My Road To Ishpatina Ridge
Wow, where to begin. This was much more than a cache and an event, this was an awesome adventure of a life time. So grab a drink and snack and let me tell you the story of
"My Road To Ishpatina"
It all started months ago when I had a comment on a video I had on Youtube. The video was from another cache that I had done (The Air Is Thin Up Here - GCKT8F). The poster was asking if that was taken at Ishpatina Ridge. This was the first time I ever even heard of Ishpatina Ridge, although I was living second closes to Roglatour to the location. This started my curiousity into the Ridge. I started looking into it and was finding and reading about it. I was thinking this would be somewhere awesome to go to. Well about 2 to 3 weeks later, the Ishpatina Ridge Picnic showed up on Geocaching.com. I told my son Patrick that this was something we gotta do and he was all for it. My son and I have been caching for 2 years in September and have been to some of the most awesome locations/caches together since then. It's great to have someone who's just as passionate about caching as I am. So now with our new found goal/cache, the planning was to begin.
We looked through maps and maps and they were not all clear or identical to what trails were available. So we figured the best way to check would be to get on our quads and go out and scout out the area as best we could. This also was a great reason to take another great quad ride as we have done many times every year. We loaded up the quads, packed our coolers and gear and along with Patrick's girlfriend Samantha and our two dogs, Max and Mishu, we headed out. We drove the 80kms in on quads and headed up and down trails to find anything that would bring us near. We went one way and then the other to only find out we were the right way first. Finally as our time for exploring was coming to an end, we made the decision to just try this last trail. Bingo, this trail took us to Woods Lake which would give us access to Ishpatina. There was another short trail but we did not have any more time to explore, sunset would be upon us by the time we got the 80+kms back to the van and trailer. So satisfied that at least would now have a game plan, we headed back thinking It was a long day but also a very successful one as we aquired a wealth of information.
So now back home with our information, I posted as much as I could for others to also benefit from our scouting. Now we were trying to figure out exactly how our gameplan was to come about. I had a canoe, I had quads, I had a van and a trailer, but how to bring all that was needed to the woods lake landing. After a week or two of trying to figure out whether to purchase a canoe trailer or rack for the quad, I found a neat little canoe trailer that was so compact that I could fit it in the van for the haul out. Meanwhile my
daughter's boyfriend had missed out on a chance to go to Ishpatina a couple of weeks previously that I asked if he wanted to join Pat and I. So now with the three of us going, Patrick, who had been wanting a kayak all summer, started talking about getting one. We found a great deal at a local sporting goods store and we both chipped in half and purchased one. So now we had one more thing to bring and our plans slightly altered which benefited another grateful cacher later in the story.
Finally game plan was at hand, now weather and time were the only thing left to change any plans. It did show rain about 2 weeks before so we were thinking up a plan B but then the weather was showing to be looking beautiful. The week before I read another cacher (Roglatour) was going up on Tuesday and that got me thinking to go up Thursday and set up, and then pick up Patrick and Kevin at the beginning of the long gravel road in. Also on my plate was the fact that our car had stopped working and with only one vehicle, which my wife needed to get her and my daughter Mel to work while we were gone. We found a used truck, purchased and picked it up on the Wednesday, the day before leaving. So now, that was solved, but doing the searching and purchasing of another vehicle really occupied my mind and time and found myself a little unprepared on Thursday to leave. The drastic change in weather, a warm front rolling in didn't help, I'm one of those unlucky ones plague with migraines when the weather changes, taking Extra Strength Tylenol was all I could do all weekend. I did manage to leave home at around 1:45, loaded with 2 quads, 2 trailers, a canoe, a kayak and all my camping gear. If my van could talk, it would of probably been cursing me. I stopped to pick up gas and some groceries and was off. Reached Portelance lumber Rd (gravel road), rechecked again to make sure everything was secure and headed in. Things were going fine until I met up with a logging truck coming over a hill in the middle of the road. I hit the brakes, eased the wheel to the right and somehow with the van sliding in the loose gravel with the weight of the trailer pushing, just managed to squeeze by the loaded log trailer and the bushline/shoulder of the road. OK, that was scary, I drove real slow for another 5 miles before I got over it and the Ishpatina bug got me back on track, and all excited to go. I just followed my tracks all the way to the Sturgeon River although I did make one brief wrong turn and had to back up cause there was no way I was gonna get the van and trailer with two quads turned around on this narrow trail of a road.
