November 25, 2012. Survivorwoman: the wilds of St Catharines

With dire weather warnings ringing in our ears, the fearless gang set out for Hike #2.   I am pleased to report that 100% of the hikers from Hike #1 returned, which I think speaks well of the strength and fortitude of the group.  Lynn B. had just disembarked from a trans-Atlantic flight and impressed us all by choosing this hike over sleep!   We also had a new hiker join the group, Anne J.

We started at Km 15.2 where we left off last time.  After a pretty stroll beside the golf course, we emerged at the Third Welland Canal.  This canal was completed in 1875 and, yes, steam powered machines were used in its construction.  Here is a fascinating Youtube video showing construction of this canal in 1875:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzhmkI73AHo

Canal #3 was operational until 1931 when the Fourth Welland canal opened.  We were impressed with the stonework of the walls, crumbling seriously in places, and also with the reminders of a bygone era such as the stone locks and rusted ship moorings.  We also admired the decaying  car hulk now scenically displayed in the bottom of the canal – I’m sure there’s a story there, almost certainly involving a fermented beverage!

(For those who were involved in the discussion of canal construction, the first two Welland canals were built with pick and shovel! )

During all this time, a soft, gentle snow continued to fall, but it wasn’t cold.

Next up was Glendale Ave and the Fourth Welland Canal.  We got to walk across the bridge and wish we could press the button to make the bridge lift up – talk about a cool job! A large freighter was approaching the lock and we were able to appreciate the scale of the shipping that passes through here on a daily basis.

We had a pretty interlude along the canal edge and through a little neighbourhood where we unexpectedly encountered some bears!  (see photo)

Then we had an urban experience walking along Glendale Ave, a butt-ugly stretch of franchises, but still reassuringly marked with white blazes on the utility poles.  It is reassuring to know that the Bruce Trail can co-exist (and thrive!) in a world of Tim Hortons and McDonalds

Soon we climbed up through a very pretty and affluent neighbourhood where there was much high-end landscaping to be admired, including a fetching Dawn Redwood and some elegantly pruned Japanese maples.  We all loved this beautiful shrub but we don’t know what it is.

We found a perfect fallen log for our lunch!

After hiking around an old quarry site, we passed by the backside of Brock University.  What a spectaular site!  I wonder if the students appreciate the views.
We next walked along a forested trail with an ominous and threatening chain-link fence along one side.  The signs threatened us with drowning, should we venture over this fence (which immediately made me want to hop the fence and not drown, just to prove them wrong).  It was not welcoming nor scenic, although the Hydro canal on the far side of the fence appeared very pretty.

Very shortly we came to Lake Moodie, which was tranquil and lovely and the Danger signs went away.  The Water in this area has an enchanting turquoise hue to it, really quite unusual.

We were treated to several tranquil marshes, and some swans dabbling for dinner.

Two treats awaited us at the end of the trail.  The first was a wooden swing hung from the branches of an ancient oak tree at the edge of the escarpment.  Some handy person with an sense of romance and idyll put this swing in the perfect spot and we stopped to enjoy its charms.

As we hiked along Decew Road, we walked past the ruins of Decew House.  It was here, to the house of Captain John Decew,  that Laura Secord came, on June 24, 1813, to warn of the advancing American troops.  Ms Secord had traveled on foot through the woods and swamps  from Queenston, a feat that we can now appreciate – imagine doing it in a long dress and petticoats!  This was a turning point in the war and the Americans were defeated at the Battle of Beaver Dams.

The last nugget of charm was Decew falls, which appeared unexpectedly , cascading over a 22 metre drop.  The Morningstar grist mill was built at Decew Falls in 1872.  Wilson Morningstar operated it from 1883 til his death in 1933, and ground wheat, rye, oats, and barley here.  The site is now owned by the City of St Catharines.

Great day all!  See you in January.

About idreamoftobermory

Hiker, kayaker, canoeist, cross-country skier, cyclist, wanderer, adventurer.
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