Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Getting the Lead Out

Winter is a tough time to stay motivated.  Changing conditions and weather often give you an excuse to simply sit on the couch and watch the World Junior or eat the remaining M&Ms or take an extended nap.  As our community mourns the loss of a person who never sat on the couch I couldn't sit and do nothing today.  Ellen your smile and energy will be missed across the region and beyond.
This MSRWhisperlite has been a long trusted piece of equipment for my brother and I.

My brother and I took to the rugged hills around Waterford.  It is an area we know fairly well but today we were heading into a piece of it we hadn't yet wandered.  The high hills separating the upper reaches of Trout Creek from Parlee Brook conveniently have a road, Long Settlement Road, running across them and we would use this as our end point.  The slopes were going to be steep and rugged. We were up for the challenge.

We parked along the Walker Settlement Road and headed north down a stream we hiked before.  In no time we were at a small waterfall which we took time to appreciate. Literally seconds later we came to a tributary which we followed up stream.  This would be the unfamiliar area for us and we'd quickly discover that it was going to be tough and steeper than anticipated.  A number of cross drainages made our progress even more difficult but they made the scenery spectacular.

As we struggled up the snowy slopes we discussed the new season of "Alone" and whether or not we could complete such an adventure.  We also talked about past hikes and how a slight change in direction can make them seem completely different or how the season's can drastically alter the challenges you face.  The snow and ice we were experiencing today altered our perception of the area we were currently in and made it entirely different from when we were there a few summers ago.

We made lunch perched on a small bench along the stream.  A steep, rocky, slope, was at our back and we sat for a bit in silence as we waited for our water to boil.  We made some soup and some tea and gave my dog Bambi ample samples of the crackers which she seemed to prefer over her own food.  I didn't really want to leave our idylic setting and push up the slope but my curiousity and drive to finish what I started pushed me up the slope.

After our lunch the forest cover changed from mature softwoods to hardwoods and the snow changed with it.  From the hard, shallow, and sometimes icy snow pack it became deeper and much more difficult to push through.  We slightly regretted leaving our snowshoes in the truck but we managed to find our way through it.  To make it more challenging the slope became steeper but again we put on our happy face and slugged through it.

My brother and I enjoying lunch along a small unnamed stream.
We reached the top of the small stream and now set our sights on a nearby pond which flowed the opposite way into Parlee Brook.  Our path was now more downhill but we had to navigate through a spruce thicket, around the pond and then a wetland before we found the Long Settlement Road.  Once we got to the road, which is a snowmobile trail this time of year, we hiked back to the Walker Settlement Road and to the truck.  We spent roughly 4hours wandering through the woods and came out feeling refreshed and recharged.  The hike was a little over 8km, including the road walk.  Hikes like this give me a sense of calm and serenity that improve my social mood and attitude.  It is this reason why my wife encourages me to wander on my own every now and then.

From Whalen's Wanderings have a Happy New Year.  May 2017 bring you lots of opportunity to wander and find your inner peace.

Here is to the wind always being at your back, rest in peace Ellen.

Tracks from various animals were present near this rock escarpment.

This steep slide would be a great place to explore in the summer.  The slide was likely more than 40m long.

Bambi was leading the way as we returned to Walker Settlement Road.