On this page we will update you on the progress of the planning for our trip to Banff area in September of 2017. This will be our longest expedition to date ( 3 weeks), and it will also be the longest road trip !
(Note: Actual trip reports, Paddling to Banff Parts 1,2,3 and 4 are in our archives, for October and November 2017)
What we have done so far….
1. Selected the location….we have both been to Banff many, many years ago…me for skiing in 1980, and my husband on a family road trip in his youth. Social media has offered us amazing views of the lakes and peaks of that area…especially the great paddling opportunities. If we are going to take a big trip, it should be to someplace special..and the Banff/lake Louise area is certainly special.
2. Checked resources…what are camping and paddling options, and what areas are dog friendly? Books, websites, and inquiries to social media contacts have helped us decide on our itinerary.
3.Select the dates…. I am retired, but my husband still works for our state, so it is with great pleasure we announce that he has been granted 3 weeks of leave time. We definitely do not want to deal with peak season crowds, but we also need to not go so late in the season that paddling is problematic. Again, asking folks who live in the area has helped, and we have decided to target Banff in mid-September. Also, since Canada’s 150th birthday celebration is 2017, there are many enticements to visit the parks in 2017. This is good ( admission to parks is free), but also may create larger than normal crowds. But we love Canada, and will be happy to participate in a celebratory year!
4. Decide on travel route…this is important because in order to get the desired campground locations in Banff area, we needed to make reservations on January 11th! So we have our Banff week scheduled, and a rough draft of our travel plans to get there. We are anticipating a week of travel, through Ontario, down to the UP of Michigan, and then Minnesota to dip our paddles in the Boundary Waters, and on up to Manitoba ( where we hope to meet up with our friends Kev and Andre). Then it will be the long slog across the plains until we hit the Rockies….return trip route will be TBD!
5. Equipment Preparation…at this point, we know we will be towing our new Sylvan Sports GO tent trailer. I have to get a tow hitch installed on my vehicle, and then we can go pick up the trailer in the Adirondacks in April. One we have it, we can work on gear storage options, decide what add-ons we may need, and certainly take it on a few shake-down trips.
6. Odds and Ends: We have ordered commemorative t-shirts, and decals for the car/trailer.We have licensed the dogs for 2017,and will be speaking with our vet to be sure they are all prepped before we go. Our passports will be sent in now (early) for renewal, since it takes 4-6 weeks to get them returned to us from the State Department. Hard copy maps and guide books are sitting on our table…we will continue to work with our social media contacts to answer any questions that develop. Our Parks Canada Free Discovery 2017 passes have been ordered. In March, we can make the next set of campground reservations, so that will help firm up our travel plans.
February 2017 One of our Canada Passes has arrived! These passes will permit us to enter Canada’s National Parks for free in 2017…Happy Birthday Canada!
March 2017 We now have reservations at Sawbill Lake, in the BWCA. We also have reservations at a Manitoba park, which will be a quick stop, but looks like a nice spot to check out. We pick up our GO trailer next month, and we are quite excited to give it a trial run.
April 2017 The dogs received nice scarves,and we have new hats, for our presentations at the NE PaddleSports Show! I hope to have a blog article about the show posted soon….
We have made the reservations for the final reservable campsite on our itinerary. There are two areas where campsites are “first come, first served”, but since we will be mid-week,in September, we feel confident we will have a place to stay!
Our “GO” trailer is registered, we just have to get over to Old Forge, NY to pick it up. That should be happening soon, and we plan to give it a test-run at a camping area near the dealers, on the day we pick it up…that will give us a chance to have any questions or issues answered in person.
Getting psyched for paddling season…just need to wait for ice-out!
April 22,2017 We picked up the GO Trailer, an gave it a test run at a campground in Old Forge,NY. We think it is going to be such fun, and it is an amazing addition to our camping stuff….
May 1, 2017 We plan on towing our two solo boats with us, and if we decide to tandem paddle, we will rent a canoe. The load bards integrated on the GO are not wide enough for our two boats, unless we moved the kayak J-Bars don from the car roof each time we use the trailer…and we prefer not to do that! The 60inch load bars from Malone, that we purchased at the PaddleSports Show were theoretically wide enough for two boats to lay flat. However, until we actually tried them on the GO rack, and loaded up the boats, we were not sure. Happy to report…Success!
June 2017 A nice 3 day weekend trip to the Northeast Kingdom, staying at a mostly empty state park ( the weather was pretty yucky) that provides easy access to some fine paddling. We managed to get the trailer into the wooded site without issue, and set up the trailer in a reasonable amount of time. It was great to have so much room where we and the dogs could hang out, during a pretty rainy afternoon. WE did get in some good paddling, and had a good wildlife/bird watching hike…but the main purpose of the trip was a real shakedown for the GO. We learned that we need to adjust our storage crate packing a bit, and need to pack a fly swatter…if even one mosquito gets inside, it can be so annoying!
We hope to get out for a few more GO trips this summer,before we head west. Most of our trips continue to be canoe camping, but there is something to be said for the “luxury” of using the GO !
August: Wow! Only a few more weeks before B-Day ( Banff Day)
We have taken the GO on a few more weekend adventures, and believe we have worked out most of the kinks. We have designed a tarp “curtain” for one side, to provide rain protection for the storage crates and gear we may tuck in under one sleeping wing at night.We have picked up a bit more gear to store (new axe, some camp kitchen stuff, and a new Pelican cooler), and we have spent some time finding the most efficient way to pack,use, and store it.
We also learned that people’s curiosity often causes them to walk right up to the camper…not aware that we may have sleeping dogs on site, who get very protective when a stranger approaches their turf. Since we do not want our well trained camper dogs to become campground nuisances, we decided to post a small sign advising people that we have dogs, and to respect their space. We are certainly willing to show the camper to curious folks, but only on our terms.
The set up/take down procedures no runs monthly. Our graphic organizer shows where everything is stored for transport, so we do not have to waste time wondering where to place a particular item.
We even have a new banner for the GO..a bit larger, and color coordinated with the trailer!
So we are doing last minute stuff now…car check-ups, house-sitting arrangements, food shopping, etc…certainly it will be exciting to pull out of the driveway in a few weeks!