YOUR OUTDOOR ADVENTURE & TRAVEL MAGAZINE
Ottawa • Gatineau • Ontario • Quebec • US & Beyond FALL 2013
& Travel Magazine
Bikes and B&B's in Prince Edward County The ultimate getaway weekend
Go camping, sleep better A healthy connection
How to repair a canoe paddle Keep your paddle in the water
Hiking the Rideau Trail One man's journey
Ontario's top outdoor dog Contest winner announced!
OCTOBER 26-27 SAT & SUN 10-5 Ernst & Young Centre free admission
w o h S l e v a r T & e 2 shows r u t n e v d A r e t 1 location Win el Show
G at in ea T he O tt aw a-
nture & Trav el
Take a spin and unwind in The Great Waterway
The Great Waterway – South Eastern Ontario is a cyclist’s paradise. Take the Waterfront Trail along the St. Lawrence River, cruise the 1000 Islands and discover the history of Fort Henry – Kingston. Take a wine tour in Prince Edward County and relax on the beaches at Sandbanks Provincial Park or discover the unique Rideau Heritage Route – a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
iTinera availabries le!
Check out our detailed cycling itineraries at
BAY OF QUINTE
PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY
RIDEAU HERITAGE ROUTE
CORNWALL AND THE COUNTIES
Get dirty Cyclocross racing Mudd, Sweat & Tears obstacle race SIGN UP!
4 Publisher's letter
14 Hiking the Rideau Trail
5 Go camping, sleep better
18 Bikes and B&B's in Prince Edward County
6 Adopt a snake 7 Parkbus to Algonquin Park
12 Contest winner: Ontario's top outdoor dogs
Take the Parkbus to 7 Algonquin Park
20 Cape Breton remembered
29 Exploring Cornwall's cycling trails 30 The Spot sat phone: cheap and strong
Now you can get each issue e-mailed direct to your inbox!
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27 Local fishing spots
11 The Canadian Stroke
Sep 28 (Ottawa Urban) Mooney's Bay location
Go camping, sleep better
21 Cyclocross racing
10 Repairing wooden paddles
Do it. Mudd it. Love it!
it d a e R ne!
It’s TOTALLY FREE too! There’s loads of info, videos and more about the local outdoor adventure scene, all delivered in this extremely cool animated version. Just go to www.OttawaOutdoors.ca to sign-up at the top right of the homepage and we'll send you monthly digital issues of the magazine. COVER: Autumn cycling: Photo by Les Humphreys.
ottawa outdoors 3
PUBLISHER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: DAVE BROWN EDITOR: ROGER BIRD
WRITERS Allen Macartney, Kathleen Wilker, Paul Mason, Sheila Ascroft, Dave Brown, Robert Fuchs, Robert Conley
Falling in love with colours
PHOTOGRAPHERS & ILLUSTRATORS Lew Humphreys, Ontario Parks, Doug Harvey, Jay Heins , Rodd Heino ADVERTISING INQUIRIES
Dave Brown, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief Ottawa Outdoors Magazine is an independent publication published seasonally every four months and distributed FREE at sports stores and a dozen other locations all over the region. E-mail: Editor@OttawaOutdoors.ca Tel: 613-860-8687 or 888-228-2918 Fax: 613-482-4997 HOW TO GET PUBLISHED Ottawa Outdoors Magazine welcomes story and photo contributions. Publisher may publish any and all communications with Ottawa Outdoors Magazine, and may edit for clarity and style. Indexed in the Canadian Periodical Index ISSN No. 1204-69556. © Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any materials published in Ottawa Outdoors Magazine is expressly forbidden without consent of the publisher. Printed in Canada.
Mudd-up buttercup! Mark your calendar to sign-up to enter a Mudd, Sweat & Tears obstacle race this autumn. The race will be held at Mooney's Bay, Sept. 28th It's your chance to earn an awesome, smiling, mudd-faced photo of yourself for your Facebook page or photo album.
Do it. Mudd it. Love it! REGISTER TODAY!
That's a pretty sweet cover photo don't you think? And to think that's what we all have waiting for us in the coming weeks. Very nice. Well I don't know if your summer was as fun and crazy as mine, but I'm betting it was. At least DAVE BROWN according to all the social network postings of PUBLISHER EDITOR-IN-CHIEF families at cottages, camping and other countries. And there's no need for the fun to stop. Even though September is here, there are still many nice weekends to enjoy. It's prime time for camping (no bugs), hiking (great views) and cycling (cool, comfortable weather). So pick an activity and get outdoors. For this issue, the focus for September and October is two-fold. Firstly, get outdoors and participate in the Mudd, Sweat & Tears obstacle race at the end of September. It's right here at Mooney's Bay and is guaranteed to be a lot of fun. The second activity is October 26-27, when Ottawa Outdoors & Travel magazine will launch a winter adventure show. We're pulling in the retailers, clubs and winter-related businesses to exhibit at the show, giving you one location to plan for the winter. It's running alongside the long-running Ottawa Ski Show, so be sure to mark your calendars. For now, as you lay back to read this issue, here's a summation of what our team of writers has brought to this issue. On the next page is a great reason to get out camping ... sleep. And what better location than in a tent in Algonquin Park. Read Kathleen Wilker's piece on pg. 7 about how you can now take a bus to the park, camp and get some of that much-needed sleep. For the pedallers among our readers, there are great articles on cycling Prince Edward County (pg. 18), Cornwall (pg. 29) and an exciting action-packed article on Cyclocross racing (pg. 21). The paddlers can read Allen's article on how to repair a beloved favourite wooden paddle (pg. 10); or follow Paul Mason's advice on how to correctly paddle the Canadian Stoke. Hikers will enjoy the amazing story about Bruce Watts as he hikes and records his journey along the Rideau Trail (pg. 14) – really worth the read. Like each issue of Ottawa Outdoors & Travel, there are many articles to enjoy about the outdoor life. Sit back, turn the pages, get motivated, and plan your next adventure. See you at the winter show October 26-27 at the Ernst & Young Centre on Uplands.
