Sunday, April 29, 2012

Adventure 17- Bike riding to Trent River

My favorite spot
For as long as I can remember, it has been a goal to have Natalie accompany me on a ride to the Trent River. Her and I had been there before, numerous times, but always with her either in a trailer or on the Bike Buddy. So me, being excited and forgetting how far it actually was. I figured that she would be fine, what with all her two weeks experience and everything. So we packed a snack and some water and off we went, Marshall leading the way.
(Follow our route here)

Swamp crossing
The  upper Trent River holds a place in my heart. Back when I was a child, we went to this area often. Trout fishing, fossil hunting, swimming, and when I was older, camping and imbibing. This particular location used to have a bridge that crossed high above it, but that was removed many years ago, before I remember. The road in and out has been disabled for years to keep motor vehicles out. Of course, quads and motorcyclist will do their own thing and construct trails around the concrete blocks and cross ditches. I do not want to give exact location for this place, as it is wonderful and most often I get it all to myself. If one walks upstream from the crossing about a kilometer there is a wonderful sandstone slope that contains pools and waterslides. Natalie and I spent a few hours one day fossil hunting and building rock piles in this area, while battling horseflies that seem to always be present near the river in the summer. I also remember when I turned 9 or 10 having my birthday party on the Trent. It was my favorite place to come and it still is.

Big puddle
The bike ride to the river was longer than I expected, although I had never taken a beginner rider with me before. She had a few crashes along the way, mostly due to loose gravel or not appropriately applying her brakes when travelling down hill at a high of a rate of speed. Many tears were shed today. They were always quickly turned off and she continued along the way. We had a pair of quad riders pass us along Trent River Main, who were very gracious and slowed their speed to go by. Once we turned onto the spur that would drop us down to the river bottom, Natalie spotted all the puddles. It was one puddle after the other, and she surely rode into each and everyone. What fun for her, grinning ear to ear and hollering. We had to walk the bikes down the last 200 meters of the road, as the cross ditching and quad track is much to advanced for Natalie. She was getting braver all the time today and before long she will be rolling down those same places.

Nice flames
I had the foresight to place my flint and steel in the pack before we left. As someone who has always had the  urge to learn how to survive and live off the land, lighting fires is a skill that must be practiced. Today I had success. Leaf litter was all around from the Big Leaf maple trees, fairly dry, plus small sticks that had been left behind when the river receded. I gathered a big bundle of leaves and twigs, gradually getting ones the thickness of my pinky finger. I began by striking the flint with the steel, making sparks but with not very good results. It is really hard to direct the sparks and the leaves were not quite bone dry. Natalie suggested using some toilet paper. Taking her advice, and another five minutes of striking, I had success. I felt like Les Stroud. I picked up the tinder bundle, blowing in it gently to get the leaves to ignite. I placed it on the ground and added small twigs until we had a substantial little fire burning. I was thrilled. We used the fire to toast almonds, one at a time on the end of a flat stick. They tasted wonderful. I longed for some sausages or smokies to roast. Next time.

"I did it!"

Marshall wants to eat this one
We did a little target practice with our slingshots. Natalie is now strong enough to pull the bands on the one I crafted for her in '08. I had made six for the different kids in my life back then for christmas presents. That was a fun time building those. I also made an alder fork slingshot that I never used very much, so I put a few rocks through that one too. Not very accurate with irregular rocks, but fun all the same.

Snack, so tasty
We used our containers from our snack to toss water on the fire before heading out. I showed Natalie a new  tree that she had not identified before, the Yew tree. She thought the Yew was pretty sweet and strange at the same time, since they grow berries. Not at this time of year, but what looked like flowers were forming on the branches. We walked back up the hill out of low lands, and Natalie rode through some more big puddles, on some fairly steep bits. I was impressed with her bravery. With more puddles and a little bit of "Are we there yet", we made it home. To celebrate our return we both decided to ride through the creek crossing leaving the trail. It is something that I often do on finishing a ride, well deserved and really wet feet.

Rite of passage
Our longest adventure was probably our funnest so far. So much easier for me not having to pull her along the whole way, just some encouraging words and a back rub to stop the tears after a pile up. 14 kilometers is a pretty big endeavor for someone who has only been on a bike for two weeks, and she did fabulously. Great job Natalie, hopefully next time we think ahead and bring something else to cook on the fire. I am wondering about trying the fire bow? Find Adventure.

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