Last Saturday we headed out to Hole in the Wall from the Parry Sound Smelter Wharf on Hoks (see last week's post for information on these skis). A popular boating destination, Hole in the Wall is a somewhat challenging destination in winter without a snow machine.
The return trip from the Smelter Wharf is about 13 km (8 mi). Heading out last Saturday it took a bit less than 3.5 hours, about 2.5 hours skiing, and another hour for stops to take photos and check out the scenery. In terms of path we headed out through the North Shore Rugged Trail and popped out onto the Big Sound at the hemlock grove. That was a little longer than heading straight out on the Big Sound, but it was a bit more fun and it blocked the wind coming in from the northwest.
Heading in a pretty much straight line to Hole in the Wall it worked best to follow snow machine tracks. Skiing over the 'virgin' snow took more effort. The challenge was choosing a track that generally headed to Hole in the Wall. It wasn't as easy as you might think to figure out which was best as they disappeared in the distance.
Arriving at Hole in the Wall revealed a single locked up ice shack. There was also a recently frozen over hole that was easily opened with a ski pole. Using a ski pole as a measuring stick we estimate the ice was about 60 cm (30 in) thick.
The return was more comfortable with the wind mostly at our back. Arriving in the area of the Smelter Wharf the Big Sound was alive with people out cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing and ice kiting. A very doable trip on skis the only real challenge is the wind. So bundle up and expect it to take between 2 and 3 hours depending on how quickly you ski. It seems it would be a much longer trek on snowshoes. Walking without skis or snowshoes is not advisable. While the snow is less than a couple of feet deep at most, it can get tiring. Even walking on the snow machine trails feels like walking barefoot on sand, a great calf and thigh workout.