Sunday, 19 May 2013

Hike #36, May 19, 2013 Owen Sound

Hike # 36
Date – May 19, 2013
Location – Map 34 Lindenwood, Sydenham Section
Distance – 22.4 km   
Total Trail Distance – 428.3 (465.7 to go)
Hikers – Steve, Simon, Dean, Marlene, Benjamin, Harold and Janette
Start –123.3 The Gap Access Trail, Sydenham Section
End – 145.7, Dodd's Hill Side Trail, Sydenham Section
Direction – North
Weather – Warm and sunny.

This is the first hike of two days of the Victoria Day long weekend spent in Owen Sound. We drive up to Owen Sound on Saturday, after Ben gets off work, with the intention to hike Sunday and Monday. Elza and Robyn are along for the excursion, but are electing to hike only one day.
In the commotion to shuffle vehicles and get to our starting point, Dean forgets his pack in our van. Between all of us we have enough food and water to spare, and Dean gets to hike with just a water bottle in his hand. He doesn't like it. He'd much rather have a pack.

We are picking up where we left off last spring on our Wiarton weekend, so we are taking an unusual tack and electing to hike north the first day and south the second day, to avoid leaving a gap.

Speaking of gaps, our starting point is The Gap Access trail, which is, indeed, a gap. After crossing a stream next to a beaver pond, we climb to our starting point through a rocky gap in the escarpment.
In the section in the Kemble Mountain Management Area there are many lovely overlooks to the south, where we can see farms and cattle and the many shades of green in a spring landscape. In the distance, we can see the water of Georgian Bay.

Coming down Kemble Mountain there are deeply rutted and gouged roads, made almost impassable in places by the spinning wheels of ATVs and 4 X 4s. Indeed we come upon some young men loading their mud-spattered vehicles onto trailers, and others on quads who pass us on their way up the mountain. We marvel at people who prefer roaring through the countryside over passing slowly and companionably on foot.

Trilliums and other wildflowers are in bloom and the forest is green and welcoming. There are many areas where we are hiking along the top of the cliff, and sections of the escarpment have broken away from the mass, leaving crevasses, fissures and gaps -- some scary. It's cool to think about the geological time period and all the freezing and thawing that these formations represent. 


Ben and Simon rustle up a grouse near where we stop for lunch and we find the beautiful coffee-coloured eggs under a rock.

We hike along the edges of farmers' fields and meadows, and we see many active farms. But there are also apple trees gone wild and old rock and split-rail fencerows that remind us of the pioneers who first farmed here. With all the rocks in the fields and the many places where rock is just below the surface, I wonder about how challenging and perhaps discouraging it must have been to be a pioneer farmer in this place, trying to eke out a profit or even a sustainable living. 

This is a difficult entry to write, because although the hike was great, what came after has touched all of our lives, but especially that of Harold and Janette. We were back at our hotels getting ready for dinner when Harold and Janette learned that their beloved Jenny had been seriously hurt in a car crash and was being air-lifted to St. Mike's Hospital in Toronto. Jenny's long and perilous journey to healing is the subject of another blog and while we are grateful that her life was spared, our hearts ache for her and her loved ones, and we long to see her restored.

A few more photos:

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