June 29, 2014: The Witness Protection Program Hike!

There is a shadowy, cutthroat world out there.  Not many know of it, for it operates on the extreme fringes of society, populated by shadowy figures pocked with scars and known only by code names.  Some people manage to infiltrate this world and survive.  But more often, those who dabble in this dangerous pastime simply disappear.   Occasionally,  there is a torn map, a mangled boot-lace, or a bloodied hiking pole left behind to mark their passing, but more often they vanish with no trace.  Yes, it is the vicious world of international trail hiking.

We became aware that some big figures in the hiking cartel were onto us.   The clues were subtle: a tampered blaze,  a sweat-stained scrap of Gore-tex caught on a stile,  the scent of cheap Muskol wafting on the breeze.  But we knew…. it was Big Vinny and his gang.

We were safe no longer.  The Bruce Trail was now a perilous passage where secret agents could be behind any stump.  There was only one course of action…. we must hike in disguise.

And thus was born…. the Witness Protection Program hike!

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Do you recognize any of these hikers?

We met in silence (our voices could reveal our identities) at daybreak and started hiking from Escarpment Sideroad at Willoughby Road.   We saw a suspicious character lurking in the bushes – was it Big Vinny?  Our blood ran cold…..

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Possible sighting of Big Vinny on Escarpment Sideroad. If not Big Vinny then it was Small Vinny!

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Fortunately, thanks to the subtle disguises, we were able to slip unnoticed past the hiking henchmen.

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How not to be noticed!

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After learning of our disguise expertise, we were contacted by CSIS to work on Special Projects for them!

We entered the woods and were engulfed in lush greenery and a riot of wildflowers.

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A beautiful field of tufted vetch

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Never too old to play!

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The forest was alive with colour

The trail followed Escarpment Sideroad for several kilometres.  It was pleasant hiking in the shade at the edge of the road and fortunately, a light breeze cooled the summer humidity.

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A pleasant stroll along a scenic gravel road

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Happily, there was almost no traffic!

We dipped back into the woods again.  I’d like to say that there were no mosquitoes, but sadly, they found us!  We think they were sent by Big Vinny!

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Back in the woods. Loving the shade, resenting the bugs!

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Yes, this is the actual trail! The jungle-like quality was exotic and bewitching.

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A woodpecker buffet! These dead trees are called snags and are an important part of the ecosystem. Home to many creepy crawly critters.

We found a shady spot for lunch and made sure to drink lots.  Dehydration could happen easily on a hot day like today.

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It may not look like it, but this was actually a very nice lunch spot. Our criteria: shade, breeze, no bugs, place to sit. We are easy to please!

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We were very excited to spot a Dame Edna impersonator at lunchtime. You just never know who you will encounter along the trail.

Eventually the trail turned and followed Airport Road for 2 km.  This was not fun.  Too many cars,  traveling way too fast, and certainly not looking out for hikers.  This was the only unpleasant part of the hike.  We were eager to get back to the tranquility of the woods.

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What a contrast! This is also the Bruce Trail. We had a difficult time finding a break in the traffic so we could cross Airport Road.

Soon the trail turned onto Finnerty Sideroad and we were back in  our tranquil world.  It made me reflect on the importance of environment to human well-being.  We humans create environments that are unhealthy and make us tense, anxious and edgy.  I don’t know of any other creature that manufactures a toxic habitat for itself.  Nature is the balm for such ills.  Perhaps this is why we are so drawn to hiking – full immersion in the soothing embrace of the natural world.

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Ahhh! Back in the woods.

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Good balance required!

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Hiker amidst the forest giants

All too soon, 19 km had passed and we reached the end of our hike.  We had outwitted big Vinny and were pleasantly tired.   I’m still reflecting on the sense of well-being that we get from our interactions with the forest and would like to offer this poem:

LostDavid Wagoner

Stand still.  The trees ahead and the bushes beside you

Are not lost.  Wherever you are is called Here,

And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,

Must ask permission to know it and be known.

The forest breathes.  Listen.  It answers,

I have made this place around you,

If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.

No two trees are the same to Raven.

No two branches are the same to Wren.

If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,

You are surely lost.  Stand still.  The forest knows

Where you are.  You must let it find you.

IMG_4305Thanks to all for a wonderful hike!

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Stretching at the end of a 19 km hike. (or possibly waving at Big Vinny!)

About idreamoftobermory

Hiker, kayaker, canoeist, cross-country skier, cyclist, wanderer, adventurer.
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5 Responses to June 29, 2014: The Witness Protection Program Hike!

  1. scouterdeb says:

    I’m so glad that we outwitted Big Vinnie and made back to our cars before the rain hit. Thanks for another great day!

  2. Big Vinny says:

    Darn. I spied you from the bushes but thought you were a roving band of minstrels, so I let you go.

  3. You always make me laugh. it is sop refreshing to see that you all, serious hikers, take it all in with loads of laughs. Tell me, do you all carpool from the end of the hike to your starting point?

    • Hi Hikingboots, Yes, we all meet at the end of the hike and carpool to the start. We have to make sure that we have enough vehicles at each end to hold all hikers. When the group is large, the logistics can be complex. But always worth it!

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