I Backpack Canada » Accommodation http://ibackpackcanada.com A backpackers travel guide to Canada Tue, 07 Apr 2015 16:17:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 5 Things You Need To Bring Camping With Youhttp://ibackpackcanada.com/5-things-you-need-to-bring-camping-with-you/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/5-things-you-need-to-bring-camping-with-you/#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2015 14:43:51 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=7030 Wouldn’t trekking through the wilderness be so great if everything simply fit in your pockets? Unfortunately, unless you have one of those fancy inflatable Houses, you probably won’t be going camping without a backpack anytime soon. Filling it up can sometimes be too easy. We’re constantly reminded to prepare for the worst. Then also reminded […]

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Wouldn’t trekking through the wilderness be so great if everything simply fit in your pockets? Unfortunately, unless you have one of those fancy inflatable Houses, you probably won’t be going camping without a backpack anytime soon. Filling it up can sometimes be too easy. We’re constantly reminded to prepare for the worst. Then also reminded to pack light. What needs to make the cut in your pack? Without further ado, let’s get into the items I think you absolutely should bring on your next camping trip!

1. A Knife

Victorinox Swiss Army Knife runs about $15 – $20 and the knife is well worth the cost. The one I linked above does slightly more than function as a knife (it has scissors, nail file/screwdriver, and tweezers), which makes it good for both daily usage and camping trips. I’ve had my own for around five years; I bring it everywhere because I use it almost daily, and I can personally attest to its dependability, though I have to admit those scissors are just a  waste of space.

Bringing a on your camping trip is a must. A decent knife can save your butt, and can be used in a variety of situations, including cutting rope, sharpening sticks, and even as an emergency weapon (albeit a Swiss Army Knife may not be a very effective one).

While there are definitely better knives out there, for entry-level campers the Swiss Army Knife is a great item to bring with you when you’re camping.

2. Cordage

The next essential for camping is cordage. Having rope can come in handy, especially for survival purposes. It’s cheap, and serves countless purposes, from bundling wood, to tying up an injury, or just hanging your wet clothes to dry. I personally use this small Bear Grylls bracelet cordage when I’m out in the sticks. While I may not think all that highly of Bear Grylls, his products are surprisingly decent.

Some varieties of cordage are brightly colored and highly reflective, making it a very handy tool for survival. Another product that you might consider is the Kelty TripTease Lightline, but I can’t say too much about this as I haven’t used it before. You can use cordage for quite a wide variety of things, such as attaching your gear to your pack and making a hammock.

3. A Compass

I won’t say much about having a compass. I believe you should always carry one around with you when you’re out camping, especially if you’re in an area with poor cell phone reception. It doesn’t have the be the fanciest most expensive compass, but something that can re-orient you is key. Of course, you should also know how to use a compass, but I’ll leave that to Wikihow to explain (I’m a lousy teacher).

Compass prices range from $10.00 – $100.00 depending on the quality and brand you’re after. :

Suunto M-3DL Compass

Suunto A-30L Compass

Silva Sighting Ranger CLQ Compass

4. Fire

Keeping warm is incredibly important for survival. If you’re going to be staying in an area with low elevation (< 10,000 – 12,000 feet), then you won’t have many issues with making a cheap lighter work. However, at higher elevations, due to the lack of oxygen in the thinner atmosphere, finding a lighter that strikes all the time can sometimes be a difficult task.

I’ve found that cheap Bic lighters that you can get at the gas station for a dollar or two work most of the time. However, I’m sure some die-hard campers would spit, snarl and scream at that notion. Sure, you can fight with striker sticks, matches, and or just rubbing sticks together and saying a prayer, I’m a bit of a lazy camper and have no shame in letting technology help me out.

If you’re looking for refillable lighters, I personally like Zippo lighters even more than the cheap Bic lighters. The Ultimate Survival Technologies Floating Lighter (seen above) is actually a waterproof-floating zippo style lighter, which is handy if you’re going to be on or near water at any time.

If you like to be extra careful, I’d recommend carrying a few waterproof matches as well as a Carbon Strike Fire Starter which produces sparks for those hypothetical emergency situations where none of your lighters make fire.

5. Water

Staying hydrated while outdoors is just as important as staying warm. Water is probably one of the most important resources, so finding a suitable container for it is important because you don’t want to risk having any contaminants in it. A good water bottle can be used to boil water or to melt snow, giving you a source of fresh water in a survival situation.

