Camping in Algonquin Provincial Park backcountry is a passion Joel and I share, and it’s something we intend to pass on to our children. Plans are underway to introduce Finn to the challenge and rewards of portaging, and we leave for our trip this week.
“Why do you need to go outside? For one thing, to appreciate what it is that keeps you alive. And the more time you spend outside, the more you are able to sense change in that world. If you can smell something, chances are that unless it’s flowers or food, it doesn’t belong there and is not good for us. But even more profound, we have to get outside and seek nature because we need that connection for our physical and mental health.”
-David Suzuki, Letters to My Grandchildren
Joel was eager to take Finn camping last year, but he was so young and unpredictable in temperament while travelling in the car we compromised with a boating overnight trip. You can read about our adventure here. This year, despite bug season in full force, we wanted to get out there before Finn began to walk, which he seems on the verge of.
This time we’re taking Tess, our chocolate lab, as well as Finn (we have left Tess behind on previous camping trips and came to regret it once we were out there) and we’ve been practicing with both in the evenings leading up to our trip. During our practice trips, Finn was calm and very interested in participating himself, so we gave him his own paddle to use. In this way were were able to stretch out the length of our trips. By inflating a tube directly behind my seat, we were able to contain Finn safely while allowing him the independence he demands. Tess is content to sit in front of me and take in the view.
Planning & Gear
As we’re traveling to our camp site by canoe, with a small portage along the way, we have to pack carefully.
Meal Plan – Feeding Mom and Baby
Joel has created a meal plan for the trip. He has to carefully ration all ingredients for our meals, consider how to properly store food and how to keep it (or us rather) safe from predators like bears. That Finn receives most of his nourishment from breastfeeding makes taking a baby into the woods a bit easier, but because of this it’s important that we plan for enough protein, snacks and large portions needed to fuel a breastfeeding mother.
Clothing – Protection Against Bugs and the Sun
Park staff have warned against bugs, many of which are currently in high season. They advised us to wear light coloured loose-fitting clothing as bugs are drawn to dark clothing and can bit tight-fitting, though much-loved leggings.
The temperatures and humidity are expected to be high so we are trying to balance coverage with loose and cool clothing options.
For bug protection, we will be using an essential oil based spray that we’ve been testing out during the last two weekends and have come to rely on. We have a bug netting to drape over our tent and netting for each of us, including this bug suit for Finn. As another precautionary measure, we’ve chosen to stay on an island, which tends to have less bugs.
For protection against the sun we have a large hat for Finn, an umbrella to shield us while in the canoe, and Substance sunscreen for Finn – which actually has proven to deter bugs as well!
Over the years we’ve come to rely on Jeff’s Maps to navigate while on the water and in the woods. Joel has a route mapped out for us that once we’re launched will include stops to check out pictographs and petroglyphs, a lunch stop and a short portage before we arrive on the lake we’re to camp on.