Bruce Trail Part 26 – 18th Sideroad to 9th Sideroad

After another long drive up to the Collingwood area again, we were well received by a very foggy and misty morning.  This wasn’t a bad start because I actually wasn’t looking forward to a hot and gnarly summer day.  Surprisingly, it was a decently cool morning — enough that we made use of our rain jackets as an outer shell and windbreaker.

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It started with a foggy morning.

After another long drive up to the Collingwood area again [check out our previous hike a couple of weeks earlier], we were well received by a very foggy and misty morning.  This wasn’t a bad start because I actually wasn’t looking forward to a hot and gnarly summer day.  Surprisingly, it was a decently cool morning — enough that we made use of our rain jackets as an outer shell and windbreaker.

The fog got thicker as we hiked through the woods and into an open field.  Someone lost their boot.

With the fog getting thicker as we trekked along the Bruce Trail, there was a feel or atmosphere of mystery surrounding our day hike.  Some say mystical forest, others who saw the photo after the hike thought it reminded them of the forbidden forest in Harry Potter.

Either way, I just enjoyed the opportunity it provided for some really great photos.  Mother nature’s fog machine does it best!

Walking into a mystical forest.  Some suggest it is almost like a forest from Harry Potter.A really neat place to sit down right next to the stream.

The drawback to wading into the mist or fog is how damp everything gets.  Sure, it keeps you cool but once you begin walking into fields of tall grass — you realize you are getting wet from your boots all the way up.  The damp grass — sometimes with mildew — that brush up  against our knees as we hiked through the field would eventually soak our pants.  The gaiters didn’t help much because the grass were practically elbow high.  Why are fields of tall grass such a pain to hike through?

Finding ourselves back on the road in even thicker fog.This part of the trail has a lot of openings in the bush like these.

Fortunately, not all of the trail took us through fields.  We encountered really awesome crevices to peer down along the way and the odd house with “real looking” animal sculptures sitting on their lawn.

A pretty amazing crevice opening along the trail.What we thought were quite obese geese, were merely fakes.For the first time, we actually had to cross paths through a field of cows.  They were quite curious.

What really made my day was the fact we crossed paths with a field full of cows.  I’ve never encountered a part of the Bruce Trail that took us through a field with livestock actually present before but it was pretty entertaining looking at the cows and having them look at us while we took photographs of them and with them.

One friend noticed the bull walking over and we decided to get moving after that.  Alas, we had to wade through more fields of tall grass afterwards.  The most ironic aspect of this was that as soon as our pants would dry off, we would end up getting them wet again.

More tall and wet grass to wade through.

I am always impressed when the Bruce Trail takes us through what I feel is a “magical” or majestic-looking scene.  These are just areas where I would love to have a bench to sit on and appreciate the environment.

Speaking of benches, we encountered a bench in memory of someone who loved the Bruce Trail.  To think of how people have been transformed by the Bruce Trail and all the many tales that could be shared.  I think it’s a really great way to remember someone.

A memorial bench remembering a woman who loved the Bruce Trail. Very thoughtful.Friends enjoying this fascinating rocky part of the escarpment.

Eventually we found ourselves hiking down a part of the escarpment composed of a lot of rocky terrain.  The photograph doesn’t really do much justice to the surroundings but it is definitely a place to take a step back and admire.  A lot of people including myself often comment on how Ontario does not have any mountains to enjoy and from that aspect — and it is something I usually grumble about when I have the urge to hike above the alpine tree line — but getting to enjoy such a vast escarpment is a totally different experience.

Passing through (right next to) an extremely green crop field.I believe this was built by a combat engineer battalion -- one of the finest bridges I've had the opportunity to cross along this trail.

I love the bridges that I encounter along the trail and by far, the one I encountered this time around was just plain impressive.  I just wonder how many people and how long it took to build it.  It had some style to it as well and just looked elegant in the middle of the woods over a noisy river.

Similar to my encounters with abandoned cars or merchandise on the Bruce Trail, I found myself scratching my head when we spotted a mannequin pointing the way on the trail.  For humour sake?  Perhaps.

Just in case the trail markers weren't enough, a random mannequin jockey points the way. Spotted lawn chairs along the way that led us to a waterfall.