Go camping, sleep better RESEARCHERS TRACE CHEMICAL LINKS FROM CAMPGROUND TO SLUMBER BY ALLEN MACARTNEY
Need a decent night’s sleep? Go camping for a week. At least that’s what recent scientific research, published in Current Biology Magazine, says. A week of camping will reset your entire body clock so it deals better with urban stress. Much of the reason why some people don’t sleep well involves artificial light – it’s everywhere, from computer screens, cellphones, TVs, indoor lighting, streetlights. “A flip of a light switch can be pretty powerful,” said lead researcher Kenneth Wright from the University of Colorado. Darkness actually
alters the natural chemical production in our bodies, including melatonin levels. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that prepares our bodies for sleep, and helps us wake up bright and clear-headed. Normally, our bodies start producing more melatonin as the sun goes down, preparing us for a good night’s sleep. Then, about an hour before sunrise as it gets lighter outside, our bodies respond by producing less melatonin. The result: a good night’s sleep and no morning grogginess. But artificial light overturns this natural balance, setting our body rhythm out of kilter. When this body chemistry changes, sleep patterns are disrupted, and a domino cascade affects other physiological processes. The University of Colorado study involved a group of healthy adults who began by living one week following their normal daily routines. Then they spent a week camping. Only sunlight and campfires lit their world. At the beginning and end of the study, research-
ers took saliva tests to study melatonin levels. Shortly after the group started camping, everyone began falling asleep earlier than normal and rose earlier in the morning feeling refreshed, benefitting from their natural melatonin levels. Even night owls in the group quickly got in sync with nature. Of course, fresh air and other factors may have influenced the results. As well, natural light has an overall soothing effect on the body, helping internal clocks to reset quickly. But the evidence is clear, says Wright. “The type of light we’re exposed to really does have a big impact on our biology.” So take some advice from the doctors. Put away your cellphone for a week, sit around a campfire and breathe deeply in the clear outdoor air. Spend lots of time in natural light, and when it begins to fade, listen to your body. It will naturally start fading too. You’ll soon be sleeping (and feeling) much better. Can’t go camping right now? Wright says you can gain many benefits just by turning down indoor lights or turning them off earlier. ottawa outdoors 5
Adopt a snake? YOU CAN HELP THE HARMLESS GREY RAT SNAKE SURVIVE
I’m a camper and I hate snakes. I know it’s irrational, but they scare the bejesus out of me. It’s all that slithering. And yet, I’ve just donated $25 to adopt one. Not that it’s coming home with me! I’m just supporting a conservation effort at Murphys Point Provincial Park. I admit that I’ve avoided camping at Murphys Point because it is home to the black rat snake. OK, so it’s now known as the gray rat snake, but whatever the colour I’m still not a fan. I’ve heard stories of the snakes hanging in trees above your picnic table. Ick. Today though, this harmless constrictor (well, harmless to humans; it crushes prey in its coils) is a threatened species—and maybe it’s time for us to help it. Obviously, what I know and how I feel are two different things. I may not want a snake
under my canoe or near my tent, but I do appreciate their role in our ecology, recognize they are not dangerous and, believe it or not, they are silky dry to the touch. Back in the 1990s, individual gray rat snakes were tracked through radio telemetry to learn more about their habits and ranges, and to help protect the species and its habitat. With this data, The Friends of Murphys Point are using FaceBook to post updates on how an individual snake moved throughout each season. Park naturalist Mike Murphy describes snake activities from the researchers’ point of view. The Friends have launched a blog devoted to the gray rat snake, answering questions and promoting local conservation.
PHOTO BY ONTARIO PARKS
BY SHEILA ASCROFT
And this is where the “adopt a snake” program fits in. Money raised offsets the costs of population monitoring (with a tiny microchip inserted under a snake’s skin), and efforts to raise awareness about the snakes (and maybe calm down people like me). By contributing at least $25, your name is added to the donor signage at the park’s visitor centre as well as on the gray rat snake blog. There is a tax receipt too. Details at http://friendsofmurphyspoint.ca/donate/. If you’re brave enough to have a snake on your chest, the Friends also sell nifty Rat Snake T-shirts at the park store to raise money for future research and public awareness.
Protect what matters. Be smart and prepare a Legal Will before your trips and adventures. CALL FOR A QUOTE TODAY!
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www.georgebrownlaw.com For your WILLs, POWER of ATTORNEY and assistance with other LEGAL MATTERS. Tel: 613-804-2453 | George@georgebrownlaw.com | www.georgebrownlaw.com 6 ottawa
Car-free camping beckons in Algonquin Park NEW BUS SERVICE GETS A TRYOUT BY KATHLEEN WILKER
For any fan of public transportation, it was good news that the Toronto-Algonquin Park “Parkbus” service that started in 2010 expanded into Ottawa this summer and fall with three pilot weekends. When booking my seat for August 9-11, I asked if I could bring my bike. Turns out, yes, if you book early. So I biked from my house to the bus stop at Mountain Equipment Co-op on Richmond Road with everything I needed for a weekend of camping. The other Ottawa stop is at the Rideau Centre. Parkbus is a project of Transportation Options, a non-profit group dedicated to sustainable transportation and tourism. It works in partnership with Hammond Transportation (the bus company) with money from Ontario’s Ministry of Tourism and a Trillium grant.
