Distance hiked: 16.8 km // 10.5 mi (Parking Lot to Harness Lake)
Steps taken: 26, 107
Time on the trail: ~5.5 hours
Calories burned: 2, 096
Fuel consumed: 2 oz. dried fruit, 1 cheese string, 1 snickers bar, 1 medium tortilla w/ peanut butter + jam, 1 clif bar, 1 box Kraft Dinner, 500 mL gatorade, 1 packet hot chocolate, water
I am currently sitting by my small campfire, enjoying a cup of hot chocolate after an awesome day of hiking.
I started the day by leaving my parents house around 7:30 AM, with a drive of a little over 2 hours to get to Algonquin Provincial Park. I arrived at the Mew Lake campground permitting office shortly before 10, and quickly and easily obtained my backcountry permit. I was at the trailhead, ready to start hiking by 10:15.
I planned to take my lunch break at the lookout point, as it was pretty much the exact halfway point along my planned route for the day. When I arrived there was a group of four hikers just finishing up with their own break. We chatted a little bit, and one of the girls was quite impressed with my bravery in hiking alone, along with my lightweight pack. I found out they are staying on the same lake as me tonight, but I haven’t seen them since lunch. The view from the lookout was nice, but nothing too awe-striking. I ate my lunch and was able to text my parents and let them know I was still alive, since the lookout provided a pocket of cell service.
After the lookout, I had a 4.3 km stretch to Head Lake. There was quite a bit of flat trail, and I was able to reach a nice cruising speed and make some good time. When I reached Head Creek (just before Head Lake) I stopped to filter some water. The Sawyer Mini worked wonderfully, and once I got the hang of it I was able to filter water quickly and easily. I continued on around Head Lake, and then had one final stretch of 4.1 km to Harness Lake, where I am camping tonight.
I took the first campsite I came to on Harness Lake, which actually cut my planned distance for the day down by probably around a kilometre. That means I’ll have an extra kilometre to hike out tomorrow. My campsite is pretty lovely, it’s quite large and has an awesome view of Harness Lake. There is also a wooden thunderbox provided, which is something of a luxury (no cathole digging for me!).
I set up my tent, which was super quick and easy, and got my sleeping pad and bag all ready for the night. Then I went down to the lake and filtered 3L of water. Filtering does get a bit time consuming when you do large quantities, but I’m really loving the Sawyer system. I then walked around the site and scavenged a bit of firewood. Campfires don’t exactly fit in with “leave no trace” ethics, but the park actively encourages backcountry hikers to have fires so I figured a small one couldn’t hurt. It’s a treat that I probably won’t get to enjoy much on a real thru-hike. Once I had collected a few handfuls of wood, I decided to make dinner. I had a scary moment where my stove wouldn’t light properly the first few times I tried, but now it seems to be working just fine. I made a pot of macaroni and sat on a rock overlooking the lake to eat. It turns out a whole box of macaroni is a lot of food, and I had to force it down a bit at the end…
Tomorrow’s hike starts out with a long section parallel to “Mosquito Creek”, which sounds lovely. The mosquitoes were bad enough today, so I’m kind of scared to see what that section will bring. My body is definitely getting an (un)healthy dose of DEET this weekend!
Trail lesson of the day: I love hiking alone, but camping alone seems to be a bit of a different story. Actually, what I really don’t like is sitting around with nothing to do alone. When there was stuff to be done around camp, it was absolutely fine, but then there ended up being too much free time and my mind started getting a bit anxious. I made the assumption that there would be next to no free time on a hiking trip, but my distance today wasn’t long enough for that and I got to camp too early. Next time I’ll bring a book to keep my mind occupied. It was definitely a good practice in solitude and just sitting with myself, but something to pass the same would be nice. Also, do NOT forget chapstick!!