Thursday, June 22, 2017

Conquer the Canuck 50k - DFL

By .2 seconds gun time, .5 seconds chip time.

Yup, DFL.  Worst result EVER.  Not that I'm blazingly fast, but not generally that slow.

But I had a great time - I can't say enough good things about this race, the organizers, the volunteers, the was a blast.  I'll definitely be back.

Mom was crewing for this one and I was glad she was there.  She really helped me out.

We got there super early - they were still setting up!   It was buggy so I quickly put on sunscreen then got all bug-sprayed up, then was fine from bites for the rest of the day.  Picaridin for the win!

The race had good swag - instead of a tshirt, a beach towel!  Not to mention finishers got a medal AND a bottle of wine.  Pretty nice!

Shortly before 8am, the race start time, we gathered for pre-race announcements, then Tony's niece sang O Canada (so nice) and we stood around before we realized it was after 8am and that we should start running - so the race started.  Heh.

I started off the first of six loops on my own, but caught and ran with Kristin for much of the first and second loops.  It was her first ultra and I believe her first trail race, but she was doing great - and the trails at Shade's Mills aren't really technical, so it was a good intro I think.  Super pretty trails though, and, unsurprisingly, shady (and thank goodness with that heat!).

On the second loop, I knew I was going to get more water after the loop, and I had to - as K would say - get down to race weight.  The portapotties were on a gravel section about 700m out from the start/finish, and when I saw them, I got so excited I got distracted, tripped, and went down hard.

Like, swelling on shoulder/chewed up palms/effed up knee hard.

I visited the portapotties (priorities) and by the time I was done my knee was covered in blood.  There was a good size chunk of skin that had been pulled back.  Eww!  I finished the loop, feeling sore, swapped out my bladder, grabbed more Endurance Tap (took three per loop) and headed out again with Kristen.

My knee HURT.  Every step was painful from the impact.  I realized I was going to have to walk more than I would be doing otherwise, and as I didn't want to hold Kristen back unnecessarily, I told her to go ahead.  I ran/walked the rest of the loop by myself, and got down to race weight AGAIN at the portapotties.

Looking down heading in to the last aid station I was like 'Man is my knee STILL bleeding?  Why hasn't this clotted???' so before I passed the start/finish mats I visited the paramedics and had my knee cleaned out - no need for stitches, but it took awhile to clean it and part of that was ouchie.

But I got up, feeling VERY discouraged.  Geez.  Not only is the knee hurting enough that I can't really run - and I had been feeling great and running at an easy pace - but I just spent all this time in medical and it hurts and oww oww oww.

I wanted to quit, though I hadn't verbalized that, but Mom just assumed I was going back out, so I went back out (she told me later she could sense I might want to quit, and that she was going to tell me to get four loops in at least).  Once I got out there, I thought 'Well if I do four loops I may as well do all six' so I ran/walked for a little bit until I met Maryka (apparently my dogs are internet famous!  She knew all about them from our mutual friend Kelly, aww).  Shortly afterwards I caught Virgil, who was walking, and fell in with him.

I thought, 'I'll see how fast he runs when we get to the top of this hill' and when we did, we kept walking.  Part of me thought I should take off and run, the other part of me was relieved that my knee hurt that much less walking than running so I kept it up.

Virgil and I had never met before but soon bonded over outdoor sports and endurance activities.  We walked the rest of the loop together and at the end of the loop, we saw the arch with balloons and joked that it looked like a wedding arch - so we held hands and ran under it, to the appreciation of the crowd (but the photographer wasn't there!!!!  Boo!).

Virgil headed out on the fifth loop and I swapped out bladders, so I had to run to catch him.  Once I did, we walked the rest of the loop together, until, after passing through the last aid station and giving K and Tanker sweaty hugs, I said 'I really think we need to run or we won't make the cut offs (I think we had like 90 minutes left in the 8 hour cut off)'.  So we ran the rest of the loop, I grabbed one more gel from Mom (hadn't eaten a lot the last loop), and then we jogged off in the heat.  We did take some walk breaks, and I was trying to do the math in my head, but was VERY worried about making it before the cut off.  We hit the last aid station, and K said 'You've got 15 minutes!  You're good!  Go!' so we ran off and may have had one last walk break (my fault) before hitting the finish in I believe 7:52 and change - and because Virgil was milliseconds ahead of me, I got to be DFL.

Which is okay.

I had so much fun!

Okay, I wish I hadn't fallen and screwed up my knee, which continued to bleed for a few days afterwards.  I had to visit the hospital Saturday night for a second cleaning and tetanus shot.

But I got to meet Kristen, and Virgil, who is a super cool guy, and make a new friend.  On a day where things didn't go as planned, I'll take that.

I was stopped for over 25 minutes based on Garmin data.  I'd say I spent about 5 minutes in transition, MAYBE.  Mom was pretty quick.  Losing time is what a visit to the medics will get you :)   

I used Endurance Tap gels, and brought solid food (dried figs and PB&J ricewiches from Feed Zone Portables).  Had a S!Cap every 60 minutes.

The only time I ate a ricewich was 20-30 minutes before the race.  I felt full most of the time which made solid food - which I really SHOULD practice with - unappetizing.  Plus between that and actually eating breakfast for once (oatmeal with hemp hearts) - well, I blame that on my two visits to get down to race weight.  COULD have been a coincidence, but yeah.

