KILLARNEY - Ontario
Bell - David Lake Loop in Killarney ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ
Just returned from our canoe trip in Killarney and wanted to share the experience :) This trip is perfect for beginners, featuring minimal and short portages. We opted for the Bell - David Lake Loop, a comfortably completed journey over four days. It's worth mentioning that securing reservations for Ontario Camping fills up quickly, so mark your calendar for the season's reservation openings.
How to get there:
The drive from Toronto to the canoe access point at Bell Lake takes approximately 4 hours. In advance, we arranged a 17' Swift Keewaydin Canoe from Killarney Outfitters, at a cost of around $57 per day (includes life jackets and paddles). The canoe was delivered to the Bell Lake access point, and on the day of departure, we only needed to use a padlock to access it for our trip.
Upon arrival, head to the main building to obtain permits, and be sure to grab a waterproof map. Below is an online map I found, with red flowers indicating our different campsites for each day:
- Site 137: Bell Lake
- Site 152: Balsam Lake
- Site 192: David Lake
Our journey began as we made our way to the initial campsite, Bell Lake (Site 137). The trip was brief, just a 30-minute paddle, and we quickly settled into our camp. For those seeking a quicker adventure, it would have been entirely doable to bypass this site and proceed directly to Balsam Lake. While our campsite served us well, it's worth noting that Campsite 139 had an enticing sunset view. If the opportunity arises, consider reserving that site.
We woke up early, packed our gear, and set off for the next campsite. The route along Three Mile Lake became a favorite, as the waterway narrowed and surrounded us with water lilies. After about an hour of paddling, we reached the first portage of our trip. It was surprisingly brief; even though the map said 40 meters, it felt more like just 10 meters.
Our following campsite was Balsam - 152, and I highly recommend it.
Our third day was the most eventful of our trip, involving a lot of paddling, tackling the toughest portage, and considering a hike after setting up camp. The journey from Balsam Lake to the initial portage took about an hour and was fairly straightforward. The 620-meter portage turned out to be more manageable than we'd heard (despite warnings), with a slightly steep start and the main challenge being the constant mosquitoes and deer flies.
Upon reaching our designated campsite, we quickly set up our camp before embarking on the Silver Peak hike. This hike, a total of around 4+ hours, had a steep incline with a rocky terrain. I highly recommended finding a walking stick here as it greatly helps the ascent and descent. The remarkable panoramic view is absolutely worth the trek.
Campsite David 192 was by far my favourite thus far. It came with a 180 degree view of the lake, allowing us to access both the sunrise and sunset. In addition, it came with these gorgeous rock chairs.
On our last day in Killarney, we took a relaxed approach to packing up and leaving in the morning. The route back to the Bell Lake access point seemed pretty straightforward, so there was no need to rush. The first portage was a simple 210 meters, with the only challenge being the bugs.
We had a short paddle to the next portage but ran into a small issue – recent beaver activity had created a mini dam where we needed to go. We had to briefly get out of our canoes and go around the dam on the side.
The next portage stretched for 700 meters, making it the longest of the trip. I'll be honest, it did feel quite lengthy, especially with the weighty packs on our shoulders that were starting to take a toll. Despite this, we aimed to complete the portage in one go, we didn't want to deal with the bugs any longer. It required some mental endurance, but we managed.
Following the portage, we had a 3-kilometer paddle to reach the Bell Lake access point. We took our time, fully immersing ourselves in the experience and savoring each moment along the way.
We did this trip in August and it was perfect, although September would be ideal as well to avoid the bugs completely. Hope you have a great time! There is truly nothing more magical than exploring Ontario's lakes via a canoe. <3
SEORAKSAN - South Korea
2 Day Hiking Trail in Seoraksan ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ
Hi guys! So exciting to see that so many of you are interested in doing this hike. I had a really fulfilling experience and I hope this information provides for a smooth journey.
How to get there:
Take a bus from Seoul Express Terminal Station to Sokcho. I believe they run every half hour so you can definitely hop on a last minute bus. The ride is around 2.5-3 hrs, with one break stop. Once you arrive to the Sokcho Bus Terminal, cross the street and turn right to find the next bus stop. Take the 7 or 7-1 all the way to the entrance of the park.
