Date – October 26, 2013
Distance – 21.1 km
Total Trail Distance – 491.9 (402.1 to go)
Hikers – Steve, Simon, Elza, Robyn, Dean, Marlene, Benjamin, Harold, Janette, Madeleine, Kent, Floyd, Clay and Gavin
Start – 47.2 Pretty River Access Trail, Blue Mountains Section
End – 2.3 Intercept Side Trail, Beaver Valley Section
Direction – North
Weather – Cool and grey, some rain, some snow
Day one of a two-day effort to knock off a big chunk. We are delighted to be joined by new hikers and nature-lovers Floyd, Clay and Gavin. We drive up to Collingwood on Friday night and stay at Georgian Manor for an early start on Saturday morning.
The weather is cool, but good for hiking. Streams are full and in two cases we have to make tricky crossings without the benefit of bridges. There is some danger that there will be a misstep so I keep the camera ready in case of a splash, but it doesn't happen. Probably just as well. It wouldn't be fun to be soaking wet, as we know.
There are numerous ascents and descents, and there are some treacherous places where the ground is slick with mud and leaves.
There is enough snow for Gavin to make and throw his first snowball of the season, but not enough snow to deter Simon from wearing shorts. Simon says it's not too cold and he's fine.
About six kilometres of this day's hike takes us through Pretty River Valley Provincial Park, home to McKinney's Hill, which, at 540 metres, is the highest point on the Bruce Trail. It would be a slight detour to reach the actual high point, so we don't.
We enjoy some gorgeous views over Collingwood and Georgian Bay, and even see a rainbow over the harbour.
The last part of the hike takes us through land owned by Scenic Caves, which, a sign notes, is closed to hikers starting in November. Lucky for us it's still October so we are able to finish along our intended route, which also takes us through a section of Blue Mountain's mountain bike course. We are too cold and wet and keen to be finished to take much in, or even to take pictures!
Near the end of the day Floyd's knees are giving him trouble but Clay and Gavin are still moving at a good clip. Great hikers! Glad to have them along.
After we get cleaned up we enjoy socializing and a delicious potluck dinner in the Carolyn-Floyd-Clay&Gavin condo. But we don't stay late: turns out everyone is interested in turning in early. Fresh air and exercise will do that!