Niagara to Tobermory – 2 Waterfalls

Saturday August 22nd we decided to hike Map 26 from 52.5km to 63.3.   I left home before 7 a.m. to meet Carol at our end point at 9.   The drive through the countryside was spectacular.  The sun was rising as I headed southeast.  Mist covered the ponds; cows and horses grazed in fields along my route and there was a stillness that makes you grateful to be alive.

This sunflower field just outside of Port Elgin is so beautiful and in the early morning all of the flowers are turning toward the East to catch the first rays of the sun:

Sunflower 2The hay cut and bailed in fields across the county was the 2nd stop for a photograph enroute to the trail:

Hay balesEven after several stops to take photographs and get gas, I arrived early and had time for a few pages of the Saturday Star at our meeting point.  Not getting lost enroute has its advantages.

The description in the guidebook enticed us with 2 waterfalls.  Eugenia Falls:

Eugenia Falls

named after Princess Eugenie, wife of Napoleon the III (who knew).  The plaque on the wall surrounding the Falls state it was founded in 1852 and in 1905 became the location of the 2nd hydro electric plant in Ontario.

At the south end of the Beaver Valley the beautiful Hoggs Falls:

Hoggs Falls

where the Boyne and Beaver Rivers join:

There is a great tour you can take in the area  called the 7 waterfalls of Grey Bruce.  Eugenie and Hoggs form part of that tour.  Visit http://www.greybruce/waterfalls.

The 10km wound through meadows and hardwood forests and we were sheltered from the sun for most of the hike.  There were benches for resting and enjoying the spectacular views:

ViewAt one point we were worried when we came across this sign:

Closed Sign

But we followed the white markings which skirted the closed portion of the trail.

We did encounter this massive tree across our path a short distance later and needed to duck under bushes to find a safe route around the spot:

Tree across path

The 5 hours flew by.  We stopped often; enjoyed the spectacular trail sights and set the date for our next hike to finish Map 26.

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Niagara to Tobermory – The Beaver Valley

Day 2 we upped our kilometers to 8.7 on Map 25 in the Beaver Valley.  We started at 33.4 in Duncan which was once a small town and now consisted of a sign and an old church:

Duncan our start point

This hike was just over 4km of road and road allowance which makes for an easier hike and faster time.  It was a beautiful day with 23 degree weather and no bugs until we entered the forest to descend a scree slope.   We had encountered a scree slope in the Owen Sound area earlier this year and knew it it would be beautiful but a real challenge:

Carol on scree rock

The rock formations are simply stunning and with all of the rain we’ve had the moss and other vegetation are vibrant greens with wildflowers in the most stunning shades of blue.

We ascended to the top of the escarpment through a spectacular natural pass:

Natural Pass

Cheryl in crevice

There was a bench placed at McCluskey’s Rock overlooking the Valley where we stopped for a rest and much needed hydration:

McClusky Rock

Our car was parked in the lot at the Old Baldy Conservation Area and as always a welcome sight.

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Niagara to Tobermory – We’re BACK

After more than a month of being away from the Bruce Trail,  we headed out for a 1 day “short hike” August 5th.  Carol had been on vacation in Wales for 2 weeks with her granddaughters and the 2 weeks prior to her trip my achilles tendon and her knees kept us off the trail.  So 6.2 km on day 1 seemed both wise and doable.

Our hike on map 31 from km 64.7 to 70.9 would finish the map and that’s always a bonus.  We met at 9 a.m. and were on the trail by 9:30.  A portion of the hike was along busy highway 26 with traffic whizzing past us at what seemed like break neck speeds.  The guide book had also stated “no dogs were allowed” as a few kilometers of the trail wound through a farmer’s field and we were warned to give any cattle, a wide berth.  Now I’m a city girl, not keen on big animals, but Carol has her own horse and rides regularly so big domestic animals don’t scare her.   However what we found was an entire herd (20+ cows and 4 or 5 new calfs) blocking the trail.  They were enjoying the shade:

Cows on trail

I was jittery but Carol forged ahead without a backward glance.  Although I was trailing a safe distance behind,  I did hear her mutter “damn I wish they had told us about the llama”.   The llama was guarding the cows and was irritated we were approaching the herd:

Llama

As the llama approached I backed up among the rocks.  I’m not sure if I thought they couldn’t climb!  Carol on the other hand coaxed the llama away from me with a granola bar and advised me to hike to the top of the ridge away from both the cows and their guard llama.  She calmly followed a few minutes later once the cows and the llama had lost interest in us.

We had seen posters on the trail for a lost speckled heifer and were on the lookout:

Missing Cow

but hadn’t expected an entire herd to be lazing in the shade along the trail.

There were some large rock formations at the top of the escarpment that made the hike enjoyable and worthwhile even after the encounter with the llama and the portion along busy Highway 26.

