March 10, 2013
Muddied melt-water spilling over creek banks and swirling around tree trunks, thick mud weighting down hiking boots, downhills made treacherous by the remnants of ice lurking beneath that thin layer of mud – oh yes, it was that first balmy spring day of the year and your intrepid hikers were back on the trail!
It was good to be back. We’ve really missed the trail while we’ve been away from it, and this time it’s been months. It’s not that we’ve been sitting idly at home – between us we’ve been on a Caribbean cruise, stayed at a resort in Cuba, snow-shoed in Muskoka and visited New York City. Still, it’s the Bruce that we miss – tracking those blazes for hours on end and allowing the tranquility of the forests to restore us even as our feet turn bone-weary. The Bruce has gotten under our skin, so much so that we created a day trip to revisit some old haunts. We can’t afford to stitch together a 2-day trip right now, which is what it would take to continue our way to Tobermory from our last end-point.
This day trip took in 3 waterfalls – Rockway, Swayze, and DeCew – and two side trails, Rockway Falls Side Trail and Black Walnut Side Trail. We’re rusty though, and we were reminded we should read the fine print on the reverse side of the maps. It turns out the description of the first side trail, Rockway Falls, includes a little warning: “No creek crossing is possible during peak flow periods”. It certainly was a peak flow period – there was no way to get across. We had to back-track to the main trail, but not before exploring the area by following the creek upstream a ways. The tremendous power of the water during the spring thaw amazes me. What will soon again be a tiny stream now boils with fury as it surges around obstacles.
We can’t help remembering and comparing with the first time we hiked this section. What I remember most about Rockway Falls is the absolute surprise of it. The falls and the enormous gorge are hidden from view from the road, so it feels like a secret of the Peninsula, known only to hikers. We also recall that we visited Swayze Falls on one of the first very cold days of fall, and that we had hit the first snow of the season. Today, bracketing the winter, we have one of the first very warm days of spring. It’s the same and not the same – the trees are still bare, but now there is still some snow on the ground that is melting fast. DeCew Falls on the other hand will always be what it is today – a calendar-perfect quaint little spot.
It was, in the end, another good day on the Bruce, the first of 2013. magdalena