Sunday, 16 October 2011

Hike #14, October 16, 2011

Hike # 14
Date – October 16, 2011
Location – Map 7, Hamilton
Distance – 12.9 km
Total Trail Distance – 121.5 km (772.5 to go!)
Hikers – Steve, Simon, Dean, Marlene, Benjamin, Harold, and Janette
Start – 27.5 Mohawk Access Trail, Hamilton
End – 40.4 Scenic Drive Side Trail
Direction – West (North)
Weather – Grey and drizzly, but ending with sunshine.
Details – We had originally planned to do this hike on October 2 but that day dawned grey and rainy and the forecast called for rain and more rain. After much dithering and texting and wringing of hands, we called it off. So when the forecast for today was also predicting rain we were pretty determined to hike anyway.

We drive to the end point with light rain the whole way, but it’s dry when we meet Steve and Simon. We leave their van there, driving our van to meet Harold and Janette where they have parked near the Mohawk 4Ice Centre. It’s cold and windy and we start out bundled up with hats and several layers of clothing. I wish I had gloves.

The first challenge of the day is figuring out how to get down the steep slope to rejoin the trail at the base of the former ski hill. Once we find the trail, it’s a slick trip to the bottom.

Once we dip below the brow of the escarpment there’s no wind, and we don’t get very far before we are hot and start peeling off the layers.

We are hiking through the most-populated section of the trail: Hamilton has a population of over 500,000, yet there are still enough leaves on the trees that for most of the hike it’s hard to see the city. However, when we do cross a road or get a view over the city there are apartment towers and smokestacks on the skyline. In places the traffic on the roads that climb or descend the escarpment is very noisy, and traffic is so heavy that we have a hard time crossing Beckett Drive safely. A cab driver honks at Janette as she scurries across.

The leaves have started to fall and they make a glorious red and gold carpet, which is both beautiful and treacherous. In many places the rocks underfoot are loose and slick, and the trail involves much climbing and descending. Luckily no one falls.

It turns out there is another treachery lurking under the leaves: dog poo! Two of our hikers (who shall remain nameless) have the misfortune to encounter the remains left by inconsiderate dog owners, and much scraping and dipping in puddles ensues.

Speaking of climbing, we make a partial ascent of the escarpment on the stairs at Wentworth Steps Side Trail. We meet several people who are going up and down the stairs for a workout, and what a workout it is!

In Chedoke Park, near the end of our hike, the city of Hamilton has closed the trail (but left gates open) saying that rainfall has made the trail unstable. We are supposed to divert to the Scenic Drive Side Trail but we decide to take a chance and deal with the hazards. We never do figure out what they are, unless it’s a slight tilt to a footbridge over a stream. Sigh. This must be the fear of corporate liability at work.

It’s a great day and we all feel jubilant to have covered the nearly 13 km in roughly 3:20. When we end, the sun is shining.

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