Bruce Trail Part 34 – Woodford to Irish Block Road

As a result of us bypassing the chunk of trail, we ended up hiking on the road for most of this journey.  Despite the rather disappointing experience, I was still enjoying the trek on the road.  There was almost always something interesting to observe or check out.  It hadn’t really occurred to me how much planning went into the irrigation system until I started paying a closer attention to where the water from all the melting snow was going.

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After a long hiatus, we finally resumed our journey on Bruce Trail! It had been a while since I had left for Tanzania and the previous hike on the Bruce Trail.  It was another long drive up to the town of Woodford, Ontario but the rather nice day and warmer weather we had been experiencing made for a smooth trip up north of Toronto.

Having the opportunity to hike again after playing catch-up on all fronts at home and work, was nice and I was looking forward to it.  I packed up my snowshoes and a small daypack with some food and water for the trek — unfortunately this time without a water bladder / CamelBak because mine was pretty much torn apart during my month-long trip in Tanzania.  This meant I had to lug around water bottles which I wasn’t a big fan of but I hadn’t had time to run to the local MEC store to pick up a replacement water bladder.

After parking at the lot at the Woodford community centre, we walked down the street to continue the trail which led into the woods. After parking at the lot at the Woodford community centre, we walked down the street to continue the trail which led into the woods.

Initially, we were a little lost and disoriented having not been on the trail for so long and ended up walking in the wrong direction.  Eventually we found our way and followed the right markers into the woods.

The snow was surprisingly high despite the warm weather (it was +6 degrees Celsius on a early-mid February day) — and we are talking within the vicinity of Owen Sound. Just the previous week, the temperature was -23 degrees — not including wind chill!  Glad we weren’t hiking that day.

The snow was actually pretty deep despite the warm weather. The snow was actually pretty deep despite the warm weather.

The trail took us along the escarpment and provided some nice views through the woods -- particularly in the winter given that there were no leaves blocking our view. The trail took us along the escarpment and provided some nice views through the woods — particularly in the winter given that there were no leaves blocking our view.

The trail took us up on to the escarpment which was nice although hiking in snow again took a little getting used to after such a long time.  It wasn’t too deep — about ankle height — and though I could have used my snowshoes — the trail didn’t really allow for it.  With all the rocks bulging out and narrow sections along the path it didn’t work out with the relatively low levels of snow.

One element of the trek I enjoyed at different parts of this hike were the little valleys that the trail took us through.

The rather warm weather over the past couple of days meant the stream was pretty powerful with high water levels from all the melting snow. The rather warm weather over the past couple of days meant the stream was pretty powerful with high water levels from all the melting snow. Muddy conditions in addition to the wet snow Muddy conditions in addition to the wet snow

It was warm enough that everything was melting, wet, or muddy so I was happy that I decided to retire my old hiking boots.  They were leaking and every time it rained or each time I stepped into a deep puddle of water — I’d feel a level of dampness in my feet.  It was rather sad in a sentimental way because those boots had been to Chile, Bolivia, and Peru with me. They now just serve sufficiently as winter boots to the office while I took out the boots that I had taken with me to Japan and Tanzania.

As much as I realize it wasn’t necessarily realistic, I was really hoping to use the same pair of boots across the whole Bruce Trail.

Trekking through the woods until we encountered signage cautioning anyone entering the crevice area. Trekking through the woods until we encountered signage cautioning anyone entering the crevice area.

The dampness of everything along the hike was getting on my nerves despite me staying dry. I guess I just didn’t like trudging along muddy and snowy conditions together. Not a good mix together and I did slip and slide a couple of times.

Just as I was going give a big sigh, the path led us into a crevice area with a full cautionary sign and warning notice.  My friends had gone off ahead while I was staying behind taking photos so I was initially uncertain whether they went through the crevice but I nonetheless stepped right in.

The entrance into a pretty amazing crevice. The entrance into a pretty amazing crevice.

Entering the crevice was like stepping into a different world temporarily.  Everything was still vibrant green despite some snow that had fallen into the crevice.  It is a tight fit so as the sign points out, if anyone were to carry a large pack — they would need to take a route around the crevice.  I figure you might be able to squeeze a medium-sized pack or a large pack that was not packed to its limit — or perhaps simply take it off your shoulders and carry it through with your hands.

It must have been warm in the crevice because plants were still green! It must have been warm in the crevice because plants were still green!

Hiking down into the last bit of a crevice section. Hiking down into the last bit of a crevice section. We'd often find ourselves hiking through a small valley-like section on this part of the trail. We’d often find ourselves hiking through a small valley-like section on this part of the trail. And thus begins a long journey on the road for this hike. And thus begins a long journey on the road for this hike.

Eventually, we found ourselves on the road.  We initially thought that this would be a short trek on the road — until we realized that a section of the trail had been closed — more on that later.

The road is always fun and this time was no different.  There were some interesting signage that provided some amusement amidst the rather dreary and cold setting we were trekking through. It unfortunately started raining and snowing on us (some sort of mix) so everything got a bit damp but had little effect on us since we had the rain and snow gear on.

Cannot help but spot amusing signage along the road. Cannot help but spot amusing signage along the road. Passing by beautiful acres of farms. Passing by beautiful acres of farms.

As I mentioned earlier, we had to take a detour because the owner of the land withdrew hiking privileges as a result of people not abiding by the owner’s wish to not have dogs on that part of the trail due to livestock in the vicinity.  Alas, some folks have obviously broken the rule numerous times and so we were left without a straight forward route.

