Long Lake Night Hike 2000

As I headed out to the rendezvous point at the Bayer's Lake Tim's, earlier this evening, I was wondering if there would be anyone else foolish enough to attempt a night hike in the woods, one day after the first major snow storm in years, in temperatures hovering around -16. Then I took a mental review of who my friends actually are and realized that any number of them would easily meet the mental requirements.

I was right. There was a hoard of them inside gorging on donuts as I walked through the door.

The first to catch my eye was Wayne, nestled back in the corner under a white toque that very much resembled a nipple tipped condom. He was soon joined by Norm, adorned in hot pink jump suit and an Elmer Fudd hat. Meanwhile Duffy was off to one side securing his hatchet to the outside of his backpack (to the horror of the Tim's staff who recognized this implement as a weapon rather than hiking paraphernalia. I'm sure I saw them phoning 911. Thankfully, we left shortly thereafter, thus avoiding a confrontation, and possible incarceration.).

Long Lake is just off the #3 highway a few minutes out of Halifax. We assembled in a small parking lot by the side of the road after a short drive from Tim's. The role was called with 16 mumbled responses and two excited barks. Our fearless leader was Ian "It's only a few minutes this way, around those trees, over those rocks and through those bushes" Blair. His loyal followers were Bruce Duffy; Nancy & Gordie Warnica; Betty & Chris Hollebone; Wendy, Bernie & Ben Levy; Wayne Banks; Norm Stein; Sarah Duffy; Son Truong; Bruce Murphy; Dave Longard and yours truly. The canine component consisted of Frosty & Berko.

The first section of the trail had already been broken earlier in the day, allowing for excellent footing. Even though the moon was timidly hiding behind low cloud cover to the east, it was light enough for easy traversing. The trees were gorgeous, their branches laden with the fresh fallen snow. And, despite the cold temperature, it was comfortable, with not a breath of wind. As a matter of fact, some of us found that we were overdressed.

Our navigator then took us bushwhacking through snow that was a bit deeper, so as to avoid getting our feet wet along the lakeshore path. He said our destination would be a lovely spot beside a babbling brook at the base of a small water falls. We stopped several times to listen for the falls, to no avail. (Note to self, and Ian, it was minus 16. Water freezes at 0.....Duh.)

Nevertheless, after the odd wrong turn and a few bodies accidentally lunging head on into snow drifts, we did arrive at our intended destination by the water falls (?). I'll take Ian's word for it that there was something resembling a brook and a falls under yonder heap of snow. The only babbling audible to our ears came from Duffy & Co. who was heading our way up the trail behind us.

A fire pit was carved in the snow and our supply of wood and paper was retrieved from our backpacks. Within minutes the flames were roaring with sufficient intensity to melt the snow on overhanging branches, much to the chagrin of those who were located directly under said branches.

Time for nourishment. And what types of food do health conscious hikers eat? I can't really answer that question - we had chocolate chip cookies, brownies, raspberry newtons and roasted marshmallows.

Sometimes it interesting just to sit back and watch.

- I got to snicker as Wayne attempted to rip a small branch from a tree with his bare hands, to use as a marshmallow stick, totally oblivious to the snow he was dumping on Bruce Murphy's head as he sat beneath the tree stewing.

- Duffy set up his camera on a makeshift tripod, then almost went head first into the fire as he rushed back to get in the photo before the timer went off.

- I had thought that the "Giggle Sisters" operated only in tandem. Not true. Betty was in fine form as a solo act.

Alas, it was time to douse the fire and head home. The traditional method was abandoned for etiquette reasons (you know, mixed company). Besides, there was sufficient supply of snow at hand.

The walk back was even more magical than the walk in as the moon was now visible in the sky high above the tree tops. For the most part the snow was ankle deep, sometimes knee deep. But it was a light snow and easily manageable. I'm still amazed at how much you can actually see in the dark.

We had started out at about 6:45 and arrived back at our vehicles at 9:00. Amazingly, all heads were accounted for as we said our good byes and headed home in our separate vehicles at the end of another great night hike. The only casualties reported were Bernie's mints. Apparently, he lost the container somewhere along the way. Wouldn't that be fun - going back to look for a supply of peppermints, in a white container, in a snow bank, in the dark.

I figure there are three main components to a successful hike, night or day:

(1) You need a good location. Ian deserves top marks for that one. This is definitely one that is to be repeated - it would be equally pleasing as a summer night hike. Thanks Ian, I would say that you easily passed your Gonzo entrance test.

(2) Decent weather helps a great deal. We had a gorgeous still evening for this one.

(3) You need good people to share it with. I, for one, will thank the Big Guy for surrounding me with good friends and fine new acquaintances, just before I drift off into a contented sleep tonight.

I hope to see all of you at future night hikes, possibly as early as next month.

Jerome "Old Geezer" Bruhm