Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Today's ski report from Gatineau Park, Quebec, Canada

Freakin' cold! Minus 12 degrees Celsius, but spared by good gear and the trees in Gatineau Park from light wind. Cold temps makes for slow classic skiing in groomed tracks - like skiing on sandpaper, even with glide wax, but the skate skiers are always happy. They move faster and don't get face slapped by low-hanging snow-laden trees and debris that falls on the sidelines into our groomed tracks. Especially around Lac Philippe.

The ungroomed trails look like this . . . an interesting change.
 Maybe better to snowshoe in some parts - and stay off closed trails.

Then, off to Renaud day cabin to heat up a grilled cheese on the wood stove and sip on a thermos of hot chai tea with honey, and throw another log on the fire.
A setting sun on the way back is pretty sweet in the Gatineau Hills, as we passed by several happy overnight campers in the park's cabins and yurts around Lac Philippe enjoying a very white holiday season.

There's a lot more snow on the way in the National Capital Region of Canada. About 20 centimeters falling from Wednesday to Thursday.

What will the forest trails look like after more snow? Whiter, more downed branches, and more fresh snow to play in.

Take care and enjoy!
The BaffinPaddler

Friday, December 21, 2012

Time to snowshoe!

Just in time for Christmas. It will be white. We have our first big snowstorm in the National Capital Region of Canada bringing us 30 centimeters of snow today.

It's time to snowshoe before anyone else gets out on the trails and packs them down.

We can cross-country ski a bit on a few trails in Gatineau Park, Quebec, Canada.

But for now, I love my snowshoes!

These are great conditions for snowshoeing, but not for driving and traveling until the storm is over. Enjoy your own backyard for hours!

Happy trails!
The BaffinPaddler

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

How long will it take this tanker to overtake me in the St. Lawrence Seaway?

Even if you understand how fast a knot is, you don't know how many knots a boat is traveling. Especially a big tanker. They move faster than you may think.

See the big tanker in the distance in the shipping channel of the St. Lawrence Seaway?

It has crossed under the Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge that connects New York State in the U.S. to Ontario, Canada and is traveling west in my direction.

Question: How many minutes from the distance you see in the image above will it take that tanker to overtake me in my kayak if I'm in its way?

Not sure?

Me neither.

I sat in the safety of the sidelines closer to shore and watched this massive tanker approach in the shipping channel and kept time with my watch.
Answer: It was passing me 10 minutes later.

How far away was it when I turned around and saw it? I'm not sure.

How fast was it going? I don't know. Maybe 10 to 12 knots.

Could I hear tankers approaching from behind in the shipping channel parallel to my paddling route with the wind in my ears? No! Not until they were passing me. This came as a surprise.

I was always well out of the way of the shipping channel, but you would think you would hear them coming from a distance. Not so.

If I had been paddling with my back to the ship in or near the shipping channel, I would not have heard it coming in time to get out of its way.

This is the SOLEY-1.

It's a chemical tanker with a vessel flag from Malta.

How big is it? Length: 491 feet, Breadth: 76 feet, Depth: 42 feet. Deadweight tonnage: 19,991

Wow! It's hard to believe. If you think that's big, look up the size and speed of cruise ships. That'll scare you.

Now it's easier to understand how much water the big ships displace and the big swells and boat wakes they kick up when they pass in narrower channels. The swells and pitchy chop hit about 5 to 10 minutes after it passed.

My Maelstrom Vital 166 suddenly got excited and said, "Giddyup, let's go!" I wasn't paying attention and the swells came from behind as I watched the tanker head off into the sunset. But the waves and swells weren't big enough to catch a little surfing moment. Sorry Vital. And I couldn't pick up my camera again until the tanker was long gone.

If you can see the name of the ship from a safe distance using your binoculars or a good zoom on your camera, you can do a vessel search using the name of the ship and find out more about it. It makes for an interesting pastime or hobby.

Vessel Search

U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Information Exchange

Happy and safe paddles.
Watch out for the big ships. They are fun to watch when you're safe.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Rescue me! A geocache without the geo at the Battle of the Windmill National Historic Site, Prescott, Ontario, Canada

I think this is an awesome candidate and location for a really cool geocache.

