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.


  1. Great read!! You know I love Luc, so this isn't to diminish his canine record (yay Luc!), but it is a far more impressive feat for you humans to do this loop in 2 days! Well done, it's one tough trail for sure! p.s. Our dogs grow old way too quickly, the little heartbreakers.

    1. They do grow old too quickly! Thanks we were pretty pleased with ourselves as well (but Luc was a great motivator!).

  2. Jarn! I remember reading on Friends of Killarney about your first trip with Luc. I'm glad to hear you're both well. I still hike and canoe but less than I'd like. I'm trying to change that and was going through old emails about Killarney and came across your name. Cheers, Rob F (robthehiker from FOK)

    1. Rob! I remember you and our trips to MEC! Hope you're well!

    2. I am well, thanks. And you've inspired me to get off my a$$ and start doing more hiking and trail running. I'll let you know how it goes!