I use a Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Bottle because it’s both light and sturdy, and I usually clip this on to one of my belt loops (so I guess it isn’t really a “pocket item”). These are currently $25 – $32 USD on Amazon. An important thing to note is to avoid getting a double-walled container. Although they keep cold drinks cold for the entire day, the added insulation makes it difficult to boil water in when you aren’t near safe water. Or just be a smart camper and carry some Aquatabs Water Purification Tablets

I hope you enjoyed this article! Remember to follow us on social media using the links below.

Disclaimer: The links on this post will send you to Amazon Products with my personal affiliate code. If you purchase anything Amazon will share 4% of the profit with me. It’s not big money, but any bit helps keep my site going.

Special thanks to @fakejourneys for contributing to I Backpack Canada! 

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Check out these Canadian Backpacker Tour Companieshttp://ibackpackcanada.com/canadian-backpacker-tour-companies/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/canadian-backpacker-tour-companies/#comments Thu, 19 Feb 2015 03:47:20 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=4480 There are many different types of travellers. From long term travellers, to weekend warriors, finding something that will suit you is crucial to getting the most bang for your buck. If you’re short on time, but want to pack in as much adventure, sights, and memories into a week or two, then these three Canadian […]

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There are many different types of travellers. From long term travellers, to weekend warriors, finding something that will suit you is crucial to getting the most bang for your buck. If you’re short on time, but want to pack in as much adventure, sights, and memories into a week or two, then these three Canadian backpacker tour companies are definitely worth checking out.

Moose Travel Network Backpacker Tours

moose-travel-network backpacker toursI’m going to start with Moose Travel Network, because they’re the only one I’ve had a chance to experience. Their staff are incredibly helpful and knowledgable. When you book a tour with them, you can pick from several routes, allowing you to see a variety of regions throughout BC, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland. You’ve got a ton of flexibility as well, as they allow you to setup hop on and hop off style itineraries. If you decide mid way through your trip that you want to explore Banff a little while longer, it’s just a matter of letting your driver know, and then you take care of your hostels and you’re set. When you’re ready to pick up where you left off, just inform Moose Travel Network and you can hop back on the tour.

Their drivers ensure that they break up the drives between destinations with fascinating stops at stunning panoramic views, random trips and excursions, and some of the best food and drink joints along the way. Good music, laughs, and company are easily found on their trips.

Check out my interview with a Moose Travel Network Guide.

Read my experiences in the Rocky Mountains with Moose Travel Network.

Salty Bear Adventure Travel Tours

Salty-Bear-tours canadaSalty Bear Adventure Travel was started by a local Nova Scotian backpacker who was keen on showing off the maritimes to people from across the world. Salty Bear hires local Canadian drivers with a passion for their locale, ensuring you’ll know that what you’re seeing and experiencing authentically Canadian. Salty Bear is similar to Moose Travel, as they do drop offs at hostels, but will accomodate anyone if you’re staying elsewhere. They also supply tours along the way, ensuring that you get to experience the best tours along the way.

West Trek Tours

West trek tours backpackerWest Trek provides high quality adventure tours to backpackers both young and old, interested in seeing and experiencing the best of Canada. Explore the Rocky Mountains, mountain bike in Whistler, Surf in Tofino, Explore Victoria, Vancouver, and even parts of USA. Their award winning tour company is rated highly by visitors across the world.

Am I missing any other awesome Canadian Backpacker Tour companies? Don’t hesitate to share below in the comments.

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Volunteer on Organic Farms in Canada with WWOOFhttp://ibackpackcanada.com/volunteer-organic-farms-canada-with-wwoof/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/volunteer-organic-farms-canada-with-wwoof/#comments Mon, 01 Dec 2014 15:07:24 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=5889 IWWOOF, or Willing Workers on Organic Farms, is another great online community, similar to HelpX, but concentrating specifically on organic farmers. Volunteers interested in working on Organic Farms are invited to stay with hosts, where they’ll receive free accommodations and meals. Volunteers that sign up with a host in Canada can expect anywhere from 3 – […]

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IWWOOF, or Willing Workers on Organic Farms, is another great online community, similar to HelpX, but concentrating specifically on organic farmers. Volunteers interested in working on Organic Farms are invited to stay with hosts, where they’ll receive free accommodations and meals. Volunteers that sign up with a host in Canada can expect anywhere from 3 – 6 hours of work, depending on the arrangement with the host.

