Sunday, Monday August 11&12, 2013; Sydenham- Owen Sound area
Finally! It’s been over 3 months since our last hike and summer is already winding down. We’ve both been so busy with traveling, company, work (for me only since Magdalena is now happily retired) and family commitments, that we’ve been unable to find any free time, until now. We’ve eked out a two-day trek and our friend Mary (who hiked with us several times last year) joins us again for this venture.
A newer friend, Marissa drove up early Monday morning to join us for the one day. Marissa is also an avid Bruce Trail hiker who heard about us through our CBC radio interview last November, checked out our blog and then contacted us. We met her and her hiking buddies during a snowstorm in January and have stayed in touch. She’s been eager to join us on a hike.
What a great feeling, being back on the trail. It’s like coming home. This is where I belong. There is a sense of familiarity, comfort, peace. The sights, sounds and smells of the trail are like old friends welcoming me home. A few deep cleansing breaths are all it takes to fall back into the rhythm of the trail. The weather is glorious both days; a bit cool for August but ideal for hiking. The gigantic, puffy clouds occasionally threatened rain, but other than a brief few drops, our own sweat was the only thing that drenched us.
There is something magical about being in the forest. I am often acutely aware that there are many creatures hiding in the shadows, watching us, but we rarely spot them. Thus when we are granted a sighting, it is always a privilege to connect, however briefly, with this living being and wonder about its essence. Today, within moments of entering the woods, we are greeted by a toad. Much later on the trail, we meet a second toad, who poses patiently, while we madly click away with our cameras.
This is our first exposure to toads on the trail and so I wonder about their significance to us this day. According to Shaman traditions they are symbols of the earth, so are they reminding us to stay grounded? Or to keep focussed on the earth below our feet because that was definitely required, given the challenging terrain we traversed these days.
Over time, there is an element of repetitiveness to the views, flora and fauna, but the miracle is that as we become more attuned to the subtle changes in the seasons, weather or locale, we always find something novel to capture our attention and compel us to take too many photos. Like the patches of bright red toadstools, reminding me of my favourite childhood fairy tales about the little people who live here; the cedar trees that wrap themselves around the rocks in eternal embraces; the vibrant greens of the spongy moss covering the giant boulders that seem so precariously placed.
But mostly, it is the escarpment itself that takes my breath away. Photos just don’t do justice to its majesty and intricacies. I am in awe, as we squeeze through narrow passageways, past sheer walls of layered rocks that look like they’ve been intentionally cut and built by a skilled tradesman.
We leap over gaping fissures in the ground and recognize how easily one wrong step could be disastrous. The crevices are very deep and dangerous. According to the guidebook “caution is advised”. In hindsight, the toads at the beginning of our hike now make sense to me. I have constant flashbacks to the movie based on the real life story of a young man who falls into a similar crevice and is wedged there for 127 hours before he is finally rescued.
Luckily, our only misadventures were minor. I had a slight tumble (a reminder to watch the ground instead of looking up); we stepped into a patch of poison ivy (again the same reminder) and we got lost in a farmer’s field. I’m still not sure how this is possible with 4 pairs of eyes on the lookout for blazes unless we were all focussed on the ground here. Nevertheless, despite the lost time in having to backtrack, we finished our second day in record time, averaging about 3.5 kilometres per hour, thanks to Marissa, who is definitely not a dawdler and generally set the pace a few notches higher than our norm.
In total we completed 38.4 kilometres on this 2 day hike. We now have only 205 kilometres left to finish. The end is approaching and with that a whole range of emotions…marian