12 Jul Kindred Wanderings: Beyond The (+1) Rewards
Dave Lanovaz (also known by his screen handle; Kindred Wanderings), his lovely wife Sarah and their adorable family, all made PITPC history last season by being the first ever Paddle Points Grand Prize Winner of a BRAND NEW NOVA CRAFT CANOE! Not only did Dave and his family complete the entire official Task List, but they were also one of the top PITPC points seekers – racking up the maximum of 11,225 Paddle Points!
This year, for a chance to win the brand new Prospector from Nova Craft Canoe, you must submit at least one photo (subject to verification) to the Paddle Points Contest portion of the PITPC. Of course, the more photos you enter, the better chance you have to win the canoe (and more!). In fact, we are giving away over $7,000 in gear and prizes this summer – all in celebration of the 9(+1) scientifically proven rewards we all find when we are “Out There”!
Okay, so what does it really take to be a passionate paddle-seeker, plus rack up 11,225 Paddle Points and be a “Top Of Class Wilderness Guide” for the PITPC? Well, the short answer is one amazing summer full of outdoor adventures and treasured memories – be it solo or with cherished family and good friends.
But for a fuller, more accurate answer to this question, the best person to ask would probably be last year’s grand prize winner of the brand new Nova Craft Canoe. So that’s just what we did. (We had no idea that it would involve a whiteboard though. Did you?!)
Letter from PITPC Grand Prize Winners 2015 :: Dave (and Sarah) Lanovaz – @KindredWanderings
First I’d like to thank all of you for organizing the contest. Our entire family had a blast with it. I would guess that there was hardly a day that went by this [past] summer when we weren’t thinking and talking about the contest.
I first found out about the contest during the summer of 2014. I entered the draw a few times and followed along a bit but with kids aged 1,4 and 7, realistically, as a family we were not going to go paddle hunting. This year with the Paddle Points Contest things would be different. I figured we could do a bunch of things together that we would have done anyway and submit some pictures. I also thought the contest might be a good excuse to get out a bit more than usual. When I mentioned the Paddle in the Park Contest to the rest of the family I was blown away by how keen they all were. To my surprise, I think my wife was more excited than I was. She not only wanted to win the Paddle Points portion of the contest but she wanted to find a paddle. I had dismissed finding a paddle altogether given that our youngest had never been on a backcountry trip before. I didn’t want to dampen anyone’s enthusiasm and so began a great summer of outdoor adventure.
We were pleased to see that the Paddle Points flags were released before the contest began. We were headed to Bon Echo before the start of the contest and figured we could get a bunch of pictures while we were there. We thought we were taking pictures of just about everything. We even managed to get a picture with Kevin Callan. We didn’t figure it would be on the list but thought it would make for a cool photo and story. When we arrived home and saw the actual list we were kicking ourselves for not thinking of many of the simple things. The good news was that we could easily get out again.
Once at home with the list available, we created a spreadsheet listing all of the Paddle Points and the images that we had to match those images. My wife, Sarah, was convinced (and determined) that we could get all of points. I was excited by her enthusiasm but knew that it was unrealistic for us to get all of the points and I was okay with that.
In addition to obsessing over the Paddle Points and how we were going to get them all, Sarah started obsessing about the paddles. We were having fun figuring trying to figure out the clues, looking at maps and speculating where the paddles might be. We had a huge poster in our kitchen (floor to ceiling) that listed the clues and our thinking around each of the clues. We talked about the clues daily and seemed to be thinking about them continuously.
While we were at Bon Echo we spoke to Kevin and mentioned that we were following the contest. He mentioned how he was heading out in a few days to hide a paddle. Given how much he enjoys Kawartha Highlands we figured that must be where he was heading. It just so happened that we had a trip booked to KHPP shortly after Kevin would be there. Our KHPP trip would be our 2 year old daughters first backcountry trip. We were there from Wednesday to Friday and the clues had been coming out on Thursdays. So on Thursday afternoon Sarah fired up her phone and found that there was a clue for Kawartha Highlands. The clue said that the paddle was hidden behind a birch tree. We knew it was a long shot but our 8 year old son and I paddled to every portage on Bottle Lake and we checked behind every birch tree (When we go home we looked at the image portion of the clue and were convince that the dark green on the map around Bottle and Sucker lakes meant that the paddle was there). Not surprisingly, we came up empty handed but we had a lot of fun doing it. We saw how beautiful Sucker Lake looked from the portage. We explored Sucker Creek and made it to the portage to Catchacoma Lake. We had our first taste of paddle hunting. Here’s a summary of our trip.