In order for us to stay on the white blazed trail — we had to hike from the entrance of the River Kwai Side Trail [link goes to Bruce Trail documentation on the change that took place in June 2014] — which meant that we had to hike 2.1km further on the road from the trail closure in order to find a way to continue on the Bruce Trail.  Alas, we couldn’t do that either because the distance we would have to make up would end up having us hiking in the dark.  I had my headlamp with me but I don’t think my friends did, so we ended up bypassing a chunk of the trail.  So at this point — although we hiked to Irish Block Road, I’ve technically missed a chunk of the trail which I’ll have to go back and hike one day.  Bleh.

This is the entrance into a side trail.  We were originally intending on hiking it earlier but discovered that the section we wanted to enter from was closed. This is the entrance into a side trail.  We were originally intending on hiking it earlier but discovered that the section we wanted to enter from was closed. Passing along more agricultural landscape. Passing along more agricultural landscape.

As a result of us bypassing the chunk of trail, we ended up hiking on the road for most of this journey.  Despite the rather disappointing experience, I was still enjoying the trek on the road.  There was almost always something interesting to observe or check out.  It hadn’t really occurred to me how much planning went into the irrigation system until I started paying a closer attention to where the water from all the melting snow was going.

While passing by fields and farms, I’d notice certain parts of the land freezing up and it created a very beautiful effect across the field.

The road kept going and going ... The road kept going and going … Some ice-filled tire marks in the soil. Some ice-filled tire marks in the soil. A malfunctioned mailbox. I think it pours everything out. A malfunctioned mailbox. I think it pours everything out. A beautiful view from a country side road. A beautiful view from a country side road.

Sometimes, it amazes me to look out into all the rolling hills and fields into the distance.  I’m very much into hiking mountains so I have to admit that hiking in Ontario can be a bit bland at times but when I slow down to just enjoy the view — I also have to accept that Ontario isn’t really as flat as many of us think it is.  Just something to better appreciate over time in my home province.

Other times, random things would trigger peculiar memories.  We passed by some cabin or lodge and it’d suddenly got me thinking about the television show Longmire which is based out in Wyoming.  It’d be pretty funny if it were filmed here.

This cabin or house reminds me of the one from the TV show Longmire for some reason. This cabin or house reminds me of the one from the TV show Longmire for some reason. The view from across the road where the cabin sat. The view from across the road where the cabin sat. I love these stretches of hilly roads.  They just go on and on. This is pretty common in rural Ontario. I love these stretches of hilly roads.  They just go on and on. This is pretty common in rural Ontario. Looking for a good spot to cross the deep “river” ditch. Testing the depth of the water while looking for a place to leap across . Testing the depth of the water while looking for a place to leap across .

We didn’t think that this hike would be so eventful with so much trekking on the road but we soon found ourselves trying to wade across or leap across the ditch on the side of the road in order to continue on the Bruce Trail.  The warm weather had melted so much snow that practically everything in the ditch was slush or water.  Normally this wouldn’t be a problem but it was nearly knee-high!  Trust me, at certain points to test the water level, I even stuck my trekking poles into the water and the pole practically went into the ditch three-quarters of its length.  Pretty deep…

Eventually my friend found a point at which to leap across and so I made my attempt and nearly slipped in for a dunk but fortunately I held on and pulled myself to dry land.  Dry land being a pretty muddy trail.

Not sure what happened here but this was the messiest part of the trail. So many fallen trees and hidden rocks made for some challenging footwork. Not sure what happened here but this was the messiest part of the trail. So many fallen trees and hidden rocks made for some challenging footwork.

I wasn’t sure at certain points what was more dangerous. The fact that there was a combination of mud, ice, and snow on the ground making it slippery — or the fact that it was very difficult to see what we were stepping into or on to as the snow and ice at times would cover up what might be a hole or a log or rock.  For fun, Mother Nature decided to create mini obstacle courses.  At certain sections, fallen trees and broken branches were all over the place forcing us to either squeeze by or clamber over this stuff near the edge of the escarpment.  Fortunately, we eventually made it through.  The adventure wasn’t over though!

Passing by someone's property. Passing by someone’s property. Another great view of the escarpment and the agricultural landscape from the trail. Another great view of the escarpment and the agricultural landscape from the trail. Arriving at a point in the trail where we couldn't cross the stream. It was too wide and the water level was very high. Arriving at a point in the trail where we couldn’t cross the stream. It was too wide and the water level was very high.

Just when we thought things were getting better, I slipped on mud and snow but my snowshoes that I had brought along and not used actually saved me from getting covered in mud (huzzah!). Unfortunately as soon as I got back up, my friends pointed out that we had to trek across the powerful stream.

Now, I am pretty reasonable but this was just getting out of hand.  How many times do we have to cross large bodies of water in the middle of winter?

After some grumbling on my part, I followed my friends across the stream via a number of large stones that weren’t completely immersed in the stream and some fallen branches.  Slowly.  Very slowly.  Thank goodness I had trekking poles because I would not trust my sense of balance in this scenario after wiping out on mud and snow.

We end up making our way across using some of the larger stones that were further up stream. We end up making our way across using some of the larger stones that were further up stream. Successfully crossed the river and then an uphill climb. Successfully crossed the river and then an uphill climb. We spotted a number of motor homes along the hike. Wonder if anyone stays in them. We spotted a number of motor homes along the hike. Wonder if anyone stays in them. Finishing off the hike with a sunny and warm early afternoon. Finishing off the hike with a sunny and warm early afternoon.

Fortunately, none of us got soaked in this crazy winter climate. We surprisingly finished relatively early in the afternoon so the initial thought was to drive south back towards Toronto but stop off at the Mono Mills Inn.  Unfortunately by the time we got there — we realized they were closed until mid-March. Sadly, some of the best places to eat outside of the city are closed for the off season.

