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Topics - Marko_Mrko

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1
Tents and Shelters / Clear vinyl door
« on: January 12, 2019, 09:07:12 AM »
Anyone have tips on installing a clear vinyl door on an Atuk Alaskan?
Tx!!
M

2
Group Trip Planning / 5-day look - February 23-27
« on: January 03, 2019, 09:40:25 AM »
Hi guys,

I have 5 days booked for a trip - would love to hear possible suggestions. Here's what I'm looking for:

1) 30-50km loop (planning 5-15km/day)
2) Within 6 hours drive from London.

Possible thoughts:
  • Algonquin - off Hwy 60 - maybe Sunday Lake trail, or Minnesing trail. I've done both in the past, so these are a back-up.
  • Algonquin - Access 1 - last year we tried to get into North Tea Lake - couldn't go along the Amable du Fond river (not frozen), so we trekked along the crown land just east of Kmog Lake. Base camped out of Wet Lake. Another group made it by using the dog sled trail, but I had no place to park (active logging) and apparently the portages were a real pig. I wonder if a good access route may be along north end of Kmog...
  • Kawartha Provincial Park. Maybe Anstruther access point to Serpentine/Rock lake? Those portages though....
  • Temagami? Any suggestions (maybe the south end?)
  • Crown land - ??

Cheers!
Marko

3
Tents and Shelters / Great rental deal on tents and toboggans
« on: January 03, 2019, 08:56:12 AM »
Hi all,

I was just looking over the interwebs, and saw that Lure of the North has a Snowtrekker and stove for rent at $85/night, toboggan for around $10... Wow those are some good prices. It even seems like it's possible to spend a night on their property. 

https://lureofthenorth.com/outfitting

Cheers
M

4
Trip Reports / Cyprus Lake Dec 29-31
« on: December 31, 2018, 08:33:33 PM »
Hi all,

We were gonna visit Algonquin, but changed our minds because of the rain - went to Cyprus Lake (just south of Tobermory, ON). It's a national park on the tip of the Bruce Trail.

Camping options:
1) Front country - Tamarack campground. Park in a designated parking lot - walk 50-100m to the campsites. We chose one closest to the lake. There were only two other groups. Two suboptimal things:

  • The wood. The website says you can't bring own wood. Cutting down any wood is forbidden. There is no wood at the self-check-in, and it says you should bring own wood. Once you get to the campground, there is a shed with wood for purchase right inside the Tamarack campground (by campsite 237 - $5 for a fairly decent amount). However, it's completely waterlogged. Totally. It's worse than burning wet wool socks. We had to drive to Tobermory and purchase dry wood.
  • Privies. There are none, despite the fact that the website says there's a privy at every campsite. The only bathrooms are at the day-use trailhead. It's a bit of a walk, as it's not cool to dig cat holes 20m away from summer camp sites.


2) Back country:
- Stormhaven, Half-way dump and High Dump (seriously, who made these names?)
- there is no burning of any kind of fire at all, and the camping is on wood platforms. So only cold-camping.

It's only 3.5 hours from London, so we left at 7 and were at the camp by 11. Temps were around -10C. Had a lovely walk to the grotto. The next day, it was around -2C, hiked to StormHaven, then the grotto again. There were lots of day-trippers checking out the grotto, but only a couple of groups hiking to StormHaven. There was only a dusting of snow, but the rocks were pretty icy. The $45 Yaktrax running crampons (I stole them from my wife) worked well, the cheaper knock-offs kept slipping off my buddy's feet, and one broke.

I was with two other buddies, they slept in the Atuk Alaskan, I slept in the Uber Bivy (with the WM bag). I was toasty all night, but there was quite a bit of moisture on the inside of the bivy and outside the sleeping bag in the morning - I was glad to dry the bag in the tent in the morning. I was also glad to not have to make breakfast in -10C temps: +25 C in the tent was very lovely.

Beautiful scenery, I think it's worthwhile visiting for a couple of days (bring your own wood!!!)











Happy New Year!
Marko

PS. Yes, there were two guys wearing wet suits, swimming and cliff jumping. People think winter camping is crazy, so who am I to judge...

