Ski and Scramble: Cavern Lake Canyon, Northwestern Ontario

Over the last few years i have attempted to get into Cavern Lake Canyon while the lake is frozen to ski down and through the canyon. With several failed attempts of turning off bush roads in the wrong direction, running out of daylight, or arriving when the lake is only semi frozen has made this successful trip just that much more exciting and fulfilling.

Cavern Lake is designed by Ontario Parks as a Nature Reserve due to is fascinating geology, rare arctic-alpine plants. Also found here is a large cave occupied by colonies of bats that are very vulnerable to human disturbances, especially in winter while they are hibernating (Please visit the Ontario Parks website for more information). Even thought we quite curious to check it out, we decided to be respectful and stay clear of the cave as disturbing those little bats during their hibernation could cause them to wake early, fly out and freeze to death.

The last week or so a heat-wave has been going through northwestern ontario. Averaging with highs of +10 degrees Celsius and lows of -7, a sure sign that spring is well on its way. I finally got the bindings set up to work with my boots on a sweet new pair of classic nordic skis and was eager to use them so i rounded up a crew for an adventure consisting of myself, my friend Sarah and a couchsurfing friend Caitlyn who came up for the weekend from Hackensack, MN for the Sleeping Giant Loppet race the day previous. We figured it was probably the last chance to get out for a ski adventure this season. It was so warm no need for gloves or hats. I even wore shorts with my gators.

Everything was so perfect, we skied right in through the canyon to the very end. snow was a little rugged in parts on the trail but once we got out to the lake it was soft and smooth, Ice is definitely started to melt though but was still solid with perfect snow cover. We noticed some cool rock formations high up on the cliffs at the end of the lake so decided to scramble up and check them out.

The scramble up was quite sketchy as we were post-holing up to our knees and even up to our thighs between the large, small, and often loose boulders on the talus slopes.

We took our time, carefully making it to the top of the rock ledge. When we got up there it was to our surprise that we found a little un-registered geo-cache hanging from a tree. We signed the log book and took some photos of ourselves with the camera in the box.

We sat up top and admired the panoramic view of the canyon basking in the warmth of the sun. On our ski back to the car there was quite a lot of water build up on the lake as we felt this warm heat warm brush by our faces, a sure sign that the lake was soon to melt. We came out with pretty wet feet just at the perfect time to be able to listen too sweet tunes in Caitlyn nice ride watching the sun set on our drive back to Thunder Bay. (see video slide show below to view all pictures – they are in some what of a reverse order but they are all there, enjoy!)

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