Left the race feeling sad about my weight - but wah wah wah pull up your big girl pants.  Hopefully Limberlost is a better showing.
...though watch, I'll be DFL there too.

Recovered well - amazing what walking two loops will do (my AHR was 65%!  Unheard of in a race!!!!!}).  I did have a post-race massage provided by the organizers and bled on the table - eww - the massage therapist said she figured I would and that they would sterilize the table.  I hadn't thought I would, so I felt terrible.

Sunday I walked around, in pain due to my knee, and Monday I went for another massage (with April) (all gauzed up) so I did NOT bleed on the table.  By Tuesday I was running again, albeit with pain, which I still have, over a week later.  But it is improving. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

DontGetLost Raid the Rib - Orienteering Race Report

Better late than never, right?

Sarah and I had such a great time at our first DontGetLost race that we decided to try to do Raid the Rib in Niagara over Easter weekend.  But it was teams of three!  What's Team Husky (named after our dogs, not 'cause we're husky) to do?  Convince Toby to do his first orienteering race!!!!

We signed up for the full Raid, or 5 hours.  How bad could it be?

Two weeks out, Toby and I went to Ball's Falls, where the race was held, to scout out the Bruce Trail.  We completely guessed on direction, and then I went the wrong way anyways (how's that for a good omen?) but it ended up just as well as we went the right way for what the race covered.

We ran 17.1k that day, in a true mud-fest that made getting up hills (and there were hills) extremely difficult, plus we ended up bushwhacking unnecessarily long to cross one river that was kind of deep at the trail.  We had a blast!

Race day arrived.  We met up with Sarah, went over the maps (which you only get on race day) and discussed which optional checkpoints we would try to hit for points.

Room with a View was the first checkpoint we aimed for, and we came up with a "clever" shortcut that involved bushwhacking then reaching some faint trails to join up with a more established trail to hit checkpoint 1.

The race was point-to-point, so we took a bus ride to a Scout Camp near Short Hills Provincial Park for the start - and there was a relay to start the race!  Up a steep hill and down a steeper one - going down was scary, and I was passed by faster people so couldn't take the line I wanted so basically control falled down the entire thing, jumping over trees and praying to a god I don't believe in that I would make it down in one piece.  Each team member went in waves - Toby started, I was second, Sarah third.

We finished that and took off to find Room with a View - which, thanks to Toby's eagle eyes, went pretty smoothly! 
Where we went wrong was with our "clever" short cut.  We quickly found animal paths and followed them through brambles and thorns, picking them out of our arms and bleeding from our legs  (Toby and I were in shorts - it was going up to 20C! - not a great idea for orienteering, but - I used to play rugby, and you're not doing it right unless there's blood).  Sarah, who was more appropriately attired, fared better, but still got scratched on her calves over the course of the race - and muddy! 
At some point, after awhile of wandering around in the bush, we decided to give up on our clever short cut.  We made it back to the Scout Camp but were turned around and in looking for checkpoint 1 headed towards an area of optional checkpoints that we weren't planning on doing called the Canada 150.  Not where we wanted to be.  We headed back, then ended up going towards another point of the Canada 150.  Luckily we saw April, Mel, and Dawn and realized we were going the wrong way.  We started following some of the Canada 150ers, and found checkpoint 1.

We were at least an hour behind time.

And still fairly turned around.  Looking for checkpoint 2 we kept being unsure of where we were (Sarah and Toby were very good at sorting us out) - but eventually we found it.  We spent a very long time confused of directions before we started hitting checkpoints.

But by then the damage was done.  We hit checkpoint 5 and the aid station and assessed - we didn't have time to do the optional relay near there.  It was funny, Toby had a deep scratch on the inside of one of his knees that had bled down both legs.  He looked amazing!  The aid station ladies seemed concerned, but Toby, also a former rugby player, handled it in proper fashion - which is to say he ignored it!

We then headed towards a section where there were three checkpoints, but six possible locations - and you needed to hit the checkpoints in order.  We started looking for them, to no luck - and I said 'Honestly guys, we're not going to finish in the time limit (you lose points being over) and I think we need to take the points deduction for missing checkpoints and just get going - in the end, we found the last checkpoint there.

Saw Wanda's team, and followed them crossing a river above a waterfall - fun!  We then climbed the bank on the other side on the steepest, muddiest part there was.  Oops.

But we were hitting checkpoints better now.

Saw April, Mel and Dawn - how did they get behind us?  They're fast!  But they had gotten lost looking for checkpoint 2, then been hitting optional checkpoints.

By this point we were back on the section of the Bruce that Toby and I had run before, and were approaching the end.  We were also tight for time.  We tried to pick it up but along 20 Mile Creek or whatever it is there were just some really technical parts that are difficult to run.  And then the STAIRS.  Heh.  It's a brutal climb.  I gapped Toby :)  #chicked

We hit the last two checkpoints, then ran it in, about 5 minutes under time.
Muddy and happy!  It was fun!

Though, we were penalized 20 minutes over 5 hours (I assume that's why our finish time was 5:20) and finished with 0 points.  (We weren't the only team to do so)  We ran just under 20k - well, 'ran' - some parts running, some parts hiking/bushwhacking, some parts standing around trying to figure out where we were!

Next time, I want to help out with navigation - I left it to Sarah and Toby, but I should help out too.  I understand how to navigate, so there's no reason I can't do it.

