Hiking The Crack: Killarney Provincial Park, Part 2
The next morning was overcast as we set out to hike The Crack Trail. Before I get to the trail however I have to take an aside to mention that my inspiration for coming to Killarney is due entirely to Oleksandra who writes at Gone Camping Blog. She and her family spend much of their time canoeing and exploring the inland lakes of the park – something we would not be doing on this trip – but her reverant descriptions and her incredible photos of Killarney have kept me captivated. Actually, her whole blog has kept me captivated, and its one of the half dozen that I have continued to read throughout the years. I highly encourage you to check out her writing and stunning captures of the Ontario parks.
Now to the hike. The first section of the trail was wide and flat through deciduous forest with no hint of what was beyond until we reached the long, narrow Kakakise Lake, whereupon we were and able to glimpse the rise in terrain before us. We stood on the bridge awhile watching the dark clouds cross the sky above us and the beaver dam fodder and blooming lily pads bob almost imperceptibly below us before continuing on. The character of the route changed markedly after leaving the lake and as we began ascending; though the well-trafficked route was still plenty wide, we found ourselves crossing jumbles of rocks and tangled roots reminiscent of many mountainous eastern forests. This too was substituted for a new landscape as we reached the level of the exposed quartzite cliffs, and from here we did most of our ascent crossing bare rock. A brief bit of sunshine and blue sky had me hoping that the day would clear permanently, but less than 15 minutes after the sky cleared another set of gray clouds rolled in as we approached the peak.
It is the approach to the peak however which makes this hike famous: the ascent is basically a scramble up a jumble of boulders that cascade down a passage between two cliffs. I think scrambling is great fun but I can say based on the reactions of many of the people on the trail that day that some people definitely do not – and they spent much of their ascent up The Crack complaining and delaying. Tom went ahead to the top with them while I waited with Abby at the base of the boulders for at least 10 minutes for the group (and specifically a large German Shepherd) to clear off. Once we had a straight shot we bounded up in about a minute, Abby reaching the top faster than I of course. From there we walked between a large joint in the rock and then emerged onto the dome of white rock.
The summit, if you can call it that, was like a large party. For as many people as we encountered on the trail, I still found myself unprepared for the 50+ people strewn across the quartzite dome chatting away. There was plenty of space however to sit and have a snack however – and multiple views to explore from around the top. In addition, Abby got the opportunity to meet a bunch of people which is something she enjoys almost as much as hiking.
Our descent was unremarkable except for the changes in light and cloud cover that enabled me to get a slightly better photo of the lake we passed. I will say the mosquitoes abated a bit which was a pleasant surprise. Despite taking our time and loitering at the top we still finished the 6km hike around noon which left the afternoon open for more exploring.