Monthly Archives: June 2011

HIKER’S HIGH

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The end of our third hike was when the reality of our plan to hike the entire Bruce trail truly hit me. The first 2 days were a kind of mini vacation; out of the ordinary; fun; exciting to dream and plan this big adventure but 5 years is a long time and although I was committed, I’m not sure the reality of that commitment had fully sunk in for me. Until Saturday after we finished our walk! We were sitting with our celebratory beers and guidebook planning our next hikes. I was pumped and eager to set a date for the next hike and the one after that and after that…I guess it was the adrenalin or “high” after 6 hours of hiking – it had been a great day.  The weather was not too promising and we started quite late (11:30am) but the rain held off and we accomplished as much as our first 2 days combined. As Magdalena said, it wasn’t the Georgian Bay but the views were still pretty spectacular and the escarpment itself is an amazing geological feat….can’t wait for our next hike…marian

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Where shall we hike?

It looks a bit random, I know, starting at Lion’s Head, then over to Crawford Lake.  But there is method in this.  We’re planning to hike the distant parts when we have at least 3 days to string together, and the day hikes need to be closer by.  From Crawford Lake we’ll be heading in the direction of Waterdown and Burlington.  And in the fall we’re going to swing up to Forks of the Credit area for a few hikes, to get the full experience of the fall colours there.  Eventually we’ll fill in gaps. magdalena

Crawford Lake to Kelso Dam

June 25, 2011.  This was our first day hike.  A bit more complicated for transportation than when we had Dana as chauffeur.  This time we arranged to meet at Hilton Falls Conservation Area, left one car there, and drove together to our starting point at Crawford Lake in the second car.  Seems like a lot of car use – I’m wishing that part weren’t necessary.

Our starting point at Crawford Lake

It meant we needed to be wise about how estimating our ability in advance!  Altogether we hiked 16.2 km along the Trail itself, plus side trails that added an additional 1.3 km.  So 17 1/2 km altogether, and probably about just right for that balance between challenge and enjoyment.  Early days – we’re still figuring out how to do this.

The day felt very different from the two we had in Lion’s Head.  The sky was overcast, threatening rain.  We passed through 3 conservation areas so saw lots of people – people ambling, people on dirt bikes, people hiking.  Noise from traffic reminded us how close we were to civilization.  Our trails were a mix of rugged and rocky, and wide and smooth.  And of course, no views of that beautiful Georgian Bay this time!

Yes, different from the remoteness of the peninsula experience, but I loved the day just the same and feel eager to do more.  I continue to be impressed by the very fact that the trail exists to be enjoyed, and that its beauty is so accessible – so many parts are within an hour’s drive from home, and it doesn’t require any complicated gear or skill.

View from cliff edge at Kelso

Highlight of the day?  For sure the trail along the edge of the cliffs at Kelso. The views were amazing, but so were the fissures and sink holes and other rock formations.

Places I’d like to go back to: There were some lovely gift shops in Campbellville, and Guelph Line in that area is lovely.  I didn’t have time to see the Iroquois Village at Crawford Lake or do the walk around the lake itself.  And I’d love to hike the Rattlesnake Point side trail sometime. magdalena

the next step…

Day 2 of our hike started off much more cautiously. We had learned not to be too cocky and decided to go south from the  same trail head we had started from the previous day which meant that the first 5 or 6 km would be along the road into the town of Lion’s Head, a nice gentle walk, that would protect my ankle.

the easy part

A very different experience- we stopped along the way to talk to some of the locals about cottage property values; lots of places for sale and mused about the possibilities.

for sale; $299,000 waterfront

is this ontario?

After we got through town we were back in the woods and the scenery again turned spectacular.

don't wake up the bears!

lunch with a view

It was actually on this day that we decided to blog about our experiences and muse about the possibilities of where this blog might take us… could we end up publishing a book about our experiences? Maybe it would be interesting enough to be a movie… 2 middle aged women, walking and talking about life??? What actresses would we pick to play us? The possibilities are endless; the ideas come and go like an endless stream of consciousness. I had never really thought about blogging but now it seemed like a great idea and today I have been sitting in front of my computer for the better part of the day.  I have to admit; I’m hooked!

