To the Unsuspecting; Beware water balloons

My first time visiting South America led me into Bolivia.  I actually had no idea what to expect as my original intention was to simply visit Chile.  Bolivia was quite an eye opener as I travelled from Chile, a country with a standard of living that was very comparable to Canada, into an economic-struggling country.
That said, it was definitely one of the most beautiful places I have had the opportunity to visit.  Also where one of the most outrageous experiences I’ve had took place as well.  I happened to be visiting sometime between late February and early March, which happened to be Carnaval season.  Despite seeing kids running through the streets of Potosi spraying one another with water guns and in some instances, almost getting drenched by a boy who tried to dump an entire bucket of water on us — we had no idea what we were getting into when we walked into Sucre.

After getting off the bus, we walked towards the street that our hotel was on.  There was a lot of racket and music — which we figured was simply festivities — but no sooner when we turned the corner, we were greeted by sidewalks filled with parade spectators.

A group of us were trying to find a restaurant and we ended up running across the street as water balloons began to fly at us.

Let’s just put it this way.  I could literally see everyone’s eyes immediately light up.

What better thing to do than pummel a bunch of gringos with water balloons?  Perfect. Opportunity.

I saw a wave of water balloons launch into the air towards us, and I just ran down the street for sanctuary.

These festivals (and excuses for city-wide water fights) would take place practically all day.  It was the most hilarious and yet also stressful event to experience.  Try going down the street to buy some food — you end up getting chased down by kids and teenagers — eager to showcase their marksmanship skills … and trust me, they got skillz.

Eventually a group of fellow travellers banded together to form Team Gringos to see if we could fight back a little.  There were a few successes … but everyone ended up walking back drenched and cold.  It was still an awesome time.

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The Gigantic Icicle Discovery

Quite a few years ago, some friends of mine and I went up to Algonquin Park to do some snowshoeing while staying at a nearby local hostel.  It was really cold that winter; to the point that snow in Algonquin had frozen.
What we didn’t expect was to find ice everywhere.  I laugh when I think back to the time when one by one, each of us slipped, fell, and slid into one another down the hiking trail.

The best part I think of is when we stumbled upon the largest icicle I’ve ever seen while hiking the Bat Lake trail (I think).  We did take pictures next to it but I think this picture really shows how large it is compared to the trees.

Discovering a huge icicle while winter hiking in Algonquin Park

Kabeyun Trail to Top of the Giant

Ever since I stumbled across photos of Sleeping Giant Provincial Park a number of years ago, I’ve yearned to explore the area.  Unfortunately the park being close to Thunder Bay makes it a little far for me to drive there from Toronto.  It’s a 19 hour drive, if not more. Finally opportunity arose when I had a single vacation day remaining and extended the weekend.  Add on a discounted flight with Porter and bonus!

Ever since I stumbled across photos of Sleeping Giant Provincial Park a number of years ago, I’ve yearned to explore the area.  Unfortunately the park being close to Thunder Bay makes it a little far for me to drive there from Toronto.  It’s a 19 hour drive, if not more.
Finally opportunity arose when I had a single vacation day remaining and extended the weekend.  Add on a discounted flight with Porter and bonus!

One of the craziest things about Ontario is that it is incredibly difficult for majority of its population to reach some of the province’s most unique and stunning landscapes.  It is both a good and bad thing.

Had the lucky opportunity to set up camp on one of the most beautiful campsites (in terms of non-back country sites) I’ve encountered.  My tent was set up mere steps away from from the interior lake Marie Louise.  Stunning views, although we had noisy neighbours and a family of ducks that kept visiting.

Best Campsite in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

What I did not know was that the hiking trails were located so deeply within the park.  After driving to the trailhead, there was still at least a 6km hike just to get to the real hiking trails.  Most people brought mountain bikes to make the trek shorter or made use of the back country campsites.

Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

Once on the actual trail towards the top of the giant, things got a lot more interesting as did the landscape.  Often stumbled across deer and rabbits — even the odd wolf and red squirrel!  Sorry no photos of those 😦

Crazy split tree in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

I was initially weary of the hike up the giant as I wasn’t seeing any truly good views but in the end, the climb up the giant was definitely worthwhile as we got to look out over Lake Superior.  Ran into a couple of hikers with glasses of red wine … interesting locals … and they were very kind to point out that it was worth hiking further to the Chimney rocks (cliffs).  Apparently there used to be a trail along those cliffs that got shutdown after a number of people had fallen or were injured by falling rocks.

Looking out over the lake was amazing, Ontario is often recognized for having a lot of lakes and not a whole lot of mountains.  We don’t.  But I’m glad we have steep cliffs such as these to sit on and look out from.

Views from the Sleeping Giant

After hiking further and going through some really peculiar turns and twists in the trail, the reward was one of the best places to rest and eat lunch.  The cliffs you see below are absolutely jaw-dropping in person.  I wish I were able to get a better shot but I was reluctant to get too close to the edge, although I did dangle my feet along the edge while having lunch.  You could even see Thunder Bay across the lake.

Chimney Cliffs of Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

On the way back, there were people who did not carry enough water and they had not even reached the point of climbing the giant.  The way to the top of the giant is a long one and I am actually happy that it isn’t easily accessible to everyone and that there is a challenge to reaching this point.

It just wouldn’t be the same if this cliff were crowded with people.

Long Weekend at Bon Echo’s Abes and Essens Trail

As much as I loved spending time at Bon Echo, the trail was a bit bland.  Add to the fact that the mosquitoes were out in force and seemed to have a taste for Chinese food … we decided to really motor it through the trail.  That said, there were quite a few great views of the lakes that the trail weaved around.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted.  I’m afraid the road trip to Utah, work, school, and life in general has taken a lot of time.  I hope to have some photos from Utah posted soon.
Over the August long weekend (in Canada) a couple of friends and I went up to Bon Echo Provincial Park.  I’ve been meaning to hike the full Abes and Essens trail — one meant for overnight back country camping, so this was the opportunity I’ve been waiting for a long time!

After arriving at the park around noon, we hiked into our first campsite.  Took a couple of hours and it was insanely hot and humid.  We were consuming water at a faster rate than expected.  Thankfully, we arrived at the Little Lake Rock just in time to relax and take a swim.

Little Rock Lake

Alas, I forgot my swimming trunks but Little Rock Lake was very tranquil and it was a great isolated location with no one passing through.  We were surprised to find hundreds of sun fish following along hoping for food.  I’m guessing they are accustomed to having campers washing their dishes in the lake.

As much as I loved spending time at Bon Echo, the trail was a bit bland.  Add to the fact that the mosquitoes were out in force and seemed to have a taste for Chinese food … we decided to really motor it through the trail.  That said, there were quite a few great views of the lakes that the trail weaved around.

Overall, not a bad hike.  Excellent campsite at Little Rock Lake but I came out of this trek with 50+ mosquito bites.  Let’s just say it was quite the itchy time.