Friday, 22 April 2011

Hike # 11, April 22, 2011

Hike # 11
Date – April 22, 2011
Location – Map 5, Grimsby
Distance – 9.3 km
Total Trail Distance – 83.5 km (810.5 to go!)
Hikers – Steve, Elza, Simon, Robyn, Madeleine, Ben, Dean, Marlene, John, Jodi, Jocelyn, Kirsten, Harold and Janette. Fourteen people – our biggest group yet!
Start – 74.2 Niagara Club, Thirty Road
End – 2.4 Iroquoia Club, Beamer Conservation Area
Direction – West (North)
Weather – Cool and cloudy bright. Near the end we even see the sun – briefly.
Details – Several vehicles meet at Beamer: we leave Harold and Janette’s car there and then drive to our starting point, where we meet J.J.J.&K.

It’s Earth Day and a hike is the perfect way to celebrate. It’s also Good Friday, so we are able to meet at 9 a.m. Steve and Elza are expecting guests, so they want to be home by noon.

This is the most challenging hike we’ve done yet – mostly because of the terrain. The trail is very wet and very muddy, and, although we try to stay out of the mud, there are several soakers and lots of mud-encrusted boots, shoes and pants by the time we’re done. The footing is slippery and dangerous: from both the mud and from the fallen leaves. Kirsten lands on a slippery rock and goes down hard, smashing her knee. We’re worried that it may be broken but we are glad to find out that it’s bruised and she is able to continue hiking with John’s help.

The trees are still brown and bare but the forest floor is coming alive. We see beautiful flowers and shoots, and wish we knew how to identify them. At home, I consult my Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers and am able to identify one of the white flowers that we see as Bloodroot. From Audubon I also learn that it’s from the poppy family, that it opens during the day and closes at night, and that Native North Americans used its red roots to dye baskets, clothing and paint, and as an insect repellent.

When we get to Mountain Road, Kirstin’s sore knee and the imminent arrival of the Folkerts’ guests mean that we decide to split up. A group heads directly along Mountain and Ridge Roads to go back to Beamer, taking the keys to all the vehicles so they can use Harold and Janette’s car to get back to the starting point to collect their vehicles. We haven’t seen Ben and Simon since the start of the hike, and Elza, Robyn, John, Jodi, Jocelyn and Kirsten head for home, leaving Steve, Dean, Marlene, Madeleine, Harold and Janette to finish.

We cross Mountain Road and leave the Niagara Club section behind, entering the Iroquoia Club’s section.

The views through the forest are lovely, and so are the ones from the top of the ridge. We see a small abandoned quarry and a cleft in the rock overlooking Grimsby.

Because this is the Hawkwatch Open House at Beamer we begin to see a lot of other hikers – families and groups and birdwatchers taking advantage of the holiday and the nice weather. Because Beamer is a popular conservation area, the trails are now very well-worn and wide.

At Beamer, there are large crowds and a festive atmosphere, but we don’t linger long because we’re all hungry. Despite the challenging terrain, this was another great hike.

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