Sunday I headed out to Sleeping Giant Provincial for a hike with brother Brian and some of his family. I had to be at the trailhead at 8:30 so I was up at 5:45, read a bi5 and then loaded Bridget onto the Dakota, gassed up and headed into the early morning sun on 11/17. I arrived just as Brian and the gang did so timing was perfect. We unloaded the bikes and decided to bike to Sawyer Bay and then climb the head of the Sleeping Giant. The trail was in decent shape but there was a ton of climbing and descending. The roughest part of the trail seemed to be when we were going up or down. Small boulders littered the way and even the decscents were done at about 10kmph as the rock was just too loose to let go of the brakes for any fast fun. The climbs were another matter altogether. I stopped to wait for a minute at the top of one hill and thought I could hear a partridge thumping in the bush. I realized the thumping was far too regular and that it was my pulse making all the racket in the stillness of the great Canadian outback. Keeping my butt in the saddle and leaning forward to hold down the front wheel was the only way that worked for me. I walked more than a few of the longer hills. My pedals and shoes would really have helped towards the top as the added set of leg muscles can really save you when you can't push anymore. It took us nearly 90 minutes to cover the 6.5km to Sawyer Bay.
We had a drink and locked up the bikes, shouldered our packs and headed off along the bay for about 1/2km then headed towards the back of the head. It looked impossibly high as we caught glimpses through the thick trees. Our sherpa guide Brian had made the climb once before and confirmed that it was a pretty steep trail. Soon the slope began to tilt and we were stepping from rock to rock and root to root, grabbing at small trees for support. The trail was trickier than usual as the heavy rain from last week left it wet in the shadows. Brian, Jennifer Kimberly and I reached the top at about 11am and were in for a treat. We looked back over to the east and could make out Silver Islet, Lake Marie Louise, several smaller lakes and with binoculars even picked out the Sea Lion. On the west side was Thunder Bay, Pie Island and I swear I could see as far as Pigeon River to the south. We arrived sweaty and warm but the westerly wind cooled us quickly and we scrambled for jackets. After numerous pictures and lunch we headed back down the goat path. We all found the descent tougher on the legs but easier overall. We had to be extremely careful not to fall. Kimberly had Chris' pup Shadow who tended to pull on the way up but even the pup was carefull on the way down.
Back at Sawyer Bay we had a few snacks and drinks before grabbing the bikes and heading to the steepest climbs we would face on two wheels. Everyone managed to get back safely and then we headed to the campground to sit around for a bit. Brian and I did another short level bike ride around the campgrounds. Alot of things have changed at the park that used to be Sibley Provincial when we went as kids, but much is still the same. The deer have replaced the moose, everything is more expensive but seems better cared for.
We had supper and then sat by a fire for a bit before it was time to head for town. It was a great day, a worthwhile climb and fun spending time with Brian in 'his' world. He literally could be a guide on the trails and even without the trails.
When I got home Sal hadn't eaten so we drove over to Festa Italiano and wandered around a bit, had some pasta and took a few canolies to go.
On Monday Sal, Jen, the Ginko and I went to pick strawberries at Belluz's Farm on Candy Mountain Road. We came back to town, dropped off Jen, then the Dakota and walked over to the cineplex to catch the latest Ice Age movie. I admit to dozing a bit during the movie but hey, it was a long weekend.