Rock & Moss

 

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Niagara to Tobermory – Hiking with Friends

Although Carol and I continue to enjoy one another’s company (after almost 400km on the trail), we are always pleased when friends offer to join us.  On Saturday June 27th Sid & Doug Gordon and Chris hiked just over 6km of Map 36 with us:

Group Photo2Sid is waiting for a hip replacement; Carol is waiting for a cortisone shot; Doug had recent eye surgery; Chris suffered a heart attack a year ago and I’m doing physiotherapy for a torn achilles tendon, so an easy 6km was just what a myriad of doctor’s would have ordered.  It was also what Carol and I needed after a grueling 11km the previous day.  Sid & Doug suggested 23.5 to 29.8 on Map 36.  At point 29.8 the main trail intersects with the John Bluff side trail and Doug offered to double back and pick up the car if Carol and I wanted to hike a little farther.  We had a plan.

This portion of the trail is on Cape Croker which forms part of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation Territories.   Cape Croker is a 6,000 hectare parcel of land that juts out into the blue waters of Georgian Bay.   The Nawash band arrived on the Cape in 1858 and farmed and fished the area.  Signs here appear in both English and Ojibway:

Stop SignAt the top of the escarpment the views over Sydney Bay are breathtaking and provided a great view of another portion of the escarpment that we have yet to hike:

ViewThe trail is well maintained, fairly flat and part of the Peninsula Club.  Although the width of the trail means single file hiking we had interesting discussions about the volunteers who maintain the trail, including Doug and Sid and our shared appreciation of the work of the Bruce Trail Conservancy.  We were happy with the absence of bugs and rain and simply enjoyed each others company:

Doug and Sid on Trail

There are many varieties of orchids and more than 20 different fern types along this the Northern portion of the trail and we stopped occasionally to try to identify and to photograph some of the plants.  Doug thought this might be an orchid or a coralroot but as yet is unidentified:

Orchids

The dolomite is fascinating and some large stones contain indentations and markings that  we thought might inspire a children’s novel.  This particular specimen could well contain the footprint of a dinosaur or creature that lived millions of years ago:

Prehistoric Animal

A snack of cookies, gluten free muffins and chocolate eclairs were enjoyed while taking in the magnificent view.  No wonder we haven’t noticed any sizable weight loss:

LunchThe trail enters hardwood forest with numerous lookout points.   Some of these we hiked out to enjoy and some were just too scary to venture out onto:

View on SundayAt point 29.8 Doug and Chris circled back on the side trail to pick up our vehicles while Carol, Sid and I hiked another 2km to point 32 where trail parking is available at Cape Croker campground.  At a later date this summer this will be the starting point for another hike without us having to traverse the .7km side trail.  Every saved step is much appreciated.

It was only 2 o’clock when we got back into our vehicles and we decided to visit Kepplecroft, a beautiful garden located just East of Wiarton on Highway 1.  The couple that owns and operates the garden have done a magnificent job of combining flowers and art and the space includes a rock henge, picnic spots and a variety of nature trails:

Kepplecroft

Dinner at Cobble Beach ended a perfect day.  It was just starting to rain as we headed home.

 

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Niagara to Tobermory – A Tough 11km

Carol and I hiked 11km on Friday on Map 32 from 80.7 to 91.3.  I had been in Toronto on Thursday night to see Once returning to Port Elgin at 2:30 a.m. so we decided on a later start time allowing her the 2 hour drive and me a few more hours of sleep.  Our end point was Inglis Falls in Owen Sound and our start point just past Rockford.

This is a magnificent time of year for wildflowers and this portion of the trail was simply beautiful:

Wildflowers 1Farm fields bordered the trail and the smell of fresh cut hay was intoxicating:

FarmerAt Highway 10 we sat and had lunch at the tower which was a centennial project of the 2 local secondary schools.  It offers a climb to the top and promises a view of the city but with another 5km to hike we both decided to forgo the 40 plus stairs we would have to climb.

Although this first 6km of the hike was fairly flat and reasonably easy we did have to make out own path along the route:

Carol in the weeds

From Highway 10 to Inglis Falls the scenery was nothing short of spectacular.  Massive outcroppings of rocks that have broken away from the escarpment over the past few thousand years made us almost invisible (note Carol at the bottom of the photo):

Carol under rock

And all of this sits majestically less than 1km from busy Highway 10 in Owen Sound.  Large crevices that we would need to hike through were aptly described in our trail book and we were surprised and pleased at the drop in temperature as we entered:

Crevice 1

Rock spillways lasted for the next 3km and our pace slowed to 1km an hour:

Rocky decentAs we moved slowly poling our way up and down the sometimes slippery paths we were astounded as 2 runners passed us on the trail.  Oh yes they were in their 20’s (a few years younger than us) but running on those rocks!  This promoted a lengthy discussion about our youth, our life of physical inactivity and how this was our first real athletic adventure.

At 3:30 p.m. about 5 1/2 hours after the start of our hike, we thought and hoped we heard Inglis Falls.  We were at the base of the Falls and knew we had 1 more ascent but the sound of the rushing water gave our tired legs the push they needed:

Inglis FallsInglis Falls where our car was parked is beautiful and a welcome sight after one of the most grueling hikes we’ve completed to date.

