Monthly Archives: August 2012

Half-way there

Sunday August 26, 2012; Hockley Valley to Mono Cliffs

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Sunday was another perfect day; a bit hot but there was a nice breeze. My friend Mary Poppe joined us. She is an experienced hiker who had done this section of the trail before and declared it as her favourite, which added a certain element of anticipation to this day. We arrived with 2 cars again, which is a definite convenience but a constant dilemma as it goes against our ecological stance. It also forces us to commit to our end point, which I think generally results in “playing it safe”, not wanting to push ourselves past our comfort zone. We decided on an easy 15.4 kilometres, which we completed no problem (albeit a bit slower than usual due to Mary’s insistence on a coffee break– yes, she actually brought coffee!)

We have now officially hiked more than half the Bruce trail!!! One could argue that we are now on the home stretch, but realistically the end is still a long way away and I suspect the next 300 km will be challenging as we continue plodding along through the middle, before we begin the countdown to completion. We’ve been reflecting on what it means to be “in the middle” for a while now….that space and time in any project, trip, lifetime, when the novelty of beginning is past and the end is too far away to contemplate yet. It’s a comfortable period; there is a feeling of familiarity about the routines and expectations, but there is also a sense of repetitiveness; things begin to blur, remind us of other places and times and get taken for granted. So I appreciated Mary’s upbeat enthusiasm and admiration for the spectacular vistas and enchanting woods, as it reminded me to focus on enjoying the present moment and the place where I am right now.
In addition to passing our halfway point yesterday, we also completed the Caledon Hills section of the trail and started on the Dufferin Hi-Land section. Another accomplishment and badge #5!

We ended our hike in the usual fashion, enjoying a celebratory beer at a local pub, which was conveniently right where we had parked our car at our end point and came with a high recommendation from Mary. While we were there we met this couple from Milton (and his mother from Germany) who had hiked the entire Bruce trail twice already (with their dog) and were now working on all the side trails. They were eager to share experiences and told us about their favourite B&B in the Peninsula section, which we filed for the future reference. They also told us about their plans to walk the Milford trail in New Zealand, apparently one of the most spectacular trails in the world, which intrigued me enough to consider putting on my bucket list. How about it Magdalena?
…. marian


Getting close to the middle

Sunday August 19, 2012.  Albion Hills to Hockley Valley

The day was perfect for being back on the trail after our 5-week break.  We welcomed temperatures in the low 20’s, a nice change from the July heat.  And we were back in the forest, which affirmed our decision on our last outing to get the road stretch behind us.  Today we just heard traffic noise and crossed highways (Airport Road and Highway 9) but no more stretches along highway shoulders.

It was good to be back, but we could both tell we have moved into a different phase.  Where once everything was new and exciting, we now have a sense of déjà vu and a routine has set in. We’ve been doing this for just over a year, so we are repeating seasons.  We know what summer on the trail is like, the heat as well as the vegetation.  We’ve photographed all these flowers – the Queen Anne’s Lace, the chicory, the buttercups – last year already.   When we crossed a small stream we hiked on by – in the past we’d have been all over it with our cameras.

I suppose that’s as it should be at this stage.  We are almost at our midpoint, you see.  The complete trail is 885 km, and today we ended at 439.2, a mere 3.3 km short of the magic number of 442.5.  We’d actually had some hopes that we might achieve it today, but when the trail challenged our knees with lots of steep ascents and descents we called it quits at 21.1. It’s just as well – this way we will reach that milestone when we are fresh and strong early in the next hike.

Not to say there is not still much to enjoy, but it’s more like running across old friends when we enter a new pine forest and inhale its fragrance or when we are treated to views of valleys that remind us of magical days in Beaver Valley in the spring.  (I use the word “treated” lightly – it’s more accurate to say we “earned” those views.  You don’t get those valley views without a completing good hard climb first!)

Some things still frustrate us, though, and don’t seem to get easier.  One of those is the logistics of travel.  The farther we are from our homes in Toronto, the more complicated that part is.  Taking two cars for two people when we are hiking more than 70 km from Toronto is not friendly to the environment.  This is after all supposed to be about enjoyment of nature.  On today’s trip we used only one car and called a taxi from our end point, but it cost us $60 plus tip to be driven back to our starting point. I find that excessive.  Makhudu’s observation is that no sport is inexpensive – no doubt comparing this with green fees. What it shows is that we are in that awkward zone, where it’s almost too far for a day trip but still not really worth it to do the overnight run.  And it will only become more so the farther we walk from Toronto.

Ah well.  We’re in deep now, and committed in both senses of that word – the dedication and the insanity – so on we’ll trek and no doubt we’ll figure out our way – step by single step. magdalena