Curious to see how the planned menu for my hike of the full length of the Coastal Trail at Lake Superior Provincial Park compared to our actual menu, whether we were satisfied with the food we brought or had constantly rumbling tummies? Read on!
Where we planned to use a recipe, you’ll see a (F), (L) or (T) after the recipe name (and the corresponding page number). The books are as follows:
A Fork in the Trail by Laurie Ann March (F)
LipSmackin’ Backpackin’ by Christine and Tim Conners (L)
The Trailside Cookbook by Don and Pam Philpott (T)
All changes to the planned menu are indicated in red text in the table below. We made a few changes before the trip:
naan bread replaced corn bread and bannock, because it weighs less and required us to bring less fuel (to bake the bread) – however, there is something to be said for warm, freshly baked bread on the trail!!
store bought trail mix replaced pizza gorp and honey mustard gorp because Cheryl ran out of time to prepare them
homemade energy bars replaced Harvest Oat Squares because Cheryl’s daughter made them and saved her time!
My favourite meal was Thanksgiving on the Trail, which is essentially turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberries and gravy. I would definitely make it again!
Our most memorable meal may be our egg veggie/bacon/cheese wraps… as soon as I added boiling water to our dehydrated eggs, they turned bright orange… we tasted them, and they weren’t eggs, but Kraft Dinner cheese powder!!! Not sure how that happened. I’ve never intentionally bought Kraft Dinner cheese powder before. Must have been a mix-up in a bulk bin!
The only meal that needs adjustment in the future was our rice cereal on day 5. It wasn’t filling enough as is, and could have used more fruit or nuts.
Overall, we were happy with our food choices! We did come home with some leftover trail mix, and some of the food from day 8.
Here is a complete list of all the things we had with us on our hike of the full length of the Coastal Trail at Lake Superior Provincial Park. We brought separate gear for car camping at Agawa Bay our first night (but didn’t end up car camping), and our last night. I didn’t use any of the separate gear, other than bringing blankets into the tent when I thought it was going to be quite cold with the wind (it wasn’t).
Clothing (including what I was wearing):
2 pairs underwear
3 pairs socks
1 pair zip-off pants
1 long sleeved shirt
1 lightweight MEC Uplink hoodie
1 rain coat
1 rain pants
1 winter hat
2 pairs fleece gloves
1 pair dish gloves to keep fleece gloves dry
1 long johns top and bottom
1 pair hiking boots
1 pair sandals
1 baseball hat
compression bag for clothes
quick dry towel
1 six cup pot and lid lightweight
2 insulated mugs
1 nalgene bottle (400 ml)
2 large ziplocs marked with a line at 2L for treating water
water treatment drops
2 water bladders (2 L size)
MSR Dragonfly stove
MSR Dragonfly stove servicing kit
KIHD stick stove
Outback oven tea cosy
Outback oven scorch protector (not used)
Matches (several boxes)
700 ml white fuel split between 2 bottles of 325 ml (one filled up, one filled to the maximum fill line)
1 Swiss army knife (not used)
1 pocket knife
1 bear bag with bell on it (waterproof bag)
1 bear bag without bell on it (waterproof bag) (not used)
rope for hanging bear bag
homemade tarp plus thin lightweight rope x5
1 Sierra Designs Zilla 2 tent
1 MEC Perseus -7 sleeping bag
1 North Face -7 sleeping bag
1 thermarest 3/4 length
1 thermarest full length lightweight
2 compression bags for sleeping bags
2 bags for thermarests
2 headlamps with extra batteries
1 bear spray (not used)
2 cameras with extra batteries
1 camera tripod
1 park map
1 compass (not used)
1 GPS with extra batteries
2 cell phones
1 Garmin InReach SE+ satellite 2-way communication device
2 driver’s licences, credit cards and money
1 emergency kit (Gorilla tape, buckles, dental floss, notepad and pencil, matches, mini bungees, emergency blanket, fire starting materials, needle and thread)
1 first aid kit (miscellaneous bandaids, gauze, tape, compression wrap)
Back in August 2012 I suggested to my friend Cheryl that we do a canoe trip together in Algonquin. She was game, and after briefly considering bringing our combined four kids along, we ditched that idea and decided to go alone – in her two sea kayaks. We picked a weekend in late September, consulted people more knowledgeable than ourselves about Algonquin, got route recommendations, and learned that when kayak-tripping, fewer and shorter portages are best (had we not been told this, we would have soon come to that conclusion ourselves). We settled on a 2 night 2 lake trip, and set to planning all the gear and food we would need. I told myself not to look at the weather forecast, but as the days got closer I couldn’t help it. The forecast got worse and worse, but we were going anyway!
Day 1 (Friday)
We picked up our backcountry permit in Kearney and headed to Algonquin Provincial Park, which was along a road that quickly became a gravel road. It took a while to drive the 25 km to the put in on Rain Lake. We were a bit surprised to see lots of people at the put in, including what looked like a huge group of teenage girls with many boats and lots of gear. Would there be any campsites left? Thankfully, they were camping at the put in and wouldn’t be competing for sites (it turned out there was lots of choice for us). The rain didn’t start until we arrived at the put in – of course – but it didn’t rain too much and most of our gear was packed in “waterproof” bags. (It’s not clear who won the bet for the last mini reeses pieces bit – Cheryl, who said it would start pouring at the put in, or me, who said it wouldn’t – it rained, but did it pour?)
After test-packing the boats back at home before the trip, and making a map to remind ourselves how it all fit in, it didn’t take too long to get ready to go – about an hour from the time we arrived at the put in. We headed out, enjoying the fall colours as we paddled. We checked out some campsites along the way, aiming for one of two island sites (apparently one has the fireplace from an old ranger cabin which has long since disappeared), but decided on a different one when the one island site we could see was occupied. Our site was about 5 km from the put in. It was private, big, and had a great rocky area on the shore for sitting on. It even had a table for food prep, and a bizarre spinning arrow nailed into a tree…?
After setting up our two man tent, we set to hanging a bear bag to keep our food high off the ground overnight. It was a first for both of us, since normally my husband did the bear bag when we camped! We had fun, but it wasn’t easy – the instructions sounded so simple, but the trees were never the right distance apart, didn’t have branches at the right height, or had way too many branches in all the wrong places. In the process we managed to avoid any head injuries, but we did snag the bag of carabiners in a V shaped space of a tree, and wondered how the heck we were going to dislodge it (far too high to reach and climbing was out of the question). Cheryl found a huge branch and stripped it of excess branches so it weighed slightly less than a tonne. Then we eventually got it upright and managed to poke the rope loose. Oh my, that was fun! (I now use a simple 1 rope method!)
