Trekking 2:15:00  5.25 mi (25:43 / mi)
shoes: Speed Cross
Seasonal temperatures were back (-5 C by 9 am).
I parked at the Lake Laurentian Conservation building and started into the 10k loop around Lake Laurentian. Holy cow, was it sketchy. Yesterday's mild temperatures and hordes of school children visiting the park, followed by today's freezing temperatures had turned the first half a km of the trail into a horribly slippery mess. The second half km wasn't much better. But as I got further away from the visitor's centre, it was about 1/3 sketchy ice, 1/3 smooth rock and 1/3 snow or semi-frozen mud/swamp. But I persevered. At one point, I could see in the distance, a large rock cairn at the top of what looked like the biggest hill around. To my delight, the trail went up there (again, very sketchy underfoot, between the ice and the smooth rock surfaces). Several scrambling sections on this trail, a couple streams to hop over, some rock faces to slide down (or jump off, depending on how much you trust your ankles/knees).
Down the other side, there was a km or so that was a popular walking trail as a side trail came in from a subdivision......and that section was very slippery.
About lunch time, I was just south of the University, so I hiked up and over another hill to grab a sandwich at a campus cafe. By this time, I had soaked each foot once, but the sun had finally peaked out from behind the clouds.
Trekking 1:00:00  2.6 mi (23:05 / mi)
shoes: Speed Cross
Back through the Laurentian ski trails area (not open yet as there isn't enough snow) (no, I didn't walk along the ski trails!!!!) and back to the Lake Laurentian Loop. It joins up with the Trans Canada Trail (The Great Trail) for a couple km. And, I saw my first grouse.....it really reminded me of the chickens we had in the barnyard when I was a kid.
I looped down to the Yellow trail for a bit to go along the frozen lake....must go paddling here some time! So many inlets to explore.
There is a plaque where a NASA Observatory Site had been from 1968-1970. GEOS-B satellite tracking. I had no idea.
Trekking 25:00  1.3 mi (19:14 / mi)
Orange trail over to the BioSki chalet and back (not open yet). Much better footing, as noted by my speed.
Saw my second ever grouse!
Trekking 40:00  1.6 mi (25:00 / mi)
shoes: Speed Cross
Supper plans were delayed a bit so I had time for one more loop, catching some more of The Great Trail and another section of the Yellow Trail. Beautiful views over the lakes! And ta-da, my third every grouse sighting.
But I certainly didn't want to get caught in there once the sun dropped to the horizon, so there wasn't much time for loitering.
Pretty dicey footing again. My Microspikes were in the hotel room (d'oh), but if I had worn them, I would've had to taken them off very frequently for navigating the slick rock surfaces (the Speedcross were 100% on the smooth rocks, and I only slipped twice on the icy sections all day, with my poles catching me both times).
There were signs posted warning of bear sightings. I figured they were the same signs that had been there on my first visit in August 2016. Then a fellow in the parking lot mentioned he had just seen a mama bear and cub 200 m in from the trailhead. Yup, time to go.
My son got a one year co-op position just outside Timmins that starts in January. So I will have a great reason to explore a new part of Ontario during 2018.
It sounds like Porcupine Ski Runners (3 km from downtown Timmins) will be my northern XC ski / snowshoe destination this winter. And yes, several of the trails are open now.
Will this be the summer of The Classic Ontario Canoe Trip?
How many miles of fire roads can we bikepack in a week?
Thank goodness for Aeroplan miles and unlimited long distance calling.