I like March for one reason- it's planning season. Ice out is just around the corner and I’m getting the itch. I just picked up two new maps, Spanish River and The Kawartha Highlands. I’ve also pulled out my Algonquin Park Backpacking Map from the pile.
There are several reasons and factors in planning a trip- the most obvious being how many days one has for the trip, or what gear is required. Most wilderness areas require backcountry permits and reservations in advance. Some places are also site specific for reservations making proper planning paramount. Shuttling to areas may also require scheduling, like the water taxi in Algonquin, or Via Rails Budd car for the Spanish River.
So how does one begin to plan a trip?
With hiking, a moderate baseline for distance is about 20 minutes per kilometer (3km per hour). Enter the variables.
Darren and I have a Killarney hiking trip, specifically La Cloche Silhouette Trail, planned for the end of April. We’re going to attempt it in 5 days this time going counterclockwise around the loop. That's about 15km a day. With the above math that would be 5 hours of hiking. After looking at the map, and having done the trip before,we know there are many elevation changes and creek crossings that slow down the hike. There will be times we are covering 1 km per hour.There could be snow at the higher elevations that slow travel also. We prepare for rough weather and can march through everything but lightening, which would also delay travel.
With canoe camping, a good baseline is 20km per day in 6 hours. If you don't cover portages in one go, that distance can be eaten by repeat trips over the same path.
In Algonquin Park the winds generally pick up in the afternoon, causing higher waves on larger lakes. It's not unheard of to be windbound in Algonquin. Heavy rain can help keep the wind down, making an easy paddle, but lightning will stop the trip and cause delays. Another factor on any trip- skill level and fitness level. These factors can greatly affect the overall enjoyment, sure you can slug out a few days of hiking, but it'd be more fun not being out of breath the whole time. We’re planning a Spanish River trip this year and neither of us have any experiance in running a river. So, we are taking a moving water course prior. If you're introducing a new paddler to backcountry, allow for more time, perhaps aim for 12 to 15 km per day. When travelling with children, its a good idea to have a few route and campsite options depending on how active they are that day.
Proper planning of any trip ensures maximum enjoyment while on the trip. There’s lots of great resources out there. www.Jeffsmap.com has helped us with many trips, and gives travel time estimations and other great info on the map. A great active community of paddlers that offers great area knowlege and experiance is www.myccr.com . http://www.algonquinpark.on.ca/ is also a great resource.Oh, one last tip, on your map is the scale. Cut a piece of string to the length of a few kilometers using the scale. Its a quick way to measure distances along your route! You can also contact us if you have any questions. Happy planning!!