The La Cloche Silhouette Trail in Killarney Provincial Park was on my bucket list for a long time. I finally decided to do it this summer with 4 of my other friends. We embarked on a 6-day journey, covering 80km. This was the year of COVID, and international travel was impossible. So it was a good year to discover your own backyard.
It was a 4 hr drive from Toronto. I made sure my pack was under 25 pounds and I was excited to try my new hiking shoes. My number one concern was with Bruce, my labrador mix. This was his first major hike, so I wanted to make sure that his backpack wasn't too heavy.
We started the trip with lots of energy. There were smiles on everyone's faces and enthusiasm was through the roof. That first day was very hot with a humidex of 32 degrees. 3 of my friends on the trip were new to long-distance hiking so for them, it was a combination of excitement and nerves.
Some of the highlights of this trip consisted of breaking for lunch and going for a nice swim. Killarney is filled with many lakes; a lot of which are surrounded by quartz which look like snow tips on a mountain. The water was so clear you instantly wanted to dive in. Bruce really appreciated cooling off in the water.
Because most of the hike is on the ridge of the mountain, you are rewarded with beautiful views of all the lakes. The trails will dip in and out of the forest. There are also a few stream crossings.
The trail was quite easy for the first 8 km, and then it started to get really hard. We had one exceptionally big ascent. It was one of the most gruelling portions of the trail where they actually give it a name; "The pig". It's a 1km steep ankle-breaking incline.
We had just one day of rain and it came down really hard. Some of our gear got really wet. It was difficult hiking in the mud. morale was a little low. We got to a point where we decided to stop and put up a shelter, bunker down, and have some hot food.
Other than that one rainy day we had great weather for the entirety of the trip and camping was beautiful. We rolled into camp most of the time around 6 pm. Our routine consisted of pitching our tents, hanging wet gear, hunting for firewood and cooking our food. We kept it pretty simple with dehydrated meals. My favorite meal was the 3 cheese lasagna. Delicious! Its priority for me is to check Bruce's paws for redness or cuts.
We had a fire every night. As tired as we were, we always stayed up and shared good conversation and laughs.
Day 3 was the hardest day which included climbing up a waterfall. We ascended a kind of natural staircase of jagged slippery rocks. It was especially hard for one of us because he had twisted his ankle a day before. But he's a warrior and was very determined to continue.
Our last night was at Little Superior which was our favorite lake of the journey. It was a perfect night for stargazing. The Lake itself was super blue. It was so calm that after sunset it looked like glass.
Day 6 was the 'walking back to car' day and it's always the same. It's this feeling of sadness that the trip is over. You see more and more people around. It's an indication you are back into civilization. One family that passed by us had a little girl that looked at me like I was some sort of caveman, because I no doubt looked horrible by this point. Hungry and drained. The walk back to the car itself was quiet. We were occupied with our own thoughts. I was carrying Bruce's backpack as we slowly marched to the car.
As hard as this trip was, it was very rewarding and I do recommend it. It is one of the most beautiful hikes in Ontario. Due to the difficulty level I recommend packing light and investing in ultralight gear.
by: Thanh Chu. @21tunoffun