MyFrontenac Park mini adventure, keeping it light and relaxing 

This week I fit in a short and relaxing mini backpacking adventure at Frontenac Provincial Park.  I arrived at my campsite by noon one day and back at my car by noon the next. Not every trip needs to be epic. It is the small things we can fit in that keep us going on our adventurous lifestyle. Mini Adventures allow us to experiment with new equipment and practice our skills. My theme for this adventure was to have a light pack and yet be comfortable. My pack weighed 17 lbs with all my gear and clothes. I then added a book and food and water to end up with 20.5 lbs including everything. The great part was I still had my hammock, and an inflatable and pudgier thermarest pillow. I was in familiar territory on a hike of under 5 km so I didn’t need all the first aid items and navigational extras I would on a big hike. Plus with the food storage boxes on site I didn’t even need anything to hang food and carried very little water on me as I knew I would not need it.

I left my house at 9 am, was on my site by noon and had my firewood collected by 2:00. I brought no saw with me and I managed to get all branches I could break from a good score of  firewood from a couple of fallen trees about 1/2 km up the trail from my campsite. It kept a great fire going for a couple of hours and I had leftovers to leave for the next lucky campers. My only challenge was dragging the wood with my dog Cinnamon on a leash. We had to walk by a boggy area and she could resist pulling me towards the many hopping frogs! Not fun with all the wood I was carrying, but with campers in close quarters and being on a well used trail, I am a big believer in respecting leash rules. I had also seen a couple of deer off the trail that went un-noticed by Cinnamon.

Firewood tip of the day: you are not likely to find a lot of good wood within ten feet of your site, don’t cut live trees because you are too lazy to walk. Leave your campsite and walk a bit, look for large branches of fallen trees, or small trees that have fallen  that you can drag back and break up on site. You are wasting your time right beside your site usually because everyone does that! I usually do this after setting up camp so I work up a huge sweat then go for a swim to clean up after.

After my firewood gathering was done,  I went for a swim, then hung out in my hammock and read a book. I had a couple of sausages wrapped in tortilla wraps that  I cooked on my fire for dinner and some Ramen noodles. I relaxed in my hammock for an after dinner tea then sat by my fire. After an uneventful nights sleep, I woke up and made breakfast, packed my stuff and had a coffee in my hammock in the sun. I finished my book and relaxed taking it in.  Cinnamon got me up early so even after a lot of relaxing I was back at my car by noon and heading home feeling recharged and happy.  

Part 4 of our Grand Canyon Adventure. 

Our last day was our hike from Indian Garden back to the south rim. We would end our adventure right near the Bright Angel lodge where we spent the night before leaving. We were very aware that this day was the end of an adventure we had anticipated for months. It was hard to believe it was almost over. We were tired now, and as we approached the rim, we crossed paths with the other group, with the older gentlemen that we had been crossing paths with over the past couple of days. It was a very steep uphill climb with many switchbacks. As we got closer to the top we passed many dayhikers just doing short hikes. It made me appreciate how much we had seen, and realize that we were among a much smaller group of people who make the journey to the bottom. We were tired now and rested often looking forward to being finished and getting a nice hot shower, a burger, and sleeping in a bed. 

When we reached the top it was bittersweet. Our adventure was over. As we found our car we ran into the group of four hikers again. We congratulated each other and hugged each other. As we pulled out of the parking lot we realized that we didn’t even get some of the names of the people we had met,but yet we all felt connected having completed a common goal. Wow, that was fun! 

Grand Canyon Backpacking Trip Part 3. Bright Angel Campground to Indian Garden Campground

Day 3 of our adventure had us hiking from Bright Angel Campground to Indian Garden Campground where we would spend our last night. The distance is approximately 4.7 miles. The day was as beautiful as the previous day was. This section of the hike was much more lush than what we experienced on the way down. There were creeks crossing the trail in places, and we continued to see beautiful and amazing scenery.  

I found myself torn between taking photos and just taking in the moment so I tried to do both.

Indian Garden Campground offered water taps and toilets. Our campsite had a picnic table under a shelter with a great view. 

