Category Archives: Trails

From Kelso to Limehouse: End-to-End with the Bruce Trail Toronto Club (Day 2)

After Day 1, the hikers in the group had warmed up to one another and started in a cheerful mood. After all, we only had less than 22 Km ahead of us. We were bused from Limehouse to the start point at Kelso  where the Toronto Club section connected with the Iroquoia Club section. A short walk on flat ground soon turned into a climb up the Niagara Escarpment. It was still early morning hour, but we were blessed with the view of sunrise to a beautiful morning as we tread carefully uphill.

When we reached the top of the Escarpment, the landscape changed to rocky formations.

The route was varied. We passed forest areas, rocky crevices, a resting area, open roads, as well as farm trails, corn fields and orchards.

The 22-km hike turned out to be challenging as we negotiated down a narrow rocky cliff.This was the so-called “Hole in the Wall”.  What a test of balance and strength!

By now, we were tired and was only too happy to come the landmark of an old, abandoned lime kiln.

We reached the finish point at Limehouse, where we completed our hike the day before but coming from a different direction. This badge will add to the collection and probably sewn onto a backpack.

Reference:The Bruce Trail Reference Maps and Trails Guides. Maps 11 and 12.

Welcoming Fall in Gardineau Park

The beauty of Ottawa in the Fall does not limit itself to the myriad of colours in the Byward Market fruits and vegetable stalls. The natural beauty in Gardinaeu Park is equally a feast to the eyes.

Gardineau Park was born on  July 1, 1938. The Canada Government purchased the land that form a protected area with forests, lakes and hills for the public to enjoy. It is only minutes from the City centre, making it a convenient green zone for a break. The trails are covered by Fall foliage of myriad colours. A short climb will take on to the breath-taking view of the Champlain Plain.

Point one’s camera anywhere and focus, the click will result in beautiful scenery or close up views of trees, leaves, rocks and streams. Words cannot do justice to the Fall beauty. I hope the sample of my photos can give you a better feel of the place.

 

From Caledon Hills to Limehouse: End-to-End with the Bruce Trail Toronto Club (Day 1)

1-IMG_1853The Bruce Trail Conservancy’s Toronto Club End-to-End expected hikers to complete about 50 Km over two consecutive days. (There was a one-day option, but I decided to forego this ultra distance which would take me 10 hours of walking and took it easy instead.) My group met at Limehouse in Halton Hills. This small community of about 500 people were still asleep when we arrived. There were over ninety participants in this event and we were taken by bus to the start point which divided the Toronto Club section from the Caledon Club section.

The first lag was the paved asphalt surface of Credit View Road and then Boston Hill Road. We were flanked on both sides by farmland. We passed a cornfield and an orchard.  We walked over a kilometre before entering into the trail.

The footing and the trail surface changed as soon as we were in the woodland.

1-IMG_1860

It was more shaded, but it also meant more obstacles. Some trees that had fallen across the trail were there for us to walk over or duck under. I negotiated three such tree trunks within a short distance. I felt like a horse jumping over hurdles in a steeple chase.

This section soon ended and we were back on the road of Heritage Road, which led into the Caledon Trailway.

The Trailway had an old rail buried under it. It reminded me of the Rail Trail in Hamilton that I frequented. As another hiker remarked, “Once you’ve seen a rail trail, you’ve seen them all.”

After exiting the Trailway, we entered some private property by climbing over a stile, and out again, but not before we saw many apples by the roadside. They were likely from apples trees of an abandoned orchard in an area close to the Terra Cotta Conservation Area.

The forest is a mixture of deciduous and evergreen tree. This is  the military formation of tree planting.

1-IMG_1875

We had walked over 10Km and was glad to reach the first check point near Vaughan Road for some snacks. Leaving the Terra Cotta Conservation Area, we entered the Silver Creek Conservation Area for a totally different challenge and scenery.

This was also a very rocky section on high elevation.

I suddenly realized that I had been here before, when I came to this narrow rocky section. I was here in early spring here when it was still covered in ice and snow on what I called a treacherous hike.

1-IMG_1891

We were hiking by Silver Creek and the sound of the running water accompanied us for some distance. This was a well-maintained section by the volunteers of the Bruce Trail. We came across many bridges like this one.