We reheated delicious stew for dinner, discovered that my water pump was not functioning (had to boil lake water instead), and attempted – but failed – to start a fire with wet wood (and dry paper). Somewhat discouraging, but we reassured ourselves by being convinced that the fires we could see across the lake must have been started with accelerants. Instead of sitting by the fire, we sat on the rocks watching the stars, looking for the bizarrely elusive big dipper, saw some satellites, at least one shooting star, and a… flare?! It seems someone set one off on a neighbouring lake (hopefully they didn’t actually need help, because we weren’t going anywhere in the dark!). I had never heard or seen one before – wow, it was bright. Good thing our fire wouldn’t start – I saw a mouse run through the fire pit.
Overnight was cold and the rain poured down on us, but we were dry in the tent. We heard Barred owls hooting – at least one close, others further way. Very neat. Some loons were also very noisy in the night or early morning.
Day 2 (Saturday)
In the morning we made pancakes for breakfast, and just before sitting down to eat I went down to the water to wash some maple syrup off my fingers (should have used my tongue!!!) … only to slip in while wearing my shoes and thick warm socks. Two soakers and I knew my shoes would never dry. Back to sandals it was (thankfully, I had brought 3 pairs of socks)! I was so looking forward to having warm dry feet. After breakfast we were taking down our campsite when a bungee cord snapped back and cut my thumb – ouch!
We loaded up the boats again and headed over to the 310 m portage to Sawyer Lake. It was a difficult take out spot, rocky and awkward. And of course we had an audience, with two guys coming from Sawyer Lake to Rain Lake. We hauled the boats onto shore, unloaded some of the gear into backpacks, and each carried a big backpack and the yellow boat. It was heavy and we had to keep stopping every few feet, it seemed, as our fingers failed us! It was at this point that Cheryl asked if I was cursing her for bringing the kayaks instead of the canoe! We went back for the red kayak and re-loaded everything into the boats. The guys had recommended a campsite to us, so we headed for that one – at the far end of the lake (about 1 km away). As we headed over we waved to people at one campsite, and continued paddling as the wind picked up like crazy. We paddled through waves that I wouldn’t have liked in the canoe. I overshot the campsite and had to turn back into the wind, for another awkward take out without a nice landing spot for boats. However, we managed, and found ourselves at a huge, very exposed campsite! Later it was so windy there were whitecaps. We set our tent up way up on the hill, at what must have been a 45 degree angle! We opted for a sheltered site over a flat one. We set up the tent, a tarp over the kitchen “table” and strung up another bear bag (I think it took less time than at the first site!).
It was c-c-c-cold in the wind and rain. It rained off and on all day long. When it started to pour, we headed for the shelter of the tent. While we were in there, cosy in our sleeping bags, it started to HAIL! Yes, the weekend had it all.
In the late afternoon/early evening, I was wearing every piece of clothing I had brought with me, except my bathing suit! I had 6 layers on the top, including fleece pyjamas, 3 on the bottom, my winter hat and gloves, and I was still cold! We’re not sure but we think without the wind it was about 4 degrees Celsius. We had warm beverages and went on a moose hunt to get warm. We didn’t find moose but did find moose poo (very close to our toilet and tent!) and other animal scat. There were also lots of cool fungi.
Just before dinner we had 3 otters visit us just off our site – they swam away but not before “talking” to us. Very cute.
We had an amazing chicken salad for dinner and chocolate pudding for dessert. Yum. Later, when the rain had stopped, we sat on the rocky point and star gazed. We also looked enviously at the two fires across the lake, which we were sure had to have been started with accelerants! We both opted to use “hot paws” toe warmers overnight, but didn’t find them too useful. I wore 5 layers on top to bed, and 2 on the bottom, with my winter hat and gloves and yes, I was still cold! I decided that I needed a new sleeping bag. Cheryl was shedding layers!
Day 3 (Sunday)
We decided to have a cold breakfast and a hot lunch at the car since we wanted to get out before any crazy wind and waves hit Sawyer Lake.
It took about 2 hours from the time we woke up to the time we paddled away, heading for the portage back to Rain Lake. The water was warmer than the air, but there wasn’t yet too much of a wind. We hauled our boats on shore, and this time, decided to take an extra trip to portage all the gear. I also decided to portage with my camera (which I hadn’t done the day before).
We walked first with only the packs (no boats). We went back for the yellow kayak, and then on our way back, gathered yellow leaves for a bit of arts and crafts on the trail. We got back to Sawyer Lake, and while Cheryl unloaded the red kayak, I started to spell out Rain with the leaves, having remembered to do so because our friend Doug asked Cheryl if we were going to spell something with rocks or sticks as I usually do. Had he not asked her, we likely would not have thought about it, and we wouldn’t have taken the extra few moments to pick up all the leaves. All of a sudden I heard a grunt, which I first thought was either Cheryl making noise moving the boat, or a bear! I turned around, and almost immediately saw antlers! I knew then that it was a moose. It was not far away, in the bush, and as I called to Cheryl, it headed down to the water. It stopped, looked at us, and sauntered through the lake, over to the other shore and up into the woods. Very very cool! It was about 15 – 20 feet away from us. I had resigned myself to not seeing a moose, so this was even cooler.
Had we not done an extra trip with the gear, and the gathering of leaves, we might not have seen it at all! I finished with my arts and crafts and we headed over to Rain Lake. We got back into the boats and started our 6 km paddle to the put in. It was windy at times – very windy – and c-c-c-cold! Our hands lost feeling and I couldn’t make mine do what I wanted them to do! As we were paddling out, we heard some crazy grunting in the woods. We figured it was either a very angry bear, or a moose mating call – and settled on the latter. We heard it a few times. We had been warned before our trip that Rain Lake can be a tough paddle on the way out because of the wind, and boy were they right! Rain Lake is a wind tunnel!
We finally made it back to the car, and enjoyed some hot oatmeal for lunch, along with tea and coffee. We “met” the four men who were camped at the accelerant fire site across the lake from us on the 2nd night, and they insisted that all they used was dry wood… and this air thingy that they wind up to provide wind to the fire (rather than blowing on it). They said they were “this close” to bringing dry wood to the girls (us) the night before but because they didn’t see any smoke from our site, they figured we weren’t even trying to build a fire (correct – we didn’t try since all the wood was soaking wet). We packed everything back into the car, and headed back to civilization.
Other animals that we saw on this trip Algonquin: slugs, a chipmunk, herons, crows, loons, mergansers, a grasshopper, one lone frog, a dragonfly, miscellaneous small birds, ducks, unidentified flies.
All in all we paddled about 15 km, and walked about 2.5 km with the gear. Despite the crummy weather, we enjoyed ourselves and the wilderness that is Algonquin. We both agreed that another night would have been ideal – less packing up and moving and more relaxing.