I found the candidate. A big, beautiful, fishing lure that I almost stepped on at the rocky, wild beach just below the Battle of the Windmill National Historic Site in Prescott, Ontario on a recent November paddle on the St. Lawrence Seaway.

The site has a small, wild, tangled woods surrounding it. Perfect for hiding a cache.

You can reach this destination by car or by kayak. 
This site is easy to find and a pretty cool place to spend some time, learn a little history, and watch the big tankers go by in the shipping channel. Just Google: Battle of the Windmill, Prescott, Ontario, Canada.
Where to find the lure

I placed the blue and silver fishing lure on top of a large, brown, round rock not far from where my kayak is beached in the image above. Then, I secured it by placing a smaller, but heavy, pale grey, triangle shaped rock on top of it, and left it there for someone else to find, and not step on!

This object, and the site would make an awesome geocache, but you'd need to geocache it.

I've left it as a potential geocache candidate for one of you to find and package, or as a gift to a wanting fisherman who may want to rescue it and fish with it.

If you do find it and rescue it, please let me know it's safe and sound. We don't want stuff with hooks floating around getting caught up in things.

If you find it and turn it into a cool geocache, please log in the BaffinPaddler, November 23, 2012.

Paddlers and hikers with a GPS love to geocache. 

I should have been prepared with a waterproof case that I was willing to leave behind, a marker, a small log book, and a GPS on this paddle!

And I was wondering, did I bring along my fishing pliers and wire cutter?

Be careful handling the lure. It has multiple hooks. Watch where you walk on shorelines. This guy was hard to see.

Happy geocaching!
The BaffinPaddler

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Short Stories: Seagull chasing away kayaker

I know what you're thinking, Ahhh, look at this great spot! This island is all mine . . .
It's the perfect place to read, take a nap, catch come sun, and do a little yoga.
Maybe not?

Such a cute little guy.
You don't want to share the island? Or do you just want some of my lunch?

Ok, I get it.

It belongs to you. All of it! Except my kayak.
You can keep the yoga mat!

Happy trails!
The BaffinPaddler

Thursday, November 29, 2012

You'll never be able to balance on that thing! The many joys of the trottinette-scooter

Actually that's a quote from the photographer, "You'll never be able to balance on that thing! To do a yoga pose on it you'd have to encase the wheels in cement first!"

Me: "Oh well. Let's try it. Be patient . . . but, BE READY TO SNAP THE SECOND I GET IT!"

Finding balance is a fun challenge sometimes. But why make it too difficult. I grounded myself next to a sturdy tree to help me find balance and did the yoga tree pose on this kid's scooter. It's called a "trottinette" in French.

The wheels were not secured by anything other than the ground, my weight, and concentration. Yoga is a wonderful thing, especially when you can connect it to yourself and the environment! I love yoga in the outdoors. No need to remove the heavy duty hiking boots.

Why I like the scooter-trottinette

It's a lot of fun to get a workout and play and drift on these mini skateboards with handlebars.

It doesn't even feel like a workout when you scoot along on paved bike paths and quiet roadways that aren't too rough and push off and work those quads and glutes. When you feel too much of a burn, switch legs, or take a few moments to hop onto the deck and glide, swerve, and wish you could do some of the tricks the kids so easily manage.

I can see why kids love skateboards. But I'll stick to something with handlebars for now.

What kept me from scooting around before? 

I was afraid people would think I was nuts.

Then someone said, "You know, they make these things for adults too. There's a guy who comes to work every day on his scooter. It keeps him in shape, he folds it up and carries it on the subway. It's faster than walking and it's low impact."

Really? I had no clue. But after looking it up, there are lots of makes and models out there for everyone. Great!

Although I'm the only adult in my neighborhood out and about on the trottinette-scooter, no one seems to mind. The eight and nine year olds give me a longer look as they pass by on their scooters, and the teenagers also scooting around sometimes smile and giggle. The adults out walking are probably thinking, "Hey, maybe we should give that a try too."

When I'm too lazy to put on the rollerblades . . . or if it's too cold and windy outside to put them on and take them off in the fall or spring (your fingers and toes freeze in seconds) . . .

I grab the trottinette and go for about 30 - 40 minutes. Moderate hills make it more interesting and an even better workout. The scooter has a brake on the back wheel. And it works better than the brakes on rollerblades!

