- Total Distance: 6 km (3 each way)
- Trip Difficulty: Easy-Difficult (depending where you want to camp)
- Number of Days: 2-3
It was a last minute trip that we decided to do in Killarney. Our initial weekend plans fell through, and we were eager to get out for another winter camping trip.
Noah, Andrew and I were going to be towing our blue sleds once again, and our friend Gary was going to be pulling a sled that he had built, that seemed to have a better construction.
We drove up Friday night after work pulling into the parking lot at George Lake at 11:00pm. Gary had driven up separately and was there when we arrived. We shared a few drinks by the car while looking at the stars and planning our excursion. We had very rough plans that involved camping somewhere on route to “The Crack.”
We woke up at 8am and there was moisture on the insides of all of the windows. I guess squeezing 3 guys into a vehicle would do that. Needless to say none of us got the best sleep that night. Noah sleeping on the sleds, Andrew sleeping in a sitting position, and I had my feet wedged between the front two seats so I could stretch out while sitting in the back.
The office opened at 8:30am and I picked up the permits while the rest of the group boiled water for oatmeal and coffee. Noah and I had both recently bought new “Stick Stoves” that we were pretty keen to try out. These stoves basically give you a container to build a fire in using sticks so you don’t need to bring fuel with you.
Since the planning for the trip was fairly rushed, we managed to make a mistake on the meal prep, bringing only 8 packs of oatmeal for the 4 of us. This had to last two breakfasts! I think Gary was starting to question his decision to leave the meals up to us…luckily between all of the granola bars and jerky, we managed to get a bit of food in us that would hopefully get us to the top.
After we finished breakfast we drove the 7km down the road to the parking lot for “The Crack,” which is really not marked well at all. There was only one other car in the parking lot, which is a lot different then when you come in the prime months and people are parked all the way out to the highway.
We loaded our sleds and set underway at 10am. We didn’t yet know exactly where we could camp but we knew we would figure it out as we went.
The first section of the trail is nothing too crazy. It is relatively flat for the first kilometer or so before it starts to climb up the mountain. Shortly after we passed over Kakakise Lake is where the real incline starts. This is where we decided to leave our sleds thinking that it might be too difficult to get the sleds up the hill.
We packed a few beers and some lunch and began our hike. Noah, Andrew and I used our snowshoes for the first section of the climb and it seemed to help in some areas. Gary was doing well trekking on with just his pair of boots leaving his snowshoes behind with his sled.
The climb to the top of The Crack really does not take too long. It seemed to go by very quickly but I find I am easily distracted on these hikes that have such beautiful views.
The view from the top is absolutely stunning. Being in the same spot in the fall, it was nice to be able to see it in a different season. We had lunch and a beer and continued hiking past the top section of The Crack. Gary was familiar with 3 other smaller lakes that he was interested in checking out.
The hike continued for another kilometer or so before we arrived at the first of the small lakes, Little Superior Lake. The hike along the ridge offers many scenic views over the lakes that are below. It is worth the hike back if you have the time to do so.
At this point it was around 3pm, and knowing that Noah, Andrew and I had to set up a tarp to sleep under, as well as gather wood for the night, we opted to make this our turn around point. Gary continued on to check out the other lakes, which he assured us we missed out on.
For those who are familiar with the trail, the very first of the incline sections is one of the most difficult sections of the hike. It is steep, you need to watch your footing, and there are not many flat sections to give you a break. This section takes you up and into the forest that is on the same level as Kidney Lake.
We had made Gary a deal that if we were to carry his sled up for him, he would accept the new location to set up camp at the top of the first steep section. The spot at the bottom where we had left our sleds did not offer much privacy from the trail or much protection from the wind. Also we were really keen to set up in the forest by Kidney Lake.
Dragging 4 sleds up a steep incline is no easy matter. Breaks were taken frequently but it still didn’t save the sleds any damage. Once we got our first 3 up, Noah and I climbed back down to grab Gary’s sled, which we chose to carry on our shoulders to keep it in one piece.
The next few hours were spent doing what we like best, setting up our tarps and sleeping bags, as well as processing all the wood we would need for the night. Dinner that night consisted of Chilli and Sausages. It was nice to have a solid meal after a hard days work.
We watched the sun set over Kidney Lake with The Crack in the background. We had seen another gentleman who was climbing to the top of The Crack to camp for the night to get some photos. We could see his headlamp as he walked around the rocks up top that night.
Sharing some drinks and good stories around the fire before we settled in for the night. Gary had brought some southern comfort with him to share and we think it will be a staple on our trips going forward. This was Andrew’s first experience sleeping under a tarp and he was pretty excited to give it a go. Once again we made a fire close to our heads as a nice way to fall asleep.
The morning had arrived quickly for me. I think as soon as my head hit the pillow I passed out instantly. Andrew didn’t get as good of a sleep since he had injured his knee the day before and it kept him up that night.
The sun was shining and it was warm out! We loaded up our typical breakfast routine with coffee and oatmeal before tearing down our camp.
The hike back to the car could have been done in a t-shirt it was so warm out. We made great time leaving our site at 11:30am and getting to the parking lot at 1:00pm. We were camped at Kidney Lake so we didn’t have the full hike to do.
I think in the future we will need to backpack it, so that we can make it to the top to camp. It would be a cool experience to camp at the top of the mountain but maybe we will save that for Silver Peak next winter. That is one of the benefits of camping in the winter. Being able to camp anywhere really opens up some great options. Another successful camping trip all around, and I think Gary might even consider joining us again!