Once, and very happily I'll say, I arrived at the Sturgeon River, I saw Roger's trailer and setup, he and Ruth were out fishing. I got out, looked around and figured maybe I'd squeeze in this small spot near him. I started to unload all the quads, canoe, kayak and trailers. Wow, I needed much more room than what was here. I walked back down the road to where I saw a gravel like pit and contemplated that spot. Walked back to the van and then drove the van back to the pit, walked back again and this time grabbed one quad with the big trailer and put the canoe and kayak on and strapped them down. Now just to go back and get the other quad. Wow, more work once again the I needed, but hey, I was here and happy to be. Now to get set up and then have my steaks and home fries supper that I was dreaming of for weeks,
nothing like steak cooked on an open fire. Wow, it's pretty wind over here, I'm thinking to myself as I start unloading and placing heavier items on lighter ones to keep them from blowing away. Okay, the tent, now this will be fun. Trying to put a 10x8 tent with 40kms gust of wind. Unfold and lie it on the ground, damn the corners keep blowing over, reach for the pegs with one foot on the corner to keep it still. Found out these small tent pegs don't work well in this gravel, as I go to the next corner, the so called secured one blows away. Ok, I'm gonna put the long rods in and they'll help keep the floor in a square. Place the rods in and great, now im getting some where, and then this gust of wind comes and picks up the tent like a parachutes and drops it 15 feet away from where I had it. Grabbed two of the folding chairs and placed them in the corners to keep the tent from blowing away again. It was still moving some so I was running back and forth grabbing anything with weight to hold it down. Now with most stuff in the tent, I grabbed my spare tire and put it on the quad trailer. I needed the room as I intended on sleeping in the van this night. Plugged in the lighter cord and my bed filled up with air. Perfect,placed my bedding and was set for sleeping the night, Finally all organized i hear the sounds of quads coming, it's gotta be Roger. I jumped on the quad and rode over to see him. Had a good chat and borrowed a grill which I forgot to bring. Went back and was thinking supper. But it's getting dark now and the wind is still blowing hard, so the long awaited steak will have to wait till tomorrow, beans and wieners it is. After supper, rode to the river to wash my dishes and then off to bed it was. Wow, It's almost 8pm. But I was exhausted and fell asleep. Woke up when I heard Roger and Ruth returning on quads from there supper with some other campers in the area. It was close to 11:30, so I watched a movie on my PSP till 1:30am and then went back asleep.
OK, brr, it's damn cold, started the van, which I did a couple of times during the night to warm up. Once warmed up, I decided that I would go for a ride to Woods Lake and maybe shoot some grouse if I seen any. When I get back, I'll have my long awaited steak I was still looking forward to. The ride there was awesome, I crossed the Sturgeon River, and the whole trip in, I didn't see any humans. I had even stopped to shoot at a grouse, but it flew away before I could. Woods Lake was just how I remembered it, beautiful little spot with a couple of boats that were left there by others, One boat on shore was made of solid steal and during our conversation the night before, Roger had mentioned that it was so heavy that he couldn't budge it. I walked over to see, and yep, I couldn't budge it either. How did that float and who was the Sasquatch who took it out of the water in the first place ran through my head. Oh yeah, that trail, the one I didn't have time to check when we came and scouted, now I can scout it out. So I grabbed my gun and figured I'd hunt and check it out at the same time. Well the trail just took me back to the small campsite for Woods Lake that I passed on the way in. Followed the trail back to the quad, took some pics of Woods Lake and then jumped on the quad to start heading back. Went 50 feet and there it stood, right where I had just passed, once by walking and the first time quading by, a grouse. Lifted my gun and had my first bird for this year. Wow, today's starting off great. Jumped on the quad and started to go again, another 100m, another bird, that's 2. Another 100m and there was another bird I almost ran over, he flew away. Another 100m, another bird, this one ran straight for cover and I didn't see him again. Another 100m down the trail another bird, number three. By now every time I was seeing a bird it was like, I don't have that much time to hunt, I do have other things to do for the day. I did see more birds on the way out but it was close to lunch and needed to get back.
