Camping along the Elora Gorge

One day, that’s all I got to spend on this trip camping along the Gorge. I wish I could have spent more time and done everything there was, but that simply wasn’t an option on this trip. I missed out on doing the lazy river tube riding and the hiking trail but I got to swim in the gorge, take in an amazing waterfall, and cliff jump in the Elora quarry.

With the one day we spent there we also spent a night, we car camping in the Elora Gorge Conservation Area, the conservation was right on the gorge and from the site I stayed at it was a 3-minute walk down to the bottom of the gorge where we could bathe in the sun and enjoy the Saturday.

But before we even went down to the Gorge which we knew wasn’t going anywhere and we could visit at any time of the day we made a trip down to the Elora Quarry, and man oh man was it ever worth it! By the time we made it to the quarry it was around 1:30 in the afternoon and you can tell we weren’t the only ones with the same idea of spending the Saturday at the quarry, it felt like everyone within 50km was at the quarry lounging around, swimming, or cliff jumping. With a small beach, steep cliffs and a forest all around it felt like a secret hiding spot and I can only imagine what it would have been like before people knew about it.

It was a pretty good way to spend a Saturday afternoon, swimming in the cool water, laying the sand, and jumping at cliffs that were a perfect height. Definitely a Saturday I wouldn’t trade away.

Eventually, it came to a point in the day where the crowded beach was too much and we headed back to the conservation campgrounds and actually explore the gorge.  We dropped our towels and beach gear off at the camp site and went for a wander down to the gorge and we were shocked with what we came across. A massive 40+foot waterfall that no one even told us about! We just got lucky and came out of the forest at the perfect spot.

Other than a few tubers every couple of minutes we had the area to ourselves, there wasn’t really a trail that leads to the waterfall or any markers so the only way to get to the waterfall was to explore or go on the lazy river. I’m just happy we were able to stumble upon such a gem. We spent the rest of the afternoon down by the waterfall swimming in the shallow rocks and trying our hand at rock stacking.

However, once the sun went down that’s when the real fun started, it was time to cook hot dogs and smores. Whenever smores are involved it trumps all other activities.

Weekend Warrior

I don’t know about you but I’m a weekend warrior, now I’m not sure if there is a real definition of a weekend warrior but to me, it means someone who goes out there and lives every weekend to the fullest, swimming, hiking, camping, boating, and maybe even bungee jumping. The possibilities of what you can get into in just a few days are endless

Since school has ended in April, I’ve done quite a bit of “Intrepid” activities from traveling to the other side of the world the world and learning to scuba dive, white water rafting, and bungee jumping on the Ottawa River, four-wheeling with friends and hanging out and cottaging. The traveling to Australia wasn’t on a weekend but it might as well count as when I got home I was back to work on Monday with less than 48 hours to recover from Jetlag.

Anything can be accomplished in one weekend.

Now this weekend coming up is even longer and more special. It’s Canada Day! 1 extra day to be a weekend warrior so get out there and conquer your weekend whatever it is you decide to do!

Tallest Bungee Jump in Ontario

Before you read this post this is me at the bottom after the jump, its one of my better angles.

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Over my brief span on this earth, I’ve done a lot of different jumping activities. I’ve competed in school triple jump, long jump and high jump (I never came close to winning but I tried my best). I’ve also gone cliff jumping, jumped out of planes, and all sorts of jumps in between. What I’m about to tell you about is a new type of jumping for me. The bungee jump.

This was going to be my first bungee jump and it couldn’t have been a cooler setup. Somewhere along the Ottawa River, you’ll find a crane that swings over it at a height of 150-feet. This 150-foot crane is the tallest bungee jump in Ontario; it stood tall and proud, owning its designation as the tallest.

To get to the top of the beast, I had to climb what felt like a million ladder rungs but in reality, it might have only been 150 or so. There was a small platform to stand on after every 25 rungs for you to look around the beautiful surroundings. As I climbed higher, the view got even more amazing. The climb up was incredible in its own right, but knowing that I had a fast track method to get down, I climbed faster and faster, eager to get to the top.

