It’s a Bit of a Hike: Get Going with a Guide in French River — Hiking Guide Services

“I saw an otter today, splashing around near where we were working. It spent all day just swimming around and eating fish.”

Did Marc know how jealous he made me when he said that coming home from work yesterday? The weather’s been gorgeous and he’s lucky to have gotten to spend the day outside. As for me, I was on the computer all day and only got to enjoy the sunshine on a brief walk to the post office.

French River hiking guide

That’s not like me. At least, not at this time of year, when I come out of hibernation. As a rule of thumb, I tend to spend a lot of time outside. Hiking, to be precise.

I began hiking in 2007, and it didn’t take long for me to start dreaming big. That same year, I climbed to 4,200 metres while following Peru’s Inca Trail, on my way to Machu Picchu. When I came back, I decided to hike the world-class — and fairly local — La Cloche Silhouette Trail in Killarney Provincial Park to raise funds for Merazonia Animal Reserve in Ecuador. A six-day trek, my sole companion on the March for Merazonia was my black lab Fetcher.

Over the next two years, I was accompanied by fellow CouchSurfers on a three-day trek in South Korea’s Jiri mountain range and a four-day stint on BC’s Sunshine Coast Trail.

Last summer — my first with Marc — we finally made it out to Algonquin Provincial Park for a backpacking weekend. On a three-day hike-and-canoe trip, we even got to revisit Esker Lakes Provincial Park near Kirkland Lake, where I had spent a high school summer as an Ontario Ranger. Not to mention the day hikes, including over 80 kilometres in five nearby provincial parks for the Canadian Wildlife Federation’s Walk for Wildlife.

Standing before lovely scenery on the second day of our Jirisan trek.
With CouchSurfer John at Jirisan

So it’s unnatural that the weather’s been so encouraging and I’ve been cooped up, wondering when my time will come at last. Well, that may be soon.

Though it saddens me, my hiking happiness relies on owning a vehicle able to transport two large backpacks and two black labs — very much like my berry picking happiness depends on being able to transport a hundred and fifty litres or more of blueberries. It’s the curse of the North. And I’m shopping for a new previously loved vehicle this week.

As of Easter weekend, we’ll once again be able to zip up to any hiking trail within a few hours’ drive on any given weekend.

Posing with Fetcher on the La Cloche Silhouette Trail in Killarney Provincial Park.
With Fetcher and 65 pounds of gear in Killarney — I sure don’t pack like that anymore!

In true need of a vacation, we’re planning on spending a couple of days in Mattawa at Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park, known for cliff-top views over a valley. We spent a day there last year and realised there were enough trails to go back for a couple more, so we’re taking advantage of the long weekend for our first official hike of the year.

(We walked an old logging trail at Pine Creek last weekend, but it’s not quite the same.)

Of course, one of our favourites is Monetville’s very own Mashkinonje Provincial Park, where we plan to hike the one trail combination we haven’t yet tackled on our first trip out there this year.

With about 35 kilometres of hiking and snowshoeing trails, plus canoe access, I’ve been going back to Mashkinonje a few times every summer and winter for five years and I’m still not bored.

A fun and sometimes challenging loop, the combo we’re planning will take us through pretty Pebble Beach, down the ever-scenic Coastal Trail, across historic Atakas, and along a ridgeline on Heron, ending at a lookout over eerie Martin’s Pond.

What's more, looking for a hiking guide in French River just got easier. No longer do you have to call all the lodges to find out whether they might know of anyone. Marc and I will now be offering our services as hiking guides. One of us will accompany individuals while we will both accompany groups on half-day hikes, full-day treks, and weekend backpacking trips.

Update (February 26, 2013): We anticipate greater need as construction of the French River Multi Use Trails progresses, and ourselves are looking forward to seeing how they turn out. Since that won't be this year, for now we're whiling away the snowy evenings pulling out trail maps and planning this summer's excursions (smiley face).

We can't provide much in terms of equipment, but we can share our knowledge and teach outdoors skills. Visitors to French River who wish to experience nature and a night or two under the stars will especially benefit from our ability to pack light, build fires, cook satisfying meals over open flame, hang food from a tree, assemble equipment quickly, and calmly deal with wildlife encounters. Contact us for details!

Update: We're not offering this service anymore, since berry picking keeps us too busy (smiley face). But we've been able to take out a CouchSurfer and help out a few more, so really, you never know!


2 Thoughts on “It’s a Bit of a Hike: Get Going with a Guide in French River

  1. Very interesting blog.