows me, knows how ridiculous those thoughts are. I am fiercely independent and don’t feel the need to rely on anyone (male or female) to do things. So I did what I do best to shut that voice up… I planned. I brushed up on my first aid skills. I researched things online. I went through all our gear with numerous checklists. I took special care in planning our menu, as I know my sister can sometimes have some dietary issues, and I didn’t want anything to interfere with us having a good time. And at the end of the day, we were car camping. If something went south, we could get in the car and drive home.
Besides… we were camping in a campground. It’s not like we would be in the backcountry. We have always kept a clean campsite and keep our food in the car, so really… the worst we would have to deal with is mosquitos, right…?
This sign greeted us at the campground office. In hindsight, I think bears are a much bigger problem at the campgrounds than they are in the interior, but it’s probably best that I didn’t realize that before this first trip…
We got to our campsite, and it was absolutely beautiful! Time to set up! But you know what they say about the best laid plans… The pump we were planning to use for our air mattress turned out to be incompatible with the mattress itself. My sister gets bonus points for thinking she was going to blow it up herself. Eventually one of our neighbours noticed, took pity on us, and brought over her pump. Turns out there was a hole in the air mattress, but we wouldn’t discover THAT until the next morning when we woke up on the ground! We finished setting up, got the fire going, and made dinner. It had been a pretty successful first day, despite a few minor mishaps. All those skills I hadn’t used for years were still there! The bugs weren’t even that bad! Perfection!
After a leisurely breakfast, we got ready to head over to Canoe Lake, where we were planning to rent a canoe for the day. Uh oh. Car troubles! Our car wouldn’t start! No worries… neighbours to the rescue again, this time with jumper cables! It’s funny how much friendlier everyone seems when they’re on vacation (or maybe I was just used to standoffish city living…;).
We spent a lovely day out on the lake, and I even convinced my sister to jump in, which is pretty impressive as her Northern blood has thinned considerably since moving to the Southern US! Granted, she didn’t stay in the water very long, but she still did it!
That evening, we went for a stroll down to the beach, to do a little star gazing. Constellations, the Milky Way, the moon seemed huge… it was all amazing! Much needed sister bonding time! Try as I might, I could not manage to capture any of it in photos. Clearly cell phone cameras are not meant for astral photography. There is one picture which has become an ongoing joke between my sister and me; it looks completely black until you turn the brightness on your screen all the way up, then you can see ONE star. Just ONE. I refuse to delete it, and still send it to her frequently when we’re chatting.
The next day, we were planning to hike the Mizzy Lake trail. It is a loop just over 10km long, and they recommend giving yourself a full day to do it properly, but it is supposed to offer some of the best chances of spotting wildlife of any of Algonquin’s Interpretive Walking Trails. Sounds great! Packed up my little day bag, and we’re ready to head off! Just one problem… the car was dead again. The neighbours weren’t able to help us this time, and since cell service was extremely poor, we decided to head to the campground office. The woman there was very helpful and said that she would send the maintenance guys over after their lunch break, to see if they might have any luck. We walked back to our site and waited, and thankfully the guys were able to get us started up. Surprisingly, I wasn’t freaking out about any of this, which was very unlike me. It even turned into an inside joke, when the maintenance guys came around to check on us the next morning! By now, we decided it was too late in the day to start the Mizzy Lake trail, so we headed over to the Bat Lake Trail instead. This was a 5km loop that explores some of the basic ecology of Algonquin Park, including different types of forests, a bog, a lookout point, and views of Bat Lake. It was a gorgeous walk and educational, too!