Volunteer In Canada: Free Accommodation on Organic Farms with WWOOF

wwoof-volunteer-canada-logoHosts keen to take on Volunteers allow you to easily get access to information about them. Including Region, smoking tolerance, what type of meals they prepare, percentage of food that they eat that’s organic, which languages they speak, how many people they allow to volunteer at once, and what type of work you can expect. On top of the free acommodation that hosts provide, you’ll also receive free meals, you’ll learn all about sustainable living, organic growing, and will get a sneak peak behind life as a farmer.

While the website is a bit of out of the dawn of the 90’s, the information is regularly updated. The membership cost at WWOOF is $50, or $62 for joint 2 year membership. WWOOF Canada allows you to preview their hosts before signing up, which can let you know if WWOOF might be right for you.

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Superb Snowboarding and Luxury Resorts in the Columbia Valleyhttp://ibackpackcanada.com/superb-snowboarding-and-luxury-resorts-in-the-columbia-valley/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/superb-snowboarding-and-luxury-resorts-in-the-columbia-valley/#comments Tue, 11 Feb 2014 02:35:41 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=5734 Superb Snowboarding and Luxury Resorts in the Columbia Valley is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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I recently took a weekend trip to Columbia Valley, in beautiful British Columbia. My girlfriend and I were set on experiencing some of the famous snowboarding of the Purcell Mountains. With dozens of mountain resorts within a close distance perfect for skiing and snowboarding, we opted to check out Panorama Mountain Village, and the Fairmont Hot Springs Ski Resort.

columbia-valley-sunset-canada

A Scenic Sunset Drive Through Columbia Valley

The Columbia Valley is  only a 10 and a half hour drive from our home in Saskatchewan. We were incredibly fortunate with safe and clear highways, which allowed us both to enjoy the scenic drive much more. Our drive west through the Rockies and into the Purcell Mountains was stunning. Somehow we managed to time it perfectly, so just as we were on the last hour of our trip, we were greeted with a superb sunset.

bighorn-meadows-resort

We were surrounded by the silhouettes of mountains as we pulled into the small town of Radium Hot Springs. After a brief 10 minute tour of town we came across the Bighorn Meadows Resort, a luxurious all-season resort in conveniently located close to just about everything in the Columbia Valley. As luck would have it, this was to be our stay for the weekend. Checking in was a breeze, and within no time my jaw was dropped & I was gushing over the suite. Heated bathroom floors, jacuzzi, king sized bed, kitchen, and a gorgeous patio view of the Purcell Mountains, leaving this place wasn’t going to be easy come Sunday.

snowboarding-columbia-valley-bc-15

The alarm sounded and we were greeted by a beautiful winter sunrise. After some coffee we proceeded to pack up for a day on the slopes. My girlfriend, being a novice snowboarder, was incredibly intimidated by the size of these mountains. Having snowboarded these parts almost a decade ago I was able to assure her that if young Corbin could survive it, so could she. Up until now, she had only ever experienced the small valley snowboarding found in Saskatchewan. She laughed nervously, but it was clear she was excited to see what it’s like in the “big leagues”.

panorama-chairlift-columbia-valley

We suited up, grabbed the gondola, and proceeded to the chalet of Panorama Mountain Village. We stared up at the panorama of mountains, and laughed at how well named this place is. Getting good photos of this place was going to be a breeze.

Stay tuned for a photo essay of the Columbia Valley! Special thanks to Columbia Valley Tourism and Bighorn Meadows for hosting us in this beautiful part of Canada.

 

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A Winter Adventure Awaits in the Columbia Valleyhttp://ibackpackcanada.com/a-winter-adventure-awaits-in-the-columbia-valley/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/a-winter-adventure-awaits-in-the-columbia-valley/#comments Sat, 01 Feb 2014 04:50:41 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=5717 After 10 long, incredibly scenic, hours driving from Saskatchewan to British Columbia, I’ve finally arrived in Radium Hot Springs, home of some of Canada’s most well known luxury resorts including Bighorn Meadows Resort, along with some of the best skiing and snowboarding in Canada. With the help of Columbia Valley Tourism, I’ve been asked to […]

A Winter Adventure Awaits in the Columbia Valley is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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After 10 long, incredibly scenic, hours driving from Saskatchewan to British Columbia, I’ve finally arrived in Radium Hot Springs, home of some of Canada’s most well known luxury resorts including Bighorn Meadows Resort, along with some of the best skiing and snowboarding in Canada. With the help of Columbia Valley Tourism, I’ve been asked to join a group of writers and bloggers to partake in as much of this little slice of Canadiana as possible.