 

You can just make me out on the ladder

 

Once I got to the top, there was a small wait before it was my turn at the edge. The wait was made easy though with the stunning 360-degree view of the Ottawa River and the surrounding area. There was a constant movement of people, and I got to watch a few of them as they prepared to jump off a 150-foot crane with just a glorified elastic band attached to their ankles. My friend Sam even climbed up to take a jump of his own, and we got to spend time at the top together.

Finally, it was my time. I had to make the walk from the waiting zone to the front of the crane. This is the area where the final jump was going to happen, where I was going to be tied into my harness and have a giant bungee cable attached to my feet. This was the time I thought, ‘why am I doing this?’

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I was here for one reason, and that reason was to jump. No way I was backing out. I’ve gone skydiving after all, how much scarier could this be? While they were strapping me up, they asked me a very important question, if I wanted to get wet. My answer was that I would be disappointed if I wasn’t soaked. They changed some tension settings, and it was finally time to jump. I was strapped in and ready to go, with a long elastic band attached to my ankles.

I got a countdown: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and I jumped. The wait was over, I was doing my first bungee jump.

I was in the air for less than 5 seconds before I hit the water and plunged up to my waist in the Ottawa River. I didn’t even have time to think about holding my breath as I hit the water. The jump was exhilarating and was absolutely worth it to get to jump from the tallest point bungee in Ontario.

This is the stuff I live for, moments where time freezes and you’re just living life. Living for experiences like this is what it means to be intrepid. I think the only logical thing to do next is the tallest bungee in Canada. Anyone know where that is?

White Water Rafting on the Ottawa River

White water rafting on the Ottawa river with 10 friends for my 20th birthday? Clearly, birthday parties only get better with age.

 

Back in March, I was at the Toronto Sportsman Show and came across a booth for white water rafting which is something I’ve always wanted to do. My dad went to the same place when he was younger and always told me it was something I had to do with a bunch of friends. The opportunity finally presented itself, and I couldn’t turn it down. To make it even better, they were promoting rafting for my birthday weekend; it was the icing on the cake! I signed up at the show and went home to start organizing what would be an amazing weekend.

Our trip was for 3 days, 2 nights. Arrive on Friday afternoon, spend Saturday and Sunday rafting on the river and spend each night recovering from the exhaustion of paddling. On Saturday, we were to be in one big 12-person raft with a guide, and on Sunday were to go in smaller 6-man GYOR boats (in case you’re not up to date on your rafting lingo that means guide your own raft)

Now you may be asking which raft was better? Big raft or small raft? There is no winner, they are both awesome rafts and I’d do either one again.

Now the 1200+km river we were on has some of the best rafting in the country, if not the world. Each day we went on different rapids, and different sections of the river depending and what each boat could handle and current water conditions. Just to add some context on what we were up against, rapids are categorized into 5 classes with class 5 rapids being the hardest and class 1 rapids being the easiest. We were going up against class 4 rapids at some points on the river. It was intense water conditions.

With those intense water conditions, came the wipeouts. We all fell.

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Multiple times.

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We spent over 4 hours on the river, going through rapids, paddling across smooth sections, and jumping off the rafts and swimming when we needed to cool off. The best part… other than the Rapids, of course, was that the section of the river we were on was completely natural. There were no manmade structures to be seen; it was just the river and us. It was nice to be out and see the pristine wilderness. Although, when lunchtime came around we saw a small wooden cabin, it looked like it belonged there, nestled between the trees. Having a BBQ lunch on the riverbank was definitely a high point of the day.

Like all things, the rafting had to end. We hauled out the boats and headed back to the resort.

Just because the rafting had to end, didn’t mean that the fun had to.  While back at the resort, there were unlimited options and I chose to go bungee jumping, but I’ll save that story for another time. I’ll just leave you these three photos of me waving at a wave. Enjoy.

