Day 5 – Monday, June 29 ( Camping at Sleeping Giant)

It was cooler and overcast most of the day and there were a few “ drizzles “ of rain, late in the day.

I slept well and after breakfast, I went to the rangers station and paid for a couple of nights stay, however, the ranger suggested that I move my tent to a site along the water and so she picked out a very nice spot for me, with a great view of the “ sleeping giant “, which is a landscape of an island in the water that looks like a sleeping giant and according to Indian Legend it is an Indian Chieftain.

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With the new site selected, I decided to go for a hike on one of the many trails in the area. This ended up being more strenuous than I had hoped, but then it was my doing. The hike started out relatively easy with a 6.5 km walk in rolling terrain, until I got to Sawyer beach. I decided to take a different way back and go to a lookout point on the way back. I started the new route and it had a gradual climb to it, but then it suddenly went almost straight up for a kilometer. I had to watch my step because it was very steep and slippery. I took a few breaks on the way up, because my heart was running a lot faster and my breathing was heavier than normal.

I was only part way up when I noticed I was getting a cell signal, so I took care of my 14 emails and a voicemail from 11 pm the previous night.

The views at the top was spectacular. Unfortunately, the foggy mist was rolling in through the hills, just as I reached the top and the visibility was limited.

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After I took the pictures, I walked back and forth along the top trying to find where the trail went but I couldn’t find it. It seemed to end at the lookout and the only way down from there was a sheer drop. That wasn’t in my plans, so I reluctantly decided to go back the way I came.

When I got back to the point where the trail had split off, I read the sign a little closer.

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I had missed two “ small “ points. This was an “ extreme “ climb and it was a one-way trip!

I had heard the “ scurrying “ small animals as I hiked the trails but I was surprised that I didn’t see any larger animals. I only saw a deer and a rabbit along the trail and those I can see at home.

When I arrived at camp, there was a young deer that was feeding in the camp. That was not unusual, however, I got a picture of him standing on his hind legs to strip some branches from a tree. I knew they could do this, but I had never seen it in real life.

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I had a good laugh as I was driving around the campground when I saw a young girl, about 5 years old, walk up to a puddle, stop and then jump as high as she could into the middle of the puddle. She was laughing as she continually jumped up and down in the puddle, just like tigger from Winnie the Pooh. My mother used to accuse me of doing the same thing but, of course, I don’t recall doing that.

I plan to pack up in the morning and stop at a recommended restaurant called “ Hoitos “ in Thunder Bay for “ Finnish “ pancakes, before leaving for Winnipeg. It should be an 8 hour drive.

Day 4 – Sunday, June 28 ( Drive to Thunder Bay)

It was a warm and sunny day most of the day as I drove from Elliott Lake to Thunder Bay. There were a few episodes of rain but nothing significant. The temperature varied from 14 C to 27 C ( 57-80F ) as I drove along the shores of the Great Lakes.

My morning started with an unexpected twist. After I got up, I tried to open my car with my remote and nothing happened. I opened the door with my key, put it in the ignition and, as I suspected, there was no response…not a single noise. Oops! It was at this point that I remembered that I had left the 12V cooler on all night and the battery was now completely dead. It was 7 am, so I decided to make breakfast and start packing until someone came by, so that I could ask for a boost. If not, I would ride my bicycle to the rangers station and ask them for help. Everything went as planned. By the time I had finished breakfast and packed up someone came by and gave me a boost. I finished my packing and I was on the road at 9:30 am, a little later than I had hoped, but I was on my way again.

I enjoy driving the northern highways. The scenery is spectacular, with the rolling hills of rocks covered in evergreen and birch trees and surrounded by endless lakes.

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I was watching the sides of the road for animals, especially since there were so many signs warning drivers to watch out for moose and although I wasn’t expecting it, something caught my eye along the highway that I thought I recognized. Since no one was behind me, I came to a stop along the side of the road, took my camera and crossed the road to get a better look to have my suspicions confirmed. There was a bear not far from the road. It wasn’t until I looked at the picture later that I realized that there were 2 black bears.

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I continued down the winding, rolling roads until I got to Wawa. Its a nice small town with a funny name and I decided to take a break, have lunch and publish my journal from the past 2 days, as well as make some minor adjustments to the first entry.

