by Lisa (Ellesche)
Originally the plan was that Ralph and our son Tylor would climb to the highest point in Ontario and welcome anyone who wished to come along. Tylor decided not to go this time, but maybe another time in the future. I know that I cannot even attempt a hike like that and was going to stay home. In early September, I had the idea that I needed a bit of a change of scene and a chance to see the Ontario north in the fall. I was staying at the campsite, hopefully with other people….
Friday, October 10, 2008 5:59 a.m. 14C The adventure begins
The day finally came and we were en route to the Ishpatina Ridge! I did not sleep well and had been suffering from migraines for a week, but we were up at 4:30 easily. The weather reports were favourable. As we drove there was frost in Nobleton, the fall colours were more advanced in Innisfil than they were two weeks previous and there was an eerie mist on a golf course. I had a little doze – so did Ralph (who was driving, lol). We decided we needed to stop near Parry Sound.
The fall colours were just gorgeous: oranges, yellows and deep reds. As we got closer to Sudbury, there were fewer leaves left on the trees. At 10:10 a.m., we remarked that the date was also 10 10. We just needed to turn on CFRB and we’d be all set (1010 on your dial). At 11:40 we were at the dreaded logging road. It was not that bad, we took it really slow. We arrived at the camp at 1:30 and met some of our fellow campers/hikers: Roger (roglatour), his girlfriend Ruth and dog Cisco, Dean (simplyred). We set up camp and Roger was a tremendous help. I loved his Labatt 50 t-shirt…used to know someone who loved that stuff. It was very warm and sunny as I was setting up the tent. Cisco relaxed momentarily in the few inches of shade the peaked roof of the tent provided, he was gone before I could get the camera out. Cute, smart dog.
Other adventurers arrived: Lisdowney, his son-in-law Paul, HF Reign, dgas71 and Kscat and drove through the river to their camp at Scarecrow Lake. Ralph and Roger studied the topo maps and planned an alternate route for the following day. A local cacher, Matt (kayn_os) pulled up. He hadn’t heard of Ishpatina until a few years ago and was excited about the event.
At around 5:00, Ralph and I set about making a fire. We did it! I sacrificed a hotdog to it. We were joined by Ruth and Roger when a blurry blue car drove past, backed up and parked. It was Don (Fababoo), Keith, Tanya (hikerT) and Sheannah (Rainbow). They set up and ate dinner. We sat around the campfire listening to various stories (best one: paintballing a bear). Matt gave us a chunk of nickel from the mines he works in. I have it on my book shelves at home. The rocks came from 4800 feet below the earth. His gps actually registered the elevation in the minus. I was really glad to have the locals there. It just felt more comfortable.
Simplyred returned with his son Patrick and friend Kevin. Finally Team Goju (Steve and his son Quinn), and Jeff-trex arrived. That was everyone. We turned in early. The hikers planned to set off at 6:00 a.m.
Saturday, October 11, 2008. To the Ridge
We slept soundly and awoke at 5:00. Ralph got up in the chill. I felt scared about being alone in the middle of nowhere. I heard Ralph waking up Steve who said, “way to make friends Ralph.” Matt made two trips in his truck ferrying people across the river. After they left I heard sounds that were not noticeable before: gravel falling down the hillside, the crackling fire, a throat clearing…hey, I wasn’t alone. I was happy to realize that Matt, Dean, Patrick and Kevin were leaving later on their ATVs, canoe, and kayak. I got up at 7:20, washed and got my breakfast ready. I lit my stove without trouble and made coffee. The four left around 8 or so. I sat by the fire—distracted by it. I took some pictures of the sun coming into the pit. Roger came by to tell me that Ruth had decided to go along with him. They were going with ATVs and a blow-up boat. So, I will definitely be alone here.