The gameplan includes snowboarding at Panorama where I’ll no doubt enjoy a couple coffees and a bite to eat at their mountain village. Après-ski will likely include a cold BC Beer (or two), and a hot soak in the Hot Springs. It’s been more than a few years since I’ve been able to make it to BC for some snowboarding, so I fully expect each and every bone & muscle to be aching the following day. Hopefully the Hot Springs will heal me up as best as possible, because the next day I’ll be strapping the bindings back on, and heading to Fairmont Resort to do it all over again.

In between snowboarding and hitting the spa, I’ll be sampling the food, drinks, culture, and keeping an eye out for the any local fauna that get within range of my camera, so be sure to follow along on Twitter or Instagram.

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Safari in Saskatchewan at Grasslands National Parkhttp://ibackpackcanada.com/safari-saskatchewan-grasslands-national-park/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/safari-saskatchewan-grasslands-national-park/#comments Fri, 16 Aug 2013 14:46:41 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=5591 Finding wildlife in Saskatchewan isn’t particularly hard; however, one will note that cattle and horses often spot the prairie fields and pasture land more often than those more wild. Finding eagles, osprey, bison, moose, bears, and coyotes sometimes takes hours upon hours of driving, and usually quite a bit of luck. For the animal enthusiast, […]

Safari in Saskatchewan at Grasslands National Park is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Finding wildlife in Saskatchewan isn’t particularly hard; however, one will note that cattle and horses often spot the prairie fields and pasture land more often than those more wild. Finding eagles, osprey, bison, moose, bears, and coyotes sometimes takes hours upon hours of driving, and usually quite a bit of luck. For the animal enthusiast, it can be slightly disheartening. Given the size of Saskatchewan (651,900 km²), it’s to be expected. With that being said, there is a clever way to guarantee seeing some unique wildlife.

grasslands-national-park-sunset

Grasslands National Park

Grasslands National Park is a Saskatchewan staple. While it does require some driving (it is Saskatchewan after all), it does mean you have a much higher chance of seeing something photo worthy. Four and a half hours south west of Regina, a stones throw from Montana, USA, Grasslands National Park is one of the truest forms of prairie landscape. This preservation is not only home to some beautifully unique flora, it’s also home to countless species of birds, wild bison, rattlesnakes, pronghorn antelope, prairie dogs, short-horned lizards, black footed ferrets, and many more.

grasslands-national-park-hills

Untouched Prairie Beauty

The drive south from Regina will lead you through some of the flattest lands, which evolve into gentle rolling hills, only to be suddenly changed into a grass valley carved out by ancient glaciers. Dry cliffs and rocky buttes poke out from the landscape, creating a beautiful view that many would describe as “non-saskatchewan”. What many people often forget is that before large scale agriculture was introduced to Saskatchewan in the late 1800’s, much of the Saskatchewan landscape was exactly what you see at Grasslands National Park. Raw, untouched prairie beauty. A topography that evolved hand in hand with the flora and fauna of the region.

Frenchman River

A Hiker’s Paradise

During the day, there are countless hikes for every skill level, from quick jaunts, such as the Rock Creek Trail (2km loop) to the more skilled trails, such as the Butte Creek / Red Buttes Trail (16km loop), or the Zahursky Point Route (11km loop). There’s also countless square kilometers of back country hiking for those interested on exploring the park without trails. Each hike offers a different view of this beautiful locale. From stretching landscapes of the badlands of Saskatchewan, to creek crossings and surreal views of the Frenchman River.

Pro Tip

For more information on Hiking Trails at Cypress Hills, grab a copy of the Grasslands National Park Visitors Guide at Parks Canada.

Saskatchewan’s Darkest Dark Sky Preserve

Come nightfall, you’ll be in for one of the starriest nights of your life (clear skies depending of course). The Grasslands National Park is the Darkest Dark Sky Preserve in Canada. For astronomers & amateur stargazers, this is one of the best places to be on a clear night. The recently announced Dark Sky Preserve is not only good for bringing in additional tourists, it’s also good for the habitat of nocturnal species, such as the black footed ferret, which was recently re-introduced into the area.

Grasslands Macro

Snakes, Safety, and Friendly Park Staff

My girlfriend and I had the pleasure of camping in the Park a few weeks back. Park staff at Val Marie were immensely knowledgable and friendly, and ran through all the safety procedures before setting out to hike the Grassland trails. It’s made very clear once you’re this far south in Saskatchewan that you’re in rattlesnake country. My girlfriend, having never entered a land dominated by poisonous reptiles morbidly laughed, “Great, so this is the way I’m going to die!“. The Parks Canada staff laughed and reassured her that it’s fairly rare to come across them, and even if you do, giving the snakes their distance will ensure everyone leaves safe.

