Sunday, May 8, 2016

Killarney Proulx Lake Trip

This trip had lots of changes.

First, we were supposed to go backpacking to Topaz Lake in Killarney in July, but there is a family wedding that weekend, so we switched it to May 7-8th heading up to Killarney to the campground on the 6th.

Then, Toby's back went.  It was bad.  He only missed one day of work, but I had to drive him to our RMT which is MAYBE 700m away from our house because he couldn't walk.  Physio, massage, and muscle relaxants helped but he wasn't  in a position to backpack, carrying a pack, or even car camp and sleep on an air mattress and day hike.

I decided to go anyways.  When I switched our reservation to May I reserved Cave Lake, H5, but with Toby not coming I decided to go to H48, Proulx Lake.  Which is one of the prettier sites on the trail.

Watching the weather leading up it was supposed to rain on Saturday, but be nice Sunday.

I worked a half day Friday and then headed up.  I knew I'd be arriving after the office closed (it closed at 3:30pm) so I called and asked if they could sit aside some firewood for me.  I arrived and - no wood.  Bah.  The next day when I checked in I mentioned it as I thought maybe they forgot to put it out, but no, someone else took it, despite it being clearly marked for campsite 8.  Jerks.


I had initially been planning to take both dogs, but Toby said he didn't think I would be able to get both dogs up the Crack by myself.  I thought about it, and agreed with him.  We agreed that he would stay with Neb and Luc and I would go on a buddies trip.  After all, Luc turns 13 in July and we don't know how much longer he'll be able to do this sort of thing.

The drive up was uneventful, though on Hwy. 69 there was a turtle (I think snapping) crossing the highway - myself and the cars behind me swerved to avoid it but traffic was busy and I'm not sure it made it.  I just felt sick that it would get hit, but I couldn't safely stop and get it.  Still, it cast a pall for awhile.

On Hwy. 637 I saw what I think was a marten dashing across the road followed shortly by a black bear on the side of the road.  The car behind me stopped and they got out!  Honestly, leave the bear alone, don't habituate it to people.  Sheesh.  Dumb people.

Friday night was uneventful.

Saturday I woke up to a light rain.  Packed up and went to the office, checked in, charged my phone for a bit then hit the trail about 10am.  It was raining but not overly hard.  I was wearing my rainpants and rain jacket, then quickly decided I was way too warm and took off my rain jacket so I was just in my merino tshirt - after all, merino is warm when wet.

Shortly after we crested the first hill, we saw two day hikers with a dog on leash, so I put Luc back on leash.  They said they'd seen a bear (the other side of the A.Y. Jackson Lake) so after we passed by I elected to keep Luc on leash for awhile.  I didn't want a bear to spook him or him to spook a bear.  No signs of it though.

This weekend was the spring clean up weekend that the Friends of Killarney Park puts on, and at Wagon Road Lake crossing the beaver dam I came across two women and a girl who were engaged in cleaning up backcountry campsites.  The girl fell in crossing the dam.  The lead woman was using a shovel as a hiking pole, which I thought was incredibly strange, until she explained they were cleaning campsites...ahh, that makes sense.

The rest of the way to where the La Cloche Silhouette intersects with the Crack trail was unremarkable, though Luc did experience some doubt crossing a swollen stream and eventually had to run through it much to his horror.  I was very impressed at his bravery though.

It did really start to pour in this section, and I was cursing the thought of having to go up the Crack (which Luc does not enjoy) and onto the ridges in the rain.  Those rocks are s-l-i-p-p-e-r-y when wet.
Shortly after the La Cloche intersects with the Crack trail, I saw two trail runners on their way to Silver Peak, so we had a nice quick conversation about running.

Once onto the ridges below the Crack we ran into some people with their dog coming down from the Crack.  Heading up the ridge was fine, though it was wet, as Luc can attest to:

Then we got the Crack - Luc's nemesis.  I was dreading taking him up it in slippery rocks.

Yes the picture above is the trail.  You can imagine how much fun it is to take a geriatric German Shepherd up that!

