March 24, 2013: Meditations on Love and the Arrival of Spring

What is Love?  When one is in love, one yearns to be with the loved one.  The object of affection seems perfect, beautiful, sublime.  Love makes you overlook the rough patches and forgive the hardships. Love brings a sense of euphoria, bliss, giddy happiness.

So… let’s talk about today’s hike:  Louth Conservation Area to Quarry Road.  This section of the trail is breathtakingly beautiful, perhaps sublime!  Yes, there is mud and butt-burning climbs, but all worth it for the expansive views and sparkling waterfalls and emerald-moss-covered boulders and softly murmuring creeks.  Best of all, this section makes you feel giddy to be alive and experiencing it all.  We can’t wait to be back on the Bruce.  Sounds like a case of Love to me!

We started at Louth and had a little detour to view Sixteen Mile Creek.  This was the first dose of beauty for the day:

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Sixteen Mile Creek

Almost immediately, we had to restrain Inga, who wanted to fling herself into the chasm.  Next time, we are putting this girl on a tether!

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Inga’s cliff-diving career

Once again, we had some enthusiastic newcomers join our hiking group.

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Irene

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Our new friends from the Niagara Bruce Trail club: Corrie and Trudy. These ladies are very fit & experienced hikers!

Normally when one is in Love, every day seems sunny and bright, even if it’s not.  We were lucky – we got the Love and the sun!

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Here is the happy gang on one of our many stream crossings. Our compliments to the bridge-builders of the Niagara BT club. These are sturdy bridges. No sagging even under all this weight!

We soon got into some serious upward mobility.  This section is breathtakingly beautiful, but you have to work for the views!

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Our personal Everest

From a distance, the forest appeared bleak and lifeless:

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Deciduous forest in March

But if you looked closely, spring was emerging all around.  The forest is full of life and the new green shoots of spring.

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Daffodils poking up by the side of the trail.

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Young fern frond unfurling in a mossy crevice.

Soon we encountered a wood nymph sitting on a log.  Another sign of spring!

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A satisfied Bruce Trail customer!

It was time for a snack, so we stopped by yet another gorgeous waterfall to replenish the blood sugar levels.

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Waterfall on Eighteen Mile Creek.

You can’t escape consumerism, even in the deep woods!  The marketers were out, touting their products:

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Trish & her energy bar.

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Mary marketing sweet treats

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Product placement for grapes, featuring Dianne. We were surrounded by vineyards on this hike, but we had to import the grapes!

We entered what I thought was the most beautiful part of this hike: the Twenty Mile Creek valley.  We tramped along beside the creek, lulled by the gentle murmuring of the water and enchanted by the rugged scenery:

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Twenty Mile Creek

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Twenty Mile Creek

Here is the famous staircase that leads up to Ball’s Falls.  This is not for the faint of heart!

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Why bother going to the gym? These stairs will do the job.

Our reward for the climb was a view of Ball’s Falls.  Ball’s Falls is named for the Ball Family, who were United Empire Loyalists, and were granted this land (including the waterfall) in 1807  in return for their allegiance to Britain. The Ball brothers built a grist mill, a saw mill & a woolen mill beside the falls .   This mill provided flour for British troops during the War of 1812.  Soon a town sprang up, named Glen Elgin, with a blacksmith, barrel maker and two lime kilns, as well as several houses.  The town withered after the Great Western railway  bypassed the area in the 1850’s and Ball’s Falls is now a ghost town.  The area is well-preserved as a historic site.

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Ball’s Falls

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Grist Mill

We continued on, starting to feel hungry and searching for a lunch spot, but still happy!

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Feeling the love on the trail!

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Lunchtime! On a fallen log, as usual.

Today, we celebrated our new name: We are now officially The Limestone Ladies!  Also known as The Limeys. This called for a toast!

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A toast to the Limestone Ladies! (and Lads if any want to join)

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We were soon treated to panoramic views of Lake Ontario from the top of the escarpment.

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Lake Ontario view

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Toronto appeared mystical and magical in the distance… the lost city of Atlantis rising from the water.

Our beautiful sunny day had a downside: MUD!  As the day wore on, the frozen trail gradually became a quagmire and our pristine feet were weighted down with heavy clods of muck.  Could this be a downside of spring?

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Hiking tip: Do not wear your Manolo Blahnik stilettos to hike this trail.

The day was drawing to a close, but Bruce was not going to let us off easily.  We still had several steep climbs before we reached trail’s end.

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Uphill in all directions!

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A long, tough climb

This was a very cool historic moment:

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The start of an amazing legacy.

Only a few more scenic stops:

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Stunning escarpment views

Sadly, this beautiful hike came to an end.  Several of us were rewarded with our Niagara Section End-to-End badges.  A delightful souvenir of a history-rich, scenic and well-maintained 80 kilometres.  Thanks Niagara Club!

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See you again in April as we welcome spring to the Iroquoia Section!

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Emeralds of the woods.

About idreamoftobermory

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