Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Hike #44 May 19, 2014 Kolapore

Hike # 44
Date – May 19, 2014
Location – Map 25 Kolapore
Distance – 18.1 km  
Total Trail Distance – 564.4 (329.6 to go)
Hikers – Steve, Simon, Dean, Marlene, Benjamin, Harold, Janette, Julian, Sue, Benjamin, Therese and Kai
Start – 41.9 Old Baldy, Beaver Valley Section
End – 23.8 Reg. Road #2
Direction – South on trail, but really East
Weather – Warm and sunny, black flies ferocious 

We start this hike further south than yesterday, and will end where yesterday's hike began. Elza and Robyn elect to have a shopping-and-coffee-drinking-and-reading day, so we are down to a dozen hikers. 

It's another warm and sunny day, but to our dismay we learn that two days of warmth + northern forest = blackfies! Persistent. Pernicious. Vicious. Blackflies. We have some bug spray, which we spray liberally, and repeatedly, but it doesn't help much. Instead, the only relief comes from the wearing of hats and the tying of bandanas and scarves. About mid-day we meet a local, out for a stroll, and she is wearing one of those cunning hat and mesh contraptions that completely protects her from the bugs. I offer to buy it. No dice. She says she would never venture onto the trail at this time of year without bug gear.

Because of our direction of travel and our choice of start location, we realize that we could end up passing Rory and Mick again, and sure enough, we soon do. They are in good spirits and making good progress. We greet each other briefly and on we go. 

At Fox Ridge Road we meet a group of half a dozen day hikers who are just starting out. We stop for a short conversation and realize very quickly that four of them are visiting from Europe — The Netherlands, to be exact. 

About four kilometres of this hike is on the road, which means we make good time. We stop for lunch and more bug spray on a wide, grassy shoulder of the road. It's not pretty there, but there's some shade, and even more importantly, it's an open space so there's a breeze and we get a little bit of relief from the blackflies. A very little.
About halfway we come to the Duncan Crevice Caves Provincial Nature Reserve, but we don't see any actual caves, although we do have a good view to the south from an escarpment outcropping. When we emerge from the nature reserve and end up on private property, we catch up to the kids, who have been hiking ahead of us. They have found a seating area and a fire pit and have made a very smoky fire — in the hopes of thwarting the blackflies. It doesn't work.
In a couple of places we encounter abandoned farm machinery. I am always intrigued by the lives of the pioneers who once farmed here, and I wonder about how difficult their lives were — especially when I think about the cold, and the poor soil, and the rocks in the fields and the bugs.
We meet two more people who are climbing the escarpment face at Metcalfe Rock and see a farmer cultivating a field. Our path runs adjacent to the field, which means this famer has kindly allowed the trail to pass through or adjacent to his or her farm. Thank you, landowner!

Mick and Rory




Hike #43 May 18, 2014, Blue Mountain and Kolapore

Hike # 43
Date – May 18, 2014
Location – Map 24 Blue Mountain and Map 25 Kolapore
Distance – 21.5 km
Total Trail Distance – 546.3 (347.7 to go)
Hikers – Steve, Simon, Elza, Robyn, Dean, Marlene, Benjamin, Harold, Janette, Julian, Sue, Benjamin, Therese and Kai
Start – 23.8 Reg. Road #2, Beaver Valley Section
End – 2.3 Intercept Side Trail
Direction – South on trail, but really East
Weather – Warm and sunny, blackflies just starting 

This is the first hike of a two-day weekend in the Collingwood area. We're booked into Georgian Manor and we have a large group of enthusiastic hikers. 

It's a beautiful day, sunny and warm, and it doesn't take long before we're shedding layers. When we come to a stream where we stop for our second lunch, many hikers take advantage of the cool water to soak their feet. There are huge rainbow trout in the stream, and we learn from another hiker that the fishing season opens next weekend and the fish will most likely be caught.
We also meet two through-hikers, Rory Biller and Mick Allaby, who are working their way north. Mick calls The Bruce Trail "Canada's Appalachian Trail" and says that he has been hiking for several years. When he's done the Bruce he intends to do the Appalachian. Rory and Mick didn't start out together, but met on the trail and have been together for a couple of days when we meet them. Mick says he quit his job and sold his possessions and is taking some time to just hike.
Rory (left) and Mick.
I like it when we meet through-hikers. Even though our end-to-end is taking a long time and we are making only incremental progress, it's encouraging to meet people who also see the value in the trail. For something so wonderful that is so close to so many people, there are very few who actually use it. Even though I like the wilderness experience, the solitude that we find on the trail both surprises and saddens me.
Here's a link to Mick's blog: https://mikenmilo.wordpress.com/author/mikenmilo/
Near 18th Sideroad we are met by a friendly dog, who happily joins our entourage, walking a considerable distance with us. When we order him home, he ignores our commands and continues to hike with us, until some of the kids, worried that he'll end up lost, retrace their steps to take him back in the direction from which he came.
A carpet of green is beginning to emerge on the forest floor, but in a deep, north-facing gully, where winter wind has swept mountains of snow and where the sun's rays have not yet ventured, we find a large snow drift. We stop and wait while the kids descend the bank and have a snowball fight. We also encounter some lingering snow on the runs at Blue Mountain.
The last snowball of the year.
As is often the case, this hike includes both stiles (that helpfully and easily get us in and out of farm fields) and donation plaques. Even though we don't meet many actual people on the trail, these are regular reminders that our travels are made possible because of the hard work and generosity of many others. We are grateful.
We end our hike at the place where we started (and ended) our failed hike on New Year's Eve a few years ago. There is still a stream and a puddle there, but this time, instead of soaking our boots, they provide a fun way to pass the time while we wait for our rides. We dam the stream, hang out on a farm gate and eat all the candy we have left.