My destination was the “ Sleeping Giant “ provincial park, east of Thunder Bay and I knew I was going to be late and, since I didn’t have a reservation ( which is normal for me ), I was hoping that they rangers would still be there, however, when I finally got there at 9:30 pm, the rangers station was closed. They had posted a sign for latecomers to get a ticket from the machine to the right of the station, pick a site and return in the morning to pay if you wanted to stay longer. There were plenty of sites to choose from and I picked one close to the showers and the rangers station.

Yes, you read it correctly. They have hot showers. After I set up my tent, I took a nice warm shower to wash off the dirt, grime and the layers of musk oil and Deet, just so that I could start re-appling fresh layers of mosquito repellant. Its a vicious circle. The mosquitos aren’t that bad but its understandably worse than back home. I have very few mosquito bites, but then they don’t love me as much as other people…like Jim Culp! I like having Jim around.. The mosquitos love his aftershave, cologne and rare blood type. Come to think of it, I should have brought Jim along. He would have been better than all the musk oil and Deet for keeping the mosquitos away and if a bear comes around, I know that I can outrun him.

One of the things I noticed as soon as I got close to the campsite, was that there is very little or no cell reception in the area so I would have to wait until I left the area to continue publishing my journal.

Day 3 – Saturday, June 27 (Camping in Elliott Lake)

It was another warm and sunny day.

I woke up a little later than usual and made myself a nice breakfast of peameal bacon and fried eggs.

I tried to fish for a while but the lake is very shallow and I had no luck so I decided to go for a hike. They have 3 nice trails of varying lengths ( 7 km, 12km and 22 km). I decided to hike the 7 km trail which took me up for a nice view one of the adjacent lakes.

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During my hike I saw a few small creatures but I was only able to capture a couple of them with my camera.

I saw a couple of grouse, but the one in this pictures was the most interesting because it put on quite a display for me in an attempt to get my attention. I am sure that it was trying to lead me away from its nest because as I continued down the trail, it chased after me for while.

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I was hoping to see a massasauga rattlesnake, but all I saw was this garter snake.

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I decided to eat some hamburgers for supper and when I went to get the package I noticed that they had thawed out because the 12V cooler was not keeping them frozen, so I cooked all of the hamburgers, ate 2 and put the rest of them away for a rainy day.

I tried some fishing again but I had a problem with my new reel. It appears to be spinning faster than the line is releasing so it was getting tangled. It is easy to ‘ untangle,” but I need to set it up so that it releases properly. I never claimed to be a good fisherman, but I keep trying. Oh well, that will be a project for another day.

Shortly after 10 pm, my campfire was almost burned out, so I had slipped into my tent to go to sleep. I wasn’t in my tent more than 5 minutes when I heard some rustling outside and I peaked out to see a fox, sniffing around my campsite. His tail was longer and bigger than he was. He walked down my path to the waters edge sniffed around some more and then left. I keep all of my food and leftovers in the car so he didn’t find anything to eat. Note to file – you can’t take a picture through the tent screen at night. However, I did get a closeup of the screening. From now on I’ll keep my camera closer at hand.

I plan to leave early tomorrow morning for the 11 hour drive to Thunder Bay, where I hope to set up camp for a couple of days before heading to Manitoba. Hopefully the campsites have showers. After 2 days without a shower and covered in bug spray and musk oil, I can scare away anyone and anything except the mosquitos, which are only temporarily deterred by the smell. It’s a good thing there are no moose around here. With my luck I would attract a bull moose and I have no one out here that I can out-run.

Day 2 – Friday, June 26 (Drive to Elliott Lake)

After a good night’s sleep, I was able to get a temporary double-glazed insert for my window on Friday morning and I was able to leave home shortly before noon.

It turned out to be a warn, bright sunny day, in fact it was warmer up north ( approx. 27 C) than back home.

I wanted to make my way through he heavy traffic around Toronto before it got worse so I opted to take the 407 toll road around most of the traffic ( google maps showed several areas of congestion ). When I started heading north of Toronto, there was some traffic congestion due to a couple of accidents, road construction and, of course, those silly vacationers heading north. However, the traffic slowly became less and in some cases I was all on my own until a vacationer, or perhaps a local resident, sped by me so they could get to his destination quickly in order that they could relax sooner.

