Getting Lost in a Corn Maze is Awesome

Ever since I discovered the Vermont Corn Maze one autumn day many years ago, I’ve been looking around for a solid corn maze to venture into in the Toronto area.  Having experienced the poor excuse for a corn maze (i.e. too tiny) and the 5 to 10 acre ones, I sought out something really substantial and then I came across Hanes Corn Maze, which was 20 acres!

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Ever since I discovered the Vermont Corn Maze one autumn day many years ago, I’ve been looking around for a solid corn maze to venture into in the Toronto area.  Having experienced the poor excuse for a corn maze (i.e. too tiny) and the 5 to 10 acre ones, I sought out something really substantial and then I came across Hanes Corn Maze, which was 20 acres!

Eventually, I rounded up enough friends who dared to step into the maze with me just before the last week of October.  They weren’t really willing to tackle it at night so it was just a day trip that started off with picking up everyone along the way.

We had arrived around 11 or so in the morning and it was exciting just to drive up to the lot.  My friends were already gushing from seeing the giant wall of corn in front of us.  To walk the corn maze and visit the farm animals cost us about $11.50 (CDN) per person which wasn’t bad at all.

Getting ready to enter the unknown...in the corn...
Getting ready to enter the unknown…in the corn…

As we paid to get into the maze, we were given a clipboard with a map.  I had not realized it but there was a scavenger hunt with a puzzle to solve.  It would make sense considering I could simply walk out of the maze pretty easily.

The gist of the scavenger hunt is this:

On the map of the corn maze, there are fields under the checkpoints where a participant has to jot down a code.  Each code is revealed if you can locate the checkpoint.  Once you collect all the codes — you exit the maze and try and solve the puzzle.

The tricky part is that not all the checkpoints are revealed on the map.  Some are hidden away!

Every so often, there'd be a lookout point amidst the maze.
Every so often, there’d be a lookout point amidst the maze.
Just when you think it might be possible to cheat, here's the view from the lookout point. [photo credit: Lisa Sit]
Just when you think it might be possible to cheat, here’s the view from the lookout point. [photo credit: Lisa Sit]

I have to say that the scavenger hunt was a lot tougher than I anticipated. A couple of my friends were beginning to give up because we were circling around trying to find the right checkpoints butkept encountering the ones we had already found.  Using the map was actually making it confusing at times because of where we thought we were in the corn maze.

Eventually we began using the very edge of the corn maze as reference points and made it out — to some degree.  There were a lot of families, teenagers, and kids who approached us about trading checkpoint codes, some were in the maze for 2 or 3 hours!  I’ll leave that to your discretion. We only spent 1 and 1/2 hours thanks to our willingness to exchange a couple of codes.

Successfully exiting the maze! [photo credit: Lisa Sit]
Successfully exiting the maze! [photo credit: Lisa Sit]

After the maze, we were able to solve the puzzle and claim a small prize.  Nothing major but it was nevertheless fun to achieve.  Our eyes were however, trained on the bakery.  It was a very small space and there were so many people lining up to pick up a pie or some other sweet goodies.  I picked up a nice apple pie myself and a chocolate overload square (which was amazing).

Dropping by the Tiny Shop Bakery. Full of pies, cookies, and squares of all sorts. Way too many choices!
Dropping by the Tiny Shop Bakery. Full of pies, cookies, and squares of all sorts. Way too many choices!

This was only part of the day’s adventure!  Hanes Corn Maze is quite close to the Spencer Gorge Wilderness area where there are a couple of nice waterfalls and we eventually satisfied our hunger at the Thirsty Cactus, a local pub and grill in the town of Dundas.

 

Giant Mountain Ridge Trail – Autumn in the Adirondacks

When I set out to make an autumn visit to the Adirondacks this year, my goal was to hike to the summit of Giant Mountain.  Our Canadian Thanksgiving weekend was perfectly timed.   Apparently I wasn’t the only one with that intention.  Having started the hike up the Giant Mountain Ridge Trail at about 7:30am, I was very surprised that the trailhead was already busy when I arrived. The trail was pretty steep and there were a lot of folks who were powering past me.  It was definitely a busy trail.

When I set out to make an autumn visit to the Adirondacks this year, my goal was to hike to the summit of Giant Mountain.  Our Canadian Thanksgiving weekend was perfectly timed.   Apparently I wasn’t the only one with that intention.  Having started the hike up the Giant Mountain Ridge Trail at about 7:30am, I was very surprised that the trailhead was already busy when I arrived.
The trail was pretty steep and there were a lot of folks who were powering past me.  It was definitely a busy trail.

Amazing views in the morning along the early section of the ridge trail.

Eventually after hiking through a mixed forest, there were some beautiful views to be enjoyed.  There were even some early-bird hikers who had set up camp along the trail in order to photograph the early morning light.  They looked pretty cold though!

Just after hiking along part of the ridge trail, I came across a small lake.  It’s pretty stunning to see the colourful reflections and was surprising to encounter this small lake so close to the ridge of the mountain.  I wonder if there were any fish in the lake at this elevation.

Enjoying the colourful reflections.The trail looks a lot like this (and in some cases even more challenging) during the steep ascent.

