Archive for September, 2017

September 22, 2017

Adam House Camping 2.0


Aiden, Tim, and I planned another camping trip with the Adam House Community since the trip last year was such a success. Aiden could not make it in the end, but we also had Jocky and David join us as volunteers. We had planned for there to be 24 people on the trip, but unfortunately many people cancelled in the few weeks before the trip. They missed out though because we had another great weekend! This time we went to Grundy Lake Provincial Park. I picked it because I knew there would be some easy trails with nice views, and that we would be able to enjoy the rocky ridges of the Canadian Shield. We drove up on Saturday morning and had smooth sailing. We arrived with plenty of sunlight left and so we went to the beach after setting up camp. The beach was shallow and sandy and so Hani tried swimming for the first time. There was also an area for volleyball and so we played several matches with some other young people. When the sun started going down we decided to drive to Clear Lake and watch the sun set. There was a shallow smooth peninsula rock that went into the water, and Ali discovered that if you took a picture of someone sitting or crouching near the end of that rock, it looked like they were on a high cliff overlooking an abyss of sky. This is because the colours of the clouds and setting sun were reflected like a mirror into the still water. I guess the name “Clear lake” is appropriate! We had a lot of fun after that with various individual poses and selfies! After the sun set we returned to the campsite and made pasta for dinner. We ended up making far too much than we needed and had a lot of leftovers! We enjoyed a nice fire while we swapped embarrassing moment stories and roasted marshmallows.

It rained hard overnight but our tents were good and we managed to stay dry. I was thankful that the rain didn’t start until after we went to bed and stopped by the time we got up. I started setting up a tarp just in case it rained again, and Elchin and David soon came to help me. I was very impressed with how well we were able to hang it! We tied the rope to a rock and threw it over some branches to get it higher. It was cooler and overcast and so we took the morning slow and then decided to go for a hike along the French River in the afternoon. We drove to the French River Visitors Centre and took the 1.5km path to go and see the falls. The forest was beautiful! The falls were small in height but powerful with a lot of water! I liked how the water started like little tendrils that got thicker towards the falls. The guys found a thick styrofoam block and started to play around with it. I hoped they wouldn’t do anything reckless with it and they didn’t. They did decide to bring it back to Grundy Lake with us though to use as a swim toy back at the beach! Another site we saw was a large snake, probably the largest that I’ve seen in Canada, that we think was a Massassauga Rattlesnake. At first we thought it was dead, but when David prodded it with the tripod it moved. The poor thing probably just wanted to be left alone! After the hike we went to the Visitors Centre, which was in a well designed building that I thought fit well in the landscape (I found out later that it was designed by Baird Sampson Neuert Architects). We also went to check out the nearby suspension bridge that was built primarily for snowmobiles. On the way back to camp, I convinced my car to go get ice-cream from the Grundy Lake Outpost. The others were too far ahead and so we went without them. I thought I might remember something of the place from my childhood, but it all felt different!



We decided to spend the rest of the afternoon at the beach and I proposed that we go to the Red Maple beach instead. As we were getting in the cars, Lana told me that Elchin had run off saying he would beat us there. When we got to the beach he was nowhere to be found. While Lana went looking for him I introduced the others to the slippery rock. It was just as slippery as I remember from my childhood. The water was warmer than the air at this point, and so we didn’t swim for very long. Lana didn’t succeed in finding Elchin and so we drove to the main beach because we thought maybe he had ended up there from a miscommunication. We were right! The sun returned and we played a few more games of volleyball. Those of us less interested in playing left early to go watch the sun set from the lookout point near Red Maple beach. We found a nice peaceful spot with a beautiful view of Grundy Lake. Over the course of an hour we watched the sun and clouds go through several transformations. The others joined us right after the sun had dipped below the horizon. They had brought chips and salsa and so we snacked while continuing to watch the final changing hues of the sky. The next morning it was raining like crazy! We knew that it was not going to subside and so we had to pack up camp wet. Yuck! Everyone were great sports though and we were so efficient that we were on the road shortly after 10! The ride home confirmed that we had made the right decision in not trying to wait it out. We drove through three more intense downpours before the sky cleared almost two hours later! Even though it meant that I had to take an extra day off of work to dry the tents out (although I ended up using it as an E4C day), I was glad that the rain happened at the end of the trip instead of during it! I’m so thankful to my friends and family who all lent me their various camping equipment! This trip could not have happened without them! I’m so glad that we have started a tradition with this trip!