If you’re interested in reading more about kayaking tripping, check out the guest post I wrote on the Algonquin Outfitters blog.
Just for the fun of it, I decided to make a simple, tin can emergency back-up stove to take with me on my upcoming winter snowshoe backcountry camping trip at Algonquin Provincial Park. We’re planning to take 2 MSR Dragonfly stoves, just in case it’s super cold and one doesn’t function, but in future, that might not be necessary if I’m happy with my emergency back-up! For winter camping, I keep things really simple, and either boil water (say, to add to oatmeal), or heat up frozen things (like soup). No extended cooking in the winter!
To make my stove, I followed directions online, but made a slight modification when I realized that 3 inches couldn’t possibly be right and they must have meant 3 centimetres. Either that or the picture just didn’t match the instructions. In any case, here’s what I did!
2 tuna cans (I made 2 fuel sources)
1 peach can for the stove (798 ml)
1 peach can to melt the wax in (798 ml)
5 emergency candle
church key can opener
Step #1: Remove lid from tuna can. Eat tuna. Wash can. Dry can. Cut strips of cardboard the same width as the height of the can. Put cardboard in can.
Step #2: This step depends on whether or not you have a double boiler. I don’t. So, I put about 4″ of water in a big pot and boiled it. In the meantime, I broke the candles up into smaller pieces, put them in a peach container (label removed) and put that in the big pot. Of course, it floated, so I had to hold it down with tongs while wearing gloves. As it melted, I took it out and poured the hot wax into one of my tuna cans, then put the solid wax back to continue melting. If you have a double boiler, then you can half fill the bottom pot, boil the water, put the wax in the top pot, and put it inside the bottom pot. However, I’m not so sure I’d want to then cook food in the pot that had melted wax in it. In any case, continue pouring wax into your tuna can, but leave some of the cardboard exposed at the top so you can light it (don’t overfill the wax, but try to get it into all the nooks and crannies).
Step #3: Remove the lid from the peach can. Eat the peaches. Wash the can. Dry the can. At the end that you didn’t just remove the lid from, make 3 or 4 holes in the can using the church key can opener. These are your vents. At the end where you removed the lid, use your tin snips to cut a little door out so you can open it to let more oxygen in or close it to reduce the oxygen fueling your fire. I followed the directions I referred to above as written, then realized once I’d make 2 vertical cuts 3 inches apart that you couldn’t possibly “open” the door. Hence I made another cut down the middle. So, I now have 2 doors, which coincidentally appear much more similar to the ones in the picture of the instructions I followed.
Step #4: Light the cardboard, put the peach can over top of the tuna can, and voila, cook something! Remember, the tin cans will get HOT! Use gloves! Be careful of sharp edges!
I’ll be using my little stove in a couple of weeks, and will report back on what I thought of it and how it worked. Stay tuned! [UPDATE: I have now field tested it. See how it worked!]
This canoe trip was to be my first starting at the Tim River access point on Algonquin Provincial Park’s West side, chosen in part for the many accounts of moose sightings by what seemed like everyone and their brother! Would we join the legions of people saying that the Tim River is where to go to spot the mighty animals?
Shortcut to the full slideshow: click on one picture, then on the little “i” and you will be able to read the picture descriptions.
Day 1: Tim River Access Point to Rosebary Lake (15.9 km)
My friend Cheryl and I arrived at the Kearney permit office around 11:15 AM on a Thursday in late October to discover the door locked, and a sign telling us that the office was staffed on weekends only. The sign re-directed us to the West Gate to buy a backcountry permit for “winter camping”. Apparently that sign foreshadowed our trip… There was a phone number for the park, so we decided to call to confirm that we needed to backtrack to Highway 60. The phone rang and rang and rang some more, but when a woman picked up and said that we could actually pay for our backcountry permit by phone, we were relieved! She gave us our permit number and we hand wrote a permit to leave on the dash of our vehicle. Outside the building, a helpful park staff member approached us and offered to open the office and help us, but we let him know that we’d just paid for our permit by phone. He must have been driving past and seen the canoe on the van. Very thoughtful of him.
We jumped back in our vehicle and headed for the Tim River access point, which involved driving through Kearney to the Forestry Tower Road, and then turning left at the split (right goes to the Magnetawan Lake access point, where I did a first mother-daughter canoe trip in September with my 12 year old). The road was well signed until the very end, when a sign confused us and we didn’t know if we should go left, or down a very steep hill straight ahead. We chose the latter and made the right choice. We arrived at the access point to find not a single vehicle in the parking lot.
Having recently taken a Navigation 101 course through Don’t Get Lost, I wanted to use this trip to practice my navigation skills rather than rely on my battery-powered GPS unit. By 1 PM we were ready to push off the dock!
With the temperature near 10 degrees Celsius, no wind but cloudy skies, the conditions were fairly good. We did wonder when the rain would start to fall, given the weekend forecast of rain Thursday and Friday, grey skies Saturday and some sun on Sunday. Within the first few minutes of the trip, we spotted a beaver on top of its lodge, but it saw us and slipped into the water. The Tim River winds back and forth, some sections requiring very tight turns and much cooperation between paddlers. We also had to navigate multiple beaver dams, at least one necessitating the removal of our canoe packs from the boat so that we could lift the boat over the dam. The water was cool on our feet.
The fall peak colours were past, so the scenery was a mix of green and yellow, with the odd tiny bit of red remaining. We really enjoyed paddling down the river – exploring small, narrow, marshy bodies of water is my favourite kind of paddling. We paddled through Tim Lake, and portaged the 120 m (around a dam) back onto the Tim River. We kept our eyes open for moose, but saw none. We didn’t hear anything in the woods either. Eventually we reached Rosebary Lake, and did quite the circle around it trying to find the perfect site. We did end up with a great one, though I’m fairly certain it was the windiest one on the lake! It was 5:30 PM by the time we pulled up to our site.
Cheryl set up the tent while I put up 2 tarps over the bench by the fire, so that at least we would have somewhere dry to sit if and when the rain came. We found a tree for the bear bag and threw a rope over a very high limb. By the time we were all set up, it was time to cook our dinner of pasta Alfredo with veggies. We prepared all of our meals at home ourselves, dehydrating most of it in our Excalibur 9-tray dehydrators. See full menu below.
We were surprised to be bitten by some kind of insect at our campsite – they weren’t mosquitos, but they were definitely annoying! After dinner was done, we washed the dishes and hit the tent for the night! In getting water to do the dishes, Cheryl spotted more of the bullfrog tadpoles – they were in the water right at the shore. We were too tired to gather wood and have a fire, but we did boil water on our MSR Dragonfly stove to bring hot 1 L Nalgene bottles into our sleeping bags for the night! That night we heard an owl very close by that we couldn’t identify. We were quite comfortable in the tent, me in my winter bag and Cheryl in her fall one with a fleece liner.