One more rocky patch and the second checkpoint was in sight.

1-IMG_1897

This also meant out of the woods into more urban area of the trail. The remaining hike went through the grounds of Scotdale Farm, road ways and finally the Limestone parking lot was in sight.

Day 1 was now completed and we had accomplished 28 Km. The weather was most co-operative. What we needed was a relaxing bath and a good night sleep to recover for the following day.

Reference: The hike followed Maps 13 and 14 of the Bruch Trail Maps and Trail Guide Edition 27.

Hiking in Hockley Valley

1-IMG_1660

The Bruce Trail in Ontario is divided into nine sections, each of which is maintained by volunteers from the local areas. I often hike in the Iroquia and Niagara regions, which are the two southernmost sections of the Trail. For a change, my hike today is at Hockley Valley of the Caledon Section.

We enter the trail by walking up an incline, and there is a sign indicating that this trail has a friendship counterpart in Korea.

The Hockley Valley is known as a popular resort–golfing in summer and skiing in winter. From the trail, we can see the ski runs looking green but deserted at this time of the year.

1-IMG_1663

It is a hot day, but the trail is shaded. It seems to be so as we move further into the forest away from the farms. But first, we say hello and goodbye to the cattle fenced behind the trees.

I notice that the trees are a mix of deciduous and pine. The predominance of pine means that we are north of the Carolinian forest that I often see hiking further south of the province.

1-IMG_1673

We enter Tom East Side Trail. There is a narrow water way along the trail, but it does not look like a natural stream. Our experienced hike leader explains that this is a ditch dug single- handedly by the wife Tom East, Isabel, when she was in her seventies. Both husband and wife were avid hikers and contributed much to the Bruce Trail. The ditch is meant to drain water away from the higher grounds to avoid flooding. There is also a side trail named after Isabel, except that we are not hiking there this time.

1-IMG_1672

Our route takes us to Glen Cross Side Trail and Snell Side Trail, and we hike on the Main Trail (Bruce Trail) in between. We cross several streams, and we seldom walk over as many bridges or board walk as this morning.

We come to an open field. The ski hills are now in a distant in a different direction.

1-IMG_1682

Fortunately we do not have to walk too long in the sun and we are back into the forest again. Tall trees and running water again.
1-IMG_1683

1-IMG_1711

You may wonder if we take any breaks. Indeed we do for a hike of 13 to 14 Km like this morning. Besides a half hour lunch break, we take water breaks after walking up a hill, and quite often when we pause to examine unusual flora.

1-IMG_1692

This is the Indian Pipe, a native plant.

This is even more unusual. Nobody knows how it gets here in the first place.

1-IMG_1713

The grand finale is a panoramic view of the Valley and we can see the Hockley Valley Resort Hotel in the heart of the valley. We also notice a hint of red among the green leaves. We are counting our summer hikes before we begin to hike for the Fall colours.

1-IMG_1716

(My dear readers, I am away from home in Ottawa at the moment, and work has kept me too busy from blogging. I am glad I find the draft of this post, and surely I must publish this, because the colours of the trees are changing fast. Thank you for dropping by!)

Book Club Review: Beach Strip, John Lawrence Reynolds

1-IMG_1831-001

POSSIBLE SPOILER

I have a chance to read Beach Strip by John Lawrence Reynolds through the book club of my local library branch, which is in support of the One Book One Burlington Event this Fall.  Our discussion surrounds some of the questions prepared by the librarians, with insight from a member who has taken part in the initial shortlisting of the book.

Most of us know where the Beach Strip is as a local landmark in Burlington and some of us have walked along it, including myself. (This is another reason why I read this book, because of the familiarity of the setting.) If you have been following my blog, you may wonder if I have an obsession about this area–the beach walk, the waves and the lift bridge. I tell my group that as I am reading the book, the scenery appears vividly in my mind’s eyes, even though I walk along the strip only in daylight and the crime in the book takes place at night. I figure out roughly where the author refers to as the first crime scene, and know exactly the location of an unexpected twist in the plot in which Josie Marshall walks on the lift bridge, looks at the guard on duty in the tower and throws the ashes of her husband in the canal. After that she walks on to discover a dead body, whose head is missing! I have not gone back to Beach Trail and the Burlington Canal Lift Bridge by myself since reading the gory details. Honestly, I need some company here.

