Friday, October 26, 2007


luc and i were supposed to do pukaskwa - out and back (i've done the trail before) and the lake superior coastal trail this trip.

the first night driving up from toronto, we stayed in pancake bay prov. park, north of the soo (i'm not a fan of driving much longer than 9 hours). returning to our site w/luc from a walk on a short hiking trail in the park, we got stopped by a couple who said 'excuse me, is he a black GSD?' - NOBODY EVER says that. so i said, well, i think he's a mix, though people on here have questioned that, but i'm not really sure. the couple had 2 GSDs (not with them, i guess it's a pain to take dogs over the border - ???) - a black&tan and a black GSD who they said was pretty well luc's twin - same amount of chest white and everything - so he got to be all handsome and impress them. later that night he stepped in lake superior (and stepped back out, but it's progress).

got up to pukaskwa national park the next day (a couple of hours past wawa) and started backpacking. hiked into our site no problems, luc crossed over a very high suspension bridge (white river), he was scared, but he did it, had a nice, uneventful evening.

next morning, good start, we made good time. we got about 8.5k down to a nice bay w/a huge beach and sites by 10.30, passed through, over another, smaller, suspension bridge (willow river), and kept hiking. we were halfway by that point for the day so i decided we'd do a nice relaxed pace, but i can see huge gains in luc's fitness.

then it happened. i fell/went over my ankle. i'm still not sure how - the trail can be very rough and rugged, but wasn't were i fell. i think my lace my have caught on something but i am not sure. at any rate, i went over, heard a loud 'snap/pop' sound, and felt searing pain. i taped the ankle, then walked another 20 mins. to see if i could walk it off. got to a boulder beach, realized the pain was not of the 'walk off' variety and that there was no way i could cross the beach.this trail is fairly isolated - it's not unusual not to see people for days - and people have died on trip on this coast, very experienced people, though as far as i know it's the kayakers/canoeists who die, not the hikers, but still. i realized - the further down i go, the more isolated i get, and i was going to get myself in a huge amount of trouble and need to be SAR'd out. also, if anything happened to luc - i can carry him, but not if i'm injured as well. and being solo, well, i thought i'd be an idiot if i kept on going injured into isolated areas. the non-isolated areas are isolated by most standards, so....we went back about 1.5k to the beach at willow river, and set up camp there. luc thought the beach was way too hot! i loved the sun, he's a shade baby.

lazed around, and late that afternoon - people (3 kayakers!!!) actually came in!!! hobbled over w/luc to meet them, they were really nice guys, they had me for dinner and they had spiced drambuie (yum!) which is of course a very good painkiller. medicinal and all.

luc, who is protective in the backcountry anyways, seemed to have switched into an extra-protective mode once i hurt myself. those guys were good w/them and he was with them, to a point, but he did not like them approaching me. it was ok if i chose to approach them, but he was very protective. anyways, they took off the next morning, luc and i stayed there - beautiful weather, lovely site and beach - figured i could stay there for a few days before heading back to the trailhead, and hopefully my ankle would heal, as i wouldn't be able to go back w/out serious pain. the kayakers found me a great walking stick, which i didn't take out w/me b/c it was too much, but it was really helpful.around noon that day, i was with luc on the site - all bear attractants, including the first aid kit (assuming meds have smells) were in the bear box (national parks are fancy and have steel boxes!) - except for luc's food. there were a lot of blueberries a few hundred metres back from our site, and taking luc that morning to do his business i had seen bear tracks on the beach. anyways, luc was on a tie-out, and around noon, he started barking and growling in a way i've never heard him before - it was more threatening than any other protective growls etc he's ever done - i looked up and saw a bear (fairly small, i'd place it 2-3 years old, black bear) taking off in the bush about 5 feet back from the tent. yay luc! so proud of him, praised him lots - again, i never got him to do that, but how amazing he did! i didn't worry too much about it, since the bear left, and you know, maybe it was just passing through.

around 10 minutes later i was down by the lake getting water and i heard the barking start again - very short duration though - but the same 'bear barking'. by the time i 'ran' the 50m back up to the site, i didn't see anything - but i trust luc that the bear came back. and that's not, we packed up, left the site about 1.10, and headed for the trailhead.

i could've stopped at a site inbetween, but once i started walking, i realized it was unlikely i was going to be able to do it the next day, and the inbetween sites were heavily forested, i didn't want to be there for a few days - so i just went out. 17k in 5hrs 40mins. and some SERIOUS pain as it was over rough terrain. luc was fantastic, he put up with my whining, helped me up hills (pulling or by letting me use him as a prop to get up) and was SO SO SO SO good. i love my boy. he was my rock. i did it b/c i didn't see any other choice - i couldn't stay w/the bear, not fair to me, to luc, or to the bear - and i didn't think i could stop once having started.

got out just before 7pm, everyone (no matter how well their trip goes) has to fill out a mandatory backcountry return form (they start SAR 24 hours after your non-return without question, unlike other parks). someone was there when i handed it in (also saw justin and julian checking in, julian took luc while i filled out my report), and they were very concerned about the bear - there's sites 5-7k down where there'd been a bear sited several times that sounded like the one i saw, but this was the first time it entered a site, though it wasn't aggressive. they decided to send rangers down the next day and they called the warden/superintendent for me to speak to (!) and said they would likely be relocating the bear.

also told me that i could have fractured my ankle and still walked out. so - at this point my ankle had swollen up a lot and i had blood pooling bruising along the bottom - i headed out - i didn't want to camp that night, i want to put my ankle up on something that wasn't a log (as i'd previously been elevating it - and icing it in lake superior), something like pillows - so i drove an hour until i found a motel, luc and i stayed there. had the biggest meal ever in their restaurant and got luc a patty, he deserved it for scaring off the bear :)

luc was good but got upset when someone leaving at 4.40 am walked past our window.... sorry people in the rooms on either side! got to wawa after a couple hours of driving the next day, went to the hospital there as was in a lot of pain at that point. not broken, but i tore two ligaments on the outside of my ankle. just outside wawa is an outfitters i know, on michipicoten bay (literally one end of lake superior) (naturally superior adventures) so i went there to say hello and to drop off a water pump that one of the kayakers lost - i stayed for lunch and then, b/c i felt awful (i can't take anti-inflammatories), just decided to camp there.

luc was pretty barky and jumpy - a lot of weird stuff happening, after all - but he did well. realized he was also underexercised - he's used to 2-3 hours a day, and at a faster pace then i can currently provide. we had a huge thunderstorm that night - the winds were insane, and i grew up canoeing on georgian bay in the great lakes - but luc did great, he was nervous, but i wouldn't say he was scared - so improvement over his first thunderstorm in a tent!

got back to toronto the next evening....very frustrating, not the trip i wanted! i'm sure luc felt it ended too early as well.

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