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.