There are occasions when I wonder where do the long-distance trekkers camp along the Bruce Trail.  Then I receive an answer as I encounter a batch of lawn chairs next to a beautiful waterfall.  Camping in style and thank you to whomever decided to donate those red lawn chairs (not that we camped there)!

The waterfall near the campsite that the lawn chairs revealed.

At this point, the temperature was getting rather warm but it was feeling pretty damp.  Fortunately we were getting close to our destination point for the day — and just as I thought we had seen a lot — the trail led us through the Pinnacle Rock Farm. Definitely a beautiful part of the trail and from what I’ve read, was a donation by the Richardson Family and I appreciate them sharing it with us all!  Similar to the rocky escarpment we descended from earlier, this was a part of the trail where I could just sit there and contemplate life.

Passing through the Pinnacle Rock Farm. Passing through another tall field of grass and eventually entering the last bit of forest before completing this hike.

Of course these days it doesn’t seem like I can end the hike without wading through more fields of tall grass — and we do.  Thankfully, it is drier at this point in the day.  After we reach the car, we decide we needed some comfort food so we find ourselves enjoying some Swiss Chalet.  Another hiker’s staple?  Maybe!

Next hike is coming up, in the meanwhile check out the full gallery here.

Bruce Trail Part 25 – Line 3 to 18th Sideroad

After enduring another very slow and long drive up to the Collingwood area, we continued from where we left off in our last hike at the parking spot on Line 3.  I’m beginning to tire of the long drive up and to make things more challenging, I forgot to bring along some water for the drive so I was starting off a little parched.  Nonetheless, the hike — once it started — was off to a brilliant to start.  It was very decent weather — not too hot and the bugs weren’t bothering us.

Starting off on the sideroad on a beautiful day.

After enduring another very slow and long drive up to the Collingwood area, we continued from where we left off in our last hike at the parking spot on Line 3.  I’m beginning to tire of the long drive up and to make things more challenging, I forgot to bring along some water for the drive so I was starting off a little parched.  Nonetheless, the hike — once it started — was off to a brilliant to start.  It was very decent weather — not too hot and the bugs weren’t bothering us.

Walking down the road with a scenic view in the horizon.  We were passed by lots of cyclists.

Since the trail took us immediately on to the road, we had the opportunity pass by a lot of friendly road cyclists who were all pedaling up (we were descending).  What really made the descent enjoyable was the brilliant horizon and scenic view.  We could see the escarpment and the vibrant blue of Georgian Bay.

Eventually, we were stumped by a trail closure sign.  Apparently, there was a bridge that was heavily damaged and was unsafe to cross.  We decided to check it out and if need be, we would simply take our boots off and cross the river.  I wasn’t exactly keen on doing so but given that it would beat hiking the lengthy detour — I went along with the plan.  To our surprise, not only was the water level very low — the bridge was actually in decent shape.  Okay, not the safest to cross if you are carrying something heavy but we just crossed the bridge one at a time and we survived.  I’m not condoning crossing unsafe bridges so I’ll leave it to one’s own discretion.

This part of the trail was marked closed because of a bridge that was damaged and unsafe to cross, however we decided to investigate and ended up crossing the bridge.Passing over a lovely stream.

I expected that there would be hills to climb since we were in the Blue Mountain area but I didn’t anticipate the climb to be so lengthy.  It felt good to tackle challenges like these in preparation of our hike up Kilimanjaro this coming December.  The conditions were far better than what I experienced in mid-summer Japan tackling the Kumano Kodo when the humidity was crazy.

Initially the hike up was primarily made up of exposed tree roots and eventually evolved to large rocks that one would tip toe or scramble over.

This begins a very lengthy climb up hill.More rocky parts of the climb up.

We soon ended up in big fields of grass.  I am always wary of tall grass (I have allergies) so I simply plowed through as quickly as I could.  The really odd aspect of this situation is that someone had mowed certain parts of this field for pedestrian traffic for other nature trails — why not for the Bruce Trail?

The sun was pretty harsh and once we entered the forest, it was immediately a few degrees cooler.

Hiking through ridiculously long and tall grass to get into the forest.I really enjoy this forest's canopy.

