La Cloche Day 3: Commit to Confidence
After getting my fill of rain over the past two days on the La Cloche Silhouette Trail, it was thankfully clear and sunny this morning.
I was already organizing my pack as my new campmates, Matt and Cam, emerged from their tents.
“Would you like some hot coffee?” Matt asked.
Lord have mercy. My two favourite words.
Over some hot brew, the guys informed me that after debating whether to stay another night on the trail, they had come to the decision to head out of the Park today.
After packing up, we hugged and said our goodbyes. I said I’d find Matt on Facebook upon my return to civilization and let them know that I had made it out alive.
With my intention of the day being “commit”, I summoned up the self-confidence that I could indeed hike this loop safely and successfully on my own.
There was no turning back at this point anyhow.
Day 3 Intention: Commit
Staying humble doesn’t mean being in a fearful or intimidated state. Own what you’ve set out to do and remember all the reasons why you had the confidence to pursue it in the first place.
The Point of No Return
Half an hour into the hike through the hemlock forest, I reached the beautiful, panoramic view of Shingwak Lake, Silver Peak, Georgian Bay, Manatoulin Island and the Killarney Ridge.
The sun was blazing with not a cloud in the sky, except for a few puffs dotting one side of the ridge and a blanket of clouds stretching along the other.
I turned on my phone, correctly expecting that there would be reception at this height.
I got the update that I was looking for: a message from my cousin Lilli that the fire ban had been lifted!
The way I had planned this trip with short days had been working out perfectly so far. I didn’t have to feel rushed leaving camp, and could take all the time I wanted to on this viewpoint.
Day 3 Route (Little Superior to Heaven = 4.1 km)
After soaking in the scenery and having a Probar for lunch, I set off again.
A few minutes later, I greeted a group of four hikers and three dogs who were resting on the trail.
“Are you doing this by yourself?!” one of the guys exclaimed after seeing no one else come up behind me.
“Yup!” I replied.
“Wow!” He looked amazed.
The group was quite friendly and we chatted for a bit. I mentioned hosting Matt and Cam at my site the night before, and that they had been delayed in their journey helping an injured hiker.
“That was him,” one of the girls said, pointing at the guy who had asked if I was soloing the trail.
“Oh!” It all suddenly clicked. I had run into none other than Mark and Rebecca, the couple who Matt and Cam had helped out at Silver Lake.
Mark was doing much better now and in good spirits. Matthieu showed us a photo of a giant snapping turtle that had almost bit him while on David Lake.
I was heading to that same hiking site in a few days and made a mental note to watch out for giant turtles swimming around.
After taking some selfies and exchanging Instagram handles, we wished each other a good, safe journey.
How to Get to Heaven
The rest of the way to hiking site 47 (H47) on Heaven Lake was extremely hot. Some of the trail meandered into shaded forest, but much of it was out on exposed rock.
As with the section from The Crack to Little Superior Lake, there were several parts that were not so well marked.
I stopped periodically to recuperate with some water and snack breaks. It felt like I was overheating, and that my face was turning as red as a tomato.
I finally came to the steep descent that would have been a serious pain to climb up. At one moment, my foot slid on a rock and my butt hit the ground.
I took a moment to compose myself and went back to my “calm” mantra for the rest of the descent.
All it takes is one wrong move, I was reminded.
It felt like the hike to H47 would never end, and at one point, I even wondered if I had passed it.
But upon checking my stopwatch, I realized that it hadn’t even been an hour since leaving the viewpoint. The heat was just making it incredibly challenging to get moving comfortably.
I recalled my intention of the day, Commit, and reminded myself that when I was tired and not paying attention, I was letting the trail own me.
While I always wanted to stay humble, I also wanted to continue feeling confident.
I made my way up and over an ascent, and when I felt the wind blowing freely, I knew I was almost there. Heaven Lake was known to be an exposed, windy site high up on the ridges.
And, yes, a couple of minutes later, there was Heaven.
I had arrived just past 1 pm. Seeing as how I was early and the sky was clear, I forewent setting up my tent and went straight for the water to cool off.
Algae covered the rocks, making it difficult to find a good wade-in spot. I followed a pathway of rocks that dipped in and out of the water, and arrived at a larger rock jutting out of the lake.
There was lots of life in here, which seemed to make for less-than-optimal swimming conditions. But I was glad that all the various lake inhabitants and insects were fully enjoying Heaven!
After hanging the water sack from a tree and taking a shower, I stood by the lake’s edge, gloriously immersed in sun. I was so grateful for another successful day ending in beautiful weather.
Dragonflies floated around, buzzing excitedly. Chirping grasshoppers and crickets filled the silence, along with the gusting wind. The sun continued streaming down, warming up my entire body.
And now, for a Snickers bar.
Playing in Nature’s Backyard
While I could have stood in the sun all day, I knew it was time to set up camp.
There were some seriously slim pickings for a good hammock tent spot on this site, and I finally had to settle for two trees next to the fire pit.
I’d at least have tree coverage, a necessity up here. If it were to rain, an exposed tent with the winds wouldn’t stand a chance.
After throwing up my bear hang, I went to sit in the “backyard” of H47 in the blazing, hot sun. There was an expansive view of a sparkling lake in the distance, with the silhouettes of the ridges far beyond.
I spent so much time baking in the sun that I felt like I was turning into toast. I finally retreated to my tent at 7 pm.
It was still bright outside, although the sun was nearing the horizon. The air was starting to feel cooler and chirping could be heard all around.
I lay in my tent, listening to the sound of a plane engine whir by overhead. It was getting harder and harder to keep my eyelids open.
In danger of falling asleep at any second, I set my alarm for 10 pm to put away the food and check out the star situation.
But before my alarm could go off, I awoke to the sound of footsteps near my tent.
My heart started racing and, grabbing the bear spray (yes, after this happened, I sleep with the bear spray!), I peered outside.
I lay still, trying to let my heartbeat settle down. But it was too late — my imagination was already spinning.
No matter how much I objectively knew that the chances of anything crazy happening out here were slim, sometimes I couldn’t help but let everyone else’s fears for me creep up.
After getting super imaginative with scenarios of stalking creatures and backcountry serial killers, I determined that I now had no choice but to get out there in the dark, just to combat my fears.
I stepped out of my tent and walked over to the backyard of H47. The moon was full and bright, and seemed closer than ever. A few stars were out, but it was still too early for a fully sparkling sky.
The Big Dipper loomed large and close above. In awe, I quickly forgot about mystery creatures of the night, and simply revelled in being high up in the world, close to the heavens.
>> Read next post in the La Cloche Silhouette Trail solo adventure series: There’s Nothing Like the Present
>> Map screenshot from Jeff’s Killarney Map