I was travelling light – very – to find out whether someone very new to camping could take the bus and find enough infrastructure in the park for a happy weekend. So, no stove, no-cook meals and instant coffee with hot water from the bathroom. After the ride from the city, the bus stops at several campsites, canoe outfitters and backpacking trails in Algonquin Park where park staff and local outfitters have developed services aimed directly at carless campers, hikers and paddlers. Anti-bear lockers (they look like oversize mailboxes), are available with a $25 deposit and $5 per day for safe food storage in the absence of a lockable car trunk. I have bear barrels of various sizes for my back-country canoe trips, so I bungee-corded a small one to my bike’s back rack to store food and toiletries in the woods. At least two canoe outfitters (portagestore.com and opeongooutfitters.com) will 8 ottawa
deliver canoes or kayaks to your campsite or put-in and pick them up when you’re finished. Paddles and lifejackets are included in the fee. The Lake of Two Rivers general store (fresh produce, dry goods, famous ice cream parlour), rents bikes by the hour or day for adults and children. On this trip, some Parkbus passengers rented
a trailer to haul their equipment to their campsite. MEC offers 50 per cent discounts on gear rental for Parkbus passengers who are new campers. All these services are designed to attract new campers to the Park, car-owners or not. Parkbus is also looking for volunteer ambassadors to help passengers, answer questions and make sure everyone gets on board in time. Volunteers travel for free but arrange their own accommodation in the park. With my own wheels, I discovered lots to do within a five-kilometre radius of my Kearney Lake campsite. You can get on the Rail Trail – 16 kilometres through an enormous field of blueberries, along lake shores and through forests – at Pog Lake Campground, just across Highway 60 from Kearney Lake. After setting up on an airy campsite lightly shaded by towering red pines, I set off to see where the Rail Trail would take me. Well-signed, it leads to a canoe launch at Rock Lake in one direction and Lake of Two
Rivers and beyond in the other. While riding towards Lake of Two Rivers, where I was planning to stop in for a (real) coffee at the store the next morning, I noticed lots of blueberry-rich bear poop. I saw no bears, but decided to make coffee at my campsite instead of chancing an early morning encounter. The Rail Trail far exceeded my expectations. More than just a way to avoid biking on Highway 60, it was scenic, interesting and full of friendly cyclists. Historic plaques along the route told of the loggers and then vacationers who took the historic Ottawa, Arnprior, and Parry Sound Railway (1896 to 1959) when it ran through the park. A more recent plaque described the prescribed burn on the blueberry patch last summer to maintain the area as the open field it used to be back when it served as an airfield. Blueberries for bears was another reason for the burn. The next day I biked along Highway 60 towards the Visitor’s Centre. With a generous shoulder and light traffic, this was an easy ride. The only drawbacks here are some of the recreational vehicles, pick-up trucks towing boats, or more gargantuan camper vans. I’m comfortable riding with traffic, but always on the lookout for roads where my children (aged 7 and 10) can ride. Appealing to visitors of all degrees of ruggedness, the Visitor’s Centre offers free Wifi as well as a café and displays sharing the natural and human history of the Park. From the Visitor’s Centre, I biked back towards my campsite, stopping at each of the three short hikes along the way – www.ottawaoutdoors.ca
Spruce Bog Boardwalk, Big Pines Trail and Lookout Trail. They lead hikers through very different landscapes, so I picked up trail guides at the start of each and learned how a bog is formed, why loggers in Algonquin Park weren’t interested in these big white pines (leaning over, so no good for masts, or too small), and how cliffs erode. On the last day of my adventure, I had planned to check out the Minnesing Mountain Bike trails. Just 10 kilometres from Kearney Lake, they seemed an obvious choice, but the day was warm and sunny and the Rail Trail too delightful, so I rode it instead to Rock Lake. A nearby boat launch with a long dock was the destination of some canoe trippers paddling to shore to unload their gear, as I sat on the sunny dock reading
my book. They told me about the outfitter’s deal to drop off and pick up a canoe at the putin. Then I biked back to my campsite, packed up my tent, and set off for the bus stop. The driver had kindly saved me an entire luggage compartment for my panniers, barrel and bike. With service like this, I may never drive to Algonquin Park again! Riding home, I thought about an Ottawa-Gatineau Park Skibus service with stops at in-park parking lots. Dream on. READY TO HOP ON PARKBUS?
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Make simple repairs to wooden paddles BY ALLEN MACARTNEY
It’s fall, and that’s when most people haul their canoe or kayak ashore for the last time and forget about the paddles until next spring. But it’s a good time to inspect and repair any lightly damaged wooden paddles. It makes for a rewarding fall or winter project, and as you sand and varnish you’ll hatch new plans for next summer on the water. Most simple paddle repairs involve deep scratches, chipped or splintered blades, and even small cracks. These can build up over long-term active use, but they’re easily repaired.
Sand in the direction of the grain, not against it, for a more professional finish. Then take a slightly dampened cloth to wipe away all the wood dust from the sanded paddle. Then apply a very thin coat of marine-grade polyurethane or varnish. After it has dried completely (don’t rush it!), apply a medium-thick coat. (Some people like adding three or four coats of polyurethane but this adds unnecessary weight.) Finish by gently buffing your paddle with very fine steel wool dipped in paste wax.
DAMAGED BLADE TIP
Start by examining your paddle thoroughly: from blade to shaft to grip. A grey cloudy appearance on the wood may indicate that moisture is penetrating into the wood, a sign of future trouble. During this examination you could discover the paddle requires more extensive repair – but that’s outside the reach of this article.
Paddle blade tips get chipped and nicked when you ram them into rocks and gravel – that’s life afloat. Sand these out aggressively, smoothing out rough edges. Then finish the job by applying two or three coats of polyurethane.
against water. After that, a second coat of polyurethane over the crack will further seal it enough to last years longer. A long, gaping crack requires fibreglass, but this adds weight, which I don’t like. In this case, use it as a backup paddle, or hang it on the cottage wall – an honoured symbol of all the great trips you’ve enjoyed. CRACKED SHAFT
Replace it, don’t try to repair it. You can’t trust it to bear weight. It’s likely to split completely at the worst possible time. Maintaining canoe and kayak paddles requires a clear work area, a slow pace, and love. A paddle is a work of art, central to Canadian identity. Relish your labour of love and dream about upcoming trips.
After you check it out, sand any parts of your paddle that are scratched, worn or chipped until they are smooth. Begin with medium grit sandpaper (#80), and finish with fine grit (#100-#150). Sand until all discolouration disappears. If you’re reconditioning the entire paddle, sand away all the old polyurethane. Then run your hand over the entire sanded area, feeling for rough areas that need more work. 10 ottawa
What to do about a cracked blade? If the crack is small, not gaping open and expanding, merely sand any rough spots so sharp edges don’t catch on clothing. Then run a coat of polyurethane into and along the crack to seal the wood www.ottawaoutdoors.ca
The Canadian stroke BY PAUL MASON
To paddle the Canadian stroke correctly, at the end of the wellknown J stroke, the paddle is knifed forward underwater with the power face of the paddle almost flat and facing up. Steering is accomplished by pulling up on the blade as it is arced forward. About halfway through the recovery, the paddle is allowed to slip out of the water in readiness for the next power stroke. The trick is getting a very slight angle on the blade as it arcs forward. If the angle is wrong, the paddle will plane out of the water or dive too deep. The angle is controlled by the upper grip hand.
