Date: July 31, 2016
Distance hiked: 34.9 km // 22 mi (Clara Lake to Susan Lake – along third loop)
Steps taken: 49,633
Time on the trail: ~9.5 hours
Calories burned: 3,593
Fuel consumed: 1 cinnamon raisin bagel w/ peanut butter, 1 packet instant coffee, 1 snickers bar, a few handfuls of dried fruit, 2 tortillas w/ peanut butter, 2 cheese strings, 500 mL gatorade, 1 pack M&M’s, 1 clif bar, 1 box white cheddar macaroni, 1 pack hot chocolate mix
Wildlife spotted: loon family (+ many other loons calling), more tiny toads/frogs, 2 huge toads, 1 medium-sized toad, a couple of normal frogs, TONS of moose scat and tracks (but still no moose!), plus the usual assortment of woodland creatures
Today I officially hiked my longest hike ever. Today I hiked 22 miles, breaking the record I set just one week ago today.
Unfortunately, I did not sleep well last night. I tossed and turned for hours, and my mind just would not shut off. I did eventually grab a few z’s, but I don’t think it amounted to much. My alarm went off at 5AM (even though I was already awake) and it was still quite dark out. I waited a few minutes inside my sleeping bag, but eventually made myself start to get dressed. I emerged from the tent with my head lamp on, which marks the first time on my solo trips that I have been outside my tent in the dark. The horizon at the edge of the lake was beginning to glow pink and orange, but nothing much was happening yet sun-wise.
I went over to where my food bag was hanging and brought it down, and started getting things ready to make breakfast. The smaller woodland creatures were quite active in the dim light, as a large toad hopped right over the hip belt of my pack, and a small mouse ran right up to inspect the contents of my food bag.
A spectacular sunrise on Clara Lake
I boiled water for coffee and grabbed a bagel and some peanut butter. When everything was ready to go, I headed over to a large rock by the lake to eat while watching the sunrise. At this point, things in the sky were getting more exciting. It was bright enough to switch off my headlamp, and the sky slowly caught fire with colour. It was absolutely gorgeous, and made getting up pre-dawn totally worth it.
Saying goodbye to my campsite and hitting the early morning trail
After breakfast, I broke camp by taking down my tent and stuffing away my sleeping bag and pad. It still amazes me how easy it is to pack this stuff up. I got everything into my pack, and just before leaving camp filtered a bit of water for the road. I was ready to hit the trail right around 6:30, which was slightly later than I had been planning but not too bad. My next destination was Pincher Lake, where I was hoping to find signs of human inhabitants.
One last view of Clara Lake
The trail was still a bit dim as the sun struggled to reach above the trees. The hiking was more simple forest walking. When I reached the first site on Pincher Lake, there was a tent! Human lifeforms spotted! Well not really, as it seemed they were still asleep, but they were there. I continued on to the Stammer Lake lookout, where I planned to take a brief break. There was a HUGE climb to get to the top of the “lookout”, which turned out to have not much of a view at all. There were partial views of Stammer Lake through the trees, but nothing spectacular. One exciting thing was that there was a pocket of cell service on the high point, so I was able to give my family a morning update and let them know I was still alive. I did also stop to sit and quickly eat a snack. From there, my next destination was Brown Lake, where I planned to stop for lunch.
The trail was lined with lots of cool fungi
Shortly after leaving the lookout, I ran into my first fellow hikers of the day, fulfilling my wish to cross paths with at least one other person throughout the day. (I would eventually cross paths with about 9 people, and see many more inhabiting campsites). The trail ran alongside Weed Lake and Islet Lake for a while, which was really nice. They are two really nice lakes, and their shores are veritably packed with both canoe camping and backpacking sites. I saw a lot of evidence of people around this area. After that, the trail wrapped around Ishkuday Lake. This also marked the most northerly point in the trail, where it began to loop back around toward civilization.
Lunchtime views from Brown Lake
Shortly after this, I arrived at Brown Lake where I stopped for lunch on an empty campsite. It was a very nice site, and I ate lunch on a rock overlooking the water, under the dropping boughs of a white pine. While I was filtering water after lunch, another solo hiker wandered into the site to check out the view. We chatted briefly before he moved on, headed home.
After lunch, the afternoon began to drag a bit. I saw a couple more hiking groups early in the second half of the day, but then the number of people I crossed paths with dwindled to zero. There was a ton of my least favourite kind of trail, where it’s super brushy and overgrown, and I almost lost the trail in a wetland area when it suddenly decided to cross a beaver dam with no indication that this was about to happen. The sky was also fairly gloomy today, making the forest seem a bit dark and creepy, which I think also brought my mood down a bit.
The trail jumped across this creek on some rocks, then scrambled up the ledge on the lefthand side
I made it to Loft Lake, where I planned to take my next break, but the site wasn’t super nice and the bugs were pretty bad. I quickly ate a snack and filtered some water and moved on. The mosquitoes are definitely a lot worse today than yesterday, and my body is now pretty well covered with bites. Shortly after Loft Lake came Rainbow Lake, where I saw more empty campsites. This also marked the end of the third loop! The final section of trail for the day was back on the second loop, and I could tell someone had been through recently to saw down a bunch of brush. I was extremely grateful for this, as it really wouldn’t have been fun to end the day on the sour note of crashing through the dreaded brushy trail. The next lake was Susan, which was my final destination for the day! I think the lack of sunlight was definitely affecting me a lot, as close to the end of my hike, the sun briefly pushed through the clouds and there was immediately a huge smile on my face.
Finally made it to camp at Susan Lake!
When I arrived at Susan Lake, the first site looked really nice, but I decided to check out the second one as well to make sure it wasn’t better. Unfortunately, I didn’t like the look of it as much, and backtracked to the first. I arrived at camp over two hours earlier than I had anticipated, meaning I somehow finished 22 miles in less than 10 hours (seriously, SO glad I brought a book!). At camp, I changed into my “camp clothes” (aka switched my hiking shoes for flip flops, ball cap for buff, and T-shirt for longsleeve), and set up what I think might be my best tarp tent set up yet! I filtered a bunch of water for camp activities, and then did some stretches to fend off any aches and pains that may have resulted from the day’s activities. I then decided to lay down in the tent for a bit to do some blogging before dinner.
Happy to be at camp on day 2
After some much deserved relaxation, I emerged from the tent and started getting dinner ready. I made a pot of macaroni, followed by a cup of hot chocolate for dessert, and ate while reading my book on the log bench provided by the campsite. I then began to get the campsite ready for the night. I had trouble finding rocks of an appropriate size to fill the rock bag for my bear bagging kit, and ended up filling most of it with dirt. Since it was lighter than usual, it took a few good throws to successfully get it over my desired branch. Annoyingly, after getting the bag successfully hung, I realized I had forgotten to put my bag of garbage inside. I had to let the bag down, but thankfully didn’t have to throw the rope over the branch again. I’m now in the tent again, ready to do a bit of reading before bed. I may go outside again in a bit to watch the sunset, as this campsite faces west. We’ll see. I’m definitely excited to have just a short ten miles back to the car tomorrow! Fingers crossed for better sleep tonight!
Sunset on Susan Lake
Trail lesson of the day: Sometimes you wish you had a hiking partner. And that’s okay.