Despite the rather challenging and partially disappointing experience on this hike, I was happy to have the opportunity to get back on to the Bruce Trail.  I don’t know when I’ll have the opportunity again because the distance is getting further and my schedule is becoming busier. I’m also beginning to plan out how I’m going to train for a 75km bike ride.  More on that coming soon!

Bruce Trail Sketches for #inktober 2015

More than year ago, my friend and brilliant illustrator Serena Chen, encouraged me to restart my drawing and sketching.  I had stopped ever since I was a child.  I had lived across the street from an artist who had been teaching my sister and I how to draw and sketch.  She eventually moved away and other distractions in life (i.e. the other gender, video games, computers, school) took precedence and I just never thought about it again.

Serena pointed out the Inktober initiative which I thought was brilliant so I leapt at the opportunity to focus and force myself to practice sketching again.  I’m still a long way from reclaiming my sketching skills but I am enjoying putting them to use as I’ve attempted to sketch a different part of the Bruce Trail (BT) for each day of October.  This is of course based on my own hiking experiences on the BT over the past year or two.

I’ve been posting them regularly on Instagram but in case you missed them, here is a glimpse of a few of my personal favourites:

Perspective and the fence was really the toughest part of this sketch but I loved the challenge.
Perspective and the fence was really the toughest part of this sketch but I loved the challenge.
This was by far the most popular sketch during inktober.  I loved it because of the texture of the tree but I imagine a lot of people had their own nostalgic thoughts about the sketch.
This was by far the most popular sketch during inktober.  I loved it because of the texture of the tree but I imagine a lot of people had their own nostalgic thoughts about the sketch.
I just thought this was sketch was a lot of fun and just out of the ordinary for a hiker to come across.
I just thought this was sketch was a lot of fun and just out of the ordinary for a hiker to come across.

You’ll may notice that my favourites don’t exactly include a lot of subject matter around trees.  Don’t get me wrong, I love that aspect of the Bruce Trail but it gets a little bland when I’m sketching trees all the time.  These are some of the most unique aspects of the Bruce Trail that I’ve encountered and have had the opportunity so far to sketch.

Come on over to the full gallery to see all my sketches for Inktober 2015. They are all of the Bruce Trail.

Bruce Trail Part 33 – 3 Sideroad to Woodford

The day started off pretty chilly and windy but it got really warm fast as the trail had us ascending pretty quickly.  Despite there being very little reds and oranges, I really enjoyed the range of colours I was seeing.  There is something about autumn time that turns a rather homogeneous-looking green environment into an explosion of diverse colours, shades, and gradients.

After a hearty continental breakfast at the local motel, we got the cars set up and continued from where we left off yesterday.  It looked like it was going to be a beautiful day for hiking and was surprisingly warm considering the chilly weather we had been experiencing for the past week — even as south as Toronto which was 3 to 4 hours away.

I felt pretty excited to be out on a great autumn day — hoping for more colours!

Starting where we left off...
Starting where we left off…
Sign says we can hike, cross-country, or walk... ?
Sign says we can hike, cross-country, or walk… ?

The day started off pretty chilly and windy but it got really warm fast as the trail had us ascending pretty quickly.  Despite there being very little reds and oranges, I really enjoyed the range of colours I was seeing.  There is something about autumn time that turns a rather homogeneous-looking green environment into an explosion of diverse colours, shades, and gradients.

A look up at the tree canopy we were passing under. Some beautiful yellows and golds.
A look up at the tree canopy we were passing under. Some beautiful yellows and golds.
The trail just got fancier ... and muddier.
The trail just got fancier … and muddier.

Along the way, we found ourselves treated to some muddy areas complemented with some really nice boardwalks.  Sometimes I wonder if there are times where there just isn’t enough treated materials to build a longer boardwalk so a guy just decides to toss some long and fallen tree trunks to fill up the gap (see above photo).

Eventually we found ourselves hiking into a really magical area.  The shadows and light in combination with the light-yellowish-greens and the deep dark evergreen pine needles made for quite a scene out of a fantasy movie.

Stepping into a magical place.
Stepping into a magical place.
It is funny how often we end up hiking next to fences or boundary lines.
It is funny how often we end up hiking next to fences or boundary lines.

I can’t even count the number of times that we have hiked next to a boundary line, barbed wire, electrical wire, plain wire, string, wooden fences, or some form or manner of indicating a property line.  One could propose dubbing the Bruce Trail as the boundary trail.  In that sense, I guess we could also think of sidewalks as such a trail too…

My day was really made when we were just a little bored of hiking on a long stretch of road and I looked over and saw what reminded me of that classic Bliss desktop wallpaper from Windows XP.  There are plenty of differences of course — I like the sole (soul) tree addition here.

This reminded me of the Bliss wallpaper from Windows XP
This reminded me of the Bliss wallpaper from Windows XP
Leisurely hiking alongside rolling hills and fields.
Leisurely hiking alongside rolling hills and fields.

As we continued strolling past field after field, we tried getting reservations at the Flying Chestnut restaurant again.  Surprisingly we were able to get a table that evening but our hope went down the drains when they told us that they were only serving their Thanksgiving dinner and that it’d cost us at least $45 per person.  We wanted to try their standard fare so we tossed that idea out the window and began contemplating other options.

Passing by what looked like a church but I didn't see any signs.  Very nice exterior though!
Passing by what looked like a church but I didn’t see any signs.  Very nice exterior though!
Taking a snack break after running across a busy country road.
Taking a snack break after running across a busy country road.
Arriving in the beautiful Bognar marsh area. My favourite part of today's hike.
Arriving in the beautiful Bognar marsh area. My favourite part of today’s hike.
Just about to have some fun crossing the floating boardwalk.  Jumping is always good fun.
Just about to have some fun crossing the floating boardwalk.  Jumping is always good fun.

