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3 day trip with a wall tent - Haliburton, Ontario (Pic Heavy)

Feb 1, 2013
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Got to spend 3 glorious September days on a brief solo trip last week. Apart from getting some much needed silence & solitude, my overall goal was to test out some of the homemade gear made over the off season. Also wanted to check out the tripping capabilities of the 14 foot Chestnut / Peterborough.

In particular, needed to see if my homemade wall tent needed any tweaking. Totally copying Robin's awesome setup, I brought along the frame made from closet rods, a wanigan, a home-made chair and other little projects. I also purchased a folding cot off Amazon and it would be the first time I slept off the ground on one. Given that the nights were to drop down to around 4 degree Celsius, a bulky wool blanket was brought along to supplement the sleeping bag. Knew going in that with all the stuff, it was going to be a triple portage but a simple, familiar route was selected in the Haliburton Highlands (Ontario). It involved a direct launch to the water from a public dock (Raven Lake Access Point) with only a single 350m portage to get into the next lake (Gun L). I'd secured the most isolated campsite on the lake which is tucked into its own private bay, but in the end, the whole lake was empty for the duration of the trip.


All the gear at the end of the only portage

The little Chestnut performed admirably with such a load, but a 15 footer would've carried this equipment better.


canoe loaded


Paddling into the isolated bay

The small site doesn't look like much from the water. It is basically a rocky spit sticking out into the lake, but being surrounded by water, there was a lovely view from most directions and a great fire pit built in the centre.


Site 71b from the water


View from the site looking back

The wall tent was set up so that the rear side could be staked down into the thin topsoil and the front side tie outs secure with rocks.

The 7x7 tent is quite spacious already, but the storage under the cot was great giving the tent even more of mansion-like feel. The canvas tent pole case was unrolled and repurposed as a ground sheet under the tarp. Also brought along a mosquito net that could be suspended from the tent frame if needed. The bugs weren't bad at all, but the netting was still useful for that evil mosquito hour before sunset.


View out the tent door

There was a slight chance of rain, so like Robin, I used an old tarp on top for additional waterproofing. Dimensions aren't perfect match but at least the old tarp still has a use and isn't collecting dust in storage.


Home for the trip

After setting up camp, it was time for a firewood run. This little part of the lake doesn't see many visitors, so the shoreline is dotted with fantastic dry wood.


Plenty of fallen birch trees meant a nearly limitless supply of guilt-free bark to really get the flames blazing.


It was a beautiful first night. The next morning was cold and misty, but magical. The tent worked very well as the whole site was covered with thick dew and condensation but the breathable canvas meant a dry and cozy interior.


Misty morning sunrise

The lake was too tempting to resist so the first order of business was to paddle around for the sheer bliss of just canoeing.



Back after an hour or so with sunlight illuminating the whole site, I started my first attempt at using the reflector oven made back in 2015. Tried my hand at making some biscuits with whole milk powder and coconut oil.


Is this going to work?

Well in the end, the oven did its job, but the thin material warped heavily and became quite flimsy. To be expected I guess since the material was never really meant to be used as an oven. The biscuits tasted fine but investing in a proper reflector will be needed for future trips. Also realized a good pair of gloves would be smart as finger tips were singed in the making of breakfast.


After that little gear experiment, had a nice little break in a shady spot under the pines to contemplate what to do next...


A decision was made to try some fishing. Back for the May trip with my son and his classmate, I had ordered a simple little collapsible fishing rod online. He had outgrown his previous toy rod. To transport the disassembled rod and mini tackle-box, I re-used an old cigar box with a sturdy clasp. Made a little handle with jute cordage and we were good to go.




Son's fishing set

The fish were biting like crazy during our August trip to this same lake, but I guess they figured a grown man using his son's fishing set was inappropriate, so I got zero bites.