All in all it was a great time and as Toby's scars fade we're hoping to convince him to run Raid the Hammer with us in November - he had fun, and the next day was already talking about things to do differently 'next time'.  Too early to register for it yet though! 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Dion Ganaraska Snowshoe Race 2017

Well, it's been an interesting few months. early December triggered dormant (dormant?) PTSD and I was off work for about 6 or 7 weeks.  I had a lot of healing in that time, but struggled to leave the house, and had panic attacks a lot, so running was not - ideal.

Sara, my amazing coach, was super understanding, and extremely flexible in adjusting training, but even still, some weeks it felt like nothing was happening.  But I started to be able to get out more and more, even if it were just for walks with the dogs (I still miss Thursday morning walks with April and Bailey!).

I went back to work on February 1st and by February 4th was on vacation for 10 days (we'd paid for it) - a cabin near Algonquin Provincial Park for 9 days and then some family medical stuff one day.  We snowshoed while up there but it was not the crazy workout schedule I would've hoped - a few runs, in addition to snowshoes, some in white outs (compare to Toronto which had no snow).

We got back on the 12th.  On the 19th, we went out to north of Port Hope (northeast of Toronto) for the Dion Ganaraska 8km snowshoe race.  It was hot - unseasonably - I think it got up to 15C.  I was hanging out before the race and ran in a tshirt.

The race was easy and quick to get to from Toronto.  The parking lot was a sheet of ice but we could see lots of snow in the woods, despite it being soft from the heat.  I picked up my race kit and chatted with a man who was getting into triathlons who was running his first snowshoe race.  I said 'Just pace yourself - snowshoe running is more difficult than trail running which is more difficult than road running.'  Actually, that's not an exact quote, but I told him to pace himself.

Went outside to hang with Toby and the dogs and to put my race bib on my tshirt, which was the Dirty Girls tshirt, and ended up speaking to a racer who'd run it as well, and we said what a shame it was that it wasn't happening anymore.  He was a really nice guy, but I didn't get his name.  We talked with him after the race as well (before I cooled down).

Did pre-race toilet stuff, hung out, did a warm up snowshoe (the roads being icy, though I used microspikes and cooled down on the road) then got back to the race start with 10-15 minutes before race time.  Ran the warm up a bit hard, I have trouble gauging pace snowshoe running, plus it takes me awhile to warm up, so I figured - ran hard and warm up faster!  Maybe not!

My legs were fine, but quickly into the race my heart rate spiked back up, not all because of the hard warm up but I think in part because of it.  I think I seeded myself okay.  Passed people on the first 'hill', then didn't really get passed until 1-1.5k in by some people that had clearly not seeded themselves well.

One lady passed me, and I was torn between being like 'Dammit' and 'Well, she's thin'.  I kept her within sight though, of varying distances, but didn't want her getting away entirely.

The race course is a lollipop, with a 2km out, 4km loop, 2km back, and one big hill, somewhere between 3-4k if my memory serves.  Before the big hill me and thin lady had passed a struggling woman who must've gone out too hard, and the rest of the race I was haunted by the thought that she was coming from behind.

Sara had said to push the flats and downhills and recover on the uphills - did so-so at this.  There was one decently long flat section and I realized 'Holy you're running slow'.  But that helped me refocus.  Got to the top of the big hill and pushed pace, kept with thin girl (not too close) and enjoyed myself, though the race course folded a bit and I was like 'I hear voices!  Oh god how close are they!!!!!'  I knew all the up going out though, we'd get to go back down, and on the back half of the course I was closing on thin girl (oddly I'd close the gap on the uphills...go figure, the fat chick being fast on the ups) when she fell.  I caught her, checked in with her, she was okay, so we ran together for awhile but it was pushing pace for me so I slowed and walked some.  Before that though we did see an awesome paramedic directing traffic at one of the trail intersections!

One other woman caught us - I ran with her for a bit, but was gassing some - I was still running, for the most part, just tired.  She went ahead.

Up the final hill (I may have walked) and then across the field to the finish!  I ran across the field and like a jerk caught thin girl and passed her in what passes for the finisher's chute in a 44 person race.  #jerk  I'm pretty sure she was there with a triathlon club though so she should be used to jerks (I kid!  I'm married to a triathlete!  Seriously great people).

I finished the 8k in 1:14:36, 21/44 racers, and 11/31 women.  Which is MOP for the field, kind of FOP for women - not bad for 20lbs above normal BMI!!!!!!!!!  And for having PTSD screw with training!

The racers I met that day were all such lovely people, I really enjoyed myself, and race directors Erin and Joe did an amazing job marking the course - there was no question where you were going - just a solid race all round.  Good swag, great race series, so much fun.  Everyone was saying this is the hardest race in the series, though I've only done Frontenac and Frozen Ass (may it RIP) before, but yeah - it was harder than both of those.

High recommended!!!!  Thanks again to Sara at Health and Adventure for being such a great coach and for prepping me so well in spite of myself!  Used my Dion snowshoes which I've had for...4 years now?  And am as in love with now as the first day I had them.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Western Uplands: Algonquin, Thunder Lake and the First Loop (November 18-20, 2016)

What a great trip!

