Didn’t even hear a bear

We’re back, and sorry for the radio silence my pets, we arrived back home safe and sound, and I was going to post and tell you all about it, and then bright and early Monday morning, my laptop (perhaps sensing the big plans I had for it) completely bricked. (I use the term bricked here to mean that the thing did a brick imitation, with all the abilities a brick possesses.)  It’s taken several frustrating days, but I’m back up and running, and thanks to what I’ve learned from previous computer incidents, I lost nothing this time. Not so much as an email drifted off into the ether, and although some stuff I needed was trapped inside a dead laptop (I guess, since it’s okay now it was more like it fainted) I’m hooked back up again now, no harm, no foul. Just three days of trying to get things done on an ipad, and really, those things are made more for tracking a knitting chart and surfing Ravelry than they are actually doing work stuff.  Ever tried to do some real typing on an ipad? It’s about as effective as using spoons for knitting needles.  Still, I’m here now, and all that is behind us.

Attached please find several pictures of our wonderful trip, because I know you’re all just dying to see our vacation snaps.  (I have got to get someone working on that sarcasm font that I need so badly.)


We drove up to Algonquin Park and went in through Achray access point, near Petawawa. (That won’t mean much to most of you, but Algonquin Park is huge, more than 7000 square kilometres, so saying that you “went to the park” could mean a lot of different things. It’s big enough that the west and east halves have different animals and climates. This is Canada. We have a lot of room to make parks.)


We packed everything we needed into our canoe – and off we went.


This is backcountry camping. That means you get around by canoe, and you bring in all that you need, including all your food and water. There are no facilities. Nada. This time of year you don’t even really see people.  We had a little stove to camp on – just one burner, and other than that, our cooking was over the fire, and you have to find and chop your own firewood.


We have a great water filter, so we can drink lake water, so at least we don’t have to carry all that in – and we can’t run out, which is really great, and at night your food and garbage go into a bear barrel and a special cooler that doesn’t let any smells out, and you hoist the lot of it up a tree. It’s to keep the bears from finding you interesting – or finding you, really.

waterfalls-2016-09-13 joeandi-2016-09-13 campcanoemap-2016-09-13

We had a map, and a compass, and we travelled all around the lakes, portaging between them as we went. (Portage is a fancy word that means “carry your stuff and your canoe”.)



It all went very well, with the exception of one extremely rainy night and day, when Joe and I asked ourselves the question that everyone in the backcountry of Algonquin asks themselves at some point, which is “Is the closest Fairmont in Ottawa, or Kingston?”  We almost paddled out that day, but at the last minute, right when we were about to abandon the whole thing, the rain stopped, and we were able to get a fire going, and after that, everything seemed possible again. The backcountry is sort of like an episode of survivor. Fire is life. (Or, at least happiness. I can do almost anything as long as I’m getting whiskey and a fire at the end of it. Almost.)


It was lovely, and everything we own is almost clean again, including us. (I found a pine needle floating in my bath the second day we were home. I wouldn’t have been too bothered about it, except that it was my third bath. I’m hoping it was in my hair.) We’re both back to work – and it’s time to settle into the productive time that is September.

I’ll be in Calgary this weekend (at Pudding Yarn, great shop, and I think there’s a spot or two free in one of the classes yet) and I’ve chosen the yarn for my Rhinebeck sweater.


Blackwater Abbey 2-ply worsted, in Pippin. I thought I’d chosen a pattern, but I’m waffling. Tomorrow. I’ll decide tomorrow.

It’s September. The unofficial start of the year if you’re a wool person, and I’m ready. Let’s go.

102 thoughts on “Didn’t even hear a bear

  1. After reading Looking For Alaska, I’m half convinced there’s a bear every quarter acre or so in the north countries–glad you didn’t run into one. But wow, what gorgeous pictures. Memories for a lifetime.

  2. I’ve just put Algonquin on my list of places I need to go. It looks and sounds fabulous.

    You’ve also now prompted me to try knitting with spoons just to see if it can be done.

  3. Thanks for sharing. That looks awesome and other than the rain (that is always rotten during camping) I think people would enjoy it a lot more than they realize. Especially if they need the down time. (Who doesn’t?) I would love it.