Packing up our gear on the final morning was a little sad, but we had a great time together. After the car was packed and our site was clear, we decided to walk the Whiskey Rapids trail before heading home. This 2.1km loop follows part of the Oxtongue River, and was a great way to end the trip. I think we both learned/rediscovered a lot about ourselves in those few short days, in a way that only being out in nature can accomplish. Above all, the importance of unplugging for a few days was paramount! Now that I knew just how easy it was to get to the park, I knew I would be back! Maybe I would plan something a little more rustic and adventurous for my next trip…
|Posted on June 16, 2018 at 12:40 AM||comments ()|
My first solo trip into the Algonquin interior was a success! The bugs were awful, but other than that, it was a good trip. I even saw a momma moose and her calf on my way out! It will take me a little while to decide which photos will make the cut for my website, write up a trip recap, review the gear I brought out with me, etc. but check back often for updates! You can also check out my Instagram account https://www.instagram.com/bombshellbushcraft/" target="_blank">@bombshellbushcraft, as I will likely have pictures up there first. I can't wait to share this adventure with everyone! Time to start planning the next one...
*Obligatory selfie after completing my very first portage*
|Posted on May 27, 2018 at 8:10 PM||comments ()|
I think energy balls are a great snack food! They travel well, are easy to pop into your mouth while on the go, and can provide great little pick-me-up. I frequently make them as a post-training snack in my daily life, giving me the fuel I need to deal with the public transit ride home. When I want to try out a new recipe, I typically scour Pinterest and it never diappoints with endless options to choose from. Here are my thoughts on the last few recipes I've tried out, including the real winner, that has earned a place in my pack for my upcoming trip.
The first recipe I tried out was Pineapple and Coconut. I know, right? A tropical cocktail in energy ball form? YES PLEASE! Unfortunately, I was pretty disappointed. The recipe called for a whole cup of dates and I found that they really overpowered the other flavours. I might try adjusting the recipe in the future to see if I can make it work, but it's a pass for now.
Next up: Raspberry and Coconut!
I was pretty excited to try these out, but I found them to be disappointing as well. This recipe called for only 1/3 of a cup of dates, so no problems there, but it also called for both almonds and almond butter. Guess what the predominant flavour in these balls was? If you guessed almonds, you get a gold star! This recipe was okay, but really didn't wow me. Again, I could probably alter the recipe to make it work, but with all that Pinterest has to offer, I decided to just move on to the next candidate.
Aaaaaand the winner by a landslide... Dark Chocolate and Cherry!
These balls were SO good, and with only a handful of ingredients, they were really simple to make! I found that I needed to add a little bit more water than the recipe called for to bring the mixture together, but that could have been because I added a tablespoon of chia seeds and a tablespoon of ground flax, or maaaaybe because I practically doubled the chocolate chips. What? The bag slipped. In any case, it just took a teeny bit more effort to shape these into balls, and they set up just fine once I got them into the fridge for a bit. These little bites are nutty, but you can still tasty the cherries and the chocolate. Energy ball win!
Dark Chocolate Cherry Energy Bites
Add all ingredients, except for the chocolate chips and water, to a food processor and process until the nuts are chopped medium-fine and the entire mixture is coarse and crumbly. This step may take 5 minutes or more, and you may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times. I like to roughly chop the dates by hand before I add them, just to help them break down a little easier. Once the mixture is uniformly coarse, slowly add the water while the machine is running, until the mixture starts to hold together. Turn off the machine, and stir in the chocolate chips. Using a heaping teaspoon or a small tablespoon, portion some of the crumbly goodness into your hands and shape it into a ball. Repeat. Pop the balls into the fridge for about an hour to allow them to firm up.
That's it for this ball round-up! Do you have a good energy ball recipe that you'd like to share? Leave me a comment below!
|Posted on May 4, 2018 at 9:30 PM||comments ()|
By now, if you've taken a look around my site or visited my instagram account (@bombshellbushcraft), you've probably figured out that I enjoy cooking and will take the time to home-test a recipe before I take it outdoors. With that in mind, I thought I would share the menu I have planned for my backcountry trip next month. In addition to cooking on the fire, I will be bringing a folding wood-burning/stick stove, a 2 litre backpacking pot, and my 10" cast iron skillet. I spent a lot of time looking at lightweight skillet options, but after talking to a chef friend and really thinking about the way I like to cook, I decided bringing my cast iron pan was worth the extra carry weight. Most of the recipes can be found in my recipe section, but if you have any questions or would like me to elaborate on what will be prepped at home, how I'm packing it, etc., please leave me a comment!