Sometime in...September?  I had reached out to Sarah and Leanne to see if they wanted to do a girl's trip to Algonquin in November.  Leanne wasn't able to join, but Sarah was up for it!  I suggested we spend three days on the Western Uplands, going up to Thunder Lake on the second loop on the Friday before returning to the first loop and staying on Maggie Lake Saturday night.

Which is what we did.

Sarah brought her Husky Mika, and I brought Neb.  There was a bit of standoffishness when they first met, but they coexisted quite well and at our first break on Friday to take off layers, Neb went into squirrelly play bowing mode.  Mika seemed unimpressed, but they got along well.

Friday was warm - high of 17C - and I ended up hiking in a tshirt!

We hiked 11.08k the first day, and made it into camp in good time, lots of time to set up and relax with some tea and enjoy the view from our campsite on Thunder Lake.

I love the campsite at Thunder Lake.  I've always wanted to stay here in the summer and take advantage of the sandy bottom to go swimming, but I've only even stayed here in shoulder seasons.

Nonetheless, it was a glorious day.  We got the bear rope hung, thanks to Sarah, who got it on her first pitch (after at least 10 fruitless throws from yours truly) - I then nominated Sarah as bear rope thrower for the trip!

For this trip, I brought my Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2, and Sarah her MEC ultralight tent.

The dogs lounged - Mika is like Luc and doesn't like looking at the camera, though I managed to get one shot of her kind of doing so:

Neb enjoying a favourite camping pastime - eating wood!

We enjoyed dinner, and a fire - there were some decent sized logs, though we didn't end up using all of the wood we cut up.  We headed to bed around 7 pm - it'd been dark since 4:30, 5 pm, so it felt WAY later.  What can I say, I go crazy when I'm camping in winter time/short days.  It did mean however some thrashing around in the bush looking for the bear rope (stupid ultralight thin rope is impossible to find in that situation!!!!) but eventually we found it.

I made Neb a bed by my head but of course he slept elsewhere...typical.  It was a warm night though so it didn't matter that he didn't sleep on the mat I brought for him, which also doubled as a bum pad for me sitting.

We woke up to overcast skies but thankful that the forecasted rain had started yet.  Broke camp, and started hiking, retracing our steps to the intersection of the first and second loops and heading along the top of the first loop towards Maggie Lake.

The hiking was harder going than it had been Friday - lots more hills.  My heel, which was not entirely healed from Toby and I's Killarney trip, bothered me some - I checked it and the tape had pulled off, so I reapplied, but it still bothered me.

This plus the rain starting in earnest led us to decide to camp at the start of Maggie West, as opposed to making the long way around the lake to a different campsite.

On Saturday we hiked 13.17k.  We stayed at the first campsite on Maggie West as you come south.  It was set up a little oddly - the tent spots were far apart, part of the site was on the trail, and the water access was a good 50-70m (guesstimate) from the fire pit.  But, it had a good spot for the bear rope, lots of space, and a nice fire pit area.

We set up our tarps and tents and then had some tea.

Neb was now in his raincoat.  I would've preferred it didn't rain, but since I carried his raincoat, at least he used it!

We then set about gathering wood.  It was all wet of course, but we had a fire anyways, for warmth.  The rain turned to sleet and wet snow then snow as the temperatures dropped further.  We had cut up some hardwood and brilliant me had stacked it around the fire so it would dry out - the fire was burning hotter than I realized, because it all caught and we had a really big fire for awhile.  I felt wet, even though I was wearing thick long underwear, my MEC Uplink jacket (synthetic insulation) and my Marmot Precip rainjacket (not bought at MEC).

Because of this, I said to Sarah around 6 pm, is it okay if we go to bed?  So we hung the bear bags, put out the fire, and headed in.

...and I was wet.  Great.  The Precip jacket is no longer waterproof.  The pants were fine, thankfully.  I was able to layer up, but couldn't wear my jacket to bed - and I knew the temperature was going to drop well below freezing.  Synthetic insulation is warm when wet (in fact, I wore the jacket around camp the next morning in the snow, despite it being wet, and was fine), but down is not, and my Western Mountaineering sleeping bag is down.  So I tried to stick it under a nest of clothes in a silnylon sack in case Neb slept on it.  The sleeping pad I'd brought for him got wet under the tarps and I was worried it would freeze overnight (which it did) so I didn't want him sleeping on it - instead I put him in his Katahdin Mushing Supplies belly coat and made a little nest for him with clothes.

I read until about 7:30 on my Kobo then headed to sleep.

We had agreed to get up at 7 am, but at 6:45 I got up and discovered the tent zipper was frozen - I hate that.  I got up, rolling up my Thermarest Neoair X-Therm (man is that thing ever great!) and left the tent - Sarah was up too.

After going to the thunderbox and discovering the lid was frozen so that the whole box picked up when you tried to lift the lid (yuck), I smacked it a bit and got the lid up and was able to use the facilities in peace.  Then I went to get the bear bags.

I under the rope, without too much difficulty - the rope is waxed, so even though the knots were a bit frozen, it undid easily.  I unwound it from the tree, and waited for the inevitable gravity to bring the bags down.

They remained suspended in the tree.

"Huh" I thought, " That's odd."

Then I realized - NOOOO! - the bear rope is frozen to the branches (it was actually over two branches, one smaller, one larger).  I grabbed a stick and started throwing it at the bags to try to loosen it, to no effect.

