I don’t know how or why the idea of a solstice day outdoor adventure came to me, but it did several years ago and it stewed in my brain until I finally made it happen 3 years ago and again this year.
Here’s how it works: you go camping by yourself somewhere in the wilderness on the longest day of the year and see how much you can pack into that one day. Wake up at 0520 when the sun rises and get going and keep doing stuff (with breaks of course) until 2140 when the sun sets.
This year I parked myself at Caddy Lake — lots of trails nearby and the famous tunnels for kayaking. Here’s my photo account of the day:
Morning: Kayak the tunnels
Okay well “tunnel” singular. I didn’t make it to the second tunnel into North Cross Lake. That bloody South Cross Lake goes on forever! I started getting blisters after 8 km of paddling and the wind started kicking up from the south so I turned around and took a break at a small island.
Lessons learned: take off wedding ring before paddling and wear gloves.
Afternoon: Hike Mantario Trail to Caribou Lake
Conditions were good for hiking. Not too wet. Not too many mosquitoes. I only found 10 wood ticks afterwards, plus one more crawling on me in the middle of the night as usual. Sneaky bastards.
Pro Tip: the little nodules at the tips of the petals of a columbine flower are filled with a honey-like nectar. Bite them off and chew on them with your front teeth and enjoy.
Evening: Bike the Blue Highway trail
My bike ride was delayed by rain and laziness. When I finally got going I thought I had plenty of time to bike the trail and probably an extra bit of the Centennial trail as well. Yeah, no. It was slow going. I left the whole last leg of the trail untouched.
Blue Highway is a mountain bike specific trail composed of rugged and unforgiving granite rock, mud, roots, and cool man-made wood features. It is still a work in progress. On some parts of the trail you’ll find crushed rock smoothing out the trail and wooden planks helping you scale sharp drops in the granite shelf. In other parts you will not be so lucky.
A big THANKS to the South Whiteshell Trail Association for giving us this unique and challenging ride. I hope to get back and do the whole thing — maybe with a full suspension bike next time. :-)
Lessons Learned: riding on wet granite is treacherous.
Trail Notes: the section of the trail that takes you to/from Caddy Lake has a uni-directional UP portion and a DOWN portion. The DOWN part has banked turns and is a blast. Turn on your GoPro camera and give’r.
What should I do next year? Solstice falls on a weekend so I might look for something more remote to avoid noisy campers because I am THAT OLD now. Ideas? Send me an email from the About Me page or let me know in the comments!
Solstice 2019 summary
Kayak: 16.4 km
Hike: 19.3 km
Bike: 10.4 km
TOTAL: 46.1 km