Destination: Kenora wal-mart parking lot
It was a bit of a rough morning – I woke up dehydrated and didn’t sleep well, but there was a hike that I desperately wanted to do, so I dragged myself out of my tent and got ready. I told my sister I was getting ready, and while I waited to hear if she’d be coming with, I tidied up our site (found the keys) and reorganized the clothing on the line so they would dry, again.
When I was ready and it was about as late as I could leave it without pushing check-out, Christine told me to go without her. She wanted to rest and hang out and wasn’t up for the 7.7km hike called Devil’s Punchbowl.
I got into the car and discovered that the sunroof had been left cracked open. I didn’t bother telling my sister.
The day started out quite chilly and overcast, so I had layered up, but once I was on the trail, it warmed up and the sun started to come out. The hike was more difficult than I’d expected, mostly because it was sandy in places, as in the trail itself felt like walking through deep beach sand. Trying to do that up hills was a special challenge. But the ecology was so different and interesting, and there were little flowers and groves of birch trees, and the trail itself changed to packed sand or regular dirt, depending on where along the path you are.
There was a little spot, cloistered in an alcove of trees, with a bench, so I made sure to stop there. I meditated and just took time with myself. Benches are gifts and I am never one to turn down an opportunity to sit!
The trail was one of the most interesting ones I’d ever had the pleasure of hiking. I came to a long, descending wooden staircase that turned into a bridge bisecting the oddest blue-green pond. It was shallow, so you could see plant life beneath the surface, and the tan of the sand underneath. It reminded me of the beautiful space image of the Pillars of Creation – that’s how rich the colours were. I tried to photograph it but I could only really catch the sun’s reflection on the surface and not the layers and depth. It was one of nature’s gifts that can only be enjoyed with our senses in the present.
I thought that pond was the eponymous Devil’s Punchbowl, and indeed I saw other hikers turn back around at that point, but I kept going along the path around the loop. There were more benches set up along the short stretch of boardwalk, so I happily took lots of breaks, and I also stopped a lot to take photos. I continued along the trail and came across the official Punchbowl! It was the same eerie blue-green of the previous pond, but much bigger, and perfectly round. The water sat in a deep recess, and you couldn’t get very close to it, but I didn’t need to. It was more interesting to view it from afar and slightly above, so you could really see the roundness of the water formation.
I began to head back to the car after taking some time with this spectacular gift from the earth. Going back seemed a bit easier, but the sandy trail still proved a challenge. I leapfrogged a pair of women and their dog a few times. I usually try to avoid this because I like to pretend I’m alone on the trail, but it seemed when I slowed down to let them get ahead, I’d find them stopped only a few metres ahead – and if I sped up, they’d let the dog off the leash which would run ahead and they would have to run after it. Sometimes it’s just like that!
It was after 3pm by the time I got back to the campsite. I hadn’t realized how much I’d been dawdling on that trail! And my sister was still parked in her tent. I got her butt in gear and we packed up and headed out. I truly enjoyed this campground and would love to go back and spend much more time there.
We decided to hit up McDonalds because we were both ravenous. We sat and used their wifi while we ate. I also went through some of the camera photos and worked on getting some social media posts done. It was a lot to keep up with but we wanted to make sure our family and friends could follow our adventures, as well as people who may be interested in a similar trip. I especially wanted women to see what is possible when it comes to women travelling together or even solo. I think women belong in the world, experiencing anything they want to without fear. The world isn’t that way yet, but I do my best to get us closer to that.
From there, we drove on to Ontario. After 20 days, we were home, sort of. We crashed at the Kenora wal-mart, which was the same parking lot we slept in on our third night. It was strange to be back in Ontario but knowing we were driving through. We weren’t anywhere close to home and we wouldn’t be. We would be driving about 7 hours north of Muskoka – that’s the closest we would get. It’s funny, because when you’re on the road, you don’t think much about home, or I didn’t. It popped up from time to time, mostly when I was talking to my mom or my friends. And when we missed our cats. But there was something to compelling about life on the road that made me want to live this way forever. I couldn’t believe my fortune to experience so many beautiful things, sights I never knew existed, people I never would have met otherwise. I fell asleep every night with a light in my heart, knowing I was forever changed.