Intermediate Backpacking Class – 2018

Intermediate Backpacking is a peer led instructional class, where experienced backpackers volunteer and share their experience and knowledge. The focus of the intermediate class is learning how to research potential destinations and plan for a successful trip.

This writer has taken the course and highly recommends it for anyone who would like to become more confident in planning and leading trips. The class plans two trips (a shakedown and a practical), which gives you the option of hitting the trails with your fellow class members.

The class emphasizes the ability to be flexible to adapt plans based on things like park closings and weather conditions. The 2018 class had the opportunity to flex their adaptability muscles.

The 2018 group had their shakedown trip schedule for the Jordan River Loop (North of Mancelona, MI), but had to change it on the fly due to weather concerns with extended winter weather. Members of the class stepped up to plan a replacement trip on the nearby Waterloo-Pinckney Trail.

Intermediate Backpacking class 2018

For the practical, the group had plans to got the Dolly Sods Wilderness in West Virginia. Again weather concerns, this time with flooding, caused for an emergency change of plans. With less than 48 hours to go before the trip, members of the group planned a trip to Lake Superior Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada to hike the Coastal Trail. The plans included staying at delightful cabins right on Lake Superior.

Cabins on Lake Superior

The original hiking plan was to go from just north of the Visitor Center to Orphan Lake in four days of walking. That plan also had to be altered, as it turned out to be slow moving along this advanced difficulty trail. The team came together admirably to assist each other over any and all obstacles.

Backpackers assisting other Backpackers.

On day 3, the trail had taken its toll on several members of the group with aches and minor injuries. The group split, with a portion of the members doing a short trek and then resting and the rest continuing on to bring vehicles closer for a short day 4.

The Trail

The Coastal Trail has some spectacular views of Lake Superior. The designated campsites are well setup and include both a fire ring and a privy.

The trail itself should be considered “advanced”. It was later found out that the Rangers called this “the most difficult trail in Ontario”. It contains many climbs and descents over challenging rock faces. There are multiple stretches of beach that are rock and boulder scrambles that are hazardous even with dry conditions.

Climbing on Rock and Boulders off of Lake Superior

One section of the trail follows along a rock shelf with climbs, descents and fissure crossings where a slip could cause a fall of a 30 foot drop onto stones and would leave the person exposed to buffeting of the icy cold waves of Lake Superior. Cell phone reception is not reliable on the trail.

Intermediate Backpacking group photo 2018

Thanks for reading!

The Solar Ray Team

Lake Superior Provincial Park Map

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