The Fulfilling but Unsuccessful Trout Campout

25 Aug

As the summer begins to wind down, my good friend Mitch decided it would be a rad idea to take a camping and fly-fishing trip in Elora, Ontario which holds the famous Grand River (well, famous for fly-fishing…). With the weather looking solid, my hunger for trout fishing and having never explored this area of the province before, Kayley and I were stoked for the weekend.

Kay and I arrived at the campsite mid-afternoon after getting minimally lost to find this massive campground that seemed to have a million sites that were beginning to fill up fast, and we started to worry our spot was going to be shoved in-between a group of noisy families. But, luckily my campsite booking skills paid off and our spot was pretty pristine, tucked into this nicely wooded area, blocked off from all craziness going on throughout the conservation area.

Kay sets up. I take pictures. The usual.


Mitch didn’t join us for the first night since he was having a couple brews back in Barrie for his end of the season work party, so we had a free night to kill. The site was fortunately right up against the Elora Gorge, we grabbed the cameras and took in the stellar scenes, leaving the remainder of the night to be filled with beer drinking, stories and campfire cookings!

Campfire meals are supreme.

Campfire meals are supreme.


Post-dinner beer drinking.

Post-dinner beer drinking.


The night was the perfect temp for sleeping and with Mitch not arriving till 11am, it gave us some time to sleep in, wake up, getting the fire going, coffee brewed and enjoy some breakfast.

Breakfast prep.

Breakfast prep.


Just as we were all cleaned up from cooking, Mitch rolls into the site and it was now time to get the weekend started!

Mitch's very rad $20 tent.

Mitch’s very rad $20 tent.


Since trout fishing isn’t a viable option during mid-day we decided to take a trip into the small but very cool town of Fergus. Mitch and I needed to make our first stop be the Grand River Outfitting & Fly-Fishing Shop (I recommend this place to anyone who is in the area for fishing, the owners are awesome people and provide great advice and stories.) to grab some trout flies, find out river conditions and chat up the owner on anything fly-fishing related. After grabbing what we needed, our stomaches were communicating that they were hungry, so we stopped in at the Brewhouse on the Grand which provided us with some radical eats. With full stomachs, Mitch mentioned that there was a mini-ramp somewhere in town, even though I had just begun to skate again after bruising my ankle a few weeks back I was down! We drove around, flipping through our phones for 20 minutes trying to find the place, and just before we were about to give up, Kayley spotted it! To our misfortune, the ramp was pretty gnarly, my ankle wasn’t feeling great, scooter kids and high school teens everywhere, that skate session lasted about the same amount of time it took us to find the place, but skating is always worth it.

Before heading back to camp, finding an access point for our trout hunt the next morning was in order. Within minutes we found the perfect place below this massive bridge, providing us pathways down to the beautiful river flow. And from up above we spotted what seemed to be the most massive brown trout I’ve ever seen which filled up our stoke levels.

The Beautiful Grand River

The Beautiful Grand River.


Back at camp we got the fire going, chilled out for a bit, had some snacks and got ourselves prepared for some evening fishing at the end of the Gorge which was conveniently right in the campground we were stationed at. Earlier, the owner of the fly shop had told us a friend of his caught this massive brownie in the area not too long ago, and we were committed to finding one!

The goods.

The goods.


Suited up and ready go, we searched for the area the guy talked about. After finding a barely bush wacked trail, at the river we were, in we stepped and the search began.

River Junkies.

River Junkies.


Mitch and I moved up and down the river, with little luck. This was just a precursor for the next morning meaning we didn’t expect much but it’s always fun to get out on the water and give it a go. After going through a couple fly choices, we both snagged what looked to be mini Carp.

Inspecting the catch.

Inspecting the catch.


Just a little homie.

Just a little homie.


A couple hours went buy, the sun began to set, Kayley’s camera died, and nothing worth noting caught, those all being signs to pack it in for the night. The rest of the evening was spent chatting, fire watching, and kraft-dinner eating, and no complaints were given. An early night was needed if we were to get the real trout hunt on at 5am the following morning.

The night gave some more great temps for sleeping, and as Mitch’s alarm rang, we were all feeling mighty rested and ready to get the day started. As quietly as we could, we got the fire started quickly to get some food and hot coffee into our stomachs (No 5am wakeup can go well without coffee).

5am fire starting 101 with Kayley Fowler

5am fire starting 101 with Kayley Fowler.


With a packed car, out of the campsite we went before the sun even began to rise. Mitch pulled up to the access point just as the sun was beginning to show itself and the true hunt began!

This is why getting up early is rad.

This is why getting up early is rad.


The flies were tied and casts were made before 6:20am, both of us hoping for the best.

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Teamwork is key.

Teamwork is key.


We searched this specific section for hours, Mitch covering one area and myself another each time we moved around, couple bites were had but no real luck. After putting in some time within this one big section, having gone through much of our fly selections, frustration was setting in, we had to move on….

