Saturday, 25 December 2010

Christmas 2010

Christmas 2010

We visit with Harold and Janette, who share their stories and photos of hiking in British Columbia, and we decide that soon we will do the Coastal Hiking Trail in Pukaskwa National Park together. I prefer to do it by kayak so we can take more of the comforts of home, but Janette is adamant about staying on land. We agree that we need to start acquiring better gear and that we will use sections of the Bruce Trail to practice for the Coastal Trail. We know we will need to do some longer treks and some overnight expeditions – especially as we get further away from home.
Santa is paying attention because for Christmas we get a Mountain Equipment Co-op membership, new hiking boots, new day packs, and, for me, a new GPS watch! Dean knows I am a technophobe so he is expecting that watch to migrate to his arm eventually. I am determined to learn how to use it, or at least use it enough.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Hike #6 November 21, 2010

Hike # 6
Date – November 21, 2010
Location – Map 3 Short Hills
Distance – 8.1 km
Hikers – Dean, Marlene, Benjamin, Steve, Elza, Simon and Robyn
Start – 43.9 Niagara, Oille Street
End – 51 Niagara, Staff Avenue, Louth Conservation Area
Direction – West (north)
Weather – cool, grey
Details – We meet at Louth Conservation Area and leave a vehicle, then drive in the blue Dodge Caravan (the one that took us across the country in 2006) to Oille Street. It’s a cool, grey day – perfect for hiking. Ben and Simon head off at a fast pace ahead of us and we don’t see or hear them again until near the end, when they hide and come up behind us. The mothers are only slightly worried, because we know they know how to read the blazes. The trail is very hilly. Simon and Ben like to throw large branches down steep banks, and Steve spends some time pushing over a standing snag. We pass Rockway Falls, a gun range, and another waterfall in Louth Conservation Area. We enjoy it very much and we are all glad to be hiking.

It's also the first hike with the new, smaller camera, so there are now many more photos to choose from.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Hike #5 October 31, 2010

Hike # 5
Date – October 31, 2010
Location – Map 3 Shorthills
Distance – 8.3 km
Hikers – Dean, Marlene, Benjamin and Simon
Start – 34.6 (Short Hills – Morningstar Mill)
End – 42.9 (Short Hills – Effingham Road)
Direction – West (North)
Weather – Started cool, but we ended up being hot
Details – There are no takers to join us, so we drop off a car on the end of Oille Road on the way to church. Simon meets us at church and we eat our egg, ham and cheese bagels on the way to Morningstar Mill. It’s a cool day (high of 8°) but we get warm, especially climbing the hills out of the wind.

Most of the hike is in Short Hills Provincial Park and, since the trees are almost completely bare, we can clearly see the “hills” and the rolling landscape. Both Terrace Creek Falls and Swayze Falls are reduced to trickle, and Ben and Simon hike a short section below Terrace Creek Falls in the stream bed. Simon is familiar with much of the route from the many times his family has hiked Short Hills. We have entered off Roland Road in the past, so that section is familiar to us too.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Hike #4 October 17, 2010

Hike # 4
Date – October 17, 2010
Location – Map 3 Shorthills
Distance – 8.8 km
Hikers – Dean, Marlene, Benjamin, Steve and Simon
Start – 25.8 (Niagara – Glenridge Quarry Naturalization Site)
End – 34.6 (Niagara – Morningstar Mill)
Direction – West (north)
Weather – Sunny with cloudy periods, beautiful
Details – We meet Steve and Simon at Morningstar Mill and leave the Folkerts’ vehicle there to drive to the parking lot at the Quarry. At Brock, we text Adrienne, then peer in her residence windows. She lives just steps away from the trail but she is not interested in joining us.

