Friday, July 28, 2017

What's that smell?

No blog post last week - I'm sure you were all relieved not to be subjected to my blitherings, but I'M BACK NOW MUAAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Back from where? Well, let me tell you..

From doing this.

We spent Saturday, July 15th packing up and rolled out for Algonquin Park on Sunday the 16th. We caught the only rain we had to ride through on our way up - 20mins coming into and through Orangeville, then another 20mins as we left Barrie and hit Hwy 11 up toward Orillia. Arriving at Mew Lake we managed to get our tarp up before the rain started again, then ended up walking to the Two Rivers Store for ice in a downpour that turned into thunderstorms. We got the tent up - marginally damp - in a lighter patch of rain, then waited it out while I made dinner and the sun set. Around 9:30pm things tapered off, so we managed to have a fire after all.

After discovering our decade-old moto rain gear was less than waterproof, but having fun nonetheless.

Huge campsite #73

The next day, after more rain showers overnight, we left our campsite to dry out and rode through the stupid construction on Hwy 60 - by which I mean "gravel pit" - TWICE in order to visit the Algonquin Art Centre, which was highlighting the works of local artists inspired by Tom Thomson on the 100th anniversary of his tragic passing. Afterwards we returned to camp under the hot sun and I got changed to go for a run.

Mew Lake under much nicer conditions, with the smoke from people's campfires visible in the distance.
I trotted past the park office to order some more firewood - they were very kind about delivering it to our campsite for us, as it's difficult (though far from impossible) to do on the bikes. Then I headed West on Hwy 60 a bit to the Bat Lake Trail.

While quite challenging and technical, I had a truly amazing run under the hot afternoon sun. It was my birthday gift to myself, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Sunshine on the rooty bit near the trailhead.

Huge rocks and endless little step falls in the stream along the trail.

Climbing past more Canadian Shield

Lookout over Sasajewun Lake at the highest point on the trail

Coming back down got a little tricky..

Things were definitely a bit flooded in the lower parts of the trail

After my return - plus a quick dip in Mew Lake to cool off - Tanker and I went for a walk through the old airfield, which we found absolutely teeming with blueberries! There had been a bear spotted numerous times in the area feasting on the bounty, but he stayed well hidden while Tank and I reaped our own little harvest.

Doing a wander

Sunshine on the old airfield


Back to camp for the evening, Tanker sweetly surprised me with a cookie with a birthday candle in it - that guy is awesome, I tell you. 

The perfect berfday.

After another fire and some breakfast, it was time to bid Mew Lake goodbye and head East.

Rock and roll!

We stopped at the Algonquin Logging Museum on another hot, sunny day and had a fascinating time watching the short film about the history of logging in the park, then walking the 1.5km exhibit trail to see the recreations of times long past.

A camboose shanty, which would have been home & dining hall to up to 50 men for a whole winter logging season.
Process of squaring timbers for shipment to England

A flume for moving logs downstream in shallow creeks - origins of the amusement park ride.

After a truly informative hour and a half, we hopped back on our bikes once more to ride to the East Gate. We stopped to snap the photo at the top of this post in front of the totem pole placed in 2015 by the Whitney and Area Algonquin first people, carved from a white pine nearly as old as the park (est. 1893). Just a brief pause, then all the way across Hwy 60 to the Trans-Canada Highway and on to Ottawa!

Full map of our route - our mileage was higher due to some side trips, but still fairly low for an 8-day tour.

I had kind of a crap time in Ottawa, so I'm going to gloss over it a bit. We camped in a muddy, buggy site at Wesley Clover Park about 15mins from downtown, had our food (and my bike) savaged by raccoons, missed out on what was to be a nice dinner out because the place closed at SIX FREAKIN' PM (despite their website saying 7pm every day and us arriving at 5:59pm), and navigation around the city was somewhat nightmarish. We did, however, enjoy poring over almost the entirety of the very impressive Canadian War Museum (which Tanker has always wanted to see), and riding along the Ottawa River on the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway.

Rideau Canal in downtown Ottawa
We also walked the Parliament grounds a bit.

The highlight of our visit to Ottawa (for me) wouldn't happen until we were leaving - we rode across the Champlain Bridge to Gatineau, then up into the beauty of Gatineau Park. While Chemin du Lac Meech was a horrible place to be on a motorcycle - all potholes and frost heaves - running the Wolf Trail from the Blanchet Beach parking lot was incredible. Probably the single most stunning trail run I have ever done, under the hot July sun.

