Recently I posted about the people of the Beaver Valley. Well, on Saturday we met one of the people of Puckering Lane, and I can assure you she was no kin to Tom and Darlene or to Betty and Vernon. Neither is Puckering Lane the Beaver Valley.
Try Googling “Puckering Lane”, and the first things that come up are real estate listings in the $3-$5 million range. Puckering Lane is exclusive. It’s a little corner of paradise, and its residents, it would seem, have paid good money not to be bothered by riff raff like us.
At the time we met our Puckering Lane resident, though, we were glad to see anyone – anyone, at least, with information about the trail. Let me set some context.
Thirty minutes earlier, we’d left Forks of the Credit Provincial Park. According to the guidebook, “…the main trail turns left and continues along Puckering Lane…” We found the blazes that marked the turn – so far so good. Next we searched for the single blazes to confirm we were on track. The single blazes, and Puckering Lane – not so easy. No more blazes to be seen, and no sign to assure us we were on Puckering Lane.
Now, by this point in our adventure we’ve had our share of wrong turns and missed turns, and they are immensely frustrating. We’ll be following what seems to be the obvious path only to finally notice we are no longer seeing blazes and discover we have gone far out of our way. Today of all days we did not want that to happen. We were hot, getting tired, and – the clincher – we had Marian’s mom Freddy with us. She was a trooper at 77, still going strong after 4 hours, but we didn’t want to push it.
I volunteered to play scout. I said I’d walk ahead and call if I saw a blaze. I walked and I walked, scanning the trees on both sides, thinking surely this must be the road. No luck. Nothing. Nada. And yet, there was no other obvious path that could be considered Puckering Lane, so on I went. At last, on a single tree, a single blaze. Hard to believe, after such a distance. I went right up to the tree, to make sure it wasn’t a trick of the sunlight. Indeed, it was an authentic, Bruce Trail style blaze. I hiked back to get the others, and on we went.
I warned them it was only one blaze. And it was a long way down the road. But it looked right, I said. We found it again, and hiked on by looking for more markers. None. Not one. Surely this must be right, though. What else or where else could the trail be?
What do you think, we kept asking each other. Should we turn back? But what else was there? This has got to be wrong – no part of the trail has no markers for such long distances. Maybe they re-routed. And erased all the blazes except that one. Maybe all the trees with the blazes fell down, suggested Freddy. Eventually we should find McLaren Road if we keep going down this lane, right? Yet at the top of every rise in the road, all we could see ahead was more gravel lane. This just cannot be the trail, unmarked for so long. We had hiked for at least a kilometer and one – just one – single blaze? We’d better turn around.
And so we did. We turned and started to hike back.
That’s when the black SUV appeared, heading our way. The driver slowed, and stopped beside us. “We’re looking for the Bruce Trail,” we said to her.
“You’re on it,” she said, as if stating a fact any child would know.
“But, but… there’s no blazes!”
She sighed. “There’s one at the beginning, and one at the end. That’s enough.” She flicked away a mosquito that was flying into her car.
We countered, “But we’ve been confused and worried for the last half hour. We were already starting to go back.”
“Oh, the association had markers on every second tree,” she said. She made it sound like graffiti. “Totally unnecessary.”
You know you’re on Puckering Lane when you reach McLaren Road. Not so much from the opposite direction.
She sighed again. “There’s another side to the trail, you know. It’s not so great living adjacent to a public trail. You wouldn’t like it either. We’ve been in conflict with the association for 30 years. People’s fences get broken. There are dogs that are loose and they attack our horses. People have drinking parties on the trail and they smoke pot and they have sex. “
She waved away more mosquitoes drifting in through her window, as if to demonstrate how tiresome it all was. Said she was on her way to help a neighbour whose cow had gotten stuck in a fence. (I can tell you she didn’t look like any farmer I had known growing up in Norfolk County, with the gold chains around her neck and the toned body that spoke more of personal trainers than pitching bales.) Eventually she rolled up her window and drove on.
When she was gone, we looked again at the guidebook, and a little bolded note that we’d ignored suddenly stood out. It read, “Note: Blazes and signs from the park stile to McLaren Rd may not be visible due to ongoing vandalism.”
It appears we had just met one of the vandals. magdalena