When it comes to the plot, we have a perceptive remark that every ingredient one wants for a crime story is here. There is more than one murder, and the cops play a key role. There is more: Sex, flirtation, violence, a gangster boss, a suspected pervert, filial piety, sibling rivalry, extra-marital relationship and police corruption. Reynolds must be having fun with his canvas of the book, and puts a dab of this character and that character, as well as the various themes, viola! We are wondering whether with all these catchy ingredients the film right of a TV movie may be forthcoming.

The biggest misgiving we all have is the characterization of Josie Marshall, whose husband Gabe, a police detective, is found dead on the Beach Strip outside their house.  Josie does not believe that Gabe has committed suicide, as the police has told her. She takes it upon herself to find the murderer. There are too many inconsistencies. One moment Josie is grieving her loss and crying that she is feeling weak, but the next moment she is charging around talking to people and functioning like a cool and balanced-headed detective. Then she is in Vancouver with her sister, spent after all her experience. Next she is on a flight, calling and emailing all the people she wants to see to expose the murderer. This is all within three weeks of losing her husband. Mind you, she has seen at least two dead bodies in this short time. She appears like Super Woman.

The most upsetting part for us, all being female readers, is the stereotype of a woman’s strength to be her sexual appeal. It is only too superficial to see Josie deliberately wearing a tight top and a short pencil skirt when she visits the gangster boss. Reynolds says that he is experimenting with a female protagonist in this novel and when he tries to get into the head of the Josie Marshall,  it seems that it still comes from a male perspective. Anyhow, Reynolds will be appearing in an event to talk about his book. It will be interesting to see what he has to say.

The book is an interesting read, but likely not Reynold’s best. We think that it is selected for One Book One Burlington more because the setting is a local attraction, and Reynolds is a Burlington resident.  It is also easy to fit in other activities for this “one book one community” event which is gaining popular support in  the province.

Hendrie Valley Trails: An Ecological Haven

I had been wanting to go back to do a longer walk since my last visit to the trails in the Royal Botanical Gardens. I made it back at the end of the summer. This was what I found  when I entered the grounds from Valley Inn Road with my walking group. The Laking Garden, which normally attracted many bird watchers, seemed quiet.

1-IMG_1603

It gave us a serene start to our walk without the fowls fluttering on the surface of the water. We had the calming reflections all to ourselves.

NewBP

We entered  Grindstone Marshes Trail. It was unpaved, but footing was good. I think the trail is so named because there are thick marshes bordering the footpath.

The vegetation was so tall that anyone walking on the boardwalk and the bridge would find it hard to distinguish whether it was water or ground underneath the weeds and marshes.

One of us with a keen eye spotted a flattened patch and pointed out to us that probably a herd of deer had gone over this area.

1-IMG_1613

Grindstone Marsh Trail joined North Bridle Trail. We left the marshland and were now walking on narrow paths. We tried to look out for the much publicized bald eagles and their nest, but they were nowhere in sight. The Royal Botanical Garden was careful not to specify their exact location in view of public interests in this rare specie. The path took us to Creek Side Walk which ran along Grindstone Creek.

There was more uphill and downhill in this area but on a late summer day like this we were well protected from the sun. We emerged from Creek Side Walk to the residential area along Unsworth Avenue, where we could follow the city streets to end our walk.

1-IMG_1625

A Canal Hike on the Merritt Trail

My last encounter with the Welland Canal was on the Laura Secord Hike and only then did I learn that there were several canals in Welland, although not all of them were fully in operation. I therefore joined the Canal Hike of my local hiking club, -the Iroquoia Club of the Bruce Trail Conservancy, to find out more.

1-IMG_1576

We car-pooled and our starting point was at Port Robinson in St. Catharines. Ahead of us was a paved trail which ran beside the Canal. The lift bridge was in sight.

This is a big structure and I think it is interesting to have this industrial structure standing beside the green trail.