I often love walking through the forest but what really enjoyed this time was a brilliantly-lit tree canopy.  The trees were so tall and thin creating this tall ceiling of vibrant green.  We followed the trail through the forest that took us past a decent lookout point (we saw lots of turkey vultures) and eventually into Blue Mountain’s main tourist area (i.e. their ‘hiking’ trails) and quite a volume of mountain bikers.

The great thing about Blue Mountain’s trails was that they were so very landscaped — I referred to them as luxury trails.  In addition, we had the opportunity to enjoy grand views of Georgian Bay.  The drawback was that we needed to pass through tourist central.

A grand view of Georgian Bay from Blue Mountain.Crossing another bridge -- but this one was actually safe to cross.Where we decided to sit under the shade and enjoy lunch with a grand view of Georgian Bay.

Once we got through ‘tourist central’ and descended down from Blue Mountain’s luxurious hiking trails, we made our way through more of the main Bruce Trail and encountered a nice shady area next to someone’s fenced home.  This turned out to be one of the best lunch stops we’ve had for a while.  It was breezy, shady, and we had a great view!

After a nice lunch break, we continued onwards and found ourselves trying to figure out which ski slope we were passing.  I’m not sure where we were exactly but it was interesting to observe how the ski hills are treated in their off season.  Surprisingly, some ski hills are composed of a lot of rock.  I guess there must be a lot of snow that layers over this during the winter.

Seeing where we are on the ski slopes.Returning to the main trail after checking out a nearby lookout point.  We also just finished a lengthy climb.

This soon took us up a second lengthy climb after which we found ourselves enjoying another nice lookout point with a makeshift bench made out of two stumps and a wooden board.  There wasn’t a whole lot of shade here but it was quite a tranquil area.

The trail then took us back into the forest and eventually led to us encountering a family mountain biking.  I was impressed with the kid’s enthusiasm and politeness.  He was yelling, “excuse me!” from a quite afar.

Trudging through a multi-purpose path, and were passed by a nice family enjoying a bicycle ride.A field of green.The grass keeps getting taller and my allergies keep getting worse.

Throughout this hike, the grass was consistently very tall and unfortunately, they were pollinating.  There would be times when we would be crossing huge fields of tall grass — practically shoulder height — and I found myself sneezing uncontrollably.  I certainly didn’t enjoy that section of this hike but I gradually recovered after obtaining the post-hike dinner.

While sneezing frequently, I found myself tackling the final major climb uphill.  As much as I enjoy the challenge, I would have preferred not to have been dealing with a running nose and frequent sneezing fits.

Another very lengthy climb up hill.  A good challenge!The hike evolves into a scenic stroll along rolling hills and fields.

Once we made it up that last hill, I was rewarded with more tall grass.  Fortunately, I had some more space to stay away from this major allergen.  More importantly, the view was very scenic with lush green rolling hills and vast fields amidst a wide blue sky.  I love landscapes such as these — they always appear so tranquil.

We walked up to the end of the dirt road to a big ‘Stop’ sign and began leisurely strolling down the nice shady side road — a nice change from the sunny green fields that I just passed by.  Some dirt bikers roared past us as we gradually made our way to the car.

Enjoying the nice shaded walk down 18 Sideroad back to the car.

This was an excellent hike and aside form my allergies, it was a beautiful day.  After a bit of deliberation between ‘country kitchen’ or ‘Caribbean’ food — we decided to head over to Mylar and Loreta’s Restaurant.  A wonderful old restaurant in the town of Stayner which made for delicious end to the hike.

Check out the full gallery of this hike.

Bruce Trail Part 24 – Duntroon Highway 91 to Line 3

We took a short break from hiking because of vacation time and the Ride for Heart but on our return just a few weeks later — everything was so much greener and in some cases, taller!  It’s now the first weekend in June and we were anticipating lots of mosquitoes and black flies.  Even the bug reports from the Weather Network were reporting high levels of these pests.

We stopped hiking for a few weeks and the grass has grown dramatically!

We took a short break from hiking because of vacation time and the Ride for Heart but on our return just a few weeks later — everything was so much greener and in some cases, taller!  It’s now the first weekend in June and we were anticipating lots of mosquitoes and black flies.  Even the bug reports from the Weather Network were reporting high levels of these pests.  Fortunately, luck has been on our side again and there were very few mosquitoes and black flies.