During our conversation with one man the previous evening at Phantom Ranch it was recommended we hike to Plateau Point to watch the sunset. It was 1.5 miles each way, as we could see frim the signs as we arrived at Indian Garden, and we wondered if we should hike the extra 3 miles on our sore legs. We ran into a couple of groups that we had met the previous day. One group was couple who were with a guide, and the other was a group of four that had a younger couple with 2 older men, one who was 82 ! We found out they were all hiking out for the sunset and so we knew we could not miss out on it, even if we were tired. After our dinner, which was a mountain house dehydrated meal, we felt ready to head out for sunset. We were so glad we did. Many other people showed up there as well. We were hiking a more horizontal trail this time which gave way to a completely different view . 

After sunset we arrived back at Indian Garden feeling at peace with the experiences we had that day. This would be our last night and the next day would be our final hike back to the South Rim. 

Grand Canyon Backpacking Trip Part 2. Relaxing at the bottom of the Grand Canyon 

Since we chose a 2 night stay at Bright Angel Campground it gave us a chance to take it a bit easier and take in the scenery on the second day of our trip.

A short walk away from Bright Angel Campground is Phantom ranch. Hikers, Mule riders and Rafters can book accommodations here in either cabins or dormitory spaces. Also available are breakfast and dinner served at 2 seating times. We were able to book a breakfast for the second seating at 6:30 am. We also ordered a sack lunch which we picked up at that time. You must plan ahead and book in advance. After we found out we had our camping permit, I called and booked our breakfast. I was unable to get a steak or stew dinner reservation, as they were already booked up.  More information regarding phantom ranch can be found here: http://www.grandcanyonlodges.com/lodging/phantom-ranch/

While waiting for the canteen to open for breakfast we chatted with a few runners who had shown up already having run down from the south rim! One older man was planning to run south rim to north rim and back to south rim all in one day. We saw him later that after noon having completed all but his last stretch back up the south rim. Over 40 miles he would run that day ! 


I was very glad we booked breakfast, it gave us a chance to talk with a few other hikers and we  quite enjoyed hearing about their trip and where they were from. Everyone is excited to be there and you really feel that energy as well as some discussions about a few aches and pains from the hike. 

The rest of the day we spent doing some short hiking a short distance on the North Kaibab Trail, eating our bag lunch and taking photos of the amazing scenery. We then hiked back past Bright Angel Campground  and to the Boat Beach at the Colorado river where we looked around and relaxed enjoying the sunshine. The temperature was around 20 degrees Celsius (67 F) that day but feeling hotter in the sun.  


After we had finished our hiking for the day we returned to phantom ranch which is open to the public 8 am to 4 pm, and 8 pm to 10 pm. They sell beverages, snacks, and some other items. You can mail a postcard from there and it goes up by Mule! My purchase that afternoon was a beer and a hat. Again we chatted with a group that had just arrived and enjoyed the conversation. We made dinner at our campsite that evening and returned at 8 pm for a tea and more conversation. One man we spoke with had been in the Canyon on many camping trips in different areas and we found his knowledge of the various trails interesting. 

And so ended another day. We would be packing up the next day and starting our hike up…

Stay tuned for part 3….

Grand Canyon Backpacking Trip Spring 2017 

My husband and I just got back from a bucket list backpacking trip into the Grand Canyon for 3 nights. I will share some highlights and hopefully some info that may help my readers who want to plan their own Grand Canyon adventure.  The First thing I would like to mention is that to secure a permit for overnight backpacking in Grand Canyon national park it is a lottery system where you must apply on the 1st of the month 5 months in advance of the month you wish to start your trip. We started our trip on March 31, 2017 so we applied for November 1, 2016. We could fax our written permit request in writing between Oct 20 and Nov 1 at 5pm MST. Here is a link explaining the process https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/backcountry-permit.htm

The next thing I would like to mention is to choose your time of year carefully.  Read the information on the parks website regarding trip planning. We found that the time of year we went was great for hiking we wanted to go in April so putting a permit request for a start date of March 31 would give us a second chance to apply the next month to start in April. As luck had it we got our first request. The previous year we had applied for an April trip but did not get the permit, so we were thrilled to get the permit! 