1-IMG_1584

At the lift bridge, we turned into a smaller trail which took us further up the canal and here we saw torrents of water raging downstream. Here we crossed over the bridge to the other side of the Canal.

1-IMG_1583

Back to paved roads and trail and we were heading in the direction of St. Catharines.

It was here that we discovered that the trail was closed due to reconstruction, and our hike leader had to change our plan to turn around and hike back. We passed the lock again with its rushing water.

1-IMG_1597

1-IMG_1591

Once passed it, we were also able to enjoy again the calmness of the canal and the serenity of the trail.

You may have read about my fascination with lift bridges, and with this shot, we walked back to Point Robinson. We completed this hike  of 13 Km which was mostly paved trails. This is a leisurely hike recommend to anyone who does not want too much exertion.

1-IMG_1598

Thursday Special: Tent Caterpillars

1-IMG_1738

I have noticed the presence of tent caterpillars on my walks. I have not encountered the larvae as much earlier in the season, but now that they have woven their silk-like cocoons and are staying together as a group in their pupa stage, their omnipresence is unmistakable. Their homes look like marshmallows on the branches with fillings of leaves and twigs. They come in different shapes and sizes, and make such interesting subject matter for photography, whether I look at them through the morning light and shielded by the shades of the leaves.

Fellow hikers bemoan that the tent caterpillars are a hazard to the forest because their destruction of the leaves can be extensive in one season. Local resident are fearful that the tent caterpillars are returning for another wave similar to the one about ten years ago that forced the city into spraying as a last resort to control them. Northwestern Ontario is on alert with the defoliation, and the havoc is spreading into southern Ontario. (That’s why I notice them on the trails.)

As with most natural phenomenon, there is a balance of power. We human beings observe the forest leaf loss and the trees baring, but who knows whether this may actually help the undergrowth and smaller tress to get the sunlight, which cannot penetrate through the shades of the larger and taller trees. Birds, mammals and other insects rely on the tent caterpillars as a food source and caterpillar droppings are the natural fertilizers for plant life.

Whether an outbreak will take place in the next few years is still open to speculation. The experts are monitoring and I shall keep my eyes open on my walks. I simply marvel at how the ecosystem maintains its own checks and balances.

Let me break Paula’s rule by adding one more picture here. The silky tent is just a wonder.

1-IMG_1739-001

jupiter-widget_text

An Ecological Walk in the Royal Botanical Gardens

The Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System is Canada’s newest urban ecopark. It is ‘urban’, because it is situated in a fast growing residential and re-developed area between Burlington and Hamilton in Ontario. It is an ‘ecopark’, because it is an area designed to preserve, restore and protect the natural lands in this western part of the province. It has taken seven years of planning and the Park has been open since June this year. Work is still continuing to reconnect the natural areas in this region that have been fragmented by roads, rail tracks that has come into existence as a result of urbanization.

I enter from Cherry Hill Gate on Plains Road in Burlington, and I am in the grounds of the Royal Botanical Gardens.

1-IMG_1478

In front of me is a downhill trail and I cannot believe that the air already breathes cleaner and fresher once I walk into the shades . A colony of chipmunks has been breeding in this area and they take no notice of people when they scurry across the trail and in and out of their burrows, with their dollar-size openings on the grounds.

Fallen trees are kept as long as they do not create an obstacle on the trail.

1-IMG_1481

I take an incline–unpaved, with exposed roots but firm footing–and turn into an area of marshland.

The water may look mirky, but the marshland is home to many species of insects and wild life. I feel pretty lucky to spot a muskrat and get a picture of it.

Crossing the boardwalk, I arrive at a big pond rich in vegetation, like the water lilies. Take a closer look and one can see many insects such as water roaches, dragon flies and many others that I wish I could give their names.

My walk today is short loop from Cherry Hill Gate, and take up part of the North Bridle Trail, and then Grindstone Marsh Trail to return to Hendrie Park of the Royal Botanical Gardens. It is an easy forty-five minutes’ reconnaissance stroll. I’ll be back for more.

Fungi Time

This must have been a good season for fungi, for I keep sighting mushrooms of various shapes, sizes and colours on the trails.

