Day 5 of our 2015 hike and we head out to complete Map 28. Estimated (key word here) 10km
The day is overcast and cool but we remind ourselves the cool temperatures mean “no bugs” and we wear layers hoping to shed at least our coat or fleecy and our gloves when the sun comes out this afternoon.
We’re only about a 1/2 km in when we reach a bridge crossing a very high and fast running stream. I’m always thankful for the volunteers who work so hard to create and maintain the trail and although it looks like this bridge could use some upgrades, I’m thankful I don’t have to wade knee high through the cold water:
Bird songs are such a big part of our hikes, especially at this time of year. Our first 2km are straight up hill to the top of the escarpment, so we’re happy to have a break to photograph an oriole:
and a beautiful woodpecker:
Carol found a sign laying at the side of the trail that we had not seen before. It reads “new route” and although we’ve checked the Bruce Trail website for closed trails (we learn from our mistakes), we have not looked at the Beaver Valley section to see if in fact there are new routes. The Beaver Valley Club has taken responsibility for 113km of the trail:
When we reach the top of the escarpment our map tells us to continue straight on 3rd Line D North past Sideroad 25 to Old Mail Road. However, the white markers show a route to the left along the Siegerman side trail. We hike 1/4 mile up a steep hill to find a second marker; back down to the bottom to reread the turn sign; back up to the top to reread the map – you get the picture…..we’re sweating and unsure of whether to trust the map or trail markings. Not a great start to the day.
Carol recommends we follow the trail markings and I agree (because she has a much better sense of direction than I do) and so we’re off. Up the hill once again, but with no idea of how many kilometers the total hike might now be or when this new trail will hook up with the old trail and our map will once again become useful to explain the terrain we’re heading into. The maps detail when you are crossing a farmer’s field or climbing the escarpment; when you should follow an old road allowance or climb a stile – but with only white markers and no details it felt like we were hiking blind.
I’m a little grumpy because I’m sure we’re hiking a longer route and 10km seems to be my limit; and my gut feeling is we’re doubling back over terrain crossed on Sideroad 25? Either way our car is parked on the Euphrasia St Vincent Townline at marker 107.5 and we need to get there. To amuse ourselves and keep our spirits up – we speak out loud a murder mystery we’re composing as we hike. White trail markers moved to take us to an undisclosed location. No one finding us as once again we haven’t let anyone know what map we’re hiking. We imagine and add abandoned barns to the tale …. you do what you have to do!
What seems like 4 km along the new route we meet up with the old trail entering a cedar bush just off Bruce Road 40. No undisclosed location, no abandoned barn … only a farmer’s field; a stile to climb over and what looks like a new parcel of land acquired by the BTC (Bruce Trail Conservancy).
We have another 4 or 6km to hike once we rejoin the old trail, according to our map. Carol’s glass is half full and she estimates 4km, mine is half empty and I’m estimating another 6 to go!
There are beautiful sights along the way. Red fungus on trees that always fascinate me and so there have been many photographs of these growths over the past year:
Tough climbs up rocks that have naturally or with the help of volunteers been made into a stairway:
And caves that may still contain hibernating bears:
For that purpose we’re prepared. We may not have checked on new routes or closed trails BUT we have a dog whistle that we’re sure will double as a bear whistle and keep us safe:
Every time I say “cave” instead of “crevice” Carol finds the whistle which is in her pocket and blows it warning bears to stay away. As the whistle gets tangled with gloves and kleenex and other objects she carries in her pockets I come to realize the whistle might be a psychological aid but hardly a reliable one! We meet a woman at the end of the trail who naively asks if we’ve heard a “strange bird sound”. She describes it sounding like “a whistle”. We tell her about our dog / bear whistle and hurry to our car which we can now see through a cedar bush!