Monthly Archives: October 2012

Warrior Goddesses

October 30, 2012; Nottawassaga Bluffs to Devil’s Glen

Heeding the weather reports that suggested the effects of the Frankenstorm would last into the morning, we decided to be safe and delay our walk until later in the day. So after a leisurely breakfast we hit the trail at 11am.

It was another wet day, but the temperature was considerably milder today and the predicted severe winds did not occur, thankfully at least not while we were on the trail. There was a low lying fog covering everything and the trees were constantly dripping, even during the brief interludes when the rain stopped.  The atmosphere had an eerie stillness that created a mystical feel and encouraged a sense of solitude and inwardness.  I discovered a whole new appreciation for walking in the rain.

Mary texted us while we walked and called us great warrior goddesses, a term that seemed to fit the spirit of the moment and we joyfully embraced it, as we trudged along in the mist in our flowing rain ponchos, braving the weather and treacherous terrain. The sounds of gunshots nearby kept us on the alert and added to our warrior image. (And some people think that Toronto is a dangerous place.)  Needless to say we were thankful that our ponchos were bright orange.

All in all, it was an adventurous and challenging day! In many places the path had turned into a creek from all the rain, forcing us to walk alongside through the high brush. In other places we had to dodge giant puddles, wade across submerged bridges or find other creative ways to avoid getting our feet wet. Much of the time we just sloshed through squishy muck and soggy ground.

The most challenging section was in Devil’s Glen leading down to the Mad River (interesting names). At the peak, there was a sign marked with two black diamonds; it would have been an extremely dangerous slope, even in the best of conditions, but with all the rain, was probably the most difficult part of the trail we had experienced yet. We made our way cautiously, slipping and sliding and astonishingly without falling, down a very steep incline consisting of a number of switchbacks.  But we survived and completed 14 km by 3:45pm. Even more surprisingly, we managed to stay relatively dry and comfortable throughout this wet day. Are we not warrior goddesses? …marian

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Lessons to be learned

Monday, October 30, 2012.  Nottawasaga Bluffs area.

The real drama on day 2 of our Blue Mountain week took place before we even set foot on the trail. I had Googled directions to a parking spot at 20.5 in the Nottawasaga Bluffs Conservation Area and here’s what I found: take Rd. 124 to Conc. 8 to Sideroad 15/16.  The route sounded so simple…. Sideroad 15/16, however, was hardly that.

Signs of the season?

In hindsight the sign at the entrance to Sideroad 15/16 should have alerted us to trouble ahead.  It read, “No winter maintenance”.  But the dusting of snow this morning that covered some of the road signs was hardly snowplough-worthy so we drove on in.  The road turned out to be narrow, muddy, rocky, and hilly.  We skirted an enormous puddle covering the full width of the road by keeping one tire planted on the far edge, praying not to get bogged in the middle.  Then came another huge puddle.  Then another one.  Then a hill with the entire road surface covered in a bed of jagged rocks, with no option but to bump along over top.  In pure irony, a wide shelf of rock at the top stretched across the road with a sign that said, “Slow”.   It was when we came to this puddle below that we knew we had to turn back:

And that’s how we changed our plans and stopped at 16.8, on a well-travelled road.  A road where our car would be seen should we go missing.  A road that had less chance of getting washed out and leaving us stranded.  A road, quite frankly, that didn’t require an ATV!

On the trail today we had more challenges to deal with, especially with the all day “Frankenstorm” wind and rain that led to washed out paths and slippery mud.   It was good we shortened the hike to 11k.

Good test for our boots!

We did learn many lessons today.  We learned that just because a road has an official-looking sign at its entrance it might not be passable in a Corolla.  We learned that Google maps can lead us astray.  But we also learned that we really can hike in all-day rain and still keep our torsos and feet warm and dry, and that we can surrender ourselves to the elements and still take pleasure in the escarpment.

I also learned something valuable about November, a month that I normally dislike very much.  When landscapes are stripped of the showy splendour of fall and skies are grey and wet, I discovered, new colours come into focus.  Today I found new appreciation for the slate grey and buttery yellow mix of birch leaves on the forest floor; the warm orange glow of spent cedar leaves below the wet black cedar trunks; and the luminescent green of the moss covering the limestone rocks. magdalena

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Weather Alert

Sunday, October 28, 2012.  Black Bank to Noisy River

Airport Road is one of my favorite Ontario roads. During the past few months, driving it so often, to and from our Bruce Trail meeting points, it has become like an old familiar friend. It’s given me that time to reflect, a transitional opportunity to let go of life’s stressors and tune into the peace and beauty of nature.  The panoramic vistas are still breathtaking in a bleak mid-November sort of way (even though it is still October). The trees are almost bare; the colors mostly gone and the sky is a threatening dark grey.

There is an ominous feeling permeating everything today. As I am driving, weather stories dominate the news; there is constant talk about emergency preparedness for hurricane Sandy dubbed “Frankenstorm” heading our way, an earthquake in BC, tsunami warnings in Hawaii, the road washed out in Wawa.  The local forecast is rain and high winds for the entire week.  And here I am, on my way to meet Magdalena for a week of hiking! No wonder I feel an impending sense of doom. What are we doing? Have we lost our perspective in our obsession to hike? We planned this vacation, months ago and are determined to follow it through regardless of what gets in our way.  Our plans almost fell through due to my daughter’s upcoming move to England but we worked that out, so now we’re not going to let a week of bad weather stop us!

Yes, there is some trepidation, but I have to admit that part of me is excited – I love storms and relish the challenge of coping with inclement weather.  In preparation for late fall hiking weather, I just bought myself some new good quality hiking boots, water-repellent breathable pants and jacket as well as a polar fleece.

my new gear

I finally feel like a legitimate hiker, having joined the ranks of the elite in my MEC hiking gear and am eager to try it out.  Plus we have our orange rain ponchos… So damn the weather warnings!

We arrive at our starting point at 930am but a phone call pulls me back to reality. The nature of the call plus poor reception further unsettle my already apprehensive mood and it takes a while for me to unwind. As always, eventually I am able to shed myself of my worries and stressors and get into the rhythm of the trail. It is truly a journey in meditation. This is the real draw of the Bruce Trail for me. The air is cold and damp and the terrain is challenging – muddy and slippery from recent rains but my new boots are perfect.

We complete the first 11 kilometers and the Dufferin section before the rain starts. The last hour and a half are spent walking in a steady but gentle rain that is really quite soothing. With our rain ponchos on, we stay comfortably warm and dry. ..marian

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