Beginning the home stretch

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It seems like every end-to-ender we have talked to has told us the Peninsula is their favourite section of the Bruce Trail. “Just wait,” they say. “You`re going to love it!”  Well, we just completed 5 days there over the Canada Day weekend, and I have to agree. Definitely, the Peninsula has the most spectacular sections of the entire escarpment. Stunning. This was also the time that Marian’s son Evan was finally able to join us for a day’s hike. We had so wanted him to be impressed, and impressed he was (right, Evan?).

But the other thing people told us is that it was the hardest, and in that they were right as well. Some notes from my journal about the section through Bruce Peninsula National Park:

“Yesterday was hard. It was also beautiful, to the point of spectacular. And surprising. But hard. We walked a chunk of the section that the guidebook warns as being the most rugged and difficult on the trail. That was certainly the half of it. The trail was rocky, it twisted and turned, climbed up twenty feet and then back down again, up and down, over and over, then all the way down to the shore of Georgian Bay and back up to the top of the ridge. Sometimes we walked across immense stretches of beach rock, further taxing my feet. Nothing that in itself was beyond our capacity, but cumulatively it tested my stamina. Everything hurt by 2 o’clock and we were still only at the midpoint of our planned hike.”

And the next day: “The first half of the day was gruelling. The path climbed up

rock that was hard to walk on

rock that was hard to walk on

and down, over and over, and the climbs were tough, the kind where you search for handholds and footholds. Just as soon as we had climbed down we would see the next uphill piece, allowing no rest for our feet or knees in between. The trail surface was mostly pockmarked rock, like moon rock, rock you need to pick your way over with tight concentration and that you feel through the soles of your boots. The heat too was unbearable, sweat running down our bodies, the salt of it biting my eyes. Any time we stopped the bugs swarmed us, buzzing around our ears, landing on exposed skin.”

Yes, that was the hardship side of it, but the beauty? Oh my, the beauty. It was just indescribable.  There was the deep turquoise of the Georgian Bay, reminding me of the Caribbean and making the pull of the lookouts irresistible. There were the wild flowers – yellow lady’s slippers, wild geranium, orange lilies, Indian paintbrush. The songs of the birds, and the flitting of butterflies and dragonflies that escorted us as we walked. And most magnificent of all, there was the Grotto near Cyprus Lake. It was teeming with people, some arranged on lawn chairs on the rocks, families with toddlers in back carriers and kids practicing their climbing on the cliff sides, a young couple in matching striped t-shirts clambering over rocks and posing for selfies, intrepid types jumping from the rocks in the distance into the frigid waters. Amazing.

Yes, I came home with my first case of poison ivy and yes, the days were hard and hot, but the Peninsula is a gorgeous place and worth every sore muscle and itchy rash.

And now we are left with just 38.2 km, which is amazing in itself. magdalena

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4 responses to “Beginning the home stretch

  1. How exciting that you are nearing the end – we have only just done the first 100Klms and loving it! What a graphic description of the challenges and beauty of the trail and great photos… Looking forward to hearing how it feels to finish.

  2. Your description of those 5 days of hiking helped me re-visit my memories of that final section. Awesome in the truest sense of the word!!
    Congratulations ladies – you’re on the home stretch. What a wonderful experience!!! 🙂

  3. What an amazing journey you have had and thanks for keeping us in the loop – we look forward to your report on the completion of your hike!! All the best.

  4. What an incredible journey! Bitter sweet as the end nears no doubt! Keep on walking.

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