Our first hike of the trip was for me also the most anticipated. Nine years ago we hiked the La Cloche Silhouette trail of Killarney Provincial Park as part of a 5-day 100-kilometer backpacking trek. On that trip, one of the most memorable days occurred on Day 1, and a part of this hike was what we had planned to do today.
Not long into it, on a gorgeous summer day, the second-to-last day of July, Naomi and I were both surprised that there were so few fellow hikers on the trail. When we set off, we had noticed at least 100 campsites full to bursting with campers, this being a holiday weekend in Ontario. Yet few ventured onto the trail…
It reminded me of the beaches along the Atlantic in southern Maine: full of sunbathers near the beach entrance and fairly empty a kilometer or two in either direction. I mentioned to Naomi, as we ascended a forest of pine trees, their roots our footholds (or tripping points!) and along giant rock formations, that had we been in Europe, or even the U.S., we would have come across a lot more fellow hikers. What’s wrong with us Canadians, I wondered? Too timid?
Perhaps people were put off by the sign at the trailhead that said that the next 75 kilometers were for back country hiking and that it was categorized as a “difficult” trail. It may get difficult much further on, more than a day’s hike away (if memory serves…) but today’s hike I knew to be fairly easy, with only a few steep elevations to tackle. These forests were mostly populated by pine trees, with a healthy number of cedars, maple and oaks.
Well, the thought went on in the back of my mind, quite selfishly, if we have the trail to ourselves, worse things can happen.
The beautiful thing about this hike is the fact that it provides “end of hike vistas” throughout. You don’t have to trek five miles before going “Ah ha! Beautiful!” You climb a bit and find yourself on top of a rock outcropping with a clear view of distant cliffs and aquamarine-coloured lakes or swamps full of water lilies. The rock is a beautiful pink granite; there are giant pine tree roots to navigate over and many, many trees to marvel at, some stunted, some not, growing out of sheer rock.
In the distance one can see the magnificent white quartz cliffs that inspired the Group of Seven artists.
I was high from almost the first step.
The other hikes still to be experienced on this trip – a few days later at Pukaskwa National Park, located on the north coast of Lake Superior, at Riding Mountain National Park the following week, and later still in the Rockies, would all be new to me. At this early point in the trip I could only hope that they would inspire and move me with the grandeur of Nature as I was inspired on Day 3 of the trip.
I would not be disappointed.