Back at camp, I was debating if I should pick Patrick and Kevin at the beginning of the gravel rd or head the extra 25kms home and get some more supplies also. It was 1pm, My steak once again would have to wait. I put everything away as no one had yet shown up and told Roger I was gonna head out and be back later. I looked at my spare on the trailer that I took out of the van to make room for my bed and thought, I won't need it. That's was a mistake. I got 30kms away from camp which is 35kms away from the paved road and blew a tire. OK, no cellphone reception, so now I'm roughly an equally distance away from my spare or where Monique was gonna drop Patrick off. I decided I'll try to get the tire off and hopefully someone will come by. I got the tire all loosened and ready to come off, then walked to the nearby Wahnapitae river to wash my hands.
Walking back I could here vehicles approaching. Thank God. It was some hunters who were going to within 8kms of where camp was. The gentlemen even gave me a ride right to camp after a brief stop to unload his stuff. Back at camp, I strapped the spare tire to the front rack of one of the quads and drove the 30kms back to my disabled van. Now, place the spare tire, which is much smaller than the original and will come into play later in the story. I placed it in the back, and took the back tire off to place in the front, I didn't want that little spare up front with front wheel drive and lower clearance. OK, tires changed, everything put away, I had to chain my quad to a tree and leave it behind. Once I pick up Patrick, he could drive it back to camp. 4pm now, I told Monique that I would meet them between 4 and 5. I slowly proceeded out to meet them. Just as I'm within 1km of meeting, my phone beeps a text message is received. It was Patrick saying they were waiting. I showed up at the rendezvous at 5:05pm. Had to tell them about what had happened while they loaded there gear. Then saw my grouse that I had and planned to clean away from camp, didn't need anything attracting bears. While cleaning my birds, the MNR pulls up. He checked the birds, my gun and my license and were on there way. We said our goodbye's to Monique and now to head back in. We got back to the spot where I had left the quad and stopped to take a break and pick it up. Now, just to get back to camp, Patrick driving the quad and Kevin and I in the van. We got to within 10 kms and we could here the exhaust dragging. That little spare was not quite high enough and the exhaust bottomed out and broke in two. The good thing was it just need to be placed back in the hangers and we'd be OK. Well, not quite, it fell out of the rubbers 2 more times and we had to keep stopping to fix it. Now with only 1km to camp it is now loose and the muffler is dangling on the ground. I grabbed the chain that I used to chain the quad to the tree, wrapped it around the muffler and then took one of the straps to secure the quads and connected it to the roof rack of the van. Going through the wheel well to the roof rack was enough support to get us back to camp. Will fix it better Sunday
before we leave, Saturday was to concentrate on Ishpatina. Back at camp, now dark, I'm starving, I hadn't eating anything yet today. STEAK, finally. I cooked steak and pork chops on the open fire and home fries on the stove. Wow, most of the people were here now, the lone camp I left was now full of vehicles and tents. We wolfed down our supper and forgot about our pickles we brought that Mel had made. Hopefully tomorrow night we would remember them. Then we went to sit by the campfire to meet our new found
friends. Everyone was awesome to meet, it was great as we were all excited about the same goal. Talked to several of them to see what there game plan was to tackle Ishpatina. It was awesome as to all the different ways everyone would be completing this journey. Had a great conversation with Matt (Kayne_os) and he was gonna do the hike also as he had a way to Woods Lake, but no boat to do the water portion. That thought stayed with me through the night. Now was time to turn in and tomorrow was the big day. Our plan, leave around 8am, quad the 10kms to Woods Lake, launch the canoe and kayak, and travel the 4.5kms through to scarecrow and the trail base to Ishpatina, then Hike the 4 km to the top.