The Park Staff even went so far as to offer her snake garders, which are basically thick reinforced fabric leggings which they claim will protect you if one of the slithering fellows decide to strike. The Visitor Center at Val Marie offers anyone who’s going to be doing a lot of hiking the garders, but they’re strictly optional. We decided not to take the leggings, being risk takers & all.

Wild Plains Bison

Wild Plains Bison

After leaving the Parks Canada Visitor in Val Marie, we were fully supplied with maps, visitors guides, and a couple of safety brochures. We drove into the park, and without even trying, came across our first group of wild plains bison. Technically, it was just a pair; however, they seemed content to claim their part of the gravel road as their own. Our car approached them slowly, we both nervously laughed, “I hope they don’t charge the car“. Fortunately, they didn’t. Rather, they moved as slow as possible out of the way. During which time we managed to get a few photos. We high-fived over the first encounter. Success! 

History of the Bison in the Area

Back in December 2005 the Plains Bison were re-introduced to the park. Prior to European Settlement, Bison dominated this region. With millions upon millions of herds stampeding across the country. A significant animal in first nations history, it was one of the first to be effected by European Settlement. By the 1880’s, most of the Bison were gone, due to over hunting, and due to their natural habitat being transformed into agricultural land. What was once 71 re-introduced bison, have now become over 300 bison and 40 calves. Without a doubt, one of the most majestic creatures you can find in Saskatchewan. For more information on the Plains Bison, check out Parks Canada’s Bison Updates.

Camping Grasslands National Park - Tent Sunset

Camping in Grasslands National Park

We setup camp just before sunset in a small campground with a handful of lots. Located a kilometer or so from the Frenchman River, we opted to save the hiking for the next day. We were the only ones camping that weekend, and an eerie soundscape of prairie noises calmly sang to us. Waving grass, crickets, gentle blowing wind, soothed the often stressful time known as tent setup. Looking out from our campsite, a 360 degree view of grasslands and rolling hills surrounded us. Parks Canada had setup an in-ground binocular set to allow the viewing of animals slightly further than the eye could make out. In one spin of the metallic eyepiece, I spotted bison, antelope, and a group of kayakers who recently packed up from the Frenchman River.

Antelope Grasslands

Pro Tip: Ask Park Staff About Fire Regulations

Due to the dry nature of the grasslands, there is typically a fire ban in the area. Propane camping stoves are allowed, but open fire’s are not. Park’s Canada will advise you to be as careful as humanly possible. A handful of years back a large part of the park burned away due to fire, and they’d really like to prevent that from happening again.

Sunset Grasslands

Sun Setting Over Grasslands

As the sun dropped below the horizon, it’s remaining light shone through purple, pink, and orange clouds, covering the park in a warm orange glow. Our mosquito net was propped up, keeping the blood suckers out while we waited for stars to come out. Within an hour, the twilight exploded in a vivid starscape. The milky way spread across the sky. The grasslands began to erupt in activity. Panning my head, I noticed how completely alone we were in the park. There wasn’t a single light to be found. A band of coyotes began howling from the north east, not more than a handful of kilometers away. Their dog like calls echoed through the valley. Then like clockwork, another band of coyotes from the north west, joined in, howling for comfort, for territory, or just because it was a nice night out.

Prairie Dogs

Saskatchewan Prairie Dogs

Day finally broke, and we drove to the Prairie Dog sanctuary. These cute little critters are often seen as enemies by farmers, due to their innate ability to turn a perfectly healthy field into a labyrinth of holes. With agriculture dominating Saskatchewan, there aren’t many places they can safely call home; however, in Grasslands National Park, they seem to have found a corner (or two) to call their own. As we pulled the car over and stepped out of the vehicle, we began to walk along the road. Prairie Dog’s barked, alerting their family & friends of our presence. We gave them their space, feeding into their apparent confidence. This was their land, and no camera touting tourist was going to take it from them. We smiled, snapped a few pictures, and left.

Bison Grazing

Plains Bison Grazing

As we packed up for the day, we went on one final hike, one of the quick 2 kilometer loops. We stepped off the trail in hopes of finding more bison, rather than a snake. As we hiked over a hill, making careful progress, a plains bison was grazing within thumb-covering distance (the scientific measurement of safety with wildlife). It’s surprising how easy they are to spot. We stopped, ensuring we wouldn’t spook him. The last thing we’d want is a charging buffalo coming out way. We snapped our pictures, stared on the open landscape, and began our travels back home. A superb weekend trip that will surely be done again.

