Bruce Trail Part 22 – Lavender Rd to Nottawasaga

Given the ultra cold experience we encountered last time, we were all smiles as soon as we continued along the trail.  There were some quirky characteristics about a number of the houses in Lavender — I won’t point them out here but see if you notice them if you ever pass through. Nothing bad, just neat!

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Continuing where we left off but with more sun and warmth!

Following the past couple of hikes, we were ready for the cold this time around but the weather turned out to be surprisingly pleasant.  Starting off where we left off last time near Lavender Cemetery — we set out along the road.  I was a happy camper because the cold weather and freezing temperatures had me relying on insulated water bottles rather than a water bladder until today.  Life is made so much more convenient when using a water bladder.  Unfortunately the warmer temperatures also meant that I was more prone to allergies — I anticipated those pollen attacks.

Given the ultra cold experience we encountered last time, we were all smiles as soon as we continued along the trail.  There were some quirky characteristics about a number of the houses in Lavender — I won’t point them out here but see if you notice them if you ever pass through. Nothing bad, just neat!

The trail continues along the road until we turn into the forest and find ourselves hiking over some really scenic crevices.  With much of the snow receding, I’m enjoying the diversity in terrain once again.

More interesting terrain to tackle this time along the trail.The view from a spectacular lookout point we stumbled upon.

As we hiked further up along what I figured to be the escarpment, I noticed a very small clearing hidden in the trees and poked my head through.  I’m so glad I stopped to take a look because we almost missed out on a very nice lookout point. Talk about hidden treasure.  It was too early for lunch but I always wish lunch time would coincide with these lookout points — there’s nothing quite like enjoying your lunch while staring out into the distance and the horizon.

We eventually came into a pretty wet area (read: mud!) but fortunately someone had been working on a number of boardwalks — or so we think.  There seemed to be someone’s belongings scattered along the boardwalk’s vicinity.  We even noticed that they brought a leveler to help with building the boardwalk.

I think someone was working on the boardwalks and was taking a lunch break.  Their belongings were all over the place.Passing by a lake still frozen over.

The weather may have been warm enough that we were in t-shirts (we were shedding layers as soon as we began the hike), but we passed a number of bodies of water that were still covered with ice.  I would have liked to skate over this during the winter but I never really thought of bringing a pair skates on a hike before.

We soon found ourselves back on a long stretch of road.  There was something serene about trekking along the side of this road.  Despite the vehicles driving past us, hiking along the road can be entertaining at times.  Some cyclists were flying past us at such a high speed that we could even hear a high-pitched whirl from their wheels.

Walking along a road section of the trail.  I don't think I've ever seen a sign like that before.An old schoolhouse. We weren't able to discern what year it is from but the glass seemed pretty new.Where we eventually stopped for lunch after searching for a dry patch along the trail to sit down. Thanks to the folks who built the boardwalks!

I often tell people that there is always something interesting to see or encounter along the Bruce Trail.  This time we passed by an old schoolhouse with a bell and all.  We weren’t able to discern what year this was built but someone must have been doing some upkeep.  The windows did not appear old and seemed to be in decent condition.  I remember reading about schoolhouses like these when I was young and seeing them in dramatized reenactments at places like Pioneer Village or on television.  I wonder how long schoolhouses such as these continued serving the role of providing a roof for the purpose of educating Canadians.

Just as we thought life was getting easier with all the receding snow — we got routed right through a large field full of it.  Crunchy snow is one thing but melting and mushy snow makes for a tough trek across the field.  It was a beautiful sight to take in despite the challenge that it posed.

We came across areas still covered with plenty of snow.As much as the snow may not be so appealing, it made for a nice landscape photograph.

If big blue skies and clouds are two things in nature I love dearly, then vast open fields and rolling hills must be next on my list.  I’m sure I’ve stated it before but I can’t really get enough of it.  Don’t let these soft rolling hills fool you though, they are still a challenge to hike — particularly when muddy or covered with snow.  I think I could sit down and spend an afternoon just staring out at a scene like this.

After trudging through more mud (yes, we got past the snow for now) — we passed through a large farm with a vast field of unharvested corn from the past season.  I guess they were preparing the land for the upcoming planting season because we saw the harvester busy at work.  I was hoping it would come closer to us so I could get a better photograph of it but I also didn’t want it to stir up all the dust and spray corn at us.

Passing by a harvester in action out in the corn field.A beautiful road section of the trail where we passed by a nice-looking reservoir or two.

Stepping onto the last stretch of road for this hike, there were a couple of bodies of water we spotted along the road.  With the cloud-less blue sky, the water sparkled and appeared perfect for a swim.  Of course, it was probably too cold and the water was likely meant for other purposes.

Speaking of cold, as soon as we reached the end of the stretch of road, we found ourselves trekking on snow.  This time it was very wet and slushy and to make things worse, there was a pretty high chance of plunging your foot into deep cold and slushy water too.  When we reached the end of the road, we also passed by a group of people who seemed to be intent on camping.  They were only wearing running shoes.  We could hear shrieks and laughter as we made our way down the trail so I imagine they probably took a nice foot bath as they made their way down the trail.  Hope they had a few spare socks!

The toughest areas of this hike to contend with were the ones with half-frozen and half-melting snow that was still quite deep.Lots of water passing under this bridge/boardwalk from all the melting snow.

It was pretty amazing to see all the snow remain in certain sections of the trail and one could actually feel why if you stepped into the trail at that point.  Some parts of the trail felt really warm while other areas — despite being sunny — received a lot of cold drafts or breezes of air.  I figure this might be why certain sections are so slow to melt away.

The last bit was pretty tiring — particularly since our feet at that point were pretty soaking wet, or at least feeling damp.  The inconsistency of the snow made it additionally challenging for us to maintain balance on the trail.  Once we spotted the car, we quickly made our way towards it and started drying our feet!  I didn’t have spare socks so I ended up driving barefoot home.

Made it to the end -- with slightly damp socks.

After a hike like this, we were contemplating places to enjoy dinner.  Fortunately, the town of Creemore was close by and its main claim to fame is its Creemore Springs brewery (one of my favourite brews).  Alas, the brewery was closed already when we arrived in town but they did have an excellent pub across the street and it was the happening place in town.  Busy place with great food, I recommend their chicken pot pie which was excellent.  I only wish they had better desserts to offer, which I skipped this time around!

The next hike will be interesting — I only hope that it isn’t full on mosquito season yet!

Take a look at the full gallery from this hike.

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.

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!