Winter 2012 Number 62

Around the World One Step at a Time

by Patricia Henderson

Nahanni - Virginia Falls Photo: Jane KitchenThe journey of 1000 miles starts with one step and no one knows that betterthan retired Kingston teacher Jane Kitchen. Although she grew up canoeing and camping, she never really dreamed that one day she would be rafting the Nahanni or hiking the Rockies! “I was always active in the outdoors and was a Sea Scout leader for 30 years, but I really didn’t spend that much time in the wilderness.”

During her career teaching history at LCVI, Kitchen got camping experience in Algonquin Park with the school’s Outward Bound Club. But, ironically, it was really when she retired over a decade ago, that she strapped on her hiking boots and set out to explore the trails of the world. “I started to go on organized hiking trips in Scotland. I’ve hiked the Hebrides from top to bottom, the West Highland Way, the Kintyre Way and the Orkneys and Shetland. In England I did day hikes and stayed in old manor houses at night. That was tremendously affordable because the guides were volunteers.”

Rafting on the Nahanni, Photo: Jane KitchenOne of her more taxing trips was with Skyline Hikers in the Canadian Rockies. “That was serious camping. We had an old-time 1923 trapper tent with no floor. Our supplies were flown in and our bags came in on horses. They are the only company allowed to camp on those sites and they can never use a site more than once every 10 years.”

It was on that trip, that she met the tent mate who invited her to raft the Nahanni River last summer. “I thought, I am 68 and no one had ever asked me to do something like that before, and I doubted if I would ever get asked again, so I said yes.” She started in Virginia Falls with Nahanni Wilderness Adventures and rafted the lower half of the famed Nahanni for 13 days. “Some days we hiked the canyons, but mostly we were on the water about five hours a day.” It was a trip of a lifetime, and one Kitchen documented with detailed journals and numerous photos.

Her many treks from Italy to Scotland, Algonquin to Frontenac Park, have been without incident if you don’t count the grizzly bear encounter outside of Banff! “We just came around the corner and there he was. But we backed up and he just sauntered away. And there was that one time, before I knew better, when I stored my food in my tent and was overrun by deer mice in the morning...”

Rafting on the Nahanni, Photo: Jane Kitchen

Rafting on the South Nahanni River
Photo provided by Jane Kitchen.

One of my most memorable experiences was walking the Camino de Santiago where every day brought new scenery. And the Four Corners of the U.S (Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado) was stunning because of the desert scenery in the canyons and national parks.”

Rainbow on the Nahanni, Photo: Jane Kitchen.

Rainbow on the Nahanni.
Photo: Jane Kitchen.

Kitchen plans to give her hiking boots a workout for years to come. This September she is off to Wales. “I like being outdoors, seeing birds, animals, new places and talking to different people. Besides, as a friend once told me, ‘You have to keep moving so you can keep moving.’ So, I may as well do it in pretty places with good company!”

Jane Kitchen will be speaking about her Nahanni rafting experience at the Kingston Frontenac Public Library at 7pm on Wednesday, March 14.



2011-2012 Board of Directors

The Friends of Frontenac Park is a non profit organization whose purpose is to develop programs and materials that enhance the public's awareness, education, and appreciation of the natural environment and human history of Frontenac Provincial Park.

President: Herb Helmstaedt
Vice-President: Simon Smith
Secretary: Martha Whitehead
Treasurer: Guy Thorne
Membership: John Critchley
Publicity & Newsletter: Donna Gillespie
Wilderness Skills: Don Stables
Frontenac Challenge: Anne Hogle
Trail Sweeps: Cathy Murray
Member At Large: David Crane
Member At Large: Heather Jamieson


Park Management Plan: Paul Vickers
Winter Camping: Don Stables
Winter Hosting: Cathy Murray
Frontenac Challenge: Anne Hogle, Erhard Frenzl
Newsletter Editor: Donna Gillespie
Newsletter Publisher: Ron Abbott
Web Master: Jérôme McDuff
Map Coordinator: Jim King

The Friends of Frontenac Park publishes the Frontenac News three times annually. The views expressed in the Frontenac News are not necessarily those of the Friends of Frontenac Park or the Editor. Some articles are published to give the viewpoint of an author or to incite discussions.