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Niagara to Tobermory – Beautiful Dundas

Never would someone driving on Highways 5, 6 or the 403 realize that these noisy, polluted intersecting arteries are surrounded by tranquil paths, magnificent waterfalls, massive rock formations and a pioneer homestead that has survived hundreds of years.  All part of the amazing Bruce Trail.

20 kilometers on maps 8 & 9 were our goal for last weekend.  We were staying with my sister and brother-in-law in Paris, a lovely community on the Grand River just 45 minutes south west of where we were hiking.  We were combining hiking, celebrating my sister’s birthday and hoping to catch some of the annual  Springtime in Paris events.

Before we headed out my brother-in-law warned us to be careful as a young woman had been killed on the trail the previous week by a falling tree branch.

On day 1 the trail meandered through the historic section of Dundas.  On Bond, King and Park Streets where old homes have been gentrified we slowed to admire magnificent gardens of peonies, iris and tulips, all in full bloom.

After a tough climb up Sydenham Road and a short stint through a subdivision where the houses have magnificent views of Hamilton and the Burlington Skyway, we entered a wooded area described as land belonging to the Royal Botanical Gardens and the Rock Chapel Nature Sanctuary.  The views from the brow of the escarpment were impeded with smog and if ever there was a clear day I’m sure the views would be truly breathtaking:

View

After Ken’s warning of falling branches we hurried along the path past a leaning tree encircled by caution tape:

Caution sign on tree

We hiked through a wooded area maintained by the Hamilton Conservation Authority and met lots of dog walkers and day hikers.  This only happens when the main trail intersects short hiking trails within city limits.  It’s encouraging and entertaining to come across people wearing shorts and flip flops when our gear includes long pants, long sleeve shirts, hiking boots and poles, backpacks and the funny looking forest ranger hats I’ve described in previous blogs.  We often wonder what they must think of us and we wonder and worry about the young women wearing shorts and flip flops when the terrain is unstable and tall poison ivy grows along the footpath.

There were many fallen trees that had not yet been cleared by Bruce Trail volunteers:

Carol climbing log

And some that were uprooted but still standing thanks to their more sturdy neighbors:

Wishbone Tree

Day 2’s hike started by crossing highway 6 via an underground tunnel.  We had barely emerged when this old homestead came into view:

Pioneer Homestead

Some steep climbs to the lip of the escarpment and descents via wooden and concrete stairs led us into the Grindstone Creek Valley.  The trail meandered along the creek bed and in some areas consisted of nothing but small, unstable rocks:

Rock Path

or tree roots:

Tree root path

It continued for over a kilometer past incredible rock formations:

Grindstone Creek Valley

The sound of a rushing waterfall was ever present as you climbed along a switchback to an open area overlooking Great Falls.  Tourists and families were all enjoying the 20 degree sunshine and the myriad of trails surrounding the falls:

Waterfall

We ended at km 73.5 in Halton’s Waterdown Woods and hiked the last kilometer with 2 other women who are also hoping to hike the trail end to end and are off next week to London England on a hiking holiday.

All in all a beautiful, fun filled weekend.

 

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Niagara to Tobermory – Old Baldy

Friday May 29 we decided to hike 10km in the Beaver Valley.  Our start point was 42.1 on Map 26 with an end point of 52.5.  The weather was perfect with a strong breeze that kept us cool and the bugs at bay.

We had an early start agreeing to meet at 8 a.m.  This section of the trail was added in 2008 and dubbed the Falling Waters section.  It told us to watch for turkey vultures and buteo hawks.  The guide also enticed us with descriptions of great lookouts including the Old Baldy lookout which is 150m high, the highest point in Southern Ontario.  This view of Old Baldy was from the top of the escarpment:

Old Baldy 1While this view of Old Baldy was from the base of the escarpment taken when we were traveling up to retrieve our vehicle at the end of the hike:

Old Baldy 2

We hiked through old growth forest where hundreds of trilliums were turning from bright white to pale pink – denoting their final days.  We were thrilled to pass several patches of Elfin Lady Slippers, one of 52 varieties of orchids that grow in Canada:

Lady Slippers

The final 2km took us up a steep climb on property owned by OPG (Ontario Power Generation) beside the penstocks that carry water from Lake Eugenia to the turbines in the generating plant located in the valley far below.  This gave us an opportunity for a great discussion on alternative energy:

Carol and OPG

A highlight of hiking for 5 hours is the great discussions we have on a wide variety of subjects including but certainly not limited to an article one of us has read; advice we need about gardening or decorating; a program we’ve listened to on CBC radio or a specific portion of the trail we’re hiking.

We almost always see fungus growing on trees that have fallen and are now decomposing and providing nutrients to the soil.  This hike was no exception.  This fungus was growing beside a bridge which had been constructed to help us over a river that is now simply a dry river bed:

Fungus

The Beaver Valley Club has positioned benches for respite that overlook incredible views  and we took advantage of several of them to rest and enjoy a cold drink and light snack:

Carol respite

Another great day on the Bruce Trail.

 

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