March 29, 2015: Danger Lurks in the Pretty Valley

It’s time for a historical review!   It seems like a very late spring this year, but digging through the archives, I came upon the following photos:

Here we are on March 24, 2013:  Note: no snow, but still lots of people wearing hats, mitts and scarves.  And remember that we were still in balmy Niagara then.

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March 24, 2013: Niagara

One year later: March 30, 2014: Lots of snow, Ladies in mitts, hats, gaiters, yaktrax… the whole winter get-up!

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March 2014: lots of snow!  Toronto area.

Now fast forward to March 29, 2015:  tons of snow, Ladies wearing hats, mitts, gaiters, yaktrax and smiles!  Yes, March seems to be dealing us a consistent package over the years.

Winter Wonderland!

2015 Winter Wonderland in the Blue Mountains!

We set out from Eagle Cres., where our hike ended prematurely 3 weeks ago.  The snow was hard and crunchy, and we immediately got into lots of uphill/downhill work.  Yaktrax were definitely an advantage!

Down we go!

Down we go on the crusty snow!

It wasn’t easy, as the footing was slick and slippery.  Heads down!

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Don’t look around at the scenery, or you will go skidding down the hill!

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Fortunately, if you have the right gear, winter hiking is exhilarating, as evidenced by these ecstatic hikers!

One of the problems we have as a group is that the ladies get so deep into their conversations that they forget to hike:

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So much to say, so little time!

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If they were at work, they’d be standing around the water cooler!

The hike took us along a steep, downhill road allowance.  This was deceptive, as a thin skiff  of snow covered a thick layer of smooth, treacherous ice.  There were a few graceful skids and slips, and it was our first hint of the dangers along the way.

Down the treacherous road allowance.

Down the treacherous road allowance.

Eventually we entered Pretty River Valley Provincial Park and met a branch of the Pretty River.  A quick survey determined that 9 out of 10 hikers agree : it is very pretty!

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The Enslor twins enjoying the Pretty River

 

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Gotta love those Dolly hats! (Pretty River in the background)

We wandered along the banks of the Pretty River for a while, enjoying the sweet music of  water flowing over icy river rock.  Then the trail curved back into the forest and meandered amongst the trees.

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A winding trail is so much more charming than a straight one!

Eventually we emerged from the forest and enjoyed some escarpment views.

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The escarpment appears every so often to remind us that it’s there!

Alas, the sunlit views quickly vanished as we plunged into a dark, spooky cedar jungle.  The trail twisted and writhed through the trees and it was easy to lose sight of our hiking companions.  Some of the hikers were overcome by the sense of foreboding…. surely the wicked witch’s cottage was just around the corner….

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I believe that this possibly is the legendary wicked witch. She disguised herself as a hiker in order to entice us to her lair.

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Yes, children… the forest is a dangerous place, full of frightening characters who lurk in dark places.

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Wait a minute! The fairy tales only ever have ONE wicked witch. We encountered THREE! That was one heck of a haunted forest!

After narrowly escaping the wicked triplets, our next hazard was a river crossing.  The ice bridge seemed sturdy enough….

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Safe passage

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A narrow miss! The ice bridge collapsed, sending our brave hiker plunging into toe-deep water.  Note the piranhas circling in the eddy below.  She narrowly escaped with her life.

A hiker almost gets sucked into a bottomless whirlpool during the white-knuckle Pretty River crossing.

A hiker almost gets sucked into a bottomless whirlpool during the white-knuckle Pretty River crossing.

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They may call it the Pretty River, but all manner of hazards lurk beneath that lacy facade.

We stopped for a snack and to collect our wits after various brushes with disaster.  It was then I noticed the extreme preparedness of one of our hikers:

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The bigger the knife, the mightier the woman! You just never know when you will need to skin a bear or decapitate a mountain lion. Best to be prepared!

Just past noon, we tackled a long, steep, uphill climb from the bottom to the top of the escarpment.   It was a good workout!  We hiked on, our senses sharpened by a primal sensation: hunger.   That tree bark was starting to look mighty tasty.

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Getting hungry!

In our early hiking days, we used to insist on a lunch spot with seats for all: logs, rocks, stumps, etc to set our dainty bottoms upon.   Well, those days are long gone!  Now we just flop down in the snow!

Lunch at last!

Lunch at last!

Bon appetit!

Bon appetit!

Looks tasty!

Looks tasty!

After lunch, we reaped the rewards of that uphill climb and started getting some spectacular views from the top of the escarpment.

The view from the top!

The view from the top!

Wasaga Beach.  We unfortunately did not bring bathing suits.

Wasaga Beach. We unfortunately did not bring bathing suits.

There's nothing so awe-inspiring as a panoramic view.

There’s nothing so awe-inspiring as a panoramic view.

More dangers on the trail.  I'm not sure if we were being warned of natural hazards or natural lizards, but this hiker doesn't seem too concerned.

More dangers on the trail!  I’m not sure if we were being warned of natural hazards or natural lizards, but this hiker doesn’t seem too concerned.

 

Another charming section of trail, accented with emerald green mossy rocks.

Another charming section of trail, accented with emerald green mossy rocks.

A happy end to the day!

A happy end to the day!

The day ended with 16 hikers safe, sound, and happy.  We had defeated the forces of evil that tried to waylay us in the woods and drown us in the creek.  We enjoyed a day of sunlight and pure white snow and stunning vistas.  Not bad for our third March on the trail!

Ready to do it again in April?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About idreamoftobermory

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