La Cloche Silhouette Trail: Day 5 (Gifts of Gratitude)
It was the morning of my fifth day soloing the La Cloche Silhouette Trail.
I woke up feeling lean and limber from all the stretching I had done on the smooth rocks of H38, while taking in the beautiful, serene view of Silver Lake.
The first part of my trek from Silver to David Lake was mostly through forest.
Half an hour in, I came to a creek nestled amidst lush, green trees. Here, was a four-way split in the trail where the portage path connected.
I remembered standing at this spot two years ago, when I had hiked the La Cloche Silhouette Trail with the guys.
I had been in so much pain that I could barely take in my surroundings and enjoy the moment.
I smiled to myself now, as that memory vanished like a mirage in the woods.
Day 5 Intention: Gratitude
Give thanks for this opportunity to make your dream a reality. Be thankful for the trees, plants, and for staying safe and healthy out here. Take a step back and look at the bigger picture of what you are doing and appreciate the wonder of it. We are truly fortunate.
The next half hour took me through a smooth and wide trail — a rare occasion on the La Cloche, and yet another reason to be grateful!
I told myself to enjoy it while it lasted, since, quite frankly, it wasn’t going to.
While strolling along the path, two ladies appeared ahead of me, and we greeted each other.
“You’re the first person we’ve seen in two days!” one of them said. “Are you doing this by yourself?”
“Yes,” I replied with a smile.
“Good for you!” the other lady exclaimed.
A few seconds later, the rest of their group — two other women and two men — appeared.
“She’s done the loop twice before and is doing it solo now,” one of the ladies proudly informed the others.
They all gave me encouraging smiles, and I felt grateful for having encountered them on the trail.
I was also inspired that they were out doing the loop, as it looked like most of them were at least in their 50s, if not older. Age clearly didn’t matter!
Day 5 Route (Silver to David) = 6.6 km
After we parted ways, another four-way split came up. It would have been a great break spot, but the buzzing of hungry mosquitos in my ear kept me going.
From there, the trail got more and more narrow, with roots and rocks strewn across the path.
The never-ending twists and turns had me clanging my hiking stick on the rocks to warn any bears of my impending arrival.
While I didn’t encounter any bears, I did run into a trio who were coming from H34 on David Lake.
Despite being a bit worn down from long days of hiking, they were incredibly friendly and had a contagious spirit that made me smile.
They mentioned seeing the giant snapping turtle on H34 that Matthieu had also spotted a couple days ago, and I wondered if it’d be my turn to meet Mister Turtle today at camp.
The Killarney Angels
Out on the ridges, I encountered some gorgeous views and none other than the first female, solo hiker I had seen on my trip.
Her name was Meg and she was on her way to Silver Peak. After chatting about our experiences hiking the trail, we bid each other a safe journey.
Eventually, I met my only real steep ascent of the day. It was a climb of exposed rocks.
I was already overheating massively, and I took off my pack at the bottom to drink some water and pour it on my face.
“Present,” I reminded myself and took one step at a time towards the lone tree at the top, beckoning me with its blue blaze.
When I finally reached it, I turned around and was struck by what was my favourite view thus far.
It wasn’t even the most picturesque, but it was the combination of not expecting it, of having worked the climb right before it, of the most unobstructed view I had seen of the ridges, and the huge billowing clouds floating overhead.
Not to mention the big gusts of wind cooling me off.
I decided to sit and enjoy this. Further ahead was a stretch of granite highway, and I also wandered around it packless, taking in beautiful views of the surrounding lakes.
It was almost noon when I finally decided to move on. A few seconds later, I spotted two women strolling in my direction.
The ladies cheerily greeted me, and I soon found out they were both named Kelly.
They had met as dorm mates back in college, and had been coming to Killarney with a group of other women — dubbed the Killarney Krones — every year, for 20 years.
This time though, it was just the two of them. With both Kellies turning 50 this year, it seemed appropriate.
They were staying on one of the canoe sites on David Lake, and were on their way to Silver Peak for a day hike.
They asked whether I was hiking the loop alone (“Good. For. You,” was the adamant reply).