I went back to the campsite, told Sarah, and grabbed a large branch/small tree that we hadn't broken up for wood the night before, and brought it back to the bear bags and tried to knock/pull them out of the tree.  That and I tugged on the rope, in the hopes it would loosen.

Still stuck.

Sarah came and found a longer branch, and after a good 20 minutes, we got the bags down.  They landed on my head.  Not my finest moment.  But, we had our food etc!  Phew!  I was really starting to wonder.

In all my years of camping, and I include a decent amount of tripping in all seasons, I have never had that happen before.  It just didn't occur to me.  I'm thankful we hadn't picked a higher branch though, or we would've been in real trouble.

The lake was lovely with a dusting of snow:

We had breakfast and set about taking down camp.  We had two tarps up and it took me about 30 minutes to untie the ropes because the ropes were all frozen.  Our tent flies were frozen on and of course the poles needed breathing on too.  But we got it all down and headed off.

There was more snow away from the lakes:

What a range of weather!  17C on Friday, and on Sunday when we got back to our cars it said it was -4C.  Crazy.  We had a good hike out, my heel felt better, and we caught two groups of guys - one guy hiking solo, and then three guys, one of whom had had everything get wet the night before and been awfully cold Sunday morning!  They were in good spirits though.

Sunday we hiked 14.15k out to the Hwy 60 trailhead.

I had a great time on trip with Sarah!  We've been Facebook friends for awhile, but this was our first in-person meeting, and it went great!  She's a fantastic trip buddy!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Out and Back in La Cloche Silhouette, Killarney, October 2016

Usually I get my trip reports up in a day or two!  Not this one for some reason!  

It was a great trip, after the fact.  Though I left the trail with a significant portion of my left heel missing...hmm.  

We started off from Toronto around 8am (I think) Friday morning (October 14th).  The drive to Killarney was easy, and we got to the park around noon.  

Check in was smooth, and it was off to the trailhead!  We suited up, adjusted packs, got poles ready (I wanted Toby to try hiking with poles this trip, I took Neb on leash and Luc was, as always, off leash).  

We headed out, within a few hundred metres Toby decided he hated the poles, and strapped them to his pack.  Oh well.  Nobody in the family likes poles I guess.  Well, I don't mind them, but I also don't need them.

The hike to the turnoff for H2, our campsite for the night, was unremarkable, though we saw some beautiful fall colours.

We arrived at the turnoff further than the stated map distances, but later decided this was because of starting our watches at the car rather than the trailhead.  

We did get lost on the side trail - I am good at navigating!  Maybe not!  We wandered around for a bit before finding it.  It was a sharp turn with a cairn, but there was also a bit of a footpath straight at the cairn, so we had kept to that.  In the end we hiked 3.94k Friday.

H2 is a decent site - I'd stayed there once before on Luc's first ever backpacking trip, on our last night (where I was unable to get a site further in like I wanted..much like the first night of this trip).  

It's a nice enough site though.  Sort of set up on a hill, but we squished our Big Agnes Seedhouse SL3 onto the tent pad, set up the tarp, and hung the bear rope fine.  Managed to gather a boatload of wood and set about breaking and sawing it up.  I realized I accidentally brought the new saw AND the old saw, and they're the same saw, so good luck telling them apart now me.  The new saw is brighter though...I hope.  Certainly it's sharper!  I should get a replacement blade for the older saw.  But I digress.

I've mentioned before how much I like going on trip with Toby, because he's so good at throwing the bear rope...I also like going with him because he's good at sawing wood, which I hate (my arms get tired, wah wah wah).  

We had lots of wood, so started the fire around 4:30.  Soon we had a nice blaze going.

Our dinner the first night was mac n cheese, we added all the water and let it sit for longer than the package suggested (freeze-dried food) - the sauce was great, though watery, but the pasta was...'al dente' would be kind.  It had crunch.  Next time we'll let that one sit for way longer, or give that brand a miss.  They can't all be winners.  We skipped dessert as the day had not exactly been long enough to work up an appetite.  

Hanging around the campfire, we heard a funny noise - at first I thought it was Luc scratching, but Toby pointed out it was coming from the wrong direction - we investigated, and found a beaver (their lodge isn't far from the site) chilling in the water eating some wood!  Completely unphased at  us watching it with our headlamps shining on it.  Very cool.  

We didn't stay up too late though, and headed off to bed, as we had an early start to the next day.  6:30 am!

We woke up at 6:30 on Saturday, and Toby hadn't slept well, so we stayed in bed til 7 am.  Got up,  had breakfast, broke camp, took just over an hour and a half (so not fast, but not horrifically slow either).  Headed out, stopping once we'd crossed Lumsden Creek to go up the little hill for the view out to Georgian Bay and to enjoy the fall colours.  

Headed off, taking our time - I wasn't in the mood to hurry, and our packs were heavier as we may - MAY - have overpacked in the sleeping bag department.  We boiled each night.  It was colder when we were in Killarney at the end of September!!!!!  Sheesh!  

Saturday just felt like it went on forever.  We got to the Pig, the steep portage by Baie Fine/Threenarrows and on the way to Topaz...and headed up.  Toby was like 'Geez'.  Yup.  Gotta love the Pig.  We turned off it, and had been planning to cross at the dam to cut 3, 3.5k off our day, and I got worried we'd gone past it, but found it soon enough.  Got a little lost finding the main trail again - we wandered towards the old H8 - but soon found our way. 

