WE DID IT! Between September 1st and October 31st, we hiked every single loop trail in Frontenac Provincial Park! With all of our doubling back to access interior trails, and hiking in to camp, we totalled about 150km in those two months. And we did it all with a baby on our back and a dog by our side. And we’re happy to say that we didn’t fall any less in love with each other or nature, in fact, we’re feeling quite the opposite! And we are already talking about doing the Frontenac Challenge again next year. It will look a lot different with a toddler, but we love adventure, so we will make it work!
It feels so good to accomplish something that you set out to do, especially a physical challenge that incorporates your favourite family activity and your favourite time of year. I am so happy that we did it! I am happy that we did it together, that we did it without any major issues, and that we incorporated some camping into it. I was the one who suggested we try the challenge and Trail Dad not once questioned my sanity or grumbled about losing his weekends to the madness of hiking an entire provincial park. And he is the driving force behind all of the conversations about next year’s challenge. I definitely married the right man! And Huckleberry – he has been such a trooper! We had made a few mistakes concerning the little guy along the way (not enough breaks, not the right clothes) but he did not make a single complaint and seemed to enjoy every minute outside, no matter the carrier, weather or length of hike. Apparently we’re doing something right!
Here is a glimpse at the final quarter of our Frontenac Challenge…
The final hike. The air was damp and misty, but the sun was trying to come out. That sentence just about sums up how we were feeling. We were very reflective on the first half of the hike – discussing in detail what we might do differently during the Frontenac Challenge next year, how we might work to maintain such frequent visits to the park the rest of the year, what we enjoyed and didn’t about the challenge on the whole. And the second half of the hike was filled with mounting joy, and plenty of conversations about how we would celebrate, most of which involved food. No matter how much delicious food we bring on a hike, we always end up talking about what we will eat when we’re done. It’s a strange thing really, and often revolves around the least healthy food options available. Anyway, back to the hike. We had to do some fancy footwork to avoid stepping on some slow moving frogs looking for bigger water to winter in. We remained bundled in our fleece for most of the day, so different from our first few hikes in the challenge, sweating in our shorts and t-shirts. And we didn’t bring Huckleberry’s Splashy suit or extra clothes, so we couldn’t let him romp around. Those aren’t complaints, simply facts. One thing that I really enjoyed about the last hike was the pace – we left ourselves more than enough time to take it slow, stop for as many photos as we wanted, take it all in, and enjoy the process, the act of hiking. And lots of time to reflect.
Things we’ve enjoyed:
- Planning ahead and putting hikes on the calendar
- Getting out into the woods for a longer hike on a weekly basis
- Spending 6-8 hours unplugged in the forest as a family
- Improving all hiking-related skills with practice
Things we’ve learned:
- We need a packing list
- We should probably make a weather/clothing chart
- Speed hiking isn’t fun
- We should put a longer hike on the calendar at least once a month, if not more often
- We are all happier when we get outside together
- Breaking once an hour for a snack and a romp around is necessary
Things we will do differently next year:
- We would love to try canoe camping next summer, and if we canoed in we could hike a few of the smaller loop trails together over a long weekend
- We will camp and hike the Slide Lake Loop (the big one!) earlier in the season so that daylight works in our favour and we can take our time
- We will give ourselves a few weekends “off” so that we can check out some other trails in the area that are spectacular in the fall, like Rock Dunder
- We will need to take into account a slower pace and a bigger babe when we plan our hikes; Huckleberry may want to do some of the hiking on his own two feet…who knows?!