Our permit was for 3 nights, we would be hiking down the South Kaibab Trail to Bright Angel Campground at the bottom where we would be staying for 2 nights and then hiking up the Bright Angel Trail to Indian Garden Campground for 1 night and then hiking the rest of the way up the Bright Angel Trail back to the South Rim.

The night before the start of our trip we arrived at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park. We had a reservation to stay in Bright Angel Lodge, right in the park right by the rim of the canyon. We booked this as soon as we got our camping permit as they book up fast and the rates were very reasonable we paid 110.00 USD for the night. There is a hiker shuttle that leaves in the morning at 7, 8, and 9 am to take you to the South Kaibab Trailhead where we started our hike. Also a great bonus was that we ended our hike up the Bright Angel Trail right near the lodge where our car was parked.
So now the best part, the hike!

Day 1 Hiking Down South Kaibab Trail to Bright Angel Campground 

Our Day 1 started out with some snow on the rim. High winds left the lodge without power and we did our final packing by flashlight the night before. Temperature on the rim that day was high of 3 c (37 F) and a low of -3 c (26 F). There was snow and a little ice to start. We came prepared with crampons and wore them for 15 min.  We debated bringing them, and many other hikers leaving at the same time were getting by without them but appeared to be going carefully. 


South Kaibab is the shorter of the two trails down the Canyon but is also steeper and therefore it is recommended to go down on this trail. Also there is NO WATER all the way down the trail so you must pack enough for the 7 mile (11.3 km) hike down to Bright Angel Campground. As our hike progressed the weather became warmer. Temperatures at the bottom of the canyon are warmer than at the top. 

It was a very different hike for us going down all the way. Most hikes we do have ups and downs and this put a strain on muscles in a way we don’t normally use them. Don’t underestimate this. And carrying a heavy pack adds to the burden. You definitely want hiking poles on this trip. 

We took our time and enjoyed the scenery. 

Bright Angel Campground was a nice surprise for us. There was a washroom with flush toilets and a sink. Also potable water was available, although it is still recommended to bring backup purification in the event of a pipeline break.  Our site was right beside Bright Angel creek.  There was a picnic table on our site and 2 ammo boxes for food storage.

More to come….

November

  • Wow! This weather has been truly amazing! Coffee on my front porch in the morning. Running and enjoying the orange and yellows of the trees. A fabulous hike with the dog at marble rock conservation area. The best things in  life truly are free 

Goodbye summer and hello fall, from a Solo female backpacker 

Today is the first day of fall. I was lucky to say goodbye to summer and welcome the fall while on a one night backpacking adventure close to home. And that also marks my 4th  Solo backpacking trip, three of them were done this summer.  I got to thinking about going solo last year because my work schedule doesn’t always match my husband’s work schedule. I was always aching to go, but I didn’t have someone to join me. Various friends would indicate an interest, but no one really seemed to want to make solid plans. Not to mention it is a bit of an investment to get the gear. And let’s face it, not everyone keeps themselves fit enough to to participate in this kind of activity. So after thinking about it for a while, I went out a day ahead of my hubby and jumped right into Solo backpacking.  Some people think it’s dangerous or wonder why anyone would want to be alone in the wilderness, especially a woman.  So here goes….

It is very empowering. You are relying on yourself. There is no one else to take care of you but you.

It gives you freedom. You choose what time, where, how fast you hike, when you stop, when you wake up, how fast you pack up and come home. If you want to stop for an extra long lunch break then you do. It’s all up to you. Yesterday I decided at 10:30 am to go out overnight and was hiking by 2 pm. No way I could have made those plans with anyone I know. 

It helps you overcome your fears. Spending  a night in the wilderness alone can awaken some fears in anyone. Was that noise a bear outside my tent?  Some of these fears are based on reality,  but if you stick well within your ability and choose the areas where you camp wisely,  you are safer than walking a city street in my opinion. 

You get to know yourself. If you want to do something in this life and get out and enjoy it you can’t always sit around waiting for someone else to do it with you. When you get out and do something alone, it increases your comfort with your own company. Being alone and not lonely is a great skill to master. 

I am looking forward to more and longer Solo backpacking trips in the coming years. I have found that each time I go, there is an increase in my comfort and enjoyment. So for anyone out there thinking about going solo, my advice is just make the jump and do it! 

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