Tuesday, September 19, 2017

September Solo Trip with Homemade Gear

Got to spend 3 glorious September days on a brief solo trip last week. Apart from getting some much needed silence & solitude, my overall goal was to test out some of the homemade gear made over the off season. Also wanted to check out the tripping capabilities of the 14 foot Chestnut / Peterborough.

In particular, the homemade wall tent made over the winter needed to be used in the field to see if it needed any tweaking. Totally copying Robin L's awesome setup, I brought along the frame made from closet rods, a wanigan, a home-made chair and other little projects. I also purchased a folding cot off Amazon and it would be the first time I slept off the ground on one. Given that the nights were to drop down to around 4 degree celsius, a bulky wool blanket was brought along to supplement the sleeping bag. For paddles I brought along the repaired Sassafras tripper and the painted Ash blade

Knew going in that with all the stuff, it was going to be a triple portage but a simple, familiar route was selected in the Haliburton Highlands. It involved a direct launch to the water from a public dock (Raven Lake Access Point) with only a single 350m portage to get into the next lake (Gun L). I'd secured the most isolated campsite on the lake which is tucked into its own private bay, but in the end, the whole lake was empty for the duration of the trip.

All the gear at the end of the only portage.


The little Chestnut performed admirably with such a load, but a 15 footer would've carried this equipment better.

canoe loaded


Paddling into the isolated bay



The small site doesn't look like much from the water. It is basically a rocky spit sticking out into the lake, but being surrounded by water, there was a lovely view from most directions and a great fire pit built in the centre.

Site 71b from the water


View from shore looking west


The wall tent was set up so that  the back side could be staked down into the thin topsoil and the front side tie outs secure with rocks.


The 7x7 tent is quite spacious already, but the storage under the cot was great giving the tent even more of mansion-like feel. The canvas tent pole case was unrolled and re-purposed as a ground sheet under the tarp. Also brought along a mosquito net that could be suspended from the tent frame  if needed. The bugs weren't bad at all, but the netting was still useful for that evil mosquito hour before sunset.

View out the tent door


There was a slight chance of rain, so like Robin, I used an old tarp on top for additional waterproofing. Dimensions aren't perfect match but at least the old tarp still has a use and isn't collecting dust in storage.

 Home for the trip


After setting up camp, it was time for a firewood run. This little part of the lake doesn't see many visitors, so the shoreline is dotted with fantastic dry wood.


Plenty of fallen birch trees meant a nearly limitless supply of guilt-free bark to really get the flames blazing.



It was a beautiful first night. The next morning was cold and misty, but magical. The tent worked very well as the whole site was covered with thick dew and condensation but the breathable canvas meant a dry and cozy interior.

Misty morning sunrise

The lake was too tempting to resist so the first order of business was to paddle around for the sheer bliss of just canoeing.  






Back after an hour or so with sunlight illuminating the whole site, I started my first attempt at using the reflector oven made back in 2015. Tried my hand at making some biscuits with whole milk powder and coconut oil.

Is this going to work?


Well in the end, the oven did its job, but the thin material warped heavily and became quite flimsy. To be expected I guess since the material was never really meant to be used as an oven. The biscuits tasted fine but investing in a proper reflector will be needed for future trips. Also realized a good pair of gloves would be smart as finger tips were singed in the making of breakfast.



After that little gear experiment, had a nice little break in a shady spot under the pines to contemplate what to do next...



A decision was made to try some fishing. Back for the May trip with my son and his classmate, I had ordered a simple little collapsible fishing rod online. Seemed like a functional little rod for the boy since since outgrowing his Spiderman plastic toy. To transport the disassembled rod and mini tackle-box, I re-used an old cigar box with a sturdy clasp. Made a little handle with jute cordage and we were good to go.





 Son's fishing set

The fish were biting like crazy during our August trip to this same lake, but I guess they figured a grown man using his son's fishing set was inappropriate, so I got zero bites.

After giving up, it was time to replenish the wood pile given the fire the night before and for breakfast.  This time I sourced an old downed maple in the hills behind the campsite. The upper limbs would need to be sawn and split. Right before the trip, I finished making a new folding bucksaw and a case based on the Ray Mears Folding bucksaw/axe case. Mine was made from some waxed tarp material and hand stitched. It's a neat way to keep these essential bush tools together. The axe fits into an exterior sleeve attached to a simple bag for the saw components. Some leather and knotted paracord secure the top flap

Saw & Axe bag closed

Opening up to get the saw


The new 21" bucksaw was made with cherry scraps. Researched some designs and decided I wanted one where the handles are slotted so the the blade could fold directly forming a guard. Using some 3/4" Chicago screws to mount the blade means that there is no fiddling with any hardware like my old saw.