5
Tickets are on sale staring today for the 2nd annual Ontario Winter Camping Symposium.

Last year was really good, great speakers and it was nice to meet people.

Hoop is one of the speakers this year, how can you get better than that?

Info and tickets on the website:
http://www.ontariowintercamping.ca

See you Nov 24th!

Cheers
Marko


6
Classifieds / Atuk Kanguk 12x12 and stove
« on: August 24, 2018, 08:20:05 AM »
Hi all,

My wife's Raynauds's is getting worse, so I downsized the Atuk Alaskan. Did not use the Atuk Kanguk at all last year, so it's time for it to go.

1) Atuk Kanguk tent - 12x12, 10oz cotton. $550 CAD.
http://www.atuktents.com/en_kanguk.php
4 years old, excellent condition (a couple of small spark holes, some creosote staining by the chimney). I have an aluminum centre post for it, as well as a base for the post (home made). Have slept 5 (3 kids)+dog in it, but it's best with 3 adults (+/- dog).



2) Kni-Co Alaskan Jr stove - $170 CAD.
http://www.atuktents.com/en_knico.php
https://www.canadianoutdoorequipment.com/false-bottoms-for-kni-co-alaskan-and-alaskan-jr-stoves.html
Excellent condition. Includes pipes, damper, water tank (never used), and pipe cap. Bottom is in excellent condition as I've always used the false bottom (included). I've also made a canvas carry bag for it (also included).



3) LeBaron's wood stove - $70 CAD
I have too many darn stoves. This one is very similar to the Kni-Co Alaskan, but has two cut-out holes on top (with lids). It was a great deal when LeBaron's was closing, but I don't need 4 stoves.  Does NOT come with pipe/damper or anything else. Kni-Co pipes work with it (I use these).

I'm in London, Ontario. Buyer pays shipping, unless you wanna come by, pick up and have a beer.

Cheers
Marko


 

7
Trip Reports / Algonquin Trip to Access 1 Feb 10-13 [pic heavy]
« on: February 15, 2018, 03:46:37 PM »
Hi all,

Had a very interesting trip with a buddy. Had never been to the northwest part of the park in the winter. Access 1 is plowed year round as Northern Wilderness Outfitters has groups staying in their cabins in the winter (they are really nice guys there). Some things did not go according to plan though.

The PLAN:
We wanted to get into North Tea Lake, and possibly into Manitou (very ambitious for a 4-day trip). The access was going to be tricky, as Amable river is not frozen. Looking around, I found that the North Algonquin Dog Sled Trail goes from a logging road just south of access 1. The plan was to take the trail along Craig Lake, then head north along the portages into Jeepi and Cayuga, and end up in NTL. Two days there, two days back.



Due to several mishaps on the first day, we ended up not making it to NTL, but instead left from Access 1 and headed to Wet Lake (the GPS trail is marked in blue on the map above).

Day 1:
We left around 6AM, and were making great time. Followed the directions on Google Maps... ... That was a big mistake.



All was well ass we passed Sundridge, and traveled along a lovely road (in my amazing Odyssey van). As we continued, passed a snowmobiler, who seemed to be waving at us... Traveling down, and then up a couple of snowy hills. Eventually the "road" did not seem to have any snow shoulders... And only snowmobile tracks. Flagged down a snowmobiler group that was going the other way... They confirmed our suspicions that Google Maps was trying to kill us. This was a snowmobile trail in the winter. And it narrowed down to less than a meter in a couple of km. Fortunately, I've been in this spot before and have some rescue equipment. We did a 20-point turn with the van using the traction pads, and headed back. We almost made it, until the last hill. Got within 10 feet of the top. Tried the traction pads, did not work. Crappy zip-tie snow chains broke immediately. My winch (that had been unused for 3 years) was broken!!! So we flagged down a group of really pleasant snowmobilers, and 10 guys pushed the van up the last 10 feet. Freedom!!!

The proper way to access the dog sled trail was to go up to Access 1, then drive south along the logging road. Which we did, but when we got to km 7, there was only a single lane with no space to shovel out a parking spot. At this point, we accepted defeat and returned to access 1. We changed our plan, and decided to try and access NTL via the roads on the east side of Kawawaymog.

Access 1 was nicely plowed.


