This was Luc the dog's first backpacking trip, and if I may say, he did great. I was supposed to fastback the trail in 2.5 days but didn't think that'd be fair to Luc since I'd had him for a week, so we did an in and out. We did day hikes Friday/Monday as well.
Friday July 6: Left Toronto mid-morning, uneventful trip up. At check-in I am informed that going to H16 (16.4k not including side trail to site) is considered high-risk.....uhhh - ???? - but it is sorted and I am in fact very clearly not high-risk. I changed my reservations to make the trip easier for the dog! We stayed in George Lake Friday night - Trout Creek is a nice and I found quieter/less busy part of the campground, so that was cool.
Luc seemed to realize immediately that the campsite was 'our territory' and while I was setting up the tent (he was on a tie-out) started practicing his guard dog behaviour. Very strange to see; yes, he's a German Shepherd Dog, but he's been so underexposed he's not always that confident - but that was probably why he behaved that way. A lot of his current behaviour is b/c of the massive life changes recently. He was fairly good at standing down when I told him to, given that he's just started to learn any commands.
Walked out to the Granite Ridge trail after the tent was up and did that - good views of Georgian Bay in the one part, it's a pretty trail for sure. We chilled out for a while in camp, then checked out the lake and went for a couple of walks between dinner and before bed. Luc did fine in the tent (my two man).
Saturday July 7: Started hiking at 7.35 am. (I wake up early now to take someone to the bathroom....) Nice morning, overcast, but good. Met a dayhiker after H4 by the beaver dams (Luc got better at stream crossings as the trip went on, he was a bit sketchy at the beginning). Chatted for a bit and then left - I don't think Luc was a fan b/c he was happy to leave the guy behind!
After H6 we met two backpackers, only other people we saw that day. Luc did lead sometimes and was decent at finding trail. It was buggy, but not awful. Stopped for water breaks (for Luc) every 1/2 hour. We had lunch on the access trail to H8 overlooking the creek - and actually, we did see some canoeists, but they didn't see us.
Got into camp at 1.15, set up - really only one good tentsite at H16, and it was very close to both the fire and box. I think I've yet to see an official campsite where the tentsite, box, and 'food area'/campfire met LNT standards. But with parks I guess the idea is to concentrate impact into that one area anyways. Distinguished myself by sucking large at the bear throw. It's not my best skill ever, but I usually have luck in Killarney (I can usually stand on a hill and throw it over a branch on a tree further down the hill ).
Afternoon was spent lazing, swimming, sunning, and playing w/Luc's harness - it rubbed a bit on his chest so I duct taped it up and then used the bandana. He's too big for a medium and not quite big enough for a large. Good dinner, enjoyed the evening until the bugs got to be too much. Lots of loons, Luc was ensuring our site was safe (heh) from the snapping turtle that was in the water and ignoring him (he growled at it - I wouldn't have looked over the cliff to see what was going on and seen it otherwise).
Night - discovered Luc, in the one-man tent, likes to lean against the sides. Tent veers in a way that makes me nervous with his 68lbs going full tilt against one side. Everything held just fine. The most it does is pull the pole to the side so it is not directly under the fly seem anymore. Quite warm with the two of us in the tent, the fly door got rolled up. It had showered throughout the afternoon but I don't think it did at night.
Sunday July 8: On the trail by - I don't remember actually, but around 7.30 - a bit earlier than the day before. We moved at a steady pace, it was quite buggy, we still did the water breaks every 1/2 hour but they sucked at times (I didn't wear any bug spray this trip). Along Kirk Creek we saw a deer (well, I did, I'm not sure if Luc noticed it as he appeared to looking at a leaf). Lots of deer/moose poop, also saw the biggest moose tracks I've ever seen. Guy must be a monster!
Some showers but not bad. The trail here has a lot of tall grass/ferns so it was pretty if a bit wet at times. Going up the portage from Threenarrows to Baie Fine, met 4 backpackers - chatting about our sites and the trail - mentioned we were just training Luc, the guy was in Pukaskwa last year so he gave me some up-to-date information (it's been a while for me!) and that's looking good. They were doing the whole La Cloche and it sounded like a lovely trip. We met more people throughout the day, but it was pretty uneventful.
Had lunch just outside H4 at that pretty narrow strip. Couldn't be bothered to put Luc's pack back on for the 1k or so to H2, our campsite. Got into camp around 12.30. Set up - saw the world's most DISGUSTING thing ever, did better with the bear rope though there's not a lot of sites, I ended up basically back at the main trail. The clouds passed and the sun came out, I 'swam', sunned, read (the trail guidebook, I forgot a real book, not that the guidebook isn't great). Started dinner and the clouds started to come in again. Ate quickly and got the bear bag packed up, as I knew we were supposed to have thunderstorm and I had to walk along a low ridge to hang the bag.
We did that, and then chilled out under the tarp watching the showers. Luc was fine with the low rumbles. As the rumbles got closer, I took him into the tent, which was just as well since he was terrified. Didn't seem to care about the lightening though. He went to the one end, and shook and drooled (a HUGE pool). Since you're not supposed to comfort them in their fear, but I felt bad, I limited myself to reading the guidebook and saying brightly 'Did you know these mountains are 1.8 billion years old?'
The lightening and thunder passed and we went out again - there was LOTS to sniff at this site so we were pretty busy, also I saw the beaver for the second time - and figured out all those high-pitched yelps I heard in the afternoon weren't rampant schoolchildren on the trail but beavers (they started again after I saw the beaver swim towards and then dive down to the lodge). So....beaver talking! I'm telling people beaver babies but maybe the adults have squeaky voices, I don't know.... Oddly, for all he didn't like the snapping turtle, I don't think Luc evened noticed the beavers. The bullfrogs (in the lake below and pond above) were very interesting to listen to, apparently, and he told an algae bloom in the pond exactly what he thought of it!!!! (I like to think there was something in the algae I couldn't see). Didn't storm again until after I was asleep, though lightening woke me up around 2 am.
Monday July 9: Woke up early, didn't want to hang around in the tent (which held great through the storm), it was BUGGY outside so while I'd planned to hang around the site in the morning I think we were out of there by 7.15, 7.20. we did do a leisurely hike back, I showered, and then we did the Chikanishing Trail - DO this one, SO pretty! I love that kind of landscape!!!! Really fun trail The weather report had been unclear as to whether there would be more thunderstorms that morning, so we took a miss on the cranberry bog trail, and headed home, which was fine b/c with traffic I think I was returning the car to my mom's at 4, 4.30ish.