Monday, October 24, 2011

4 girls, 3 nights, 0 bears

Highlights from my weekend away with the girls in Mattawa Ontario.

Our home away from home

We stayed at Nature's Harmony.  It's an off-grid experience and while I am no camper and going without a hair dryer for a few days in a row is a super challenge for me I really really liked this experience.  No cell service, no running water, barely any electricity.  We had to 4wheel drive it up to the cabin from the main house. 

We arrived around 7pm on Thursday night and relaxed, had dinner, a few drinks and got ourselves acquainted with the place.

front of the cabin 
Friday morning we woke up and after getting 'cleaned up' we went into town to check messages and find breakfast.  We ended up stopping at the first place we saw, Drapers where we met Theresa who worked there and two other guys that were having breakfast, Mo and James.  Everyone was super friendly and they told us about the the three crosses and said we should hike there.  You would have to find a boat to take you across or you could walk across the railroad bridge (which was illegal).  Breakfast was fantastic by the way.  They also told us to go check out Mel's place, Moosehead Estates, another BandB in the area. 

sadly we didn't get to use this, too wet

We went to see the local art gallery where we got to see the "magic paintings" and then headed over to Mel's place where we were welcomed in and shown around her 11 bedroom, 6 bathroom estate.  The place is spectacular.  It has all the amenities a person (like me) would need, running water, flush toilets, cell service, an enormous lot, right on the lake and the most amazing kitchen I have ever seen and on and on.  I think we were there looking around and talking to Mel for at least 2 hours.  We are definitely going back there next year to stay, maybe after IMMT.  The place is gorgeous and Mel has worked hard to make it really comfortable.  Plus the stories about the house itself and the history could keep you busy for days. 

10 can sleep up there
We headed back to the cabin to wait for the other girls and had a great time chatting and eating before bed.  We slept in a loft, the cabin could sleep at least 12 people, 2 in the bedroom on the main floor and another 10 in the loft. 

Saturday we headed back to Drapers for 'the ususal' and then decided to tackle the bridge/hike to the crosses.  We heard differing stories about the train schedule.  No, there's no trains on a weekend, yes there's trains but you should be ok, the trains run in the late day around 6pm, the trains are stopped for construction.  I really had NO idea and this made me nervous.  Nevermind the train schedue then we heard about the trail to the three crosses.. It's just over there to the left of the bridge, that is the easiest way up, my 3 year old grandson did it, the guy at the outfitters said he had never done it and was too scared, someone else said you really should go up with someone that knows the trail. Oh and of course the bears.. we heard we better get a bear horn just in case, then no, you don't need a bear horn, the bears will leave you alone and on it went.  Incidentally there is a bear horn iphone app too.  

you can see the 3 crosses in the top right
There is never any stopping Michelle and Tracey was a super trooper but Heather and I were less convinced.  Getting across the bridge was bad, I can't believe how scared I was.  It wasn't horrible at the beginning, there were steel walls to block the wind on either side and if you kept your eyes focused on the ties you could step easily but when we got to the part where there were no walls my heart rate went up up up.  By the time we got across it might have been 10-15 minutes later but I could not stop shaking and all I could think of what having to go back across the bridge.  We weren't sure how to start up the trail, it looks different when you are standing there rather than looking across the lake from the other side.  It was slippery and wet and quite a climb straight up and at that point I called it.  Nope, not going.  I was too worried about bears and getting back across the stupid bridge and since we didn't even know if we were on a real trail I knew I was way out of my element. 

view once we made it across
Heather was with me but Tracey and Michelle kept on. Heather and I headed back across the bridge as quickly as we could and parked our butts in a vantage spot where we could watch for the other girls.  About an hour later sure enough we saw Tracey's red jacket and they were texting us that they made it.  Then they had to come down. When we finally saw them wandering along the railway path they were with a guy, it's not unlike Michelle to make friends everywhere she goes. What an interesting guy. His name is Tim and he lives in a makeshift tent on the mountain alone and this was to be he fourth winter up there.. (really???!!)  He met the girls at the top and offered to help them down via the actual trail which they had missed the entire way up, Michelle said ABSOLUTELY!!  The girls said he was a real help on the way down and very interesting to talk to.  They offered him money and he flat out refused, he said god would take care of him.  He typically comes down on Saturday night so he can go to church early Sunday morning. 

inside Moosehead Estate
When we go back next year I promised to hike to the crosses but we'd need to boat across and I hope we meet up with him again. 

Back to the cabin for our last night.  We were able to use the showers at the main house and they even put a sauna on for the girls around 9pm. 

I am definitely going back next year and want to stay at Moosehead Estate and I'll be excited to go back to Nature's Harmony and see the changes.  They are working very hard on expanding AND for you off road types they host an off road cycling race and a running race as well.  Jen and Tzach are fantastic hosts!  I wished I had spent more time hearing about their story. Maybe when we go back we can convince them to come and have dinner with us.

a few more pics and that's all I got...

our sunroom at the cabin

the wood stove, kept us extra warm

friendly dogs that decided to hang out with us

"The" place for breakfast, thanks Theresa!


Julie said...

That looks beautiful!!! What a fun weekend. I'm not sure I would have walked across the rr tracks...that looks scary! The hike I could do but the other...

adena said...

Hi Julie, if we had boated across I would have definitely been more apt to do the mountain climbing. Next year!

Caratunk Girl said...

That looks awesome! I love walking on RR tracks, there are quite a few near me. I don't like trestles, but the tracks are cool. That camp looks awesome.

Candace House said...

Looks wonderful! Where is it exactly?

adena said...

Caratunkgirl, you should have been with us, then we would have known they were called 'trestles'.

Candace, it was in Mattawa, it's near/in North Bay.

Jason said...

I love B&Bs as getting to know the owners as well as the locals. So much better than going to a huge hotel...IMO!

Looks like you had a great time and I'm glad you conquered one demon in the bridge walk. Builds confidence to tackle something else the next time.

FranP said...

Bear horn iphone app... LOL too funny!

Looks like a fun girls weekend away! Hope I can make it next time! :)

Big Daddy Diesel said...

How fun and relaxing!!! Kinda jealous