We missed the portage trail!

We slept in this morning, not getting up until 7:20 A.M. A few loon calls overnight, and we think a Great Horned Owl immediately followed by a Barred Owl.

We decided this morning to go for Silver Peak overnight, taking all our gear with us … in case …

So a slow start, an unhurried getaway up along the rock balds between David Lake and Kirk Lake/Boundary Lake.

I’d told Soheil and Josh the story of nearly losing A & A nearly forty years ago, my two very bright and capable nieces as they decided to return from Silver Peak ahead of our family grouping. My unreliable memory is that I showed them the route of the map, describing the 2 km trail back to our camp as being a right off the hiking trail we were on and a right turn down to our campsite in a rich deciduous forest in a dip in the trail between two balds. (… I didn’t give them a map, nor a compass …) Off they scrambled, elated to have freedom and responsibility. We were not very far behind them, but when we got back to our David Lake campsite they were not there! I had begun training Laddie, my eager young Golden Retriever, on search and rescue. I got their mother to find me smelly garments of theirs to focus Laddie on whom we were looking for. Off he and I raced, as fast as I thought I could maintain. When we got to the hiking trail, I turned Laddie east back along the way they should have been coming. He eagerly charged ahead. Near the eastern end of the bald over Kirk Lake, I fortunately bumped into J, an outdoor education colleague I trusted. He had come from further east and was able to reassure me that they had not seen any teenage girls in that direction. So Laddie and I quickly turned westward after I reinvigorated Laddie with more sniffs of the girls clothes. Off-l ash now, this time he raced past the portage turnoff, and continued westward along the hiking trail up towards the balds to the west. By that time I could tell that he was eagerly following something well ahead of me. I lost hearing of his tinkling bearbell. But the girls heard him coming towards them. I heard the most joyful screams of “Laddie, Laddie” as they saw Laddie. They had realized they’d gone too far, and had turned back towards the portage trail and weren’t too far away from it. I remember them saying that they were so excited to be on their own, that they’d put their heads down to follow the path and because of their long hair bangs had missed the portage signs. They had averted a potentially serious incidence by using their heads. Phew!

This morning, while deliberately looking for the portage trail crossing the hiking trail, aware of its location down in a magnificent hemlock and yellow beech forest, I myself missed that portage trail. Yikes!

[BTW, this just from from the older A: “And I maintain that we weren’t lost all those years ago, we were just taking the scenic route. :)” Of course, I believe her!]

Unusually ornate trail cairn, with carefully counterbalanced directional stone!

Today was more overcast than the weather report on my Garmin InReach Mini was forecasting. Shots of sunshine brightened the Red Maple searches along the softer and damper soils of the lowlands and the ridges. But the east wind was rising and the skies to the west were lowering. We pressed on, going slowly, mindful of Soheil’s back issues, and of my need for a slow but steady pace.

We intercepted two thirty-something day hikers out from the lovely Bell Lake Lodge on a day hike up to Silver Peak. They were already over a kilometre off the path, now going north and west when they should have already been almost up the Peak south and west. They’d seen the orange blazes labelled for the Silver Peak path up, but without a map had decided to stick to the blue blazes of the main hiking trail. They would likely have noticed after fifteen minutes if they’d continued on past us that they were heading away from Silver Peak — but, yikes! We did eventually see them just below the summit as they were headed down and back to Bell Lake. They thanked us for correcting them, and admitted they didn’t have a map. (They each had very minimal day packs, holding water bottles in their hands. Not well prepared!)

We also saw a young experienced hiker out on his solo circuit, having a wonderful time. He thought he might finish his circuit in 2 more days. Optimistic, I’d think. He’d done the trail before, and was thinking that he was heading into gentler terrain. Let’s see …

As we summited, we met an experienced young woman out solo with her Sheltie-sized dog — a beauty, totally focused on her! She had come up this morning from Kakakise Lake, and was beginning to move quickly back down her long return hike. I hope she had at least rain gear and a strong headlight in her large bum bag …

We were on top by about 2 P.M., and decided to eat something. I no sooner got my early supper cooking (having not cold/soaked it ahead of time …) when it began spitting. Soheil urged us down off the top, having checked out on the way up some possible rough spots for he and Josh to put their shelters. So we packed up, with me eating as I hiked down … Not good … By ten minutes past the spitting we were in a good rain. Ten minutes later, when we were already 50 metres elevation down below the Peak we could hear thunder. The possible rough spots weren’t going to be dry enough, so we continued on another almost kilometre until we found a big hemlock well tucked into a sheltered valley, and well below the height of land. So in pouring rain and the occasional distant peak of thunder, we set up camp. By about 4:30 we were all dry in our tent/tarp/hammock. I stayed fully dry, Soheil dry enough, but Josh ended up in a river running off the path through the middle of his tarp setup. His night was spent trying to hug to one sloping side under his tarp, keeping himself from lying in the running water …

It’s now 11:40 P.M. I’ve just woken up to write this. Though the gentle rain (and moderate winds above), I’ve heard the occasional sound and seen a few flashlights from each of them. All through the night it was also almost constant but distant lightning. I only heard a couple of cracks of thunder as the storm passed off to the north of us.

So back to sleep for me! At least I’ve eaten!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s