 

 

Hanging with Crocodiles

Can you name a famous Australian? Maybe you think of Hugh Jackman (The Wolverine), Keith Urban or the Hemsworth brothers. For me, I think of Steve Irwin. When planning the trip to Australia, I had a goal of going to Steve Irwin’s zoo but unfortunately, the opportunity never arose. If you know anything about Steve Irwin, you know he’s famous for finding and wrestling crocodiles! I didn’t get to wrestle any crocodiles, but I did get to go on a boat tour and see real Australian crocodiles! Here’s a sneak peek at what we got into on our crocodile boat tour.

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Unlike my last post where I went scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef and got to ride in a massive 100-person catamaran with 3 stories, this boat was smaller, more rustic and gave you a true feeling of adventure and a sense of going where you shouldn’t.

 

This boat tour was a pretty good change of scenery, but before we even started the tour and headed down the river, we got a glimpse of what was to come.. Okay not really a glimpse but we got our first look at an actual Australian crocodile and she was beautiful! She was just sitting on the other side of the river, bathing in the sun for all to see. After all, a crocodile doesn’t have many predators. Before the tour started, I didn’t know much about the crocs or that they can reach over 100 years in age! Our guide who has been running the tour for longer than I’ve been alive told us that the crocodile we were seeing was about 35-40 years old, and he also informed us female crocodiles are very territorial and each control a 1km stretch of the river. This was clearly her section.

After seeing this croc, we started going on the real tour, heading down river into the belly of the beast. I have no idea what the name of the river was, all I can tell you is that the river was in the Daintree National Park and was the coolest river I had ever been on.  Australia was turning out to be a place with a lot of the coolest things I’ve ever seen or done. The river was lined with mangrove trees that had huge roots on display with green tree canopies and mountains in the background. If we didn’t even see a crocodile, I wouldn’t have been disappointed. Here are a few of the scenery shots taken on the tour.

We saw a bunch of crocodiles on the tour, ranging in age from young kids to midlife crisis types, each crocodile was in a different spot and they all had unique territories. The whole tour was super relaxed, we’d be floating along in the boat and the guide would yell out “Crocodile ahead.” It was an awesome opportunity to see wild crocodiles just being themselves.

If you’re ever in Daintree National Park (Cape Tribulation) the crocodile tour runs quite a few time during the day and it is plenty of fun! 

Scuba Diving at the Great Barrier Reef

Oh man, before I start this post I’m just going to let you know this was one of the best days of my life. I woke up in Australia, took a boat ride, the sun was shining, and then I got to go scuba diving on the largest reef system in the world! I saw everything from a small Nemo fish (Clown fish) to reef sharks and stingrays! Here’s how the day played out:

To get to the Reef I obviously had to take a boat, but not just any boat… I go to go on a massive 100-person catamaran decked out with enough snorkeling and scuba gear for 100 people (with spares) but luckily it was spacious and there were only had 35 on the boat. Imagine enough gear to outfit 100 people with masks, snorkels, fins and all the other scuba gear a person needs, that’s a lot of gear! The boat I went on was called “Ten” very original, right? Someone asked where the name came from, and it turned out to be the tenth boat made in that model or something along those lines, I was too focused on the scuba diving.

Now if you recall from the last post, I had just gotten my open water PADI certification 4 days earlier so I was nervous for my first real diving experience. I had all the training I needed and pretty much knew what I was doing. Getting geared up for this dive was different to what I used during training, not drastically different, but I did need one new piece of equipment. I had to put on what’s called a “Stinger suit,” which is a full-body suit including mitten like endings to go over your hands and a hood to go over your head. The design of the suit is to protect you from jellyfish stings. If they can’t touch you, they can’t sting you, or at least in theory. Once all the gear was on it was time to get in the warm 26°C water.

If you’ve never been snorkeling or scuba diving, you are really missing out! There is a completely different world under the water and it gets on perfectly fine without human intervention. The colors you can see underwater will amaze you, they definitely amaze me every time I’ve been snorkeling, and now scuba diving. I’ve seen turtles and various other ocean animals while snorkeling, but getting to go underwater and stay at ~15 meters of depth for just under an hour and be level or deeper than ocean animals is incredible. You get to see them interact with one another and interact with the plants. There is so much life on the reef that I couldn’t focus on just one thing! I was like a kid on Christmas looking at one fish then seeing something else move and following it. Here are a few of the hundreds of pictures taken.