One of the most pleasant surprises along this hike was the Bognar Marsh area.  It was quite busy there because of the weather and the long weekend but the marsh was more than worth the extra bit of foot traffic.

I wouldn’t want to hang around here during the spring time (hello mosquitoes!) but this was perfect.  Kids were running around trying to catch dragon flies with their nets and adults seemed to be looking for birds.  We happened to find some guppies in the marsh and a rather camera-shy preying mantis hiding in the tall grass!

A lookout point for the marsh that is tucked away next to the trail.
A lookout point for the marsh that is tucked away next to the trail.
More tall grass to wade through.
More tall grass to wade through.

The day got warmer and the trail from the Bognar marsh eventually led us into some really overgrown areas.  Of course this just led to lots of sneezing on my part.  I cursed the tall grass and just made my best effort to get by as fast as possible.

It’s odd how the forest would get significantly darker as we made our way around the marsh to begin our ascent back up the escarpment.  Along the way, we encountered a couple of rather large groups of hikers — mostly families — trudging along without carrying much.  They didn’t even have hiking boots on so their jeans and running shoes were soaked with mud.  I feel their pain as I was once just like them.  Knowing what I know now, I feel pretty silly!

There was no straight forward way to get back on to the escarpment so we had to circle around the marsh and through some dark wooded area.
There was no straight forward way to get back on to the escarpment so we had to circle around the marsh and through some dark wooded area.
Some beautifully-lit forest.
Some beautifully-lit forest.

Eventually we got out of the dark woods and into some gorgeous areas where the leaves were lit-up by the sun.  I often just want to stop, sit down, and paint scenes like these. All of this is so temporary and will be completely different in the next hour, let alone the next day or the next year.  I figure one day I’ll take on a project like that.

After some significant ascents and enjoying lunch in the middle of the woods on the escarpment — we finally encountered some lookout points.  It’s bizarre how we rarely ever stop at the lookout points for lunch or at least it’s never timed right.

Finally, a few lookout areas along the escarpment!
Finally, a few lookout areas along the escarpment!
This part of the trail contained a lot of rocky ascents and descents.
This part of the trail contained a lot of rocky ascents and descents.

Another really fun aspect of this hike was the opportunity to hike into the crevices.  The trail took us deep into some rocky sections.  We actually had a hard time finding the Bruce Trail markers and ended up climbing up and down the crevice looking for a marker.  Eventually we figured that it didn’t make sense that the trail would become that challenging and backtracked a little, which led us into an even deeper crevice that would lead us back out and into the forest.

We found ourselves descending even deeper into a crevice and getting lost...
We found ourselves descending even deeper into a crevice and getting lost…
Yes, we found our way out by walking deeper through a crevice.
Yes, we found our way out by walking deeper through a crevice.

Have you ever thought of how and why trees always fall in the most intriguing positions?  Sometimes it looks as if it was all intentional!  Of course, we humans will always find meaning in everything or anything.  That said, these are pretty much nature’s own pieces of art with recycled materials in some sense… but I digress.  We found a small milk snake.  This was actually the third or fourth snake we encountered on the trail today.  Must’ve been the warm weather.

Funny how trees sometime fall.
Funny how trees sometime fall.
One of a few bridges that take us over a crevice gap.
One of a few bridges that take us over a crevice gap.

After tackling some more challenging rocky parts along the trail and passing over a number of nifty-looking crevices, we made our way out of the woods and on to the road.  At this point, we were a bit tired and really hungry.  All set for dinner!

Stepping out of the woods and on to the road. Very little traffic at this point luckily!
Stepping out of the woods and on to the road. Very little traffic at this point luckily!
Arriving at our destination point at the Woodford Community Centre where we parked the little red rocket.
Arriving at our destination point at the Woodford Community Centre where we parked the little red rocket.

We wrapped up our long-weekend hike at the small community of Woodford.  Thanks to them, we get to park our car at their community centre.  Once we packed up, my friends had trouble deciding on what to eat for dinner so we decided to start driving to Toronto and check out whatever cool diner that popped up.  Unfortunately too many places were packed and my friends didn’t want to wait.  Funny enough we ended up stopping at the Steven’s BBQ near Superburger!  That intersection is becoming quite the popular stop-off point.

I don’t know when we’ll have the opportunity to hike the Bruce Trail some more.  I will be off to Tanzania in late December and into January of next year so stay tuned!

Want a look at this full hike?  Here’s the full gallery.

http://triptrack.org/3970/embed

Bruce Trail Part 32 – Grey 12 to 3 Sideroad

I was eager for this weekend. Autumn time is by far my favourite season to hike in.  Not too cold, not warm and muggy — it’s always a comfortable temperature for physical activity.  Throw in the fact that there are practically no mosquitoes, black flies,  or whatever other annoying or pesky fly-in-your-face-and-buzz-in-your-ear sort of bug — I am just one happy hiker.

Over the Thanksgiving long weekend (the Canadian one), my friends and I decided to continue where we left off back in August.  It had been a while since we continued on the Bruce Trail because the drive up north is just a tad too long for only a day hike.  3 to 4 hours actually.  I can only imagine that as we get further north, it’ll get harder and the only way to tackle the trail will be to block off time.

It had been a cold week leading up to the long weekend but surprisingly warmer than we anticipated once we started on the trail.  Weather was co-operating beautifully and the plan was to tackle at least 20km each day.

Starting off on a beautiful day along a country road...
Starting off on a beautiful day along a country road…
Still lots of green around but there are bursts of colours from the leaves now and then.
Still lots of green around but there are bursts of colours from the leaves now and then.

