May 01, 2016: Highways and Byways

After yesterday’s spectacular weather, we were a bit despondent to see gray skies and rain this morning.  But… this would not be our first hike in inclement weather.  So, the ladies did what the ladies always do; put on a raincoat, a smile and boldly venture forth!


Rain and cold do not deter our lovely ladies


Thriving in the rain!



A brief pause for a rendition of “Singin’ in the Rain”

This hike was about two things:  roads and crevices.  When we looked at the maps for today’s route, we were disheartened to see how much of the trail is on roads.  There would be some brief off-road interludes, but we assumed they would be flat and boring!  Wrong!   Between the roads, we found some of the most interesting hiking along the trail so far.


Here we are, tramping along the shoulder of Highway 26. This was NOT one of the scenic highlights of the day.

After leaving the highway, we entered into a magical hidden world of deep crevices and rocky outcrops and secret passageways.


The crevices started out small….


And became quite large!

The trail was winding, rugged, narrow in places, and full of surprises.


We strolled passageways adorned with thick cushions of emerald moss.


And followed twisting labyrinths with narrow rock walls.  Notice the “Jenga – like” stacking of the rack fragments.

Even the plants and trees took on magical, mysterious, twisted forms.


You won’t find this tree in a suburban backyard.


Ladies with a sensuous, sinewy cedar


The trail beckoned us further into a magical landscape. We imagined fantastical creatures dwelling in the crevices and caves.

We reached what is definitely one of my favourite places along the entire trail so far: the Lloyd Laycock Cave Side Trail.  This trail is the coolest place to explore if you like scrambling, climbing and slithering.


We were exploring a deep crevice with sheer, steep rock walls.


It was like a scene out of Lord of the Rings, heading into the mines of Moria……


Okay, maybe not quite like the mines of Moria! But you get my point!


The walls were covered with ferns and moss and tortured roots.

We eventually had to leave the magical place and return to regular hiking.


A charming wee bridge over a wetland. Not at all Moria-like!


Now we were above the crevices, not deep inside them.

We enjoyed the woodland spring flowers yesterday, but today we had an extra-special treat:  we encountered a patch of red trilliums, known as “wake-robins,” which were in full bloom.   These are exquisite little flowers.


The red trillium, or wake-robin.

There were several other horticultural treats in store for us:  we passed through a beautiful wetland filled with towering bulrushes.  No Phragmites in sight! The red-wing blackbirds were ecstatic!


Look at those shaggy seed-heads! This is a healthy marsh. (NB our lovely hiker does not have a shaggy head, but she is also quite healthy!)


The next marsh was full of flowering marsh marigolds.. They flaunted their brilliant lemony flowers.


Close-up of the marsh marigold.

Here’s another rugged, knotty and gnarled old fella that we met along the trail:


I like to imagine these old trees as wise elders. Think of all that they have seen over the past century. If only they could give us advice!

We were still in the zone of “really cool things that grow.”  Next up was the “groovy fungus zone.”


You have to admit that this is a rockin’ cool fungus!

It wouldn’t be a spring hike without a serious dose of….. mud!  The last stretch of the day’s walking was on a squelching, sucking, oozing forest floor.


This hiker is smart enough not to step in the middle of the trail!

Just before we reached the cars at Clearview Crescent, we encountered the famous “Polish Soldier Tree.”  The words were carved into the trunk by a Polish soldier who was training in the Owen Sound area in 1942.  The first line says: “Poland has not yet perished.”


The Polish Solider tree. The words are still quite legible, 74 years later.


Happiness is finishing a hike and it rained less than expected! We are all muddy but dry!

Next hike: June!  Sweet dreams of Bruce til we meet again!

About idreamoftobermory

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