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How to deal with Bed Bugs Like a Champhttp://ibackpackcanada.com/how-to-deal-with-bed-bugs/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/how-to-deal-with-bed-bugs/#comments Wed, 07 Aug 2013 14:34:16 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=5577 When you stay in hostels & hotels long enough, you will get bed bugs at some point. It’s just the way it is. No bed is immune to them. From the Ritz, to the budget hotels, to your local hostel. You can’t expect to share a bed with hundreds of travellers and be the lucky […]

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When you stay in hostels & hotels long enough, you will get bed bugs at some point. It’s just the way it is. No bed is immune to them. From the Ritz, to the budget hotels, to your local hostel. You can’t expect to share a bed with hundreds of travellers and be the lucky one who remains impervious to their nibbles. You might get them in the first week, the first month, or maybe a couple years. For me, it was 4 and a half rotations around the sun after starting my adventures in hostels.

Bed bugs hit the Central District

Upon first glance at the red dotted lines they left, I laughed. “Maybe it’s just a rash”, I thought. It wasn’t. I asked my girlfriend to inspect me further, and we found further bites. Under situations like these, many people will hastily jump to action, blaming the hostel, the cleaners, and even their bunkmates for dragging in these vile creatures. I don’t recommend that route. Travel is met with countless unexpected situations, treat this just like a wrong turn that turned into another ride. These things can be dealt with in a civil manner.

Step 1. Confirm They Are Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are nearly impossible to see, most won’t be seen until they’ve had enough you-juice to fill them up to a visible level. So in most cases, don’t trust your eyes. Chances are you’ll see their bites before them. They feast while you sleep, enjoying what the experts like to call as “Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner”, on account of the 3-4 pockmarks they leave in a straight line. Inspect your entire body to see if they got you anywhere else.

Protruding foot

Step 2. Inform Staff Quietly

There’s no sense in screaming at the top of your lungs in hopes that your decibel level will effect the amount of help you’ll receive. Calmly find a staff member at the front desk and pull them aside from other guests and explain that your room may have an issue while showing them the “track marks”. Most people in hospitality have been trained to deal with them upon first glance of the bites. They will advise you of their procedures, and will help you in all ways possible. You might worry that they’ll be mad at you, but know that they are unable to track where bed bugs came from. They could have been in the bed long before you got there. Or yes, perhaps you dragged the critters in with you. It is usually policy for staff to contact any hostels or hotels that you may have stayed in previous to your visit there to ensure the problem is dealt with completely.

Biohazard

Step 3. Wash, Kill, & Decontaminate

Depending on where you’re staying, staff may do this for you if you’d like. If the thought of hotel staff touching your under-gotch gives you the queezee’s, they’ll likely assist you in the decontamination process. When it comes to getting rid of these things, heat is your saviour. Wash everything you’re wearing, everything in your bag, and if possible, the bag itself in the hottest water you can get, followed by drying everything in the hottest dryer you can find. Most hostels and hotels will cover this charge for you if it’s coin operated laundry.

Bags, shoes, and anything else un-washable may not be able to be soaked, so in those cases, a steam machine may be used to heat everything up hot enough to kill the little critters. Other methods include putting everything unwashable and placing it into black garbage bags and leaving it in the hot sun for a day.

Hostel Room

Step 4. Disinfect the Room (Hotel/hostel does this part)

This step usually doesn’t involve you. Staff will likely check surrounding rooms, usually entire floors to ensure the bed bugs haven’t spread elsewhere. Depending on the procedures, they may heat the infected room up to a point where the bed begs & their eggs (yes, they lay eggs, lots of them) will die. Many procedures also include some heavy chemicals, meaning that room is going to be off limits for a few days while everything is dealt with.

Bed Bug Bites

Step 5. Heal Those Bites

Many people suffer from allergic reactions to their bites. Bed Bug spit has a numbing effect on the area, which allows them to bite you through the night, going completely unnoticed until you wake up. While many people find the bite marks will go away on their own after a handful of days, others will require medication in order to heal those marks. My bites unfortunately got infected, leading to a good portion of my arm turning an off-red off-purple. The bite marks began to swell, puss, and bleed. A quick stop at a walk-in clinic, and the doctor prescribed some heavy duty topical hydrocortisone cream along with some variety of penicillin in pill form. Within a few days, I was fully healed, with the exception of some scars. Most people don’t have this reaction, just be wary that it can happen.

