This week Hubby and I went for a walk in the woods. A couple of walks, actually. Along the trails in Algonquin Park.
Usually when we walk in these particular woods, we have three or four packs, a couple of paddles, and a canoe. Not this trip. We’ve changed up our routine this year, due to Hubby’s debilitating shoulder injury and subsequent surgery. Don’t get me wrong, I love camping. And canoeing. But I am NOT going camping with a man who does not have the use of both arms. Nope. That’s because I am most definitely second “mate” on our little green Kevlar ship.
This is me above, trying to paddle in the stern during our Algonquin trip one summer. Note the look of concentration on my face, as we make slow and zig-zaggy progress across this utterly calm lake, until we switch back to our normal positions. Phew. So you see, on these trips, I am the helper, the do what I’m told person… when to paddle and on what side, when to move out of the way with my much more puny pack so Hubby can get past me on the portage trail with the canoe and the big
pack… I’m sure you get my drift here. Mind you, not all of our camping expeditions involve portaging several packs and a canoe into the interior of Algonquin Park. For our yearly fall camping trip
we use our tent trailer. But even though the fall trip is not a wilderness camping trip, I’m unable to set up the trailer by myself, so it was not an option. Not this year.
So, instead, we rented a cottage on the outskirts of Algonquin Park for a couple of nights. We left the canoe at home, packed our hiking poles, and with the cooler full of good food and wine, we set off to salvage as much as we could of the fall trip we love so much. Our plans were to hike two areas of Algonquin Park that we never usually see.
On the first day we walked part of the “Highland Backpacking Trail.” This is a “challenging” trail with 19 km and 35 km loops. According to the warning signs at the access point, the 19 km loop is intended to take two days and the 35 loop three days. We were only planning to hike as far as we felt comfortable doing, and then we’d turn around and head back to the car. What a gorgeous fall day it was. Cool with brilliant sunshine.
We climbed steadily on the way in. This is typical Algonquin scenery. Pine trees, and long, forested vistas.
And rocks and streams and more trees.
This is where we stopped for lunch.
This is me below… with my two puny packs. And my new Gortex jacket that I bought last winter. As the camera flashed I turned sideways, “See my big pack, ” I said. Hubby snorted. We shed our jackets and rolled up our sleeves shortly after this. The temperature was only about 12 degrees Celsius, but this trail was earning its “challenging” description, and we were both sweating.
On our second day of hiking we tackled the “difficult” “Western Uplands Backpacking Trail.” Like the trail the day before, the Western Uplands was designed for backpackers to hike over several days, camping out at least two nights on the trail. And like the first day, we would walk as far as we wanted, and then retrace our steps. The weather was surely co-operating. Sunshine, blue sky, and lovely crisp fall temperatures. Again.
See the pile of walking sticks we found near the beginning of the trail? Normally I’d be grabbing one of these. I love to walk with a stick. But we had brought our own from home, so we left these for other walkers. And I was soon very glad to have my stick. We negotiated lots of uphill sections, and even trickier downhill ones.
This is part of our route. Or should I say root? See that one in the middle of the shot that’s raised off the ground a bit? There’s just enough space there to insert the toe of a size 8.5 hiking boot, I’d say.
I took the shot below because this is part of the trail that Hubby remembered well. He and a good buddy portaged this trail into Maple Leaf Lake twenty-five years ago. With packs and a canoe. Can you imagine negotiating that bit with a canoe on your head? Me neither. Some people will do anything for good fishing. And I gather that when they arrived at Maple Leaf Lake it was all weeded in and there were no fish to be had.
When we walked through this grove of maple trees the wind blew and, for a few minutes, it rained leaves. I took several shots standing there as twirling leaves fell around me…. and none of them showed up in the pictures. Pooh. That was disappointing.
Well, except for this one which just “accidentally,” and “conveniently,” lodged itself in my hat. How lucky was that?
This is where we stopped for lunch on day two. There’s no place better for a picnic than a clearing beside a stream with lovely flat rocks, I always say.
Hubby and I love being out in the bush on our own. Paddling, fishing…or like this trip, simply walking. We saw two other hikers all day. Not to sound too smarmy, but I think it’s on days like this that we get back bits of ourselves that get lost in the wear and tear of everyday life. We talk a lot. And begin to see each other the way we always have done. Yep. A good walk in the woods is restorative for relationships, I think. And just what the doctor ordered for us. Especially lately
I had planned to end my story about our fall walk in the woods with an inspirational quote. Maybe something from Thoreau? But I thought… nah… too cliché. And then I remembered that Bill Bryson wrote a book named A Walk in the Woods. So that’s why that title was stuck in my head, I thought. In this memoir, travel writer, Bryson and an old college buddy try to walk the Appalachian Trail. And I do mean “try.” I love Bryson’s work. Hubby and I both read In a Sunburned Country before we travelled to Australia. We laughed, and read bits out loud to each other, and then brought the book with us on our trip so we could compare our experience with Bryson’s. And I loved Notes on a Small Island, about his travels in Britain. So why, considering the fact that we love to camp and hike and stuff, have I never read A Walk in the Woods?
Well, I plan to remedy that as soon as I can get the book from the library. Read this
witty review from The New York Times
one from the blog The Book Brothel
and you’ll want to read the book yourself.
And in the meantime, check out the trailer for the new movie, based on Bryson’s book, starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte. I hope the movie is as funny as the trailer.
We drove home yesterday from our mini-vacation in full sunshine. Stopped beside a sparkling lake near Calabogie to eat our sandwiches. And today dawned cool and rainy. A perfect day to sleep in and write a blog post. And be glad to NOT be walking in the woods.
How about you. Do you enjoy a good walk in the woods?