It is now our first official 1st day to start the hike, as yesterday was a travel day. The trail is about 63 kms long and for the most part campsites are spread reasonably well along the trail. There are no fees to get on this trail, you just have to notify Parks Branch that you are going on the trail and when you expect to be out. We gave ourselves 5 days to do the trail, as we had not been on it before.
We got up early and walked down to the lake.
We then had bacon and eggs for breakfast, took the tent down and left the Provincial Park campsite to drive to the North Trailhead.
Parking here is a bit of a problem, as there really is just a turnaround where everyone parks along the outside edge, so you find a spot where you can park facing the road. Once we did that, we put our packs on – stepped in front of the sign and got our usual start-of-hike photo.
It is a nice sunny day and the forecast is for temperatures into the mid 30’s for the week. That will be hot hiking weather. So at 9:30 am we head down the trail.
In about 15 minutes we come to Bedford Creek – and it is flooded by high lake water. There is a beaver dam here that we will walk across and just see how wet we might get. Whenever crossing a dam or water, it is imperative that you undo your waist belt and chest strap, in the event you ever fall in. It is almost impossible to get them undone if you fall into the water. By undoing them in advance, if you were to fall in, you can just shrug out of your pack, get up and retrieve it, all without drinking copius amounts of water.
Getting across the dam was no problem.
Getting off the dam was a bit more interesting
To get off the dam and back to the trail we have to walk across a grassy area to get to the line of trees by the lake – by the 3rd step – depending on whether you stepped in a hole or not – you were either up to your thighs or waist in water (it was warm water at least). That was a nice introduction to the trail.
On the way across the dam, we saw the Mantario sign buried in the dam itself. Beavers have a funny way of making a point sometimes.
We found out afterwards that hikers the week before had to wade across in chest deep water with their packs held over their heads to get past this point. Guess we got lucky.
We continued down the trail, which was still very wet in places and in no time our pants were dried off.
Our first break of the day was at the docks at Crow Duck Lake Outfitters spot.
It was very hot out with no breeze as we headed out again. The walking got somewhat better with part of the trail along bedrock that continues into the water, as well as bedrock further away from the lake.
and back to the water
Lots of the trail covers ground like this
or like this
We were now approaching the lake we would stop at for lunch
we stopped for lunch at Hemenway Lake and jumped in the water to cool off. At this point we have walked about 9.1 kms
Once lunch (soup and hot dogs) was done, we filled our water bottles and continued on to Ritchie Lake, which would be our stop for the day.
This stretch of trail has long areas of rather bare rock, with stunted trees growing in places
with some being a very long hot climb
but once you got to the top – the views were fantastic
and with a little more hot afternoon walking,
including crossing the Whitesheel /Crowduck Lake canoe portage trail (about 400m to Ritchie Lake)
we arrived at Ritchie Lake (about 6 kms from Hemenway) – our stop for the day
so we unpacked, set up the tent and had supper
had a bit of time for viewing wildlife
watched the sunset
that was it for day 1. Walked about 15.1 kms today and agreed we needed to get an earlier start in the morning to avoid walking across the very hot rocks on the ridges.