After giving up, it was time to replenish the wood pile given the fire the night before and for breakfast. This time I sourced an old downed maple in the hills behind the campsite. The upper limbs would need to be sawn and split. Right before the trip, I finished making a new folding bucksaw and a case based on the Ray Mears Folding bucksaw/axe case. Mine was made from some waxed tarp material and hand stitched. It's a neat way to keep these essential bush tools together. The axe fits into an exterior sleeve attached to a simple bag for the saw components. Some leather and knotted paracord secure the top flap


Saw & Axe bag closed


Opening up to get the saw

The new 21" bucksaw was made with cherry scraps. Researched some designs and decided I wanted one where the handles are slotted so the the blade could fold directly forming a guard. Using some 3/4" Chicago screws to mount the blade means that there is no fiddling with any hardware like my old saw.


Slotted handle guards the teeth of the blade


Handles flip around


The new tripping saw

By the afternoon , the heat missing all summer long started cooking up the site so half the wall tent was flipped up and converted into a baker tent style shelter. It provided some decent shade relief. The wool blanket was removed the cot and a perfect afternoon nap ensued.


Flipped up into Baker Tent mode

The rest of the delightful day was spent relaxing by the shore with some coffee, some bourbon and my last H. Upmann Royal Robusto from 2011.

Why can't everyday be like this?

The evening seemed warmer than normal so a decision was made to keep the tent in baker mode. The roof was lowered a bit and the nylon tarp added back in case of rain. It was great to sleep with the open view and feel immersed in the surroundings.

The sunset was pretty sweet for my last night...

Apart from the reflector oven fail, I feel that the field test with the wall tent was a success. Obviously the weight concerns with the frame would limit portage heavy trips. It'll be more useful for poling trips with minimal carries. A significant amount of weight could be saved by using a ridge line between trees which might be considered in the future. Eventually, I'll be adding a stove jack into one of the panels and hope to use the tent again in the late fall with a recent acquisition of a used Kni-co woodburning stove.

Thanks for reading!
You have a great "kit", so many interesting items. I think that's great the way your tent converts to a baker tent, and your saw and ax outfit are nice. Everything looked just right to my eyes.
Was that little rig holding your cigar made just for that purpose?
I think you did a good job moving that gear with a 14' canoe.
Thanks for sharing all those pictures, I really enjoyed it.
Very nice "shakedown" trip Murat. I always love seeing your stuff. Except one problem. (Yeah, I'm that one trouble-maker guy in the crowd.) I didn't get to see a full view of the nice job you did on your axe handle. Maybe you can show us some time?
Oh, and btw, at least a couple times a year my wife and I scroll through your beautiful paddles on your great blog and pick out our favourites. I've narrowed my fav's down to 4. No wait, 5.
ps Speaking of favourites do you have a favourite piece of kit from this trip, in how it looks, or from function?
Thanks Murat.
Great report and good reading with the morning coffee. I used to rent a house in Dorset and this area was great for cruising the shoreline... eg. paddling into the isolated bay photo. And the shady rest chair under the pines.

I've heard that people have been catching smallmouth in Gun lake but sometimes the action will slow down in September. Thanks for writing the TR, this area is still close and from the looks of it, well worth visiting.
Great to finally see that tent in action w your pole set functioning quite well in wall tent or baker tent mode...heck of a useable mod in my book. Adding in a woodstove adds a hundred new dimensions to off season camping!
Thanks all

Robin: I really just copied your excellent setup! Yeah, that little cigar holder is basically 2 small flat cutoffs of cherry, each with a slit half way through. They combine to form an "X" and work perfectly to keep the cigar horizontal & burning. It's a total extra accessory, but it folds flat and this was an R&R type of trip. Plus it kept the cigar from rolling away off the sloping terrain into the lake. That happened once!

Wanted to ask if you ever use a pad on the top of your cot when then temperature dips down? That first night I felt a bit of chill on my back, so got up an used the kneeling mat from the canoe for some extra insulation. Seemed to work a bit better.