I was eager for this weekend. Autumn time is by far my favourite season to hike in.  Not too cold, not warm and muggy — it’s always a comfortable temperature for physical activity.  Throw in the fact that there are practically no mosquitoes, black flies,  or whatever other annoying or pesky fly-in-your-face-and-buzz-in-your-ear sort of bug — I am just one happy hiker.

Then there are the colours.  Unfortunately there wasn’t a dramatic change in the leaves yet despite some of the cold temperatures that we had experienced.  This October, the weather actually seemed to be warmer than usual.  This meant we got a few highlights now and then as we passed through the forest but we mainly saw the yellow-greens as if every tree was in a slow transition.

Passing through a processed crop field. This was a lot easier than hiking through tall grass.
Passing through a processed crop field. This was a lot easier than hiking through tall grass.
Some really cool and interesting-looking crevice holes along the trail.
Some really cool and interesting-looking crevice holes along the trail.

There are often two thoughts that come about while hiking.

“Man, why is it so boring?” or, “I wish I could check this out right now, but I can’t!”

This was me throughout this hike.  We’d often find crevice holes or spot sections of the trail where there were something that one could sit and look at all day.  Sometimes it is both a blessing and a curse to be on the trail with a destination in mind.  You want to enjoy the experience along the way but can’t afford to let time pass.

I figure that after I finish hiking the full Bruce Trail, I will return to certain areas and simply sit down and take in the experience — maybe a draw a few sketches too.

Cutting through an overgrown trail under the power lines.
Cutting through an overgrown trail under the power lines.
Lots of fascinating fungi
Lots of fascinating fungi
Passing through marsh-like areas meant lots of boardwalks. These are always a nice and easy stroll.
Passing through marsh-like areas meant lots of boardwalks. These are always a nice and easy stroll.

The one thing that the Bruce Trail usually guarantees to some extent is variety or diversity of what you’ll encounter on the trail.  I love the fact that I’ll take a mere dozen of steps and find myself in a completely different setting than before.  The boardwalk is always an interesting medium in that sense.

I’ll walk through the woods expecting rocky terrain only to find myself strolling on the boardwalk for a few metres and then suddenly, I’m crossing a field full of grass.  In this situation, we end up seeing signage indicating how much further there is to go to Tobermory.  I don’t know if this is simply the linear distance between this tree and our ultimate end destination or if the 221km indicated on the sign is the length of the trail that we still have to make our way through.  Either way, it’s a nice encouragement.

We weren't sure but this could mean we only have 221km of trail to go...
We weren’t sure but this could mean we only have 221km of trail to go…
After taking photos of the sign indicating how far we were from Tobermory, We trekked up a very long and steep climb.
After taking photos of the sign indicating how far we were from Tobermory, We trekked up a very long and steep climb.

Now that we are tackling the Sydenham section of the Bruce Trail, I’m noticing there are some significantly bigger ascents and rougher terrain.  This is perfect for training for my hike up Kilimanjaro in a couple of months.  In combination to some other circuit training, I think this will put me in better shape than before when I was in Peru.  I know the altitude will still be a beast where every step I take will feel like a giant challenge, but it’s still a good idea to maintain some level of fitness.

The good thing about ascents are that they usually lead to something magnificent.  Like the tree below.

Talk about one magnificent-looking tree.  It almost looked like a group of trees huddling together.
Talk about one magnificent-looking tree.  It almost looked like a group of trees huddling together.
Passing over more interesting crevice sections of the trail.
Passing over more interesting crevice sections of the trail.
I think this tree may have it rough. Fungi and numerous small holes -- could be woodpecker.
I think this tree may have it rough. Fungi and numerous small holes — could be woodpecker.

On the trail, we sometimes find ourselves asking the question, “How did this come to be?” … or something like that.

I look at the disfigured tree above and wonder this.  It looks so horrible to some extent but at the same time, the holes and the fungi appears so fascinating.

Same idea but not at all a similar hypothetical question comes to mind when I saw this piece of wetland.  A tiny stream running into the marsh.  How much time did it take for this one stream (or many little ones) to turn this part of the forest into wetland?  What was it like before when it was dry?

A quaint little stream-let running into a marsh area.
A quaint little stream-let running into a marsh area.
A huge area full of bare trees.  They did have leaves or needles at the very top of the canopy.
A huge area full of bare trees.  They did have leaves or needles at the very top of the canopy.
Passing by a classic autumn corn field.  I'm thinking corn mazes at this point.
Passing by a classic autumn corn field.  I’m thinking corn mazes at this point.
A lot of leaves have fallen and the cold wind continued to blow leaves down.
A lot of leaves have fallen and the cold wind continued to blow leaves down.

Eventually, we settled on eating lunch near Walter’s Falls.  There is actually an Inn and Spa — quite popular for tourists, but we just perched ourselves on a bridge leading into the woods and observed the tourists.  Lots of people out and about that day because of the beautiful weather and the autumn colours.

I was rather disappointed with Walter’s Falls.  I don’t think it was the water level but maybe it was just the lookout area — it just didn’t seem very majestic.  I wasn’t the only one because as soon I as hiked out from the woods and into the lookout area — tourists were asking me if there was another trail that would lead them to a better view.

On the other hand, there was a wedding taking place and some groomsmen with the groom dressed up actually approached us because they wanted to take a photo where we were sitting.  We happily obliged.  Looked like a great bunch and it seemed like they were going to have a perfect autumn day outdoor wedding.

Arriving at a rather disappointing view of Walter's Falls.
Arriving at a rather disappointing view of Walter’s Falls.
Across from The Falls Inn and Spa (Walter's Falls), there was a nice little scene -- aside from the giant pipe.
Across from The Falls Inn and Spa (Walter’s Falls), there was a nice little scene — aside from the giant pipe.