  4. We go up that way every summer pretty much, but I didn’t get up there this year. I miss it.
    Looks perfect. Even the sock is the right colour for campfire knitting.

  5. Well now I can’t get the thought of a spoon that’s also a knitting needle out of my head. It would work just fine for a large gauge needle, but does anyone actually use those? A smaller needle would make a terrible spoon handle, and I can’t bring myself to make a bad spoon on purpose. I bet a crochet hook on the end of a spoon would work though. I haven’t crocheted anything in years; I’ll have to think about this.

    • I’ve seen replicas of an ancient Roman(?) style of spoon that has a sharp, needle-like handle with, I believe, a square cross-section. I can’t imagine how it was used unless they slid a hollow wooden handle over it for use and removed it for washing. Hmmm. That could work. Better for crochet, though.

  6. You’re infinitely braver than I am, but I’ve known that for a long time. Hey, was that squirrel looking for a fleece to make off with?

  7. Glad you had a wonderful holiday. Everytime I go camping it rains all the time so it’s the Fairmont for me. I love the name of the yarn colour. I have a sweet little kitty named Pippin who, amazingly, is not the least interested in knitting. It’s not a colour that suits me, but I might have to get some anyway.

    • I know a kitty named Pippin myself, but he is definitely not a ” sweet little kitty.” He’s more an adventurous, wall-climbing large kitty who positively exudes “don’t touch me unless you’re my mom.”

  8. Just as insurance, they do sell a keyboard for the IPad.
    My son uses his for everything, including a lot of writing, and the keyboard has helped a lot.

  9. I love that you and Joe go canoe camping together. My husband does whitewater canoeing, so he goes off with hie friends to sleep on the rocks in the rain, while I stay home in my warm, soft bed.
    But sometimes I think how nice to be off someplace beautiful, the two of us alone… but no whitewater!

  10. Well, you’re eleven years younger than I am, and light years more adventurous. And sadly, there’s no Fairmont of any kind here in Kingston (but if you do need a place to stay here, I highly recommend the Belvedere). Love the Pippin, and of course, I’d love you to knit my Zora cardigan, but there are so many more brilliant and inventive sweater designs out there, I won’t hold it against you when you choose something else. Just no toasting the wool in the oven this year!

    • I was just getting ready to say something along the same lines. Yeah, yeah, gorgeous scenery, fun trip, When did you get a Tattoo!?!? Guess we don’t see bare arms often on the blog, last time we did though I’m pretty sure it was still a blank canvas.

  11. My favorite place!! We are heading up there in the next couple of weeks; Fall is the best time, no bugs and the leaves should be beautiful then. Isn’t portaging piles of fun??! We have had a bear encounter, but hoping to see moose this time. I have yet to try knitting by campfire.

  12. Your time away sounds wonderful… completely disconnecting from all the things that draw us off our paths (or push us along them too quickly!) in our daily lives, a chance to turn inward and take stock, a chance to pare down… but I just couldn’t do it! Please keep taking pictures and having adventures though, so I can watch other people do it. 🙂

  13. I actually was hoping for vacation photos, and love living vicariously because there is no way I’m going camping like that voluntarily anymore, but I love watching others do it. As someone who just spent 2.5 weeks with only an iPad, I so feel your pain. Having a keyboard again has made me very, very happy

  14. Those look like The Best Boots – not too much, not too little. What fun to have a bikes-alot body that can canoe and hike. I’m glad for you. The colors and sites seem like a movie, especially with all the water soumds. The Best. Glad you two got away. The Pippin color is quite fitting with the season.

  15. Good for you: the sign of a REAL knitter is when they bring their knitting on trips like that. I always carry my yarn and needles up mountain tops when I go backpacking, so I guess that makes me a member in the obsessive-compulsive-knitters-club. (I also bring chocolate, so that makes me a member in the choclaholic club).
    What a beautiful bad-ass picture of you with the canoe and holding the paddles!

    • I bring wine as well as chocolate – and sock projects on carbon fiber DPNs (ultralight! Woo!).

      So far I have knitted on 3 backpacking trips (one in the Grand Canyon), 2 backcountry ski tours (we stayed in a cabin though), one canoe trip, and one overnight bike tour.