After our second trip of the summer we were excited to get out more to start working on the Paddle Points. Much to my surprise Sarah was also keen to book trips to find a paddle. She was even considering the doing the longest portage in Killarney…as a family. This should give you a sense of how obsessed she was.
Since KHPP is the closest of the paddle parks to use we figured it was our best chance to find a paddle. We were hoping for a clue so that we could make another attempt before leaving to visit my inlaws at their cottage in Parry Sound. The clue we were hoping for never came so we put together our best guess with the one clue that we had. We decided to make an attempt figuring that the paddle would likely be found before we returned home. “A birch hides this Badger from the sun”. We wondered if the clue was giving away more than the fact that the paddle was hidden behind a birch tree. Could the ‘hides this paddle from the sun’ mean something? We scoured the map and found Cloudy Lake. Clouds would help hide the Badger from the sun. We knew it was a long shot but we had a night available so we made our way to KHPP late in the day. We setup camp on Cold Lake and got settled. The next day we planned to hike 1559m portage. In the morning we paddled over to the portage and began hiking. The trail was difficult and at times hard to follow. The good thing about the portage was that we saw few birch trees, so we weren’t slowed by searching. We checked all of the birch trees and came up short. Although we didn’t find a paddle, we did manage to see a couple of deer. In addition we discovered that our kids were great hikers. There were a few times when were weren’t sure if we would be able to finish but at the end of the portage everyone was in great spirits. We made our way back to our site and had a well deserved and refreshing swim. We packed up and headed out with another fun adventure in the books. A trip report can be found here.
While at my in-laws’ cottage, we posted our list of clues and brought out the maps for all to see. Everyone looked at the maps, the clues (on the wall sized poster) and the photos and offered their input. We anxiously awaited some clues for the Killarney Outfitters paddle, since we were that much closer to Killarney. We all thought it would be fun to do a trip to Killarney even though it hadn’t been in the plans for the summer. We waited and waited, but no clue came. It looked like we wouldn’t be headed to Killarney to search for a paddle after all. Given that the entire family was excited to head to Killarney, we figured that we shouldn’t disappoint them. We decided to book an overnight to the park so the kids could see the Lacloche Mountains (I know, what were we thinking booking an overnight with 3 kids if we had to drive 2 hours each way?). To keep things simple we were going to book a site at the George Lake campground but as we looked into it the only sites available were non-reservable. Bonus! We opted for an interior site instead. We had a great time. The details of our trip can be found here. One of our 5 year old daughter’s most enjoyable experiences of the summer was seeing the beaver dam and waterfalls that we explored.
While in Parry Sound we thought we should do some of the Paddle Point Sponsor visits. On a rainy day we headed to the Algonquin Basecamp store. We looked it up online and followed the directions given. As it turns out the directions led us across county road 518. About halfway along, our five year old daughter started throwing up in the back of the van. We pulled over and got her cleaned up but we didn’t have any extra clothes for her. We decided to press on. When we made it to the Basecamp Sarah went into the store looking for some small kids clothes. She spoke with the owner who was very helpful. They had some youth sized shirts that would be too big, but she could wear it as a night gown. Once the owner discovered what had happened he told us that county road 518 is best done on a motorcycle. He was very good about providing directions back and to some stores where we could find more clothes if we wanted. We browsed the his store and purchased a few treasures the most exciting of which was a new Badger paddle for me. I had looked at lots of Badgers over the summer but for whatever reason I decided that this was the one for me.
The Paddle in The Park event that impacted the most people in our group was a mock Paddle in the Park Contest. While we were visiting my in-laws at their cottage they saw how much fun we were having with the contest and decided that they needed to run their own contest. While the extended family was visiting at the cottage my mother in-law and father in-law hid a paddle on an island not far from the cottage. They then began leaving written clues about where the paddle might be. The clues were modelled after the PITPC clues and were entertaining to read. The grandchildren (and their parents) had fun reading them and trying to decipher them. Once we had a good sense of it’s location thirteen of us headed out in canoes and kayaks. It was great to see such a large flotilla heading out. We had some trouble locating the paddle at first, but with a little assistance we managed to locate it. The outing provided us with a reason to get out on the water on a beautiful day.