How hard you pull up on the blade and how long you knife the paddle in the water during recovery determine how much the canoe turns toward the paddling side. It’s a very efficient stroke because you have to bring the paddle forward to begin the next power stroke, so why not do your steering along the way? It's true the J stroke works fine, but with the steering done at the end of the stroke, time and effort are wasted. A well-executed Canadian stroke is the pinnacle of perfection in motion, but it can take years to master.
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Ontario’s top outdoor dogs This past spring’s outdoor adventure show launched a contest for Ontario’s top outdoor dogs. After many photos and comments poured in, the results are ready with these three top dogs. Congrats to the dogs and the owners who keep them enjoying the outdoors! 1st – Molly (owner, Emily) 2nd – Charlie (owner, Bill) 3rd – Sasha (owner, Laurie) "Molly, a Schnoodle (Minature Schnauzer and Minature Poodle mix), was born to love the great outdoors which is a perfect match for myself. During the autumn weather she absolutely loves to tear around the yard, running through the leaves. She chases leaves that are blowing and even tries to catch the ones falling from the trees. During her first winter we did cross country skiing around the lake at the cottage where Molly would lead the way. In the warmer weather her ears perk up when it's time to get her 'float-coat'. She's completely keen to get on board a paddle boat, kayak, canoe, fishing boat or ski boat. She was very happy to win her treat package from HERO, as part of the show contest. This small but energetic little pup steals the hearts of all who meet her. She sure stole mine!"
"Charlie, a six-yearold Golden Retriever, loves all food and people, and is a fantastic dog to do anything indoors or out. He is an all-weather dog – with the exception of thunder. He has no issues with the winter snow, spring rains, or summer heat. He's calm in the canoe but once on the trail he's roaring to go. Even winter boots or water life jackets are well-received. One of the best things about Charlie is that he is so wellmannered and can be trusted off leash. If he loses sight of us he will dutifully wait until he can see us again before moving on."
and she would roll over on her back instantly to greet them. Sasha possess more gentleness and love that I have ever seen that one day in the backyard, I found her protecting a little bird with a broken wing, nestled in-between her front paws. She really is my angel here on earth, and I love every second I spend with her."
"Sasha's my three-year-old Alaskan Malamute. Trying to put into words what she means to me and how she has changed me for the better feels like an impossible task. As an extremely shy person who never liked to go for walks, or spend time outside very much, she introduced me to the fun, socialness, and beauty of outdoors. I learned the patience and gentleness that a giant can possess when a playground full of children would run to the "cute snow dog" www.ottawaoutdoors.ca
Sign up for a mud race the end of September! CRAWL, CLIMB, RUN, PULL, LIFT, PUSH, AND LAUGH AS YOU RACE YOUR WAY TO A MEDAL!
Ottawa Urban - Sept. 28 (at Mooney's Bay)
13-day Rideau Trail hike an ‘OktoberQuest’ WEBSITE HOST RECHARGED HIS LIFE
Backpacking the Rideau Trail end-toend in 13 days “almost killed me … yet it gave me new life,” says Bruce Watts. The trail between Ottawa and Kingston is just over 326 kilometres, and Watts is in a good position to assess it. He got his first tent from his grandfather when he was five. “I’ve been hooked ever since … I’ve camped in every Canadian province and territory less Saskatchewan and Alberta, and covered much of the Adirondacks and Appalachians.” A retired Ottawa police officer, Watts is the creator of campology.ca, an online magazine, and while on the trail last fall, he posted a video diary of each day on the website; it makes hiking the Rideau Trail come alive. He says his adventure – he calls it “my OktoberQuest” – was “a profound personal challenge, yet extremely rewarding,” and he’s planning more. In the remaining months of 2013 he’ll hike the Chilkoot Trail with his wife, Tracy, paddle the Yukon River with buddies, and complete the Ottawa/Temiskaming Highland Trail. Watts, 54, says the “real world” out on the trail is far more 14 ottawa
PHOTO BY DOUG HARVEY
BY SHEILA ASCROFT
interesting than the “pretend world” of YouTube videos and the banalities of television. Camping memories are locked in the brain and “can never be lost during the next computer server crash!” He’d been thinking about “through hiking” the Rideau Trail for years, but life kept getting in the way. Work, family, doctor’s visits, you know the deal. However, when he became a full-time “campologist” these obstacles vanished – kids grown up helped – and the only barrier was his resolve. So the planning began, with the aim of keeping his backpack under 13½ kilograms, including a small portable studio to record
voice and video, and a computer to edit, upload and share his daily video to the Internet. Here’s his trip. Day 1: Kingston City Hall to south of Sydenham, 29.1 kilometres covered Camping spots difficult to find, so I slept on public land just off the K&P trail, a local semi-urban and rural trail which the Rideau Trail hitches a ride on for about 4½ kilometres. Day 2: Sydenham to Gould Lake. 23.4 km Spent two or three hours Sydenham’s Trios Restaurant and its excellent public library. Had to recharge batteries before moving on. I underestimated battery life and had cellphone problems. Day 3: Frontenac Park, 22.7 km Met up with friend Bob and hiked Frontenac Park. Logistics were tough. He parked his car at the “end” of the park and took a cab to the “beginning” of the park to start our day. Huge $$$ and a wonderful hike. Thanks Bob. Day 4: Frontenac Park to Bedford Mills A long, tough 30-km day. Trail diverse, some of it extremely hard. Feet, legs, hips and knees all sore. This was the only part of the trail without cellphone coverage, so I pushed on to call family to say that all was OK. Spent the night on private property with permission of the land owner. Day 5: Bedford Mills to the Narrows Locks Another crazy 30-km day. Very fulfilling but I’m exhausted. Thanks to Parks Canada for allowing campers to use the property. Day 6: Narrows Locks to Murphy’s Point. 16.2 km. Hiked only a half day. My wife picked me up at Murphy’s Point Provincial Park for a lift to the www.ottawaoutdoors.ca
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Drummond House B&B. After a well-earned rest, the trek will continue. So far, 151.4 km completed. Day 7: Lally Farm at Murphy’s Point to Perth, 28 km. Started late and hiked into the night to reach a safe camping stop in Perth. Sore legs, but not too bad. Day 8: Perth to the Beveridge Locks. A short, sweet day. Late start after breakfast with friends at a local diner. Thanks to Parks Canada for being camping-friendly! Day 9: Beveridge Locks to Smiths Falls. Stopped early in the rain to avoid Hurricane Sandy. Despite safe choices for camping in Smiths Falls (with expected 90 k/ hr winds), I chose a hotel. Interview with the Record/EMC news. Day 10: Smiths Falls to Merrickville, 32 km. Back and shoulders are good
