Ishpatina Adventure

In search of the rooftop of Ontario

Page 4

Scarecrow Lake with the remains of the fire rangers' dock (foreground).

The final push to the ridge was just as eventful (painful) as the day before. Not only was I pushing through some dense terrain, but I was doing so on a 40 degree incline. The tower ahead of me grew larger and larger with every push, but the trees and shrubs fought valiantly until I was just 20 meters away from the base.

After limping to the summit at 10:00, I waited for the rush of emotion to flood over me. This burst of exhilaration and accomplishment first occurred  during my grueling winter ascent of Mt. Washington in 1998, and happened many times since then. Past experience taught me that the harder the challenge, the more rewarding it was.

But these emotions never came. The view was spectacular, and the weather was perfect, but I didn't feel any sense of accomplishment at all! Is it possible for one to exhaust their supply of emotion? If so, I figured that I must have done so during the previous 12 hours of my trip. (Looking back, the moment I treasure the most was the time I found my backpack in the middle of the forest. I can't remember being so happy to see a small sack of ripstop nylon!)

Since there was no rejoicing to be done, I simply rolled out my Thermarest and decided to take a two-hour nap at the summit before making my way down to Scarecrow Lake using the official trail. The trail was very easy to follow, and to my surprise, it actually made it's way around the eastern perimeter of Dick Lake before disappearing into the woods. (Oh, how I wished that I had known that the previous day.) I finally reached the trailhead at 16:00 and decided to make camp along the clearing beside Scarecrow Lake. This area used to be the site of a ranger cabin in the earlier days, but the only thing that remained was a bunch of logs and debris.

The following day, I decided to try something different and bushwhack along the shore of Scarecrow Lake. And that's when I came upon a startling discovery. The western shore of Scarecrow Lake was covered with a trail of rocks which spanned about a meter wide ! Hopping along these rocks eliminated the need for bushwhacking and allowed me to get to Woods Lake in well under an hour. Unfortunately, the shoreline around Woods Lake was a different story. The rocky shore was only about 40cm wide and the outreaching branches made it almost impossible to traverse. I decided to bushwhack from this point and try to intercept the missing path from the east. I headed due west and crossed my fingers.

An hour later, I jumped with joy as I reached a small clearing, which was definitely man made. The clearing was part of a path that was incredibly rugged and overgrown, but a sight for sore eyes nonetheless. The trail continued west until it came to a T junction, which in turn led to a small maze of trails and roads that were unmarked on the map. After another 30 minutes of trial and error, I found myself on the very same road that I had biked only 48 hours ago. I thought my troubles were all over as I retrieved my bike, and started to pedal back towards my car.

Not a berry pie! It's actually bear scat found nearby!

After crossing the two rivers along the trail, I started to ascend a long and strenuous hill, which provided a great downhill run just two days ago. As I neared the top, I immediately noticed a large dog walking along the road on the other side of the hill. I wondered to myself why someone would be walking their dog in this part of the woods when I came to a shocking revelation. This wasn't a dog! It was a black bear cub... which was walking behind another bear at least three times its size! And they were just 20 meters away! Amazing! Just F%@kin Amazing! I survive a horrific bushwhack, and a night in the cold, only to be eaten by a mother bear and it's cub?!  

Several thoughts went through my head. "Should I ring my bell?" Of course not you idiot! These are bears... not pedestrians! "Should I ride past them at full speed?" What is this?! The Tour de France? That's totally absurd!

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