The day was measuring long from the map distances, which was very frustrating, as it felt like our progress was slow.  I've hiked this lots before, but never used a GPS before, so there wasn't the constant 'WTF we should be closer to the next campsite' that we experienced Saturday.  

We had lunch at H16 and I took a look at a hot spot on my heel - WHICH I SHOULD HAVE DEALT WITH SOONER, BUT I NEVER DO WHAT YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO DO - not pleasant, but not the end of the world either.  

We headed off after a pleasant lunch, and I was like 'Hmm'.  I remember the Threenarrows section being flat, but it's constantly changing elevation, and we were getting tired (I know, US?  But we were.  It wasn't so much the physical as the psychological with the GPS/map differences).  FINALLY we made it to the turnoff for H19, our campsite for the night, and headed down the long side trail.  Our total for Saturday was 18.67k.

H19 is a NICE site!  There was a bit of a 'Hmm, smells like thunder box' at first, but it dissipated and/or our noses adjusted.  Mostly by our tent - there was really only one spot to set up our Big Agnes.  There was a great spot for the bear hang right off the side trail further down from our site, nice water access, BEAUTIFUL view of the ridges - paradise!  Would love this site in the summer!

We gathered wood, finding 4 or 5 GREEN potatoes in the process - talk about random - no animals had touched them.  Who humps in potatoes that far?  And then doesn't even eat them?  There was also garbage in the firepit, gross, but we managed to burn most of it.  

And someone had kindly left some big logs.  

We were sitting at the firepit relaxing  (and probably bemoaning the state of our feet) when we looked down the lake and saw a large animal swimming.  Either a moose or a bear, we figured a moose.  It was swimming away though, probably at least a km away, so can't be certain.  Two cool water sightings, one at each campsite!

We enjoyed our fire, had our freeze dried meals, and...HAD DESSERT!  Chocolate mousse or something.  Man was that good.  

We hit the hay early as we were both tired, and had a long day the next day - I figured we'd be anywhere from 21.5-23k.  

Another boiling night - I slept better, I had the closed cell foam pads as the thermarest I bought (which is at least 10 years old) was not holding air very well I found on Friday night.  I used the pads we'd brought for the dogs and Luc slept on the thermarest, Neb slept on some clothes between us both nights.  

Toby however did not sleep well again, but we still got up right at 6:30 Sunday morning.  It had rained overnight, and was still misting in the morning, so we were a bit slow breaking camp, and didn't leave until 8:10, 8:15.  

My feet, in particular my left heel, were in bad shape, so there was discomfort, but we had a better idea of the distances between campsites so mentally this day was WAY easier.  We took a few water breaks, took our time on the Pig, and stopped for lunch and a water refill at Baie Fine.  

Which reminds me - Toby had advocated for Platypus Gravity Filter (vs. tablets) and we picked up a 4L one.  It worked GREAT!  And the water tastes WAY better.  Good call Toby.  Picked it up for a reasonable price from MEC.  Definitely look into getting one if you're in the market for a filter.  

On the way out, crossing Artists Creek, I'd had Neb on leash and Luc off leash.  Going back over Toby wanted them on long leads, but - we crossed the same way.  It was fine.  I'm not the most graceful balancing on rocks and logs, but I made it across in one piece!  Luc did good.

Though, Toby had mentioned earlier in the day that his back end was collapsing and he was having trouble getting back up.  Apparently it has happened before.  Luc is almost always exclusively behind me when we hike so I didn't realize this, though I did see it crossing creeks by Acid Lake.

:(  My poor guy.  He is 13 years old now.  Still.  We had been planning to do the full La Cloche next summer when he is 14, but instead we're thinking of doing a trip where we won't exceed 10-13k/day.  And sticking to the 'gentler' side of Killarney.  We're taking him to the chiropractor and are hopeful that this will make a difference - if it's not chiropractic/arthritis, then it is probably a progression of his polyneuropathy to his hind end, as that is generally the next place for paralysis.  He doesn't seem to be in pain, and recovers well - he did end up running ahead at one point towards the end of the day on Sunday, so it's tough to say.  It's hard to see them get old.  

We met one hiker near Acid Lake on the way back, and he passed us again when we stopped for a break on the narrow strip of land there.  He was wearing a bear bell, and Neb heard him going and started to bark and howl (despite being excited to meet him 5 minutes before) - it was hilarious!  The guy thought it was funny, we saw him when we finished (he took a picture of us) and he was laughing at the howling following him.  Tough guy Neb, way to intimidate.  

We enjoyed that break though, it's such a pretty spot, there were good colours, and the sun was FINALLY out (after a cloudy weekend).  Warm weather too.  

We finished in good spirits, 22k exactly on the day.  Went into town for some food before heading home, but greatly happy at a weekend well spent and excited for our next trip!

Though, no backpacking in Frontenac October 29-30th for me though, not trusting my heel to the hiking boots.  Boo.  I was really looking forward to that trip too.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Luc and the La Cloche in 2 days, September 2010

I believe today is the sixth anniversary of Luc and I doing the entire La Cloche Silhoutte trail in two days with our friend Julian.  I'm recording this now because it used to be on a now-defunct Friends of Killarney Park forum, and Luc is 13 years old and not getting any younger.  He's geriatric.