It runs alongside a stream with little step falls all over

Climbing through roots and rocks

At the Tawadina lookout - one of the highest points in the park - looking all the way to the Ottawa River

Still inexplicably climbing..

One of three lookout points known as Mahingan

Coming back down, encountering a stream.

..and finding Tanker, who had hiked up to Mahingan.

Neat shoulders of exposed rock on the - at times very precipitous - descent to the trailhead.

Since it was such a hot, sunny day and we were right across the road at the trailhead, I ran straight down to Blanchet Beach and (after removing my shirt, shoes and socks) wandered right into Meech Lake to cool off.

Who could resist?
Just before I dunked myself completely..

Then it was back on the bikes for a ride through the Laurentian Highlands, past Oka and into Montréal for a couple of nights of decadence. We parked our bikes on the sidewalk beside our hotel's front entrance and walked up to Le Plateau to hit Juliette et Chocolat for a tasty treat (we'd only had a quick snack on a bench by the river in St-André-d'Argenteuil since breakfast around 9am - more than 12hrs earlier), hit a grocery store for supplies, then picked up 2lbs of the best smoked meat on the damn planet and smashed about half of it on some buns we'd picked up from a bakery in Ottawa. Oh Schwartz's, je t'aime.

My "cue sheet" to get us to the hotel from St-André-d'Argenteuil

VIP parking and our motorcycles stripped of everything anyone could possibly steal.

Friday saw us hoofing around the city, pausing on a sidewalk café here, hitting another bakery there, and even running into one of the comedians we were due to see at the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival Nasty Show later that evening.

Cappucino or latté?

Obligatory Notre Dame walk-by photo

Caleche along the waterfront.

We missed the thundershowers while we took a bit of downtime in our hotel before heading out for dinner and a bit of shopping, then it was time for our Just for Laughs performance. We had an incredible evening, capped by walking Ste-Catherine past the Gay Village a bit on our way back to our hotel. Montréal never disappoints.

For the finale of the tour, we then rode - after some world-class crepes at Spanel on Saturday morning - to Ferris Provincial Park.

Camping once again.

We'd never really heard of this park before, but since Sandbanks and Presqu'ile were both fully booked it was a place we could camp to split the trip home from Montréal. To our pleasant surprise, it is an incredibly beautiful place with some fascinating features! Situated on Ranney Gorge, which is an offshoot of the Trent River, it boasts a small but powerful waterfall and a neat suspension bridge over the gorge built by 8 Wing out of CFB Trenton as a training exercise.

Ranney Gorge looking South from the bridge

Tanker and I 

Looking down through the bridge deck to the boiling water below
Falls seen from the bridge

Down at the falls lookout, with the bridge in the distance

The power of Ranney Falls is impossible to communicate in photos or words.

 The campground is also very nice, though the roads through the park are the absolute WORST for motorcycles - dusty, potholed, washboard-y gravel the whole way through the camping areas and the day-use area alike. We rode basically all of it, too, as we headed to the day-use parking lot on Sunday morning after packing up camp. They had recently expanded the Drumlin Trail System, and I wanted to run it while Tanker went for a hike.

Ditching my leathers on my already fully-loaded bike.

Discovering that my taste in footwear styling is pretty consistent..

The beautiful and challenging Drumlin Trail red loop.

 After a shorter but lovely 40min run, I met up with Tanker and we hiked the rooty trail along the gorge wall to the falls and to the bridge once more before leathering up again and riding home. We walked almost 40km, I ran just shy of 22km, and we put a little less than 1.700km on our motorcycles.

Such an amazing place - excellent way to wrap up a great tour!

 Here's the thing, though - due to the restrictions on space that motorycle touring imposes when it comes to packing, I was only able to bring a single running outfit with me.

Which I ran in 3 times - for a total of over 3 hours - in a week.

Even the mosquitoes wouldn't touch me by the end of it.

Fortunately there was a nice, hot shower waiting for me when we got home...and a commercial grade washing machine for my kit.

1 comment:

  1. Happy birthday!
    We went to Ottawa and Montreal on our honeymoon, so this brings back some great memories. Looks like you had a great time.


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