We finally set out at 1330. Crossed Kawawaymog in about 1 hour (using a combination of old snowmobile trails and making our own path). In order to access the roads, we did cross a cottage property, as we followed the established snowmobile trails. I felt a bit guilty about that.

It took 5km, and we made it to Wet Lake by 1600. Set up camp, cut  a hole for the water and cut some wood. The ice was about 10" to 12" thick.




Day 2
It dropped to -22C overnight, despite the forecast showing nothing lower than -15C for the whole trip. A light snow started falling in the morning, and it gradually became heavier. We had about 4" by noon and 8-10" in total. Daytime high was around -10C.



After discussing with my friend, we decided to base camp and not attempt travelling. We had arrived to the camp fairly late and did not have a great supply of wood. The snow was going to make travel slow and difficult and we weren't here to set records (survival and enjoyment in that order were our foremost properties). We proceeded to build a nice wood supply and set up camp.



Day 3:
Incredible sunny day! It was only -15C overnight, daytime high was close to that as well.





The plan was to explore the area, possibly get to NTL and back. here was 10" of powder on top of a snow base of 10-12", so travel was difficult. But the day was truly amazing.



The roads past Wet Lake were not used by snowmobilers or loggers, so the travel was slow. We made it to the next larger lake, and bushwacked through 30m of spruce to get to the lake.



We built a cooking fire, had some lunch and a shot of sljivovica (google it - really warms the hands). It took us about 2 hours to get to the spot. The way back was incredible. The trail was packed down, and it took us only 45 minutes to get back to camp.





Day 4:
Frigid temps. -28C. Definitely below the forecast hahaha. My wife sent me a message that we had the babysitter that night, and that I should get back by 1800 for our date. Now that's motivation! We packed up by 10AM, and headed back. The trails were packed down by snowmobilers, it took only 30 minutes to cross the 2.5km to Kawawaymog. From there, the wind was brisk along the lake and there were no established snowmobile trails. It took an hour to get across 2.5km of the lake (last 500m were packed down).



Overall, it was an amazing trip. I think the area at access 1 has amazing potential for winter camping. I'll be going back in early March to explore more.

Meals:
Breakfast: Bacon every day, with eggs, oatmeal or bagels.
Lunch: Every day in the morning I filled a thermos with boiling water and added minestrone soup mix. What a treat! Second thermos was filled with KD and sausage or pulled pork (rehydrated in the morning).
Dinner: Shepherd's pie, pasta, and pulled pork wraps.

Learning points:
1. Don't trust Google Maps and don't trust the forecast.
2. It's really hard to park on a single-lane logging road when there's active logging in the area.
3. I have a pair of MadShus Eon 62 skiis, and just got the Rossi BC110 skiis. I love the fat ski. Glides nicely, and the flotation and traction are superior. Snowshoes are still necessary for the uphills. But the BC110 has flotation that is better than the 42" trad snowshoe. I'm really impressed.
4. Northern Wilderness Outfitters are really nice people. I chatted with the guy at the take-out (he was guiding a group of 30 students). His recommendation would be to take the trails north of Amable in order to access NTL. I may try that.

If anyone has any thoughts on access of NTL, would love to hear from you (either post or PM me).

Cheers
Marko

8
Fire and Woodstoves / DIY Stove bag (canvas)
« on: November 19, 2017, 11:53:09 AM »
Hi all,

2C sleet outside. Had some time, and 55% off sale at Fabricland. Sooo... Stove bag, made from 10oz canvas for KniCo Packer.



Ingredients:
- 10oz canvas, 2m (150cm width, reg price $11/m at Fabricland)
- 1" nylon webbing (about 2m)
- buckle (Metolius Crash Pad Buckle - MEC sells them, but I bough 20 for $20 five years ago). Can use D-rings (my second choice), plastic buckles or even a trucker hitch
- sewing machine
- Canvas Needles (do not use regular sewing needles, they will snap).


Recipe
1) The stove is approximately 9.5", so I cut 41" of canvas squared. I should have made it 42", as it's a bit tight right now


2) Mark out the position of the handles (made from 12" of 1" webbing). The handles should be just above half-way of the sides, so mark about 9" from the edges, and 10" apart.