We welcome articles, notes, stories and photographs for the newsletter. Your ideas, suggestions and constructive criticisms are always encouraged. Material accepted is subject to editing and revision..

Next deadline for submission of material is:

February 1, 2012

Copy should be mailed to Friends of Frontenac Park c/o Newsletter Editor, P.O. Box 2237, Kingston, ON  K7L 5J9 or sent by e-mail to

Visit us online at and follow-us on Facebook /frontenacparkfriends and Twitter @frontenacpark.



New programs and events may be added to the Official Schedule – please check the website at for the most up to date information and details on specific programs. Programs presented by the Friends of Frontenac Park are identified with a *. Do not forget that you will need to purchase a daily vehicle or camping permit to take part in most of these activities. Contact the Park (613 376 3489) for more information.

Date Event Start End
March 14 *Winter Lecture – Rafting the Nahanni 19h00 21h00
March 24 *Volunteer Training Day 09h00 15h00
April 14 *Spring Trail Sweep 08h30 16h00
April 22 *Historical Walk 10h30 16h00
April 28 *Spring Work Day 08h45 16h00
May 05 ORCKA Canoe Instructors Recertification Clinic 09h00 17h00
May 06 Single Burner Gourmet Cooking 10h00 13h00
May 06 The Amazing Tarp – Tarping Made Easy 13h00 15h00
May 12 *Introduction to Back Country Camping 09h00 16h00
May 26-27 Basic Wilderness First Aid Course 08h30 16h30
May 30 - June 03 ORCKA Canoe Tripping Level 1 & 2    
May 30 - June 03 ORCKA Canoe Tripping Level 3    
June 02 *Wilderness Map & Compass Navigation Level I 09h00 16h00
June 10 Canoe Clinic 10h00 15h30
June 16 *Wilderness Map & Compass Navigation Level II 09h00 16h00
June 22-24 *President’s Paddle    
July 14 Kayak Basics – Getting Started Course 13h00 16h00
July 22 Paddle Canada Flatwater Sea Kayaking Certification Course 08h30 16h00
Sept 01 - Oct 31 *Frontenac Challenge    
September 01-03 *Bring a Friend to the Park    
September 29 *Fall Work Day 08h45 16h00
November 04 *Frontenac Challenge BBQ 10h30 12h30
November 04 *Annual General Meeting 12h30 13h30

The Frontenac ALL Season Camping Challenge
Camp at least one night in each consecutive month of the year in Frontenac Provincial Park. Register at the Park Office and retain your copy of the camping permits as proof of your stay during each of the twelve months.  Start any time!


A Tio Wulf Ramble

By Larry Gibbons

Well, we're back in the Cape Breton Highlands for the winter -- where we actually had a white Christmas. But it was difficult leaving our little Ontario cabin. Reality can be a harsh dictator and it was dictating to us that the walk through the snow and the ice to get to our vehicles, was becoming too arduous for Sue.

There are two animals with which I have some kind of spiritual connection. They are the eagle and the bear. I won't go into details about this but the day after we made our decision to move to Cape Breton for the winter, I was working on our dock when I suddenly heard a great birdie fuss. Seagulls, blue jays, ravens and who knows who else were squawking and clamouring up the morning solitude. I looked up from what I was doing and spotted the reason. A beautiful bald eagle was soaring over Big Clear Lake. I have seen a few eagles in the area before but I have never seen one flying over the lake. This bald eagle sighting was significant to me.

Then there was the first day we pulled into the driveway of our rented trailer on the Cabot Trail. We saw a black bear scurry across the lawn, over a hill and down towards the brook, which chatters to itself day and night. Seeing the bear was my other significant glimpse. These sightings encouraged me. It was like the universe was putting brackets around our decision to move down here. The world was opening the invisible curtains a wee bit and allowing us a glimpse of the great universal drama in which we are all involved.

I mentioned seeing the bear to our landlord. He was surprised and said that in the fifty years he has lived in this area he has never seen a black bear around his place.

