Bruce Trail Part 21 – Kilgorie Side Trail to Lavender Hill

Just when I thought the weather would get warmer, winter decided to send us a reminder with a really chilly but sunny day.  This hike would be the first time we would hike 20km since some time in November or December of last year.  We had been gradually working back up to our regular distance and this would be a good test of how well-prepared we were to return to our original pace on the Bruce Trail.

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Just when I thought the weather would get warmer, winter decided to send us a reminder with a really chilly but sunny day.  This hike would be the first time we would hike 20km since some time in November or December of last year.  We had been gradually working back up to our regular distance and this would be a good test of how well-prepared we were to return to our original pace on the Bruce Trail.  The core group (three of us) have been discussing how we can complete the Bruce Trail before the end of the year.  This is still to be determined.
We started off the hike this morning hiking in the wrong direction.  After hiking up an icy hill and nearly flipping on my backside, we realized we were hiking backwards on the trail and promptly turned around.

After hiking in the wrong direction, we quickly turn around and begin today's real hike!Haven't encountered these stiles in quite some time.

I was quite happy to encounter the stiles once again that marked the transition on the trail on to private property.  They always represented milestones to me during a hike.  Every time I step over one, it feels like we’ve just accomplished something significant.

With the cold back in full effect, we wasted no time and hiked briskly.  Fortunately, wearing multiple layers worked out but the face is always the toughest to keep warm — particularly if you have glasses like I do — and every breath I took just kept fogging them up.

The weather is ultra cold today and it explains why the snow hasn't receded this far north.Enjoying the view of the river.

Despite the cold, it was good to see that there were still signs of early spring.  The rivers were flowing and we could hear some birds, including the odd woodpecker.  Sometimes the trails that tread a little too close to the rivers make me a little nervous.  With the trails being slippery from the constant temperature fluctuations over the past couple of weeks have left some areas a little icy.  I don’t really feel like slipping and sliding into a river or stream on a cold day like this.

Even the Bruce Trail registration post is frozen.It may have been cold but this part of the trail was by far one of the prettiest I've seen in the winter time.

Every so often, I find myself caught without the right camera.  Today was probably one of those days.  With the weather being so cold and me focusing on knee recovery — I set aside the Fuji X100 and simply bring along the Canon D20 waterproof point and shoot camera.  It’s easier to take photos with the point and shoot when your hands are full with two gloves on each hand (plus hiking poles) and I don’t have to worry about slipping and damaging my camera.

Fortunately it was sunny day and so even the worst point and shoot camera could take a great photograph of some really beautiful settings and scenes.  Eventually when hiking through the open fields, I was quite content with simply taking out the point and shoot rather than pulling out the X100 and fiddling around with it.

The return to open fields.Enjoying the view and wide open space despite the insanely fierce and bitter-cold winds.The rare moment when there is such a great view to take in from the vantage point on top of a stile.Many wind generators in the area.

The funny thing about this hike is that when we were driving up, one of the first things we observed was that there were so many wind generators.  We also noted — rather gleefully — that none of them (except one) were moving meaning that there was very little wind so it would be warmer for us despite the cold temperature.  By the time we got to the open fields, all of them were spinning at full speed.  Go figure.

We were confronted with fierce winds any time we stepped into the open.  The winds were so cold I put two hoods over my head in addition to my toque.  Despite this, we were really enjoying the setting.  I’ve hiked many different types of terrains but there is something very unique about hiking across an open field with a big blue sky right above you.  It’s almost like a dream state.

It is so bizarre to hike on this small strip of land that cuts through what seems to be large pieces of farmland. Quite the scene to take in though.This tree looks like it went through a lot.It's getting close to Maple Syrup season!

Along the way, we started noticing buckets collecting maple sap from the surrounding trees.  I wasn’t sure if this was maple syrup season but I did confirm (thank you Google) that it is indeed that time of year.  I wasn’t sure if the sap in some situations were frozen but that would have made a tasty icicle!  I was definitely in the mood for maple candy and maple syrup with fresh snow.  Actually I always am.

With bitter-cold winds like ones we experienced on this hike, we were eager to get off the road and back into the woods.Llamas in the distance ... probably frolicking.