3) Sew the handles on the outside surface of the bag (i.e. the surface that will face out).

4) Fold the canvas in half, so that the INSIDE surface is exposed (you can't see the handles anymore).


5) Sew a flat-felled seam down the middle. This is preferred due to the strength, but it's fairly tricky as the canvas will bunch up and there is a risk of sewing over a piece of fabric unintentionally. This seam shouldn't get much tension (it will be on top, so a regular seam down the middle is fine too.


If doing a flat-felled seam, the key is to stretch the fabric tight as you're doing the second


6)  Sew the back of the bag. Unfold the back of the bag, and sew two 10" seams as below. This will create the square back.


7) Roll the front edge over, and sew it down.


8) Sew the nylon webbing to the front (along one half of the opening). Leave about 6" on one side, and the rest on the other. This will serve as a roll-top closure.


9) Reinforce the attachment points of the sides by sewing three parallel seams (each seam made by going back and forth 4 times with the sewing machine). For the 6" side, create a loop.


The details loop will depend on buckle mechanism. If using trucker hitch, just leave the 3" loop as-is. If using D-rings, sew the D-rings into the loop. For the Metolius, I put an extra seam about 1/2" from the end to make a smaller loop so the buckle doesn't slip out.

ISSUES:
1) Size. I think 42" canvas would be better.
2) Material. It was tempting to use rip-stop nylon. I think this would be too prone to ripping. I think a heavy-duty nylon would be best (more expensive).
3) Ripping. The stove bottom has sharp edges that ripped my bag.


Because of that, I did the following:
1) Loading the stove: don't drop it in the bag, instead pull the bag down over the stove (see below).


2) I bent the edges of the stove, then filed down the rough edges a bit. I don't think this will affect the structural integrity of the stove, but I understand some people may hesitate at this drastic modification :D


Let me know what you think.

Cheers
Marko





9
Tents and Shelters / DIY Winter Bivy plans - need your help!
« on: November 18, 2017, 10:13:00 AM »
Hi all,

I've never used a bivy, but I think this is the year to start. I use a canvas tent, but don't run the stove overnight (it's just not worth waking up every 2 hours, also with kids I worry they're gonna roll into the stove).

Advantages:
1) Protects sleeping pad/bag from tears/punctures/etc
2) Protects from contact with the snow. I've tried several sod cloths - they're either really slippery, or freeze down, or just suck.
3) Increases warmth a bit

Disadvantages:
1) Frost/moisture build-up inside the bivy

It seems to me that modern bivouac systems suffer from the same problem as modern clothing systems - moisture management. Unlike traditional clothing (wool layers with cotton anourak), the modern bivy traps the moisture inside the bivy. Although this can turn to frost (and not cause significant problems), I suspect there is a temperature range (0C to -10C) where frost does not form, and instead there is a buildup of moisture inside the bag. This is not great.

I haven't seen any bivy systems that emulate the traditional clothing set-up. There have been several posts/discussion on bivy topics:

Sleeping systems on the web page:
http://wintertrekking.com/equipment/sleeping-systems/

Hoop's sleeping system video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y81HL8pUxes

DIY Tyvek bag discussion:
http://www.wintertrekking.com/community/index.php?topic=1794.0

Fleece bivy/overbag:
http://www.wintertrekking.com/community/index.php?topic=4248.0

I like the fleece overbag idea, but it needs a waterproof bottom, and fleece would not be my first choice of a breathable material. My plan is to make a bivy with a waterproof bottom, and a breathable top (fully breathable, not quazi-breathable like tyvek or gortex).


The pattern should be fairly simple to make:


Here are my thoughts:
1) Materials
      - bottom from coated nylon fabric (I have some leftover from a DIY tent)
      - top material... ripstop nylon is a possibility. I worry it's not breathable enough. I'm leaning towards using 10-oz or 7-oz cotton (untreated).

2) Design
      - width: my wide air mattress is 63 cm, so plan was to make the bivy 65 or 70 cm wide?
      - length: 200 cm should be good (I'm 5'11"/180cm, but I figure extra room would be good, especially when cinching the opening). Maybe 190 cm?
      - height: 45cm at the front, 30 cm at the back. Is this too high? To short? I am currently using a 0C mummy plus a -10C overquilt. I don't think it would be squished...