Day 2: Exploration further East on the Tim River (6.6 km)
On our first morning on Rosebary Lake, we decided to explore the Tim River East of where we were. So, after breakfast we packed what we would need for a day paddle, including our morning snack, lunch, water, map and compass, emergency beacon, first aid kit, and extra clothing layers, and off we went toward Longbow Lake, which we could access from Rosebary without a portage. We did have to do a 230 m portage from Longbow Lake to the Tim River, but it was an easy one. It was a windy day, but we didn’t notice the wind in this section of the river, a part of the river that features frequent sharp turns. We had to lift over several beaver dams, and portage at one spot over a massive fallen tree. It’s here that we ate our lunch, with me wrapping my feet in my rain pants and a sweater to keep them warm. It was a pretty section of the river that we paddled, but we didn’t see any wildlife – at all! Before we got too cold, we decided to head back to our campsite. Just standing around made us cold (between 5-10 C according to a little MEC thermometer that I recently purchased – not sure how accurate it is). So, we had our afternoon snack with hot chocolate, and then we headed into the forest to gather wood for our evening campfire. In doing so I also spotted cool types of fungi, and I took pictures as I went.
Hiking up hill and breaking branches had me heating up and needing to shed layers!
Later we adjusted the tarps over the bench to block the wind better. After dinner we enjoyed a campfire, and only melted 2 small holes into my tarp! It was worth it for the heat the fire provided! That night it was too windy to hear anything outside our tent, even if an owl had been nearby. Once again we enjoyed our hot water bottles at night!
Day 3: Bushwhacking towards Longbow Lake (2 km) and moose searching toward Longbow Lake (2 km)
Before getting up in the morning, we could hear rain hitting the tent. Sigh. Cold, windy and rainy is not a great combination for a canoe trip! However, I eventually forced myself to get up, only to discover that it was actually SNOWING! Yes. My thermometer read -2 C.
We cooked our hot breakfast and ate it away from our campsite – in the woods – to get away from the whipping wind. Afterwards, we decided to go for a hike towards Longbow Lake, where there was a marshy area that we thought might be prime moose territory. Because my hiking boots fell apart in the spring when I hiked the entire La Cloche Silhouette trail, I returned them to MEC for full credit (manufacturing flaw) and since then have been hiking with hiking shoes that are not waterproof. I decided to put my feet into ziploc bags to at least keep them dry. Our hike was slow going, as we were bushwhacking the entire time, but the point was to explore (and keep warm!), and since we weren’t in a rush, we didn’t mind the slow pace! We achieved most of our objectives, so it was all good. The only thing we didn’t see was a moose! When we got back to the campsite, my feet were cold. Turns out they were sweating in the plastic bags and got damp. We collected more wood, and then decided to hide from the cold wind in our tent, where I put on warm socks and eventually fell asleep – clearly napping was the way to warm my chilly toes! We also read, and I studied my orienteering maps! We might have been happy to stay in the tent until the next morning, because the wind actually seemed to be picking up! However, we had to cook our dinner – or starve. We ate delicious egg/bacon/veggie wraps, while debating whether we should have a fire.
It was so windy that we weren’t sure it would be safe – or worth it. To get any heat from the fire, it would have to be fairly big or we’d have to be fairly close to it, but the crazy wind meant that embers would be flying all over the place. We scrapped the plan for the fire, and instead were in our sleeping bags with hot water bottles before 7 PM! It was pitch dark. We couldn’t believe that the wind hadn’t let up in 2 days, and that it seemed to be getting stronger. We also hadn’t had sun for longer than a few seconds at a time! Two nights in a row there was a pretty but very short sunset in a very small patch of sky.
In the night, the wind continued to howl and the tent flapped. We wondered what the paddling conditions would be like in the morning for our trek back to the access point. Despite the cold conditions, we were cozy in our sleeping bags (with our hot water bottles!).
Day 4: Rosebary Lake to Tim River Access Point (14.6 km)
Given that we went to bed so early the night before, we were up early on our last morning. After breakfast we finished packing up, and were on the water at 9:25 AM. There were blue skies and real sun for the first time in 3 days! Predictably, we had to paddle into the wind as we crossed Rosebary Lake to the Tim River. In fact, the entire paddle back to the van felt like we were in a wind tunnel. Surely we’d be protected in the twisty turny river sections, we thought. Nope. We worked hard to keep the boat from going off course.
We were both dreading the moment when we would have to get our feet wet to cross the beaver dams. Our fingers were frozen (despite wearing Neoprene paddling gloves) and our toes in our sandals and socks were also cold. The first beaver dam we were able to handle without getting our feet wet, but the second was not so easy. We checked both sides of the river, just in case one was better than the other and offered a way to keep our feet dry. Nope. There was quite a height difference between the water we were in (low) and the water we were going into (high). Not only did we have to get our feet wet, but we had to stand in the cold water while we removed our 2 canoe packs, put them on the ground/stick pile and lift the boat up, then replace the canoe packs. By the time we got into the boat our feet were freezing! We dried them with a towel, and put on not 1 but 2 pairs of socks. As we paddled I tried to keep moving my feet to get blood flowing into them again. They were so cold and felt miserable!!
As we approached the portage around the dam, I heard what I thought was someone saying “Andrew”. We hadn’t seen a soul since we left the Kearney park office, and I thought that if we saw anyone on our way out, it would be Camper Christina (“Exploring and blogging about it in hope of inspiring others.”), who told me that she planned on doing a day paddle to the Tim River in her kayak that day. However, I figured with the crappy weather, she wouldn’t go. But we turned the corner, and as we got closer, I saw that it was her (and it turns out she yelled “Woohoo!” when she spotted my yellow canoe, not “Andrew!”). This would be our first time meeting, though we’ve been in touch through social media for a while. It was nice to have the opportunity to meet her in person! After chatting briefly, we were on our way again – she was heading the way we had come.
At Tim Lake we were passing an island campsite when I noticed that the campfire was smoking and no one was there. So we pulled over, I took our bailer and doused the fire. We had a quick snack then continued on our way, back through the winding Tim River. We were not too far from the parking lot when I noticed something dark brown up on the hill – something that didn’t look like trees. A moose! Yes! We quickly realized that there were actually 2 of them, and they were making their way down to the shore. So we paddled a tiny bit closer, stopping with vegetation beside us to hold our place (the wind was pushing us into the plants). Cheryl was in the stern and she had to correct our position slightly as we sat and watched the moose. I took lots of pictures on my camera, but given that we were still quite far away, they aren’t as close up as I’d like.
