Monthly Archives: November 2011

We reach the Queenston cairn!

Day 14, November 13, 2011. Niagara Falls (Fireman’s Park) to Queenston.

Kilometer 0.0 - The "southern terminus" of the Bruce Trail at Queenston

We did it – we completed the Niagara section today, and thereby we also completed what we had set out to do in 2011.  It had seemed ambitious when we were starting the Iroquoia section in June and talked about whether we might  reach the Niagara River this year.  And yet, look at us – one step after another, one hike after another, and lo and behold, we’ve now done two full sections, become seasoned hikers, and covered 221 km of the Trail!

To be honest, there was a bit of an anti-climactic feel to the morning.  We had left ourselves a short 7 km, over easy terrain, and we had had an early start because we stayed at the Falls overnight.  The day was typical for November weather – cloudy and dull – and our moods and conversation seemed to match despite the fact that today we set out with Starbucks in hand (another first).  Our energy was a bit flat, and our topics were heavy.

It came as a surprise, actually, to find that we were finished, and that it was only 11 o’clock.  Our first clue that we were close was that we spotted the Niagara River in the distance; then we discovered we were right at the Brock monument; and then – well, then, there it was, the stone cairn to mark the ‘southern terminus’, kilometre 0.0 of the Bruce Trail!  Wow!

We set up the mini-tripod for our celebratory picture and as we did so a couple of local hikers came by to look at the cairn.  They offered us a lift to our car at Fireman’s Park, which made for another auspicious moment and a fitting finish  (Thanks, Mary, in case you’re reading this).

And with that we say adieu to 2011 hikes, and go on hiatus for the winter.  On a hiking hiatus at least.  We have a few ideas for our blog and our pictures, so stay tuned.    magdalena

Almost there…

Day 13, November 12, 2011.  St Catharines to Niagara Falls (Fireman`s Park).

Today we hit the 200 km mark, walked along the Welland Canal, and also along the old Welland Canal, crossed the QEW on the footbridge (opened by Bruce Trail Conservancy and several partners in 2008), and Marian struck up a warm new relationship with a big St Bernard dog who gave her the honour of his company for a very long distance (longer actually than felt comfortable – visions of sneaking a St Bernard into the hotel!).  My foot was strong and whole again, and I tossed my walking stick.  And the sun came out, the clothing layers were shed, so all in all it was a perfect hiking day.  We finished at 3 pm and were left with a mere 7 km. left to go to our 2011 goal, the southern terminus of the Bruce Trail in Queenston Heights.

We’d planned on this last leg of our 2011 hikes to celebrate with a great hotel with a hot tub, and a wonderful dinner out – after all, this is the great culinary and winery district of Niagara.  The hotel, it turned out, was clearly economy scale, and the dinner, at a supposed hidden gem in Niagara on the Lake, disappointed too.   But, there was a hot tub in the hotel, and Marian did get to channel her inner Zelda by sneaking wine into the hot tub in her water bottle.

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As well, the timing of our check-in was perfect – it was the magic hour of light just before sunset.  Picture it: the magnificent Niagara Falls, on a November afternoon, bathed in golden sun.  After months of walking in virtual solitude on the trails in the woods, sliding on mud, climbing up crevices, now we joined throngs of tourists, families,  lovers, visitors from around the world, all on the wide sidewalk above the river with everyone posing in front of the falls, people asking complete strangers to take their pictures with their cameras.

A fitting way to complete this leg of the trail, at the magnificent Niagara Falls, having enjoyed  so many of the other falls like Great Falls in Waterdown, Sherman Falls in Ancaster, Balls Falls and Rockway Falls in the Niagara Peninsula. magdalena

Finally, an easy (but cold) 20 km.

Day 12, November 11, 2011.  Short Hills to St Catharines.

After the challenging hikes we’ve had for the last while, today’s walk was an easy one.  We took it as a sign that the Bruce Trail gods continue to shine upon us, because today I was walking with an injured ankle that I had twisted at home on Thursday.  I did everything I could – I iced it, kept it raised, took Tylenol, I even had Dana do his expert magic with a tensor bandaid (thanks, Dana!), and I had my high-top hiking boots.  But it felt tender, and I fully expected to have to cut our hike short, so our being able to walk 20 km. today was a lovely surprise!

We started in Short Hills Provincial Park, where the trail wound through the woods but stayed nice and level.  It stayed on top of the ridge as we travelled through the beautiful Thorold area, with its calendar-perfect old mill at DeCew Falls.  A full five kilometres of the day`s route led around Lake Moodie, on a gravel bike path built on top of a dike.  I could have been in Holland, with the gray November sky and the water level so much higher than the surrounding fields.  All of it easy hiking, and we covered our distance with ease despite my ankle. Our trek today passed through the campus of Brock University and ended in the streets of St. Catharines, on Glendale Avenue near the Pen Centre shopping mall.

As we always do, we talked as we walked (we’ve become great talkers!).  Today was Remembrance Day, so at 11 am we talked about the story of my Uncle, oom Teun, who kept a diary during the last year of the war in Holland and recorded the experiences of his family of 9 children in The Hague and their struggle with hunger and cold and danger as they longed for the Allies to finally liberate them from German occupation.

lunchtime siesta at DeCew House

Lunch was at DeCew House, now a stone foundation with a plaque that commemorates that this was where Laura Secord famously came to alert the British troops about the Americans` plans during the War of 1812.  How about that, with the 200thanniversary of that war just around the corner.

It snowed in the afternoon, thus closing the seasonal circle around this year`s adventure which started with blossoms and trilliums in June in Lion`s Head, passed through the sweltering heat of summer, and basked in the fall colours and the ripe clusters of grapes on the vine.

And this post can’t end without a special shoutout to Gloria, who once again chauffered us from our end point to our car, who gave us 5 star B&B service at her gorgeous home in Vineland, and who set us on our way on Saturday.  Thanks Gloria! magdalena