This is one of my favourite photos from this hike.  Taken while crossing an expansive field.

Soon after we started hiking, there were great encounters.  Beautiful photo opportunities and mysterious crevices presented themselves.  My friends and I agreed that it was unfortunate that time didn’t allow us to explore these crevices — I guess it will have to be a different adventure.

The trail crosses paths with a lot of crevices.  It's too bad that the trail doesn't actually take us through part of the crevice network but I guess the traffic would damage this sensitive area.The trail was actually pretty dry this time around.Look out into the valley.

It was a pretty comfortable hike so far — not too hot and not cold either.  What I really enjoyed most was the part this hike that took us through a narrow piece of land where electrical poles were set up.  It’s sort of off the beaten path.  Who goes around following the hydro poles and where the electrical lines lead?  I assume that aside from hydro workers, there are very few that do, so this gives a small glimpse into their world.

One of my favourite parts of this hike. We hiked along a sliver of land that was cleared for hydro poles.There were caterpillars everywhere!  Many of them clumped together on trees.

A really peculiar thing that was occurring during the hike was our constant encounter with caterpillars — in fact a few of them fell on me.  It must be that time of year but these critters were on every tree and leaf — some of them even hitched a ride on our pants.  We found quite a few of them clumped together on trees too.  I’m not sure why this was the case but I’m sure birds and other animals would see this as if it were an all-you-can-eat buffet!

We’ve been talking about tackling the Bruce Trail with an overnight or multi-day trek — but I’ve rarely seen a decent campsite — until this hike.  Actually this hike had one of the most appealing campsites I’ve encountered on the trail.  River running along the side with lots of shade and quite spacious too.  The green ferns on the ground made the area feel quite tranquil.

A really pretty area along the trail.  We passed by a campsite here that would be quite nice to stay overnight at.  It was right next to a small river.Lots of uphill this time around.Coming across more crevice areas.

Similar to our previous hike, there was a lot of uphill climbing and crevices.  In fact, we were stopped by some fellow hikers who suggested we venture into some of them.

Long parts of this section involved trekking through these peculiar bare wooded areas.Passing by lush green crop fields.  Not sure what they were growing.Enjoying a nice lookout area.

We also noticed along this part of the trail as we cut through Pretty River Provincial Park, that there were quite a few people mountain biking.  It’s a pretty tough section of the trail to mountain bike on so I was pretty impressed but sometimes it is startling to suddenly have cyclists rushing downhill with their dogs running after them.

As we were nearing the last few kilometres of our hike, this last bit was actually quite rocky and challenging.  This was actually quite fun although due to the characteristics of this natural environment — it felt quite damp and humid.  My friend commented that this may have been a newer section of the trail but either way, the best way to describe it would be that it’s a bit of “rock scrambling”.

As we got closer to the end of our hike, there was a particularly rocky section.  Challenging at times because of the mossy rocks but fortunately it wasn't a wet day.Hiking past a marsh-like or swampy area towards the car.  The end of another hike!

I enjoyed this hike despite the slightly muggy weather and we had the good fortune of experiencing very few mosquitoes and black flies.  I hope the next hike will be just as bug free!  We were also lucky in that it only started raining when we were heading back to Toronto — after stopping by Barrie for some Thai food.  The Thai food there was so-so.  Unfortunately, we were having some problems finding places to eat so note to self:  plan out the post-hike restaurant before hand!

Check out the full gallery from this hike here.

Bruce Trail Part 23 – Nottawasaga to Duntroon Highway 91

We even encountered trilliums blooming everywhere.  The funny story about this flower is that aside from it being Ontario’s official flower and it being a part of the province of Ontario logo — I actually rare ever saw a trillium until I started hiking the Bruce Trail.

After a brief hiatus from hiking in late April, we continued from where we left off. At this point, it is mid-May and we were definitely anticipating lots of bugs. Surprisingly and thankfully, we were wrong … yet again.  We were puzzled. The 2 hour drive up from Toronto to tackle the hike has been taking its toll but at least gas prices were a little lower at this point making it a bit less painful.  As soon as we started, we encountered a man who was preparing for the End-to-End event for Blue Mountains section of the Bruce Trail — he encouraged us to tackle it but unfortunately we already had our weekend booked up and were on a tight schedule.