Dinner: Grilled steak, Orzo Al Pesto with green peas
Breakfast: Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes, bacon
Lunch: Thai Coconut Curry Soup
Dinner: Quinoa bowl with smoked duck breast, sauteed kale and corn, and a chili/cumin/lime vinaigrette
Dessert: Skillet bourbon apple crumble *I haven't 100% decided if I'm going to bring dessert or not, but this happens to be my birthday, so...
Breakfast: Baked oatmeal cups- apple cinnamon and orange cranberry
Lunch: Creamy Mushroom Soup, Chapati
Dinner: Trail Chili, baked potato
Breakfast: Tropical Couscous
Snacks: I haven't decided if I'm going to bring any snacks, since I probably already have more than enough food, but my top contenders if I do are apple chips, energy balls, and chocolate bark with dried fruits and nuts
|Posted on April 26, 2018 at 2:30 PM||comments ()|
Lately I've been thinking a lot about bugs... specifically biting ones. I know mosquitos and black flies are a part of spending time outdoors. My solo trip is in early June, which is prime season for both those pesky bloodsuckers, and I know that going in. I've heard some people say that they didn't find them to be that bad, and other people telling me that I'll be eaten alive, so I have been hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst. HOWEVER... with our late start to Spring, I'm thinking it's extremely unlikely that I'm going to luck out. I tend to react to most bites and swell up, but my skin is also quite sensitive and I hate the thought of putting harsh insect repellants directly on my skin. So what's a girl to do??
I have a homemade bug spray that I affectionately refer to as 'urban bug spray'. It works pretty well in parks here in the city, but I have zero faith in its ability to be my sole protector out in the bush. In case you're curious, I've posted the recipe in the recipes section of my website. But this got me thinking about the idea of layering fragrances, the way one would with perfumes. I could certainly use the spray, but a lotion would be better. So I asked myself what is the one thing you put on your skin, without fail, when spending the day outdoors? SUNSCREEN! So I took some sunscreen (I prefer a mineral sunscreen, without fragrance, that is good for sensitive skin), and blended in the same mixture of essential oils that I use in my spray. Do I expect this to work as well as an insect repellent that contains DEET? No. But I am happy with it as a first line of defense that I feel comfortable putting directly on my skin.
So now that I've taken care of my first layer of protection, it's time to break out the big guns! This means a heavy duty spray, and a bug https://amzn.to/2KAuBAG" target="_blank">jacket and https://amzn.to/2jvAYsF" target="_blank">pants combo that is oh-so-stylish! At least I can spray down all my clothes and the insect netting, and minimize the contact my skin has with the harsh repellent.
Am I still going to end up as a bugs breakfast? Only time will tell. But at least I can say I'm prepared for it!
Nothing worked, except for the bug suit, when I was actually wearing it. Neither my homemade lotion nor the Muskol held up against the Algonquin black flies and mosquitos in June. The blend of essential oils in my lotion DID help soothe the bug bites a little, so there was that. A friend of mine has recommended the cllip-on Off! fan units, so I'll give those a try next time I'm out.
|Posted on April 22, 2018 at 9:00 PM||comments ()|
My first blog entry! This whole process is a little surprising to me, as I'm not much of a writer, nor have I ever been particularly fond of writing, but I do enjoy sharing my adventures with people, so here we are!
A few things you should know about me... I have a quirky sense of humour, a keen interest in pin-up aesthetic, and a stubbornly independant streak. I'm a compulsive planner, a dedicated home cook and baker and I'm new to the world of back country camping. A lot of people who know me have a hard time picturing me outdoors, but appearances can be deceiving! Car camping I'm pretty comfortable with, but this June marks my first back country trip. (48 days and 10 hours, but who's counting?) I have been thoroughly enjoying the planning, shopping for gear, and recipe testing that I've been doing in preparation. My sister suggested that I should start a blog to share this process with others, and things kind of snowballed into a website. I'm sure there are still plenty of kinks that I will have to work out, and there's more content I want to add (recipes, blog entries about previous/upcoming trips, etc.), but if I wait until everything is 'perfect', everything would be perpetually saved as a draft.
Time to just jump in, and adapt as I go!