Recently my father and I went on a day hike, and he asked me, as he has in the past, "Why do you hike?" He wanted to know whether it was for challenge, enjoyment, etc. It was during the below hike, as the rain was pouring down that I thought back to this question. I think it depends on the circumstances. If it is a leisure walk outside for a couple miles, then enjoyment would be the reason, but if it is a 16 mile hike with a 50lb pack in a downpour, then I would lean towards the challenge aspect with a feeling of enjoyment a few weeks down the road. This trip was one of the latter.
Recently I read a book, FLOW. It talks about how people feel best when they are in the flow and all pistons are firing, both mentally and physically. During these moments people are rarely happy, but when they look back on these defining moments they always remember them fondly as if they enjoyed the experience much more than was the case in real time. I feel that is why I put myself through this, it is not for the pleasure of the hike but the pleasure that the memories and pictures bring on the reflection of the hike. Compare it to a difficult class in college, or a time-consuming project at work with inept clients.
Here is a link to the Google map that gives you an idea of where this spot lies on the globe (Just type Tobermory Canada in to see location and pull back on zoom)
Above is a picture of the area in more detail with the green line representing the Bruce Trail. Click on the map when open and you can zoom in a bit closer. I started at the green line under the word Peninsula in "Bruce Peninsula National Park"
I arrived in Tobermory on Friday around 2pm. The plan was to stop at the south end of the trail, drop my camping equipment, park my car near the city (north of trail), then mountain bike back to the trail, stash the bike, hike the trail and drive back and pick up my bike...crystal clear right. below is some things along the bike ride, including a frog and a turtle. I tried to pick up the turtle like The Croc Hunter, but I failed miserably.
Below are to maps that show the trail. As mentioned I parked my car at Little Cove in map 2 and then biked the 20 miles back to Crane Lake Gate (Picture 1). I arrived there about 4 and started the hike towards the coast and first campsite at High Dump (Map 1).
The day was perfect, about 70 degrees, no idea what that is in Celsius, I had enough issues trying to translate KM into Miles throughout the hike. The hike started a little rough when a black bear crossed my path about 30 seconds in. I was scrambling to get my camera out when I probably should have been thinking more of the survival route.
The water was really high, not only because of the spring run-off but also because of the recent storms. The strange thing was that there were not only flooded areas, but also sections where I was walking through 2 feet of snow as shown below
I arrived at the beach about 5 miles in, where there was one shelter up on the ridge. I decided I would give up the shelter to spend the night close to the beach. I had to climb down the cliff with the yellow rope which was pretty steep. The final picture are the bear hangs which I would definitely use.
I walked the beach a bit, the color of the Georgian Bay was amazingly clear. I set up my tarp on a platform right off the beach and gathered my dinner supplies down by the beach. I ran into a Canadian couple and told them about the bear, they were unimpressed.
The next morning I was on the trail by 8:30. I was on the lip of the escarpment for the remainder of the trip. The views were incredible looking over the edge. The trail was the toughest I have faced. Much of trail was climbing hand over foot up large boulders. I remember the first time I came across this little valley. I was following white trail blazes the whole way, so when I came to this valley I was assuming I took a wrong turn, or missed the work-around switch-back or something. Then I looked up and saw the blazes on the other side. I was like, "They think I am going to scamper down and up this thing with a 50lb pack?" They did assume that, and each time I came into an obvious dead end I would look up and see that damn white trail marker at the top of a rock.
I forgot to mention that when I arrived at the trail headquarters to tell them my plan of hiking from High Dump all the way to my car at Little Cove in one day (16 miles). She simply told me that was not possible and convinced my to make a reservation at Storm Haven, a campground halfway between. As I walked out the door I picked up the gauntlet that she had laid down.
Back to the trial difficulties. Besides the fact that I was only averaging 1 mile per hour, which would not allow me to complete the trail before dark, I also took a few wrong turns. When I got to Storm Haven at around 1pm, I knew I was not ready to stop, and pushing through would commit me to complete the trail as there were very few decent areas to camp along the remainder of trail.
I ended up down on the beach and started hiking over 25 ft boulders, jumping from one to an other with the huge pack. I soon realized I was no longer on the trail. I ran into some teenagers and they confirmed that I was off the trail, but if I just headed over a few more boulders and then shimmied up the cliff I could get to the trail. I tried to get them to be as specific as possible, but that was not working. I headed off on these boulders and took a few more chances then I should have and one teenager saw my ineptness and followed behind me and showed me the way (I never would have survived without him). I thanked him for getting me through the boulder field but still needed to get back up on the escarpment. As we parted I mentioned the black bear. He responded with, "Ya, you will see those."
I was falling down rocks and ran into a family who were climbing amongst the rocks. One kid said hello, and asked if I was ok. I guess my sweaty crazed look was a bit scary. They confirmed the way to climb up to the trail, which was incredibly tough. I told them I saw a black bear yesterday, and they confirmed their presence. I was like, hold on, we are going to do this again. I will say, "I saw a bear back there" and you will respond, "Wow! Weren't you scared, what did you do?" That never happened.
About this time it was starting pouring like crazy. I got out my rain gear and huddled up in a bathroom. It cleared up and I headed back on the trail only to have the rains come again and last the remainder of the day. At this point I was not going to camp out, but I knew I could not hike this trail in the dark. It was 4:00pm so I knew I had 4 hours of light and calculated 8 miles to the car. Even though I was averaging 1 mile per hour, I had to push myself. This was the point where I had a goal and I had no options. I carry a pedometer and told myself that each hour I would check progress and could then determine how I was doing. With each stop I would change my socks (soaked) and tie the old pair around my neck with hopes they would dry.
After the first hour I had done 2.5 miles due in no small part to a more stable and flat terrain. I figured I was home free, but the boulders returned but I kept stumbling out of control across the landscape. When I got to the main campground at Cyprus Lake, the trail sign indicated that you could take the regular trail or take the more adventurous one which required "scrammbling" over boulders on the beach. The trails would reconnect 1 mile up. Since I already had my fill of scrammbling,I opted for the inland route. About 5 minutes in, I was thinking, man I am right on the shore on these rocks, how can the "scrammble" route be farther out to shore. I soon determined I went the wrong way, which only made the stretch tougher, but in the long run the views were worth it.
I reached Little Cove at 8:15 with 6 pairs of wet socks around my head and neck like the scene out of vacation where Chevy Chase emerges from the desert with his pants on his head. I had just enough time to drive into town, grab a few shots and head for home.
This was a tough trail, but did not kill my body like some trails of past because I had learned a few lessons: 1. Even though at a laughable level, I was doing leg presses and squats at the gym to help my quads on those uphill climbs 2. I changed my socks every 2 hours and every hour once my shoes got wet (blisters can turn a trip sour very fast) 3. I had traded in the full size tire around my waist for a spare. 4. The views were beautiful, glimpses of cliffs and water can break up the drudgery of forest hikes.
Until next time,