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5/13/2016 3:29 pm  #1

Highland Trail, Faya and Provoking - May 9 to 12

Was itching to get out on the trail for the first trip of the year after some serious ice out shakes. I chose to do Highland solo but so as to actually relax and not have to worry about trail conditions or progress, I decided to hike in to Faya as a base camp and day trip from there. On the drive in from the West Gate, I saw a Moose on Hwy 60 right across from the Cache Lake parking lot so was able to stop and watch without actually killing anyone, then saw a huge red fox shortly afterwards. I took those bits of serendipity as signs it would be a great trip and I was not wrong!

Hit the trail about 10:30AM Monday, cool weather but not a cloud in the sky. Was easy going, even with winter legs. The trail was in good shape until just about the intersection to the Track and Tower trail. That's where the ice started and lasted in patches until Starling. It was easy enough to get around, only surprising - very rarely did I actually have to walk on it. You can really where winter campers trekked and packed down the snow. Otherwise, the trail was in decent shape. Pretty muddy in spots. You can get around it with minor bushwhacking for the most part but my trail shoes were still soaked by the time I got to camp. Fallen trees were numerous, it being too early to clear. There were 3 or 4 spots where I had no choice but to crawl (or take my pack off but that's no fun) to get under but get past them all I did.

Faya was beautiful, as always, with a pair of loons that never left me and that big snapping turtle lurking. Someone before me had made a pine bough mattress, tried to burn every log known to man and there was unfortunately some litter including clothes and a full can of beer (who leaves live soldiers behind?). I took out a couple of pounds but couldn't take it all. Woke up to frost on Day 2 after a -4 or -5 night but it warmed considerably after that. I hiked to the Head Creek lookout, which I haven't been to in 20 years. All the trees have grown to block out much of the view since then but I really like that part of the trail anyway. The portion from the trailhead to Provoking is a lot of dense, heavily-evergreen mixed forest but the second loop is varied with a lot more stretches of hardwood groves. Didn't see a cloud for 2.5 days, however I did see an otter, a fisher, newts (which I had not seen there before) and a really weird underwater bug/crustacean that looked like a long stick body that it dragged with only small legs at the front. No idea what it was. There were few flying bugs, nothing biting. I fished for brookies but caught nothing - no strikes at all. Very few instances of them eating bugs on the surface. There are big schools of fingerlings there so perhaps they were too well fed. It's also possible I'm bad at fishing.

Day 3 I hiked to the west side of Provoking. I'd not been there before so wanted to check them out. Very, very buggy but mostly gnats. You can hear the swarms on approach but I've experienced that before on Provoking. There is a lot more standing water in the surrounding area so it makes sense. Both sites are good for a hammock tenter like me but neither one is great. The sun sets early on those sites with the trees behind you, although the mornings are nice. I likely won't stay on that side again - there are better sites on the northern part of the lake and one on the east side that is particularly nice - but a breeze picked up to blow away the bugs and I enjoyed a pretty excellent campfire.

The way out on May 12 was warm at 25C. All the ice had melted from Starling to the old rail bed but still spotty ice and snow from the rail bed to Track and Tower. All in all, an excellent trip. Algonquin, you never cease to amaze and refuel me.


5/13/2016 4:43 pm  #2

Re: Highland Trail, Faya and Provoking - May 9 to 12

Nice read spicol. Have a great season.

"Anyone can make love in a canoe, it's a Canadian who knows enough to take out the centre thwart!        Bahahaha!
                                                                      - Philip Chester

5/14/2016 6:59 am  #3

Re: Highland Trail, Faya and Provoking - May 9 to 12

Thanks so much for sharing spicol! I'm looking forward to (finally) getting out to Algonquin for some hiking next month...



5/14/2016 9:13 am  #4

Re: Highland Trail, Faya and Provoking - May 9 to 12

Good read. Thanks for posting.
Glad you had good weather. It can make all the difference with those spring trips.



10/01/2021 4:48 pm  #5

Re: Highland Trail, Faya and Provoking - May 9 to 12

spicol wrote:

You can hear the swarms on approach but I've experienced that before on Provoking...

Hahahaha... yeah in early May it's like an orchestra tuning up!


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