Western Uplands Trail Day 3: A Morning of Shinrin-yoku

Daily Stats

Date: August 1, 2016

Distance hiked: 15.4 km // 9.6 mi (Susan Lake to Parking lot)

Steps taken: 25,135

Time on the trail: ~ 4.75 hours

Calories burned: 1,851

Fuel consumed: 2 packs maple brown sugar oatmeal w/ walnuts + raisins, 1 packet instant coffee, 1 Snickers bar, 4 Triscuits w/ peanut butter, 1 cheese string, 500 mL Gatorade, water

Wildlife spotted: some sort of woodpecker, several large toads, more mini toads, assorted woodland creatures, and of course more moose tracks/scat

Finger crossing must really work, because I slept sooo much better last night. (I mean, it was either the finger crossing or the hiking 22 miles on a small amount of sleep…). I fell asleep quickly around 9pm and slept soundly for an hour and a half, then awoke overheating in my sleeping bag. I tossed and turned for maybe around half an hour and then fell back into a deep sleep. I woke next at 3AM, to a strange sound across the lake that I quickly convinced myself was a bear walking through the woods. It sounded like many sticks breaking, which I assumed MUST mean something was walking around over there. I lay in my sleeping bag with my heart in my throat, praying the sound wouldn’t come any closer. After a few minutes, the sound started seeming too repetitive and rhythmic to be sticks breaking under footsteps, not to mention the fact that it remained almost totally stationary. Suddenly, realization hit me. It was nothing more than a couple of persistent mink frogs, calling into the night (their call sounds similar to chopping wood, hence the ‘sticks breaking’ stream of thought). After this epiphany, I fell asleep again quickly, feeling rather silly as I had actually noted the chorus of mink frogs calling earlier in the evening (it’s a cool frog call that I hadn’t heard in person before).

Early morning light on Susan Lake, and my own personal log crossing to get to camp!

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Western Uplands Trail Day 2: Big Miles to Susan Lake!

Daily Stats

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.

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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.

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Western Uplands Trail Day 1: A Walk in the Woods

Daily Stats

Date: July 30, 2016

Distance hiked: 23.2 km // 14.5 mi (Parking lot to Clara Lake)

Steps taken: 35,758

Time on the trail: ~ 7 hours

Calories burned: 2,750

Fuel consumed: 1 pack peanut M&M’s, a few handfuls of dried fruit, 1 cheese string, 12 triscuits w/ PB, 1 nature valley bar, 1 pack Sidekicks Thai Sweet Chili Noodles, 1 pack hot chocolate mix, 1 clif bar

Wildlife spotted: 1 bear (on road while driving in), tons of tiiiny frogs or toads, 1 huge toad, 1 garter snake, loon family, moose tracks in the trail (but no moose to be found), plus the usual woodland creatures (chipmunks, squirrels, birds, etc.)

I left home this morning before dawn. My destination: the Western Uplands trail in Algonquin Provincial Park. This backpacking trail is split into 3 separate loops, and if all 3 loops are completed has a total distance of about 75km. I plan to complete all 3 loops on a 3 day/2 night trip.

The classic trailhead shot and the bridge that started it all

The day started off on an exciting note as I made my second ever wild bear sighting while driving into the park! It was a small bear (probably not small enough to be a cub from this year, but not yet full grown), and it was casually foraging on the side of the highway that runs through the park, directly across from one of the camp stores. Of course, this meant there was a large gang of bear paparazzi across the road. I was driving on the side of the road that the bear was on, and drove by slowly with it just metres from my car! I pulled over just ahead, and the car behind me followed suit, but a park ranger quickly approached and signalled us to move on. All this before I had even obtained my permit!

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