thanks to my Sierra Design backpack, but swollen, tender and bruised feet. Lots of hiking on gravel today – ouch! The bonus was Wolford House B&B, friendly and accommodating to Rideau Trail hikers, and Rideau Canal paddlers. Day 11: Merrickville to spooky Marlborough Forest. Halloween rain, trail underwater. The coyotes, and I later learned, wolves howling all night. Day 12: Marlborough Forest to West Ottawa, 45 km. A monster of a day ... just want to get home. Lost my titanium spork (spoon/fork) and had to “drink” my spaghetti dinner. Crossed the Jock River three times. Legs feel good though. Day 13: West Ottawa to the Ottawa Locks of the Rideau Canal, 16 km. Done … the whole 326.5 km of the Rideau Trail is complete. Yes! Ouch, my feet! Time for some
rest and relaxation before the next adventure. CAMPOLOGY ONLINE After 30 years on the Ottawa Police Force, Watts created campology.ca in 2011 to help people make outdoor adventures safe and comfortable. According to the site, you too can become a “certified campologist.” Watts admits the two “campology” certificate programs are “recognized by no one and nowhere. It may be only for fun – but it isn’t easy.” The website provides advice for almost anything you might encounter while camping: • checklists for canoe, kayak, bike, car, and on-foot camping • a survivor guide covering everything from a bee sting to a volcanic eruption • a gear section with chances to win free equipment • an eclectic campologist blog • plenty of videos!
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Bikes and B&B’s from Kingston to Prince Edward County THE ULTIMATE GETAWAY WEEKEND BY KATHLEEN WILKER
Try this for a getaway weekend: bike the shores of Lake Ontario and the Bay of Quinte from Kingston to Prince Edward
County with stops at B&Bs along the way. Add on a wine-tasting tour once you get there. It works. My friend Bonnie (on right) and I went car-free, booking Via Rail tickets from Ottawa to Kingston. It’s a relaxing way to travel, but the absence of baggage cars means you can’t transport a bike unless it’s a folding model. Undeterred, we decided to travel with two small panniers and rent bikes in Kingston. If you’re keen to take the train and your own bike, some trains on the Cornwall to Kingston route have baggage cars. You and your bike just need to get to Cornwall first. 18 ottawa
Taking the Greyhound with your bike from Ottawa to Kingston is doable, but you have to box it for transport in the storage bin. This makes sense on a longer trip, but seemed inconvenient for a weekend getaway. Ahoy Rentals on Kingston’s waterfront rented us two stepthrough touring bikes with upright handlebars and a back rack – ask ahead of time for the latter. Neither of us brought bike tools, but we wished we had an Allen key and a small multi-tool for minor adjustments to the seat height. We packed bike shorts and chamois butter in our panniers and were glad to have both, especially with seats we weren’t used to. Biking around Kingston gave us a chance to visit a bakery for lunch, browse the farmers’ market and take in a little of the Town Crier festival that was noisily going on. Then we were ready to follow the Great Waterfront Trail west along the shore of Lake Ontario. For our first day, we planned to ride 30 kilometres Bath. Since we both regularly ride from home up to Champlain Lookout in Gatineau Park (about 50 kilometres,
with gruelling hills), we thought Bath would be an easy start. But a fierce headwind most of the way made us glad the distance wasn’t longer, despite the stunning views of Lake Ontario’s sparkling waters. Having found bike-friendly accommodation on the Welcome Cyclists network (welcomecyclists.ca/network), we chose the Jubilee Bed and Breakfast, right across Highway 33 from the Amherst Island ferry, just outside Bath. Jackie and Richard Hassafrass welcomed us to their B&B atop a cliff that was once a quarry. Walking trails around the property and a horse to ride (if you know how) were a bonus, but our favourite part was the ample and delicious breakfast. With arrangements made in advance, the hosts will prepare your dinner – ideal for cyclists too tired to go out to a restaurant. Our hosts suggested a few eating spots in Bath, just “five minutes down the road.” Feeling windblown and wondering if this was five minutes by bike or five minutes by car, we took the ferry to have dinner on Amherst Island instead. Once ashore we strolled off the ferry dock toward nearby Stella’s Café. Though it was only 6:30 p.m., it had just closed, but the host kindly made us grilled cheese sandwiches and fresh cucumbers from her garden. This café has a fleet of old bikes for visitors to borrow while they’re on the island. The next morning we rode through Bath, taking in its marina, a variety of shops and restaurants on its quiet main street and a large park where a farm produce and craft market was being set up. We were headed towards the Glenora ferry that would set us on the road to Picton in the www.ottawaoutdoors.ca
heart of Prince Edward County. With no headwind, we cruised easily past wineries and roadside stands offering fresh blueberries and apples. Before we knew it we were at the ferry, lining up with motorcyclists out for a sunny morning ride across one of the shortest water passages in the province. Riding into Picton with a delicious lunch ahead of us was a great way to spend the rest of the morning. Once we arrived, we locked our bikes and wandered. Coffee, bakeries, a farmers’ market, little shops and a book store were all on the agenda. We were so comfortable at the book store that we almost curled up on the comfy chairs for a nap, so it was definitely time to ride on to our B&B. Located about 10 kilometres from Picton, Jackson’s Falls Country Inn near Milford was a lovely ride on quiet country roads. A converted schoolhouse, this B&B offers a garage for bike storage and steel-cut oats for breakfast porridge along with omelettes, toast and coffee. There’s another bike-friendly feature if you’d rather drive to Prince Edward County and ride after you arrive. The Bloomfield Bicycle Company (bloomfieldbicycle.ca) will deliver a bike to Jackson’s Falls for the duration of your stay. After she showed us around, our host Lee Arden Lewis drew us a map of three wineries in the Milford area. After leaving behind all but one pannier (for the camera and, we hoped, a bottle of wine), we set off. The plan was too ambitious. We could have spent the whole afternoon at Long Dog Winery, chatting with the winemaker and tasting his Pinot Gris, we were having www.ottawaoutdoors.ca
such a great time. Our next stop was Exultet Estates and their ice wine, tasty and in a compact bottle ideal for bike touring. But we were starting to wilt, so we deferred the third winery to our next visit. We took a free shuttle from our B&B into Picton, a service with stops at Waring House or the Claramount Inn and Spa restaurants. It is scheduled to run through to the new year and operates Friday and Saturday from Jackson’s Falls and other B&B/ Inns in the county. The next morning the roads were even quieter. We couldn’t leave without some of the county’s famous food, so we stocked up on three-year-old cheddar and local honey at the Black River Cheese Company. This detour took us by Lake of the Mountain – a pristine lake one side of
the road with the Bay of Quinte on the other. The lake is at the top of a daunting, long hill after you get off the Glenora ferry, so we saw it only from afar as we rode past, retracing our route to Kingston with a light breeze at our backs. A stop for blueberries at a pick-your-own farm introduced us to their producer. He had been part of a committee 18 years ago which lobbied for a paved bike lane on the Loyalist Pathway towards Bath so cyclists could ride safely. It was a pleasure to thank him for his advocacy. Back in Kingston the Town Crier event was winding down with finalists battling it out by City Hall. We returned our bikes, had an iced coffee and took a taxi back to the train station. It’s a trip we’ll definitely repeat.