All loaded up, well almost, we set out to trek to the top. We grabbed one big juice bottle each and left the others in the cooler for when we got back down. It was starting to get hot now, so off came more layers of clothes. We made it about 100m and realized I had forgotten my camera case. It was important cause it held all our spare batteries for the GPS and camera. Patrick walked back to get it. When he got back we were behind the rest of the group. The trail was tougher than I expected, I had heard it was like an ATV trail, that it wasn't. It was more like a well used moose trail. It started OK but then we got to a section that went along a lake. It was up, down and around trees, boulders and water. I remember saying, I hope it's not like this to the top. It was and it wasn't, it actually made for an awesome hike, crossing logs over water, walking around trees and on sides of hills. When we hit the first swamp crossing, I looked and saw what looked like someone went through the swamp, I said to our crew, do you think we gotta go through there. Then I heard voices, and called out to Roger, he answered and I asked if he walked through the swamp, he said no, take the trail on the left. With a big sigh of relief we all headed to the left. A much easier trail across some logs was there. Now, just a week ago I had purchased a telescopic mono pod for my camera, it was to be used to keep the camera steady but also as a walking stick. It worked great to help keep my balance on the logs. The trek up was exhausting at times, the heart was racing, the sweat was pouring of me and I needed a well deserved break, a drink of juice and to shed some more layers off. Now I was down to a t shirt and my vest with a blaze orange vest on top just so we wouldn't be shot by any moose hunters that might be around. The rest of the way consisted of some more breaks as some parts were pretty steep. Matt started falling back and Patrick and Kevin started pulling away from me. I found myself trekking the last 800m alone although I could here them in front and Matt behind me. All the way up, your hoping to get a glimpse of the tower, and when you finally do, it is sweet jubilation. It still was 100m higher up and 300m away, but that sight gives you the extra boost to get to the top.
Upon reaching the top, there was quite a few cachers already there. I was exhausted and needed air, rest, food and drink. I think I said hi to everyone and that after I rested and ate, I'd do a better intro. Sitting at the top we had our sandwiches and chips along with our juice. The feeling was awesome, we had conquered Ishpatina, Ontario's highest point, and not only did I get to do it with my son and daughters boyfriend, I got to do it with some people I considered legends of the geocaching world. Wow, these people who I've only previously stumbled upon there logs and pictures on geocaching.com and Flickr, we were now at the top of Ontario with my son and I. Congratulations to all who made it to the top and those even brave enough to attempt it. And to the guys who trekked all the way, you are amazing individuals. I watched guys climb up the tower, even Kevin went to the top, and thought about doing it myself, but was really tired and the persistent migraine was on day 3 now. So I settled to enjoy the view from the ground and talk to the others. I'll never forget watching Jeff (Jefftrex) reaching the top after trekking the whole way, drop his pack sack and without a break, climb to the top of the tower. Or watching another cacher fly a kite from the tower. Memorable moments, almost everything that happened this beautiful hot fall day was memorable. We signed logs, exchanged TB/coins and even checked out the the TB tag on the tower. Took numerous pictures and had a cheers with a shot of wine. We were hoping to start heading back by 2pm but all of the hikers were just showing up then. We ended up leaving the top around 2:30, we watched as Steve and Quinn climbed to the top of the tower. I had save a bit of juice for the downhill, but got thirsty before we left and finished it off.
My new goal now was to get back to the canoe and that cooler of water that we left there. Going back down was a so much easier, only pausing to wet my head in passing lakes and for a break and a laugh once. This was when we found out that the others cachers had walked through the swamp, two with waders and the other two bare feet. We showed them the bridge and had a good laugh. We (our crew) must of been doing good on the downhill as we ended up catching everyone and then passing them to be the first one back down below where Keith was waiting for a ride back. I quickly went for a water bottle and then went to cool my head off in the lake. Now on with the canoe/kayak and our new goal of making it to the quads. Knowing once we reached the quads, we wouldn't have to use manual force to travel anymore. It was still beautiful, but there was a slight headwind now. We made our way to the narrows to Woods lake and navigated through it without a hitch this time,
Onto Woods Lake we were making our way. Patrick tells me that his arms are getting sore. So I told him to just think, Spaghetti, Spaghetti, Spaghetti, Spaghetti. The thought that when we get back we'll have our great all time favorite camp food was enough to get him going, so much so that he passed us and reached the landing almost 200m ahead of us. Reaching the quads was great once again, we started to unload the canoe and load the quads, before we finished, we could here the sound of Roger's motor coming up the lake. He arrived and packed up, he had two others with him now, Keith and Rainbow, who were gonna jump on the back of Roger and Ruth's quad for the ride back to camp. I lead the group back down the trails to camp, I was in no rush and slowed down for all the mud holes, I didn't want a muddy canoe and kayak to bring back home. When we arrived back at the Sturgeon River, I got everyone to stop and got Patrick to cross to video us all crossing. We all crossed and then Patrick went back across and came back so I could video him. We stopped for a few minutes to chat and then off to get our spaghetti supper.