  16. I want your life! I loved reading all about your trip. Nature is so healing. Just looking at your pictures made me happy. You’ve inspired me to make time for hiking this fall.

    You brought DPN’s???? What? With all that uncertainty I would have been doing magic loop for certain. The likelihood of losing a DPN would keep me up at night. I can’t even do DPNs on a train much less the wilderness. You really are BRAVE! 🙂

  17. I’ve always found that :1) If I’m dry with something hot to eat before bed, and my bedding is dry, everything is OK. 2) I always take knitting but I’m too tired to do any 3) whiskey helps

  18. Glad you and Joe had a good time, even with that chipmunk invading your privacy!
    The Rhinebeck yarn will look great on you (almost in spite of whatever pattern you choose) — can’t wait to see the finished sweater!

  19. There may not be a sarcasm font, but there are some punctuation options. Check out the irony mark, SarcMark, and Snark Mark 🙂 Now if only the internet could decide on _ one_ of these options!

  20. You were less than 30 kms from us here by road, the nearest nice hotel would have been in Petawawa..and another 2 or 3 in Pembroke..I am glad that it didn’t rain much, the park is lovely this time of year.

  21. Looks like a wonderfully great time. I love that kind of camping. The closest I’ve gotten to it since having my brood of children is a backpacking trip I did this summer along the seashore just outside of Seward, Ak with ladies from my church. We were fortunate to have a covered eating area and latrines. Pretty plush backpacking conditions.

  22. I didn’t come across any bears when I visited Algonquin Park, but one of those chipmunks like you pictured there broke into my trail mix while I was setting up camp. I dutifully secured the trail mix and all my other food and woke in the morning to find that the chipmunk had responded to that deprivation by nibbling away on my flip-flops. A whole little chunk was missing and a nice little pile of flip-flop shavings lay adjacent. At least the wolves I encountered didn’t nibble on any of my footwear.

    Looks like a beautiful trip, even with the tiny menacing wildlife 😉

  23. Looking at the pictures of you, Joe, the canoe and the knitting channeled trips by EZ and the Gaffer. The only difference is that she had a pencil instead of an IPad.
    (Please give us a better look at your tattoo. It just gets blurry when I try to biggify it)

  24. Sounds like fun. I particularly like the whiskey and a fire bit. That’s most of the people I know (tho to be truthful, I’m probably the only whiskey one, everyone else would want beer.)

  25. I would love to see a close up of your tattoo, please. Didn’t know you had one and I’m supremely curious. You are a mountain queen, for sure. 2 camping trips in a matter of weeks! Impressive.

  26. Canoe camping is the best! You get to take a bunch of stuff without carrying it on your back, but you still get to farther from the beaten path than car camping. Where is the moose you were saying you’d say hi to in your last post?

  27. What wonderful pictures, thank you so much for sharing! I hope you don’t mind yet another person commenting on your tattoo–it looks great (so do you and your husband 🙂

  28. Love the look of your vacation. Fun times in spite of or because of the rain it seems.

    Why not tell us the choices you have for your Rhinebeck sweater? We can all help you waffle. At the very least we can vote on it and then you can choose to knit or knot that winner.

  29. Glorious pictures! I would love to see in person but it’s beyond me now. For me Fairmonts rule! I look forward to your posts about your Rhinebeck sweater. Keep us posted on how close you cut it! Another year passing that I will not be able to go.

  30. Glad you are safely home and had a fantastic trip. Pics are beautiful. Chopmunk is adorable. We used to have a pair who liked the coloured flowers on the deck and then they sadly disappeared. Saw a new one last week. More info on the tattoo please. Real or not it still looks really nice. BTW you can get a Logitec keyboard for your Mac Air or whichever model you have. Very convenient. Have to click the foot. Very apropo.

    • I rather like ‘chopmunk’ …. perhaps a more serious variety of chipmunk who works with wood, of even a Chinese variety?

  31. How apropos, I needed to touch the umbrella, I work for a company who’s trademark is an umbrella! Anyway. great tat- looks new so you need to spill the beans :). Also info on your boots and socks..I’m desperately trying to get His Nibs on the trails around Richmond and I need good foot gear! LOVE the color of your camping project as well as the Rheinbeck sweater!