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A Cape Breton vacation remembered A FAMILY ESCAPE TO WHALES, LOBSTERS, MUSEUMS AND THE CABOT TRAIL BY DAVE BROWN The anticipation of the family trip to Cape Breton was as thick as the fog we sometimes drove through. Truly a summer of adventure I hope we can repeat someday. It began with our son's first airplane ride, and graduated to many other firsts. His first rescue of jellyfish (under the supervision of lifeguards); his first visit to the Atlantic Ocean and his first sixth birthday whalewatching with Captain Mark's and more than 25 pilot whales. His laughter was infectious. Our accommodations were shared between two locations. The longest stay (our home away from home) was at the Cape Breton Resorts at Kildare Landing in Baddeck. We also stayed one night at the MidTrail Motel & Inn in Pleasant Bay, and it was cozy and close to whales. Activities varied from visiting the Alexander Graham Bell museum; driving to the ocean; feasting on lobster each night at the family-friendly Bell-Buoy Restaurant and enjoying the music; and visiting the local beach and shops. When you’re ready to head to the east coast, check out the same spots – you’ll be glad you did.
Cabot Trail Pleasant Bay Cape Breton Nova Scotia
Photos (clockwise): Mother and son cozy at the Ottawa airport; whalewatching with Captain Mark's; just part of the huge Bras d'Or Lake in Baddeck; an amazing sunset in Pleasant Bay; and our resident jellyfish rescuer.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www. whaleandsealcruise.com
Get crossed this fall! CYCLOCROSS RACING DIRTY BUT FUN BY SHEILA ASCROFT
“Cyclocross sucks! It’s all about pain, suffering, and self-loathing. I love it,” says Matt Surch, team rider, event organizer, and blogger for Tall Tree Cycles Bike Shop in Westboro, Ottawa. For some, like Matt, cyclocross is a great way to enjoy the stunning fall colours and to get through the dreary cold rains before the snow falls. The consummate cyclist, Matt rides/races in every season: fat bikes in winter, cyclocross in the spring, and fall, mountain bikes once the trails are dry, and road bikes in summer.
PHOTOS BY JAY HEINS & RODD HEINO
SO WHAT IS CYCLOCROSS?
It’s a hybrid event, combining the intensity of both road racing and mountain bike racing with bouts of running over varied terrain. It is a one-hour, multi-lap event where you ride your bike along a marked route that goes over pavement, gravel, grass, dirt (mud), hill and dale and everything in between! Oh, and there are intentional on-route obstacles that require you to dismount, shoulder your bike, run over the barrier, remount and ride on – over and over again. “The changes in tempo make for very intense racing – thankfully, it’s for only an hour!” says Matt.Cyclocross began in Europe in the early 1900s as a way to stay fit during the off-season for pro cyclists, and developed its own specialized following. It’s been growing in popularity in North America over the last decade, and has an active component in our neck of the woods too. The Eastern Ontario Cyclocross Series, which has run for over 20 years, www.ottawaoutdoors.ca
offers a 10-week season from the last Sunday of September through to the last Sunday of November or first Sunday in December. The mass-start races (9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.) follow a three- to five-kilometre circuit over varied terrain. Each lap is timed and whoever finishes the most laps within one hour wins. Points are awarded to finishers and are accumulated over the series. WHY DO IT?
It’s fun. Honest. Ask Matt. “Well, it’s fun if you like getting muddy and gritty, and sweaty while riding at a furious pace in near freezing weather.” It’s fun if you like to ride then run with your bike on your shoulder over obstacles and then ride again – all on varied train again and again. “It’s good for you too! It’s addictive, because every race is an opportunity to improve in a thousand ways. Small improvements, repeated many times over the course of a race, add up, and encourage racers like me to keep learning.” Cyclocross is a great way to stay in shape during the dreary fall months, and the bike handling skills developed and honed at the races translate into safer riding out on the roads and trails. Perhaps most importantly, Matt says that, “cyclocross is about community. No matter the ability level, every rider faces the same challenges, the same internal battles: ‘Can I push harder to stay on that wheel?’ ‘Should I?’ The challenge of each race, each struggle, bonds riders together. Blood, sweat, and gears.” (For more reasons, see www.cxmagazine.com)
DO I NEED A CYCLOCROSS BIKE?
