Category Archives: Hiking

Seeing Is Believing: The 2015 Fall Colours

As a hiker, it’s been a source of great pride to see so many of you taking an interest in coming out here to Calabogie and walking the trails these past couple of weeks. Combined with the impressive crowds during our Thanksgiving weekend Fall Colours Chairlift Rides and the number of hiking maps downloaded from our website, people have taken advantage of the weather to witness nature in perhaps its finest display.

When I tell people I’m a hiker, the first reaction is that I must be a hardcore, stocked-to-the-gills-with-official-Nike-gear kind of hiker. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I hike in jeans, strap a water bottle to my hip, bring a few quick and easy items in a backpack (couple of granola bars, a change of shirt, a towel, and a cell phone in case of emergencies), grab my walking stick and I’m off. I like to clarify this because while you can be a dedicated, athletic hiker (or a cross country runner, as was the case in my youth), the beauty of this activity is that it’s the definition of casual. Which is exactly what we saw from tweets shared with us over the past couple of weekends.

Now with my three-month old son to enrich my life, I secure him across my chest and bring him along to experience the trails with me in the hope it will become a tradition as he slowly develops the ability to walk with me. Years ago, it was the solitude and time away from crowds, deadlines, even responsibilities. A hike was my time to myself with nothing but my thoughts and some squirrels to keep me company. Times have changed and as a dad I know understand it’s also about getting away from the distractions we take for granted: pulling the kids away from the TV and spending some quality time outside, sharing an hour with someone special for a little hand holding under the canopy, snapping some amazing panoramas with your grandparents… the possibilities are endless.

It’s also about the accomplishment when you reach the trail’s destination, be it the top of the mountain or the gorgeous vista of Eagle’s Nest. It’s quality time in a place no video game, painting, or poem can reproduce and it’s why you have to see it to believe it.

Thanks for stopping by this weekend and I look forward to see everyone back on the trails next Autumn… and on the slopes this Winter.

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Falling In Love With Autumn

As a growing hiking enthusiast, this may be the best time of year to charge up the camera batteries, strap on a backpack, and grab your walking stick for a journey into the woods. Not only because the cooler temperatures have basically eliminated the bugs (which were quite nasty this year, though the trails about The Peaks were actually quite hospitable to those of us who prefer not to become bug food), but to experience the fall colours firsthand.
It’s something we take for granted and not only because it signals the end of one season and the slow approach of another. It’s a natural event unique to our part of the world, a kind of gentle fireworks display marking the approach of something bigger to come. Timing is key to the perfect experience because this is not something spread out across many weeks and it all depends on weather conditions from weeks before. If it gets too cold too early, the leaves shift into duller colours and quickly fall before we can finish tying our shoes. Too warm and the leaves remain green until a sudden frost hits the air and we’re literally looking at half the time to absorb this occasion. Plus some areas change faster than others for no reason whatsoever. Mother Nature makes us work for it, that’s for sure, but when the time comes and you’re in the right place at the right time, it’s magical. I love it!

The beauty of sitting in the midst of the Ontario Highlands is the wide open expanses of fall colours spread across rolling hills. Take the view from Eagle’s Nest, for example, a local favourite. It’s an impressive view at any time of year, but it becomes a magnificent array of yellows, oranges, and browns as far as the eye can see. Only the view from a plane or the space station can beat it.

While I haven’t been able to get outside as often as I would have liked these past few months, the reason is also why I’m especially looking forward to getting onto trails like the Manitou Mountain Trail and Skywalk with my three-month old son. His vision is acute enough that he enjoys looking out the window when it’s all green trees and blue skies, so imagine what he’ll see with the perfect blend of Autumn. It’s a similar mindset fellow blogger, Michelle Kobzik, had last week when she took her five-month old to the top of Dickson Mountain.
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If hiking is not your thing or simply out of your realm of possibility, we can help with that. Our annual Fall Colours Chairlift Rides are taking place this Thanksgiving weekend between 11am and 4pm. Catch a ride to the top of the mountain for only $10 per person (or $30 for a group of four) and walk your way down along Ole K&P or stay a while at the Top Hut and relax before catching a ride back down. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention joining us for lunch or sticking around for a Thanksgiving dinner at our Canthooks restaurant. It’s a time to give thanks for friends and family; why not take time to appreciate the world around us too?