 Slotted handle guards the teeth of the blade

 Handles flip around


The new tripping saw


By the afternoon , the heat missing all summer long started cooking up the site so half the wall tent was flipped up and converted into a baker tent style shelter. It provided some decent shade relief. The wool blanket was removed the cot and a perfect afternoon nap ensued.

 Flipped up into Baker Tent mode


The rest of the delightful day was spent relaxing by the shore with some coffee, some bourbon and my last H. Upmann Royal Robusto from 2011.


 Why can't everyday be like this?


The evening seemed warmer than normal so a decision was made to keep the tent in baker mode. The roof was lowered a bit and the nylon tarp added back in case of rain. It was great to sleep with the open view and feel immersed in the surroundings.



The sunset was pretty sweet for my last night...


Apart from the reflector oven fail, I feel that the field test with the wall tent was a success. Obviously the weight concerns with the frame would limit portage heavy trips. It'll be more useful for poling trips with minimal carries. A significant amount of weight could be saved by using a ridge line between trees which might be considered in the future. Eventually, I'll be adding a stove jack into one of the panels and hope to use the tent again in the late fall with a recent acquisition of Kni-co woodburning stove. More about that in another post...



Friday, September 15, 2017

Tom Thomson Paddle Art Contest Over

The deadline for the Tom Thomson Paddle Art Contest run earlier in the summer has now ended.  Algonquin Outfitters has posted a facebook album of the various submissions which will be auctioned off for charity on September 29th . Many of the works were done on the laminated poplar paddles provided with the $25 entrance fee. A few creative individuals custom carved their own design.

In particular, the skull paddle re-purposed from an old damaged blade shows some real creativity. The paddle even has damage noted over the right eye which was noted in the original report by the Dr. who conducted the autopsy on the scene.

 Image Source: Algonquin Outfitters -facebook album



Monday, September 11, 2017

Musee des Beaux-Arts (Chartres) - circa 1760 Model Paddles

An older looking website of the Government of France showcases some of the accessories of the famed Chartres Canoe Model dated to around 1760. It is believed that the canoe (and accessories) were meant as a votive offering to the Cathedral de Chartres by Abenaki converts to Catholicism in Quebec. The patterns on the blades are some of the oldest surviving paddle decorations in Northeastern canoe culture.



Image Source Link:







Thursday, September 7, 2017

TAUNY Adirondack Paddles - Ted Comstock Personal Collection

Missed this event until it was over, but TAUNY - Traditional Arts in Upstate New York had display of vintage Adirondack guideboat and canoe paddles from the collection of Ted Comstock. The paddles feature various blade shapes and unique grip designs including a few with the "lollipop" style...

Ted Comstock Paddle Collection



Tuesday, September 5, 2017

New Contender for World's Oldest Birchbark Canoe

Some interesting news out of Maine. The Pejebscot Historical Society in Brunswick carbon dated an old birchbark canoe in their collection. The results indicated that it was constructed sometime between  between 1729 and 1789. Museum records date the canoe to the mid-1700s.

19 Foot Wabanki Canoe
Image Source Credit: Pejepscot Historical Society


The nearly intact boat has spent the last three decades in a barn behind the museum, exposed to extreme temperatures and humidity. Despite this fact, it has remained in remarkable shape.

Pejepscot Historical Society/Larissa Vigue Picard via AP
Image Source Credit: CentralMaine.com

The two other canoes thought to be among the oldest were originally located in Europe (i.e. the 21 ft. Galway / "Grandfather" Canoe) found in Ireland and the Enys Canoe found at the Enys estate in Cornwall, England.

The museum has begun a fundraising campaign  in order to raise the $10 000 needed to restore the canoe and build an appropriate display. Work will be done by well known bark canoe builder, Steve Cayard.

One of the unique things about the Pejebscot Historical Society canoe is that it was built without any European technology at a time when metal fasteners and other innovations were being adopted by local Wabanaki builders. In addition, rather than use canvas cloth dipped in pitch on the stem pieces, the builder used tanned deerskin, something Cayard had never seen before in a surviving canoe. Thwarts were attached using an older method as well, basically by splitting the inwale and jaming in the tenon rather that using a chiseled mortise. More footage of the canoe and details of this exciting canoe news can be found in a video clip here.



Saturday, September 2, 2017

Historic Paddle Illustration: FA Hopkins - Relics in a Primeval Forest

Here's another work of famed Voyageur artist Frances Anne Hopkins. Dated to 1885, the oil painting showcases a smaller trade canoe anchored to shore with line and a paddle shoved into the beach sand...


Relics of the Primaeval Forest, Canada, 1885
Frances Anne Hopkins (British)
Painting, oil on canvas, 107 x 152.5 cm
Source: Art Gallery of Ontario tumblr page 




Newer Posts Older Posts Home Page