One of the first things I did when we arrived here was to hang out bird feeders. Word around here is that the bird population is greatly reduced. Some folks think it’s because of the wanton destruction of Cape Breton’s boreal species’ habitat. At our Ontario cabin, the bird diners who frequent our feeders include juncos, chickadees, downy and hairy woodpeckers, redpolls, blue jays, wrens, goldfinches, doves, sparrows, starlings, indigo buntings and even a pigeon or two.

We don't have as many at our highland feeders yet, but although they say the goldfinch population is down, we have more at our feeders here than we did in Ontario. We also have woodpeckers, blue jays, chickadees, juncos, ravens, sparrows and one red squirrel. However, there are no big, fat, hungry squirrels up here so we don't have to buy as much bird feed. Sue and I are waiting for the grosbeaks to make dinner reservations. That would make our day.

And you know, much as we miss the sight of the turkey vultures soaring overhead when we are in Ontario, we surely enjoy watching the bald eagles cruising in the sky, their white heads and feathers glistening in the highland sun. What a gorgeous sight.

Last week, when I walked to the yappy brook, I spotted a poor snowshoe rabbit huddling under a pile of alder branches. He was a brilliant white. The ground was a monotonous brown. He stood out like the proverbial sore thumb. But luckily for him we had a white Christmas and his white colour went from being a disadvantage and a threat to his survival to becoming a wonderful camouflage and protection. That was his present from Santa.

When pondering on this abrupt change in the rabbit's circumstances, I thought about how we all have traits and abilities which in one area can be a disadvantage or even a hazard to our psychological or spiritual wellbeing, whereas in another place these same characteristics can be powerful and positive. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why we move back and forth.

The President Herb Helmstaedt carrying a load of wood. (Photo: Jerome McDuff)My other thought, which might have been germinating in my mind when I was climbing or descending MacMillan Mountain, was how lucky I was to have our decision to move to Cape Breton for the winter affirmed by the eagle and the bear. Because I realize that for many in this modern age, the idea that a bear and an eagle could give us courage and affirmation is laughable or even worse. But I think that these two mysteries who share the earth with us made the awesome universe, in our minds, feel even more immense and mysterious, yet at the same time, a wee bit more understandable and personal. And maybe this was partly what Robert Frost was attempting to express in his poem, “The Bear”:

The world has room to make a bear feel free;
The universe seems cramped to you and me.
Man acts more like the poor bear in a cage
That all day fights a nervous inward rage,
His mood rejecting all his mind suggests

Larry Gibbons is a regular contributor to the Frontenac News and is author of "White Eyes", 16 short stories rooted in his years living on a Mi'kmaw First Nations Reserve.


Winter in Frontenac Park

Winter Trail Guide CoverFrontenac Provincial Park is an all-season park that provides its winter visitors with a range of recreational activities, from cross-country skiing and snowshoeing to winter camping, ice fishing, and a wilderness-skills program. While 2012 hasn’t provided the typical winter weather we’re accustomed to, Ontario Parks in partnership with The Friends of Frontenac Park have created a new Winter Trail Guide which provides maps and information on skiing, snowshoeing and hiking trails.

Visitors to the park can enjoy the network of 160 km of hiking trails year round. Throughout the winter there are 12 km of trails marked for cross-country skiing with track setting done when there is sufficient snowfall. The Doe Lake Loop, Arab Lake Gorge Loop and Bufflehead Trail are favourites used primarily by snowshoers and hikers.

To pick up your copy of the new Frontenac Winter Trail Guide, please visit the Park Office.


Outdoor Adventure Challenge

The Friends newest challenge has 30 participants registered as of the end of February to undertake the ultimate camping adventure -- to camp overnight in the Park at least once every month, for 12 consecutive months. We’re thrilled to see such a great following, especially during the coldest months of the year. Follow the Friends on Facebook (/FrontenacPark) to see pictures and read of the adventures of some of these brave (& warm) souls.



Your membership with the Friends entitles you to a 15% discount at Novel Idea, a Kingston owned bookstore located at 156 Princess Street.