After watching for 10 or 15 minutes, we decided to move a tiny bit forward so I could get less obstructed pictures, but mamma moose didn’t like that, and they left. It turns out we were less than 500 m from the van! We travelled nearly 41 km in order to see moose just metres from the van. We worked hard for those moose, in particular on that last day! Later, Cheryl said that she thought she had heard something in the woods before we spotted the moose – apparently she had.
We arrived at the parking lot just before 3 PM – a full 5 1/2 hours after leaving our campsite. The wind definitely slowed us down!! We weren’t there for too long when Camper Christina arrived, so we chatted a bit more.
Cheryl and I loaded everything back into the van, the canoe on top, and headed for Huntsville and a hot drink at Tim’s! The drive home was much longer than it needed to be because of an accident, but by 8:30 PM or so, I was home!
We had a good trip, but the weather could have been better. At the same time, it could have been rainy, and that would have sucked!
I look forward to going back to the Tim River earlier in the year. It is a beautiful spot.
Menu for our 4-day trip:
At some point this summer, my 12 year old daughter suggested that the two of us could go on a canoe trip together. In fact, it must have been during our Massassauga Provincial Park girls only adventure in August, because that’s when we planned our menu for the trip. We originally decided on a 2-night adventure with no portaging, where we would stay on Magnetawan Lake at Algonquin Provincial Park. I made the reservation, and we were all set. However, when I told Randy from Algonquin Outfitters of my plan, he suggested that we could easily do a 2-night trip on Ralph Bice Lake (from the same access point), a trip that would involve 2 short portages. I checked with Ailish, she was keen to try it, so we changed our reservation and looked forward to departure day! We practised getting the canoe onto the roof of our van together, and while it may not have been pretty, I knew that we’d be able to portage just the 2 of us.
Shortcut to the slideshow! Click on one picture, then on the little “i” (see top right) and you’ll be able to read the picture captions.
DAY 1: Home to Park Office at Kearney Community Centre to Magnetawan Lake (access point #3) to Hambone Lake to Ralph Bice Lake.
After a 7 AM departure, we arrived at the Park Office at the Kearney Community Centre around 11 AM, where we picked up our backcountry permit, and heard that all 17 campsites on Ralph Bice Lake were booked for the night. I hoped that it wouldn’t be too hard to find an empty one, and that we wouldn’t have to paddle to the far end of the lake either. We drove about 40 minutes to the Magnetawan Lake access point and snagged an awesome parking spot (right next to the loading/un-loading spots). I untied the canoe right away, and decided to ask some men for help in taking the boat off the van. They both headed over to remove the canoe, but I clarified that I just needed one – I could do it with help! I thanked them and they continued getting their stuff ready for their own trip. Ailish and I ate our lunch, and then we carried the canoe and our 2 packs plus paddles, camelbaks, pelican case and knee pads approximately 50m down to the water – in a few trips! The access point was quite busy, with several groups plus a big one with what looked like a dozen adults in matching life jackets learning paddling skills on shore. We put our canoe into the water (there is space for 2 canoes, one on either side of a dock), and someone immediately put theirs right behind mine, essentially blocking my access to my packs. He realized what he had done, apologized and got my packs for me. We felt rushed to get in the boat and take off, but once we were away, it was all good.
Ailish was in the bow, and me in the stern. We paddled for about 2 minutes (really) before we reached the 135m portage from Magnetawan Lake to Hambone Lake. I asked my new best friends (the guys from the parking lot) for help again to teepee the canoe so I could get under it, and they gladly assisted. This became a theme over the course of the weekend. I was not above asking for help, and everyone I asked was very friendly and willing to assist us!
The paddle through Hambone Lake was slightly longer, but it isn’t a big lake. We got to the portage to Magnetawan Lake and I asked a couple for help. “Do you know how to ranger?”, he asked. I had no clue what he meant, so he proceeded to give me a lesson (and teepee the canoe for me).
Once we got onto Ralph Bice Lake, we decided that we would take the first available empty campsite. Once the lake opened up and was wider, we met the wind that I had read could be an issue on Ralph Bice Lake. We had to decide whether to go along the left shore, or the right shore, because I didn’t want to travel straight through the middle in the wind. We opted for the left shore, since the first campsite would appear sooner. As it turns out, we were really noticing the wind as we approached the first campsite, and were disappointed to see that it was taken. Looking into an inlet to the left, we weren’t sure if the campsite was taken – what turned out to be a log looked like it might be a canoe. Looking at the only other campsites we could see, one was definitely taken and one looked like it probably was, so we opted to go into the inlet. The problem was that a direct line to the campsite meant that the waves were hitting the canoe directly from the side, and we were not happy about that. So, I turned upwind and decided to overshoot the campsite and then turn back. It didn’t take long for us to realize that the campsite was unoccupied – yay! We eventually had to deal with side waves again on our final approach to the campsite. If you’ve been to this campsite, you’ll know that it has a very steep access, with a rock face all along the approach. Now picture us being pushed – repeatedly – into the rock as I tried to calculate how to step out of the boat onto the wet steep rock without falling into the water. It was only once we were safely on shore that my daughter told me that she was terrified I was going to slip and fall into the water and she was going to float out into the middle of the inlet in the canoe in the wind on her own! But we made it and no one got wet. It turns out those were the biggest waves we saw all weekend (of course). It had taken us just over 2 hours to get to our campsite from the time we first started paddling – a distance of 4.07 km paddling and 405m portaging (we did a double carry).
After the slightly dramatic arrival, we unloaded the canoe, pulled it safely uphill, and set about figuring out where we would erect our tent, put up a tarp in case of rain, and hang the bear bag and hammock. As soon as the tent was up, Ailish got in and I set up a tarp and threw a rock over a tree branch for our bear bag. We explored our campsite, finding so many kinds of fungi! The variety amazed us – different sizes, shapes and colours in such a small area. We played some cards, read our books, had our homemade chicken noodle soup and homemade buns with raw veggies for dinner, and attempted – but failed – to start a small fire. All of the wood was wet. The previous campers had left wood all nicely piled and sorted by size, but we weren’t able to make anything burn for long. My MSR Dragonfly stove wasn’t pressurizing properly, so I was a bit worried we’d be cooking on the campfire all weekend – if we could start a fire – or eating cold food! Before heading to bed, we boiled water so that we would each have a 1 L hot water bottle (Nalgene bottle) in our sleeping bag overnight. I managed to make the stove cooperate. Day time temperatures for the weekend were around 15 degrees Celsius, and night time lows just above freezing. We were cozy in our winter sleeping bag (Ailish) and fall sleeping bag with fleece liner (me) along with our hot water bottles! After going to bed we heard loons and other campers trying to call to wolves.