I find the scooter a quick and fun way to mix up the workouts, fill the body with oxygen, and really tone the legs. 

Enjoy . . . in places where there's no snow and smooth pathways.
I am definitely holding on to the tree for this pose! And it feels good.

The snow is flying in the National Capital Region of Canada and ski season will be here soon enough.

Happy trails!
The BaffinPaddler

Image taken from my Smartphone, November.
The images are taken in the grass because my wheels won't stay still on pavement.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Paddle blogger at work

I really hate those point blank self-inflicted shots, but that's the kayak blogger at work.

Do I really look like that close up, and all geared up? Happy and warm! But not cute or stylish. Especially in November!

It's a wet, dirty job sometimes, but somebody's gotta be out there looking for stories. I'll have more coming. They keep finding me. And I need more work!

I wish kayaking gear was more fashionable. It looks good on guys with big shoulders though.
 
Happy trails!
Peggy Varner, Publisher of The BaffinPaddler

Friday, November 23, 2012

Where did lunch take you today?

Even better, what's in the wide-mouth thermos?

Hot, homemade, extra tender corned beef cabbage with carrots and potatoes in a clear, natural broth. The best on November paddles.

Which kayak got lucky to tag along?

Happy paddles!
Have fun with November.
The BaffinPaddler

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Are you ready to pack up your kayak?

It's November. In Canada that means cold. Packing it up doesn't mean packing it in. It may just mean a road trip somewhere warmer or an extra layer of gear.

I have two awesome sea kayaks. One kayak is still packed with travel gear, ready to go. And I'm just looking at it wondering what to do with it.

Pondering the next paddle. It's called sitting on the fence. Fences aren't made for sitting.

Happy paddles!
The BaffinPaddler

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Paddler's wish list for Christmas

Dear Santa,

Please have a word with all the tourism, marina, and park people around the world and ask them for kayak friendly docks and boat launches.

I'm just sayin'. It would be much appreciated! And might encourage more visitors of our kind.

Sincerely,
The BaffinPaddler

Send this wish to every tourism, marina, and park agency you know where you've encountered kayak unfriendly docks and boat launches.

Here's to the memories of kayak unfriendly docks, slippery cement boat launches, rocky shores, and silty bottoms to launch and land from and having a good day paddling anyway without getting hurt.

You really can't complain about surf launches and landings. Santa can't do anything about that.

Happy paddles!
The BaffinPaddler

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Enchanted forest or haunted forest?

We're on a forest hike in Mont Tremblant National Park, the second largest national park in Quebec, Canada and Halloween is coming up.

Help me find that one scary tree.

It should be easy. Every forest trail has at least one beast. A big, old tree that storms, insects, and woodpeckers have carved into something that doesn't need any help from Hollywood makeup artists to look like a monster.

But wait. In the Mont Tremblant National Park forest trails I keep finding enchanted forest

My favourite. A brontosaurus sitting on a big rock nibbling on tree branches.
La Corniche trail, Mont Tremblant National Park, Quebec Canada
Waterfalls.
La Roche trail, Mont Tremblant National Park, Quebec, Canada
Look outs.
La Roche trail lookout, Lac Monroe, Mont Tremblant National Park, Quebec, Canada

Where's the scary stuff?

On the haunted forest trail 15, Gatineau Park, Quebec, Canada. 

If you're hiking these trails, enjoy!
Mont Tremblant National Park map of La Roche and La Corniche Trails, Lac Monroe
Happy enchanted or haunted forest walks!

I think I prefer enchanted. Soon, it will all be covered in snow.

The BaffinPaddler

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

This is so redundant! The reds and yellows of Canada's fall

This is so redundant. But each year, it's necessary to pay tribute to the reds and yellows of fall.
They go so well together.

What?

More of the same?
Finally a bridge.
A cement and steel ice breaker. The Madawaska's current will push you into them if you drift too close with your hands off the paddle.
This is so redundant - more red and yellow.
Burnstown Beach
It's everywhere.

