Monthly Archives: October 2011

Memories; Remembering Old and Creating New

During our last 2 day hike I had been fighting a cold; staving it off with massive amounts of vitamins and will power. I managed quite well and was able to enjoy the hikes both days – perhaps not to my full capacity- I didn’t have the energy to take nearly as many pictures as usual and I struggled to keep up with Magdalena physically. But I persevered and can honestly say I’m glad I did – it was a great mini vacation. We managed to complete another 37 kilometres of the trail, the weather was co-operative, we crossed a few streams (literally and figuratively) and we continued to be amazed at the beauty and grandeur of the escarpment.

crossing the stream

Because we were hiking in my home territory, where my mom still lives, we were able to stay with her and my stepdad overnight- which is like staying at a 5 star B&B (my mom is the ultimate nurturer). And we had the added bonus of visiting with other family members well.

so many memories here!

Growing up in this area, on the escarpment just south of Ridge Road between Grimsby and Beamsville, I never realized how close the Bruce trail was and how often my life intersected it, without my awareness. As we walked from Mountain Street in Grimsby, past Park Road, Thirty Road, Valentino Park (which no longer exists) to Victoria Avenue and Balls Falls, so many images, thoughts and feelings of my youth–some fondly remembered, some repressed for years- came bubbling to the surface. Images of “walking up the mountain” after school on many occasions when my dad was unable to pick us up; yes, I really did have to walk 2 kilometers home from school as a child and uphill too yet!!!  Other memories of skipping school, hanging out, hitch hiking, parking (I was a rebellious teenager)… bombarded me as we hiked this stretch.  Certainly those memories have impacted who I am today and it was a cathartic experience…remembering.

crossing Thirty Road

It was especially fun having my niece and nephew Rachel and Sam join us for 5 kilometres on our second day and share in our discoveries along the way.  It was definitely a bonding experience and I hope they will join us again sometime.

Sam & Rachel at Balls falls

Walking in Niagara, it is impossible to ignore all the wineries. After passing several because we didn’t want to walk the extra distance– we finally came to Staff Winery which was literally right there-  we interpreted it as an auspicious moment and went in for a free wine tasting and a well- deserved break.

As always the last few kilometres of the hike are the most brutal and it is then that we ask ourselves; why are we doing this? This time we encountered some of the most difficult parts yet near Rockway Falls- there were a few sections that were downright scary, mostly because there was no foothold, so it was extremely challenging not to  lose our traction and slide in the mud as we climbed up or down. But we survived and I like to think it as a metaphor on life in general. After all isn’t it those most challenging experiences that shape us into who we are?

Rockway Falls

After we finished our second day of hiking, while we were still celebrating at the Jordan House with our customary beer, my body finally gave itself permission to crash and succumb to the virus it had been fighting for the past few days.  marian


Our first joiners – Rachel and Sam

Day 11, October 28, 2011,  Part 1 — Cherry Ave. to Ball’s Falls

Day 11 started with great fun!  Rachel and Sam, Marian’s niece from Chatham,  and her nephew from Grimsby, joined us on the first 5 km to Ball’s Falls.  They have thereby earned themselves a place in the history of this adventure as being the first friends to join our trek.

It was a family day in every way – Oma Freddie chauffered the group of us to yesterday’s ending point and today’s beginning point, the Megalomaniac Winery sign.  Well, said Aunt Marian, since we’re here of course we must first drive to see the winery itself.  What a great winery – carved right into the escarpment limestone like a big bunker. You could run up the hill and stand on top of the roof – which of course the kids did.Rachel and Sam on the roof of the winery

And the early morning view from there was stunning.

And then we four happy hikers headed down the trail with Sam in the lead.  He got the job of spotting the blazes and finding our trail, and he turned out to be a great scout.  We did not get lost once when we had him in charge!

Our trail led us down and up hills, along a brook, across a bridge, beside roads.  At one point we walked alongside a farm field where a family of goats walked in tandem with our group, the big-horned ram firmly in front.  Sam, it turns out, does a great imitation of a ram – hence his new name, Sam the Ram.

Soon we were able to hear the sounds of Ball’s Falls and the rapids below, but the trail offered no view until suddenly Sam shouted, “There it is!”  Wow – we almost missed a most spectacular waterfall.  It’s like a smaller version of Niagara Falls.  In fact, the Bruce Trail Guidebook says Ball’s Falls is 2/3 the height of Niagara.

Many photographs later…  we moved on to the little historic settlement at Ball’s Falls where we waited for Freddie and Ralph to pick up Sam and Rachel.  While we waited we searched and searched to find the next blazes — that is, we searched for the blazes after Sam almost refused to give everyone their snacks, until Magdalena had to tackle him.

Sam and Magdalena scouted everywhere but they couldn’t find the double blazes to show a turn, and they couldn’t find any single blazes up the road.  They did however find a most mysterious brick “building” in the hillside that needed to be explored.  Sam was sent in with the camera and he took these informative photographs so Magdalena could see what it looked like.