But he did good.  We got up to the top and two people said 'Wow, we were just wondering if our dogs would be able to make it up here!  Hey, he's on old timer, a grey beard!' and I was like 'Aww, well, yes, but he's ageless really'.

I'd been making okay time until the hills before the Crack, but once hitting the wet exposed rock and route finding I slowed down.  I fell twice.  Sigh.  The first time Luc was like 'What are you doing?'  Thanks Luc.

We saw some early spring flowers!

It was just under 13k to Proulx Lake and I took under 4:20hrs to get there - I'm not sure exactly because I forgot to stop my GPS when I got to the campsite.

When I got there the three guys and their German Shepherd mix who had stayed their the night before were still there!  They'd decided to wait out the rain before heading out.  Their dog got in Luc's face but like a good boy he just ignored it.  I was unimpressed.

They decided to do a last minute site check for garbage - how nice!  The volunteers I'd seen early said they were at Proulx Lake and that it was in great shape.

I feel like the volunteers probably would've removed the copious amounts of pistachio shells that were around the campfire.  That were undoubtedly from the guys who had stayed there Friday night (but oh yeah, they checked for garbage...idiots).

Anyways, I set up camp, got the bear rope hung, did a terrible job with the tarp (I just kept the pack under it, it was clearing by then).  I was reading my Kobo on a log around the campsire when I saw orange out of the corner of my eye, looked over, and saw a guy heading towards the site!

I went over to say hello, Luc barked in his best German Shepherd style - the man was tired and couldn't make his campsite for the night, he asked if he could camp below my site and I said sure, not a problem.

I went back to reading then felt bad - he might want a fire!  I'd been too lazy to gather wood, but he might enjoy it.  I went over to tell him that he was welcome to come up and use the fire pit.  He said he was having some trouble finding a flat site for his tent, so I said there was one next to the tent pad he was welcome to.  He came up, Luc barked some more, but then calmed down.

We introduced ourselves - Atanu was his name - he'd come in from Bell Lake bushwhacking and was heading the Crack parking lot.  I was jealous, I've always wanted to do the Bell Lake bushwhacking route.

Anyways, after he was all set up we got to chatting.  Turns out he is also a Toronto Outdoor Club member (the club I used to volunteer for and that I was president of).  We discussed mutual people we know and agreed that Jesse makes the best chai tea on winter backpacking trips!

Atanu unlike me wasn't lazy and gathered firewood, so we had a fire:

We had a nice night talking and Luc enjoyed himself.

The evening sun was beautiful.

I had a good sleep.  It was forecasted to go down to 0C and that seems pretty accurate, at least, so I was glad for my big Big Agnes sleeping pad and -10C sleeping bag.  The world's coldest sleeper slept comfortably.

I woke up when Luc wanted to get up.  We got out and it was SNOWING!!!  On May 8th!  Incredible!  What the heck....

We had a quick time breaking camp and then started hiking together.  Luc did good getting up the ridge by Little Superior though needed some help in places.

Don't believe me when I said it was snowing?  Check out these pics, including snow caught in a bush and on a spider web.  Of course this meant that rocks on the ridges were once again wet and slippery thanks to the snow.  Sigh.

We got down the Crack okay - Luc finds it easier to go down then up, probably because he can actually see the route easier.  He's short enough he can't see where he's going when he goes out.  I'm taller than him (obviously) and I find going down easier for the same reason.

Atanu had offered if I wanted to go the Crack parking lot with him (which is closer than George Lake) and give me a ride back to my car at George Lake.  I could feel a hot spot/blister developing on my big toe and the snow had changed to rain so I decided to take him up on it.  We did just over 7.5k on the day.

It was great to make a new friend in Atanu!  After some initial barking Luc really took to him too, which was great.

Gear - I used my Granite Gear Vapor Ki pack, as I was carrying more weight, my Big Agnes Fly Creek 2, my Big Agnes Double Z sleeping pad (I think that's it) and Luc had my Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol sleeping pad.  I brought my Western Mountaineering -10C sleeping bag so my pack was HUGE.  Heh.  But all worked well, it's just a better workout I guess.

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