Oh wait, I’ll just put some more here.

Once all the diving and snorkeling was done at three different sites we went to,(Nobody’s, Totem and Advanced Bommie all of which are part of the Agincourt Reef system) I sat up the second level of the boat and looked out at the reef. It seemed to never end! Waves were crashing to my left and to my right the water was turquoise. I just stood in awe looking at the largest reef system in the world. Some people wait their entire life to dive on the great barrier reef and I had the opportunity just 4 days after completing my Open Water. I can’t wait to see what places, animals, and adventures that scuba diving might bring me.

 

 

Bucket list:

  • Scuba diving at the Great Barrier 

 

Certified to Breathe Underwater

When you think of Australia what do you think of? Sydney Opera House? Kangaroos? The Outback? Well, I too think of those but there is one more you should be thinking of, the Great Barrier Reef. The Great Barrier Reef has become an icon of Australia and is something you’re always told to go and see. The best way to see it? Scuba diving of course, and that is exactly how I plan on seeing it this week. In order to scuba dive to the depth of the Reef which can be ~18 meters deep, you need to be trained properly.

It was time that I became certified to breath underwater.

Like any course or education, you have to learn the theory behind it. This theory starts in the classroom, so bright and early on Wednesday morning, I was in the classroom eager to learn and start the journey to becoming a certified scuba diver.

Classroom

There were 8 people in the course including myself. We sat in this room watching videos, reading the textbook and completing quizzes. I learned quite a bit in this room, I never knew there was so much to learn about Scuba Diving. The classroom covered everything from gear, how long you can stay at a depth, how long you have to wait before flying, and all the hand signals one could ever need underwater. But enough of the classroom let’s start diving!

This course I was doing was 3 full days of scuba in order to go from knowing nothing to being a certified open water diver. It got broken down to a classroom and a pool session on Wednesday, 2 dives in the ocean on Thursday and 2 dives on Friday. The pool session was where we got to find out what it was really like to be under water and practice skills in a controlled environment before heading to open ocean where we would really be put to test.

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I have the yellow tank (Go Figure)

I think we spent ~2 hours in the pool, and let me tell you if you are ever trying to be certified it isn’t fast and it isn’t fun (but in the ocean is another story).

On Thursday we were finally going to the ocean and diving in. We got to the dive school at 7 am and had to move fast to ensure we made the window for diving. We got our gear together, loaded up the boat and headed out to the ocean. We dove to a depth of around 10 meters and practiced all the skills we had previously learned in the pool. We had to practice skills that included clearing a mask that became full of water, under water navigation, buoyancy control and swimming with a partner.

Friday was pretty much the same as Thursday, but the only difference was having to write a final exam (which I passed with flying colours). I got the fancy dancy temporary card to make it official.

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This little piece of paper made it official. I was certified to breathe under water. Now I just have to see the reef.

Chasing Waterfalls In Australia

Chasing waterfalls is fun no matter where you are, but when its international, it’s even more fun. In my opinion, adventuring the waterfall(s) is the best part. The best ones are generally up mountains, remote and difficult to get to. The waterfalls we visited today were no exception. We ran into quite a few barriers just trying to get to the beginning of the 4km trail.

On our journey to simply get to the right trail, we came across a road closure which resulted in us going on a 30-minute detour and to top that then when we go to the trail head we walked in and found that trail entrance was closed. (Don’t ask me why they were closed, I have no idea). We were not off to a good start, but when something goes unplanned, that’s when the real adventure starts. Eventually, we managed to find another trail entry point and we were good to go on this adventure.

Getting out of the car and walking ~200m down the trail we came across this view of the waterfalls.

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These are the Twins Fall and they were the reason we were out at Springbrook National Park. Getting this sneak peak was such a tease, but it definitely put a pep in my step and I quickened my pace to get as close as possible to the falls. While walking to the falls, we came across multiple little falls along the way, though they were nothing compared to what was to come. Half way through the Twin Falls circuit, we came to the base of the waterfalls.

