We did it! We made this happen! Only 870 km left to go!
Our happy group set out from Waterloo Region at 7:30on Sunday morning. Martha D., Martha T., Dianne, Mary, Ruth, Pat, Fran, Joanne and Lynn. Despite the grey skies, spirits were so high we were jumping for joy.
Liz Gingell met us at Tim Hortons on Highway 6, then we drove to Km 15.2 of the trail and left 2 vans there for the return car shuttle (Note for next time: take the Glendale Rd exit from QEW and turn left onto Taylor Road. Park at the Woodend Conservation Area.)
Then we drove to Queenston Heights (note: Google maps can be wrong! Portage Road is a dead end! Stanley Ave/Regional Rd 102 will take you there.) to meet Ellen and Julie who drove in from Toronto.
We were aware of General Brock looking down on us from his monument as we gathered at the cairn which marks the beginning of the trail.
General Brock died at this site 200 years ago at age 43. He was younger than any of us when he led his men into a battle against the invading Americans. Brock was highly visible due to his officer’s uniform and quickly received a fatal bullet to the chest. He lives on in our collective historical psyche and in his impressive monument.
With the winds of history swirling around us and a steady drizzle to dampen our clothing but not our spirits, we set out to meet the trail.
The first section of the trail was flat and easy. We soon entered a hardwood forest carpeted with soggy autumn leaves. The trees were peaceful and beautiful and our eyes feasted on wilderness. Our ears, however, were never free from the monotonous drone of the QEW.
We eventually descended around the back of a mobile home park and onto Four Mile Creek Road. The trail follows the road for a short distance and we were glad to leave the traffic and enter the woods again. Then we started to have more fun as we encountered some steep, slippery descents and created a few skid marks in the mud! Next up were some creek crossings – very pretty but again, quite slippery.
Eventually we reached the pedestrian bridge at km 10.0 . This impressive superstructure carried us high over the screaming trucks and cars on the QEW. We felt safe and secure on the bridge, but were left wondering what hikers did before the bridge was built. Dodged the transport trucks?
Next up was the “Screaming Tunnel” under the railroad embankment. This tunnel is long, dark, and spooky if you have a good imagination. It was also a flowing creek and we had to wade, skip and hop from stone to stone through the rushing rivulets.
We passed a vineyard on our right (sadly: no free wine samples) and then entered the Woodend Conservation Area. The trail does a giant loop through the conservation area, which involves a long steep descent and an equally steep ascent. This was a bit frustrating as we could sense the nearness of the warm, dry vehicles but had to continue meandering for another few kilometres. Also, Martha T developed a mystery pain in her left knee which was quite disabling.
At last, we reached the vans and deposited our drippy selves into the warm interiors. Altogether an impressive first effort : 15.2 km. The weather and slippery trail conditions made for challenging times, but everyone remained upbeat and cheerful. What a lovely group to be part of! I look forward to spending more days on the trail with all of you. See you on November 25!