What is amazing though is that I discover that some of them are hard, suggesting that they somehow have hardened to endure the winter and continued their growth in the warmer seasons.

Fellow hiker-photographer Kenne has spotted fungi on his hikes too. Do check them out.

Hiking on Toronto Islands

If you are looking for a place for a walk or hike in downtown Toronto, you should go to Toronto Islands. Toronto Islands are a group of small islands off Toronto Harbour. The islands are off-limits to public traffic and are accessible only by ferries from the pier at the base of Bay Street, south of Union Station.

1-IMG_1445

This is where our journey begin. My hiking group takes the vehicular ferry, which carries services vehicles and cyclists across to Hanlan’s Point. I look back at the city and get a good view of how the CN Tower dominates the skyline. The sky is blue and it is a beautiful day for a hike.

1-IMG_1447

1-IMG_1448

We approach the Hanlan’s Point docking area and on landing, the statute of Edward Hanlan in his swimming trunk and holding his rowing paddle greets us to his home. (I have since looked up on who Hanlan was. He won five world sculling championships consecutively between 1880 and 1884 and therefore probably deserved to be remembered by this larger than life-size statue.)

1-IMG_1451

1-IMG_1452

Our group head across the grass towards the sandy path which takes us to Hanlan’s Point Beach.

During this hike, we either walk on the beach on the south side Centre Island, the biggest of the islands or keep to any path that runs along the shore, which sadly has taken the toll of erosion due to its exposure. Slabs of stone are piled up on some beaches to break up the waves as a preventative measure.

When we reach the “clothing optional area” (aka the nudist section of Hanlan’s Point Beach), we hurry on so as not to disturb the naturists who are sunbathing on the beach. To be honest, I much prefer the view towards the horizon.

1-IMG_1455

We are back walking on the path (Lakeshore Avenue) and shortly after we pass Gilbraltar Point Lighthouse, the look-out pier is in sight with its stone dyke –another measure to protect the shoreline.

This is time for a break–we stroll on the viewing platform and enjoy our packed lunch by the ponds in the garden.

Then it is time to pick up the pace again. It is a pleasant walk on the Broadwalk, which leads us to Ward’s Island at the far eastern end of the islands. From this direction, I can see planes taking off and landing at the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, which is used by private aircraft and Porter’s Airline.

On Ward’s Island is one of the two residential areas–the other is on Algonquin Island–on Toronto Islands. It is disappointing to see some houses that badly need attention and repairs, but one has to look into the history of the governance of the properties on the Islands, an anomaly which will shock many people.

But don’t drag me into politics; let me enjoy and complete my hike. It does not take long to reach the ferry dock at Ward’s Island, and I can take a ferry for passengers. By now, the sky has changed and is clouding over. I am glad our group has completed our hike under the best condition one could hope for.

1-IMG_1475

Related Post for another city hike:
Hiking on City Trails in Oakville: https://opallaontrails.wordpress.com/2013/01/21/hiking-on-city-trails-in-oakville/

The River and Bridge Walk in Saskatoon

Saskatoon is known as the City of Bridges. My favourite walking route is along the South Saskatchewan River between Broadway Bridge and Railway Bridge. On this walk, I am going to take you through the most scenic part of Saskatoon, which also forms part of the route of the Saskatoon Marathon and Half Marathon, in case you want to race there one day.

I begin my walk through a nice residential area near the Royal University Hospital to Broadway, which is considered to be a “hip” area of town and I arrive at  the Broadway Bridge.

Looking south, I see the Victoria Bridge (also known as the Iron Bridge) which is now closed to traffic due to its age. Looking over the bridge on the river bank, I see some painted stones. University Bridge is to my north. The Meevasin Trail runs on both sides of the river bank. I cross the bridge to the west bank of the river.

I am on Spadina Crescent East. I have chosen to walk on the tree-lined sidewalk by the Kiwanis Memorial Park to look at some city sights to reach the Bessborough Hotel. The Meevasin Valley Trail runs through the park, but at this time of the summer, tents have been set up in the park for the outdoor Shakespeare production and I decide not to go into the park.

