Almost 3 months since my last post

I can’t believe how bad I am at blogging. Consider me a part-time blogger as there isn’t a lot new in my/our world. What got me to providing an update was a post I made on Facebook, that for some reason, people find our new lifestyle of interest.

Two months ago, John and I were shopping at Canadian Tire. We saw an Instant Pot for sale, and thought why not. It didn’t appear to use too much wattage especially when we’re getting up to 14 hours of sun per day.

The IP (short for Instant Pot) has been amazing. Firstly, it cooks food much faster than say an oven. I cooked a 4 lb. chicken the other day in 20 minutes. And best part, didn’t have turn on the oven. It’s been so hot and humid here lately that the stove doesn’t really get used at all.

Second great thing about the IP, it has many uses aside from pressure cooking. It makes yogurt, steams, can be used as a slow cooker, and even make popcorn!

With all this success, I wanted to say via a Facebook IP group how much I like the IP. I went on to say I don’t think i’ll get much use out of it come winter. The problem is summer versus winter. The sun rises here in summer around 5:30am and sets 9:30pm. However, we don’t begin generating electricity until 8 or 9 am. In winter, the sun might rise around 8 or 9, but it sets around 4pm. So shorter days in winter, but the sun also isn’t as strong.

Given the difference, any appliance like say a toaster, microwave, coffee maker, or IP – has a heating element that uses a lot of amps. Only way to get around this in winter is to run the generator. It works, it’s loud, and uses gas. Our gas prices up here are over $1.35/L…or over $5 a gallon. We usually need to run the generator in winter for 3 hours a day, 3x a week.

Some suggest getting more solar batteries. Easier said than done, but they must be stored indoors. Our house has only two bedrooms – one for sleeping in, the other is a pantry and office. Currently, our 8 solar batteries are contained in two boxes in the bathroom. There is no room for more.

Back to the Facebook post. To my shock, it generated close to 4,000 likes and 400+ comments (about 1/5 are my comments responding to posters). My intent wasn’t to get attention, just to say how much I like my new IP. Surprisingly, people found our off-grid lifestyle interesting.

One comment I always get: “you’re not off-grid. You have cellphones and internet.” Incorrect understanding of what off-grid means, and simply means you’re not tied to the electrical grid. We generate our own electricity. Our water is drawn from the lake. We don’t have a septic system, but a compost toilet. We do not have cellphone service, but to get a signal, we have to drive out to the highway. Our heat source is wood stove. I hunt and fish a wee bit, and I can and preserve food. Next year our greenhouse will be up.

So yeah, we have internet via satellite dish. And we have BellExpress Vu via dish as well. Big deal. Winters are long here.

Other news….

We had our first guests – Pauline and Hoppy from Ottawa. We had a wonderful 3+ days of food, drink and card games. Guests are always welcome…anytime of year.

We bought a second property a few months ago. We had seen a for sale sign and called the agent. Turns out the previous owner had bought the property, built a massive 1,000 sq. ft. garage…then sadly, his house burned down. We got the property rather cheap. The garage is all John’s to tinker with. LOL, I doubt I’ll see him much at home as he’ll be up there. The property has an amazing view of the lake, perched high on a hill. There is also a massive shed for storage, plus a couple years storage area for firewood.

Things are quiet now, John has been in Ottawa for past 10 days, and will be returning in another ten. I’ve been trying to stay cool, try not to get bitten by black flies and mosquitoes. Bugs are nowhere near bad as I’ve heard they can be. I’ve also been hauling wood from this property up to the other one as it is better storage.

Blood sucking skeeters! I recently learned they’re attracted to screens, sensing the CO2 generated from propane appliances.

I guess the last thing is something always on my mind: Attempting the Appalachian Trail in 2020. I’ve been training, but haven’t committed 100%. I have a few hikes planned on the Coastal Trail at Lake Superior. There, I can hike the longer 120km or the shorter 60km one.

More to come on this…

Few photos of our place

We had a brand new solar power system installed last year. The sun usually hits our panels around 10am, even though sun has been up for 4 hours. Great news, sun doesn’t set until 9pm. We generate enough power to watch tv, charge devices, lights and so on.

Entrance to garage on left…and the right is tool shed. As you can see, we still have a couple feet of snow. Where you see the propane tank, we have a dual fuel generator. In winter we hardly get any sun, so the generator charges our solar batteries sometimes twice a week.

Looking through the window in the distance is Indian Lake. Very messy!

Very messy house! We have propane fridge and stove. No dishwasher here except me. We get propane fill up twice a year. Today I’m making Guinness Stew.

Our bathroom has a claw foot tub, compost toilet and sink. Also housed in the bathroom are our solar batteries which need to be kept from freezing.

Couple of my bows…and a recently installed dartboard.

Main source of heat is the wood-stove, but we also have a propane furnace that is used to keep house warm when we’re not here. This prevents all our food from freezing. The big metal cylinder is a 500 gallon water tank. We draw water from the lake that we use for dishes and washing/bathing. For drinking, we filter the lake water through a Sawyer filter.
Our of our two bedrooms.

