Date – August 18, 2014
Location – Maps 37 Hope Bay and 38 Lion's Head
Distance – 16
Total Trail Distance – 631.1 (262.9 to go)
Hikers – Steve, Simon, Dean, Marlene, Madeleine, Kent and Benjamin
Start – 52.8 Jackson's Cove Road, Peninsula Section
End – 68.8 Barrow Bay, Peninsula Section
Direction – North
Weather – Hot and sunny
This is the first time we have ever hiked three days in a row, so even though we're all feeling good, there is a bit of trepidation. Can we do this?
Once again, Elza provides logistics, dropping us off at Jackson's cove with a promise to meet us later in the afternoon at our ending point on Regional Road 9. We head north.
Almost half of this 16-kilometre hike is on the road -- I guess cottage owners don't want hikers spoiling their views. The result is that we can make faster time but it's not nearly as pleasant and in some cases it's downright dangerous.
On Scenic Caves Road the roadway is narrow and hilly and drivers come barrelling over hills, clearly not expecting to see hikers. If we can hear approaching cars we can try to get out of the way, but in a couple of cases we had to jump up and down in the air to alert drivers to our presence -- there are no shoulders and no place to get out of the way. It's VERY dangerous. If the property owners are going to force us to walk on the road they should at least not try to mow us down. Hey, Bruce Trail Conservancy, perhaps some signage alerting drivers to the presence of hikers would be helpful.
The owner of Grieg's Scenic Caves (one of the property owners that has blocked hiker access) is also a menace, driving back and forth along the roads in a branded van at an excessive rate of speed, kicking up dust and gravel in the faces of hapless hikers. Grieg's Scenic Caves may be willing to sell admission to nature but they clearly don't have respect for other nature lovers.
The final four-kilometre stretch along Regional Road 9 is also quite unpleasant. Compared to the coolness of dappled sunlight in the woods, it's hot on the unshaded asphalt, the section is mostly descent (so very hard on my poor, battered toes) and traffic is whipping by. At least the shoulders are wide so we don't feel quite as exposed.
In my case, the fear and trepidation of a third hike are well-founded because my feet are developing terrible blisters. I have taken my sandals along so I switch footwear but I can tell my feet are in trouble and are going to need some attention.
Despite the difficulties posed by the road sections, walking through the forest is, as always, a delight. There are lots of rocky cliffs as well as rock underfoot, and some spectacular views over Georgian Bay.
We have lunch on a beautiful rocky beach at Rush Cove, and see a golden eagle soaring overhead. It's a hot day and Steve is also happy to be using his water pack for the first time, but the large amount of water he consumes also means he is frequently stepping off the trail, something that is harder to do on road sections.
When we get back to our campsite we are very happy to have happy hour on our own little pebble beach, swimming, soaking our feet and enjoying the privacy.