I went for a little walk up and down the road in my orange vest and bear bell feeling like a dork from “down south”. Only three vehicles passed the campsite from 7:30 to noon. I decided to cook lunch, and let the fire go out. The bugs started coming out so I went in the tent. I felt a luxurious sense of freedom. I had about 10 hours to kill, just read or whatever. I read a page and fell into a fitful sleep. I was dreaming that people were trying to get into the tent, but not through the door! I heard numerous vehicles go by. I finally woke up and realized I was asleep for 4 hours. Good, that killed a lot of time and I caught up on what I had missed earlier in the week. I made coffee and looked for the radio. I heard a vehicle, felt skittish and quickly went into the tent. The vehicle stopped and someone was wandering around the camp. My heart was pounding. I heard a radio and realized it was some sort of official. I poked my head out of the tent and said hello. It was two officers with the Ministry of Natural Resources. One officer asked if there were guns on our campsite. I said no, we are hikers. He started wandering down the road. I heard someone on the MNR radio talking about a missing gun. A man and woman came by on an ATV and were stopped by the officers. They had their beer stowed improperly, they had a gun but no hunting license with them, no insurance papers. The woman came over to talk to me. She was surprised that I was all alone. The same officer came and asked me where everyone was. I explained they were climbing the Ridge. He asked what Ridge (he was from Manitoulin). The other officer was getting the couple’s details. The woman came back and told me you cannot cross the Sturgeon in a vehicle without a permit. She also said that Roger and Ruth might get a ticket for where they were camped. Probably all hearsay. The couple got an $80 ticket for not wearing helmets and was sent back to their camp. The officers said they would follow them there. They didn’t though, they went across the Sturgeon and returned two hours later! Those people must have been waiting at their camp all that time!
After the excitement was over, I ate my sandwich by the once again lonely campfire. Everyone better be back soon! Shortly after, Dean, Patrick, Kevin and Matt returned. I was so glad they got back in daylight and I would not be alone in the dark. They said that Ralph and crew only got to the Ridge at around 2:30 so probably wouldn’t be back until midnight. I was very disappointed. They offered some of the spaghetti they were cooking, I declined. At around 8 or so, Roger came by with Keith, Sheannah and Cisco. Keith had trouble getting to the top of the Ridge, he was about 1.7 km off. Sheannah got to the top but decided to come back with Roger and Ruth. Keith asked if I knew my husband was stubborn and determined. Of course I know that! Roger was impressed with the feat.
Later in the evening, we looked up and saw the northern lights, no colours though. It looked like several bands of the Milky Way. Then it got cloudy. At around 10:00, Matt got a radio call from Ralph saying that he would be at the Sturgeon River in 10 minutes and that there were two of them. Matt went over, Keith accompanied him (I so wanted to ask to go along but was too shy to ask, damn-it!). The other person was Tanya. The time was 10:10 p.m. Again 10 10 is significant. I gave Ralph a big hug and kiss. The remaining hikers: Steve, Quinn, Jeff and Don wanted to take the route that was originally planned. We sat around the fire until 1:30 and were getting worried about the others. We figured maybe they camped with Lisdowney et al. at Scarecrow Lake. We retired to the cold tent. At around 2:00, I heard a whistle at the river then shouting. I told Ralph about the whistling but he was totally out of it. It was them. Roger picked them up on his ATV. The dog was barking like crazy. I heard them walking down the road back to our camp and were greeted by other campers. I woke up in the night to silence and COLD, it was 0 degrees. Glad I put extra layers on tonight, curled up but just could not get warm enough. I eventually slept.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Ralph and I got out of the tent at 10 a.m. and had breakfast by the fire. We were proud of everyone who made it up there (and attempted) and happy everyone made it back safely. I did not really like being alone, it was potentially dangerous. I couldn’t find my radio; there was really nowhere to go for help if I needed it. Even with that knowledge, I would do it again.
We said our good-byes and left at noon. I did not just want to drive straight home, I wanted to see some fall splendour. We stopped in Waubaushene for some caches and pictures of the sunset and colours. It was a truly great weekend!
Home: 8:42 p.m. Temperature 15C. KM traveled 1005.4 Too bad it wasn’t 1010 km !!!