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Nasagawaya Canyon

Nasa-ga-waya! Say it like an Ojibway. Mnnn! Na-sa-ga-way-ya! That’s exactly what it means. Really big, exceedingly deep valley with sheer, steep walls on both sides.

If you’ve ever had the singular pleasure of leaving the City of Vancouver and heading away from Horseshoe Bay up the Sea and Sky Hiway 99 toward Squamish, you know the joy of winding your way through B.C.’s Coast Mountains until you round that one last curve which leaves you gawking in astonishment at the mile high mountain of rock wall called The Chief - every rock climber’s wet dream. You can stand for hours gazing at the cracks and ruts and crevasses of this massive vertical, while planning your imaginary ascent and wondering why B.C. has all the great Canadian climbing walls.

Well, grouse no longer Bubba. Southern Ontario boasts a limestone rock face that rivals The Chief, to a lesser degree of course, and that climbing wall is called Rattlesnake. Rattlesnake Point stands on the extreme south end of the Milton Outlier, a stand-alone mesa rising out of an ancient limestone sea that has been carved away from the main ridge of our own Niagara Escarpment by 2 rivers, the Bronte and the Sixteen Mile Creek, 30 miles south and west of Toronto in the sleepy little town of Milton. You can see the Outlier approaching on the 401 coming from Megacity. Glen Eden / Kelso Ski Club runs up her wide and furry green flanks, and at her feet to the west, a very deep and wide preglacial forest canyon called Nasagawaya. The mighty Bruce Trail gives us a front row seat to the whole show.

This past week the Urban Sherpas found their way to Derry Road and Twiss Road North, one Concession west of the Guelph Line where the bright white blazes of the Bruce Trail headed east into the high deciduous forest towards Crawford Lake Conservation Area and the mighty Nasagawaya Canyon. Crawford Lake is great for cross-country skiing as well, the trails are gourmet, wide and welcoming, complete with memorial resting benches dedicated to dearly departed hikers like John Earl Thomas. The trail leads directly to the lookout at Canyon Ridge, then over we jump, down the steep walls to the canyon floor.

Now begins a cardio vascular clinic, heading straight up the Jack Leitch Side Trail, as you start climbing to the top of the Eastern Ridge hundreds of feet above the canyon’s floor. Hikers, you owe it to yourself to check out your heart and lungs on the walls of the Nasagawaya. 160-180 beats per second is perfectly acceptable.

The hike is 3 hours from Twiss Road north of Derry to Rattlesnake Point. Do what we did and park one car on Twiss and the other car at Rattlesnake parking lot on top of the Appleby Line, and hike your butt off. Rattlesnake may not be as steep as The Chief out in Squamish B.C. but the Nasagawaya walls will pump your blood. Say Nasagawaya properly and your chest bone should vibrate. Nasagawaya! I have spoken!


The Matabitchewan Trail

Hiker Mike reporting to you from the Matabitchewan Trail in Temagami on my way to the White Bear Old Growth Forest some 25K due east of me at this point. This will be an all day hike for me, into the Matabitchewan Lodge where my friend Dieter and his family live and run the Lodge that was built in the ‘70’s for the old Jimmy Cagney movie “Captain of the Clouds”.

This lumber road leaves Highway 11 at Gramp’s Place Restaurant - Gas bar - Bait and Tackle Shop about 45 miles north of North bay, and 15 miles south of Temagami. So stop into Gramp’s for a drink before you start and Danny and Bonnie will show you the road and tell you about -

1. Stopping by the dump to see the Black Bear family.
2. sneaking up on the beaver colony in Rabbit Creek.
3. where the blueberries and raspberries are hiding.
4. the best places to swim and fish for lake trout and pickerel.

Now folks, you don’t have to hike all the way to Matabitchewan Lodge. Just 3 miles from Highway 11 on this old lumber road is Rabbit Creek Railway Crossing where the Ontario Northlands Train whistles through on it’s way to Hudson’s Bay - a perfect bug-free, half way point for a swim and a picnic. 3 miles in + lunch + 3 miles out = 3 hours of bliss. Wear your light hikers, sunscreen and a hat, and a small pair of binoculars for the deer, the moose and the hawks and leave your car at Gramp’s for safekeeping.

Temagami - you’ll have a moose of a time!

Northland Paradise

Hikers, you have to go to Temagami. It’s northland paradise. Temagami is the home, among other things, of the White Bear Forest. Pristine virgin growth, hikers - extremely old - 10,000 years in the making, ever since the glacier moved back. Forest chock-a-block full of 350 year old gigantic red pine, white pine, spruce, poplar and cedar. Thousands of hectares of white bear old growth, and maintained well-used trails take the hiker through areas that have never been logged or mined or disturbed in any way by the actions of man.

There’s a 7k trail from downtown Temagami and trail pioneer Doug Adams from Northland Paradise Lodge has fought from the beginning to keep this temple to Mother Nature free for hikers. There will be no shoreline development on the White Bear. Doug will guide you along a 3,000 year old portage trail, following old Indian trap lines, into the center of the White Bear, where the great Tree Spirit lives, and high atop Caribou Mountain to the Fire Lookout Tower which is the highest point on our Yonge Street. A favorite venue for painters and photographers along with hikers, Temagami is the non-consumptive Eco Tourism capital of Ontario. Fishing excels, along with hiking. One of Doug Adam’s hikers caught a 31 inch, 13 pound Pickerel out by Flag Island then released it after taking the picture. Catch and release is regularly practiced.

If you’re looking for accommodation with your hiking in Temagami along with with the best damn guide west of the Ottawa Valley, give Doug Adams a call at Northland Paradise in downtown Temagami. 705-569-3791. Tell him you want to hike the trapline into the White Bear Forest, and you can also tell him hikermike@hikermike.com told you to call. Just don’t forget to bring your new ipod nano to keep you relaxed with your soothing music.
Lake Temagami Hiking

Last Saturday morning, my old hiking pal Stormy Blake and I jumped in to ‘Buckshot’ the steel hulled boat, and made our way across a wide and glassy expanse of Lake Temagami, up to the head of the southwest arm, to 4 Canoe Portage and an old logging road that took us into the Temagami Island Nature Trail and the magnificent Old Growth Forest.

On the trail, covered with pine needles, were plenty of signs of moose and bear. The trick was
1. not to step in any of it and
2. to talk up a storm so the big animals will hear you coming.

That’s forest primeval, hikers. 300 year old red and white pines towering straight up hundreds of feet into the blue. Stormy and I put our tree hugging arms around the big red pine and we could just touch each other’s fingers, which made it 13 feet around. Back on the trail, deep in the woods, Old Rupert the Malamute refused to lead the hike and came and walked around behind me, so there must have been danger ahead. What did I do? Belted out a Broadway show tune as loud as I could!

We found the ancient native settlement at the south end of Temagami Island, and the lookout surrounded by old growth maple at the north end, and so can you, hikers. Phone Lady Evelyn Outfitters at 705-569-2595 and tell them Hiker Mike sent you. Temagami is a northland paradise specializing in non-consumptive Eco Tourism and it’s only a 4 1/2 drive from downtown Toronto, so get off your big fat bums you hikers, and hit the Temagami Trail.

For further information about some exotic locations such as the Florida Everglades, Algonquin Park, the Temagami Old Growth Forest, The Gatineau, Basecamp Everest in Nepal - to name a few, eMail HIKER MIKE and he will send you a custom hike for your destination. See his book from Boston Mills Press for more hikes.

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