November 17, 2013: Breaking the 401 Barrier

I have always felt that being a weather-forecaster is the best of all possible jobs.  You can gaze at the sky with infinite wisdom,  gravely predict that weather of some description will occur, and never be held to account if you’re wrong.  Like today!  Despite predictions of rainshowers, we had a glorious warm, dry day for our hike.  Which leads us to a Limestone Ladies Lesson to Live By:  Never let weather forecasts stand in the way of what you want to do!

The day began with an energizing performance of the can-can in the parking lot of Crawford Lake.  No namby-pamby stretches for us!

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Can you do the can-can?

We started our hike at Crawford Lake and had an exciting climb down into Nassagaweya Canyon over uneven, slippery boulders.

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Descending the escarpment

The floor of the canyon was carpeted in hues of soft brown and faded orange – a soothing palette.

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There is nothing more compelling and beckoning than a trail leading into the forest. The setting of every good fairy tale!

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It was a surprisingly warm and sticky day for November. We had to take off the layers!

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One of these women does not iron! Can you tell which one? You are probably wrong!

Then we climbed up the canyon wall onto the Milton Outlier.

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The ascent traversed a late-autumn forest landscape. Fortunately, it was not steep.

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The ladies are like vivid tropical birds against the muted fall colour scheme.

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The gnarliest burl ever!

We lunched at a luxury site with two picnic tables and all the modern conveniences one would expect (in a third world country).

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Yikes! Scary! Sarah is in Delhi right now. We are sharing her toilet!

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Lunchtime! And a conversation about laundry!

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A picnic in November.

The Niagara Escarpment is populated with cedar trees that seem to grow out of nothing but rock.  These sinewy seniors are hundreds of years old and have struggled to adapt to this harsh environment.  The story of their hardships is revealed in the tortuosity of the trunks.

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Clinging to life on the cliff edge

We encountered beautiful views from the top of the escarpment at Kelso.

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Looking east through a crack in the rock

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We could see and hear the 401, but we were in a magical place far above the rush and haste of the world.

The limestone crevices at the top of Kelso are deep, damp and labyrinthine.

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We will come back and explore the crevices later.

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Don’t fall!

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The stones hint at the ancient power that formed this place

We had views out over Kelso Lake.

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Limestone Ladies love a good lookout.

We approached the top of the ski slopes at Glen Eden.  The view looking back at the Escarpment was a striking vista of raw cliff-face.

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Lovely foreground, lovely background.

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A lunar landscape at the top of Glen Eden

As we descended from the summit, we passed an old lime kiln. This kiln dates from the 1880’s when limestone from a nearby quarry was burned to produce quicklime.  The rock was loaded into the kiln, burned for several days at a temperature of 900 – 1000 degrees, and the resultant quicklime was sold for use in mortar, cement, plaster, etc.  At the height of production, this kiln produced 1,200 -2,000 bushels of lime per day, selling for 15 cents per bushel.  The labourers who loaded the rock and stoked the fires were paid $1 per day.  I’d rather be a weatherman!

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Lime kiln: This is what industry looked like in the 1880’s

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Here are the Ladies on the bridge over the railroad tracks. (That’s how you would transport your bushels of lime!)

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Pretty fancy bridge!

It was an exciting moment for the Limestone ladies when we reached Appleby Line, as this marked the 200 km point in our Bruce Trail journey.  A banner was unfurled and a minor celebration erupted.

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200 km! One step at a time!

The next terribly important milestone was passing under the 401.  This marked not only the passage from the Iroquoia Club to the Toronto Club territory, but was also a symbolic crossing from southern to northern climes.

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Here we are, about to enter the perilously crumbly 401 underpass. From the photo, you can’t appreciate the myriad transport trucks whizzing above us.

We passed an interesting piece of Bruce Trail history, which made us reflect on the wisdom and foresight of the Bruce Trail founders, 51 years ago.

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Thank you for the amazing legacy of the Bruce Trail.

We were able to look back on the cliffs of Kelso and appreciate the Escarpment from a distance.

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We were on the top of that cliff!

We arrived back at the Halton Golf and Country Club where we found these two little gnome-cherubs adorning the lawn.

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Little creatures that live under toadstools.

Amazing hike, ladies!  That’s it for this year.  See you in January!

About idreamoftobermory

Hiker, kayaker, canoeist, cross-country skier, cyclist, wanderer, adventurer.
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5 Responses to November 17, 2013: Breaking the 401 Barrier

  1. Deb says:

    It looks like you had another wonderful hike. I’m sorry I missed it. Susan, Louise and I will follow in your footsteps next Wednesday. I hope we are as lucky with the weather.

  2. Martha says:

    Always a pleasure and a smile created when I read your eloquent blog Fran.
    Marty

  3. Deb says:

    Susan and I had a lovely hike today — quite different from that of the group. It had snowed a few centimeters last night and the ground was covered in a lovely white blanket and the trees sported patches of white (all the more difficult to notice the blazes). It was overcast but a balmy 0C throughout the morning.

    The climb down into Nassagaweya Canyon was quite treacherous with the slippery layer of snow atop the rocks, but we made it — slow and safe. The scenery was stunning with a thin blanket of fresh snow. We saw a coyote and were so distracted by seeing where it crossed our path and disappeared into the woods that we missed the turn to climb the Milton Outlier. Thank goodness there was a gate that made us stop and take notice, because we were quite pleased to be walking side by side chatting on this lovely wide undeveloped road allowance. We would have been quite happy to continue south on Walkers Line chatting and enjoying the easy hike. I wonder how far we would have gone!?

    Anyway, the gate made us stop and reflect on the map. We back-tracked to the trail and realized that the coyote had walked up the trail we were supposed to take. We followed it’s tracks and those of two other coyotes as we climbed the Milton Outlier. Throughout the day we were to see numerous coyote, deer, rabbit, squirrel and mouse tracks along or crossing the trail. We wouldn’t have noticed the tracks without the fresh snow.

    The temperature started to drop in the afternoon but eventually the sun came out and made life quite pleasant. The wind was cold in open areas, but unnoticeable when we were sheltered by the trees or rocks. Just before we crossed the 401 we experienced some light flurries from a streamer that we could see to the north. After we crossed the 401 the snow was much lighter and we realized that it was fresh snow from today.

    It was a great day for Geocaching. Susan was a trooper and helped me find 6 geocaches. A record for me on the Bruce. There seems to be a series of caches in the Toronto section. We found three BT Hike: … I will enjoy looking for others along the route.

    What a FUN DAY. Looking forward to future hikes!

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