Ironically, I found the old mill structure behind Walter’s Falls more interesting.  It was also a great place to relax and simply chill out.  Unfortunately my friends were so keen to keep moving that we quickly ate and continued on our way.

Sometimes it is bizarre what we find abandoned on the trail.  I think this is a forklift of sorts and it has been around long enough that it sunk into the mud.  We imagined someone may have used this to clear the trail and dubbed it Trailmaker.

We dubbed this the “Trailmaker”.  Seemed like someone abandoned it in the middle of the trail.
A steep and rocky descent from the escarpment where Walter's Falls was located.
A steep and rocky descent from the escarpment where Walter’s Falls was located.

As much as I enjoy ascents, they do get tiring.  Descents are the challenges I tend to struggle with — particularly with uneven footing — I tend to slow down significantly.  Fortunately, hiking poles have helped a lot in this area but after slipping and falling on mossy rocks so many times — I tend to be pretty cautious when descending.  I find it’s harder to maintain balance.

Some brilliantly lit-up autumn foilage.
Some brilliantly lit-up autumn foilage.
Passing by a local cemetery.
Passing by a local cemetery.

We soon found ourselves back on the road for about 4km.  A pretty long stretch actually.  That said, it took us along some nice areas and we passed by a local cemetery.  It’s always interesting to me where cemeteries are located.  Some are located right next to a church, others are located in the middle of town, and still others are right next to a farm.  In this case, right next to the Bruce Trail.  I wondered how long this cemetery had been around.

And on to the open country road once more...
And on to the open country road once more…
My friend attempted to pet these horses or ponies but they were a little shy.
My friend attempted to pet these horses or ponies but they were a little shy.

This long stretch of road was a tad bland but we encountered fields full of dairy cows whose curiosity we piqued as we passed them by waving hello.  A friend of mine spotted a couple of horses who were curious as well but a bit shy and would only get close enough to take a look yet far enough that we weren’t able to pet them.  Too bad we didn’t have carrots or an apple.

Trekking along the road for long periods of time gets one thinking.  Thoughts and ideas drift in and out of your head and that happens a lot on the trail too.  Sometimes I’d just be lost in my thoughts until I spotted something that interested me.  I wonder how much of the trail I didn’t really see consciously as a result of being lost in my own thoughts.  I did however stop to enjoy the view of these vast wetlands across from a farm.  As much as I enjoy this type of ecosystem, I wouldn’t want to be around in the spring time when the mosquitoes are out in full force!

The road led us past a really pretty looking wetland area.
The road led us past a really pretty looking wetland area.
Hiking through a sun-lit tree canopy tunnel.
Hiking through a sun-lit tree canopy tunnel.

Eventually, we found ourselves back on to the dirt trail and hiking through tree tunnels and crop fields.  The afternoon sun was out in full force but it felt both warm yet cold at the same time.  The sun may have been warm but the wind was really blowing a cool and crisp autumn breeze.  It was comfortable.

The autumn afternoon sun is really something.  I don’t think I paid much attention to it before until today.  It certainly brings out some of the warm and muted colours in the autumn leaves.  I may have to play around with lighting more in the future.

Making our way through the last stretch of today's hike -- the sun lit up the rather dreary-looking field.
Making our way through the last stretch of today’s hike — the sun lit up the rather dreary-looking field.
Arriving at our end point.  I rented a little tiny car for this trip, a Ford Spark to be precise.  It wasn't bad although it was sometimes lacking in acceleration.  We referred to it as the little red rocket.
Arriving at our end point.  I rented a little tiny car for this trip, a Ford Spark to be precise.  It wasn’t bad although it was sometimes lacking in acceleration.  We referred to it as the little red rocket.

It had been a while since we’ve hiked 20km on the Bruce Trail.  This wasn’t the toughest hike but I think my friends were tired from the drive and they were also recovering from a cold.  I think my circuit training has been helping and I try to pace myself on the trail so that I’m not exerting too much of my energy too soon.  I’ll have to begin training more rigorously soon as my hike up Kilimanjaro is rapidly approaching.

After picking up the cars, we decided to try to get dinner at the Flying Chestnut only to find that they are all booked up and so we end up dining at the Flying Spatula once again.  They have a set dinner menu but it is pretty good!  Once we filled up on food, we hit up a local hotel in Owen Sound and got ready for the next day’s hike.

Want to see more of this hike?  Here’s the full gallery.

http://triptrack.org/3969/embed

Bruce Trail Part 31 – Euphrasia to Grey 12

Once we finally got the cars back in position at the destination point, we got to the trailhead and set off.  The air was cool and damp from the really rainy and wet week in the Grey County area.  The running joke was that they called it “Grey” County for a reason.

The final day of our multi-day trek along the Bruce Trail for most of the week. After some discussion, we decided that since we were not in the condition to push forward after today, we’d just head home and rest up.  After some oatmeal breakfast, we initially tried to set out for Walter’s Falls.  Unfortunately, as soon as we parked the cars, my friend found that her blisters were really hurting so we had to scale back the distance to a very short trek.

Once we finally got the cars back in position at the destination point, we got to the trailhead and set off.  The air was cool and damp from the really rainy and wet week in the Grey County area.  The running joke was that they called it “Grey” County for a reason.

Hiking the Bruce Trail
Hiking the Bruce Trail

I don’t know why but I could sense a difference in this portion of the trail.  It felt different and perhaps it is because it was purely through farm area.  What is really quite extraordinary about the Bruce Trail is that some times you are hiking through such a small sliver of property that feels so wild and out of place.  As soon as you step out off the trail, you find yourself in an agricultural area, and urban road, or even a large suburban zone.

