Those lyrics to the great Stevie Nicks song “Landslide” may reflect what I’ve been feeling a bit lately. Yup, getting older, but given the alternative, I think I’ll take it! The past month has seen our son graduate from University, and he will soon be heading 600 miles away to start his engineering career. Two weeks after the trip to see his graduation, we attended our daughter’s wedding…a great, happy occasion! It has been a rather hectic month, but after another week of busy-time, we should be able to catch our breath and get on with summer.
During the crazy season that was May, we have managed to keep busy with the dogs, since getting out for a hike or canoe trip provided some much needed respite. The canoes and kayak have been in the water quite a bit, and I even managed to squeeze in two overnight solo canoe camping trips. We are fortunate to live very close to a few places where we can just “load up and go” on the spur of the moment.
Canoe camping is very relaxing for Gryphon!
Over the past few years, we have developed an easy and reliable system which makes it possible for us to just decide to head off for a few nights of canoe camping. The key? Organization, Planning, and Routine. Granted, our longer trips require a bit more forethought and preparation, but even on those trips, we use the same basic system. Nothing we do is unusual, spectacular, or particularly clever, but this is what works for us.
- Choose destination: Based upon weather forecasts, time of year, how much time we have to be out, or our interest in revisiting favorites, or trying new spots, availability of campsites ( reservations required, or first come-first served). We are constantly perusing guide books, websites, paddling.net, and social media, to find new and exciting paddling destinations.
- Decide which boat(s)…for solo trips, the choice is obvious, but when we are going as a couple, with the 2 dogs, we may choose the solo canoe and kayak, or we may want the tandem canoe. Much depends on paddling distances required, portaging challenges , and if shuttling ( as on a river trip) is required.
- Use our checklist! Our trip preparation checklist is a laminated graphic organizer (used with white-board marker) which allows us to be sure we bring all necessary gear, and also indicates where it will be packed. This organizer is written “to the max” and many times, we will cross-off items that we do not need for shorter or solo trips. Since we initiated the use of this chart, we have yet to forget anything that we needed! The tent selection may also vary, depending on whether it is a solo trip or couples trip.
- We keep our gear organized in our “gear room”, and always have a supply of camping foods on hand, ready to grab and go. We usually bring along some fresh fruit and other favorite items from the kitchen. We also keep a supply of kindling wood and fire starters; if we are camping locally, we also are able to use a few stick of local firewood that we keep on hand. Some sites we frequent have adequate downed wood to use for campfires, but other times, what we bring is all that we will have available to us.
- We generally load the boats the same way each trip, and the dogs maintain their designated positions in the boat(s). By knowing where each dry bag is placed, and how much we put in each section of the boat, loading at the launch sites is quick and easy.
Each camping trip, whether it is 24 hours or a week, presents us with the opportunity to try new lakes and campsites, check out some new gear or foods, see great wildlife, and take advantage of the peace and solitude that canoe camping offers. We love it, and the dog certainly get excited whenever they see us collect the gear.
More canoe camping, for 3-4 day stretches, is upcoming….So nice to see the trees bursting with green color, and our favorite wildlife making return appearances!
Great article. I’m going to copy your packing list idea. What is your ‘sleep system’ for the dogs? My labs sleep indoors so aren’t acclimated to chillier temps
Thanks Tracey! Our dogs sleep in the tent with us, so that helps keep them warm. We do have a “dog tent” which is really a sunshade, but they only use that to hang out before going into the real tent. Each dog has a kids size sleeping bag we found at the Goodwill. That works well for our bigger dogs, but we do also have a Ruffwear Highlands sleeping bag, though it is a bit small for our dogs. They sleep on the bags open, and if it gets too cold, we flip the top over them. They have never complained about being cold!We use foam floor tiles on the tent floor, and fleece sleeves over our inflatable sleeping pads,which help protect from damage from dogs’ claws. Our dogs have become very used to sleeping in tents, lean-tos and cabins, and we camp in temps down to 30 or so…..