It’s been 10 days now since our last hike and I’m ready  to start planning our next hike. I don’t want to lose the momentum. 885 km in 5 years= 177 km per year or to break it down further,  about  25 km per month x 7 months per year (we don’t plan to hike in winter). That’s not too onerous.

a few more pics from our last hike to inspire us…marian

The Misstep

a rocky path

As we have been alluding to in previous blogs, our first hiking day was not without mishap. But it was all taken in stride and proved to be another of life’s lessons in being flexible.

We didn’t want to overdo it or push ourselves too much on our first day of hiking so we decided to enjoy a leisurely breakfast and hike for about 6 hours. We figured 20 kilometers was a reasonable distance to do in 6 hours, with time to spare to take lots of pictures and breaks.  It should be no problem- both of us were capable of walking 5 km/hour easily, so giving ourselves an extra 2 hours would compensate for the rougher terrain and many breaks we anticipated we would need to take pictures.

Our goal was to take our time, enjoy the scenery and not feel rushed or pressured to do too much.

Dana dropped us off at the Richardson Road trail head (marker 87.7) at 10am and agreed to pick us up at 4pm at the Cape Chin North road trail head (marker 106.1). The weather was perfect for hiking and we started the day off eagerly, in our new hiking boots, our packs filled with hearty lunches, snacks and enough water to get us through the day.

how can i focus on the ground when this is the vista?

The scenery was breath-taking, but the trail was challenging and rocky so you had to watch where you were stepping at all times.  Of course for me this was tough because I didn’t want to miss the big picture, by constantly looking at the ground. I loved the panoramic views, the fields of forget-me-nots and trilliums, the rocky outcrops, vistas and peaks of the water through the trees.

some of the crevices reminded me of the movie 127 hours

And so not far into the trail I had my first slip, nothing serious, just a slight twist of my right ankle to avoid falling on a tree root that I didn’t see.  After the initial shot of pain, it didn’t hurt and I was fine until about 4 hours later when the trail lead us along the beach and we were walking on medium sized round pebbles and boulders. I realized then that buying the stylish low cut boots had been the wrong choice. Magdalena’s ankles were fine, snugly protected in her high-top boots, while my ankles were getting more than a good work- out. In fact my right ankle was beginning to scream “stop” with each step. We made it to the Cape Chin connector side trail head at marker 98.7and decided to take a break and assess the situation. Resting was probably a big mistake, as my ankle really began to object to the idea of walking any further. Plus it was already close to 3 pm and we realized we would never be able to walk another 9 kilometers by 4pm even if my ankle wasn’t hurting. We decided to call Dana to pick us up here instead. But to our surprise we had no cell phone reception. Now what? There were 2 vehicles parked here, so we figured sooner or later one of the occupants would show up and we could ask for a ride to where Dana would be waiting for us. We had met the occupants of the one vehicle earlier, (the first people we had seen all day on the trail) an elderly couple with a dog who looked like they were not going out for too long, so we decided to wait.

We waited … and waited… finally Magdalena decided to walk up the road a ways to see if she could find anyone else to help us. There were several cottages along the road but no one home, except an elderly man who let her use his land line- but unfortunately Dana’s cell was not getting any reception either. She asked him if he would be willing to drive us for a cost but he declined. So she returned and we waited some more …

Finally a father and son arrived at one of the vehicles and agreed to take us to where Dana was waiting.  It was well after 4pm when we finally arrived at the meeting place. We arrived in a vehicle, not walking as we had planned. My ankle was throbbing and all I could think about was how disappointing it would be for Magdalena and myself if I was not  able to walk tomorrow. Back at the cottage,  Dana iced my ankle and I soaked it in a warm Epsom salts bath and then I slept with it raised all night.

dana to the rescue!

The next morning Dana taped it up and it was fine. We  walked another 10+ kilometers without any pain or incident and made it well within 4 hours…   marian

A five year goal

I’ve been reflecting on this question of starting a journey that’s supposed to take us 885 km.   I’m not sure how one even comprehends a goal like that.  To be honest, it’s hard for me to wrap my brain around this.  It’s not like we have 3 months so we can do this consecutively and can call it done. I know how life can intervene, how life can throw me curve balls.  There’s my own health.  The health of my children.  My husband. Finances.  And who knows what other compelling and competing goal will come my way?  And then I have a partner, Marian, with her own set of variables.

