Off to Japan

Will be away for the rest of July so it’ll be a while before I post again but you may keep up with me on Tumblr.  I’ll likely post some photos whilst in Japan when I have access to some WiFi.
I’ve been keeping up with the news of the super typhoon passing through parts of Japan so I hope I’ll still be able to trek the Kumano Kodo in the coming week. Fingers crossed!

Daimonzaka28-640.jpg

Daimonzaka28-640” by 663highland663highland. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

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Distance Training in Ontario Provincial Parks and Conservation Areas

Over the past few weeks, in preparation for my travels to Japan and the Kumano Kodo trek I am planning for, I’ve been hiking every weekend.  My goal is to push myself to 25km however with friends joining me, I’ve ended up only achieving a little over 20km — usually because while I am training for distance, some friends are still getting accustomed to hiking.
Some days we got a little too friendly with the mosquitoes (or maybe it was the other way around), and fortunately on other days there was a solid breeze and the pests just seemed to vanish.

A nice view of a lake in Forks of the Credit Provincial Park
A nice view of a lake in Forks of the Credit Provincial Park

Some of the best moments while hiking is where we have the opportunity to sit down and simply take in nature while enjoying lunch (whatever it may be).  Typically, I just pack a peanut butter and banana sandwich with an apple on the side.  Other folks prefer a more gourmet meal 🙂

Enjoying lunch and the view in Mono Cliffs Provincial Park
Enjoying lunch and the view in Mono Cliffs Provincial Park

Every park I’ve visited is quite fascinating in the sense of how it is used, where it is located, and the social atmosphere that you step into.  The people are often so interesting and the stories so diverse.  I had the pleasure to meet some folks while sitting down for lunch near what some friends of mine and I refer to as “Bootcamp Hill”.  We often see folks leading bootcamp training sessions running up and down numerous times.  Some people passing by noticed I was sitting in the shade enjoying lunch on my own and decided to join me.  We ended up having a great conversation.

The view from the top of “Bootcamp Hill” in Rouge Park

During these training hikes, I found myself in a contemplative mode — thinking about my upcoming trip and just letting my mind wander from one thought to another.  I also kept passing by fellow hikers over and over again because I would hike from one end of the park to the other and since parks rarely had day hiking trails that made up the length of 25km, I just kept repeating every trail.  It was a different style of hiking that I typically don’t use but for the sake of preparing myself physically, it was beneficial and actually fun to some extent.

Bruce Trail Part 7 – Woolverton to Felker’s Falls

It’s going to be a while before we continue on the Bruce Trail so my friends and I wanted to hit the trail one more time before a few of us are away.  We had anticipated a hot and humid day but mother nature had something different in mind for us.  We also didn’t anticipate so many cyclists on the road but they were all riding for a great cause to conquer cancer.  This slowed us down a little so we started the hike a little late.

The start of the trail was overgrown but quite beautiful.  Wildflowers were numerous throughout this section of the trail.

It’s going to be a while before we continue on the Bruce Trail so my friends and I wanted to hit the trail one more time before a few of us are away.  We had anticipated a hot and humid day but mother nature had something different in mind for us.  We also didn’t anticipate so many cyclists on the road but they were all riding for a great cause to conquer cancer.  This slowed us down a little so we started the hike a little late.

Immediately I was impressed by the scenic environment as we hiked along the escarpment from Woolverton Road.  Everything was so lush and green and reminded me of worlds I’ve read of in fantasy fiction novels.  We simply stopped and took it all in.

Descending into a valleyThis section of the Bruce Trail had some stunningly lush and green.  Some parts reminded me of backdrops I had imagined from reading fantasy novels.

Along the way we encountered an incredibly large tree trunk — no roots or stump.  We’re not sure how it got there but we hypothesized that it could have rolled down the hill.  This tree must have had quite the stories to share in a manner of speaking.

We found an enormous tree trunk.  Where it came from we are not sure.  It appears to have rolled down the hill?A vibrant and green canopy

Much of this section of the trail we hiked this time were covered with a carpet of green.  I was surprised how it spread or at least grew so rapidly that it easily covered so much ground.  It does bring a sense of ‘magic’ to the trail though.

Checking the map.  Once we got into Hamilton, we were crossing a lot of these roads.Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Along the way, I spotted some peculiarities on this section of the trail.  I often wonder how people hike through entire sections of the trail — on occasion, I’ve noticed campfires.  Not sure if these are often permitted but this section had an awesome campsite.  That said, I don’t know how I feel about it being right next to the trail.

A great campsite location along the way.  I wonder how often this is used.

We had our own happy moment when we realized we had passed the 100km mark of the whole Bruce Trail since starting from Queenston.  What we were surprised to encounter as we trekked into Hamilton were fences set up right next to the trail.  I realize the property owners may be concerned about trespassers but it seems a bit extreme.  I have my doubts whether there are (or would be) trespassers but I admit anything is possible and am actually curious if these folks actually have had thru-hikers trespass deep into their properties.

After entering the Hamilton section of the trail, we began noticing a lot of fences.  I'm guessing a lot of folks are concerned with hikers trespassing into their backyard? A 1970s or 1980s vehicle remains.  Still puzzled how it made its way here.

Right before we got into the vicinity of the Devil’s Punchbowl, we encountered another old car wreck.  One day, it would be awesome to hear about the stories behind these car wrecks along the trail.  Perhaps they also served as a small home for animals at some point.

The stream running downwards is from the Devils Punchbowl waterfall.

It happened to start raining pretty hard but thankfully the tree canopy kept us pretty dry for the most part.  We took a little side trip to the Devil’s Punchbowl but there wasn’t really a lot of water coming down the falls.  It was getting pretty wet so we only spent a little time there and moved on.  Unfortunately despite us moving pretty quickly, my allergies were driving me nuts and I ended up getting separated from my friends.  Ended up walking up a steep hill twice trying to find my way back on to the right trail!

Interesting residential train crossing.Enjoying the graffiti along the tracks while passing under a bridge.

Passing through a section of the trail along the tracks — there was a lot of interesting graffiti.  More elaborate than the typical graffiti tags that I have encountered along the trail next to bridges or the random wall.  I realize there is a downside to graffiti but one has to acknowledge good artwork despite the medium that may on occasion be considered inappropriate.

Everything looks so different from the time we hiked in the spring.  Less muddy and darker greens.The final hike up hill is steep but a nice last real challenge (aside from the rain).

This section of the hike had some pretty steep climbs to tackle but the cool temperature that day made it a little easier.  We were really pushing the distance achieved this time around (20km rather than the average 15 to 18km) and not everyone had a good night of sleep (i.e. late night party) but everyone ultimately survived!

Passed by a treehouse in progress.  This looked pretty sophisticated.The final highlight, Felkner's Falls.

Near the end of the hike, we ended up finding an awesome treehouse in-progress.  It reminded me of Calvin and Hobbes — and how I often wished I had grown up with a cool treehouse.  It’s weird how no one I knew in Toronto actually had a treehouse.  Maybe it’s an urban neighbourhood thing.

We also enjoyed viewing Felkner’s Falls briefly but we ended up rushing to the car because the rain was really beginning to come down — and it was no longer too much fun to be a little ‘moist’.

At last!  Arrived at the Felkner's Falls Conservation Area parking lot in the rain.

This is the last Bruce Trail hike for some time as there are a number of travel plans in place so the core Bruce Trail hiking group won’t be around to make any progress.  Check out the full gallery from this hike but in the meantime, I’ll be training for Japan.