3) Opening
      - plan is to make an opening about 50x70cm, and use a drawcord to tighten. It won't draw closed or even really tight. Not even sure I need a drawcord.

Really appreciate your help. Let me know
1) Is this totally crazy (and if not, why hasn't someone made this yet)?
2) Choice of material
3) Dimensions
4) Should I even bother tapering from top to bottom, and just have 45 cm high for the whole length?

I'm pretty handy with the sewing machine, so if anyone has a fancier idea, I'm all up for it.

Cheers
Marko

PS. Fabricland has a 55% sale on everything today for members, so no time to waste :D

10
Fire and Woodstoves / Vertical stove pipe, sparks and pipe length
« on: November 13, 2017, 02:34:59 PM »
Unpacked the Atuk Kanguk for the upcoming trip, noticed a few spark holes. Would love to prevent that. Here are my thoughts, let me know what you think.

Here's my current set-up:
- Alaskan Kanguk 12'x12' with vertical stove pipe
- KniCo Alaskan
- Pipe cap made from the original spark arrestor (cut out the arrestor part as it clogged a couple of times)
- Spark arrestor made from 1/4" chicken wire in the top part of the damper (pic below):


Since that pic, I've actually added a second layer of chicken wire.

Here's my illuminating thoughts to... spark... a discussion:
 
1) Tents with a vertical stove pipe have an increased risk of sparks (as sparks can fall straight down). By comparison, angled pipe diverts sparks away from the tent (as long as the wind does not change).

2) Short pipe length increases the risk of sparks as it decreases the distance between canvas and pipe end. In particular, we dug out a stove well on the last couple of trips - shortening the stove pipe even further. I'm pretty sure that's the culprit.

3) I wonder if the pipe cap increases the risk of sparks in a vertical pipe set-up, as the sparks bounce off the cap and fall down.

Right now, my plan is to :
1) Stop digging a stove well.
2) Add an extra length of pipe. I have an extra set of the telescoping pipes. Both the bottom part and the top part can be fitted onto the assembled 4-piece pipe set. I'll likely add a set of screws to attach the two parts (the fit is not perfect).



If anyone has any other ideas or thoughts, would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers
Marko

11
News & Events / Hard water season arrives...
« on: November 12, 2017, 01:09:09 PM »
Looks like the season is here, caught a couple of people off guard. I was planning to canoe in the Kawarthas next weekend, I think we will base camp in Algonquin instead

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/dianne-whelan-rescue-adventure-1.4399325

They were prepared, and the video is pretty cool. But still...

M

12
Trip Reports / Family Trip Kawartha Highlands
« on: March 20, 2017, 11:07:28 PM »
Hi all,

Brief report of a trip this past weekend. It was only a single night, but I was able to take all three kids (4,6 and 9) as well as my wife. The original plan was Friday-Sunday, but the 4-year-old got a high fever Friday morning, so we changed plans. By Saturday he seemed better, and my wife was off work so we gave it a go. Turns out that the infection wasn't completely gone, so he spent the most of the trip sleeping (on a sled, chair, tent, etc), but still had a good time and nobody died. Success!

We went into Bottle Lake in the Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park, four-and-a-half hour drive from London. I had called the Long Lake Lodge on Thursday, and the nice man told me there was about 14" of ice on the lakes, that was reassuring. On the way up, the rivers and the narrows were all free from ice (somewhat worrisome), and there was little snow on the ground.

We got to the access - the trail was snow covered and we were able to use the sleds. There was no snow on the lake, I wished I brought skates. I dug a hole and the ice was 2 feet deep!


Lauren still did not trust the ice thickness. The 4-year-old was hitching a ride.


The only exception was the narrows, where there were a couple of spots of open water (2" long), surrounded by ice 4" think. 9-year-old was pulling the toboggan.


We settled on a site about 100m north of the first campsite (it was getting late, but it was a very lovely site). This was one of the few places with sufficient snow on the ground to use deadman stakes. Otherwise, the ground was very rocky and steel spikes would not have been possible.