  32. Seems awfully early for a Rhinebeck sweater!
    We wouldn’t want to miss out on the suspense.
    It’s almost as much fun as the festival itself…
    (I need the sarcasm font too!)

  33. My tech-savvy engineer husband bought me a wireless keyboard to use with my Ipad and it’s the greatest thing since washable wool! It has saved me more than once when I’ve been on a writing deadline and traveling (and not wanting to lug my huge laptop). The keyboards are inexpensive, easy to use, and worth every penny!

  34. We used to say about my Mum that “camping” was not enough towels in the hotel room – I think I inherited that particular gene! However, you guys look happy and like you’re enjoying yourselves, so to each his/her own 🙂 I’d love to go to Rhinebeck again this year, but my last post breast cancer (implants) surgery is in October and I’m SO ready for this to be over and done that I’ll even miss Rhinebeck for it. Can’t wait to see what sweater you pick.

  35. That’s awesome. My husband and I went out of the Achray access point two years ago. Stayed on Stratton Lake the whole time but did get into the High Falls the very short time the rain broke. We just got back from backcountry at Killarney so I sympathize with the feeling that everything you own is dirty. Found a bug in my hair two days after leaving….

  36. It seems that your laptops have bricked (or at least fainted) a number of times. Can we assume that you keep current backups? I have an external hard drive on my iMac and use Time Machine for backups every hour it’s in use. It has saved my life more than once and it’s a set-it-and-forget-it system. Glad you didn’t lose any work! Welcome home!

  37. I have yet to camp under canvas (or its modern equivalent) without rain. Your trip looks wonderful, even with 24 hours of rain.

    My husband’s Uncle Al took us in his travel trailer (along with his dory) to the Réserve faunique La Vérendrye wildlife reserve in western Quebec, where supposedly you can canoe from one end of the park to the other (we didn’t try it.). We bathed and drank directly out of the lakes (I was told we could…and I didn’t have experience or familiarity). Then, our guide caught a 4-foot pike…and I didn’t go in any deeper than I could see my toes after that!!!

    And the chipmunks loved gum drops (Uncle Al kept a 2 lb. container of them…and it was bottomless!).

  38. Beautiful pictures. It’s nice to get away from it all and revel in nature and then to also realize how much you miss the comforts of home. It’s a balance. Back to knitting my fall shawl, which will soon be a winter shawl if I keep procrastinating.

  39. Ok, I’ve already seen the tat on IG, so I want to swoon over the photo of Joe with that canoe over his head. Because for real, I feel like a champ when I can barely haul my kayak down by my calves. OVER. HIS. HEAD. He’s my hero. Also, glad you had a nice trip and welcome back.

  40. I’ll join the chorus advocating for having an Apple wireless keyboard on hand. They’re about $80, and I bought a case for mine that also works as an iPad stand. It’s got the same touch as the keyboard on my laptop, so when I’m forced to use an iPad for computer-type stuff, I don’t suffer so much adjustment. It has saved my life more than once–and made me reach for iPad instead of laptop while traveling for business, so it’s saved my back as well.

  41. Beautiful – thanks for sharing something so different! We have a holiday bach/cabin accessed by boat and with only rain water (and now solar power). You make it look so easy to move around in a canoe! I’d love to try it one day!

  42. I was recently camping in the Windriver mountains in Wyoming and as we carefully put our toothbrushes and toothpaste and deodorant in the bear bags to hang in a tree, my husband said, “What about our teeth? If the bears can smell so well, and toothpaste might attract them, how can I get in my tent with my newly-brushed teeth still with me?”

  43. What a timely post for me to read! My hubby and I are leaving for a weeklong canoe trip in Killarney next weekend. It’ll be my first back country trip, his fifth, so I believe I’m in good hands. I’m really looking forward to it! Loved your pictures! 🙂

    • To clarify…his fifth in Killarney. He’s done dozens of others, including Algonquin. And as a side note, this is kind of an unofficial honeymoon, as we will be married a little over a month when we leave. 😉

  44. We were in Yosemite this year and were told that some bears have worked out that there is food in those bear containers, even though they can’t smell it. They have dropped them off rocks to break them open. Beware the smarter than the average bear!

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