Epilogue and Final Thoughts
After a bit of unloading, car packing, and bathroom-visiting, we're ready to head off. The park staff have told us it is very important for us to fill out and deposit the Backcountry Return Registration form, so I gather my thoughts and then write a paragraph about my thoughts regarding the trail. I have to admit, I was a little salty about certain aspects of the experience, which you can read in full in the picture titled "return registration form". In a nutshell, though, I wasn't super impressed with the poor signage and nearly complete absence of official trail markers. Also scoring negative points was the loosey-goosey trail distance estimates ("60 linear kilometres" is not a way to describe the length of the trail, since the term "linear" can be interpreted in different ways). And on top of that, the trail is actually 63.4 kilometres in length (and yes, that includes me taking out the extra distance because of the detour around the back of Hattie Cove).
With our damp and smelly hiking stuff safely tucked into the trunks of our vehicles, thoughts return more strongly to a nice post-hike lunch. Those burgers we've been hankering for are waiting for us, only sixty kilometres back east on the Trans-Canada highway. With Gino's throttle-generous driving leading the way, we are in line at the surprisingly busy White River A&W before 2pm.
Satiated from our well-deserved burger stop, we begin the long journey back east across Ontario. We choose to stop for the night in a small, suprisingly quaint little community along the trans-canada on the north shore of Lake Huron - a place called Blind River. Here, we discovered a great little independant "road food" outlet called Mad Mat's
, tucked into a little storefront along the town's 1930s-era main street.
After staying for the night in Blind River, it is time to make the final seven-hour drive back to Ottawa. There's not a whole lot to say about the drive, except for the fact that once again we drove through a few heavy periods of rain, much like we did on the way up. We are grateful that these heavy rains chose to fall outside
the days of our backpack. Much appreciated.
And so, as Pu would say... "we come to the end". That's a wrap on another successful coastal hiking adventure. And what are our summarizing thoughts? well, I think we can say that the Pukaskwa National Park coastal trail is indeed a wonderful route. It's remote (far more so than Lake Superior Provincial Park), it's got especially beautiful coastal campsites (all with good outhouses and very handy bear boxes for food), and there are plenty of scenic bits of trail. On the perhaps less-than-stellar side of the ledger, I'd say that the first twenty kilometres of trail southward from the park headquarters are not overly interesting (with maybe the exception of the White River suspension bridge). The good stuff is all along the coast from Willow River and points south. There's less actual on-the-coast hiking in general than in nearby Lake Superior Provincial Park. And the signage ... well, don't get me started. On-trail markers are virtually non-existant, and in really bad weather or if you had poor navigation skills, you might indeed get completely off-track. And in many of the spots where a sign actually is present, they are often ambiguous pictographs that are hard to interpret, or else flat out wrong or inconsistent. Fortunately there are an abundance of cairns over the bare rock areas, so that helps.
Once again, I'd like to thank everyone that joined - everyone was thoughtful, capable, and an enjoyable hiking companion. Thank you so much for being along for the journey!
Finally, if you are interested in watching some video of our trip, click here