Date: September 7th, 2016
Distance hiked: 22 km // 13.75 mi (campsite H22 to Silver Lake campsite H38 + 4 km on Silver Peak sidetrail)
Steps taken: 38,153
Time on the trail: ~ 9 hours
Calories burned: 3,934
Wildlife spotted: the usual woodland creatures
I slept much better last night. I still woke periodically throughout the night, but I was able to fall asleep again pretty much immediately each time. I woke before my alarm and started getting ready for the day right away, knowing it might be a long day. I got out of the tent and shovelled granola and coffee into my mouth for breakfast. It was a very foggy morning, and the sun was having trouble breaking through the clouds. While I was getting my pack ready for the day, I realized I had had a Snickers bar in my tent all night. Shit, big no-no out here. And annoyingly, after I hung up my food bag last night I was laying in the tent hungry, so I could have just eaten it and solved two problems at once. Oh well, nothing bad happened, but I’ll just have to be more careful.
Some early morning “views”
I hit the trail at 7:30am, and it wasn’t long before I started climbing. It was a long, intense climb, and while I climbed, I crossed my fingers that the sun was working as hard as I was to burn away the fog. Lo and behold, when I finally reached the top of the climb and came out onto the ridge, I was treated to a magnificent, sweeping view of… Yup, fog. The entire world below was completely fogged in. I couldn’t see a thing. It still looked kind of cool though. As I moved on, I imagined what might have lain below that fog.
Today’s hike was hard. I finally got a real taste of why this trail is known to be so challenging. The day pretty much alternated between huffing and puffing my way up massive ascents, and gingerly picking my way down insanely steep descents. With some smooth quartzite ridge walking and soft forest walking in between. As the morning continued, the fog started to lift a bit, giving me little views of the surrounding hills here and there.
A big climb took me up to a ridge overlooking Little Mountain Lake. It was so beautiful, it stopped me in my tracks. At just that moment, I saw a canoe making its way across the lake. I couldn’t believe how tiny and peaceful it looked. There was a pretty intense descent from there down to lake level. When I reached the lake, I used the canoe portage to access the water. On my way down, I saw the canoeists (turns out there were two canoes!) coming up. We exchanged greetings and chatted quickly about our trips. At the lake, I filled up on water and ate a quick snack. Then the trail once again climbed far above the lake. I couldn’t believe how blue the water was. There was another canoe gliding across the water’s surface. I watched them paddling for a while, tapping my trekking poles against the rock a few times wondering if they would look up and see me. They continued paddling, oblivious to my presence, and I moved on.
The gorgeous blue waters of Little Mountain Lake (can you spot the tiny canoe?)
I was now in the ‘Hansen Township’ section of the trail, which I read in a forum somewhere is where the trail “starts getting hard”. Oh boy. I soon came across a couple of hikers sitting in the trail, and we quickly chatted. A couple of minutes later, I ran into two older men hiking the opposite direction. “Hey guys!” the first one said as I approached. As I got closer, I could see him looking behind me, and when no one else appeared, he asked, “Are you by yourself?”. It’s always funny to me how many people ask me that question on the trail. Not long after that, I came across another pair of hikers taking a break on a rock. They had a much longer hike than me today, and were hoping they would make it to their site. Hopefully they’re there now! So funny how there was a little bubble of hikers all in the same place.
Follow the cairns!
After I left them, as I was trekking across a smooth quartzite ridge, I was suddenly overwhelmed with gratitude and joy that I’m able to spend time out here in nature and see so many amazing things. Love little trail moments like that, when it all just hits you at once.
Some nice deciduous forest to switch things up 🙂
I soon came to another portage intersection, and wandered down to David Lake for my lunch break. It had been raining very lightly on and off, but not hard enough to warrant putting on rain gear, which was nice.