Odyssey: Can't seem to resist when I see a piece of bare wood calling out to be decorated. Burned the hickory axe handle a while back with an abstract pattern. Hickory isn't the best for decoration, it turned out blotchy but here is a pic like you requested...


As far as my favourite bits of gear, right now it has to be the chair and the wanigan. Of course they are heavy, but I really need the firm back support that the fabric chairs don't provide. The wanigan is so good for organization and as a flat surface, it is totally worth tumping it in along. Appreciate the compliments about my paddles too. I've been working on a bunch more, replicating historic designs from paintings, but they really aren't tripping paddles so have been hesitant to post here.

FrozenTripper: I'll fully accept your hearsay knowledge about the fishing in Gun Lake slowing down in September as my excuse! Thanks for soothing my bruised fishing ego. I've become a fan of the Haliburton Water trails. Way less crowded than Algonquin PP but similar topography. I like how the online booking system let's you see pics of the campsites. Entry off of Raven means going through a populated cottage lake, but Canoe Lake in Algonquin seems busy with cottagers too. All three campsites I stayed on over the the paddling season had new thunderboxes and were very well maintained.

Southcove: Scored a kni-co trekker stove over the summer on Kijiji. It was used only once. Next thing is to get a stove jack for the tent and an elbow for the stovepipe. Really looking to trying it out in a late season trip if everything works out.
Murat, I love how your tent converts to the Baker style, really a great idea. Everything looks so awesome, thanks for sharing.
I also picked up a Chum this summer and can't wait to take it out tripping like others do. The chair idea is interesting, when you get a chance could your share your idea on how it was made? Thanks, CF
nice job on the baker mode -- rustrum illustrates this -- i betcha you end up open-faced more times then not...
Nice trip, nice stuff and nice tent. I was out earlier this month with a baker tent and a wood stove. I don't have a stove pipe hole in this tent so I just used a 45 to point the pipe out the opening and supported it with a tripod of sticks. It worked really good for the shoulder season and I was pretty confident I wasn't going to burn my tent up. My wife and I enjoyed sitting in the tent by the stove enjoying the view more than sitting around the fire.

I have been been tripping almost exclusively in a campfire tent for twenty years and if I had a tent like yours and could open the doors to 7' wide, I don't think I would ever resort to the baker tent mode unless it was very hot. I have been thinking about this for a while because I'm thinking of getting a wall tent.
Nice looking trip. I am hoping to manage one later this month as well. Not with a fancy canvas tent like yours though. I am super jealous. Good job getting it all in there with that little 14 footer. Karin had one of those too but we found it pretty small for tripping. She did use it one summer a few times but in the end sold it and now uses her Jacks special. Way better.
We are both fans of the Haliburton area...nice to see some pics again.

Murat - Thanks for the wonderful photos and updates on your equipment. It's great to know that everything is working for you; even if you do want to "upgrade" your reflector oven. As for any blotches on the axe handle, I'll take your word for it but the photos looks like another work of art.

That's all for now. Take care and until next time....be well.

I definitely hear ya on wanting to copy Robin's setup! I originally found this site while researching for a DIY wall tent I plan to make. I've definitely studied the heck out of every picture I find of Robin's tent.
Really enjoy your eye for a fantastic canoe tripping photo. After hesitating for a couple years wondering if it would be worth the investment I bought my husband a reflector oven for Christmas. Turns out he loves it and having corn bread, biscuits, pizza, muffins, etc. alongside home-dehydrated food on a trip is quite a wonderful luxury. Was worth it and now I wish I'd gotten it for him sooner. Most things I just mix with water and cook in the skillet like a cake to save on portaging extra pots and pans. Here I am showing Biskquik biscuit mix and Martha White blueberry muffin mix - just added water to make each.
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I'm late to comment, but Murat that look like a great trip you had! I to love my wanigan, even if it is a bit heavier than a Actionpacker it is way better, I want to make one for food and leave the blue barrel at home for next year! Love the tent, love all the gear you made over the years! You are a true inspiration. Great photos!!