WEEK 4 Trip Report
Bruce Trail Expedition 2009
Celebrating the Summer Solstice on the Bruce Trail was exciting as many of the conservation areas including the Crawford Lake native American village had traditional dancers, rituals, and celebrations which echoed through the wilderness, bringing back echos of this areas rich vibrant and cultural past. Sadly, the Bruce Trail doesnt have a “Hike Naked” day on the summer solstice like the Appalachian Trail does.
The weather was nice in the beginning of the week, warm, clear sunny skies made hiking the Toronto section of the Bruce Trail a real pleasure. As with most week-day thru-hikes, it’s unusual to see anyone at all on the trail for most of the day.
I’m still surprised at day by day how resilient and leathery my feet have become since being barefoot over a month now. Rocky areas of the trail which used to slow me down and be agonising, I can now breeze over like smooth dirt. I didn’t ever mean to be out to set a world record by hiking the Bruce Trail barefoot, it’s just who I am.
Leaving Kelso conservation area Wednesday I was fortunate enough to come across two people hiking the trail the same direction as I. We stayed together for a few days on the trail, camped together, exchanged travel stories and had a great time exploring the Toronto section of the Bruce Trail. Often times friendships forged on the trails remain for life. Distances don’t even matter with things like Myspace and Facebook to help people keep in touch. During our first few hours together on the trail, we came across a baby raccoon who was terrified by our presence and hugging a tree just a metre above the ground. We got some photos and left the little guy alone.
I was quite amazed that early one morning, Luka woke me up to alert me someone was around. I heard footsteps and looked out of the tent to see a large porcupine walk right between our two tents! I got a few photos of him and advised Luka that porcupines are not to be tangled with on the trail. The porcupine, seemingly indifferent to our presence, walked between the two tents and climbed a tree where he could sleep for the day.
The people we met along the trail were so friendly. During the week the area was hit by severe, rolling thunder storms and lightening. Passing through a farmers field we decided to stop and the young people I was with made their way up to the farmhouse and the land owners were more than happy to give us permission to camp on their land in the corner. It was so nice to camp out right by the trail!
Some of the craggy rocks of the escarpment are breathtakingly beautiful. Hiking by ourselves, the beauty of this revealed itself in subtle ways like the sound of the wind rushing through the cedars sounding like a distant waterfall. The trail weaved us through swamps of ancient cedars and massive rocky crags so large, the Bruce Trail actually descended into them! (Visit Limehouse Conservation area in Limehouse Ontario if you get the chance. You won’t be disappointed!) There are ancient cedar trees there over 500 years old growing on the giant rock faces of the escarpment. They smell enchanting, and the cedar needles are a pleasure to walk on.
Friday morning we woke up, broke camp and hit the trails. We had started to run out of water and there were no streams to filter water from. We came upon an old farmhouse on a road section of the trail and the home owner was more than happy to oblige our request to fill our bottles of water. Everyone in the Toronto section of the trail seemed so nice that we talked to.
I will certainly miss having a set of human companions on the trail as I did this week. It’s always a pleasure to get someone else’s perspective on each section of trail, and of course the young lady spoiled Luka rotten with cans of tuna fish and cranberries throughout the day.
A few months back I took a Leave No Trace course through Master Trainer Todd Ward, and I must admit although I don’t buy into every LNT principle, I do use the course material each day on the Bruce Trail. From making campsites look like I didn’t spend the night there, to eating 1/2hr up the trail before we set camp to keep animals away. You don’t have to buy into all LNT principles, but it is a great course that will benefit any outdoors person.
Next week will be past the first month on the expedition. I have learned that slowing down and enjoying myself, taking lots of photos and memories of the trail is more important than completing the trail. Even if I don’t complete the trail as a thru-hike before August, I will go back to work with a lifetime of memories, photos, stories, and friendships which I wouldn’t want to gain any other way. When it comes to the Bruce Trail, it’s not the destination that is important – it’s the journey.