Obviously, having a cyclocrossspecific bike is best – but it is not mandatory. CYCLOCROSS BIKE
Essentially it looks similar to a road bike but the lightweight frame and some of the components are
ottawa outdoors 21
designed for cross racing. A ‘cross’ or ‘CX’ bike has the traditional drop bars and 700c wheels (24” for small riders), but uses cantilever brakes, or even disc brakes, for better stopping power and, perhaps more importantly, the maximum mud clearance possible. The frame also has widely spaced seat stays and forks, which gives additional clearance for wide, knobby tires and allows mud-covered tires to spin freely without jamming. The tires have tread patterns that throw off dirt and mud, while offering low rolling resistance on pavement. Many racers use traditional ‘tubular’ tires, which are glued to the rim, to allow for the use of lower tire pressures without risk of rolling a tire off the rim in a turn. Another difference is that the frame’s bottom bracket (where the crankset is mounted) is higher for additional clearance over obstacles and for pedalling around corners. The gearing is usually easier than on traditional road bikes too. Personal preference can see outer chainrings of 44- to 50-teeth and 38- or 39-tooth inners. The rear cassette is typically 11-28 tooth cogs. Most competitors use dualsided mountain-bike clipless pedals for cross racing. They’re easy to enter and exit, shed mud well, and work with off-road shoes with toe spikes mounted, which are best for running, especially up muddy banks. MOUNTAIN BIKE
Many riders convert their offroad bikes for amateur cyclocross racing. To be safe (and to lighten the bike since you’ll be lifting it often!) remove the bar-ends on your handlebars; take off the frame pump, seatbag and water-bottle cages. These are unnecessary and only weigh you down. Replace current tires with 1.25- or 1.5-inch-wide ones as these are 22 ottawa
easier to pedal and faster than fatter knobbies. Plus, narrow tires cut through mud better and offer more clearance on wet race days. You can also save weight and improve efficiency by removing your front shock and installing a rigid fork. Suspension is not necessary for cross because courses are fairly smooth. ROAD BIKE
Be forewarned: this type of bike will only work well in dry conditions. On muddy courses, the brakes and stays will clog with mud, jam the wheels and force you to run the entire race or drop out.
they have mechanical problems, mountain bike racers are usually entirely self-sufficient. Cyclocross, like everything else, offers a compromise of the two. Cyclocross courses have a pit, where riders can exchange bikes/wheels (assuming they have spares!) when theirs are unrideable because of damage or excessive mud buildup. Most local racers bring spare wheels in the event of a puncture during warm-up on course, and in case they puncture close to the pit, while the pros may have two or three spare bikes. In a complete mud fest (think November chilly rains), some pros might actually exchange bikes every lap! WHY THE RUNNING?
That ain’t no fun! Still, if you only have a roadie, try changing out your narrow tires for wider knobby ones if there is room then, take off all the excess stuff (seatbag, water bottle cages, etc.) and modify the gearing. If you can replace your road pedals with some kind of dual-sided mountain bike clipless pedals – all the better. These are easier to clip into and shed mud better than road pedals, and you’ll be able to wear your off-road shoes which are much better for running. Keep in mind that cross racing is very hard on equipment. You might end up with some new paint chips or broken component or even a bent wheel. What’s in the pit? While road racers are supported by a team car or teammates if
Running and carrying your bike on your shoulder adds both physical complexity (it’s a skill to properly dismount the bike while rolling, carry it, then remount), and a unique element to your average bike ride. Running sections are often flat, featuring man-made barriers. Other times, they are natural elements: short, steep and difficult. Matt says that Knowing when to run can change the race,outcome; particularly because of the repeatability (most races entail 5-10 laps). Running with your bike may be faster than trying to ride through a muddy section where you would bog down. “This tactical element to racing increases the fun-factor for racers, since it offers the opportunity to see gains from making clever decisions. Being wily can allow riders to excel in relation to others who are fitteg. This is also an example of risk-takin, that can pay dividends, which is another reason why cyclocross keeps riders coming back for more.” For information about the Eastern Ontario Cyclocross Series, visit www.cyclocross.org. www.ottawaoutdoors.ca
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Go fishing! EASY-TO-GET-AT LOCAL FISHING SPOTS OFFER A SLEW OF CATCHES BY ROBERT FUCHS AND ROBERT CONLEY
Too many people see fishing as a big, heavy-prep adventure, or something reserved just for weekends at the cottage. The truth is, if you live in OttawaGatineau, impressive fishing – for beginners or seasoned professionals – is just minutes away. Whether it’s the Rideau or Ottawa rivers or the Rideau Canal, big fish await you. Like a lot of avid fisherman we moved to the city with rods packed, and with so much water close by, wetting a line followed soon after. Years of exploration, education, trial and error have given us unparalleled success right here in Ottawa. For starters, the Rideau River offers an eight-kilometre stretch that can be fished from the falls at Hog’s Back all the way down to where it tumbles into the Ottawa River. Along the way, there are easily accessible shore-fishing spots, some wadeable stretches and hidden gems off the beaten path. A simple Google search will give a list of locations and our river favourites among them are Pleasant Park, New Edinburgh and Strathcona. We’ve hooked smallmouth bass, river smallies which pound for pound are the hardest fighters you can wrestle with. And don’t be surprised if you tangle with pike, walleye and even muskie in the Rideau. These species are not uncommon and can www.ottawaoutdoors.ca
be targeted with the right tackle. Just follow the bike paths along the river, take your rod and a backpack and make the most of this incredible urban fishery. Then there’s the Rideau Canal, cutting through the heart of the city as a recreational link between the Rideau to the Ottawa River. For fisherman this is a haven for some of the best largemouth bass in the city. From Dow’s Lake to the Rideau Locks beside Parliament Hill, pick your side of the water, watch for pedestrians and throw your hottest bass lures. The much larger Ottawa River is a bit more of a transportation challenge but rewarding all the same. Adventures from Shirleys Bay in the west to Petrie Island near Orleans require little preparation for effortless accessibility. It helps to know which species you are targeting. Shirleys Bay shelters smallmouth bass and pike in its sandy, rock scattered shallow bottom, so get your feet wet and explore. Britannia Beach has non-stop catfish action if you are looking to keep busy with simple tackle and a simple
approach, and it’s an easy place to introduce friends to fishing. Bate Island off the Champlain Bridge is a scenic setting with potential for smallmouth bass, catfish, walleye and even brown trout if the cooler autumn water just happens to turn them on. Way downstream to the east is the most versatile fishing location in the city – Petrie Island. Shore fishing there offers pan fish and bass from the inside bays and large walleye, bass and pike off its outside shores. It’s the place to plan a full day of fishing from shore to target all these species as you explore around the island. And it’s another ideal spot for new anglers. All these locations are easily accessed by foot, bike, bus or car. Fall weather means fish are in full feeding mode, so what better time to embark on an urban fishing adventure? We’ll be on the water, how about you? ~ Fuchs and Conley spend every free moment on the water, yearround, in pursuit of the biggest and meanest. They’re at www. thebassassins.com or www. facebook.com/TheBassassins.