DAY 2: Exploring Ralph Bice Lake
After a yummy breakfast of oatmeal, dried fruit, gatorade and tea for me, and oatmeal/peanut butter/chocolate chips, dried fruit, gatorade and hot chocolate with marshmallows for Ailish, we explored Ralph Bice Lake a bit, including one of the islands near our site. We found some shrivelled turtle eggs there. We spent the rest of the day playing cards, putting up and using our hammock, reading, napping, collecting dry firewood, doing art and just plain relaxing!
Our lunch was bagels and mud with dried fruit, and our dinner tortilla pizzas baked on the fire (there were 2 grills at the campsite, one of which coated with tin foil worked perfectly). The pizzas were delicious. We also made banana boats on the fire, with bananas, chocolate, and marshmallows (no banana for Ailish)! While sitting at the fire (dry wood burns!) we noticed about 20-30 small fish jumping out of the water at the same time. And then again a few minutes later. We had no idea what kind of fish they were, or what they were doing! After hanging the bear bag for the night, Ailish decided she was hungry, so I got it down, and we had a snack of naan bread. Unfortunately, mine was mouldy! Yuck. We were in the tent before it got dark, but came out to have a look at all the stars. Ailish was impressed.
DAY 3: Ralph Bice Lake to Hambone Lake to Magnetawan Lake to home
On our last morning, we ate our breakfast and then packed everything up. Ailish had missed her daddy and our kitties (not her brother), and was eager to be home! We paddled over to the portage to Hambone Lake, but because we were the only ones there, we had to manage the portage ourselves. It was slightly harrowing, but Ailish managed to hold the canoe up high enough for me to get under it. And then from there, the portaging was easy. We were paddling along, discussing the animals we had seen over the course of the weekend (a few mice – some in the thunderbox! – loons, squirrels, and the jumping fish) when we turned a corner in Hambone Lake and I spotted something moving along the shoreline. A moose – and it’s mamma!
We headed – very slowly – toward the moose, watching them as they watched us. We didn’t get very close, and they eventually headed into the woods. Such a great experience for us. Ailish had never seen moose other than from the car before. We arrived at the portage to Magnetewan Lake, and I once again asked for help from a group of 4 men. The guy who helped told me that he has to teepee the canoe for his buddy to carry too. We got back into the canoe and finished our trip with the short paddle back to the dock. We had emptied the canoe and pulled it onto shore just before the guys arrived behind us. Ailish and I loaded everything into the van, one of the guys helped load the canoe onto the van, I strapped it on, and away we went!
We enjoyed our canoe trip and I look forward to another one just the two of us.
Since arriving home, I’ve learned that Ralph Bice wrote a book called “Along the Trail in Algonquin Park”. I’ve put a hold on the book at my local library, and I look forward to reading more about the man for whom Butt Lake was renamed (his favourite lake in Algonquin).
Later this month, I will go on a 4-day canoe trip at The Massassauga Provincial Park with my daughter, my friend Cheryl and her two daughters. We planned the menu months ago, divided it in half, and have been preparing for our adventure. (Last year’s girls only canoe trip at Algonquin Provincial Park was tons of fun.)
We dehydrated many things for the trip, baked others, and assembled all the meals ourselves.
Breakfast/morning snack/lunch – at home/packed from home
Afternoon snack – oatmeal squares
Dinner – hot dogs and raw veggies
Evening snack – s’mores
Breakfast – egg wraps with bacon, veggies, salsa and cheese
Morning snack – energy squares, with chocolate, nuts, and condensed milk
Lunch – pepperettes, cheese strings, veggies and naan bread
Afternoon snack – trail mix and fruit leather
Dinner – pasta with veggies and tomato sauce
Evening snack – banana melts, with dehydrated bananas, chocolate chips and marshmallows
Wondering how to include eggs in your next backcountry adventure without bringing fresh eggs (or a hen!) with you, or buying dehydrated eggs? If you’ve got a dehydrator, you can easily make your own. I’ve seen lots of questions recently from people wondering how to dehydrate eggs, so I decided to explain the simple method I use here.
Step #1: Crack as many eggs as you’d like, whip them with a fork, and pour them into a hot greased frying pan.
Step #2: As the eggs are cooking, scramble them over and over with a wooden spoon, so that once you’re done, you have small(ish) bits of egg.
Step #3: Blend the scrambled eggs in the food processor for just a few seconds to get the egg into smaller bits.
Step #4: Spread the egg onto dehydrator trays, either with parchment or sheets specifically made for dehydrators. Turn dehydrator on, and use the highest heat setting (155 degrees Fahrenheit in my Excalibur 9-tray).
Step #5: After 2 1/2 hours, throw the eggs back into the food processor for 30 seconds to 1 minute to break them up more.
Step #6: Put them back in the dehydrator on the highest heat setting.
Step #7: After a total of 3 1/2 to 4 hours, your eggs may be dry. Always follow the settings and instructions for your own dehydrator, and if you don’t think the eggs are done, leave them in longer! Once they are finished, remove them from the dehydrator, and using a mortar and pestle or 2 glass dishes, grind the eggs into a finer texture.
I have purchased dehydrated eggs before, which are a powdery consistency. I’ve never been able to reproduce that super fine texture, but the eggs I prepare work for me!
Weight of 4 eggs after scrambling but before dehydrating: 170g
Weight of 4 eggs after dehydrating: 45g
Your eggs are ready for your next backcountry adventure! I store mine in the freezer until I need them.
Rehydrating the eggs
You can rehydrate them with water to make scrambled eggs or an omelet, or put into a tortilla with veggies, cheese and salsa for an egg wrap. You can add them to other ingredients to cook pancakes on the trail, or to bake brownies. The possibilities are endless. One egg = approximately 1-2 tablespoons* of dehydrated eggs + 1 tablespoon of water. Let it rehydrate for 5-10 minutes, then use it however you like.
*My 4 eggs turned into 6 tablespoons of dehydrated egg. It all depends on the size of the eggs you start with!
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After 2 previous 4-day hiking trips along the La Cloche Silhouette Trail at Killarney Provincial Park (1st trip 2 days in clockwise, 2 days out, and 2nd trip 2 days in counterclockwise, 2 days out), I knew that I wanted to hike the entire trail in one go. My friend Cheryl and I did some research and finally settled on an 8-day route from May 5-12 (after ice out but before the black fly season!). While most people seem to hike it in less time (some in 3 days!), we wanted to actually enjoy ourselves and not experience a torturous backpacking trip. This would be our longest one to date. We booked the campsites in December, but couldn’t reserve for the first night because reservations weren’t accepted for dates earlier than May 6. Thankfully, when we arrived at the park around noon, our preferred first night’s site was available!