Red and yellow.
 Enjoy the reds and yellows of Canada's awesome fall.
But watch out for the rocks, current, and dam at Calabogie to avoid the reds to you don't want to see.
  Images, paddle location, and trip details:
  • Madawaska River, Ontario, Canada
  • Burnstown Beach to Calabogie
  • 12.5 km paddle each way
  • Current flows from Calabogie towards Burnstown
  • If you launch from the Burnstown beach boat launch (very kayak friendly, lots of parking, and a small fee to pay), you are paddling against the current. 
  • Current strength varies depending on time of year and the upstream dam at Calabogie. 
  • From Burnstown - West-southwest heading out. From Calabogie - East-northeast heading back to Burnstown. Not complicated to navigate.
  • Wind direction tends to change every 15 minutes on windy days in each direction - you'll have a headwind, crosswind, and tailwind both ways - ENJOY!
See last year's tribute to fall in Gatineau Park

Fall peaks in Gatineau Park, Quebec. Colours and cold water! 

Happy trails!
The BaffinPaddler

Sunday, October 14, 2012

BaffinPaddler favourite Hot and Sour Soup Recipe - Vegetarian

“Can I have your recipe for Hot and Sour Soup?”

Yes! Here it is.

This is my favourite Hot and Sour Soup recipe for its exciting, exotic taste and variety of textures. It seems to work magic for scaring away colds and making you feel all warm and happy inside. A big bowl of this spicy, steaming soup is a meal. It's soothing comfort food with a kick that people love all the more on rainy days, or during those long, cold winter months.

Serves 4-6.

Ingredients
  • 1 cake silken or soft plain Tofu (300g). Cut into bite-size cubes. Don’t use the hard flakey Tofu. It’s just awful. You want a tofu that will melt in your mouth. It’s wonderful!
  • 1 small can bamboo shoots (drain off liquid, cut into ¼ inch strips)
  • 1 small can water chestnuts (drain off liquid, slice into strips or cubes)
  • 1 carrot (Julienned) See Tips below for how to Julienne a carrot
  • 2 large eggs (beaten in a bowl)
  • Mushrooms (I use dried, chopped, Shitake mushrooms - 1 packet of 20g), or 1 cup fresh mushrooms of your choice – sliced and sautéed until browned in a little olive oil or canola oil.)
  • 2 tbsp (tablespoons) cornstarch
  • 6 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1-2 tbsp Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce (start with 1 tablespoon, you can always add more later)
  • 2 tbsp Hoisin Sauce
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Sesame oil
  • 8 cups chicken or vegetable broth (2 cartons – 900ml each)
Optional Ingredients
  • 1-2 teaspoons fresh chopped ginger root (peel off brown outer skin first and discard) Add to the stock. If you don’t like ginger, omit. The soup will still taste great.
  • Fresh green onions, chopped (to sprinkle on to the soup just before serving)
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped (to sprinkle on the soup just before serving)
Preparation 

Very Important! Assemble and prepare all the ingredients first. You'll need them ready to go before you start cooking. You may want to enlist the help of a good Sous Chef to help you prep. It's a fun soup to make together.
  1. Put cornstarch in a cup, add soy sauce, hot chili sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, and vinegar, and mix well until perfectly smooth. NO LUMPS! Set aside. We'll use this magic mixture to thicken, flavour, and glaze the soup just before serving.
  2. In large heavy soup pot, add the 8 cups of stock and fresh ginger.
  3. Bring stock to gentle boil.
  4. Add dried mushrooms, reduce heat to simmer and cover for 10 minutes. 
  5. Add carrots, bamboo shoots, and water chestnuts.
  6. Stir, cover and simmer 5 minutes.
  7. Add tofu, stir gently.
  8. Increase heat to medium. 
  9. Gradually add cornstarch mixture to the broth. Stirring gently, until the broth thickens and gets glossy. It's beautiful!
  10. Lower heat to simmer. Don’t cover pot.
  11. Add beaten eggs gradually, stirring gently to keep eggs from forming large chunks.
  12. It’s time to serve the soup!
  13. Sprinkle with fresh chopped green onions or fresh chopped cilantro (or both!). 
Enjoy! It's awesome!

Tips

How to Julienne carrots: Cut ends off carrot and peel. Cut carrot into 1 inch sections and slice lengthwise into thin strips. Great for stir fries and soups.

For Non-vegetarians

Some people like to add cooked boneless pork tenderloin strips, sliced thin, into hot and sour soup recipes. You can also add cooked chicken strips, sliced thin.

