Discovering The North

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Rank IV

Traveler I

I've lived in Southern Ontario (GTA) my entire life and have always wanted to do a trip to the North, not just anywhere but to where the road ends. It's been a trip I think about quite often and I am putting the wheels in motion now to complete this journey on a week holidays in 2019. Attached isTrip Through Ontario.png my planned route to cover as much of the North as possible. Now most of it isn't really 'overlanding' as 99.9% is on paved roads but it's an epic journey nonetheless. 7 1/2 days is all that I can get off at a time so it's going to be quite interesting trying to accomplish over 4300km roads. Cell service will be sketchy at best and so will gas stations so planning a fuel route will be necessary (as well as carrying almost a spare tank full). The adventure doesn't really begin until leaving Thunder Bay and heading North. Pickle Lake is a small village so I've heard, one gas station and a small motel; ensuring the gas station is open is paramount so that I can make the long haul up to Windigo Lake and back the following day. I've seen a few videos of travellers making that last leg of the journey and once you leave Pickle Lake you are completely on your own.
So far this year I have finally started outfitting my rig for overlanding and long distance driving with simple upgrades like all terrain tires, auxiliary lighting and a roof storage system. Sleeping will be within the rig as I have had several different layouts over the years, just need to perfect one of them and go with it and cooking/food storage isn't an issue. For a trek such as this I am thinking of bringing at least one full size spare (not sure if 2 is needed as the dummy spare is tucked up under the frame anyway) and 2 20L jerry cans for fuel. Other than the basics (food, clothing, etc.,) what tools should be packed? My rig is a 2015 and will have just over 100,000k on it by then and as always, maintenance is kept up regularly. Besides this stuff, any words of wisdom? Anyone done a similar route before?


Rank 0

Traveler I

Looks like an interesting trip. I would also take an air compressor, something like Viair 88p, and a tire repair kit. Those are not expensive and don't take much space, but might be handy. Maybe a good idea to get a battery booster in case if your battery dies in the middle of nowhere. Not sure what is basic for you, I usually carry multitool, small shovel, recovery strap, hatchet, headlamp, duct tape and fire extinguisher. If you're going to sleep in your truck, don't forget to bring a mosquito net for window and magnet stipes or other way to install it over side window.


Rank II

Traveler I

Kitchener, ON, Canada
Member #


Ham Callsign
I was hit with the same bug you have last year - get out of Southwestern Ontario and see the North. My trip in late September just did the loop - starting from Kitchener, up 17 along the coast to Thunder Bay and then across the top along 11 and back to Kitchener. The trip up 17 was by far the highlight of the trip.

My original plan was drive a day and camp a day at provincial parks. This was a good pace that didn't wear me out from driving and let me explore the various parks a bit. Reservations aren't needed after Labour Day and the parks are pretty empty. Weather sort of killed the last half of the plan - it was raining when I hit Kettle Lakes park near Timmins and I was camping in a ground tent. I decided to just boot it home from there.

That drive across 11 is pretty long empty (although if you're into Vodka, be sure to stop at the Loon Distillery in Hearst ;) ).

This year I've gotten into photography quite a bit and there were a few things I wanted to go back and try to capture, so I went up 17 again to Sleeping Giant near Thunder Bay in early October. This is a touch too late as parks start to close, so there were fewer options. It was a good trip, but the forecast turned to rain again when I was near Thunder Bay, with a crappy forecast, so I decided to head home (back down 17). Made it in 2 days from there, stopping at Agawa Bay over night (great campground).

So, word of caution. Getting back from Thunder Bay in 2 days was a fairly brutal amount of driving. To do everything you've got on your map in 7.5 days, you're going to be putting in at least 6 days of long hours of driving. If you add a few days to make it just 4-6 hours of driving a day, it won't be quite as painful.

It's worth going either way... beautiful country up there!
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Traveler I

Looks like an interesting trip. I too have been planning on making the same trip but with no one else wanting to go and for safety reasons it has been put on the back burner. If you’re looking for someone to some along I would be interested just depends on the dates as I have already booked 3 trips from May 2-4 weekend to July long weekend and still trying to figure where to go for the second half of my vacation time.


Rank II

Contributor I

Sarnia, ON, Canada
Member #


Ham Callsign
I’m working on planning a very similar trip this year, probably August or September. We are Sarnia-based, but would start at Point Pelee... furthest south to the furthest north in Ontario on year-round public roads.