Back at the camp, it was still daylight, Ellesche was sitting by the fire, I talked to her for a bit and off to cook. I started the stove and got the Spaghetti going. I told Patrick to grab the cache that roger had placed near camp while I cooked. He found the cache and then gave it to Ellesche to sign. Matt had left to go see some friends he knew who were camping nearby. That spaghetti turned out every bit as good as we thought it would be, and this time we didn't forget about the pickles Mel had made. What a great meal, a
great, more like awesome day and a great time. We sat by the fire afterward, everyone talking about their journey. Roger decided that he was gonna quad back and see if he could see any of the hikers and give them a ride back. Patrick went with him, I stayed up until I couldn't anymore and went to bed. I heard Matt return with Res and HikerT but was to tired to get up. Woke up once to go to the washroom and seen that Patrick's quad was back, so I knew he was also. Didn't here nothing else all night except when Patrick came to sleep in the van cause he was getting to cold in the tent.
Sunday morning, I awoke around 7am, fell in and out of sleep till 9. Got up and talked to Steve, found out they only got back at 2am, also that he was thinking of hiking back to find his GPS, I told him that I can get Patrick to give him a quad ride back so he wouldn't have to hike. He was really appreciative of the offer. So we had breakfast first and then they were off. Our breakfast consisted of frying all our cold meats together and making hot sandwiches out of them. Then as Patrick and Steve went for there GPS search, I had to start working on the van exhaust to get it road worthy to make it home. Roger, once again came through with some clothes hangers to wire up my exhaust. I wired up the pipe and the wrapped the chain around the muffler and through a hole in the frame. Placed a bolt through the chain and all was good to go. Was gonna place the spare on the other side but figured not to as then the gas tank would be low, I rather repair the exhaust then to rip the tank out, so the tire stayed where it was. Kevin unloaded the tent while I was working on the van. My new goal/plan was for Patrick to ride one of the quads with the canoe/kayak on the trailer so there wouldn't be so much weight for the ride back to paved road. We got the van loaded and then heard the quad coming up the road, Steve holding his GPS up high so everyone could see he found it. Everyone was amazed and so happy, cheers were yelled as they pulled up. What a great ending, finding a GPS in the woods a day later after it was lost. Patrick was so proud, here was Steve (teamgoju), someone Patrick looked up to in the geocaching world, and he was Steve's hero. That my friends is what makes all of this, this geocaching event, friendships, the great thing that it was. Steve gave Patrick a cache he had made and was going to place, stocked and everything, for Patrick to have and place where he wants. It may just be a cache container, but these things have way much more meaning than that, these containers bring people from all over the world, complete strangers to do things together, help one another, and watch each others backs like one big happy family.
We did manage to make it back to the paved road after stopping at the Source to show Kevin and have a drink a natural spring water. And Steve, Quinn and Jeff met us once again while we were reloading for the short trip back home. Funny thing also, all three of us went to town to drive Monique to work and pick up Mel at midnight, and who do you know turns on the same road as we're on and we meet once again downtown Sudbury. Teamgoju and jeff going to get a few more caches. Wow, the adventure continues.
Maps to get there
Here is a track and waypoint that opens with mapsource, can place it on your GPS
Ishpatina From Capreol
Check out my Memories Of Maple Mountain story.
Check out my Ode To Obabika story.
Check out my Fraser Hill Fishing Cache story.
Check out my The Air Is Thin Up Here story.New
Check out my Memories From Maple Mountain Video for a truly ultimate cache. It's 16 parts, so follow them in order.
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