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Time to explore Cornwall’s cycling trails BY ALLEN MACARTNEY
Cornwall has many great cycling trails, and they’re calling your name. All less than an hour’s car drive from Ottawa, these paths weave through and around the city, including the entire waterfront. They link up with regional attractions like the historic Cornwall Canal, Upper Canada Village, the Chrysler’s Farm Battlefield (War of 1812), and Gray’s Creek Conservation Area. And they can take you even farther afield. Cyclists can choose easy loops for families, more ambitious trails involving overnight camping, and anything in between. Loops from Cornwall lead to Maxville (and the annual Highland Games), downstream to Montreal or west to the farthest reaches of Lake Ontario. Most start at Lamoureux Park in downtown Cornwall at the corner of Water and Pitt streets. WATERFRONT TOUR
This trail along the city’s waterfront is perfect for a young family. Park at the Gray’s Creek Conservation Area, corner of Boundary Road and Highway 2, then pick up the paved bike path heading west along the St. Lawrence. You’ll pass St. Lawrence College, the EcoGardens and Lamoureux Park with its splash pad, children’s play structure, a clock tower and more. Continue www.ottawaoutdoors.ca
beautiful and interesting. The trail leads to the Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary with up to 200 different species. Half a kilometre west of Upper Canada Village is Chrysler Beach – a great place to picnic and take a dip. Chrysler’s Farm Battlefield surrounds this area.
west along the old Cornwall Canal to the new St. Lawrence Power Development Visitors Centre and its interactive exhibits of the St. Lawrence CORNWALL CYCLING RESOURCES Seaway’s history. Ride on • Cornwall Parks and Recreation: to Guindon Park for a pic613-930-2787 ext. 2552 nic before retracing your • Cornwall and the Counties Road Trip: route. free booklet at any city tourist centre • Waterfront Trail: www.waterfronttrail.org UPPER CANADA VILLAGE • General info: www.visit.cornwall.on.ca This 56-kilometre route starts at Lamoureux Park and leads to this rebuilt 1860s WATERFRONT TRAIL pioneer village on the shores of This one stretches for 900 kithe St. Lawrence. You can tour lometres from Niagara-on-the40 heritage buildings – mills, a Lake to the Quebec border just blacksmith shop, farms, a oneeast of Cornwall, hugging Lake room school house, a church Ontario and the St. Lawrence and an old factory. Most of the Seaway almost all the way. The trail hugs the waterfront away surface varies from crushed from busy roads except for one stone to paved shoulders on segment near Cornwall that par- residential and major roads. If allels a stretch of highway. It’s you start at Lamoureux Park and mostly flat except for a few long head west toward the far end slopes, also near Cornwall. of Lake Ontario, you’ll pass 22 From Lamoureux Park, head campgrounds, 182 parks and west along the Waterfront Trail open areas, scores of marinas, beside the old Cornwall Canal, locks, dams, bird sanctuaries, and pass Guindon Park and the and more. When you reach NiLost Villages Museum. As you agara-on-the-Lake you can take leave the city behind you can the train home. join the Long Sault Parkway that This trail network brings deeplinks St. Lawrence islands by er meaning to Ontario’s motto: bridges and causeways – both “Yours to discover.”
ottawa outdoors 29
Can you hear me now? BY ALLEN MACARTNEY
If you’re thinking about serious off-grid outdoor adventure, it’s time to turn your thoughts to a satellite phone. The wilderness is vast, too far away from cellphone towers to guarantee coverage. Until recently, satellite phones cost a small fortune, but that’s all changed with the release of SPOT’s new global satellite phone. Compact and lightweight (just under 200 grams) the SPOT global satellite phone fits into a day pack or a large shirt pocket. SPOT, well known for its rugged GPS messenger tracker that’s virtually standard gear for all extreme adventurers, has scored another home run with this new satellite phone. It costs a mere $499, a nice drop from the previous average of about $1,300. Then (as with all satellite phones) you have to buy an airtime plan. In the past these cost $2 to $3 per minute. SPOT offers a range of plans costing anywhere from $2.50 a minute
(for 10 minutes per month) to as low as 25 cents a minute for 400 minutes a month. Using this satellite phone is as easy as it gets. Simply turn the phone on with the press of a button, extend the telescopic antenna fully and point it up to the sky, wait a few moments until the phone locks onto one or two satellites, dial your number and start talking. There’s no user manual, only a quick start-up and troubleshooting guide. There’s no need for more. But is it any good? I’ve tested this phone under a range of conditions from forest hiking to day-long cycling trips, rain and shine. Always it went to work quickly and easily and voice quality was usually good to excellent – not as clear as cellphones, but no satellite phone is consistently clear and crisp. After all, it’s communicating with satellites thousands of kilometres away.
In an emergency, just dial 9-11 and you’ll be connected to the GEOS International Emergency Response Co-ordination Center (in North America). The phone provides ready access to voicemail, user configurable ringtones, and many other features. Though the battery stores up to four hours of talk time, a perfect companion for a long canoe or backpacking trip would be the ultra-lite Goal Zero Nomad 7 solar charger. It will recharge satellite batteries in just over an hour. ~ Allen Macartney used a SPOT emergency GPS tracker during a solo canoe trip to the Arctic Circle.
SATELLITE PHONE 101
No satellite phone works well in a deep forest. Get out in the open with as much sky visible as possible so the antenna can find and hold a passing satellite. A satellite phone’s antenna is crucial. It must be fully extended to find and hold a satellite. As well, the screen can be a bit small to see easily in bright sunlight, so improvise shade.
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