Bushy ferns line the pathway along a several km lakeside trail and through the thick forest. Sunlight pours in through the treetops. Groups of campers come by on a wide trail clearly marked. This is my microadventure and day trip in the Gatineau park north of Ottawa. Gatineau park is in the Outaouais region, which is a goldmine for day trips from the urban concrete, suburban lawn mowers, traffic and bustle of the city.
The mouth of the cavern appears after a few kms along the lakeside and a slightly inclined 1 km trek up a branch off the lake trail. One small garter snake made an appearance in the side bush, rustling around in the brown oak leaves that blanket the sides of the well worn trail.
Several dozen people are scattered amongst groups at the three different cave entrances. The two main sections of the cave converge at a rocky crevice where the stream flows openly. Refreshingly cool cave air oozes out of both tunnels at the boulder lined stream bed. The tree roots hold the rocks in place.
I quickly discover upon entry, the headlamp I own is not nearly bright enough to fully light my way, and remove it and use it by hand. A handheld flashlight together with a headlamp would have been a better option.
These caves are at your own risk, and completely free to enter. There were people all over the place and you did not get much chance to snag a picture without getting the back of someone else’s head or an entire group of beginner spelunkers exploring. A website advised that if you come during summer peak season to expect a lineup at the cave entrance. There were a few pileups occasionally, but it was still worth the wait.
If dry shoes are important, bring spares. One girl is at this hard core. She has passed through the caves in her swimsuit several times by the time our group leaves. If you plan on fully completing the Lusk Caves circuit, expect to get fully soaked. If this is your goal, you need a dry bag or have to leave your stuff outside.
There’s a sense of wonder that we get from venturing forth into caves, mountains and oceans. They offer up natures test of our ability to deal with challenging and different environments. This is an easy Ottawa day trip but other caves can be found all over the world in varying degree of difficulty and challenge.