I have achieved a few neat personal goals this past year, some of which I’ve actually sustained for 12 months and more. I’ve finally joined Toastmasters after years of dabbling with the idea of it, and am about to finish my first set of 10 projects.  Also, I maintained an active fitness routine – at least 5 activities per week – for a full year now, which for me borders on amazing.  I’ve never been an athlete, I  hated gym class in high school.  Making time, and effort, for fitness has been an up and down thing all my adult life.  12 months of staying active and motivated is a fine achievement.

In May I completed my first ever half marathon walk, 21.1km, with the Mississauga Marathon.  Another fine achievement for someone like me. And my training team from that walk has me signed up for the Jazz Tune-Up 10 km run in the Beaches in late July. We’re training for that now.  I’m in the run a minute walk a minute phase, thinking, I’ll have to see if I can achieve this.  I fancy myself a walker, never have seen myself as a runner!  But I’m hoping to surprise myself at least once.

But you may see where I am going with this.  All of these are small chunk goals compared to saying in the next 5 years I will walk all 885 km of the Bruce Trail.

As of this moment, we’ve completed 2 days, and about 18.8 km.  We’ve dipped our combined toes in.

And will continue to do more all summer and fall. And maybe, bit by bit, we’ll look back and say “look at us now”.  magdalena

Reminiscing

Auspicious is a wonderful word that best describes everything about the past 2 days for me.  Favorable, promising, positive, fortunate, lucky, opportune are all synonyms but none completely define the many moments we had in the past 2 days as well as auspicious does. Reflecting back on the past 2 days, everything fell into place perfectly, even our moment of crisis. The weather couldn’t have been better- perfect hiking weather (especially compared to today’s thunderstorm). As hiking partners we were well matched; our vision of this trip, our physical abilities, our determination and our willingness to be flexible all seemed to be auspiciously in tune.

Weeks before, we had booked a place to stay; a small self contained cottage; located near Lion’s Head midway between Tobermory and Wiarton. When I first called to inquire, I instantly liked Lin, the co-owner of the place. We spoke for an extended time and she provided a wealth of information about the area. She described the local sections of the Bruce Trail in compelling details noting that our planned dates – June 1-3 would be the perfect time to hike these parts because all the trilliums and wild orchids were in bloom. When she told me that she and her partner, Carl, who were both artists called their place the “Dragonfly studio”, it felt like I was destined to be there, given my own personal affinity to dragonflies. Serendipity! karma! Magdalena agreed; we would modify our plans to start in Tobermory and rigidly move along from end to end.  We could complete the trail in any way that suited us. We could always come back and do the section from Tobermory to Lion’s Head another time.We booked it for 2 nights. It turned out to be an auspicious decision!

It was our first insight;  in order for auspicious things to happen we need to be flexible, open, not bound to rigid decisions.

Our next encounter with flexibility was when we found that Makhudu was not available for the dates we had booked and Dana had hurt his ankle and did not feel up to hiking. It was not that difficult for us to decide to go anyway. After all this was our adventure and they were just “along for the ride”. But then  Dana offered  to be our chef and chauffeur; taxiing us to and from the trail heads and cooking all our meals. What a great offer! We could just enjoy ourselves and not have to think about anything else. And it was auspicious that he was there to doctor my sore ankle after our first day of hiking when we learned  another lesson in flexibility.

A final auspicious moment. On the drive home, we decided that we wanted to have dinner at quaint little restaurant with home cooked food. We chose downtown Orangeville as the place to stop, mostly because we expected to be there around dinner time and would need a stretch and pee break by then, but also because we liked the downtown strip. When we got there, we discovered the main drag was closed to traffic; there was music, people milling around; signs of a festival. We detoured around, parked and walked up a small side street where a band playing on the street outside a busy little restaurant called Soulyve serving Caribbean food. It was exactly what we were looking for;  a minimal menu, an awesome  smell and very busy – the signs of good food for sure.  We stood for a moment surveying the scene; the only available seating was a small interior table for 2 and there was a long line-up for take-out. As we were debating, a couple seated at a prime location by the window, overlooking the street, offered to take the small table and give us theirs.  Sitting by the open window, with the breeze blowing in, listening to the music by the very talented “homeless band” and eating the biggest, best roti ever; what a perfect ending to the first chapter of our journey.  Heading  home, we agreed that this would become a “regular” stopover …marian