Tuesday, 5 June 2012


It’s funny how the hills grow higher the older that one becomes. One such hill has grown quite a bit higher since that summer day several years ago when we jumped into the canoe and paddled, then climbed to the top of Silver Peak.
Located in Killarney Provincial Park, Silver Peak, at 539 meters above sea level, is the highest point in the La Cloche Range. On a clear day the panoramic view, which takes in the entire park area, is breathtaking. The City of Greater Sudbury can be seen 45 kilometers to the northeast, as well as much of Georgian Bay to the southwest. There’s scarcely an artist that, although a bit overwhelmed by the view, isn’t inspired to attempt a sketch or two.
Silver Peak can be reached in a single day. A cautionary note, however. This is a long one-day trek and shouldn’t be undertaken without proper preparation. My wife, Sandy, and I undertook to make the trek on one occasion. I was approaching my mid sixties and beginning to feel a bit creaky so it was decided one day in late July that the time had come to challenge the "Peak". There’s no easy way to get to Silver Peak let alone climb to the top. We chose to drive in to the Bell Lake access point and then to paddle to its western inlet to pick up the trail. As we begun our trek, the day held promise. It was warm and the sky was clear. As we set off in the canoe, there was a light breeze in our face.

That summer had been an exceptionally bad year for mosquitoes. One would have thought, however, that by late July the worst would have passed, but no sooner did we touch the far shore when a cloud of bloodthirsty mosquitoes descended upon us. We quickly pulled the canoe ashore and set it in the bushes out of the way. We then raced off along the trail with the mosquitoes in hot pursuit. Despite the fact that it was very warm, bordering on hot, we wore our jackets with the hoods pulled up to avoid being bitten. By the time we reached the turn off, leading to the peak, we had managed to leave the mosquitoes behind. Tired, we began the ascent to the top. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the trail to the top is challenging. However, it was with a sense of pride that we climbed steadily and overtook, and passed, a group of younger hikers who were huffing and puffing at only the halfway point. By noon, the temperature had increased by a few degrees so it was with some relief that we broke out of the trees and climbed into the bright sunlight near the top of the peak. A wonderful breeze was blowing that stiffened into a bit of a gale as we approached the top. The view from the peak was awesome. 

View From Silver Peak     Pencil Sketch 
It had been worth the climb, and the inconvenience caused by the hoards of mosquitoes. However, we were, to say the least, a bit exhausted. It had taken more than three hours of paddling and hiking at a brisk pace to reach the top and the thought that we now had to retrace our steps was a bit daunting. I made a couple of quick sketches, took some photographs, then sat and rested in complete awe of the scene that lay before me. Rested, and with the afternoon shortening, we decided to descend and head back to our canoe. Fortunately, during the hike back the mosquitoes were no bother and it seemed as though in no time at all we were back in the canoe and out on the lake.........with the wind, once again, brushing our face.

There’s an interesting phenomena about canoeing. One can set off on a paddle with the wind in your face thinking that the paddle back will be easy as the wind will be at your back, right? Why does it never seem to work out like this? Perhaps it is God’s way of testing canoeists!  A little wind is the canoeist’s friend. It makes the canoe handle easier. A full force gale that turns the lake into a frothy mess of whitecaps, however, tends to cause the stomach to lurch just a bit. This is what we faced when we hit the open stretch just off Blue Mountain Lodge. With no way around it, we headed out and up the lake into the waves until, in the middle of the lake at an opportune moment, we swung around and headed down the lake surfing all the way to the shore.

As I pulled myself out of the canoe and took a moment or three attempting to straighten up, I thought to myself that this day had been a fantastic experience. I also thought that it was good that we did what we did when we did because next year Silver Peak was bound to be just that much higher!

View from the Top - Silver Peak  Watercolour Painting

Back side of Silver Peak   Watercolour Painting 2012

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