Mon Feb. 16 (day 8)

Although the outside temperature was –28C when I last checked at 9pm last night, it was too hot in the tent. I tossed and turned trying to cool off while avoiding a draft. Still, feel sweaty and stinky for the first time in eight days. Since we are day tripping, it’s a leisurely start to the day with a hearty breakfast of oatmeal, thick sliced bacon and mini cinnamon buns, a sticky gooey treat, made for caffeine!

Lunch (including the tea pail) is packed since we’ll be gone all day. Bread baked the night before is sensory feast, the brown crust dotted with dried cranberries. I can hardly wait! Expedition appetite is starting to invade my thoughts. We’re on the road by 10am, following the creek toward Skuce Lake. It’s more trail clearing as willows choke the slightest opening. The only thing of interest is the old scar of an abandoned logging road but it is no use in our quest find a route south.

Skuce Lake (elevation 390m) is small and feels small, ringed by steep cedar lined banks. We pass several air holes in the lake surface where water has surged then drained back down. Small as it is, Skuce has an island plus three marked summer campsites. It’s another 560m portage up and over a steep ridge into Little Nadine Lake. These are tiny ponds more than lakes, each slightly higher in elevation than the last. Little Nadine (elevation 400m)  is also ringed with trees and surrounded by naked ridges. It’s up up and up a 1230m portage into Little Osler Lake (elevation 446m) which is the highest point on the trip. Craig points out that we are crossing the ‘Nadine Ridge’, dropping down into Osler Lake (elevation 407m). The portage sign into Osler Lake was hard to find as the tree it was posted on had been blown over.

Abundant moose tracks wander around the lake but nothing is terribly fresh. More annoying is the discovery of ATV tracks so deep into the park. Is nothing really wild here anymore? I’m disgusted that private motorized traffic is allowed in the park. If people are claiming rights to use based on history, then the present use should continue only in the traditional fashion i.e.snow shoes in the winter and canoes in the summer.

Traditions are hard to modify never mind change. In spite of being sled free today, our lunch is another two hour affair. The fire is warm but plain standing around with a strong wind chills me down, I’m more than ready to move. Finally, after the sandwiches have been eaten, the chocolate and dried apricots consumed, its time to go. Onwards we push, walking to the end of Osler Lake, trying to locate the best way south to the Nipissing

River. We follow Osler Creek for a very short distance but turn back as it is well overgrown with those dastardly willows and the day is getting late.

It’s a fast return trip to camp being down hill on a packed trail and with waiting tent. Supper is a leisurely affair – Bob makes pasta mixed with curried apple, squash soup, dehydrated broccoli, mushrooms and onions plus a few breakfast sausages mixed in. All very good! Idle chit chat around the tent tonight, more than usual as we are not so tired. It’s a starry starry night, last reading of temperature at 9pm shows –28C. Good night!