Further along this section of the trail as we were passing by a farm, my friends waved to me quietly as they noticed deer (I thought they were llamas) in the field.  Unfortunately, they ran off into the distance and you can see them in the top right corner of the photo above.  We were speculating whether they were playing Duck, Duck, Goose or Cops and Robbers.  What do you think?

During the winter we don’t see many people along the trail — particularly as we have been getting further north.  When we do, they are usually dog owners.  There was a stretch of trail where we came across a woman with two very protective dogs.  She pointed out to us that the dogs never seen anyone else on their trail.  Their trail? I think this illustrates how many people actually hike through this part.

We encountered a couple of dogs and their owner along this part of the hike.  It was amusing when she said her dogs had never seen anyone else on 'their' trail before.  I guess it's true -- to the dogs, it is their trail.So cold and icy that the hike began to evolve into 'find your own path'.

As the sun begins to fade, we really begin to feel the cold.  We try to quicken our pace a little but this being our first 20km hike for quite some time, we’re still working on our endurance and stamina — not to mention our knees and such.  There were some parts of the trail we encountered that were very pretty (frozen and all) but so icy that we would just decide to create our own path.

Proof of the temperature.  Frozen waterfall.Cutting across a large field towards the country side road.  Yay, more bitter winds.Finally arriving at our destination point, right next to Lavender Cemetery which has been around since 1880.  It's been a while since we've done 20km.

Eventually we made our way on to the country side roads and trudged along against the fierce winds until we arrived at Lavender Cemetery which seems to have quite the history.  It was a long day for us and after some debate, we settled on rewarding ourselves with a meal at the nearby (sort of) Swiss Chalet on the way back to Toronto.  We were successful in resuming our 20km distance although how frequently we’ll be able to continue to do day hikes on the Bruce Trail is still in question.  The drives are getting a bit long for us but I guess we will persevere!

For now, check out the full gallery for this hike!

Bruce Trail Part 20 – 2nd Line to Kilgorie Side Trail

I was hoping for a hike with a milder temperature.  As much as I have the appropriate layers, getting cut down by fierce cold winds isn’t my idea of a good time.  Fortunately throughout the past week, it was really warm but just as the weekend arrived, the temperature got a bit colder though not as cold as the previous week.  It was a long drive up again but it has felt good to return to the Bruce Trail and get outdoors again.

Resuming where we left off last week from the 2nd Line Side Trail.

After the hike last week, I was hoping for a hike with a milder temperature.  As much as I have the appropriate layers, getting cut down by fierce cold winds isn’t my idea of a good time.  Fortunately throughout the past week, it was really warm but just as the weekend arrived, the temperature got a bit colder though not as cold as the previous week.  It was a long drive up again but it has felt good to return to the Bruce Trail and get outdoors again.

Started out to be a pretty grey day in the morning.  At least it was mild temperature and the snow was receding a little.

We could see the snow was receding in different parts of the trail.  Some areas were definitely experiencing the effects of warmer temperatures more than others.  The drawback to the quick warm and cold effects would be that we end up with a very awkward trail to step on with hardened footprints in the snow.  This may actually be tougher than rough and rocky terrain.

Funny how the trail is the only place where snow exists -- likely heavily packed due to all the foot traffic.Compared to the last hike, there is very little snow in these fields.  The mild temperatures have really made a huge impact over the past week.

This hike was more fun than I anticipated.  Compared to the previous hike, the snow in the open fields had receded significantly with all the warm weather we had been experiencing — making the terrain easier to hike and the landscape appear to be quite scenic and feel as if spring was really returning.

We also had the good fortune to hike through the Rock Hill crevices which was a very pleasant surprise.  It was a beautiful area to experience and fun to observe while walking across from crevice to crevice.  I end up wondering what it has been like over the years and what has changed.  It’s too bad this part of the hike was so brief but it definitely was one of my favourite parts.

Hiking up to Rock Hill CrevicesCrossing a crevice.  This was a beautiful area to visit and I imagine would be very pretty in the spring and autumn times.Crossing the road and encountering a church from the late 1800s.

After passing through the Rock Hill crevices and more wooded areas, we found ourselves on a portion of a country side road — passing by an old church.  Sometimes it bewilders and impresses me how a church dating back to the late 1800s manages to survive in a rural community.

