Trips and gear for adventure-lovers

T’is the season so we asked Ontario Parks staff and three corporate partners; Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC), Coleman and Bushnell for gift ideas. Park staff suggested 2012 trip ideas in Ontario Parks while our corporate sponsors suggested cool new gear ideas. Here are our favourites. More gift ideas are found on this Park Blog and on our corporate partner web sites which we’ve listed below. The online Park Store makes gift-giving easy. Park gift certificates, seasonal and annual park day passes, even Ontario Parks clothing and other merchandise are sold through the Park Store.

Every March, hundreds of cross-country skiers gather at Quetico Provincial Park for the Beaten Path’s annual Cross Quetico Lakes Ski Tour. Skiers choose from a , or tour and then they ski, mush and skijor across Quetico’s beautiful frozen lakes. The tour is organized by the Beaten Path Nordic Ski Club in cooperation with Quetico Provincial Park.

The MEC Mountain Fountain 9 Hydration Pack holds enough water and enough kit for longer outings like the Cross Quetico Lakes Ski Tour.

Tom Thomson, Canada’s most famous landscape painter, and a friend canoed the Mississagi River in 1912. They took a train up to the frontier village of Biscotasing then sketched and photographed their river route. Thomson called the Mississagi “the finest canoe trip in the world”. Grey Owl, another legendary woodsman called it the “King among rivers”. In 2012, trippers can retrace their routes. Today, Biscotasing is a milepost stop on VIA Rail and the Mississagi River is now a provincial park.

Coleman’s new Aqueous PaddleSport Vest would be a perfect addition to a Mississagi paddling adventure. The revolutionary design has large armholes to increase a paddler’s range of motion and its shorter cut allows for maximum mobility.

How about hiking some of Ontario’s highest peaks in 2012? Ishpatina Ridge is Ontario’s highest point, at 693 metres. Nearby is North Peak, Ontario’s third highest peak at 677 metres and South Peak, Ontario’s 5th highest at 666 metres. All three are in Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park, northeast of Sudbury. Ishpatina can only be reached by hiking a trail from remote Scarecrow Lake which is only accessible by canoe through several interconnected lakes or by float plane.

Bushnell’s BackTrack D-Tour is sure to be a hit with hikers. The personal location finder was voted one of the best product innovations for 2011 by Field & Stream field editors. The GPS unit saves trailhead and campsite locations and even logs your favourite spots along the trail.

Silent Lake Provincial Park’s mountain bike trail circles Silent Lake near the town of Bancroft, 2.5 hours northeast of Toronto. Full of bumps, rocks, trees, ditches and creeks, it’s a challenge. The trail and three others in the park are popular with cross-country skiers too. Winter yurt accommodation at Silent Lake also means skiers can overnight in the park.

We chose MEC’s Filzer Mini-Zee Pump for park mountain bikers. This handy cyclist tool is light-weight, reliable, and easy-to-use.