Ishpatina Adventure

In search of the rooftop of Ontario

Page 3

One of the "lighter" forests around Scarecrow Lake.

Thirty minutes later, my face and hands were scarred with the scrapes of a thousand branches and my shins were bleeding from the constant battering from fallen trees. My Gore-Tex jacket was torn in a couple of places and my entire body was drenched in both sweat and rain. All for 300 meters of travel! Pathetic! Before my foray into the forest, I was a little concerned with the fact that I didn't bring a bear bell with me. Well, it turned out that it was completely unnecessary 'cause anything with ears would have heard my curses from at least a mile away!

They say that suffering builds character. If that's really the case, I must have built a whole lot of character that afternoon.

After about eight hours of this horrendous bushwhacking, I finally reached a point north of Dick Lake by 18:00 - approximately 600 meters away from the summit. I finally managed to smile as I envisioned myself camping at the highest point in Ontario, when I suddenly realized that I was completely out of water. But that was no problem. I knew that I was less than 500 meters away from Dick Lake and I was confident that I could retrieve the water before dark. I immediately dropped my pack, marked it with my GPS and walked towards the lake with my empty Nalgene bottle. Little did I know that this bonehead maneuver would end up adding a lot more to my character...

Fifteen minutes was all it took to locate the lake, but upon my arrival, I came to realize that the lake was surrounded by a headwall of rock, which required some serious scrambling for a safe descent. I carefully climbed down the rock and made it to the lake where I quickly scooped up a liter of water. I then took a detour around the lake, and climbed back to the top when I realized how much time I had wasted. A hint of panic went through my mind as I jogged towards the waypoint for my pack.

"What kind of a F%@kin joke is this?!" was the thought that came to my mind as my GPS proclaimed that I was standing on my pack. "I don't remember burying my pack under a two-ton rock!" was my own response. The GPS then responded on it's own... by fluctuating its distance-to-waypoint by up to 30 meters in each direction. I quickly took a look around, and all I could see was a dark silhouette of the forest with a canopy of shrubs in the foreground. I cursed at myself for leaving the flashlight in my pack, and immediately started my desperate search of the area, as the sky progressively turned to darkness.

By 23:00, I decided that I had no option but to suffer for my stupidity. There was absolutely no way that I could cover (a potential) 3600 square meters in the dark and my GPS was already in its last eighth of battery power. I stacked a bunch of ferns onto the ground and sat down for the night. I was wearing a T-shirt with a Gore-Tex jacket and a pair of fleece pants, but they did little to keep me warm, as the temperature dropped into the single digits - as witnessed by the condensation of my breath. I could only sit down and curse at myself as the night went on and on and on...

The following morning, it took me almost 15 minutes before my arms and legs would stop shivering. I was cold, thirsty, hungry, sleepy and frustrated, but at least I was alive. Almost an hour later, I finally found my pack in a totally unexpected location and immediately ate some food to ease my hunger. Ironically, I also noticed that my flashlight was missing. Great! Just f%@kin great!

Some of the dense terrain that had to bushwhacked to get to the summit.

At 9:00, I was finally able to resume my climb to the ridge - which according to my GPS was a short walk. Yeah right! I realized that although there was only 600 meters of distance between me and the large fire tower, which loomed in front of me, there was almost 200 meters of vertical distance down and up to the ridge. I was standing on another ridge parallel to the summit! (I was hoping that I would somehow intersect the official trail to the ridge but no! That would have been way too easy!)

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