It was our best bet to move upstream, hoping the trout had positioned themselves up there. Through the forest we trekked. Finally we came across a very sketchy access point. The area looked somewhat promising, but with trout, you never really know and they aren’t called buck nasty brown for nothing. Covering multiple areas again gave us no more luck than before and mid-day was approaching. With our backs aching, arms tired and no motivation, it was time to call it a day and admit defeat.

Miserable Mitch haha

Miserable Mitch haha….


Our site checkout was 12pm, so we trekked on back to the car and get on our way. (Side Note: As we were on the bridge that was above the main access point, we saw those big browns we had witnesses the previous day right where we were casting but they didn’t want anything we were giving them, just wasn’t meant to be I guess.) We arrived back at camp, packed up, said our good-byes and went on with our Sunday.

It was very unfortunate that we didn’t find the trout we were looking for, but that’s how fishing works, fish don’t care that you travelled for hours or that you woke up at 5am or that you just bought a new fly rod, but the search for them successful or not is always worth it. I had an awesome weekend, it’s always rad to chill with Mitch “The Pizza God” Girard, to get some camping, skating and fishing in, probably the best way to end the summer. Thanks man!!

-Chris

 

Caving Tripping With the Forever Cool In-Laws!

17 Aug

This past weekend, Kayley and I had the pleasure of having her Mom, Carol and Step-Dad, Dennis come visit us in Ottawa before we bid farewell to the city. After coming to check out our place of rest on Thursday night, they decided to spend the weekend camping up at Lac Philippe in Gatineau Park with their very cool camper truck! Since Kay and I had never officially camped out in the park we thought it would be an awesome way to spend our weekend. We arrived at their site late Friday night, pitched the tent, enjoyed a couple beers (even though they aren’t allowed in the park, but who follows rules anyways…haha), caught up, and roasted up a fire.

The following morning we decided to take a hike along Lac Philippe toward the Lusk Caves. Luckily the heat held off for the majority of the first half of the adventure and we arrived at the caves just before the masses started appearing.

My stoked adventurer :)

My stoked adventurer 🙂


The cave exploration starts up at this deep dark mouth, head lamps are a must if you want to get that truly rad experience! Once you begin to enter the mouth the cave you can feel the cool air take over and the refreshing water soaking your feet, if you weren’t already awake, at this point you for sure are now!

Here goes nothing!


Once inside, the first half of the cave is quite open with little light pouring in, feeling like you are in some other world. The water at this point in history is very low but you can clearly see how the water shaped most of the cave after the glaciers melted away around 10,000 years ago, really giving you an idea of how insane nature can be.

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Thank you nature for giving us a rad place to adventure!


At one point you think you’ve come to a dead end, the natural light inside is officially gone and you begin to wonder if it’s time to head back but luckily Kay and I had done this before. We guided Dennis and Carol through this interesting section where the water is much higher (around waist height) and the ceiling much lower, leaving you to duck and maneuver through, also did I mention it’s pitch black!!  Once out the other side you come to the half-way point of the cave which is this open fish bowl basin, giving you a moment to recoup, take a drink and get ready for round two!

The second half of the cave is a bit gnarlier than the first section, it’s a lot darker, larger obstacles, and faster rushing water, but hey, the challenge is what makes it worth it!

Everyone ready for section two!!

Everyone ready for section two!!


It was much harder to take pictures in this half, a bit too dark and other things to worry about such as not falling down a waterfall haha. Once making our way down, we come across a similar but a bit more brave hearted situation as the one before. To reach the end of the cave, we had to practically swim under the low, stalactite riddled ceiling (I’d say it’s a good test for those scared of the dark and/or claustrophobic), probably the coolest way to end a cave adventure in any of my experiences.

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We made it!

We made it!


It was time for a break! We all munched on some granola bars as a reward, high-fived and got back on our feet to hike back to camp and grab some well-deserved lunch! The rest of the hike is pretty mellow, filled with awesome natural scenery, and over-growth that provided much needed shade in the blistering heat.

Blame the beavers for this stellar scene!

Blame the beavers for this stellar scene!


The rest of the day we lounged, the girls took their needed naps, Dennis and I biked around the park, drank some beers, had a great feast for dinner, Kay and I checked out the beach during sunset, went star gazing and finally hit the hay after a jam-packed day!

Smoke on the water....

Smoke on the water….


The next morning, we had quick breakfast, fuelled up on some coffee, and said our good-byes. Carol and Dennis continued onto their next adventure and Kay and I headed home since I had to work at 11am Sunday Morning. All in all it was an another rad weekend, thanks Carol/Dennis for letting us invade your campsite, good times per usual!

-Chris

Deer-crossing!

Deer-crossing!


 

A foggy ride.

A foggy ride.