Serving Suggestions
  • Put Soy Sauce, Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce and Hoisin Sauce on the table so people can add more flavours to the soup if they wish.
  • Serve with a side dish of your favourite oriental dumplings, fried rice, or egg rolls and dipping sauce for a really hearty meal.
Have Thermos - Will Travel

You'll need a wide-mouth Thermos to transport this deliciously spicy, hearty soup with you on those cold weather paddles and hikes.
Happy trails!
The BaffinPaddler

More Favourite BaffinPaddler Recipes

You love to eat - right? You're the engine for your boat. Cooking is fun sometimes . . . when you're not paddling, hiking, cycling, skiing, doing yoga, lifting weights, curling, and more. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Go Somewhere - Mont Tremblant - Booyah!

This is what you get when you hike up a mountain in the rain to see the fall colours and a 40+km/h wind greets you!

Enjoy!

Or pick a calm, sunny day!

The fall colours are awesome this year. Go somewhere to see them.

The trees are screaming, "Booyah!"

Happy fall hikes.
The BaffinPaddler

Image location: La Roche trail lookout, Lac Monroe, Mont Tremblant National Park, Quebec, Canada

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

BaffinPaddler favourite butternut squash soup recipe with curry and coconut milk

Fall is the beginning of soup season. It's when we celebrate a good harvest and lament the beginning of cold and flu season. Here's one of my favourite soup recipes for its exciting great taste, filling a hungry belly, and promoting good health.

The texture of this blended soup is not too thick or thin, making it fantastic to drink out of a mug or eat from a bowl with a spoon. It's just right either way! Everyone loves the beautiful velvety golden colour. It pours easily into a Thermos for a great lunch to take along on those awesome fall paddles and hikes.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut Milk Recipe

1 large butternut squash, peeled (remove outer skin) and chopped (scoop out and discard seeds)
3 carrots peeled and chopped
2 medium size potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1-2 tbsp Indian curry paste (Add 1 tbsp, then taste to make sure you don't make it too spicy, or serve on the side and let people add their own to the soup.)
1 carton or can of chicken or vegetable stock (900 ml)
1 400 ml can coconut milk
The juice from one fresh lime
A pinch of nutmeg
Tarragon (fresh chopped, or dry)
Salt and pepper
  • In a large soup pot, heat the oil. 
  • Add the chopped squash, onions, garlic, potatoes, and carrots and saute on medium heat until they soften a bit - about 5-10 minutes - don't brown.
  • Salt and pepper lightly (people can add more to suit their taste when served)  
  • Add the curry paste and mix well.  
  • Add the stock and lower heat, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  • Remove pot from heat and let cool a bit so you don't risk burning yourself when you blend and puree the soup.
  • Ladle soup into the blender little-by- little (only fill 1/2 to 3/4 full when blending to avoid spills and always hold down blender lid with a dish towel to prevent it from splashing out or burning you.).
  • Puree soup until smooth.  
  • Put soup back on the stove on medium heat.
  • Gently stir in coconut milk. 
  • Add lime juice.  
  • Add a pinch of nutmeg and stir.
  • Heat the soup to a temperature you like (don't boil) and serve.
Serving Suggestions

When serving, sprinkle fresh chopped or dried tarragon into each bowl for colour and taste, or serve on the side so people can add their own.

Serve with fresh, warm rolls or with homemade croutons or soup crackers.
Tips

The skin on uncooked butternut squash is hard to peel. You can also pre-bake the squash by cutting it lengthwise, scooping out the seeds and baking it in the oven on a cookie sheet for 30 minutes at 350 degrees to soften the squash and scoop it out of the skin and add to the soup mixture before blending.

If you're making this Butternut Squash Soup for Thanksgiving Dinner, and serving mashed potatoes and gravy, you can omit the potatoes from this soup recipe. No sense in overdoing it with potatoes.  The soup is still great without potatoes.

You've got your favourite Soup Corner at home, right?   But . . . 
 Have Thermos - Will Travel
 Aren't you tired of trail mix!? Take this soup on the road!

If you're looking for a hearty stew recipe see:
BaffinPaddler Easy Make Pork Tenderloin Stew

or try another one of my favourite soup recipes,

BaffinPaddler Hot and Sour Soup - vegetarian

Happy fall paddles and hikes!
The BaffinPaddler