We enjoy the views of Lake Moodie and the trail along the top of the hydro dam. We see the new penstocks at the DeCew generating station and a spectacular view of St. Catharines. Lots of cyclists, but we enjoy hiking in the fall because the views are more expansive. We are glad the DeCew Road bridge, which has been closed for reconstruction for nearly a year, is finally open to pedestrians.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Hike #3 October 10, 2010

Hike # 3
Date – October 10, 2010 Thanksgiving Weekend
Location – Map 2 St. Catharines
Distance – 9.6 km
Hikers – Dean, Marlene, Benjamin, John, Jodi, Kirsten and Madeleine
Start – 16. 2 (Niagara - Woodend)
End – 25. 8 (Niagara – Brock University)
Direction – West (North)
Weather – Warm and sunny
Details – Steve and Elza have company so they say they’ll hike it on Monday. We meet at Harvest Barn for lunch after church and then park two vehicles at McDonald’s and drive in Klompmakers’ van to Woodend. We enjoy beautiful weather and fall colours.

Sites include abandoned remnants of the Third Welland Canal (1837-1931) with very high walls above the former locks, and an even earlier section (the Second?) behind Ball Avenue West. We have to wait for two yachts to go under the bridge at Glendale, then miss a turn along the Welland Canals Parkway Trail and make a 2 K detour. It’s actually a hot day, we realize, as we trudge up and down the pavement.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Hike #2 September 26, 2010

Hike # 2
Date – September 26, 2010
Location – Map 2 St. Catharines
Distance – 11.1 km
Hikers – Dean, Marlene, Benjamin, Steve, Elza, Simon, Robyn and Jacob
Start – 5.1 (Niagara)
End – 16.2 (Niagara)
Direction – West (or North)
Weather – Sunny with cloudy periods, high 17°
Details – We meet the Folkerts where we left off last week, but they have dropped a vehicle at the west parking lot of Woodend Conservation Area, so we are able to hike in one direction. Parts of the trail are deeply rutted by dirt bikes and ATVs, especially the re-routed section along the railroad tracks.

It is a lovely day and a lovely hike, and we are in places that we’ve never seen before. From some vantage points we can see Toronto. We like the pedestrian bridge over the QEW at Sand Plant Hill, but highway noise accompanies us for much of the hike.

The three boys hike ahead of us and it’s not until the end that we learn that they have hidden and are actually following us!

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Hike #1 September 19, 2010

Hike # 1
Date – September 19, 2010
Location – Map 1 Queenston
Distance – 5.1 km
Hikers – Dean, Marlene, Benjamin, Steve, Elza, Simon, Jodi and John
Start – 0.0 (Niagara)
End – 5.1 (Niagara)
Direction – Out and back (north and south)
Weather – Warm and sunny, high 19°
Details – We meet after church at the southern terminus at Queenston Heights and have a thoroughly enjoyable 5K out and back. I briefly consider Adrienne’s contention that once you’ve seen one forest you’ve seen them all, but it’s a nice hike just the same. Good company, good weather, good conversation. It’s going to take a long time and we are going to end up hiking the entire trail twice if we do out-and-back hikes. Next idea: work out a system for point-to-point hikes.

The adventure expands

September 2010
We invite Steve and Elza and John and Jodi to join us for our first hike, and, to our surprise, they agree. In fact, Steve says he intends to go end-to-end too, while Jodi says that they may not join us for every hike, but even if they say no, would we please keep inviting them.
So, on Sunday afternoon, September 19, 2010, we meet at the cairn at Queenston Heights that marks the southern terminus of the trail. Dean has ordered a new set of maps (ours are from 1997) and we are both excited and daunted.
To me, it doesn't really matter if we get it all done by 2015; more important is that we started and that we keep working away at it. I am glad to live in such a beautiful area and to have the time, friends and physical ability to embark on such a journey. May there be much joy along the way.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

How the adventure began

September 2010
We have just dropped off two girls at two different universities and I am wondering what the next five years will be like with an only child at home. I grew up in a house full of girls and now I find myself in a house of boys, including an always-hungry teenager who is probably left to his own devices (and glowing screens) too often.
On Monday, after we dropped off Adrienne, the three of us went for a hike in the Niagara Gorge. I wanted to send a signal to Ben that as a family of three we would do things together, that we would be active, and that we would enjoy the outdoors.
Some time later, and I'm not exactly sure how or when, I thought that hiking the Bruce Trail would accomplish these goals. Without checking to see exactly what was involved -- such as, how long is the trail anyway? -- I proposed to Dean and Ben that we hike the Bruce Trail before Ben finishes high school. That means we have five years. They agreed.