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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