The trail gradually takes us up a pretty rough and rocky terrain.  Slippery at times and bouldering-like at others.  Definitely helpful if one has trekking poles but I did see many people hiking without.  Some parts are really tough — requiring some level of tactical approach to climbing up and over boulders — and I was surprised at how many inexperienced hikers were tackling the mountain without proper footwear and water.

Whenever I hike a mountain, it always feels as if we just keep going up and up and up until we get past the alpine tree line.  Then the views are just spectacular.  I encountered a fork in the trail where one could either opt to go around “The Bump” or go over it.  I chose to go over it, although if you are feeling tired, definitely choose to go around it because you wouldn’t be close to the summit just yet!  I did have the opportunity to take a good photosphere though.

The summit of Giant Mountain.  A beautiful vista including snow!

When I finally arrived on to the summit — it was busy and cold.  There was even snow and ice!  There were a handful of people chatting and quietly enjoying the view but the summit wasn’t big enough to accommodate the amount of traffic that Giant Mountain experiences.  I found a spot to sit myself down and took in the views until I eventually found that the summit was getting a bit too busy for my liking.  Unfortunately, no photosphere because there were just too many people.

A closer look at the ice and snow on the summit.The descent from Giant Mountain's summit.

Along the way down, it was fascinating to watch how others tackled the descent.  Many people tried to slide down certain surfaces on their bum while others attempted to find ways around the actual trail — in some cases stepping off the trail and then resuming once they had found secure footing.  In most cases I found that my trekking poles were always helpful but there were one or two situations where there was no other way to step down from one boulder to another — or at least none that I felt safe doing so — so I just shuffled my way down on my behind.

One guy I encountered along the way down was jumping from rock to rock and boulder to boulder but I can’t imagine that being sustainable and good for his knees.  His balance and endurance was definitely impressive!  The thing that often makes me a little anxious is often the amount of traffic on the trail, particularly on more precarious sections of the trail.

The sun-lit forest along the way down from the mountain.

I was definitely tired after the long descent but it was a beautiful hike down Giant Mountain and was happily satisfied with the achievement.  Unfortunately during the descent, I happened to hit my knee against a boulder.  Nothing major but it definitely didn’t permit me to continue hiking for an extended period of the long weekend.  I only wish I had more time to spend in the Adirondacks during the autumn time.  Perhaps next year!

Owl Head Lookout Trail – Autumn in the Adirondacks

I’ve always wanted to see the autumn colours in the mountains but never really had the time.  Normally every year, my friends and I would head up to a variety of provincial parks to view the autumn colours but this year, I decided to take a few days and make my way to the Adirondack mountains.

Camping near the waterfall in Wilmington Notch campgrounds

I’ve always wanted to see the autumn colours in the mountains but never really had the time.  Normally every year, my friends and I would head up to a variety of provincial parks to view the autumn colours but this year, I decided to take a few days and make my way to the Adirondack mountains.

Usually, I found that staying at the Wilmington Notch campground near Lake Placid is an ideal base camp.  It’s conveniently located amidst many of the trails in the High Peaks and towns.  I also enjoy making a visit to the waterfall just a very brief trail away from the campsite itself.

After arriving in the evening, I woke up the next day and immediately left camp in search of the Owl Head lookout trailhead.  Not exactly the easiest to find but I eventually arrived at a full parking lot.  I was pretty surprised at how many people were already on the trail this morning.

The trailhead parking lot was completely full.

I had initially taken a wrong turn (wasn’t paying attention to the trailer markers) and ended up passing by a key trail maker so I ended up getting lost.  After wandering around in circles I finally made my way back to the parking lot and realized my mistake.  Partially frustrated from wasting time, I was relieved to finally make my way towards the lookout.

Just up ahead, there was actually a large crew working on a new bridge.

Along the way, I eventually found myself hiking next to a stream and encountered a large group of people working on building a new bridge.  I was greeted by a cheerful park ranger and other folks with many humourous remarks and suggestions on how to cross the stream with the bridge under construction.  This explains why the trail’s parking lot was so full.  I was told that by the time I return, the bridge would be complete (that wasn’t the case, although it was near completion).

What the trail looked like along the way.

The trail up to the lookout point was beautiful and full of vivid colours but it was simply not comparable to the field of colours that was viewable from the lookout itself.  It was only then that I realized how different it was to be on the ground level and be looking at the colourful leaves from the base of a tree.

Having the opportunity to see the vastness of the mountains covered with colour is a dramatic change from what I usually get to see in Ontario.

Owl Head lookout point.  A great vista with plenty of colour!

Aside from a couple of people, It was very quiet so I took the time to sketch the lookout point as a part of #inktober.  Unfortunately I’ve yet to figure out how to manage technique in the cold and windy climate! Compared with other trails, this was a pretty quiet place.

As I descended, I encountered groups of other folk who were packing a lot of gear. Owl Head is along the way towards Giant Mountain and I imagine they were heading towards the lean-to that led towards the Giant Mountain Summit. Part of me wished that I had an opportunity to do a longer hike like that.

Sketching the lookout point on Owl Head

Also happened to take a photosphere with my phone.  Take a look at what it looks like up on the lookout point!