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The 7 year old's first overnighters
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Author:  mark m [ August 18th, 2013, 11:43 pm ]
Post subject:  The 7 year old's first overnighters

I know that some of you start your kids paddling much earlier and hats off to you, especially if you have more than 1! I’m primarily a solo paddler and although I’ve taken my daughter out on many day trips I just felt better waiting till she was a bit older to introduce her to overnight canoe tripping. I was started at about the same age as her (7yrs) and making sure she had a great experience was my priority. I did it in 2 stages. 1st was a quick overnighter close to home, 2nd was a separate trip of 2-3nts.

Stage 1
A simple 2hr paddle to a backcountry campsite on the Upper Waterton Lake to Bertha bay. Great views and a bit buggy but secluded. The next morning as we were lazing around the area a large black bear (brown) was circling around the camp. He was easily scarred away but pretty exciting. This was my first bear encounter near a camp and daughter did not hesitate to tell mother (who is petrified of bears!) of our exciting encounter when we met up with her later that day.
put in Waterton.jpg

After packing up we paddled back in with a stiff tail wind to the townsite for ice cream

Objective 1: completed

Stage 2
I selected Lakeland Provincial Park as it has limted access and a single portage that is made super easy with the fact that it provides the best portage carts I’ve ever seen. The portage is 3.2km, which can be a bit long if you’re seven but the carts and trail are super easy for 1 person to handle all the gear (and the kid).
It is a bit of a drive to reach from southern Alberta – pretty much anywhere is if your’re looking for trees so loading the daughter up with an assortment of DVD’s from the library for the drive up and back was definitely a priority.
We overnighted at Sir Winston Churchill PP which is a RV/car campground because a late start on the 3.2km portage does not appeal to me. SWCPP has a great beach and a ton of hiking trails and the daughter was excited to spend most of the following day there so… timetable adjusted and we ended up with a late start into Lakeland anyway.

Kids = go with the flow…
At the trailhead, the forrestry guys were slinging in some finished timber by helicopter for improving the boardwalks in the park. That was cool when you’re 7… or even if you’re, quite a bit more than 7. The 3.2km portage was next and to my surprise she was able to troop at least 1/2 of it before succumbing to the lure of riding on the canoe and cart as a chairotier while the mule-father completed the trek (didn’t even notice the extra weight).
lakeland 2 072.JPG

At the put-in a CF-18 roared overhead as the Primrose air weapons range (and 4 Wing Cold Lake) is in close proximity – I was more excited than daughter… The lake begins as a marsh and a lot of the lake had changed including a beaver lodge right in the middle of the lake with a floating land mass to navigate through. 2 years ago this was wide open. Curious since the water levels have been high…
As we entered the lake proper we had a shower for about 30min. The kid liked that as she got to use her rain poncho and attempted to keep the whole front of the canoe dry.
I didn’t want to paddle too late into the evening and risk crankiness but the 1st campsite was an absolute mess – it can be accessed by ATV’s so maybe that’s why, at any rate, we moved on down Jackson Lake and into Kinnard Lake. Even though we were there mid-week the next 3 campsites were taken so we didn’t get to a site until quite late.
Since we were so late getting in the next day we decided to base camp it and simpily did a day paddle around the south end of Kinnard in the middle of the day and returned to trhe camp to hang out for the rest of the day.
Beaver’s were active around camp both nights and a white tail came through the camp during the morning of our departure and wer counted no less than 11 different Loons at one time which is a real treat for anyone from Southern Alberta!
Lakeland paddle.jpg

We paddled out of Lakeland after spending 2 nights. We didn’t do the whole circuit but we were happy and dirty and had A&W on our minds. Queen Nefertiti needed to get back onto her chairot at the portage but surprisingly she still trooped at least 2/3’s of the way on foot before taking the reigns.

This trip was about my daughter. Although she probably did less than 50 paddle strokes in total she was busy! Fishing rods, bugs, sticks, taking pictures, rocks, eating trail mix (mostly all the M&M’s!), picking lilly pads and dragging her feet through the water as we cruised along and it was all good. In camp, even going to the outhouse was fun (apparently…) together we built the campfires, made bannock, pitched the tent, lit the stove and filtered water. I showed her how to use a compass and also the GPS.
Extra stuff – quite a few more stuffed animals came along than I usually bring… a collection of glow sticks and some may critisize me for this but an Ipod – although, I’m happy to say that the Ipod batteries lasted the whole trip INCLUDING the drive there and back without a recharge so very rarely used.

What was it for me? Apart from the obvious as who doesn’t want to “spend quality time with the kid”. It was noisier than most of my trips (a good noise) and slower paced but apart from having to roll up an extra sleeping bag and mat, the work load was exactly the same as any of my solo trips. It was the best canoe trip I’ve ever done.
lakeland sunset.jpg

Last year she wanted Barbie type stuff for her birthday; this year she wants a Swiss Army knife

Objective 2: complete

Next year, we will try some river stuff

Author:  Canoeheadted [ August 19th, 2013, 12:53 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The 7 year old's first overnighters


Keep it up.

Author:  ravenlunatic [ August 19th, 2013, 7:39 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The 7 year old's first overnighters

I enjoyed reading your narrative very much. As a person who has memories of such adventures with a curious 4 year old, it is the little things we cherish.

Question: why are loons so rare in Alberta?

Author:  pawistik [ August 19th, 2013, 1:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The 7 year old's first overnighters

Great stuff mark!

raven: southern Alberta isn't ideal loon habitat - it's a pretty dry prairie area so coots (aka mudhens) are more common than loons. Southern Alberta is not the forest habitat that loons prefer. Note that mark m has driven a long ways north to get into the aspen parkland on the edge of the boreal forest.

From ... _Loon.aspx
Preferred nesting habitat is on forested lakes and rivers;

Author:  ravenlunatic [ August 19th, 2013, 5:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The 7 year old's first overnighters

I learn something new every day.

Author:  mark m [ August 21st, 2013, 9:07 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The 7 year old's first overnighters

Bryan has the gist of it. Being a transplanted Ontarioite (more than 25yrs now) I still miss the forested areas and the Loons.

Thanks for the kind words

Author:  ravenlunatic [ August 21st, 2013, 10:08 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The 7 year old's first overnighters

I enjoy reading about people who enjoy their trip and your affection for your daughter is heartwarming. The Queen reference made me smile. I recall a 4 year old (who was not all that small) still wanting to be carried in spite of the fact he could walk, and it resonates.

I have no experience in Alberta canoeing but hope perhaps one day to make it there. Loons are so plentiful in Ontario lakes its something I guess we take for granted.

You may not have many loons, but you've got those great mountains .

Author:  dunkin' [ August 22nd, 2013, 11:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The 7 year old's first overnighters

Keep up the good work with your daughter, Mark. Something that she will remember, and that will affect her, forever.

West of here in Lougheed Provincial Park in Kananaskis, I have heard lots of loons while canoeing and camping on the Upper Kananaskis Lake. Lots in BC too. It does seem they like forested areas. Gotta just love all the sounds they make. :)

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