Step 6. Speak to the Hotel/Hostel

Ensure that your hotel or hostel understands you’ve been inconvenienced by this situation; however, please note that they have been as well. You can cry all you want, but besides having them comp you a dinner, or a couple beers, or if you’re really lucky, a free night, there’s a good chance you’re not going to see much else in return. You didn’t win the lotto by being bitten by these bugs. You are just another statistic in the widespread travels of these blood-sucking critters. You did however earn a tremendous story, and a few shocked gasps from those who don’t realize how incredible common bed bugs are throughout the world. Wear those bites with pride, and treat them as an education tool to other travellers.

While waving around my own bed bug bites, I had many people ask if I gave the hostel 0 stars on Yelp. I’m sure I considered it, but there’s really no proof, I simply don’t know where I got them. It could have been from a bus, plane, train, or car seat, it could have been from a bed, a towel, who knows. Even if I was 100% sure I got them from a specific place, I don’t feel like that would be a valid representation of the hostel. This kind of stuff happens. Bed bugs are just part of the tourism industry. If I need to get nibbled on here and there in order to experience the world, so be it. Eat me bed bugs!

How to deal with Bed Bugs Like a Champ is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Canoeing The Churchill River System in Northern Saskatchewanhttp://ibackpackcanada.com/canoeing-churchill-river-northern-saskatchewan/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/canoeing-churchill-river-northern-saskatchewan/#comments Thu, 01 Aug 2013 15:20:22 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=5527 Settling back into the prairie life after nearly 5 years of living in Halifax, Nova Scotia, I was determined to truly take in life the flatlands of Canada. What many people often forget is that Saskatchewan has over 100,000 lakes, and countless rivers, each more unique than the next. While this square shaped province might […]

Canoeing The Churchill River System in Northern Saskatchewan is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Settling back into the prairie life after nearly 5 years of living in Halifax, Nova Scotia, I was determined to truly take in life the flatlands of Canada. What many people often forget is that Saskatchewan has over 100,000 lakes, and countless rivers, each more unique than the next. While this square shaped province might be landlocked, you’d have a tough time telling as you drive from lake to lake. Knowing full well that I wanted to be on the water as much as humanly possible this summer, it seemed logical to buy a canoe. So I did.

After a few trial runs in Wascana Lake (Regina’s beautiful man made lake in the middle of the city), followed by a couple trips to Echo Lake, it was time for something a little more rugged, a little more historic, and a lot more north. My girlfriend and I loaded our red canoe on top of my little Ford Focus, and proceeded to strap it to the roof of the car, ensuring it’s tight enough that it won’t take flight along the long stretches of highway. 8 hours later we found ourselves on a lake side campsite at the Missinipe Campground in Lac La Ronge Provincial Park. Smack dab in the middle of voyageur territory.

Otter Lake

Photo by Kristian Platt

A sudden change in scenery

It’s incredible watching the change in scenery. Driving north from Regina, the topography changes from flatlands to rolling hills, eventually exploding in a panorama of rocks, trees, and pristine waters. The boreal forest that covers most of Northern Saskatchewan certainly plays against the Saskatchewan stereotypes. I like to remind people about this little fact whenever I hear “Don’t stop in Saskatchewan” from a traveller. My know-it-all attitude tends to force me to say something along the lines of:

“Don’t stop!? Are you crazy? Do you know why the Saskatchewan flag has a Green and Yellow Stripe Mr/Mrs Too-Cool-For-Saskatchewan? It’s not just because we love John Deers dontchaknow! That top green stripe represents the lush forests of Northern Saskatchewan while the yellow represents the rolling fields of Southern Saskatchewan. You’ll be missing out on a seriously beautiful landscape if you opt to skip this province.”

Rocks and Trees in North Sask

Photo by Kristian Platt

Camping in Missinipe

The Missinipe Campground in Lac La Ronge Provincial Park is relatively small, but has all the modern amenities you’d look for in a campground. Flush toilets, a couple showers, a sink that spits out clear water, large campsites, oh! – and jurassic sized mosquitos eager to drink your precious blood. Bathing in bug spray calms them down temporarily, but be warned. These northern mosquitos are like nothing you’ll find in the southern parts of Canada. They’re vicious. Skeeters aside, it’s a great place to set up camp before a 2-3 day canoe trip along the majestic Churchill River System.

