Monthly Archives: June 2012

It rained!

Sunday, June 24, 2012.

Today – for the first time – we got to wear our bright new orange rain ponchos legitimately!

That’s right, we actually experienced a decent rain shower in the afternoon.  Happy as ducks, we were, or, more accurately, as kids playing in puddles.  Great fun!

We couldn’t decide whether we looked like bright orange lilies:

A lily in the meadow?

like little hunchbacks stooped over our walking sticks:

The hunchback look

or like preachers in altar gowns:

Looking very spiritual

The last image seemed to work well with the other metaphor we played with today, which was: “Bruce Trail as Church” – it was Sunday after all.

Our Bruce Trail service was not very Calvinist.  No three theological points, no reminder of our total depravity.  Instead we had a sermon delivered by the birds, and their message was simple and wonderful:  “Sing every day”.

The beauty of the meadow flowers, butterflies and frogs in the muddy water, along with the moss-covered rocks and cedars and maples and beech trees in the forests provided an abundance of praise elements. The rain was our baptism and our communion. Our silent prayer took place in the many moments of quiet contemplation as we walked without talking.  In all sincerity, we felt blessed and edified.

It was, altogether, another great day on the trail and in the Valley.  We covered forest trails and meadows and hay fields, and basked in the fragrance of cedars as well as cow manure. By mid-day we began to catch views of the Georgian Bay in the distance as the route leveled off and started to head west again.  Napping through the service?It was an easy day in terms of hiking difficulty, and we overshot our planned goal for the day.  We walked 19.5 BT km, leaving a meager 6.3 km to cover the next morning to complete the Beaver Valley section. magdalena

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The Beaver Valley –part 2

Saturday June 23,2012

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We have managed to escape our hectic schedules for another 3 day weekend of hiking. We are definitely addicted now. Getting out on the trail has become a fix for us. We are constantly looking for ways to squeeze in another hike between our personal, family and work commitments. Luckily our families are supportive albeit somewhat bemused by our addiction.

We have 43.7 km left to complete the Beaver Valley section of the trail this weekend; a pretty easy goal at this point in our hiking careers.  We plan to do about 18 km or 6 hours per day on Saturday and Sunday (which allows us plenty of time for our other obsession – stopping to take pictures along the way) and gives us a leisurely day Monday to finish up and drive back to the city in time for Magdalena’s 6pm meeting.

After a 2 hour drive we arrive at Johnston’s sideroad on the west side of the Beaver Valley at 10am. This is where we left off back in May when we were here for 4 days.

see the towers – we were there before

We feel the rush of excitement as we recognize the landmarks.

We have booked 2 nights at the Rocklyn Inn B&B and have made arrangements for them to pick us up at the end of the day so we are all set.

there’s old baldy in the distance

It’s another picture-perfect day and we are eager to get on the trail. We breathe deep and let the oxygen flow into our veins. All the stress and tension leaves our bodies. It’s exhilarating and calming at the same time.

literally immersed in the path

There is a meditative quality to our walks as we become completely immersed in our immediate surroundings.

Listening to the birds and hearing the rustle in the leaves constantly reminds us that we are not alone and that there are many eyes watching us even if we don’t see them. Today we disturb thousands of tiny butterflies, walking through the wildflowers and they flit around us like fairies. A toad tolerantly poses for us as we take numerous photos. We also see our first porcupine up close – so close in fact I almost tripped on him but unfortunately startled him and he scurried away before we had time to pull out our cameras.

By 4:30 we have walked 33,910 steps and 24 km (Magdalena’s watch) or 17.9 km (Bruce trail guide) and although we both feel like we could go further, we decide to call our B&B hosts and Mel pick us up. He is pretty laidback but his partner Diana is a bundle of nervous energy. She is compelled to give us a detailed run-down of our stay, while busily preparing a 3 course dinner for a 1956 high school reunion for 14 people tonight. Some of them are staying overnight  so the Inn is full and we are relegated to the neighbour’s house but are permitted to come back at 7:30pm for dinner (if there is any leftover) for $25 each. Nancy’s home is tranquil; we shower and relax in her beautiful gardens with a bottle of wine before heading back for dinner. The food is surprisingly delicious; Caesar salad, Coq-au-Vin with fresh vegetables and homemade rhubarb pie. By 9:30pm we are satiated and comfortably tucked into our beds…marian

Puckering Lane

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

“Can’t” isn’t in the dictionary….

…or at least, that’s what Marian’s mother, Freddy, maintained through the years she raised her 7 daughters (Marian is the oldest). 

Well, Freddy had ample opportunity to model this can-do attitude on Saturday when she joined us for the Forks of the Credit leg of the Caledon section.  At 77, Freddy is still spry and energetic and she was determined to see for herself what hiking the Bruce is all about.  She was equally determined not to hold us back, and she held to her promise.  We completed another 13.6 trail km, which, as we will continue to insist, is actually more like 20 km according to my pedometer watch.

Freddy got the full experience.  The day started with a climb straight down Devil’s Pulpit, a cliff of more than 100 meters in height.  Thankfully, guy wires and wooden steps helped us make our way down and around the hairpin turns.  At the base we clambered over enormous limestone boulders until we came to Forks of the Credit Road and the famous Forks themselves.

After this the trail was easier to navigate.  Early on we passed by Brimstone (love the name!), a small settlement once home to quarrymen who supplied the stone for Toronto’s Parliament Buildings and Old City Hall.  We continued to follow the river, and had lunch in a picture perfect picnic spot where the Credit flowed alongside a meadow.  As we refreshed our feet in the stream we were entertained by stunning black and turquoise dragonflies flitting about the flowers like dozens of little fairies, at times lighting briefly on our shoulders and on our hats.

I said it was a full experience. It certainly was.  We had all the joys of a day on the trail – the lush greens of the trees and grasses alongside all the colourful wildflowers, the burbling stream, a waterfall, cedar woods, sunshine… We also had our share of the challenges – heat, mosquitos, exhaustion.  We experienced “getting lost” on Puckering Lane, which is another story and worth its own post, soon to come! We even encountered a Bailey Bridge,  bringing back memories for Freddy who remembers Bailey Bridges built in the Netherlands in WWII to replace those that had been destroyed.

At the end of the day, thanks to my great colleague, Kim, who had offered to drive us back to our car (with a mandatory stop for beer at the Bellfountain Inn), we also had true local flavour.  Kim grew up in the area, and still lives nearby.  She gave the guided tour of local highlights – the Trestle Bridge, the Cataract, and the Hairpin Turn (road version).  magdalena

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