Experiencing the Valley (September 2015 Edition)

September means two things for families: back to school and county fairs. We’re not going to talk about the former because it’s more fun to talk about the latter, plus a few other great events and activities taking place in the Ottawa Valley this month. Today, we’re going to give you a preview for six must-see attractions just a hop, skip and a jump away from The Peaks.

2015 ICF Freestyle Canoe World Championships
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Where: Beachburg, ON (@ Wilderness Tours)
When: August 30 to September 5
Website: http://worldfreestylekayakchampionships.com/
For the third time in a row, Wilderness Tours in Beachburg hosts the ICF Freestyle Canoe World Championships with competitors from around the world pitting themselves against the Ottawa River and each other to prove who is the best with the paddles.

Expo Shawville Fair
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Where: Shawville, ON
When: September 3 to 7
Website: http://www.shawvillefair.ca/index.html
There’s only so much room to mention country fairs, but this one should definitely be on your radar because a headline performer is David Wilcox, a blues legend who played here at Calabogie at last year’s Blues & Ribfest. Add to that the demolition derby, a midway and petting zoo, this fair features all the classics.

Grand National Mud Drag Races
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Where: Beachburg, ON
When: September 5 & 6
Website: http://ranchlakepull.com/
If the demolition derby at the Shawville Fair peaked your interest, this should be a must-see on your September-to-do list. Including a snowmobile race, it’s a full weekend of flying mud and roaring engines. Bringing a change of shirt.

Renfrew Fair
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Where: Renfrew, ON
When: September 9 to 13
Website: http://www.renfrewfair.com/
Only 30 minutes away from Calabogie, the Renfrew Fair has been entertaining adults and kids since 1853 with no signs of slowing down. A true farming expo with livestock and agriculture displays and competitions, plus amusement park rides and races, this fair shows what it truly means to live the country life.

Taste of the Valley
Where: Renfrew, ON
When: September 19
Website: http://www.ottawavalley.travel/Events_and_Festivals/Farmers_Markets/Taste_of_the_Valley_-_Renfrew***7409.html
A massive sampling of everything Renfrew County has to offer, the Taste of the Valley also displays locally made products and crafts. Bring your appetite for good food and fine goods.

NEAT In The Woods
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Where: Burnstown, ON
When: September 25 to 27
Website: http://www.neatinthewoods.com/
Only a 20-minute drive away from The Peaks, this brand new music festival includes a full afternoon/evening of live music on Saturday and a collection of fun events the rest of the weekend, including a 300 piece game of musical chairs, a bike race, scavenger hunt, and sac race.

The Call of the Mountain Path

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Calabogie Peaks Social Media Guy here. I’m going to get a little personal today (but don’t worry, it’s nothing strange, just something that’s very near and dear to my heart). I’m a sucker for hiking. It calls to me and has done so more and more over the past few months. When I started working here back in November of 2013, the view from the base of the mountain took my breath away. Under normal circumstances, you’d think I would have been riding the chairlift as soon as the motor started running or tied up my boot laces post haste and started marching… but it’s not as simple as that.
Everyone has their unique challenges in life. Obstacles they must overcome as part of a personal conflict, be it mental, physical, or both. My employment here at The Peaks ended up being more than a fantastic professional opportunity, but a personal challenge that would take 18 months of training, perseverance and determination. Within days of sitting at this desk, I knew I was going to hike directly up the mountain and see the view from the other side. Not only that, I was going to document it and share it with all you fine readers.
Last weekend, I did exactly that. Starting from the base, I marched my way up the Juniper Junction’s ski trail, connected to Whistlin’ Paddy, and pushed up to the top of the Lakeview chairlift. There’s a reason why I’m sharing this with you beyond good marketing for our fantastic trails and it’s not just because it’s been at least 10 years since my last big hike – my right foot is filled with eight screws and lined with a metal plate locking my heel in place along with continuous nerve damage sustained from a nasty accident years ago. Four-and-a-half years ago at this time, I was completely dependent on walking with crutches or a cane undergoing physical therapy and here I am planning to reach not only the peak of the mountain but the peak of my recovery. It was going to be a painful, demanding experience and after months of planning and preparation (all in secret, as I kept all of this from everyone here in the Front Office and all my friends and family – save for my incredibly supportive wife), last Friday was finally the day.
With my trusty walking stick, binoculars, two bottles of water, a handful of granola bars, a camera over my shoulder, a cellphone in my pocket and a GoPro strapped to my chest, I set out to document this challenge. Have a look!