Enjoying the mid-late May green along the trail.Great lookout spot. It's pretty amazing that only a handful of weeks ago, this would have been a pretty bare landscape.

One of the things I enjoy most about springtime on the Bruce Trail are the light and vibrant greens.  The leaves haven’t fully developed yet so they’ve yet to mature into the darker shades of green so the wooded areas are often filled with light.

Spring time still allows for sunlight to shine through much of the woods, providing some really nice backlighting for individual leaves.The trilliums are in full bloom.  They were all over the trail.

We even encountered trilliums blooming everywhere.  The funny story about this flower is that aside from it being Ontario’s official flower and it being a part of the province of Ontario logo — I actually rare ever saw a trillium until I started hiking the Bruce Trail.

Sometimes while hiking along in silence with my friends, I let my mind drift.  It is during these moments that I’ll abruptly check back into reality and onto the Bruce Trail to observe beauty on the trail.  It’s like an odd surprise that just keeps recurring.

I'm not sure what it is about this shot but there is something about it that draws me in.Just as we were about to walk out into an empty crop field, we noticed a lookout spot.  Not quite sure for what though.

Speaking of surprises, just as we were passing through a small wooded area and into an empty crop field — we stumbled upon peculiar objects.  There was an lookout without any ladder (I wondered if people simply clamored up the tree) and then we came across some Christmas decorations abandoned along the trail.  I’m so curious about their stories.

Remnants of Christmas decorations along the trail.The trail takes us along the edge of the empty crop field.I'm not sure who laid down all those planks and logs but they were helpful against the mud!

We kept trying to determine how the muddy the trail would be and this time we took a gamble on not using gators.  Oops, that was a mistake!  There were large sections of muddy trail that we had to tip toe or navigate through.  It was pretty warm that day so gators would have made it feel warmer but it would have saved my hiking pants from getting covered with mud!

Not all of the trail was muddy though.  This was the good thing about hiking through this section of the Bruce Trail.  The “mountains” in the area meant that there would often be large sections of dry trail after passing through a valley.  It also meant for some steep climbs in certain parts of this hike.

I didn’t mind given that we’re training to tackle Kilimanjaro later in the year but it certainly reminded me of a number of sections along the Kumano Kodo in Japan!  A steep and continuous climb.  The reward would be signage at the very top to take a breather and read.

A long and steep climb up Devil's GlenThe sign at the top of the climb up Devil's Glen.Passing by a funky looking rickety carport-like structure.

Once the trail took us out of Devil’s Glen Provincial Park, we found ourselves on an odd path that would lead us to passing through places with ‘character’.  Sometimes, I don’t know what to make of certain things but I simply enjoy and appreciate them.  Without them, I’m confident the Bruce Trail just wouldn’t be the same.

Some places seem like they have a mysterious history while other places just makes you want to sit and ponder how wonderful it’d be to rest or live there (or at least close by).  Then there are places that simply make you scratch or shake your head.

This looked like a scene out of a fairytale.A rather odd section of the trail that was parallel and right next to the road.Passing through another field.

Passing through farms or crop fields are some of the moments I really enjoy along the trail.  Living in Toronto, it’s not as if I step across farms very often nor do I pay close attention to agriculture — but being on the Bruce Trail at least sheds some light on the state of agriculture in Ontario as I walk through a fraction of the farmland in this province and have a tiny glimpse into the agricultural landscape.

Times when I really want to scratch my head are when bits of the trail lead on and off the road again with a few metres.  I simply wonder — what’s the point?  Other than having a slightly better workout that is.

Sometimes, the trail is rather peculiar.  We walked off the road and into this tiny forested section that lasted a mere 2 or 3 minutes before we were back on the same road we were originally on.The end of this hike!

It was a muddy hike but an amazing day with great weather.  After the hike, we ended up driving back to Toronto and enjoying barbeque!  A rare treat after a hike.  You can check out the full gallery from this hike here.

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!

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!

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.