In this case, we were walking in between crop fields but the sliver of wooded area we were passing through was vast in contrast to what we had experienced in the past so it made it feel so much more like wilderness when we were in the woods.

Hiking the Bruce Trail
Hiking the Bruce Trail

In other sections, it was simply ridiculous.  The amount of overgrowth was just annoying and frustrating at times.  To make it worse and somewhat dangerous — some parts were covering up very rocky sections.  I highly recommend that anyone trekking through these parts bring a machete or be very careful when making your way through.  It isn’t obvious that there are some unstable rocks and the overgrowth on the trail can make the general experience quite challenging.

Of course after a section like that, we’re always happy to see a road and one with a nice view is a bonus.

Hiking the Bruce Trail
Hiking the Bruce Trail

It’s ironic that on the last day of our multi-day hike on the Bruce Trail, we would encounter some of the most beautiful areas.  I’m always experiencing joy when I step through paths with trees arching just enough to create a sense of a hallway passing through tall fields of crops on both sides.

Other stunning areas incorporated more dramatic or exposed rock from the escarpment along side the trail.  A part of me would love to spend time exploring more of these exposed areas of the escarpment but we were on a mission!

Hiking the Bruce Trail
Hiking the Bruce Trail

There were riverbeds that had very little water and we’d just be stepping on what almost seemed like a stone floor.  With the vibrant green moss, the whole area felt very serene.

To form a sort of juxtaposition to the giant mushroom we encountered yesterday, we stumbled upon thousands of mini mushrooms at the base of a tree we were passing by.  It had even spread on to the trail.  The diversity we’ve encountered has been so amazing.

Hiking the Bruce Trail
Hiking the Bruce Trail
Hiking the Bruce Trail

Sometimes you can’t help but admire the human influenced paths like the nearly-rectangular hallway in the photo above.  Did someone cut it this way?

Other times, there are more amusing moments like the two bridges that were built in parallel to one another.  One of course is meant to replace the other — which my friend is photographing in the picture below.

Hiking the Bruce Trail
Hiking the Bruce Trail
Hiking the Bruce Trail

After trekking through more wooded area, we made our way past more crop fields and to what looked like an abandoned stone building where we had parked.  This was the end of our attempt to hike the Bruce Trail for a week.  It didn’t work out the way we wanted it to but it was a lot of fun — we got to complete the Beaver Valley section — and on a personal level, I was happy to have the opportunity to get out of the city and have time to think and ponder the time away.

Before heading back to Toronto, we decided to stop by and try out the Flying Spatula Diner and ended up enjoying a great brunch there.  Highly recommend checking it out if you’re in the area!

>> View the full gallery of this hike on the Bruce Trail.

Bruce Trail Part 30 – Grey 7 to Euphrasia

In between the dirt roads for offroading, the trails would take us through small paths that cut through the trees or in the case above, across rivers with makeshift bridges.  I took a step and immediately slipped and fell on my back.  The damp bark and tree logs didn’t provide much traction but it made for a couple of hilarious moments!

It was raining on and off the previous evening and it continued to drizzle when we woke up.  After a hearty breakfast (thanks to our generous hosts!) and waiting for the rain to settle a little, we set off to tackle more of the trail.  Unfortunately, my friend’s feet were in pretty bad shape.  She had acquired blisters as a result of wearing thin socks and new boots that weren’t really broken in yet.  We had to shorten the distance that we were going to tackle and as much as we were hoping to hike the whole week, I was anticipating that we’d need to shorten the trip by a day.

It was definitely wet and cold once we got out on to the trail.  We spent the first few kilometres along the road before we’d set foot back on to dirt.

Hiking the Bruce TrailHiking the Bruce Trail

We started off hiking through a lot of fields once we were off the road and eventually took us into the woods.  This section of the trail wasn’t too interesting until we got to what seemed to be dirt road meant for folks who enjoyed off-roading with their vehicles.

I generally don’t understand why it is so much fun to drive a vehicle off road and what pleasure one derives from it but I figure it must be similar to the folks who enjoy driving their vehicles around a racetrack.

Hiking the Bruce TrailHiking the Bruce Trail

In between the dirt roads for offroading, the trails would take us through small paths that cut through the trees or in the case above, across rivers with makeshift bridges.  I took a step and immediately slipped and fell on my back.  The damp bark and tree logs didn’t provide much traction but it made for a couple of hilarious moments!

Just as we thought the trail was getting a bit bland, we enter the dirt paths for offroading once again and find ourselves hiking some pretty steep hills.  I’m pretty amazed that people drive up these paths.

Hiking the Bruce Trail
Hiking the Bruce Trail

Because we simply love fields so much, we just had to enjoy another long and wet trek through a vast field of tall damp grass.  What made this field worth the trek were the beads of water all lined along certain plants.  I’m not sure what they were but if you look carefully at the photo above and observe the grey-ish areas in the fields, these were actually plants all lined with beads of water.  It was pretty spectacular to see in person.

Once we had admired them sufficiently, we made our way through the fields tall wet grass.  My pants were wet and dirty but they’d dry accordingly, I unfortunately could not say the same for one of my boots which was now completely soaking wet now.

Hiking the Bruce Trail
Hiking the Bruce Trail

I have to admit, I’m not someone with an intense interest in the area of funghi but there were definitely a lot of really interesting species along the trail that we spotted.  In fact, I wonder if anyone thought of changing the section to Mushroom Valley instead?  I didn’t see any beavers so why not?  I imagine that there may be a spike in tourism if suddenly everyone was looking for ‘shroom valley.  No idea about the legal implications but could be a good marketing idea.