This is what hiking is all about. It’s not just the fantastic views, the appreciation of nature’s roots surrounding you, or the tranquility of a life beyond humankind. It’s the exhilaration of success when you stand on the tip of a giant rock overlooking a valley as wide as the Earth itself. I’ve missed that feeling after all these years, to be standing in a place where we are the minority, experiencing a moment only I can witness thanks to my own physical and mental efforts. Even with the bugs! I have the same feeling as I did when I completed a marathon, just without the desire to collapse on the ground or feeling like my lungs wanted to relocate to a bigger apartment. What made that moment even better was the realization that I was never expected to experience it again. It was to be nothing more than a memory of a time long gone. Not anymore and I couldn’t be more proud of myself.
This was my challenge to myself and everyone has theirs. Call it your bucket list, a New Year’s resolution, whatever it is in the back of your mind. While I could settle with the self-satisfaction of my own accomplishment, I want to take this to the next level. If my story can encourage at least one more person to overcome their challenge, that success will be all the more sweeter.
What is your challenge and how will you overcome it? Share it with us and let’s help others feel the confidence and willpower to #challengeyourself.

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More Than A Hike: How You Can Prepare For Winter Now

The leaves have fallen and carpeted the ground in a fabric of orange and reds. There’s nothing left to do except wait patiently for the snow to fall, right?
Wrong! Now is the perfect time to get your body ready for the rigours of downhill sports and cross country skiing. It’s not just about being in shape, but acclimatizing yourself to the dropping temperatures. Unless you’re one of the few and proud joggers who wake up at the crack of dawn – in the Summer, no less! – there is a significant difference between outdoor activities in the warm months versus the chill of Autumn and Winter. Exercising in shorts allows your skin to aerate and even the slightest breeze freshens the skin and lets you feel invigorated as you move about in the great outdoors. Bundling up in even the simplest of gear automatically eliminates that freshness and keeps any sweat bundled within your clothing, which creates a humid environment for your skin that causes it to sweat even harder than if you were in shorts. And once you start to remove your gear, you might as well jump straight into the frigid waters of Calabogie Lake in January.
Racing downhill is a serious sport, whether you do it on skis or strapped to a board, and responsible enthusiasts need to prep themselves as well as their gear. That’s why this is the perfect time to get yourself ready for the snow by hiking across the trails winding around your favourite mountain… like our own Dickson Mountain, for starters. To give you that extra boost of inspiration, our own Intrepid Adventurer and Blogger, Michelle, is already well underway to getting herself ready for that glorious white powder. So we’ll leave you with this link to her blog as she shares with you the beauty and tranquility of an Autumn hike up the mountain.

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Michelle and Mike Eady take the trek up the Manitou Mountain Trail over this past weekend.

Six Months And Counting…

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A lot of people may not be aware that Calabogie Peaks is a year-round resort offering activities both exciting and relaxing. Sure, we have our impressive skiing and snowboarding on the biggest vertical mountain in Ontario with a recognized and adored Ski School and all the perks that come with our winter season… but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. But that’s not all I want to talk about today.

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Todd Crapper (yes, you read that right) and I’m the Graphic Designer/Social Media Specialist for Calabogie Peaks. It’s my job to be the voice of the Peaks, to spread the message and share the excitement of everything we have going on at this fabulous resort. And I’m not just saying that as an employee; this is coming from someone who absolutely adores this place. When I was first hired on back in November of last year, I was incredibly excited about this opportunity. To be honest, I was sold on becoming part of the Peaks based on the drive alone. As someone who grew up in the the Greater Toronto Area and lived for 15 years in Ottawa, switching from traffic jams and accident reports on the radio to gliding solo alongside the Madawaska River was tempting beyond belief. I have to admit, I’d never been here before and had Googled pictures of the resort, but when I drove down the embankment and the trees parted to reveal the majesty of this property, I knew this job had to be mine. It was going to be an uphill battle to learn about all the inner workings of a resort like Calabogie Peaks as someone who has never downhill skied or ever worked in this field before, of that there was no doubt. If you’ve ever been here before, you know how friendly and engaging the staff are with their customer and that remained as I began to work with this team to help spread the word on just how awesome this place is. I am truly blessed to be a part of it and now my role is to make you want to become part of it too.

