Active Outdoors: Finish summer with a flourish

Last modified: 8/21/2013 12:31:31 AM
Fact: Summer’s ending. How close we are to the actual end depends on how you choose to define summer. Astronomical summer is from the Summer Solstice (June 20) to the Autumnal Equinox (Sept. 22). Meteorological summer is June, July and August. Tourism summer is Memorial Day to Labor Day. You get the picture.

If you aren’t careful, you might miss your last chance for a really memorable Active Outdoors adventure. This summer. If you happen to need some ideas for what do, well, here you go.

One option is to go someplace really special to do something you know you like to do. That’s the route my sweetheart, Marilyn, and I are taking for our late-summer getaway. We typically estivate close to home when it’s hot and humid, and we haven’t traveled since early June. So we are more than ready.

Our big end-of-summer getaway this year is back to Saguenay Fjord in Quebec with our sea kayaks and our (brand new!) tandem bicycle. We were there last September (let me know if you’d like to read the story) and, despite less-than-perfect weather, loved it so much we talked about it all winter and just couldn’t wait to get back. We can’t manage the whole week we would like, but we can get away just long enough to justify going.

We’ll do the nine-hour drive in one shot, pulling into a chalet at the Centre de Vacances Ferme 5 étoiles (which I think translates as “5 star Holiday Farm Resort”) in Sacré-Coeur late in the day. Never seen it, but it looks good on the web ( and trying new places is a big part of the fun. Besides, who could resist a place with a name like that?

The next morning we have to get up early because we have 15 miles of pedaling to make our reservation on the 9 o’clock shuttle ferry from Tadoussac which will take us up Saguenay Fjord to Sainte Rose du Nord with a couple of stops on the way at places we visited and loved last year. Once we are on the ferry, all the rushing stops.

In Sainte-Rose-du-Nord we’ll stay at the Auberge du Café de la poste ( New town, new place, looks wonderful. The following day, we are going to take our longest bike ride of the summer so far, 40 miles back to our chalet at the 5-star Farm. Of course it’s going to pour down rain … that’s just what happens when we take a long bike ride.

For our last two nights we are staying in a “Hutopia,” a cabin tent in a campground in Saguenay National Park near Baie Sainte Marguerite. We stayed in one last summer on the other side of the Fjord – clean and comfortable with a perfectly serviceable kitchen. We’re hoping the weather will allow us to paddle the fjord and maybe see more whales and more beautiful scenery.

That’s how we are going to spend our last days of summer. Yes, it means two long days of traveling, but we get four days of fun in an area we love. And if it’s anything like the last two times we’ve visited, we’ll be thinking about it all winter and planning for another visit next year.

By the way, neither Marilyn nor I speak French, but we’ve never had a problem traveling in this very-French-speaking part of Quebec. If you need help with planning a visit, just do what we do and contact the folks at Tourism Saguenay/Lac St Jean. They bridge any language barrier with no problem. Their website is, toll-free phone is 1-855-253-8387 and email is

Life isn’t a spectator sport. Get out and enjoy!

Other options

Of course, there are lots of ways to celebrate the end of summer closer to home. If you can’t go someplace exotic, why not try something you’ve never done closer to home. That’s another way to almost guarantee great memories.

For example, last week I wrote about disc golf. Why not try it if you’ve never played.

Or try one of the new treetop adventure courses that have sprouted up all over the New England landscape. They are especially fun if you are scared of heights.

This is the perfect time of year to paddle to a campsite on the Maine Island Trail ( or on Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge ( or even Lake George ( in New York. They all get quieter as kids go back to school, though reserving a campsite on Umbagog can still be tough. If you don’t have the gear and skills you need to tackle an adventure like this on your own, a number of guide services offer trips on Maine Island Trail. I can personally recommend H2Outfitters (, but there are many others.

Of course, there are also a kazillion dry land camping opportunities across New England and if you’ve never camped out, now is the best time of year to start.

If you are unsure about the whole camping thing but still think you might want to get a little farther away from “it all,” this is a wonderful time of year to explore the NH Lodges, the White Mountain Huts and the Maine Wilderness Lodges offered by the AMC ( Ditto for the backcountry-with-a-little-luxury experiences offered by the Adirondack Mountain Club ( and the Maine Huts and Trails (

Just after summer ends

If I wasn’t already committed to be somewhere else, you can bet I’d be calling about this opportunity. Adirondack Exposure ( and the Northern Forest Canoe Trail ( are teaming up to offer a five-night guided paddling trip along the first stretch of the NFCT on Sept. 23-28. Trip includes paddling gear, instruction, four nights camping, and a final night at the historic Great Camp Sagamore. You must sign up by Aug. 23, so there isn’t much time. Get more details by emailing or call 315-335-1681.

(Tim Jones can be reached at

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