Further down the trail, we found some really beautiful parts of the escarpment.  Mosquitoes were also being a little too friendly so we were quickening our pace at certain parts but I really enjoyed the fact that the trail took us through the escarpment.  It is as if someone took a cross-section of it and we were hiking through it.  Lots of fun.

Hiking the Bruce Trail
Hiking the Bruce Trail

Every time we crossed a road, it became part of our nature to check the map and see where we were.  I’m not sure if it’s because we were hoping to be closer to the end or if we just wanted to make sure we’re on the right track.  Either way, it made for a nice break in the hike and we’d often grab a granola bar or banana to snack on.

Speaking of snacks, we encountered the largest mushroom ever.  At least that I’ve seen in person.  My friend joked that we could harvest it for dinner. 

As long as it was safe, I wouldn’t mind a mushroom steak.

Hiking the Bruce Trail
Hiking the Bruce Trail

After musing about the mushroom and made our way past through some more mosquito-infested woods and got to the car.  It looked like the Grey County area was going to receive more rain so we were very fortunate that our generous hosts offered to have us stay in a trailer on their farm even when they were back in the city.  It made our trek significantly more comfortable given that we were either injured or not well-equipped.  I really wanted to push onwards and at least complete the Beaver Valley section but I was concerned about my friend.  I was also concerned about my knee — there were a couple of times when the tall grass fields led to me stumbling or taking a sharp turn or two.  I didn’t want to cause any major injury as my knee had been known to be a bit troublesome at times.  Either way, I’d persevere!

>> View the full gallery of this hike on the Bruce Trail.

Bruce Trail Part 29 – Concession 12A to Grey 7

After a good night’s rest at the bed and breakfast near Eugenia Falls, we made our way to the trailhead and continued where we left off yesterday.  It was cooler than my friends had anticipated and not only did one of them not bring long-sleeves, my friends also forgot their rain jackets at home.  It was definitely a bizarre situation but we had to persevere.  Weather seemed like it would cooperate for most of the day.

After a good night’s rest at the bed and breakfast near Eugenia Falls, we made our way to the trailhead and continued where we left off yesterday.  It was cooler than my friends had anticipated and not only did one of them not bring long-sleeves, my friends also forgot their rain jackets at home.  It was definitely a bizarre situation but we had to persevere.  Weather seemed like it would cooperate for most of the day.

Hiking the Bruce Trail

Starting off on the road and eventually finding ourselves passing by a very pretty waterfall, I wished that there would be a better view of it.  There’s often a public and internal debate around this matter — should there be a better view of the waterfall?  Is it worth disrupting the wildlife and natural habitat to create a trail that would lead to a better view?  Will the better view result in a greater appreciation of nature and its beauty?  I often have these questions in my mind but I can only imagine the sort of debate raging on in public institutions and organizations that manage these lands.  Perhaps it is simple and straight forward in many situations, but I can see there being times when it is a major struggle.

Hiking the Bruce Trail
Hiking the Bruce Trail

I think in various counties or regions, there needs to be approval to build out a bridge.  They are definitely appreciated in many circumstances and I can see how elaborate the legal matters can get (don’t most legal matters?).

Anyhow, we eventually find ourselves at the foot of some private ski hills.  Based on some conversations I had later that day with some other people, these ski hills were only used by those with some form of membership.  I guess that explains why they are left so empty while the hills of Blue Mountain were packed with visitors.

Hiking the Bruce Trail
Hiking the Bruce Trail

The lack of people certainly made for a more tranquil and enjoyable hike as we made our way up the ski hills.  I wasn’t so fond about the fact that the ski hills also had a lot of tall grass to wade through at times but I won’t get into that again.

We didn’t anticipate to get such a beautiful view of the valley here along this part of the hike and at certain times — it was so foggy that we could barely see out into the valley.

Hiking the Bruce Trail
Hiking the Bruce Trail

The trail got really interesting once we passed through the private ski hill resort.  Once in the woods, we found ourselves making some dramatic descents and in one case, climbing down a big ladder!

Hiking the Bruce Trail
Hiking the Bruce TrailHiking the Bruce Trail

While a large chunk of the hike was a bit bland at times, there were some fun things along this prat of the hike.  A rather damp low-running stream had some beautiful moss-covered stones.  It reminded me of some scenes from Hayao Miyazaki films.

We eventually encountered a hay bale that had run away somehow from its farm.  It was rather funny to find it in the middle of nowhere on the trail.  Not sure how it got there but we certainly couldn’t move it no matter how much we tried!

Hiking the Bruce Trail
Hiking the Bruce Trail

It must’ve been close to apple season because along this part of the Bruce Trail, we began encountering apple trees.  For some reason apple trees were all lined up along the side of some crop fields.  As much as we wouldn’t mind some free snacks along the way, they weren’t quite ripe for the picking yet but it was certainly getting close.

The weather although cooperating so far was showing signs of incoming rain encroaching into the county area.  We could see it from a distance so we began to pick up the pace a little.

Hiking the Bruce Trail
Hiking the Bruce Trail
Hiking the Bruce Trail

I always enjoy these rickety fences in the middle of nowhere.  They may mark where someone’s property ends or starts, but I find them so much more appealing than the ugly and confrontational chain fences.

Unfortunately as we were hiking, one of my friends began to get blisters on her foot so we had to slow down and rest more frequently.

Hiking the Bruce Trail
Hiking the Bruce Trail
Hiking the Bruce Trail

As we neared the car, we cut across the trees to the parking lot because my friend was really feeling the pain.  We were also fortunate because my friend’s friend generously offered to take us in for the night at their farm after our hike.  They even fed us and I can’t thank them enough because we were able to avoid camping in the rain and in the cold which was particularly important as my friends either didn’t have long-sleeves or rain gear with them.

>> View the full gallery from this hike along the Bruce Trail.