There was a call for snow today in the area I planned on hiking, about 2-4 cm (.75″-1.5″). That is not a lot of snow. I figured I’d wear my winter hiking boots; at worst my icers and use trekking poles. I carry all that along with my snowshoes and crampons in the trunk of my car this time of year anyway. I’d see what the conditions are like when I got there.
Leaving Ajax with not a flake in the air or on the ground, about an hour into the drive north, I noticed more snow accumulating as I went. And what a surprise on this second last day of fall, about 9 km from the western access point, the road was no longer plowed. There was no possible way my car would make it through. Imagine parking at the western access point yesterday before the snow, then unable to drive out. An additional 9 km hike from the access point would get you to a dirt road and the hope of getting a lift. As I turned my car around, a few guys were off-loading their snowmobiles to head east.
Weather reports inform us of conditions now and in the near future. But what about what has happened in the recent past? I planned this trip the night before so I had no idea as to the amount of snow already accumulated on the ground. There was anywhere from 30 cm-45 cm (12″-18″). They don’t tell you that, do they?
I figured I’d try the access point on the eastern side of the park, a 76 km (47 mi) drive from where I was. As luck would have it, that road was plowed right up to, and past that access point. Nice!
It was a great hike heading west into the interior. There isn’t much that is as refreshing, nor as beautiful as virgin snow. Alone, breaking trail was tiring, but exhilarating. Each year, the first snowfall reminds me of many of my past first snowfalls; memories that take me back to when I played in the woods as a child. No matter how old I get, the excitement is still within me.
This being the first time I’ve snowshoed through here, I thought it would be a somewhat more rugged since without any snow this is a rocky trail with some scrambling involved. Turned out it wasn’t too difficult other than one slippery rock face. The snow seemed to help even out the ups and downs. Eventually, I came across a freshly broken trail. There were no snowshoes worn by these travellers, just boots. These tracks must have belonged to the guys I met near the trial head. In for an overnighter, they got dumped on and had to work hard making their way back. They had deviated from the marked trail at some point and still ended up at the trail head. At that point I decided to follow their trail and see where they camped. Once again their path deviated from the trail, finally crossing a large arch shaped beaver dam which bridged a small round peninsula. The pine grove, which surrounded their campsite, offered a nice wind-break.
After looking around the campsite, I gathered a few handfuls of dead wood, the scattered remnants from the previous campers, and started a small fire. As much fun as it is to practice fire making skills from scratch, sometimes you just want to get it and eat some food. I opened my fire-kit, threw a little dryer lint into some tinder, threw a spark on it from my ferrocerium rod and had a fire blazing within seconds.
I would have liked to have spent a few more hours relaxing and exploring but because of my late start; my detour and my urge to relax before going out with my family that evening, I left not long after heating and eating some chilli.
See more photographs of today’s adventure on my Facebook Page.