Happy Birthday Mark!
He turned 15 today. Despite his best efforts, he has made it 15 times around the sun without being tossed from the planet.
We celebrated in part on the weekend. On Friday Wendy and I took him shopping and got him to pick out some new sunglasses. He totally ignored the incredible looking sunglasses I picked out for him and instead picked some sunglasses that look like he is from The Matrix. Whoa.
On Sunday morning we got up early and I gave him a MSR Pocket Rocket stove, fuel canister, and base. For $8 the base makes the entire system a lot more secure. Mark is pretty responsible but he is a teenager and therefore his coordination comes and goes.
Wendy gave him a one person mess kit to cook with while hiking. Oliver’s response was, “Only one person? What’s Mark going to eat?” He’s always looking out for his older brother.
We then took off to Prince Albert National Park and went hiking for the day. We hiked the Waskesiu River, the Mud Flat Trail (where we got close and personal with some black bears), and hiked both sides of the Narrows. Mark cooked us up some lunch with his new gear. After a day of hiking and exploring, we went to The Angry Taco for dinner and called it a day.
Tuesday morning, we gave him the rest of his gifts. Oliver gave him a frisbee disc golf set.
We all got him a Altec Lansing XL Soundblade Bluetooth Speaker which he has wanted really badly. He was pretty happy to get one.
Today after school him and I are heading out for a quick game of golf and then coming home to have some steak that has been marinating for several days. It is starting out as a nice day.
It is a great trail to explore during the spring because of the high number of hungry black bears who feed on the fish in the stream.
Hungry black bears, a wound on my foot and a messed up ankle. What could go wrong?
We are also up there celebrating Mark’s birthday (he turns 15 next week). That birthday brings up the awkward conversations around learners license and driving. As I told Mark, first let’s survive a bunch of black bears and then we can talk.
So… if is this blog and my Twitter go silent over the next couple of weeks, you know what happened.
If I had only picked up one of these.
The weekend that was: On Sunday everyone wanted to do something so I told them to get into the car, we drove to Costco and then I told them that we were going to Moose Jaw. Instead I drove north to Prince Albert (and no one got it until the turn off just outside of Prince Albert). We refuelled there and then went to Waskesiu before heading to the Grey Owl’s Cabin trailhead.
It was eerily free of wild life but then a ruffled grouse wandered across my path and managed to stay deep enough in the shadows that I couldn’t get a good photo. As soon as it was just about to wander into site, Wendy and Mark came down the trail noisy enough that people in Prince Albert complained. The grouse was gone.
On the way back home we noticed a large herd of elk chilling out on the Waskesiu Golf Course. Their first round of the year?
We then were stared down by some whitetail deer at the park entrance. It was a great day.
The only bad thing was that we bought a bag of stale Cheezies at the Shell gas station in Prince Albert. Disgusting
On my to-do list this week: Off to Winnipeg on Tuesday. If you see me at 5:00 a.m. in the Saskatoon Airport and I don’t say hi, it’s because I am still asleep.
How I’m feeling about this week: Can’t wait for the nicer weather so we can get the hike to Grey Owl’s completed.
Since we are still planning to do a hike to Grey Owlâ€™s Cabin in June, we have been picking up some gear for the trip.Â A lot of people have been asking us what we are taking so here is the quick list of gear that is going.
Backpacks: To carry the gear, we have some frameless backpacks with hip straps.Â You can spend a lot of money on these and after reading around, we think we found the right balance between comfort, durability, and price.
I am carrying a 65 litre pack.Â It is lots big enough for an overnight trip and this way Mark and Wendy donâ€™t have to carry as much stuff.Â It will hold Wendyâ€™s and my tent, the cook set, and sleeping back with a lot of space left over.Â I wonâ€™t use all of that space but it is there.
If I was walking the Appalachian Trail, I would definitely have purchased a more expensive backpack but it’s only a day and we are only taking so much stuff.Â Mark and Wendy have some smaller bags that I bought there bags on clearance for a combined $30.Â They are 40 litres and have the external straps they need.Â They should do the job.
Tents: Wendy and I are staying in a three man tent we bought for $16 from Wal-mart.Â They had a loss leader going last winter and we got it then.Â It’s light and just big enough for the two of us.Â Â The tent opens up and hopefully we will be able to sleep under the skies rather than under the fly.Â If it does look like it could rain, we’ll be fine underneath it.
If I was going camping rather than backcountry hiking, we would have gotten something larger and higher quality.Â Â Weight and size are a factor.Â Also the price was insanely cheap ($16 on sale).Â If it doesn’t last, no harm done but the reviews online were pretty solid.Â It’s no where near as durable as a tent from the North Face but then again, it won’t be asked to do much more than keep the mosquitoes or drizzle off of us.Â If it was just me, I would got with a two person tent but this way there is just enough room for us and some of our gear.
Mark is staying in a one person tent from Eagle’s Camp.Â It is small but it will be only him and his bag. Either way it is really light and since Mark will be carrying it in and out, he will appreciate the weight.Â We bought some ropes to add as guy wires which opens it up a bit.Â It’s small but it is light.
We did waterproof and seal the seams and upgraded the tent pegs to something lighter and more likely to stay in the ground.Â If the weather is miserable, we should be okay.
Sleeping bags: Mark had a sleeping bag but Wendy and I wanted new 1.5 pound sleeping bags.Â We will have foil covered sleeping foams as well and inflatable camping pillows at well which are small, light, and are more comfortable than our bags.Â Â We also bought some compression straps so the sleeping bags take up as little as room as possible.
For the kitchen, we have a Primus Classic Trail Stove and Primus fuel canisters.Â Stoves have their own fanboy culture which I understand but for the price, it can’t be beaten.Â I know this isn’t the stove to use when it’s winter but since we are doing the hike in June, we should be okay.Â Â It also has a five star review on Amazon.com so it seems to be doing the job.
As for the camp kit, years ago Lee gave Wendy a great camp set.Â We picked up three sporks and we are set to go.
As for water, I have talked to a lot of people who had drank right out of Kingsmere Lake with no side affects.Â There are giardia warnings about the water so we will have some water filters.Â It’s way cheaper using purification tablets but I am told they are disgusting.Â Since we are walking along side the lake, we will be using collapsible water bottles to keep weight and volume down.
Food: Basically MRE’s.Â We have been to Cabela’s weekly testing out one or two of them each time.Â We will eat some snacks on the way in, have a nice dinner (well away from the campground to keep the bears away) and then a big breakfast in the morning on our way out.Â Hopefully we get going in time to be back in Waskesiu for a late lunch before heading back to Saskatoon.
Clothes: I went out and invested in some decent hiking shorts and shirts this summer.Â As a friend of mine told me that chafing is not something that you will want to do while on the trail.Â We also went to Cabela’s and got tested by the Dr. Shoal’s machine for the kind of insoles we all need.Â While the custom Dr. Shoals insoles are right there, a row over are competitor insoles designed the same way for a fraction of the cost.Â They make hiking boots feel a lot more comfortable and will hopefully make the trip more pleasant.
Technology: We wonâ€™t be taking much technology along although we will have a GPS, compact binoculars, and some rugged cameras.Â We will have our multi-tools and a hatchet with us but I don’t know if that is considered technology or not.Â In case we do get some rain, we have some gadget bags which are essentially waterproof zip lock bags for gear.Â It says that you can submerse them but I’d rather not.Â What they do a good job of doing is if a tent or bag does leak, your stuff will still be safe.
Let me know if you have some suggestions in the comments below.