When we finally got up the courage to leave our sleeping bags and emerge into the chilly morning, we discovered a set of black bear footprints on the trail only a few feet from the tent. It must have been a very quiet bear creeping past in the night.
For the first kilometer or so we walked a beautiful forested trail beside the river through the Ogden Round Lake Wilderness Area. It was quiet and peaceful, perhaps by design. There were signs posted at both edges of the reserve stating that the use of motorized vehicles was prohibited in the reserve, and as a result even the trail had been constructed by human effort alone.
As we passed beyond the borders of the wilderness area we got a real appreciation for why these places are so important. Almost right on the border we began to hear chainsaws, ATVs, and other machines. Although industry is undoubtedly important, so are places that are free from its influence, and we were grateful to have experienced one of them.
Much of the morning was spent walking among beautiful lakes, and crossing trestle bridges over winding rivers. Since leaving the Boreal ecozone in Newfoundland we have been generally finding it more difficult to locate drinking water, which has given us a much greater appreciation for how much we rely on water, and how important landscapes with water are. In the rising heat of the day we enjoyed our walk among the lakes very much.
Along the shores of one such lake we came to a beautiful park dedicated to Arnold Hudson, or "Arnie." The dedication said he spent his life hunting, fishing, and camping along the trail in this section, and his memorial was a nice forested clearing with picnic tables, a fire pit, and an outhouse. It seemed like a peaceful spot.
Although the day was mostly overcast, in the afternoon we found ourselves in fairly open, previously logged areas. The deeply rutted trail made for tough going, and the exposure meant that the swarms of deer flies were thick. After a mostly sleepless night, the inability to stop even to take a drink of water in the heat without being bitten was unpleasant.
One of the wildlife highlights of this section was a particularly sassy deer and her spotted fawn that we came across on the edge of a pond. From her sexy pose, to her shiny hooves, to her glossy coat, this momma deer had attitude!
The birds were pretty quiet in the heat, but one of the highlights was hearing the unmistakable zurr-zurr-zee call of a Black-throated Blue Warbler in a shrubby section of trail. This is one of my favourite warblers, because the brave females will sit on their little cup nests and refuse to move unless they are gently nudged aside. In addition we also spotted several beautiful Wood Thrush!
Throughout the afternoon we were also fortunate to discover a series of animal tracks on the trail and enjoy several of the well shaded and peaceful river crossings - which helped break up the heat of the day.
As we approached the community of Cross Roads Country Harbour we were stunned that amid the beautiful landscape that there was also quite a bit of garbage in the shrubs and ponds along the trail. One such item that puzzled us at the time was a microwave placed on stump. Only afterwards was it pointed out to us that it might have been a geocache. Doh!
By late afternoon we were pretty hot and tired, and looking for a place to camp. We walked through the town, and crossed a lovely trestle bridge on the other side. There was a picnic table, firepit, and outhouse conveniently placed at the trailside near the bridge, but unfortunately people had filled the firepit with cans, garbage, and broken alcohol bottles.
We decided to find a spot a little more hidden from passers-by, so struck out into the mossy, coniferous forest at the edge of the river. We hunted around for a bit, and then settled on a very small patch of moss. We just squeezed our tent in between the trees, but it was a lovely soft spot with a beautiful view of the river.
After setting up camp I went down to the river and washed our clothes, hanging them up in the sun to dry. I then made dinner down on the beach beside the water. It was a lovely cool spot, and the shallow, wide, river with its overhanging vegetation seemed to beckon anyone near to find adventure around its meanderings.
It is a beautiful and peaceful spot, despite the sounds of the town and the cars crossing the metal bridge nearby. We fall asleep listening to the sounds of a Wood Thrush singing by tent, a White-throated Sparrow in the distance, and a Black-capped Chickadee across the river.