September 16, 2017

Adirondacks 4.0

I was super excited in mid-August to go on a fourth hiking/camping trip to the Adirondacks, this time with Rachel and Vikkie and three of their friends who I didn’t know well at the time, but got to know better: Mauri, Jason, and Ryan. My job and research fellowship were keeping me very busy up to the day of departure, and I actually made the mistake of thinking that the trip was from the Saturday until the Monday but then on Thursday near the end of the workday I realised that it was in fact Friday to Sunday. I don’t think I ever packed that quickly before but luckily I am familiar with what items to bring camping. I am also fortunate to have a flexible job since I had asked for the wrong day off! Rachel didn’t want to get stuck in traffic picking me up somewhere off of the TTC, and there was no certainty that I would be able to catch the first bus going to Unionville from Union Station. So Rachel and Vikkie came to pick me up from my house…. at 11:30pm. They are such amazing friends! We didn’t get to bed until after 1am and so would be running on 5 hours of sleep. The next day we were on the road by 8ish. We were a bit delayed because we couldn’t get the cargo container closed because we had tried to fit too many things into it. The drive was smooth. It started raining when we stopped in Lake Placid to get groceries, but we were lucky that the showers were local and that Wilmington had stayed dry. We set up camp and then drove around, and after stopping at a very abandoned santa’s workshop and a closed High Falls Gorge (that charged money anyways), we eventually found a place where we could walk down to the river and see a small waterfall.The others enjoyed getting to the middle of the river by climbing across some logs and jumping rocks, but I was tired so I just sat on a rock by the shore and watched them. Back at camp we made chicken fajitas and had a beautiful fire. I treated everyone to Saranac beers, although because I was so tired I ended up with a mean headache.

We woke up at 6 and after breakfast and lunch prep we were on the road by 8. I was eager for us to leave early because I was worried we might have trouble finding parking. We went to a place called the Garden in Keene Valley and got lucky because we got there just as a group that had returned from an overnight trip were leaving. Otherwise we would have had to drive back, park at the airfield, and take the shuttle. We hiked Big Slide via the Brothers and it was a beautiful ascent! The Brothers offered views from several ridges that kept us wondering if we were almost at Big Slide. It was further than we thought (as always is the case), but the final reveal was stunning! Near the top there was a glimpse of the big slide that gave the peak it’s name. We decided to make a loop and descend towards John Brooks Lodge instead of going back the way we came. Even though the route was longer, we would get to explore more of the unknown, have the final few kilometers on fairly flat ground, and check out what this John Brooks Lodge place was like. It was helpful that we stopped at Johns Brooks lodge because several of us were getting short on water and they had a tap where we could fill up. The lodge seemed like a great place and I think I want to stay there some time! It is similar to a hostel and during the high season it costs more ($70-80 in high season, $30-40 in low season), but they provide breakfast and dinner and a packed lunch for day trips! From the lodge we followed along the valley back to the Garden. We were all pretty tired by that point, but we kept our spirits up by singing random songs. I was thankful that we all made it back safely. I always feel a little protective of a group when I am introducing them to hiking in the Adirondacks for the first time! It is important to choose a route that is exciting and challenging, but also not too difficult.


Looking back on the first Brother



“Are we almost there?” snack break


Big Slide


At the summit


Following the creek down to the valley

On our drive back, Rachel was determined to find a swimming spot. I didn’t really care either way, but in the end I was glad because we had a great time. She pulled into a little parking area on the Ausable River across from the airfield in Keene that had picnic tables and a shallow area where people could wade. I watched for a while as the others went in, and finally decided to go in too but with my sandals because it was so rocky. There was a line of larger boulders where the water flowed over and you could get a foot massage. We found out that the area on the other side of that small water fall was better for swimming because it was deeper and surprisingly went up to our shoulders. Vikkie had an underwater camera and so we then proceeded to try and take group pictures and selfies under the water! We decided that we would eat out in Lake Placid that evening. Rachel wanted to go to a place called Smoke Signals, but they were full up with a two hour waiting list, and so instead we want to a place I had been recommended called the Cottage. We got a seat on the patio which overlooked Mirror Lake. The atmosphere was nice but the food was only okay. You would think we would be tired by this point, but the guys were determined to have smores! So we went to the grocery store to pick up supplies!

The next day we packed up camp and I decided to take us to hike Little and Big Crow which would be nice and short but still promised nice views of the High Peaks in the distance. Again we had some trouble finding the trailhead, but eventually took a small road we thought would lead us there. It brought us to a small parking area that had a trail going directly to Big Crow, instead of the one that involved a loop as I had originally planned. In the end it was better because we had more time to relax and enjoy the scenery. At the top we met a man who was very familiar with the peaks and was able to point out Mount Marcy (the tallest peak), Big Slide (the peak we had hiked the day earlier), and Giant Mountain (one of the peaks we hiked two years ago). We decided not to hike to Little Crow so that we would have more time for lunch. We planned to have a picnic to finish up all of our leftover food. Since we couldn’t think of another place to go, and because we weren’t that far anyways, we returned to the swimming spot in Keene Valley. On our way there a truck in front of us lost a skid from the back, and I thank God that we had enough space to move around it and not hit it! We soon forgot about that event because in the airfield across from the swimming spot there was a Sunday market going on. We decided to stop there and check it out. Then we went back to our swimming spot that was full of people this time. We claimed a picnic table and enjoyed our leftovers. From there we hit the road back home. The trip felt far too short, but any chance to get into nature (and mountains) is worthwhile. I am thankful that despite being so busy I was able to enjoy these moments in nature with friends! The next time I go to the Adirondacks I plan to do back-country camping!


Pointing out Giant Mountain to us (it looks like an armchair from the back)


The summit of Big Crow with a view of Mt. Marcy and Big Slide