Maybe one of our blog readers can explain this one to us — we are still puzzled.

It was Rachel in the end who had the good eyes to see that the trail turned to the left just in front of the chapel.  Thank you, Rachel.  With that settled we set up the camera on the tripod and when Freddie and Ralph arrived we took this beautiful photo to remember a wonderful morning. Ralph, Freddie, Marian, Rachel, Magdalena, Sam

That’s Ralph, Freddie, Marian, Rachel, Magdalena and Sam!  magdalena

Beginning the Niagara Section

Day 10, October 27, 2011. Grimsby to Beamsville.

It seems like a long time since the last hike, having had the very exciting interlude of the filming.  In fact, though, this is still October, and we are within our conceptual goal of going twice per month.  What made this day and the next different was that we were taking a mini-vacation from work, we were going overnight (staying with Marian’s mom Freddie and her husband Ralph), and we were in “Marian’s country” – where she’d grown up.

We hiked a total of 18.5 km on this first of our two back-to-back days.  We didn’t reach the 20 we had hoped for, because the trail was challenging and progress was slow.

slow and steady

Much of the time the trail was either rocky and uneven, or it was mucky and steep.  We had streams to cross on foot, having to step carefully across the exposed stones.

the only way to the other side is across

On the hills it was hard to find footholds or handholds to help us with the slippery mud, either going up or down, and we found ourselves slip-sliding on our boots.

This was our first full day on the Niagara section, and we observed that the markings appeared to favour the opposite direction.  More than once we found ourselves lost, having to backtrack because we missed a turn; or we were looking somewhat anxiously for a blaze to confirm that we were still moving along the right path.  We do realize we are the contrarians – hiking back to the beginning of this trail, on this first section of the entire route.  And of course we were not helped by the carpet of freshly fallen leaves that obscured the path.  Good thing we are seasoned hikers by now, and that our bodies are strong and in good health.

On a different note, Niagara of course means vineyards, and wineries!  Around 1 o’clock we passed by our first winery.  Hmmm.  Tempting.  But we have miles to go, we said; we need sober heads and steady limbs.  So forward we went. Well, that resolve weakened very quickly.  The next winery, we determined, would become our lunch break.  Alas, it was not to be.   The trail never again came so close to a winery for the rest of the day.  We did however sample the grapes on the vine.  Very sweet and delicious!  And at the end of the day we had Freddie pick us up at the  Megalomaniac winery sign.  That, it turns out, is as close to wine as we got on this day, but, there are more Niagara days to come!

We also crossed paths today with a big group of hikers from the Grand Valley Trail Club, and we met one  of the really great landowners who allow hikers like ourselves to pass through their properties.  A big thank you to all of you escarpment landowners.

This post would not  be complete without a shoutout to Marian’s wonderful family.  Not only did we get to visit with Freddie and Ralph, but also with Marian’s sister Linda and her husband Al, their son Sam, Marian’s other sister Helen and her daughter Rachel, and a drop-in visit from Janet who had been such an amazing help to us when we were hiking in the Hamilton area. A great end to a great day.  magdalena 

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We’ve been discovered!

Our amazing adventure has just become even more exciting.  Our story is going to be included in a 3 part video series for the Bruce Trail Conservancy (BTC) and Cogeco TV (local cable company in the Iroquoia area).

Joan Mizzi-Fry, the producer, has been commissioned by Cogeco and BTC to produce 3 half hour spots for TV and for the BTC website, featuring the trail, its history, its users, and its future.

Our part started last week at Marian’s house, with Joan interviewing us to get some background about us and our project.  Then yesterday we met in Waterdown to re-enact the final section of the Iroquoia Trail, including of course a celebratory “cold one” at the local pub!

Here’s a picture of the production crew,  Jessica, Joan, and Jeff, on location:

We played our part, doing all the things we normally do on the trail – like take a ton of pictures, for example.  We “finished” with a photo of ourselves:

Look for us next April – on cable tv in the Hamilton area, and on the Bruce Trail website for the rest of us.  magdalena

Mud, Moss and Mushrooms

Day 9, October 1, 2011.  Stoney Creek to Grimsby.

We may have lucked out with weather the week before, but not so much this time.  It was damp and chilly!  The route today gave us a couple of great views from the top of the ridge around Grimsby itself, especially from Beamer Memorial Conservation Area, but most of the day we hiked mid-escarpment, under the trees.  The bonus was we had fewer steep climbs today, but the challenge was rocky and uneven terrain, made sleek by dampness and sometimes mud (with which  Marian’s butt made intimate contact not once but twice!). And though we had fewer grand vistas than on some previous hikes, the moss and the mushrooms more than compensated.  Who knew there were so many varieties!

The great accomplishment today was that we completed our first section end-to-end.  We can now send off for our Iroquoia Section badge.  Hooray for us!

Just 80.1 km left to get to Queenston Heights. magdalena

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