Hiking Granite Ridge

The La Cloche Mountain Range.

It’s hard to hike on flat terrain.  That’s why my friend and I were so excited about getting away from the wide open spaces of southern Ontario, to go hiking in Killarney Provincial Park, near Sudbury.  The terrain winds through old fields and forests as it scales it way to the top to where we would receive a spectacular view of not only the wild and magnificent Georgian Bay, but also the La Cloche Mountains.

I’d been wanting to see the La Cloche Mountains ever since I read about them in an old flyer called Portrait of a Spiritualist about Canadian artist Franklin Carmichael, a member of the Group of Seven.  As a fellow spiritualist, I felt a kinship with the man and wanted to find out what it was that brought him to La Cloche.

THE PREPARATION:
We packed our picnic the night before so we could get an early start in the morning.  It was an hour and a half by car to get from Pine Cove Lodge to Killarney Provincial Park.  We had a good idea which trails would offer the best views of the La Cloche, but our decision depended, not only on the weather, which was 30 degrees Celsius, but also on whether or not we were fit enough to climb some of the rougher terrain. Our first choice for the best viewing was called The Crack:a four hour, 6 km trip over some pretty rocky landscape.  The reward would be a panoramic view of what was once called Trout Lake, which is now known as O.S.A. lakes (Ontario Society of Artists) in honour of the Group of Seven who persuaded the Ontario Government to turn the 600 sq. km of lakes and mountains into a provincial park. As it turns out, we were fit enough to climb The Crack but the weather forbid it, so we settled for the Granite Ridge Trail which would be more manageable on such a hot day.

THE ASCENT:

We made it.

We set out on the 2 km loop trail which started out pretty flat before it veered off in two different directions.   We passed a rusted out old car on our journey, which we thought was rather odd until we found out that it was likely the sight of an old homestead that had become overgrown over time. We kept an eye out for deer, raptors (birds of prey), porcupine, and other small mammals that inhabit this terrain. We were lucky enough to come across a deer which we took a picture of.

Picking the trail to the right, we began our ascent to the top of Granite Ridge. Since we are both pretty fit, it was an easy climb over the boulders and tree roots that served as a natural staircase to the top of the ridge.  Fortunately, we were well sheltered from the hot sun by the myriad of pine trees along the path which kept us cool and made it possible for us to climb to the top without any trouble.

THE VIEW FROM THE TOP:

Checking out the way through.

My first glance at the La Cloche Mountains took my breath away. Despite the haze, we could make out the pink granite and white quartz ridges scattered with jack pines and punctuated with clear cerulean lakes. We decided to rest a while to take in the view while we took a few pictures and had a snack.  Exploring further, we discovered Georgian Bay stretched across the horizon, and Manitoulin Island to the west.

THE DESCENT:

Granite Ridge Trail.

We descended through a beautiful hemlock forest with lush mosses and cedars that grow in the wet areas along the trail.  The path down was easier, but for one difficult section where we had to do some serious rock climbing in order to stay on the trail. But it was well worth it.  We were hot and sweaty and ready for lunch and a swim in nearby George Lake by the time we got down.  There, we were treated to another spectacular view of the La Cloche Mountains that surrounds parts of the lake.  Only half the day had gone by.  We still had lots of time to get a close up view of Georgian Bay.

JOIN US NEXT WEEK FOR OUR VISIT TO GEORGIAN BAY.

Categories: Memoir

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