The Bruce Trail (Ontario) runs a total of 885 Km along the Niagara Escarpment from Queenston in the south to Tobermory in the north. It is divided into nine sections, each managed by a local Bruce Trail club. The Iroquoia Club takes care of the section of the trail that runs between Grimsby and Kelso, and it is my home club. Every year at late Fall, the Iroquoia Club organizes an End to End hike which spans four days over two consecutive weekends. The total distance is about 130 Km. A badge is awarded at the end of the four-day hike. My husband and I were first-time participants in this year’s event.
The first day started at 7 a.m. and we parked our cars on the shoulder of Guelph Line, Burlington, just north of Hwy 5. It was still dark. The morning air was cold. However it could not chill the excitement of the hikers who were in full gear for a one-day hike of about 40 Km. We were taken by two school buses and were dropped off at the northern-most point of the trail in Kelso near Hwy 401 for the start.
The organizers had planned out check-points en route. This was to make sure that everybody who signed up reported there and to get some refreshments,or other assistance. The volunteers who came out brought juices, water and hot cider, as well as cookies, muffins, granola bars and cheeses.
Dawn had just broken as we set foot on the Bruce Trail in the Kelso Conservation Area. We hiked through the Glen Eden ski area and got to the top. Here the ski lifts looked forlorn while they waited for their time to wake up with the winter skiers.
The trail was covered by fallen leaves. It had rained the night before, and we had to watch our steps, because there were often slippery rocks under the wet leaves.
Even so, we took time to take in the view of the Carolinian Forest at this time of Fall.
After the first check-point at Appleby Line and Steele Avenue, the trail entered the Crawford Lake/Rattle Point Conservation Areas. This was a very rocky section which involved climbing up rocks faces and this brought us to the Nassagaweya Canyon. The view was spectacular once on top of the gorge.
Although the elevation flattened out slightly, the trail was rugged and footing was poor, and then there was a rocky downhill, reaching the second check-point at Twiss Road.
We crossed a couple of creeks, up and down hill again, before reaching the third check-point at Blind Line and Britannia Road. The feeling that we were over half the day’s designated distance was very encouraging.
Mixed in with the rugged trail were a few paved road surfaces which also formed part of the Bruce Trail. Given the long distance of the day, it was nice walking on flatter surfaces but extra care was necessary because there was passing traffic. The flat stretch of Collin Road led us to the entrance of Mount Nemo Conservation Area. My heart leapt, because the city of Burlington was in sight. The Brock Harris Lookout provided a panoramic view of the city.
A steep climb down from Mount Nemo took us to the fourth and final check-point at No. 2 Side Road and Walkers Line. We felt re-energized after drinking the hot cider served by the volunteers. There was a long stretch of paved road along Walkers Line, and turning into No.1 Side Road, but we still had to follow the white blazers (for the Main Trail) of the Bruce Trail. It started to rain, and we picked up our pace. We turned into the unpaved trail again and soon emerged into an open field. We followed the path which took us to where we parked our car in the morning on Guelph Line. We checked off our names and enjoyed the cheeses and the drinks before heading home for the day.
Our legs were tired, but we were very happy that the longest lag of the four-day hike was done. Day 2 would be a shorter day.
Reference: The Bruce Trail Reference: Maps and Trail Guide, Edition 27, (2012). Maps 9, 10 and 11.