The tent is an Atuk Kanguk 5-man. I've never actually slept 5 people in it before, but it accommodated 5 of us and a dog easily, with sufficient room for a small kitchen space, wood and the stove. Given past experiences (last year when the 4-year-old burned himself on the stove), I cut 8 stakes and pounded them into the snow around the stove. It kept the kids and dog safe, and I think it worked quite nicely.

The other issue was the wood supply. There was very few standing deadfall, and the available ones were quite soaked. Did find one that was relatively dry, but it took some searching.

The kids made shadow puppets on the tent at night, we had Shepherd's Pie and were in bed by 930. The temps dipped to -10ish. The boys all have 0-degree down sleeping bags from MEC. They never complained of the cold (sweater and long johns). The fire was a slow burner due to the moisture, and eventually died down.


The next morning was gorgeous.

I tried something new for breakfast - powdered peanut butter.
https://www.amazon.ca/Peanut-Butter-Hoosier-Hill-Farm/dp/B00BXR3WLS The instructions say you should add some salt and sugar. I did. Fed it to the kids. The 4-year-old vomited in his mouth, I told him to run out of the tent to vomit and he did. Good boy! None of the kids have ever done anything like this. I tried the peanut butter. I almost vomited. Impressively disguising. Tried to mix with chocolate powder. A little better, but still not edible. If anyone knows what's wrong (with the powder, not my family), please let me know. 


We went ice fishing on a lake close by. I dug a hole with very low expectations, and the kids did some jigging with white tubes. Ice was about 20" deep.


Success!


On the way back home, the 9-year-old pulled the 6-year-old, while Lauren pulled the sleeping 4-year-old.

Great trip overall, despite a somewhat lethargic infected child. Nice place to visit, there was some snowmobile traffic, but not very busy.

Cheers
Marko

13
General Winter Camping Discussion / Kawartha Highlands Trip
« on: February 09, 2017, 10:52:40 PM »
Hi all,

Planning a trip from Feb 25-27. Thinking of going to the Kawartha Highlands, but have not tripped there before. Does anyone have experience in the area? Appreciate any tips.

Cheers!
Marko

14
Trip Reports / Algonquin trip Feb 20-22, 2016: Canisbay Lake
« on: March 04, 2016, 11:31:08 PM »
Hi all,

We had a great trip to Canisbay Lake over Feb 20-22. Good weather, no problems. We brought the skis and snowshoes - the skiing was fantastic. Trip log was posted, and a short video is below.

Trip log:
http://www.algonquinadventures.com/triplogs/MarkoMrkobradaWinter/MarkoMrkobradaWinter2016.htm

Video of XC skiing on the lake:
https://youtu.be/3JzuvnM8gGw



Cheers,
Marko

15
Trip Reports / Algonquin trip - Dec 20-22 2015 [pic heavy]
« on: December 26, 2015, 11:39:03 PM »
Hi all,

We had a lovely winter-ish trip in Algonquin last week. As our departure date approached, the temperatures just wouldn't go down. It was a balmy 10-12C the week before the trip, with no snow on the ground and we debated whether to take canoes or sleds. As we were driving up from London on Friday night (Dec 19th), there was a foot of snow dumped in narrow bands off the Georgian Bay, and we hoped some would land in Algonquin. It was mainly hitting the QE2 Wildlands area, but we didn't want to risk going too far south, as the temperatures were just hovering around 0C, and the snow would turn to rain.

We arrived at the West Gate in Algonquin around 10:30, and after a small hassle with the park staff (warned about temperatures, logging, getting lost), we were off. The temps were around -3C, and there was about 1-2" of snow on the ground. Our put-in was the portage to Black Fox Lake off Highway 60 (just past 35km marker). Our entire weekend route is below (marked in red).



We had three sleds: one beeeautiful toboggan (now mine, thanks Gerry!) - I didn't take it as I was worried it would get scraped up and carried a 60L food barrel; one blue Pelican 8' toboggan ($2 from CT) and a freight toboggan from Home Hardware ($40).



