We are Hatton and Northern Ontario is Manny Pacquiao, Let me explain!
Northern Ontario deserves its due. After almost ten days of getting pummeled by the wilderness that coasts along Lake Superior. It is time this monster got its due. Sometimes I feel that British Columbians (Myself Included) have a little bit of arrogance in regards to the scenic value of our province. “Beautiful BC” “The Greatest Place on Earth” are two of our provinces slogans. Sometimes I feel like we do not give the rest of Canada the credit that it deserves. No more so have I noticed that in Northern Ontario with its world-class beauty. Having said that we have got our butt kicked for the last 8 days since we left the sweet confides of the Britton household in Thunder Bay and we now have a new respect for mother nature.
Being a sports guy I am going to compare the difficulties of Northern Ontario to Boxing. In my mind BC is a heavy weight boxer, a Mike Tyson clone, one trick pony that can knock you out with one massive shot (Mountain Passes) but lacks the difficulties and versatility that Northern Ontario provides.
I would compare Northern Ontario to the best pound for pound boxer in the world at the moment, the fighting pride of the Philippines Mr. Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao (He got robbed in the Bradley fight) because of both of their diverse ability to finish you off and their extreme power, here is why:
1) Black Flies-Manny’s Jab: Manny’s jab is relentless it comes from so many unique angles, pesters and annoys opponents, hurts, stings and darts in and out. The black flies are the same, they attack you consistently never letting you get comfortable, stinging on every portion of your body. They wear you down, and down, and DOWN!!! Watching the four of us dance around on the side of the road trying to fix a flat tire and not get bitten by the bugs must be a sight to see. These disgusting creatures have broken us down mentally!
2) Rolling Hills-Manny’s Fitness: The hills keep Rolling and Rolling and Rolling. They are endless. There is no sense of accomplishment at the top of them, as you know there are about 1000 of them left. They are consistent, just like Pacquiao whose fitness level is legendary. Manny could literally fight a 36 round fight and still be bouncing for more.
3) The Fog- Manny’s Quickness: You cannot see anything along the Lake Shore. The fog literally presents 5 feet of visibility. Semi Trucks fly past you before you even see them coming. We lost Brother Russ in a thick grey cloud that consumed him for what felt like an hour. How do you lose Russ? He is the loudest, most annoying person ever! You cannot see Manny’s punches coming because of this quickness. He bounces all over the ring raining down undetected punches on his opponents. The fog and Manny both destroy your vision, which is a very eerie thing to be apart of.
4) The Thunderstorms-Manny’s Combinations: Combining all of these vicious elements Thunderstorms roll in unnoticed trouncing everything in its path. Winds, lightning, rain, thunder and more rain, these storms hit every last bit of will you had. Manny’s combinations are the same, putting you to the ground in a matter of milliseconds with right jabs, left hooks and upper cuts
5) Lastly the most important element, strategically brilliant! Manny has Freddie Roach (A Parkinson’s Sufferer), by far the best boxing trainer in the world. Freddie’s combination of know how, ability to adjust to diverse situations and fighters and overall superior strategy have taken Manny above and beyond his physical skill and prowess would have ever allowed him. Northern Ontario is the exact same, it knows your weakness, it knows when you are about to snap, it knows when to pick up your spirits a little with a beautiful lake to swim in only to have hundreds of black flies attack you when you come out. Northern Ontario knows all! I have never met an opponent like it, EVER.
For 7 days we have wanted to throw in the white towel, looked at each other in shock as mutant like mosquitoes ravaged our bodies but somehow we made it out alive. BARELY ALIVE, as you can tell by this next story….
Cycling as hard as we could, we finally after 12 hours pulled into Catherine’s Cove in Lake Superior Provincial Park, Ontario at 10PM just as darkness was setting in. The day had been a lesson in humility as Northern Ontario punished us for our arrogance in thinking we were past the halfway point and everything was going to be down hill from here. Sean, who finished the last 30KM with broken spokes was physically a wreck, Russ and myself sopping wet from the 6 hour rain cloud that had perched directly above our heads were mentally fatigued and Ry Mac was furiously trying to fight off the hundred 6 pound mosquitoes leached onto his back. Hearing there were bears in the area, we quickly engulfed our poor excuse for a supper and hid the rest of our food in the farthest outhouse from our tents so the bears could not smell it.(Intelligent I know) What we did not know beforehand is Catherine’s Cove is not a camp site, it is just a small, stunning cove set in the middle of this enormous provincial park. As we dived in to our tents to escape the rain, bugs, lightning and thunder we really had no idea what to expect for the night. Having experienced tropical storms in the Philippines I can safely tell you I have seen some pretty impressive typhhons. The one the four of us experienced that night in Catherine’s Cove is nothing I have ever seen before in my entire life. Lightning bolts lit up the sky and our tents as though someone was shining a flashlight directly in your eyes; coupled with ear numbing thunder and winds that almost lifted our tents off of the ground we were very nervous to fall asleep. When we finally did, everything went array. At 3:30am in the morning, we heard a “tick, tick, tick, tick, crack, crack, crack, BOOM!!!!!!!!!!” that had never scared any of us more in our lives. Sleeping beside Ryan he instantly sat up similar to a mummy resurrected from the dead and looked at me scared. All I could see was the whites of his eyes. I still get chills. As the lightning and thunder continued to spit down on us. I heard Russ scream as loud as he could, “ Guys, Guys, Are you okay?” The next 3 minutes was a blur of Russ and Sean wrestling each other and their uncooperative tent trying to find our flashlight, the four of us scampering out to assess the damage and the expression of horror when we saw what had happened. Literally less than 10 feet from our tent lay a colossal 500-pound pine tree that had been snapped in half by the irate wind. The ironic part of all of this was the fact that of all places the tree could have fell in this enormous park, it fell directly on top of all four of our bikes, smashing Sean’s gear changer, mirror and part of his frame. Scared and nervous I looked at Sean Neville, the bravest of the bunch for encouragement, when I saw the look of pure terror on his face I knew we were in trouble. Still getting peppered with rain, sleep in our eyes we made the brash decision that we were moving our tents out onto the beach and away from all of the timbering trees. The next 2 hours was spent having lightning bolts fire off above our heads, rain pelt directly through our thrifty tents and sleeping pretty much inside Lake Superior. Crawling out of our destroyed tents in the morning we knew we had been checked. Northern Ontario is a beast I never want to deal with again.