We eventually find ourselves hiking through what I think may be a paved path (although it is named Centre Road) and stop for a brief snack break.  The trail continues and we encounter a few people snowshoeing which was surprising as I didn’t make use of my snowshoes (my friends decided simply not to bring theirs).  The snow was too hard to hike through but I can see why one might opt to make use of them.  With the sun finally out, the temperature was getting warmer that day and the initially tough shell over the snow was beginning to give way and everything was beginning to turn slushy.

Tempted to slide down this steep hill since it was a slightly slushy and slippery hike down.With the sun out and the mild temperature, it's getting pretty warm.  This was one of the best parts of this hike with the thawing river running along side the trail.The remnants of an old mill.  It was in pretty decent condition so we climbed up to get a better view.

Another nice surprise along the way was the remainder of an old mill structure.  There was no real entrance to take a look inside so we had to climb up and over what looked to be windows at the time to gain a better vantage point.  Similar to the abandoned vehicles we find every so often along the trail, it’s always so fascinating to encounter old structures and wonder about their story.  For abandoned vehicles you wonder who moved it there, how they moved it, and why they decided to leave it in the middle of a forest — but for abandoned structures or remnants of a significant building, the story is so much larger because it must have impacted so many more folks back in the day.

Eventually we ended up hiking alongside a beautiful lake.  There was some speculation that this may have been a man-made lake but whether that is the case or not — it was quite the view.

Came across a grand view of what is supposedly a man-made lake.The green amongst the snow is refreshing to see.

The signs of spring were loud and clear on this hike.  With the snow fading and the greens looking more vibrant, we had a great opportunity to quickly hike up a side trail to a pretty good lookout point.  Normally, I’m a bit skeptical of many identified “lookout points” because they tend to be a little lame and include a lot of obstructions but this lookout point turned out to have a nice view.  You could even see the lake that we had passed earlier.

A quick detour to a decent lookout point.Dressed in many layers in preparation for the cold, it got pretty tiring (and a bit too warm) as we hiked up and down these snowy and slushy wooded hills.Finishing off this hike along this small road.

This hike was still challenging for my knee, especially later into the day when the snow was melting significantly.  There were however many great elements that came together to made it an excellent time, many of which were surprises like the crevices and the old mill we encountered.  I don’t know whether I’m looking forward to the muddiness that will soon arrive or if I’d prefer this slushy snow but to some extent, I wish we could just skip spring and into the summer.  I’m not fond of allergies and mosquitoes 🙂

Following up from last week’s visit to Superburger, this time we made a visit to Champ Burger.  Although the fries were pretty good, I have to say I was disappointed with their poutine.  Though this isn’t necessarily a surprise for a lot of places, too many restaurants serve up poutine without actual cheese curds but rather just melt some cheese over the fries.  That’s not real poutine!  Generally speaking the burgers themselves between Superburger and Champ Burger are pretty similar, my friends and I agreed that we enjoyed Superburger more.

Check out the full gallery from this week’s hike here.

Bruce Trail Part 19 – Centre Road to 2nd Line

Aaannd we’re back! There was a hiatus on hiking the Bruce Trail for a bit because one of my friends was out of commission (in a manner of speaking) for a couple of months, but now we’re ready to tackle more of the trail. Because we’re all a little out of practice, we’re gradually ramping up to our regular distance.  It was a brilliant day for a hike — particularly after the extreme cold spell we’ve been having in Ontario (albeit I don’t think it’s limited to us).

Aaannd we’re back! There was a hiatus on hiking the Bruce Trail for a bit because one of my friends was out of commission (in a manner of speaking) for a couple of months, but now we’re ready to tackle more of the trail. Because we’re all a little out of practice, we’re gradually ramping up to our regular distance.  It was a brilliant day for a hike — particularly after the extreme cold spell we’ve been having in Ontario (albeit I don’t think it’s limited to us).
My knee has been a bit out of sorts since hiking 30km and I’ve been attending physiotherapy to look at what the matter was.  Apparently, the way I walk has been an issue and it has just been building up as I increased the distance that I’ve been attempting to hike.  I can definitely see how the past year has potentially contributed to the problem.  So now begins the rehabilitation of how I walk!

Returning to the Bruce Trail!