Twin Falls was probably the best waterfall site I have ever been to, mostly because there was not one, but two waterfalls.

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But like all good things, our time at the falls was over and we had to start the hike out, but this time it was uphill. Leaving the falls and having an uphill hike is just the worst of both worlds, or so we thought. On the way out, we managed to come across another waterfall called Rainbow and this one had the trail going under it!

 

This is looking out from under the falls against the back

 

After Rainbow Falls, there were no more surprise waterfalls and we really had to leave the trail for good. I wasn’t sad to leave though, it was an epic day of chasing waterfalls, on steroids.

Here is some bonus, smaller fall we came across. They were just all over the place.

 

Australian Beach Day

I don’t even know how to start this post, so here is a photo I took from my first day in Australia.

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I swear I didn’t photoshop this.

That picture should set the tone for the following post, I was in awe myself when I first saw this and let me tell you, I already don’t want to leave.

 

I’m going to say it was about 26°c (Rough estimate I don’t carry a thermometer on me) and after a long Canadian winter, a day on the beach in this heat was much appreciated. Here take another second to go over this photo of the same beach.

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From the AirBnB we’re staying at, it’s only a short 5-minute walk to the beach. There is no doubt in my mind that I will be making the most of the beach and swimming every day since we are so close.

Although it looks beautiful and it was warm out (the making of a good beach day), the water was cold, like really cold. Before I could even think of touching the water, I had to slather on some sunscreen because I burn like a new born baby! Having fresh sunscreen on means you can’t be a rookie and just go straight to the water, you have to let it dry and set. This is where beach toys come into play.

Beach Dayz

Grab a whistling football, some friends and you’re in for some fun. Playing with a whistling football is key for a beach day; work up a small sweat and your sun screen drys, two birds with one stone. After that, the water just calls to you.

Now, back to the cold water. We walked towards the ocean and as soon as we touched the water, we almost immediately turned around to head back to the safely to the towels and warm sand. But the crowds of people playing in the water and waves encouraged us. We manned up and did just what men do, slowly walk in screaming about how cold the water is until a wave comes and smacks you right in the face and you are relieved to find out it’s not actually that cold, you simply have to get used to it. Also, remember the above pictures, it was too beautiful not to go in.

That was it for the beach day, we swam, threw the whistling football, and enjoyed the sun.

 

 

Mud, Fun, & Spring Trail Riding

Although you may be looking outside at the trees and see no leaves or at your garden and see no plants; it is most definitely summer time. Not technically but I’m not good with technicalities… Spring and Summer are the same things in my eyes. The school year is over and I’m ready for anything summer can throw at me, and what it threw at me this weekend was amazing! This time of the year water levels are high around Ontario from the winter snow/ice melt and it makes trail riding all the more fun with the mud and high water. As long as you wear boots or lift your feet you’ll be fine! (Hopefully, unless you have a hole in your boot)

I went on two rides this weekend, both just as fun, although we did have some mechanical issues on the second ride all was good! (Melted plastic never hurt anyone anyway.)

I also got to try out my new drone and let me tell you the drone is amazing! There are so many new features, shoots 4k, super small, can fly at 60km/h and that’s all I’ve figured out so far.

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In my opinion, an ATV is a perfect vehicle for adventure. Having the ability to go anywhere on or off-road is amazing, you can go through water and mud or over sand and rock, but I guess that speaks for itself in the name… All Terrain Vehicle. This summer a new (for us) ATV is being added to the list of Toys up north and it is a perfect fit. A 2017 Yamaha 700 Kodiak. A true smile maker if you ever ride it.

Driving through the backwoods of Ontario, flying through puddles of muds, driving over rough terrain just makes for a good time. The trail system we rode on never really ends, you can just take a turn and head towards a whole new trail system, the possibilities are seemingly endless. ATVing can just about put a smile on anyone’s face. I would recommend you go and try it for yourself just to see how much fun it is and make sure you drive right through the biggest puddle you can find, you won’t regret it.

This is just the beginning of what will become an epic summer.