On the 25th of January, a small but hardy group of eight Limestone Ladies met to tackle another section of the Bruce Trail, our first hike of 2015. Best laid plans didn’t quite pan out re: our meeting point. Our intended parking lot was snowed in, with snow banks even covering the park’s name. After circling around to make sure we were in fact at the right place, (as in we’d wind up at our cars at the end of the hike), we parked on the shoulder of the highway, hoping we wouldn’t be plowed in or towed away by the end of the day.
Driving north on Highway 89, low dark clouds materialized and we experienced a few snow squalls. With visions of last year’s blizzardy January hike in our heads, we nevertheless bravely struck out on our intended path. At minus 15 (plus the wind chill), we didn’t waste much time getting started, not only to warm up but conscious of wanting to beat any wild and wooly weather. But when we stopped for our group picture we realized the clouds were gone, the sun was shining and the sky was blue. It was another absolutely beautiful day for hiking/snow shoeing the Bruce Trail.
Unlike many hikes, we passed a number of other hardy groups out snow shoeing. In fact, we might have seen more people out on the trail than we’ve seen on any other hike in the last year.
Crunching along in a wide open area, one of our intrepid members got side swiped by a broken shrub. Speared through her snow shoe, unable to get up or remove her snow shoe, she was quite the tangled mess. Once everyone stopped laughing, and with a mighty group effort, she was righted after being awarded the Limestone Ladies best fall to date award.
Near Freedom Rock (which we missed but it allegedly has philosophical writings from long ago carved into it), we celebrated the 400 kilometer mark of our hike! Victory signs were flashed by a few while others noted that we still had 485 kilometers left to go!! Given the chill in the air, we didn’t stay long to savour our newest accomplishment.
Along one ridge we saw a large body of water. We thought it might be Georgian Bay or maybe a mirage since we were feeling a bit peckish after tramping through a very long field full of drifts and into the wind. But in fact it was Georgian Bay, showing just how far we’ve come since starting out at the U.S. border in Niagara-on-the-Lake. A standing lunch helped us regain our composure and some energy!
Our last section of hiking was through the Devil’s Glen Resort Area. Amongst other delights, they have a number of snow shoe paths which combine with the Bruce Trail. We managed to miss one blazed turn and wound up at the top of a chair lift. Although the steep ski run down would have been a short cut to the trail, we doubled back and found the real route. Not quite as steep as the ski hill, it was a series of switch backs through the forest and down the escarpment.
At the bottom, the Mad River hadn’t heard it was still minus 15 and had been for a number of days. It continued gurgling along. Although there were a couple of bridges, by then we were in let’s get this finished mode and didn’t stop to take our traditional group on a bridge pic.
However, we did have enough energy to debate whether or not we’d be in our all too common position of finishing a hike by having to make it up the escarpment. Some of us were full of wishful thinking and selective memory about what the Bruce Trail Guide said. And others were realistic and right. UP we went.
We did take our snow shoes off – the trail wasn’t wide or snowy enough to accommodate them. Let’s just say 460 meters (1,500 feet) up narrow, steep, rocky, snowy, icy paths is a lot more difficult than 460 meters down, especially at the end of the day.
And let’s just say there was some trepidation that we might not have actually reached the end of the day’s trail when we reached the top, tinged with some concern as to whether our cars would still be there. So when we heard the shout “I can see the car!” the spurts of energy that enabled us all to scramble over the last snow drift to reach the car were a sight to behold.
And as always, our final summation of the day was that it was another beautiful, wonderful day hiking the Bruce Trail with a group of very hearty (as in full of heart), hardy hikers, our very own Limestone Ladies.