Lakes and bogs were frozen over with 1/2" of ice (Bluebird Lake):


We started off on the portage trail, there was a fork in the trail just past Bluebird Lake - we had a choice of taking a logging road/dog sled trail, continuing the low-maintenance portage. Given there were two blow-downs in the first 20 meters, we chose to take the logging road. Although very broad and well-maintained, there are quite a few hills, as we gained a total of 60m elevation over the length of the trail. The Pelican sled wore through at the back after 2-3km. This was likely due to the lack of snow, but the HH sled performed really well.

We rejoined the portage after another 3km, and went to check out Black Fox Lake:


After exploring the logging road for another 500m (where it gains another 30m in elevation), we decided it wasn't worthwhile hauling the sleds. We went back to the Black Fox portage to set up camp. We have the Atuk Kanguk 12x12, it sleeps 3 comfortably.


Dinner that night was steaks. Speaking of cooking, I do own two stoves - Alaskan Kni-Co (around $300) and the Great West 2-hole stove ($105 plus $15 shipping from LeBaron's), but I do use the Kni-Co chimney. There is no question that the Kni-Co is sturdier, especially the door. However, the two pot-holes are really good for boiling water, frying and grilling. The hole covers are provided and fit reasonably well (there is some draw, but you just decrease the baffle).

The nice thing about the pot holes, is that they are spaced perfectly to accommodate three steaks across a Purcell Packer grill:


Night time temperatures dropped to -5C, and I was perfectly comfortable with my three season sleeping quilt (I did feed the fire once overnight).




The morning was lovely, with another two inches of snow overnight. The morning temps were around -2C, but they appeared to be rising and snow mixed with rain. After breakfast, I made the hot lunches (pulled pork and soup) and packed them into Thermoses to save prep time. We explored the trails from Black Fox L to Red Fox L, hoping to find the campsite on Red Fox L.

Bog by Otter Pond:


Red Fox Lake looking from the portage:


We tried to find the campsite on Red Fox Lake. As we couldn't walk on ice, we decided to bushwack - we were not able to find the campsite due to the steep banks, and the heavy tree density close to the water. As a canoeist with 30 trips to Algonquin, I never noticed the tree growth patterns around the lakes. There is thick spruce and cedar (perhaps other evergreen too?) growing along the shores of the lakes, but only within about 20 meters of the shore. Here I am trying to enter the evergreen jungle:


However, after 20-30 meters away from the shore, the tree species become exclusively deciduous hardwoods: maple, polar, birches. Much easier to walk through them, as the undergrowth has died down for the winter:


After our unsuccessful mission, we orienteered back through to bush back to the portage using only a compass. Fun times. Back at the campsite, it was only 3:30PM, so we decided to go through the bush again to find the camp on Black Fox Lake.
 
Black Fox to Silverfox portage:


We did find this one. Note the folding chair that someone carried on a 4.5km portage to the site. Why, people, why?


We saw a lot of grouse. Also saw an interesting set of tracks. My guess is river otter, anyone know for sure?


Back at the campsite, we just couldn't get the fire started. The stove smoked regardless of wood or technique. That's when we realized the spark arrestor was clogged with creosote. The fire blazed within 2 minutes of removing the stove pipe cap. Lesson learned. Dinner was Shepher's pie. I'm not sure how, but I made a total of 3.5L (two full pots). We only ate one and a half of the pots.

Temps were getting warm by the end of the day, around 0C. After some lovely wine (me) and scotch (the other guys), we slept well. Rain started around midnight. We woke up around 730, there was still a light drizzle. We had a cold breakfast and quickly packed up (the tent was wet and heavy). With the warming temperatures, we wanted to make sure there was enough snow to pull the sleds back to the car.





Otter Pond, frozen on the way in, had melted.


Nevertheless, we made it back to the car by 1130. Overall it was a great trip, looking forward to February (was hoping to go the first week of Jan, but clearly not gonna happen).

Lessons learned:
1) Kni-Co stove caps should not be used with resinous wood unless the spark arrestor is cut out.
2) 3L pot or larger would be good for a group of 3 guys (we had a 2L and 1.5L, it was a bit of a chore to boil all the required water).
3) SealLine pack start becoming hard around -5C. Probably would crack if it got any colder.
4) Thermos lunch, prepared at breakfast, was great and quick.
5) Longer guy lines for the tent would be nice. They are about 20 feet, but 30 feet would be perfect.

Cheers,
Marko

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