As soon as we started, we noted how it was beginning to take us a long time to get on to the trail.  It was quite a drive from Toronto and probably takes us about 2 hours.  Seeing as this is getting to be a longer trek, I anticipate that we will likely only be doing a few more day hikes on the Bruce Trail before it no longer just isn’t practical.  Sadly, this means fewer updates, but my friends and I are hoping to spend longer and tackle more multi-day hikes on the Bruce Trail so hopefully I’ll be able to provide some substantial news then.

It was a beautiful day and perfect for trampling through the forest.

My friends had forgotten their snowshoes (again) but I had brought mine.  Fortunately, we didn’t really need them (although the snow was still quite deep that day.  We immediately noticed that the snow along the trail seemed to be quite packed making it for a pretty firm path, but if any of us were to step off what appeared to be the trail, we’d find ourselves in above-knee high snow.  There were a number times where we found ourselves testing the snow before stepping forward!

Trying to follow the packed snow while finding the right path.My friends challenged me to walk off the firm packed-snow path and trudge towards a long-abandoned hay bale.

As we make our way out and across open fields.  It impressed me to see how much snow there has been over this past winter.  Despite the fact that we experienced the ice storm last winter, this year has definitely been a much colder and snowy winter than most.  Guess it may have been good fortune to some extent that we weren’t hiking in January and February!  Of course no hike is without some fun and games.  We encountered hay bales on these rolling hills covered deep snow so my friends challenged me to hike off the trail and into above-knee high snow.  Wasn’t too bad but I was definitely submerged.

Good thing there are trail markers of all sorts.Descending into a lovely snow-covered valley.Hiking up the hill with all this snow is a struggle.

Given a lot of the trail involved packed snow, we had a relatively decent time hiking through this section of the trail.  That said, there were times when we would be hiking up or downhill and find ourselves falling over after unexpectedly finding ourselves with one leg submerged.  This would normally be fun but my recovering knee didn’t appreciate it too much.

It's as if there are hidden traps as you step along the trail.  Some parts of the trail just give in and you find your leg submerged deep into the snow.I enjoy these signs along the Bruce Trail.Every time we passed through an open field, the bitter cold winds were brutal.  Fortunately we'd hurry along until we got into a forested area.

Even though it was a very sunny day with blue skies and all, we were confronted with harsh and bitter cold winds as we made our way through open fields.  There was a sense of gratefulness every time we crossed over from open fields and into a thick wooded forested area.  A couple of us would end up walking backwards or sideways against the wind to avoid getting blasted by the cold.  Thank goodness I was wearing snow pants and all those layers.

The forested areas along the way fascinated me.  I never imagined that there would be so much snow on the ground even in the forest since I had always figured the thick forest would keep out much of the snow from hitting the ground.  Instead, I found myself trudging through very deep snow under the cover of tall trees and thick branches.

Saved from the wind chill by dense forest sections along the hike.After spending some time along a brief section of road, we continue enjoying the bright snow-covered wooded trail.An awesome find of the day. An abandoned truck sat next to the trail right after an uphill climb.

Sometimes we encounter the most unexpected yet wonderful of rewards for grueling challenges.  Uphill climbs in deep snow with a knee that is still recovering is quite a challenge.  We happened upon a pretty spiffy looking abandoned truck and you could tell it has been sitting outside for a while.  Perfectly timed, it made for a nice break to to catch our breath before moving on.

The one challenge with snow that never gets old is simply not being able to see where the trail really is.  Sometimes we would get lost and have to backtrack while other times we would try to carefully tread our way forward without stepping on to snow that would give in and have us fall forward with one leg submerged into the deep snow.  I guess that is one drawback to the winter time (aside from the bitter cold) but in some way, it still beats the insane hoards of mosquitoes that I anticipate in the coming spring.  Had to deal with that last spring and it wasn’t too much fun.

A beautiful section of the hike but quite challenging to tackle due to the narrow path and unpacked snow.  One could take a step and submerge deep into the snow.Taking the 2nd Line Side Trail to the car.

After this hike, we decided to celebrate our return to the Bruce Trail with a visit to Superburger in Primrose, Ontario.  It has a vintage TTC streetcar attached to the building but it was closed off likely due to the winter season when it’s probably difficult to keep the streetcar heated.  For fun the group decided to compare it with its neighbouring competitor across the street, Champ Burger, after our next hike.

Take a look through the full gallery from this hike.