Luc was younger then (obviously), 7 years old.  I'd wanted for a while to fastpack the trail and had done extensive googling and been unable to find any record of any dog doing the La Cloche in two we had a plan.

We reserved H33 (Little Mountain Lake) for two nights, in case we were unable to do the trail in two days, we didn't want to trigger SAR.

Luc and I had spent the week prior to going up to Killarney Provincial Park at a family friend's cottage with Neb.  It was a nice relaxing week, I remember Lynn came to visit one night with a couple of her Huskies.  Other than that it was hermit-styles for the week though.

I'd come back to Toronto, dropped off Neb, dropped off the cottage keys, and headed straight up for the five hour drive to Killarney.

We got there in good time and got checked in, Julian arrived at night and we decided, instead of setting up the tent to sleep in, we'd sleep in the back of his van.  Which, FYI, is not all that comfortable.  We set our alarm for 3:30 am...

...and overslept.  We woke up at 5 am if I recall correctly.  Got ready in a hurry, then headed off to the western trailhead (we did the loop in a clockwise direction, getting the easiest hiking out of the way first).

We started off with our headlamps, for the first hour or so, before it got light enough to see.  One bathroom break early on, then we pressed on.

By the time we hit the Pig (steep portion of the trail that is also a portage) we realized we had a couple of failings - I had forgotten to bring my asthma meds and Julian's knees were bothering him.  Luc, of course, was fine.

We pressed on, like two old people, making slow progress.  At least it was easy going.

Soon enough though (after about 25k), we hit the ridges.  We stopped at the top of Moose Pass, which is a brutal climb, and contacted our loved ones/took the only pictures of the trip.

We were pretty pleased with the time we were making, though made quite a team - my asthma meant climbing ridges was brutal for me, and Julian's knees meant descending was brutal for him.

We made it to our campsite on Little Mountain Lake with lots of time - and what a pretty site!  We set up the tent, made dinner and had a fire before going to bed.  We slept pretty well, though it was cool, being September, and us trying to pack lightly (though it wasn't really fastpacking, my pack was over 25lbs!!!!).

We got up about 6 am the next morning, had a quick breakfast, and hit the trail when it got light, as neither of us had an appetite for route finding on the ridges in the dark and hoping we could make out the next cairn by headlamp.

It rained.  Oh how it rained.  Between that, my asthma, and Julian's knees, we were making slow progress.  Sliding down a rock face I tore a hole in the bum of my windpants, so I was very much hoping we wouldn't run into anyone!

Julian was thinking we'd have to camp somewhere for the night, the ridges were so slippery and brutal in the wet.  But I was like 'No, we have to get the dog record for Luc!  Keep going!' and Julian loves Luc, so it was easy to convince him.

We made it to the Crack in decent time, descended, thrilled and knowing nothing would stop us now - we had an easy 8k or so of walking back to George Lake and our cars.  It was great.

We arrived in George Lake, 80kish later, after somewhere over 20 hours on the trail between the two days.

I had taken my mom's car up, and on the trail had only taken the valet key, since I didn't have to worry about it getting wet.  I'd locked everything in the trunk and locked the trunk.

....Valet keys do not unlock trunks when they're locked from the inside.  It's an anti-theft measure.  I did not know this.  Much panic was had, especially as my pants had a big hole in the bum.  Eventually we got reception, I called my mom, who explained this to me, I got the other key from wherever genius me had put it, got the trunk open, changed pants and was much relieved.

We decided instead of camping in the campground we deserved a little luxury, so went into town to the Killarney Bay Inn, which takes dogs.  There's ALWAYS rooms at KBI.  Well, not that night...there was a wedding.  One room left, and the desk person very apologetically said 'But it's got two double beds, not a queen or a king'.  Julian and I were like 'GOOD we're not a couple!'  Heh.  So it worked out well.  I think we got Luc a burger from the restaurant, and Luc was acting like a jerk if I recall and barking in the room so we went and ate there.  Silly dog!

But it was great to have done such a tough trail so quickly, and to get Luc the (known, anyways) doggy record.  If I remember from the old Friends forum, a few years later another dog did it in two days, but Luc was the first that we knew of!

And now he's 13.  Toby and I are planning to do the whole trail next year with the dogs, but in 5 days.  What can I say, he's slowed down, but then, he'll be 14 then, which is ancient in dog years.  The average life span for German Shepherds (and Border Collies which may be in him) is only 10 years old!

So proud of Luc to do the La Cloche Silhouette in two days!  He did great, way better than the humans.  It is a memory I will always cherish.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

A flood of biblical proportions...camping in Restoule Provincial Park

What is there to say about this weekend?  It rained.  A lot.  So much rain fell, it was biblical.

We were supposed to backpack this weekend (and boy with that weather am I ever sorry we missed it) but Toby's knee was still not 100% so I thought that it didn't make sense to head back out on the trails with packs.

Algonquin was all booked, as was Killarney, Finlayson Point being a bit far for a 3 day weekend, so that gave us the opportunity to check out a park that I'd had my eye on...Restoule Provincial Park, southwest of North Bay.

Restoule promised several hiking trails, nice large sites, and a dog beach!  Sweet!

We actually drove up Thursday night after work, leaving Toronto around 6:30 and arriving at the park around 10:30.  We did stop for dinner and went the 'long' way as one of the smaller highways leading to the park was closed.