We ended up staying the night before at the Kensington Hotel. It's located 5 minutes away from the entrance, and allows for you to store your luggage if you want to do an overnight hike. It was a great hotel, on the pricey side, but the vibe was a bit eerie. I would go again but just want to give you guys a heads up. We woke up at 7am, ate at the buffet breakfast (which was actually amazing) and headed out by 8am.
A helpful map + my routes:
Seorakdong Information center to Biseondae Rock - easy trail
Biseondae to Yangpok Shelter - At this shelter you are able to purchase a small selection of items. In terms of food there is only instant rice and chocolate bars. Water is also available for purchase here.
Yangpok to Jungcheong Shelter - definitely starts to get more steep, but if you go at your own pace you will get up in no time :) I believe it took us around 5 hrs or so (from the information center to our final shelter) We took very few breaks so plan according to how you like to hike.
Staying at Jungcheong Shelter
If you would like to stay at the Jungcheong shelter, you must reserve a spot ahead of time. Which is available on the following site: https://reservation.knps.or.kr/foreigner/main.action You can stay at the other shelters (which I believe are first come first serve) but I'm not positive.
The shelter is open quite early (for those who just want to take shelter or use the washroom) but does not allow for those who are staying overnight to leave their things or sleep until 6pm. Please keep this in mind when planning your trip! If I knew this ahead of time, I probably would have left my hotel a bit later in the day.
There is also the same selection of items for purchase. From memory I can recall: Instant rice, chocolate bars (that's it for food), water in two sizes, cold and hot can coffee, batteries, rain coats, toilet paper, gloves and more. A microwave is available, but no hot water.
Once it hits 6pm, you are able to check in by showing them your ID/passport. Around this time, we dropped off our bags and went back outside to watch the sunset. I highly recommend this!!!! It gets extremely windy so definitely remember to bring a wind breaker or something warm.
Wake up at 4am to catch the sunrise at Daecheongbong Peak, which is a very short distance from the Jungcheong shelter.
Head back towards Huingak Shelter to take on Gongnyongneungseon, aka Dinosaur ridge - This route is definitely more intense but it's exhilarating. I had so much fun in this section, especially near the beginning, because there is a lot of climbing involved.
Once you have completed Dinosaur ridge, Take Madeungryeong back to Biseondae - To be completely honest I found this section to be the most straining on my body. It's all downhill from here, mostly hopping from one rock to another so it puts A LOT of pressure on your knees and calves. I can't remember exactly but it takes several hours. We had to take breaks often here.
Biseondae to Seorakdong Information Center - easy walk back to the entrance
Take number 7 bus back to the bus terminal, head back to Seoul.
If you don't want to take on dinosaur ridge (which really isn't that bad, but definitely not for everyone), you can continue your hike past Daecheongbong Peak to the Osaek Station. I've heard this route is pretty straightforward, and apparently there is a hot spring at the bottom too.
Another route, which avoids the Madeungryeong path back to Biseondae, is towards the Baekdam Information Center. You will pass by Oseam, which is a buddhist temple, and they provide you free seaweed soup and rice. We actually took a wrong turn and accidentally went here. It was a blessing and a curse because it was an hour of descent to the temple, and since we had to go back to the Seorakdong Information Center, we had to climb it up again. But of course, the free food was great, and we really needed it because we had already ran out of food.
I'm not sure how difficult this path is beyond Oseam, maybe research a bit if you are interested.
Important things to bring
- Lots of food: Buy your supplies in Seoul or Sokcho as there is not much to purchase at the base or shelters. Since there is a microwave at the shelter, might be good to bring some microwaveable food so you can eat something hot. We mostly brought nuts, bars, bread + jelly, and bananas but we were craving something warm at the end of each day.
- Water: of course. Water is also available for purchase at the shelters you pass by - make sure you take note of where all the shelters are
- Hiking Shoes: I wouldn't do this hike without them
- Toilet Paper: The toilets are essentially holes in the ground with no TP so definitely bring a roll
- Hiking Poles: Most of the Koreans who were hiking had hiking poles and it looked SO helpful..especially on the way down. If you have bad knees or are worried about the descent, I would suggest getting some.
- Depending on when you go, bring warm layers. It gets windy and cold at night/early morning but hot during the day while you are hiking. In the evening I had to wear long pants, a sweater, and my wind breaker. If you want to take sunset photos maybe bring a light pair of gloves.
I think that's it (◕‿◕✿) have the best time, be safe and enjoy!!