Our time at the cottage was running out, as was summer. We knew that once school started again, we would be able to do fewer trips. It was starting to look like we might be able to complete the Paddle Points list with perhaps the exception of the Sponsor visits. The most challenging visit for us would be the London Paddle Shop. We talked about doing a trip to Toronto one night, then heading to London the next day. No matter how we looked at it though it was going to be a lot of driving. We weren’t sure the kids would appreciate it much. So the day before leaving Parry Sound I decided that I would do a day of driving and hit Sojourn in Barry, The Complete Paddler in Toronto and London’s Paddle Shop. It was a whirl wind tour. I was able to pick up a few things, take some photos and make it back for dinner.
The day before leaving the cottage Sarah noticed that there was a turtle watermark on the Happy Camper clue. How could we not have noticed this before? Turtle Lake seemed like the obvious location, but how had the paddle not been found yet. Surely, somebody else would have noticed the turtle and made a trip to check. We left the cottage Friday morning and decided that I would take our 8 year old son on an overnight trip to KHPP that night. We arrived home and unpacked, then packed our camping gear and headed for KHPP.
It was 5:30 p.m. when we arrived at the park. I wasn’t entirely sure that we’d be able to get to our site on Mountain Lake before dark. We paddled and paddled as the sun sank in the sky. I encouraged our son to eat something but he didn’t want to stop if I wasn’t going to. It turns out it was a perfect night for a paddle. The lakes were calm and the glow from the setting sun made KHPP feel like some sort of magical place. We managed to get to our site as darkness began setting in. We setup camp and then finally at about 9:30 had our meal. It felt good to be eating under the stars and the glow of the moon after such a beautiful paddle. Once we finished eating we packed everything away and made for the tent. We played some cards and had fun bonding. This was the first time just the two of us had been out together.
The next morning we had our breakfast then started for Turtle Lake. We carefully checked every birch tree along all of the portages just to be sure. Our son was growing a little tired of how slow the portages were as a result of the searching. When we arrived on Turtle Lake I was surprised to see two portages very close to each other. One is a low water portage that isn’t on the map. Now the clue “When you search, scout, and seek, but to no avail then it’s probably best to take the alternate trail” made even more sense. I was convinced that the paddle was here. It seemed odd that it hadn’t been found yet. I searched while my partner waited in the canoe.
While he waited he noticed a couple, with Badger Paddles, paddling in the opposite direction we were going. I searched high and low but found nothing but lots of foot paths to the birch trees. I was convinced that this was the right place and that the paddle must have been here. Perhaps it had gone missing. The only other option was Little Turtle Lake but that seemed like too easy. The one portage into Little Turtle was only partially in the park and the other was only 68m. It couldn’t be hidden there and if it was surely somebody would have found it. We headed out empty handed but enjoyed the scenery and each other’s company.
As we made our way through long lake we noticed that the same canoe we had passed earlier was at the portage leading to Buzzard Lake. We paddled on and the couple eventually caught up to us. They noticed that we had Badger paddles and we began talking about the contest. They had the the same thought we did and they had finished searching the alternate trail just before we arrived. It was great to meet up with others participating in the contest. This was also a great first father, son trip. It was challenging for our son, but not so much that he wouldn’t want to do a trip like it in the future. I think we hit the sweet spot. I can’t wait to do it again.
This contest has been absolutely incredible. Although we tend to get ‘out there’ a lot, this summer it seemed as though we were hardly not ‘out there’. Not only did we talk a lot about the contest with friends and family, we talked a great deal about the adventures we had. Our enthusiasm for the outdoors was hard to contain. This got a number of our friends and family excited and they began talking about having some adventures of their own. Hopefully they have as much fun as we did.
Thanks again for all the time and effort you put in the contest. You have helped our family create some amazing memories that will last a long time. For that we are extremely grateful.
Dave & Sarah Lanovaz