The scenery was as I remembered it from previous trips. There were more evergreens, birch trees, and the sides of the roads were the remnants of rocky hills that had been split in two in order to accommodate the new roads. As I passed Sudbury, memories of my university work terms came back to me as I saw the INCO Superstack chimney. At 380 meters (1250 ft), it’s hard to miss.

My destination was Elliott Lake, approximately a 7 hour drive from home. I have never been there and I had heard from people that it is a nice place to stay. I arrived in Elliott Lake at 7:30 pm and since the Information station was closed, I stopped at a Tim Horton’s coffee shop for a coffee and some information regarding local provincial parks. Since the young girl serving the coffee wasn’t aware of any local provincial parks, I checked the internet and found good reviews of a Mississagi Park 22 km ( 14 miles ) north of Elliott Lake so I drove there.

Mississagi is a nice government-run park and there were very few people camping there, which I found surprising. I got myself a nice campsite on the water, pitched my tent, set up a little butane stove, made myself some tea, covered myself with bug spray and sat by the waters edge with my “ Executioner “ racquet frying the mosquitos as they joined me for a bite to eat. I watched the sun slowly fade away and the moon get brighter over the lake. After I had fed enough mosquitos, I sat by the fire for a while before going to bed.

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Day 1 – Thursday, June 25 (First Attempt at Leaving)

It was an unusual day and I can’t help feeling that I was not meant to head out to the Yukon today.

It took me much longer to pack all of the things I needed for camping because several things just didn’t work out as planned. My jug of water, milk and spare gas can all leaked and it took me more than an hour to attach my bicycle to the bike rack on my car as I tried to place it in a way that would not obscure my rear license plate.

I have a general idea of the route I will be taking but it could change at any time.

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When I finally left at 11 am, I was ready to get on the road. About 30 minutes after I left, I received a call from my neighbour telling me that some kids had broken into my house, so I turned around and headed back home. When I got there, I was greeted by 3 police cars one of which was a canine unit that was following the tracks of the the 2 intruders. The intruders had entered a window in my detached garage shortly after I left, picked up a scrap piece of arborite which they had used to protect them from the glass as they broke my family room window. They had accidentally turned on my old CRT TV when they moved the centre speaker above it and must have gotten ” spooked ” when my neighbour came to use my lawnmower. They opened the rear door which activated the alarm system, which in turn, got the attention of my neighbour who say one of the fellows quickly run from the door while hiding his face. He chased after them but could not keep up, however, he saw the 2 of them walking down the street until they saw him and ran away. They didn’t have time to steal anything but they left a guitar case by my garage with a bed-sheet in it that had two wooden handles taped to it with duct tape. The police took pictures and some swabs but I don’t think that they will find them, at least not yet. The policemen were all very helpful and I have nothing but good things to say about my experience with them.

After reviewing the facts regarding the incident, it appears that the young men saw me packing to leave and they waited in the wooded area behind my house until I left. Several people commented that, after watching me try to pack my bicycle on my bike rack for more than an hour, they were probably itching to come to help me pack the bike and so that I could be on my way. This would make for a great skit for Rowan Atkinson as “ Mr. Bean “.

I called Force Security to find out why the alarm monitoring company hadn’t received the alarm and subsequently called me. I was very impressed with their response. The owner, Mark Kaine and two of his technicians were at my house within a couple of hours and even though the problem was caused by me when I changed internet providers earlier in the month, they added a second motion detector and re-configured the security system for my new internet provider free of charge. I highly recommend Force Security for home and business security systems.

My thoughts have been with the young men who broke into my house. I hope that this incident positively influences them so that they decide to pursue more honourable careers for their sake.

I ” boarded ” up the window and took the frame to a glass shop for replacement. They will be giving me a temporary ” double-glazed ” window that I should be able to pick up tomorrow morning. I will be able to use the temporary window after tomorrow, until they can get a replacement fabricated.

As I mentioned earlier, I can’t help thinking that God had saved me from an accident that would have occurred if I had continued on my way. If all goes as planned tomorrow, I will try to leave before noon so that I can make it to Elliott Lake in northern Ontario.

Fortunately, I can easily change my plans.

We’ll see what tomorrow brings!