That was six months ago and what a crazy and exciting six months it was. Aside from the usual learning curve you go through at any new job, there were many challenges and struggles along the way, but I’m happy to say we ended up with a great season. From a social media standpoint, we were able to increase our followers on both Facebook and Twitter by 30%, website traffic is up 15% (with new visitors up by 30%), and we’ve begun to play around with other media such as Instagram and Google+ as well. More importantly, we’ve heard so many great things from our guests and customers about how much they have enjoyed their time at Calabogie Peaks and how they’re looking forward to coming back for more skiing, golfing, dining, and more. It’s been hectic at times, but I truly feel blessed to have the opportunity to work with such a great team and meet many of you who are truly fans of the Peaks.

There’s a reason why I’m getting into all this personal background with you – it’s the personal touch that you get with the Peaks. We provide the same perks and features of many larger resorts, yet with that friendly country feel that makes us stand out. Providing that same accommodation through social media with all of its fast-paced, low-character, short-lived flurry of updates, shares, and cat photos is tricky. There’s so much going on in our world – both virtual and physical – that it becomes more important to have that opportunity to experience a human touch with all this communication. That’s what I want to bring to you and remind those of you have been here once before or those who are only discovering the Peaks for the first time online – that sense of community and country comfort that’s close to home.

So if you think all that melted snow means we’re shutting down for the next six months, you are way off, my friends. At this very moment, our Ironwoods 9-hole golf course is available to the public, preparations are under way to get our Boathouse Bar & Grill ready for the Victoria Day long weekend and it’s just over a month until the 2nd Annual Calabogie Country Music Festival begins (featuring our headliner, Canadian country icon, Michelle Wright). After that, there’s the 4th Annual Calabogie Blues & Ribfest Music Festival, complete with actual blues music, a finger-licking array of BBQ ribs, camping, and headliners such as the infamous David Wilcox and Jimmie Vaughan. (All of this was recently featured on the Ottawa Citizens’ website; feel free to check it out.) That’s not even the half of it with hotel specials for the spontaneous traveler and active family alike, we are in full swing for the spring and summer months.
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There we have it. Let me assure you, if my workload is not slowing down as the temperature rises, we are just beginning to pick up the pace and it’s my job to share all these activities with you, fair reader. It’s my job to convince you why you and your family, friends, and co-workers should choose Calabogie Peaks for your next time away from the city close to home. If you’re not following us on Facebook or Twitter yet, click on the blue and keep in touch with us. Better yet, you can contact me directly at my office by email (tcrapper@calabogie.com) or by phone (1-800-669-4861, extension 1603). Let’s make the most of this summer and enjoy the outdoors as true Canadians. I know I will.

Across the Madawaska

CalabogieAdventures_banner_v2 “The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be.”
– Anne Frank

I know whenever I hear the term “ski hill,” I immediately think of downhill skiing, snowboarding and chair lifts. The thought of cross country skiing slips my mind and it becomes a missed opportunity.

I cross country skied as a kid but just took it up again as a part-time passion about 4 years ago. I find cross country skiing can go two ways; you can make it an adventurous work out or a relaxing cruise through nature. Whether you are looking for flat trails for skate skiing, trails with tracks for nordic skiing or a mixture of both, Calabogie has it.
I have two favourite cross country areas both located within minutes from the Peaks.

The Madawaska Nordic ski trails are located behind the Peaks Village, across from Calabogie Peaks Resort. Trails are well marked and colour coded for level of difficulty: Green for Easy, Blue for Moderate and Red for Difficult. For the most part, the Madawaska Nordic trails are suitable for skiers of all levels.
http://www.madawaskanordic.org/

These trails, which were at one time old logging roads, wind their way through the deep woods of Calabogie.

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The view from atop Eagle’s Nest.

My other favourite and probably my most favourite trail is the one leading up to Eagles Nest. I have found myself recently racing the sun to ski to Eagles Nest where I will take my skis off and walk to the look out for a breathtaking view of the sunset. (Side note: we take head lamps and going downhill on the way out can be quite fast).
Cross country skiing has many benefits. For example, it’s free if you have your own equipment. If you don’t have your own equipment you can rent everything you need at Calabogie Peaks.

It’s a great but comfortable work out. You won’t feel the pain till the next day ;). And it can be a great family outing or unique way to get together with a friend. It is also something you can make your own agenda for whether you want to go for a full day with a lunch packed or just a short after work ski to sunset.

If you want more information on the trails around the Peaks, you can check them out here.