The La Cloche Silhouette Trail is challenging, rewarding and beautiful. There are constant ups and downs, including some difficult ascents and descents. For more background information on the trail, check out the Killarney Outfitters site.
Shortcut to the full slideshow. Click on the first picture, and then on the little “i” so you can read the picture descriptions.
Despite cutting back as much stuff as possible, our packs still weighed between 45 and 50 pounds each at the start of our trip (including 2L of water per pack).
Time stopped (to admire the view, catch our breath, have a snack or lunch, chat with other hikers or canoeists, take a pee break!): unknown (did not track until day 3)
Hiking speed: 3.3 km/h
Highlight of the day: treacherous approach to the campsite
On our first day, we hit the trail by 12:45 PM, under clear sunny skies and temperatures close to 20 degrees Celsius. We had expected to find a bit of snow on the trails (based on reports of trail conditions at Algonquin Provincial Park), but only spotted small patches here and there. We crossed 5-10 streams, but never had to remove our boots and socks to cross in sandals (as we had to last year). We also crossed one very large beaver dam, just one of many beaver dam crossings along the trail. Part way up “the pig” (the steepest portage in the park), we turned onto the 500m side trail to our campsite. We somehow missed the end of the side trail, instead picking our way along the side of a cliff dangerously close to the water rather than hiking along the cliff top. During our hike we saw a heron, turtles, frogs, a grouse, a muskrat and a butterfly. By the time we arrived at our campsite, I had a blister on my right heel. We set up our tent, found a tree suitable for hanging our food in a bear bag, threw a rock over it (tied to our rope), and made our dinner. We were beat, and had no interest in gathering wood for a campfire! All we burned was a piece of parchment from our dinner! We realized days later that we should have been burning things as we went along instead of carrying them (e.g. toilet paper that we used on drippy noses). A beaver swam past our campsite. There were spring peepers close by, very loud for a time, and then all of a sudden becoming quiet. Each night we read a description of the section we had hiked that day, and looked at highlights for the next day’s hike. Before climbing into the tent for the night, we heated up a cup of water for Cheryl to massage her sore butt (pre-trip injury), and continued to do this every night. Overnight she either heard an owl or heard Stuart McLean talking about an owl on a Vinyl Cafe podcast!
Day 2: H7 (Topaz Lake) to H17 (Three Narrows Lake)
Distance: 12.0 km
Time hiking: 3 hours 46 min
Time stopped: unknown (did not track until day 3)
Hiking speed: 3.2 km/h
Highlight of the day: “swimming” in Three Narrows Lake
On our first morning waking up at Killarney, we packed up everything in our tent before getting out of it. I took down the bear bag, and while Cheryl packed up the tent, I cooked breakfast. This became our morning routine. We loved our cup of gatorade, hot breakfast and tea each morning. We soon learned that it took us about 2 hours from the time we decided to get up to the time we started hiking. We heard several grouse as we hiked, but saw very few people. We encountered a dead deer on the trail. We ate lunch at H16, where we noticed that the sleeping bag we had found in the base of a tree last year was still on the site. By the time we arrived at our campsite (120m off the main trail), I had blisters on both heels! It was a hot day (+20 degree Celsius), so I decided to “swim” as soon as we got to our campsite. In my bra and underwear I did a cannonball into the water, then got out as fast as I possibly could. It was c-c-c-cold (remember, the ice just melted days ago)! So refreshing! Cheryl got wet without submersing herself. There was enough sunlight and heat left to dry my clothes and hair before bedtime. We had a hot drink to warm ourselves up, and continued to do this most afternoons, from tea to “specialty” coffee (instant coffee with milk powder and some sort of chocolate treat added in). We crawled into the tent before it was dark, but came out one last time to pee before falling asleep! This too became a routine.
Day 3: H17 (Three Narrows Lake) to H21 (Three Narrows Lake)
Distance: 9.52 km
Time hiking: 3 hours 10 min
Time stopped: 1 hour 22 min
Hiking speed: 3.0 km/h
Highlight of the day: yellow-spotted salamander
On day 3 we woke up to the sound of raindrops on our tent. Thankfully we had put up a tarp the night before (and continued to do so every day for the rest of the trip, just in case), so we had a dry area to cook and eat our breakfast. At times we hiked through the pouring rain, but we were dry in our rain clothes, and our packs were dry under their rain covers. We saw another dead deer on the trail. We chose H21 because a friend told us we had to stay there. It was 460m off the main trail, and seemed to take forever for us to get there. Mind you, the last couple of kilometres every day felt like that! The site is on a point, and other than a nearby cottage (no one was there), it was a great site. However, it was so wet and windy that we decided not to put our tent on the site, and instead to walk back up the side trail and set it up in the shelter of the woods. It worked out great, but meant that we had to walk 165 steps (yes, I counted!) to reach the toilet. We set up a tarp for the kitchen shelter, and Cheryl went looking for a rock to reinforce one side of it – she lifted a big rock up, and found a yellow-spotted salamander (aka Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma Maculatum))! Of course, I tried lifting up other rocks to see what I could find and never found anything. The rain stopped and we were able to enjoy the setting sun down at the point. We watched some birds of prey flying high in the sky. I saw an unidentifiable small animal scrambling across some rocks on the other side of the lake. Because we spent time in the woods and at the point, we carried our bear bag back and forth with us – just in case! We enjoyed a hot cup of tea in the afternoon. There were a few black flies, but they weren’t biting. This was the only day where we didn’t see a single person other than each other! I saw a bat just before getting into the tent, and heard a Barred owl in the night. We also heard a bird in the night that may have been a Whippoorwill. Some days we were also treated to the beautiful, haunting sound of loons on the lake.
Day 4: H21 (Three Narrows Lake) to H32 (Shigaug Lake)
Distance: 11.0 km
Time hiking: 4 hours 6 min
Time stopped: 3 hours 33 min
Hiking speed: 2.7 km/h
Highlight of the day: 30 metre cliff descent and climb up waterfall
On day 4 I fell on my butt within the first kilometre of the hike (down a wet rock). Thankfully, I was fine. We would have had many more falls without our hiking poles! This was the day that we would descend a 30m cliff and then climb up a waterfall on the other side of the creek. Reading the description we had visions of descending a very steep cliff and ascending an equally steep rushing waterfall. It didn’t turn out that way. We needed to be careful where we put our feet on the descent, but it was not bad at all (Cheryl had worried about this part for days, as she is not a fan of heights). On the other side of the creek the path continued for a ways before eventually turning up the waterfall. It wasn’t exactly like Niagara Falls, and we only had to step a short way up into the falls before the trail turned to the side. Later we decided to see if we had cell signals, and lo and behold, we did! We were able to connect with our families and tell them that we were okay. Cheryl heard a mystery big animal along the trail as we sat having a snack, but we never did see anything. After following an 800m side trail to our site, we were relieved to finally arrive. I swam again. We were quite hungry and our pasta/veggie/parmesan dinner hit the spot!! At this site, the toilet was so far that cairns guided our way up the hill – I measured and it was 190 steps from our tent. When we got into our tent for the night, we put on multiple layers of clothes, because it was very cold! I wore long johns (top and bottom) plus my pants, a long sleeved shirt, a fleece sweater, hat and mitts. Even my -7 sleeping bag didn’t keep me warm. Cheryl and I were both cold, so eventually we covered ourselves with a thin metallic survival blanket in hopes it would keep some heat in. We’re not sure it worked, but when the sun came up, we started to roast! Other nights we were able to sleep in underwear and a t-shirt!