Kelly #1 was fascinated by my no-cook meal plan. And Kelly #2 couldn’t believe that I wasn’t even sweating. (I explained that I had been sitting around with huge gusts of wind blowing in my face for the past half hour).
They made the sweetest offer to paddle over some fresh fruits later on if they had time.
We said our goodbyes and after a few minutes, I arrived at the side trail to H34. Although it was another 600 metres to the site, I was treated to gorgeous views of David Lake along the way.
Once at the campsite, I dropped my pack — what a blissful feeling! — and walked out to the super smooth rocks that gradually slipped into the water. It was the best part of this site.
The afternoon on David Lake was simply a dream. I just couldn’t stop basking in the warmth and breeze. (It was also the perfect time to do some laundry!)
I slowly started collecting some firewood and felt truly grateful for this day — for all the people I had met along the trail, no rain, the dry rocks, no injuries, beautiful clouds, the welcome breezes, and this gorgeous site to enjoy.
I was grateful for just being out here, being alive, and knowing what it meant to experience the outdoors like this.
The Storm Cometh
I returned to the task of gathering wood when, lo and behold, I spotted a canoe out on David Lake heading straight in my direction.
As it neared, I waved at the familiar faces and the Kellies called out a greeting.
“You came!” I exclaimed.
Laughing, they parallel parked along the rocks and Kelly #2 presented me with a plastic bag of red pepper, kiwi, plum, apple and baby carrots.
I was so overwhelmed that they had actually come all the way to my site to bring me this gift.
I felt a little teary as I offered them to visit my humble abode, but Kelly #1 informed me that a storm was coming.
They had also run into Meg on Silver Peak, and she had warned them of an impending 20 millimetres of rain.
I thanked the Kellies profusely and wished them a great trip. They may have called themselves the Killarney Krones, but they were the Killarney Angels to me.
I munched on a carrot as they paddled off into the choppy waters, then went back to the fire, which I figured I’d try making before another rainfall ruined my chances.
I gathered some more branches and kindling and was working intently away at my fire — so intently that I didn’t realize until I looked up a few minutes later that the entire sky was almost black.
A raindrop fell.
Then, I heard it — the sound of fierce wind and rain gusting in the far distance. It was growing louder and louder as it headed through the woods, straight in my direction.
I grabbed everything I could and started full-out running for my tent. As soon as I reached it, the downpour struck.
The wind was furiously blowing the rain sideways, and after scrambling into the hammock, I realized I’d have to get back out.
The rain fly was too loose and flapping open from the strong gusts. Every time the fly blew open, water sprayed into my tent.
I threw on my rain jacket and fixed the fly as fast as I could, then jumped back in.
The storm was wavering between crazy winds and rain to momentarily subsiding to a splattering of drops.
I had left the food bag and garbage out on the ground, and decided I was going to seize this opportunity to tie them up.
I dashed out, talking to myself: “Come on, Janice. Go.”
I managed to get everything up in the bear hang, then raced back to my tent. Once inside, I breathed a sigh of relief.
But it was short-lived when what sounded like an army of wind and rain whooshed in, sending down a shower of rain over my tent.
The storm raged on for hours. Every few seconds, the army would circle back and come barrelling down through the trees in my direction.
I cringed as it approached and I anticipated the extra layer of rain pummelling down on my little hammock tent.
The wind was howling from all directions. The waves were choppy and I could hear them crashing into the rocks. It sounded like complete chaos out there.
When I thought it couldn’t possibly rain any harder, it did. The rain sounded like drumbeats on my tent that kept getting faster and louder.
I was curled up into a little ball on my sleeping mat that now felt like an island, convinced that, at some point, the water would have to eventually seep into my tent.
A couple of hours later, the thundering began. Long, roaring booms swept across the park like a sonic jet engine. Flashes of lightning periodically illuminated the chaos raging outside.
I hoped that everyone on the trail was safe, and that they’d already found a home for tonight to stay dry and warm.
I finally fell asleep, exhausted and no longer able to stand guard.
>> Read the next post in the La Cloche Silhouette Trail solo adventure series: Recover from the Storm
>> Map screenshot from Jeff’s Killarney Map