The drive was uneventful save Luc having an upset stomach that necessitated an emergency pit stop...he tried to climb over the backseat and got his leash all tangled with his tie down so that when it did come time to take him out on an emergency basis he was difficult to get out!  Once relieved, we resumed our journey.

We knew it was supposed to rain Friday, possibly Thursday night, then hopefully clear for Saturday, and be good Sunday.

We got set up fine, though - setting up in the dark, we missed a depression in the site at one corner of our tent.  The site was DRY - all grass and soil, so putting in pegs should've been easy, but we needed a rock to hammer them in, the drought has been so bad.

Thursday once we were asleep there was a lightening and thunderstorm.  Luc is of course scared of these.  Normally he just huddles in abject terror, this night, he decided to try to dig his way out of the tent!!!!  After a lot of trying to get him to stop, we brought him up onto our air mattress where he shook and drooled in fear.  Neb slept through it all of course.

Friday morning I got up and went to check in, and in a fit of optimism, bought a bag of kindling and two bags of wood.  Got back to our site and discovered that the screenhouse had leaked (not a huge shock, it's not meant to be a rain shelter) so our chairs were wet - not the end of the world, as we were in rain gear, but still - there wasn't really anywhere good to put a tarp up on the site as it was so open, so we ended up putting it over top of the screenhouse and tying it down and that did the trick for the weekend.

Toby pulling a face!

As it was raining, and as our electric pump for the air mattress was broken (and the mattress was pumped questionably), and Toby's headlamp was dead and I forgot to bring extra batteries, we decided on an expedition.  We went to the general store in Restoule, but the power was flickering and we couldn't see anything in the store so left and went to North Bay, to the Canadian Tire, and stocked up as well as fueled up.  Headed back to our site and passed an enjoyable afternoon reading under the cover of the tarp, and walked the dogs to the beach, meeting a lovely German Shepherd along the way.

There was a break in the rain around 5, so I made a fire - Toby cooked his burgers on it, and then around 7 it started to rain again - we still had one bag of wood, but neither one of us wanted to hang out around the fire in the rain, so back under the tarp it was.

Where we watched our neighbours struggle with their tarp.  All weekend, it would come down, go back up, come was like watching TV, watching them deal with their tarp.  None of the sites were great for tarp placement as these people had it attached to their truck and the people across the way were utilizing one of their picnic tables.

Enjoying our time protected from the rain, with Neb being a suck:

I checked the weather and saw that it was supposed to rain 40mm on Saturday!  Crud!

It rained all night, hard, and rained into Saturday.  We made pancakes again (yum yum yum) and then decided it was raining to hard to enjoyably hike.  It's one thing if you're doing a trail, but just a day hike?  Naw.  You're not stopping to enjoy the sights when it's like that.

The day before we had seen a honey farm in Restoule and wanted to visit for some honey fans, so we went - you could tour around, but it was coming down so hard we just went into the shop.   Then we drove to Powassan to check it out - not much to see, but we saw a museum and after a couple of false starts trying to figure out where the entrance was, got there to find it closed.

We visited a couple of pottery places on the way home, picking up some gifts and some clay wine cups.  We had a set and two broke, but quite like wine from clay, so that is good.  Then stopped for lunch, headed back to the park, and visited the visitors centre, getting intel on the Fire Tower Trail that we planned to do Sunday (spoiler alert:  it's not really 7k).

Got back to our campsite, and oh man - the whole thing was one giant puddle.  Pooled water everywhere, including around part of our tent (why you don't set up in the dark I guess, we thought it was flat at the time).  We debated moving it but it wasn't too bad so we just left it, though the puddle at our door was deep and wide.  Even under our tarp was all pooled water, from run off.

Luc didn't give a damn about the weather - he was going to sit in the rain darnit!

 But there was a lot of water under there.  Neb was not happy, he does not like being wet, he likes his creature comforts.  So we improvised with a small backpacking tarp I had in the car.

Neb was still unimpressed so we read in the tent for a few hours, after which the rain let up a bit.  He figured out a better way to stay dry!

But he spent a lot of time on our laps too.  Even though  he's not exactly a lap dog.

The rain let up a bit but we weren't in a fire mood - we ended up giving the remaining bag of wood to the people with the German Shepherd we'd met.  They were really nice, we enjoyed talking with them over the weekend.

We had a lovely evening, then headed for the sack.

Sunday it was not raining!  Misting yes, raining no.  We had a leisurely breakfast of pancakes again, then broke camp.  And headed to the Fire Tower Trail.

Which ended up being just over 4.5k on our Garmin 920s.  We enjoyed it, the lookout over Stormy Lake was beautiful, the trail wasn't too technical but still had some fun sections.  Toby was sad you couldn't climb the fire tower.  The boardwalks were treacherously slippery after all that rain though.

Stormy Lake lookout:

Obligatory fire tower shot:

We considered doing one of the other trails too but Toby's knee was bothering him a bit so decided to call it a day and head home.

On the way out we managed to get some deer pictures.  Wildlife seen this trip, not counting birds, was 6 deer, one porcupine, and one fox.  All while in the car, sigh.  Still.

All in all we liked Restoule.  Despite the rain of biblical proportions and the flooded campsite we had a great time, and I'd like to check out some of the other trails in the park sometime.  Think this is definitely a park to go back to.  Not too far for a long weekend either.