Backcountry basics: know your limits

You’ve heard about this fantastic new adventure through a friend, route guide, or Instagram. It looks kind of tough, and you’re pretty new to the whole backcountry thing.

Still, you don’t want to miss out, so you decide to go for it.

But as you start planning, there’s a little voice wondering if this is really the best idea.

Listen to that voice.

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Backcountry canoeing with your dog

Today’s post comes from Jill Legault, Information Specialist at Quetico Provincial Park

Summertime means puppy playtime!

Dogs love the opportunity to be outside as much as you do. A little planning means every family member is happy and safe in the backcountry.

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Paddling Woodland Caribou Provincial Park after a forest fire

Today’s post comes from Kristiana Wilson, Assistant Park Superintendent at Woodland Caribou Provincial Park

2021 was quite the fire season in Ontario.

Last year alone, approximately 55% of Woodland Caribou Provincial Park burned due to natural forest fires.

The park is no stranger to forest fires — fire is key for regeneration in the boreal forest.

Still, when most people think of picturesque park landscapes, they typically don’t think of park areas that have been burned.

We’re here to change any preconceived ideas you have about travelling through large burns and share some tips to make your next post forest fire park paddling trip a little easier!

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Say “no” to axe-idents

You’ve just paddled your heart out to get to your campsite. You put on your flannel and grab your axe to prepare your campfire.

Something about being in the wilderness that brings out our inner woodsperson.

We know the feeling.

However, for the preservation of your toes, please read this before you swing that axe!

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Backcountry basics: storing and disposing of food

We don’t know about you, but when we pack food for our backcountry trip, we plan on eating it.

That plan can go downhill quickly when raccoons, squirrels, and bears dip into your trail mix, or rain soaks through your pack, ruining your soft sausage buns.

You want to see a grumpy bear? A weekend away without food will turn us into one in no time!

Instead, learn how to store food and dispose of scraps so you don’t end up with soggy food or, worse, unexpected dinner guests.

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Backcountry basics: drinking water

Whitney Arnott is a hiking and canoeing enthusiast that likes to spend days at a time in the backcountry when she’s not working at Ontario Parks branch office.

Here are her tips for safe drinking water when you’re in the wilderness.

When it comes to drinking water in the backcountry, you may think it will be simple. There’s lots of water all around you, right?

While that is true, it’s not as simple as turning on a tap at home or dipping your bottle below the water’s surface to fill it.

Untreated water found in lakes, rivers, ponds, etc. isn’t safe to drink. It can contain waterborne parasites and diseases like Giardiasis (also known as beaver fever) or E. coli, which can make you sick.

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The measure of a canoe trip

Today’s post is a polite rant from Quetico Provincial Park’s Librarian Jill Sorensen.

We seem to constantly hear about expedition-style trips. Grunt narratives where people have broken speed records, paddled the longest distances, or have been “the first” to complete a route. The blisters. The sleep deprivation. The endurance.

And that is fine. I have no problem with kilometre tracking or race attempts. But if you insist on measuring all of your trips, may I suggest that you count something else? Something that instead connects you to the landscape, or a piece of cultural history.

A little less pace. A little more place.

Here are some suggestions of other things to count:

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An Ontario Parks glossary

Are you new to parks, or maybe a park veteran looking to brush up on your knowledge?

We’ve assembled a handy guide to all the terms you’ll need to know and understand before you visit the park…

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Spring paddling safety

Itching for ice out? We certainly are.

But spring weather can be fickle. Hitting the lake too early, failing to respect weather conditions or paddling beyond your skill level isn’t just risky — it’s downright dangerous.

We chatted with Paul Smith, Superintendent of Kawartha Highlands Signature Site, to get some top do’s and don’ts for spring paddling safety:

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How to avoid getting lost

We can definitely recommend “losing yourself” in our provincial parks by delighting in the sights and sounds of nature, and living in the moment.

We do not, however, recommend getting actually lost.

Park visitors get lost more often than you’d think. It can be a scary, stressful, and dangerous situation. It can also result in complicated and expensive search-and-rescue operations.

While we know no one sets out to get lost, there are steps you can take to make sure it doesn’t happen to you.

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