At the crack of dawn, we packed up our camp and threw our valuables into a 65L yellow dry sack. Tipping wasn’t on the agenda for the weekend, but better to be safe than sorry. We stopped at the Churchill River Canoe Outfitters, owned and operated by Ric Driediger and his wife Theresa since 1987. Ric & Theresa are the local experts on canoeing the Churchill River System. Need a canoe map? Insight into which islands to camp on? Which rapids to steer clear of, and where to find the historic sites along the Churchill River? Or even just reassurance that even novice canoeists can spend a weekend in these parts without any issue? Ric & Theresa are it! They wished us a warm and happy “Good Luck!” as we left their shop with a canoe map in hand and a good idea of where we’ll be camping that night.

Pro Tip:

There is plenty of wilderness camping in northern Saskatchewan, particularly in the Lac La Ronge Provincial Park. While it’s not often publicized, after all, official campgrounds earn the park money, but you can camp just about anywhere in the park, including the 1000+ islands that are scattered throughout the area. Just remember the old adage: Take only photos, leave only memories. Be sure to check the fire restrictions with Park Staff before starting a campfire. Visit Ric & Theresa at Churchill River Canoe Outfitters for a map of the area and they can show you some great places to camp for the night.

Corbin canoeing

Photo by Kristian Platt

A Warm Weekend Canoe Trip

We drove to the boat launch, hauling our big red canoe from the top of the car to the edge of the water. After parking the car, we balanced the canoe with our camp gear. 20L of drinking water, a cooler with food & beer, our backpack, the dry sack, then finally us. Kristian was seated in the bow of the canoe, smiling at me, and perhaps the warm weather. Knowing this was going to be a superb adventure, I pushed off land with my left foot, my right foot keeping balance inside the stern, I sat gently and we were off.

The sun was beating down on us, the wind barely a breeze, the sound of our paddles cutting through the water, pulling our canoe further out into the wilderness with each stroke. For the first 30 minutes, we watched as sea planes came and went from a few hundred meters from us. These vintage planes were filled with fisherman trying to get as north as possible, to relax in a boat with a few friends, drink a couple beers, and fish. I smirked, having been on the exact plane I saw taking off before us only a few weeks before on a big fishing trip.

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As we passed the second inlet, the small town of Missinipe had completely disappeared. We were paddling with the current, making good speed. Kristian pointed above us, a bald eagle was riding the updrafts of warm wind. She zoomed in with her camera and snapped a few photos. This area is the second largest nesting area for Bald Eagles, making them fairly easy to spot throughout the provincial park.

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“Bear Rock” or just a Bear Shaped Boulder?

While canoeing I explained to my girlfriend about the first european explorers who visited this area. I read about this one particular tale of  Alexander Mackenzie’s first voyage to this region. With a canoe and a  first nations guide, he was shown “bear rock”, a large boulder that looked like a bear. Local first nations even painted it. Apparently nobody has seen it since, but it was written about in detail in his notes. We laughed, thinking it would be very cool if we stumbled across it. A kilometer of paddling later, we came across a boulder that looked almost identical to a bear, and even appeared to have been painted. Could this be it? Or just us just seeing things that we hoped for. Either way, we took pictures, laughing at the strange coincidence.

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A little Saskatchewan island to call our own

5 hours of paddling later, after winding through dozens of islands both large and small, waving at a handful of other canoeists & smiling at a few fishermen, we pulled onto an unnamed island a couple kilometers in diameter, dragging our canoe up a rock ledge and tying the boat to a fir tree. After setting up the tent, and cooling off in the frigid waters of the Churchill River, we made a quick meal over the campfire. As dusk approached, the sound of trees falling into the water erupted around us. It sounded as if it was coming from the inlet opposite from us. A beaver was hard at work until just after midnight, no doubt doing some home renovations on his dam. Stargazing while enjoying the busy beaver fast became moongazing as a red lunar eclipse ignited the sky.

red moon saskatchewan

Photo by Kristian Platt

We considered the possibility of playing hooky from work and continuing on towards Robertson Falls, and trying to find some of the old rock paintings left centuries ago; however, our shoulders begged us not to. This area is far too large to tackle every bit of it in just a weekend, and no doubt we’d have to come back for more camping and exploring. The history buff in me was craving to see Saskatchewan’s oldest building, the Holy Trinity Church at Stanley Mission. Next time!

This area was first occupied by the first nations people of Canada. Canoeing wasn’t just a leisure activity then, it was a way of life. While many explorers since have came and went, the area still feels rugged, wild, and serene. While you’ll certainly come across a handful of boats while canoeing this area, come nightfall it feels like you’re in the middle of nowhere. It’s no wonder why so many people call this place a canoeists paradise.

Canoeing The Churchill River System in Northern Saskatchewan is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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