Just keep following the cairns…
After lunch, I was on my way to Silver Peak! I was making great time, and the weather seemed to be holding (low lying clouds but the fog had totally lifted), so I decided to climb the peak! What a climb it was. It’s a 1.9km side trail, that’s pretty much entirely uphill. On the way up, I passed an older couple coming down, who were out day hiking with their dog, and they assured me that the view was well worth the climb. I passed another couple of day hikers coming down, and as I emerged from the forest, I found a group of three guys wandering around on the rocks, looking for the last bit of trail. I joined them in the search and ended up following them up to the final peak, while we chatted a bit. “Wait, isn’t the loop supposed to take 7 to 10 days?” one asked me, after I told him I was doing it in 3 nights . “Yup.” I replied. When we got to the peak, there was another group of 5 day hikers making soup on the rocks. It was good to see so many people out making the climb! I sat by them for a while, and we chatted. It seems many day hikers canoe in from David Lake or other nearby lakes, which I hadn’t even really considered as a possibility. The views up there were incredible, you could see everything all around, all the way to Georgian Bay! The group I was sitting by were nice enough to take a photo of me at the peak before I headed back down.
Enjoying the views from atop Silver Peak!
The side trail to the peak is really quite a nice forested path, if you can get past the fact that it’s a 2km uphill hike. I finished the descent in about 40 minutes. From the Silver Peak trail, I only had 2.6 km to get to my campsite for the night on Silver Lake. The trail immediately after Silver Peak was gloriously flat and wide, and I reveled in it as I cruised through the peaceful deciduous forest. After the first 1.6km, the trail passed a waterfall pouring into a pool. My site has steep water access again tonight, so I decided to stop and collect camp water. I got to fill my water bags right from the waterfall flow, which was pretty awesome. Definitely a cool water gathering experience, although it seemed to take forever as the filter is in need of a backwash and the flow is starting to slow.
Yep, more cairns
After I gathered my water, the flat trail disappeared. Ah of course, the trail had to give me a couple more good climbs before I could get to camp. Just before arriving at camp, I passed two older men who were heading for Boundary Lake for the night. “Are you by yourself?” one asked me. When I replied yes, he exclaimed, “well, for goodness sakes!”. So cute. I love seeing older people out kicking ass on the trail. I definitely hope that will be me one day.
The beautiful view of Silver Lake from my campsite
I entered my campsite, and it’s super nice!! Silver Lake is gorgeous, and I have a great view of the water and quartzite ridges on the other side. I have neighbours across the way, but they seem fairly quiet. After setting up my tent, I decided to get in the lake for a swim. I was covered in two days worth of sweat and grime, and I needed a bath. Don’t worry, I swam in my dirty sports bra and undies this time, not wanting to give the neighbours too much of a show. The water felt absolutely glorious, and the lake was so totally beautiful and peaceful. I never wanted to get out. But it was time for dinner. I had no trouble finishing off my pot of macaroni tonight! I sat and read for a bit while I ate, and now I’m sitting on the rocks typing out this blog. Life on the trail is just so simple and good. I love it.
Feeling like a whole new person after a refreshing dip in Silver Lake
After blogging, I sat and read for a while more. I made myself a cup of hot chocolate, and ate a Snickers bar with it for dessert. My appetite has been somewhat off this whole trip, but tonight it feels great. My own little version of hiker hunger. After a while, I got up and got camp ready for the night.
Hiker hunger: the only reason I can eat three servings of macaroni and a chocolate bar without my stomach exploding
I’m now in my tent for the night, ready to do a bit more reading before I sleep. My mom was sending me updates on the weather forecast as I passed through pockets of cell service throughout the day, and it looks like there may be heavy rainy overnight. Fingers crossed everything stays dry inside the tarp tent! It’s supposed to stop around 8 or 9 am, so I may be packing up and hiking out in the rain tomorrow morning. I’ve still got 22km to hike back to George Lake campground where my car is. I think there should be some pretty nice scenery along the way, so hopefully the weather will clear up early!
Trail lesson of the day: Life on the trail is good. People on the trail are good. And mother nature is good, even though she sometimes doesn’t cooperate and fogs in your views. Sometimes on the trail, things won’t go as planned. And you just have to accept that that’s okay, the only thing you can do on the trail is just keep moving forward.