Looking southeast from inside screened in porch. So much snow! Going to be a while before that canoe sees any water.
Looking northwest from the porch, one of our many, many stock piles of firewood. Beyond the firewood is compost area.

11 months and counting

The calendar says today is May 1st, but looking across our frozen lake, two foot high snow banks and barely 0C temperatures – you’d think it was January 1st.

As bleak as this sounds, there are signs of Spring. I see a few patches of brown under the pine trees. The chickadees are hanging around the backdoor of our house waiting for breadcrumbs. And the sun now sets around 8:45pm – nearly 40 minutes later than when we lived in Ottawa.

We still need to rely on our wood stove for heat for the time being until temperatures start rising. Next week we’ll see double digit temps. Woohoo! Warmer temperatures will lead to more bike riding, hiking and hopefully getting into our new property that we acquired in March. With all the snow, we’ve not been able to walk and survey the property…but soon.

Really enjoying my new fat bike. Unlike traditional mountain bikes, the tires are five inches wide. This wider surface allows for better contact on the road when there is ice, snow and mud. I went for a ride the other day and got totally covered in mud.

My mind is working a million miles a minute with all the Spring stuff we have to do here. Returning to the Appalachian Trail in 2020 consumes a lot of my mind. I’ve been reading an interesting book by John Desilets: Appalachian Fail: What I Learned From My Failed Thru-Hike. Unlike the dozen or so hiking books I read prior to my 2019 hike, this book delves into some interesting thoughts. As I read though it, I realize how much this book speaks to me. Not as a failure, but not being prepared. And, I was overconfident…which isn’t a bad thing, but I could have been better prepared.

I’m now doing a series of 7 stretches that will help strengthen my hamstrings, quads and knees. Best part, I will do these when it is winter and unable to spend as much time outdoors. Once it gets a bit warmer, I’ll be back on our road and side trails hiking. I foresee a few overnight backcountry hikes to Pukawaska National Park, Algonquin and Killarney.

Today is opening of Spring bear hunt, and while I have a tag I doubt there are bears around here as yet. John said he thinks he saw bear tracks at our other property last week. I’m more interested in the Fall season when it is bear and deer season. I’m planning come August to do some scouting trips north of Kirkland Lake and Lavant County near Renfrew. These trips see me walking a lot of miles backcountry – so great exercise at the minimum even if I don’t see anything. Hopefully it’ll warm up soon so I can get outside and hit my outdoor archery range to begin upper body strengthening and practice. I haven’t shot my bow since last September, so I’m sure I’m a bit rusty.

That’s it for now.

Thank you! What’s next?

First off, and most important, I want to thank all of you who began to follow me on this journey. I also want to say how much I appreciate the comments. I may have been a bit hard on myself calling myself a failure. I was angry at myself for giving up, but I knew at the time after a long descent down Sassafras Mountain that I couldn’t go on. A hiking adage rang true: listen to your body.
When I think back at what went wrong, I can narrow it to be unprepared. I joked around in hiking groups online that I would get my trail legs while hiking. Well, I was dead wrong. Physically, I was maybe 5% prepared. I know if I had hiked more, stretched more and had built up my calf muscles, no doubt my joints wouldn’t have been so sore.
I know I didn’t drink near enough water. Another hiker said you should be drinking a litre of water about every couple miles. Day 1, I drank only 1 litre over 9.1 miles. This of course led to leg cramps.
So, I know what I did wrong. Now comes the decision do I attempt again? Before I decide, I’m going to commit to doing some things differently.
First off, we’re getting a non-electric exercise bike. The bike will be perfect for us as it uses no electricity as we’re off-grid. And, with icy/snow conditions that run from November to June, the bike will give me a way to make sure I don’t lose muscle mass during the winter.
Once the weather gets a bit better, I plan on a few 4-5 day backcountry hikes at Algonquin Park. I’ve done these trails before and will give me at least some elevation change. Nothing even remotely close to the Appalachian Trail, but better than where live. I may even try challenge myself and hike the Coastal Trail at Lake Superior. This trail is 120km and takes about 6-7 days.
I’m not committing yet to trying the Appalachian Trail in 2020, but it’s in the back of my mind. Do I need to do this? I don’t know.
For now, looking forward to Spring/Summer back home. Really looking forward to close friends who’ll be visiting us. That puts a smile on my face.

Thanks again everyone.


If you want to look up the definition of failure look no further it’s me: Nina.
For two years I’ve dreamt of hiking the Appalachian Trail. I thought it was something I could do. I thought the Appalachian Trail would be the one thing I could look back on and say I finally have accomplished something big in my life. I’ve felt something was missing in terms of something that I can say I did something big.
Today I have ended my hike. The first 4 miles of today’s hike was so grueling. I’m not sure if it was the difficult climb up Sassafras Mountain. Descending was just as tough as the climbs. My left knee is screaming out in pain my and my ankles are sore. Every step was a wobbly one. I knew going into this hike I had arthritis, but though I could somehow hike thru it.

Some said to me today at least I tried. I doubt that as I hiked a total of 12 miles. I bawled on the phone to John telling him I couldn’t continue.

I feel I let down a lot of people. Clearly I was physically unprepared for the hike. I just know I have to listen to my body, and it screams for relief.

That’s it. Sorry