Monthly Archives: May 2013

Photographing our journey

IMG_7705I think one of the reasons Marian and I stay away from organized Bruce Trail hikes is that we cannot imagine finding a group that would accommodate our obsession with photographing everything we see.  Once something catches our eye, we are compelled to stop and take a million shots.  Our cameras are the same model, so we can compare notes on settings and other features (the blind leading the blind at times, neither of us being technical experts, but it helps).  Our essential criteria in choosing the camera was that it be very compact – it is always immediately accessible on our waist packs, and readily stowed again when we need both hands free.

In the 4 days in Sydenham we took over 600 pictures.  There’s lots we are happy with, and many of these appear in this and other recent posts.  However, there are of course also many that did not turn out.  It is, we have found, virtually impossible to truly capture the fascinating crags and crevices everywhere. Sydenham Forest East, a section of trail criss-crossed with crevices, and the Lloyd Laycock Cave are two examples of areas where, try as we might, our photos just didn’t do the scenery justice.

The flowers and the spider webs and the odd snake, on the other hand turned out quite nicely indeed, and we  hope you enjoy them!

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Of caves and crevices

Some sections of trail offer stunning waterfalls, some offer spectacular views of Lake Huron.  What stood out most for me in our 4-day hike in Sydenham, though, were the caves and crevices.

IMG_7490I love the crevices that slice so deep into the rock throughout the escarpment.  We encountered our first crevice not long after we started out, and far down below we could see lingering remnants of snow.  We enjoyed many more of them as we travelled on, most of which we glanced at, marvelled, and then carried on.  Near the end of the second day, when we were already feeble with fatigue, the trail passed right through an amazing crevice that required us to travel right over snow patches.  It was an energy boost – out came the cameras!

The third day was even more fun.   Not far from our B&B we spotted alerting us to a narrow crevice, not for the faint of heart.  It was everything it promised to be.  We spent the next 30 minutes snapping photos of each other and of the rock.

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And we had hardly progressed when we found this blaze leading us down into yet another fissure:IMG_7617

Our final day passed by the Lloyd Laycock Cave Side Trail, 100m according to the sign.  “I’m going in,” I called back to Marian. The rock formations were stunning.  These pictures attempt to portray some of the scale.  The guidebook advises flashlights for the final stretch, which we did not have, and the snow-covered trail looked risky so in the end we missed the actual cave.

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Our B&B hosts know the family who owns the property and they told us Mr. Laycock was very proud of his caves, as he should be.  They are indeed spectacular.  Thank you, Laycock family, for sharing it with hikers like us! magdalena

More Sydenham musings

One thing I’ve been wanting to write about is the feeling of utter fatigue at the end of a day on the trail.  IMG_7676Day 2 of our last hike was a good example of a day in which we stretched ourselves beyond what we thought possible.  It was the day Marian battled a migraine.  It was also the day where the trail offered limited road access, meaning our choices were a pickup after 10.8k (which was not in the cards), or hiking right to our B&B for a distance of 23.3k.  “We’ll do 23.3,” said Marian.  That’s a lot of kilometers for the Bruce on a good day and in good health, and it represents a personal best distance for the two of us.

We paced ourselves, took breaks, made sure to drink lots of water.  By the last part of the day, though, I felt completely spent, and I could see that Marian was really struggling.  We tried mind games.  The hordes of  white trilliums with their uplifted pretty faces turned into friendly crowds cheering us on.  IMG_2795We made as if we were starting out fresh, it was the beginning of the day, each step the beginning of the rest of the journey.  We tried dropping into wordlessness in salute to Martha Beck’s latest book, Finding Your Way in a Wild New World.  Mostly though, we just plodded on, one foot after the other, step by step by step.  There was momentary encouragement when we were able to spot our B&B in the distance, IMG_2835soon to be followed by discouragement as the trail dipped deep into the valley and then climbed steeply upward again.   IMG_7561Still we carried on, bone-weary, leaning ever more heavily onto our walking sticks.  And then finally, when we thought we could do no more, we heard the unmistakeable sounds of traffic on hwy 26.  IMG_7566At last, a concrete sign that our destination was around the corner.   Three hundred more meters and we were able to collapse in the comfort of the B&B.

As interesting as the physical exhaustion is, I find it equally fascinating how the body rejuvenates itself.  After a cleansing shower and a good night’s sleep, each morning found us restored and energized and ready to do it all over again.  Yes, we did ask Makhudu’s famous question, “Why are you punishing yourselves?”  But we also discovered the special satisfaction that comes from channelling the warrior goddess within and conquering what feels like an impossible challenge.

Speaking of warriors, though, part of the trail on Sunday passed along land owned by the Department of National Defence.  As you can see from the sign below, we were informed that we were not to touch anything or it might explode and kill us.  Seriously. IMG_7680And sure enough, as we hiked the sounds of birds were interspersed with sounds of gunfire – both single shots and automatic fire from machine guns.  It was a bizarre experience.  Why, one has to ask, would our DND locate an area of target practice adjacent to a nature trail?

To end on a more positive note, we loved learning about the Lebanon Mountain Trail.  There’s a new destination to add to our list! IMG_2959


Spring Hike 2013

Friday May 3 to Monday May 6, 2013.  Blantyre to Owen Sound.

IMG_2804Blink and you’ll miss it – that’s the kind of spring it’s been.  It’s classic for Ontario – one minute it’s April and it’s still snowing and you think the winter will never go away, and the next minute it’s hot and the flowers are out and the trees are all covered in new green leaves.

I am happy to report that Marian and I were definitely not blinking this year.  Our latest hike, the first real progress toward Tobermory in 2013, auspiciously straddled 4 days that practically begged for time lapse photography.

On day 1 the trees were still virtually bare, the leaves for the most part still small enclosed buds:

IMG_2740Day 2…IMG_2798Day 3…IMG_7689By day 4, they were open and full and providing much needed shade for us, the warrior goddess hikers, as we conquered 75k in Sydenham that we can now add to our grand total:IMG_2976

As a Bruce Trail experience it was perfect.  The weather provided steady sunshine and blueIMG_2770 skies with temperatures in the low 20’s, and fanned us with light breezes.  The trails took us through forests carpeted with trilliums and violets and periwinkle, across crevices plunging deep into the earth, vestiges of snow still remaining far below, beside rivers that burbled along merrily, and through grassy meadows IMG_7639inhabited by Scottish Highland cattle.  Several times the trail passed directly through crevices, one time narrow enough to warrant an alternate route for those who suffered from claustrophobia.  A blue side trail took us into the Lloyd Laycock caves where we clambered in awe through the cavernous spaces carved out of the limestone.

To top off a perfect weekend, our accommodations at the Holly Cottage B&B in Woodford were amazing.  Holly Cottage is definitely one of the all-time best B&B’s we have ever stayed at.  Hosts Dave and Norma made it their business to take care of our every need, from the thirty or more types of tea to soothe us at day’s end, to the Band-Aids and Epsom salts that were standard supplies in the bathrooms.  IMG_2965There were robes in the closets and shelves of magazines and books in each room.  Norma brought up a pre-breakfast tray with coffee every morning at a time of our choosing.  The actual breakfasts were delicious with different main courses served every morning, and packed lunches – optional – included healthy sandwiches, fruits and vegetables, packages of almonds, and freshly baked granola bars and date squares.  And in addition to all that it was totally convenient.  The trail passes right by the B&B, so with Dave’s shuttle service it meant we could actually leave our car at their place on two of the days.

All in all, for our first real foray this year into our continuing journey to Tobermory, it was a great success.  We are left with 235k, a number that is looking very reasonable indeed.  magdalena

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