April 27, 2013: 25,967 And All That Jazz

Have you ever wondered how many steps it takes to walk 16.9 kilometres?  Or, more precisely, to walk from Forty Mile Creek to the Millen Road Access of the Bruce Trail?  Well, thanks to the miracle of the modern pedometer, we now know the answer: 25,967 steps!   One after the other.

We took the first steps of this journey on a sunny spring Saturday.  The first point of interest on the route is the charming Gothic-style Gibson House, built in 1860 from local Grimsby pink sandstone.  They just don’t build houses like this anymore – note the fine Scottish stonework, the stone window hoods and the decorative bargeboard on the gables.  Later in the hike, we found chunks of this pretty pink sandstone lying in the creek beds.

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Gibson House, Grimsby

It was a pleasure to be hiking without our winter hats, mitts, and other heavy woolies. Also a pleasure to have dry, secure footing.  We soon started yet another, all-too-familiar climb up the escarpment.

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The trail leads ever up…..

The Limestone Ladies were happy to be spending a day soaking up the first sun we’ve had so far this year.  There were smiles on every face.

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Dianne and Joanne

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The Limestone Ladies loving the sun!

We were missing Inga, so in her honour, Trish decided to fling herself off the edge of the escarpment!  There’s one in every crowd!

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Trish leaping into the void

You meet all sizes and shapes of fellow hikers.  These two were particularly handsome & friendly and I would have kept them, had their owner been willing.

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Enjoying my new-found Bruce Trail buddies.

From the top of the escarpment, there are sweeping vistas over Lake Ontario.  If you look inland, you are in a forest.  Look towards the lake , and you are part of the urban heartland.  From this vantage point, it is easy to see the intense development that has overtaken southern Ontario.  It makes it all the more impressive that the Bruce Trail has managed to survive and thrive in this environment.

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The Queen Elizabeth Way and a suburban strip mall, as seen from high atop the Niagara Escarpment.

One of the delights of this trip was the multitude of spring flowers blanketing the forest floor.

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Trout lily, also known as Dogtooth violet

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Bloodroot

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Scillas

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Dutchman’s breeches

Arriving at the Beamer Conservation Area, we learned that this is a hawk observation area.  We did not see any hawks in this spot (although we did see lots of hawks later), but we did have a sighting of several Hawk Observers atop their special observation tower.

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Observing the observers

The trail took us along Woolverton Road for 400 m (this was not so charming) and then entered the Woolverton Conservation Area.  Here the trail meandered along the brim of the escarpment for 1.6 km, offering more sunlit views of the lake.

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Sheila, Susan and Anne on top of the world

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Lynn, Pat, Louise

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Sarah, Dianne, Joanne fearlessly confront the abyss

I should devote a few words to the non-human species we met along the trail.  Today was the day for snakes – I’m sure they were as glad to see the sun as we were.  We met numerous young garter snakes by the side of the path.

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A friendly garter snake

Then there was this horrific creature we met just as we approached Fifty Road.  Guaranteed to induce arachnophobia in the bravest soul!

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The stuff of nightmares…. Someone is having a good chuckle over this one.

It is time to introduce the new Limestone Ladies on today’s hike:

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Fearless hiker: Susan

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Expert birder: Debbie

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Youthful energy: Ellen

We also had a Mother-daughter team on the hike:

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Mother-daughter bonding

We passed by an enormous stump along the way,  a reminder of the pre-logging days when this area was covered in virgin forest.  We rarely see a living tree this big anymore.  What we perceive to be mature trees are second or third-growth and nowhere near the size of this giant.

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Very old stump juxtaposed with young ladies!

Another interesting piece of history.   While crossing a small creek, we found these shards  of glass and pottery laid out on a rock.  Someone had pulled them from the creek bed, where they must have washed down from an old homestead or settlement.  Imagine living here in your log cabin, drinking tea at a rough-hewn table from your single, precious china teacup, a few shiny treasures stored high on a shelf away from the children and dogs.  Now they are just pretty memories.

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Fragments from the past: a china cup, medicine bottle (or booze bottle?), pretty pottery and glass

It is an interesting sociological observation that whenever you have a large group of people, they generally self-organize into sub-sects.  In our group we developed a cult of Hatters, not quite Mad Hatters yet, but well on their way!

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The nearly-mad Hatters

Thankfully we have the calm, sane non-Hatters to keep the group in check:

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Julie & Louise

You never reach the end of a hike without one last, long climb:

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The trail never lets us off easily.

Great day, Limestone Ladies!  See you tomorrow for more!

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The everlasting and the ephemeral.

About idreamoftobermory

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