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here were a couple times overnight when I briefly
woke up to the sound of falling rain and wind whipping through the trees.
When I awoke for the day at 7:45 a.m. I stepped out of the tent and was
immediately confronted by a breeze blowing through camp and the sound of wind traveling
through the treetops over distant ridges. Even though it was windy it wasn't too cold - probably
about 50 degrees. As I walked down to the lake I took note of the bleak, mostly cloudy
sky punctuated by only a couple small patches of blue where there were breaks in the clouds.
We ate a quick breakfast, filtered water, packed our gear and were on the
trail by 9:45 a.m.
the time we left, the clouds had begun to break up and the sun was already
doing a fine job of burning off the chill that hung in the air. We could hear
the other group down at the east end of the camp so we knew they hadn't hiked
out yet. It didn't take long to build up a lot of heat and sweat on the hike
back to the top of the ridge. In reality, it didn't take us much longer to
hike up to the ridge than it did for us to hike down to the campsites yesterday.
We wanted to make good time for this long day so we took only a couple two
to three minutes rest stops and just powered our way to the top. By 11:05
a.m. we had made it back to the Greenstone Ridge. We backtracked .3 mile to
Mt. Franklin for a short break, to enjoy the view and to cool down before continuing
to Lookout Louise.
It was easy to tell that the Greenstone Ridge doesn't see much traffic east of the Lane Cove junction. Much of the trail was barely
visible because it was surrounded on both sides by trees, plants and ground cover that often grew very close to the trail. The trail
itself was straight, fairly level, easy-going and even though it traversed the often-stony ridge there were very few sections of
exposed rock. The temperature probably reached 70-75 degrees today and the sun-baked ridge didn't offer much shade. As the day wore
on I could feel the heat radiating off of my face and we looked forward to small shaded portions of trail to stop for quick breaks.
As time wore on we discussed the notion that we must be getting close to Lookout
out of nowhere, a signpost appeared. We didn't even have to get close enough
to read it. We immediately knew that we had somehow miscalculated and we were
not as far along as we had thought. The signpost marked the junction for the
portage from Duncan Bay to Tobin Harbor. Somehow we both failed to realize
that we had not yet passed the portage so we still had another 1.5 miles before
we arrived at Lookout Louise. We eventually arrived at the signpost that directed
us north toward the lookout. The last .1 mile was all uphill but was well
worth the effort. The trail spur topped out at a rocky overlook with gorgeous
views for miles to the west, north and east. After an extended break we grabbed
the packs and headed south toward Monument Rock.
Before we knew it a tall chunk of rock materialized out of the thick tree
cover and towered above us. It was rather odd to see this giant monolith out
here in the middle of nowhere. We took off our backpacks and explored the
area around this strange landmark. I clawed my way through the thick ground
cover and downed trees until
reached the base of Monument Rock. I figured it would probably be a long time
before I ever saw this site again so I chose to see how far up I was able to climb.
I slowly scaled the side of the rock by making slow, deliberate moves because
I did not want to have a bad fall way out here.
I guess the smart thing would have been not to climb it at all but I just
had to see what the view looked like. I probably made it about 1/3 of the
way up the side of the rocky face before that little voice inside my head
became very loud and finally convinced me that the risk outweighed the reward.
However, from where I stood I had a nice view especially considering that
I was looking over the tops of a few trees below me.
We had not passed by any rivers or lakes today and were now completely out
of water. This made us realize that the east end of the island would not be
a good choice in the middle of the summer without some serious planning regarding
water supply and consumption. We left our backpacks near Monument Rock and
hiked the rest of the .9 mile to the shore of Tobin Harbor
near Hidden Lake to refill our bottles. Just past Monument Rock was a section
of trail flanked on both sides by large boulders that we had to weave between
on our way down to the water. As we were walking along the south shore of
Hidden Lake we saw an otter swimming just off the shore. It appeared that
it didn't really appreciate our presence near its home because it kept snorting
at us as it swam back and forth just a few feet from land's edge. After we
filled our bottles from Tobin Harbor we went back to Monument Rock and discussed
where we were going to spend the night. We initially had planned to stay at
this end of the island, however, a couple things
seemed to be working against us and at the last minute we chose to hike back
toward the portage for the night. Two main issues governed our final decision.
First, backcountry camping is limited by the rule mandating that backpackers
set up camp at least ¼ mile from any trail. This seemed to present us with
very few areas in which to camp because the area was very hilly and not suitable
for setting up a tent. Second, we were required to stay away from loon habitats.
At the orientation we were provided with a map of the island that contained
shaded areas indicating where loons were likely to be mating and nesting.
Any shaded area was strictly off-limits to backcountry camping. Between the
poor terrain and the loon nesting areas we were not left with very many places
to stay and we thought we would have better odds back near the portage.
When we reached the portage we located a place to set up the tent and walked
down to the water to clean up and cook. The small access area at the shore
consisted of a mix of small rocks and medium-sized boulders. It wasn't the
most comfortable or convenient place to sit or cook but we made the best of
it. For dinner we had a Chicken Teriyaki meal that was absolutely incredible.
Afterward, I sat on a rock and enjoyed the nice view of Duncan Bay as the
sun set and the cool air swept into the area. By 8:10 p.m. it began to really
cloud up and become cool so I hiked back up the rocky trail to the tent. The
portage is about .2 mile from the water's edge to the top of the ridge and
is strewn with many rocks and boulders. It's a pretty steep ascent and fairly
strenuous even without a backpack; I couldn't help wondering what it would
be like with a pack and a canoe.
Today had been pretty warm and we put on a couple more miles than usual but,
overall, it had been a good day. The bugs were only bad for a short time on
of Lane Cove and here at our campsite. One thing I happened to notice today
is that black flies are pretty much only a problem when I stopped walking
but, the mosquitoes could keep up with me even when I had a good pace going.
I was only the victim of a couple bites today so I felt pretty fortunate.
The other interesting thing I noticed was the amount of dandelions
and ants at the east end of the island. Whenever we stopped for a break we
would periodically have to brush numerous ants off our backpacks, shoes and
sometimes our backs. Also, the dandelions seemed to be far more plentiful here
than anywhere else I have seen them on the island.
Final count for the day: Two Common Goldeneyes
, an otter
at Hidden Lake and a Common Merganser
near the portage at
Miles Covered Today: 11.4
Total Trip Miles: 26.3
This page last updated on 02-25-2016 @ 11:26 AM