Day 5: H32 (Shigaug Lake) to H35 (Boundary Lake)
Distance: 9.1 km
Time hiking: 3 hours 13 min
Time stopped: 2 hours 17 min
Hiking speed: 2.8 km/h
Highlight of the day: lunch at a small stream
On day 5 we enjoyed eating our lunch along a little stream, where we put our bare feet in the (cold) water. By now we both had blisters on our heels, and our sweaty feet meant that bandaids would not stick to them for long. We changed our socks frequently during the day (those 5 pairs came in handy!) but still the bandaids fell off. I’d love to hear your recommendations on the best bandaids for blisters and sweaty feet! At our campsite (700m off the main trail) I swam again, this time falling back in while trying to get out! We smelled a campfire and discovered that there was a smouldering log in our fire pit. We had a very luxurious kitchen shelter, complete with log backrests – so nice, as our backs weren’t too happy otherwise! I used some Gorilla tape to repair rips on the backside of my rain pants, which I must have ripped while scrambling down rocks. We heard owls again in the night, and we also heard wolves or coyotes just after we got into the tent. They were very far away at first, but were definitely moving closer. It was kind of spooky!
Day 6: H35 (Boundary Lake) to H37 (Silver Lake)
Distance: 11.1 km
Time hiking: 3 hours 33 min
Time stopped: 2 hours 49 min
Hiking speed: 3.1 km/h
Highlight of the day: mama bear and baby bear
On day 6 we were wakened by an owl that must have been in a tree above our tent! While eating our breakfast we watched a Common Merganser couple swim by, with what we can only imagine was another male swooping in to try and woo the female away. The male of the couple would have none of it, and did an admirable job defending his mate. Eventually, the challenger flew away. Even though we had already hiked the Silver Peak trail during a previous canoe trip to the park, we decided that it wouldn’t really be hiking the entire trail unless we hiked it too! So, we set out for the side trail, but left our big packs at the junction with the main trail, and hung our food in a bear bag. We carried food, water, and our valuables with us. Not 200m up the trail, Cheryl realized that she hadn’t hung her toothpaste etc. We decided not to go back. By the time we reached the top of Silver Peak, there were only 2 guys there, but we had passed many coming down. In fact, we saw 15 people that day (the most of any day of our trip). We had cell signals again, and enjoyed our lunch at the top. The views are spectacular. When we were near the bottom of the hill, we started looking for our backpacks and bear bag. Just before the final switchback, I spotted a mama bear and cub – the cub ran up the hill, but the mama bear just wandered along slowly. We waited a short time, then continued down the hill. We were relieved to eventually see our things, and to find out that even if the bears had checked out our stuff, they didn’t do anything to it! I swam again at our campsite (140m off the main trail). In the evening, Cheryl spotted a beaver, and we watched it go onto the shore just across from our campsite and find something yummy to eat. Cheryl heard the beaver slap its tail a few times in the night.
Day 7: H37 (Silver Lake) to H48 (Proulx Lake)
Distance: 11.9 km
Time hiking: 4 hours 4 min
Time stopped: 2 hours 20 min
Hiking speed: 2.9 km/h
Highlight of the day: “reward” of chocolate from Ted from Hamilton
On day 7, we decided to stop for lunch at H47, which was right on the trail. However, when we got there, there was a man and a dog. It turned out that they were just resting, waiting for the man’s son and nephew to hike “the Crack”. The 11 year old dog wasn’t able to make the hike. We got talking to Ted from Hamilton, and he told us that we deserved a reward! He gave us part of a chocolate bar, 2 delicious pieces each, which we ate after our lunch. Thank you Ted from Hamilton!!! What a treat. We chatted with him about different canoe routes, and finally we packed up and headed on our way. At our campsite (400m off the main trail) I had trouble for the first time all trip hanging the bear bag. I managed to loop the rock over the branch twice, getting it stuck. Luckily, I was able to get it unwound, so that we didn’t have to cut the rope. At that site alone there were 2 ropes in trees that people had gotten stuck. There was a hum from the black flies (lots of them), but they were hanging out over bushes and not bothering us. We used the last of our bandaids in the morning. From then on, we had to improvise, using gauze and gorilla tape!
Day 8: H48 (Proulx Lake) to George Lake Campground
Distance: 14.8 km
Time hiking: 4 hours 40 min
Time stopped: 1 hour 31 min
Hiking speed: 3.2 km/h
Highlight of the day: completing the loop!
For the first time all trip, we set our alarm to make sure we got an early start. We were on the trail by about 8:45 AM, hoping to get back to the park office before it closed at 3:30 PM. We knew that we had a long day ahead of us, including a 5 hour drive home at the end! The day’s hike was split into 3 sections: from our campsite to the top of the Crack, from the Crack to the Crack parking lot, and from the Crack parking lot to the George Lake campground. Finally the black flies were starting to annoy us – flying around our heads when we stopped (and a bit when we walked), but not biting. We encountered a group of high school students and their teacher from Michigan at the Crack, whose school has been doing the same trip since 1960! We carefully picked our way down the big boulders. Once we reached the turn off to the Crack parking lot, we saw a sign saying that we had just 6 km to go to reach the George Lake campground. Yay! Unfortunately, that 6 km turned into a few more! That last section of hiking was fairly flat, but we were pretty ready to be done hiking, and the end couldn’t come soon enough. We stopped for lunch, and eventually, we reached one last very steep uphill and an equally steep downhill (which Cheryl’s knees really did not like) before we came to the end of the trail. We knew that we had to walk through the campground to our vehicle, parked at the other trailhead, but we weren’t sure exactly how to get there. We managed, but it added 1.8 km to our trip!
In the end, we hiked 90.32 km! We enjoyed our time at Killarney, and while the hiking was difficult at times, the trail was beautiful. Different sections of the trail brought different kinds of trees, different kinds of rocks, and different spectacular views! It is such an amazing place! Check out the Killarney Provincial Park page on the Ontario Parks website. It’s well worth a visit!