As I mentioned earlier, I like short hikes, a couple of kilometres, preferably in a loop and with a chance to see something along the way, a goal if you will. What I rarely like doing is taking a hike where I have no idea where the trail is going, how long it is, how difficult it is, or if there are natural turn-around points.
However, back at the start of October, we headed one Sunday morning up to the Gatineau Hills and ran into wacky rules almost immediately. As we got to the entrance, some woman was waving us through. No apparent reason for her to even be there, but she was. Okay, whatever. Onward. We passed the Pink Lake lookout, and the parking lot was closed. Yet the lot was empty. Weird, must be some sort of problem with the parking lot. Except there were two or three cars parked there?
On to our actual destination, the waterfall trail just below the estate. Again, the lot was closed. With obvious signs of empty spots. WTF? Okay, this was getting annoying. Continued on, headed towards Meech which we’ve never gone to before. Ended up over by the snow hills and found out that they had instituted a buses only policy for Sundays to manage the traffic. You have to park in designated exterior lots and then take buses through the park with on/off privileges. Yeah, cuz that’s going to be reliable. Pass.
We were able to park at a small lot on the way to Meech and hike down an almost non-existent trail to a lake. Nice views, but not much of a trail.
It was just a short interlude and then we got over to the Meech Lake parking lot. Two directions to choose — left towards the beach, which sounded good, or right up an actual trail where everyone else was going. I didn’t find the big map particularly helpful, and it is often one of my complaints with Gatineau Park that their maps are the “big” maps of the park but without sub-maps of just the spot you are to tell you how long a trail is, how hard etc. Heck, I didn’t even know we were on the Carbide Willson Ruins Trail. We just followed the crowd. Up and over hills. On AllTrails.com, they list it as a moderate hike with 226m of elevation change, 5K in total. If I had known it was 5K, I would have opted for the beach. 5K isn’t horrendous or anything, but we weren’t geared up for it with proper shoes, water bottles, layers, walking sticks/poles. And moderate wouldn’t have been my choice either considering we’ve only done one other minor hike this year.
The trail was wide and relatively smooth going, more like an access road or a walking path than a trail. But the hills were more than I would have liked. J was getting tired near the end, as was I. And overheated.
But it gets worse. I thought we were about three-quarters of the way to the Ruins (not that we knew, we really had no idea where we were or how far anything was), we reached the edge of Meech Lake and a bridge over where it flows out. Saw some canoeists heading back down the lake, and lots of people stopping to take photos.
Took a bunch of photos of the little creek bed but only a couple were truly interesting.
Here’s the worst part. Since we didn’t know how far we were, and I was overheated a bit already, we headed back to the car. Later, I checked the map quickly and it looked like we were 3/4 or more of the way there. I checked on the map today, and we were…wait for it…only 1 km from the parking lot, only 40% of the way there. That’s terrible on two fronts. First, we sucked. I already knew that, but that was a good indication of just how badly we sucked, with only 1km out and 1km back. The walk was fine, the hills killed me.
Secondly, though, this is exactly why I hate these kinds of hikes. Because when we were at the bridge, I briefly thought about continuing on. Hey, it can’t be much farther, right? Right? We even asked someone. It was actually something we were naively considering. It would have been unbelievably bad. I would have been dying at the end of it. But fortunately (?) I was already feeling the heat and lack of good hydration. We just hadn’t planned on doing that much of a hike or getting a small workout on the hills. I now have a goal to do that full trail, but hopefully with proper preparation.
Good trail, just harder than we were expecting when we set for a light stroll. Sigh.
Anyway, as an aside, we also drove all the way around Meech Lake to the end, just to check out the area. Quite an interesting area, although not anywhere we particularly felt the need to visit again anytime soon.