Elk Island Challenge

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Trail 10 of 11 complete

On August 22, 2005, Freya completed the Shirley Lake Trail. It was a hot and sunny day, but we still had to where long pants to keep the mosquitoes at bay.

Freya prepares for her penultimate trek at the Shirley Lake Trailhead.

Freya pauses by a trail marker in her gleaming yellow rubber boots. We had more comfortable footwear on hand, but the trail was damp from rains earlier in the week.

The hardy hikers took luncheon in the abandoned Oster Lake campground. There was no evidence that the campground had been fully booked the previous day.

Freya rests in a spot of shade next to some wildflowers and mushroom. Around her neck, you can see the binoculars that were presented to her the night before by park staff in recognition of Freya's contribution to promoting the park.

At the trailhead, the support crew celebrates the return of the hikers!

Freya emits a primal scream at the completion of the last lengthy trail of her challenge. Only the 4.6 km Simmons Trail remains.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Freya will be at the Friday night interpretive program

Freya will be giving a brief presentation at the Astotin Lake Interpretive Centre this Friday night at 8:00 pm. Come out to hear some of her favorite memories or to ask her questions.

Freya navigates some "soft" terrain

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Trail 9 of 11 complete!

We pack quite a lot of gear for longer trails like the Tawayik Lake Trail. Lots of food, a first aid kit, a knife, a change of socks, rain gear, insect repellent, and close to 3 liters of water. On this trip, Freya carried 2 kg of water in a camel pack and dad carried about 10 kg of assorted trappings pictured here.

Here is Freya at the Tawayik Lake trailhead ready to set out. Just before this photo was taken, we watched a lone bison wander down the trail we were about to take, so we proceeded with caution.

After abut 800 m of walking, we found the bull that had started out ahead of us. He had decided to sit down in the middle of the trail. He seemed to have no intention of moving so we bushwhacked through the 1.5 m tall underbrush on the left side of the trail. Freya could not see further than the bush in front of her!

After almost emerging from the underbrush right on top of this wooly beast, we eventually emerged 50 m beyond him. In the end, he did not seem that interested in our presence.

At two stage on the trail, the mosquitoes reached sufficient ferocity to force Freya into donning her mosquito net hat.

There had not been any precipitation in the park for a couple of days so the Tawayik Narrows - pictured here - where quite solid. Freya is shown racing to our planned lunch spot on the far side of the narrows.

After about 7 km, we stopped for lunch. We have found that beef jerky makes an easy to carry and very filling treat.

Freya looking strong about halfway through the trek.

Freya at the junction of the trail and the Otter Lake Campground Road.

The Tawayik Lake Trail joins with the Shirley Lake Trail (the next on our list) for the last 4 km. The mosquitoes came on in full force again here. We pause to reapply insect repellent and to devour a couple of chocolate bars.

We stumbled across this amazing spider web at the trail side. We could look down the tunnel in the centre of the web - which was about as thick as one of my fingers - and see a rather large spider therein.

While Freya looks spunky here with about 2 km remaining, the sky had darkened, the rain had started, and Freya's feet began to hurt badly. The rain had also forced us to pack away the printout of Volsunga Saga (pdf) that had been sustaining us on the trail. Freya was particularly taken by the brief appearance of her namesake goddess in the text - she comes to the aid a king and queen with a fertility issue. We completed 11 chapters before the rain forced us to pack it away. Freya loves to listen to and tell stories to pass the time on the trail.

Sweet victory! By the park wardens' latest measurements, we completed 16.8 km in 7.5 hours. This is a slightly faster rate for Freya. Most of the trails were completed at a rate of almost exactly 2 km/hour.