July 10, 2017 Beamer Conservation to New Mountain Road
Somehow we came up with idea of hiking-no, Olivia said she wanted to hike the Bruce Trail. She wanted to hike all of it from the southern terminus in Niagara to the northern terminus in Tobermory Ontario for a total of 892 KM. After talking about this for a year and discussing a plan of attack, purchasing a trail book, membership, backpack, hiking boots, rain gear and other ‘cool’ things we would need.We researched hiking the Bruce and came up with our plan of attack. Olivia knows me, she knows me well. She knows me well enough to choose a section close to home that is scenic and full of landscape diversity that we do not see where we live. We chose the Iroquoia section which begins in Grimsby and ends in Kelso Ontario. She chose this because she told me that I would probably quit and not want to hike after I tried it. I told her I would not quit and as a matter of fact I would be happy to hike 25-30 km per day to finish this section in a few days. What was I thinking you may wonder? I was thinking that the paths would be groomed and meandering, with bark chips, fine gravel and sometimes grass. I was certain there would be birds singing from nearby trees while playfully watching us as we walked with flower petals blowing by in the wind and the occasional deer peeking out shyly from behind a bush while chipmunks played at our feet.
That bubble burst very quickly, perhaps it lasted as long as the first 4 hours of walking. Thankfully, Olivia did the planning and only planned for 15 km the first day which translated to 19km. She did this because I twisted my ankle the previous week and was still having symptoms of swelling and pain. She did this because she is good friend and editor who knows what adjustments I need to make to my story, she did this because she is smarter than the average friend.
We rented a car so we could drop one off at the end and drive the other one to the beginning which eliminated any backtracking. We set out to find the Trail Entrance and blaze indicating we were in the correct place. When we found the area, the gate was locked and the trail was closed. We took photos and laughed about our luck, got in our cars and moved on to the next Trail Access point. For a little while, we were driving behind a gaggle of geese who apparently felt they could run down the road in front of my car faster than they could fly. It was amusing to watch them and I wondered how many times in life I was like those geese, moving through life in the most inefficient and least convenient way.
Finally, we entered the Trail at an access point. Day one… we began with a quick step while talking and chatting about how we were exactly where we said we would be a year earlier-on the Bruce Trail. At first we were not in tune to the blazes which were white rectangles on trees marking the way. Eventually, we saw them everywhere and could easily understand them. The funny part was that these had been here all along. They were everywhere, white and blue markers with trail signs and sometimes arrows. I did not know how many of these blazes or Bruce Trail signs I had walked by, driven by or seen in different places. I only knew that by the end of the week, I could spot a blaze from the car and a trail access point a kilometer away. We walked all day and stopped for lunch on bridge and a photo. Approximately 18Km later we reached the car-I was tired, sore and happy to be finished. I was ready to quit but thought I should quit quitting…we got in the car, found a McDonald’s for a much needed Diet Coke then, we headed to our “base camp” which was the home of a family member …I was alive and still able to walk despite the fact that there were no meandering grass covered paths with birds singing while we walked- I took the win.