I press on, past the Ukrainian Museum of Canada, and take the underpass of the University Bridge to avoid the intricate network of pedestrian crossings to continue on Spadina Crescent East. On my right is a residential area and on the left is the river overlooking the University of Saskatchewan campus. The Mendel Museum is my next landmark. This is the best part of the walk: I inhale the air imbued with morning freshness and slow down to admire the ancient trees with a canopy of leaves looking emerald green after the rain from the night before.

The next bridge I reach is the Railway Bridge at the Meevasin Waterworks. I walk on the bridge to take some pictures of the very full river–Saskatoon is lucky enough to escape the flood that has created havoc in Calgary since a month ago.

1-IMG_1509

1-IMG_1508

This is my turn around point. I do not cross over to the other side of the river to use the trail by the university campus, because it is more deserted. I decide to walk on the trail on the same bank I have come up and it is better maintained.

University Bridge is in sight. A monument marks the ramp to the Bridge. By this time, the sun has come out. I take a look towards the Broadway Bridge, and another look at the Railway Bridge to absorb the scenery. I  say goodbye to the river the bridges and return home on another tree-lined residential avenue.

Travel Theme: SCULPTURE

The Travel Theme of Where’s My Backpack asks for Sculpture this week. I have seen many famous and impressive sculptures on my travels, but close to my heart are two sculptures in Hamilton, Ontario.

1-IMG_0363

This is Pebbles on the Beach by Janus and is located on the Hamilton Beach Trail (about 5 Km from the Lift Bridge). Janus grew up in Hamilton and her sculpture features three children playing with pebbles. I love their body language and the look of concentration on their faces.

1-IMG_0362

Another sculpture is located at the Hamilton West Harbour, near the yacht club and I go there after I have walked on the Hamilton Waterfront Trail. Setting Sail, as it is called, presents two persons on a sail boat. I have taken this picture on a cloudy day, but the sculpture still looks majestic to me. l

1-IMG_0187

I am pleased to showcase to my readers these two local gems. Hope you like them.

Walking in the Footsteps of Laura Secord: A Bicentennial Hike

1-Secord

I usually think of chocolates when I think of Laura Secord. However, the Laura Secord hike organized by the Niagara Club of the Bruce Trail takes us back into Canadian history. The British and the Americans were fighting in the War of 1812. Laura Secord, neé Ingorsoll, was born in Massachusetts, U.S.A.  She moved with her Loyalist family (Americans who supported the British during the American Revolutionary War) to Upper Canada (now Ontario). She married James Secord and lived in the small village of Queenston in the Niagara Region.

One day in June 1913, Laura Secord overheard some American soldiers who came to her house talking about the plan of a surprise attack on the British soldiers in Beaver Dams. She set foot on a 32 Km (20 miles) journey, arriving at De Cew House on June 22, 1813 to warn Lieutenant Fitzgibbon about the American ploy.  Two days later, the British defeated the American at the Battle of Beaver Dams.

To commemorate Laura Secord’s walk, the Niagara Club of the Bruce Trail Conservancy organizes a Laura Secord hike every year. This year is the Bicentennial Hike.

My husband and I arrived at the meeting place–car park of the Niagara Region office–at 5:45 a.m. to board a bus which took us to Laura Secord’s Homestead in Queenston to start the hike. The town was asleep, but the sun was up, and the town was adorned with flags to mark the bicentennial occasion. Around the corner of the Homestead, General Brock Column came into view. We began our climb up the stairs beside the printing museum. It was a couple of kilometres of hills to reach the Queenston Park, where there was also monument to remember Laura Secord.

The Bruce Trail Main Trail began here. Our journey was to follow the white blazers of the Main Trail until we get to De Cew House in St. Catharines.

There were so much to see on this hike. The terrains were variable, hence providing interesting challenges. The part I liked the least were the muddy downhills. Otherwise, I enjoyed the occasional leap over a water puddle or a stream, and an incline when my hiking stick became an asset. We came to a hill where everybody had to climb down carefully, due to the muddy slipperiness. It was a relief to overcome this steep slope!

We continued by climbing over a stile to enter a private property, came out to walk on city roads, and walked over a bridge which crossed the highway. We hiked on narrow country paths, past a swamp,  on the edge of people’s backyard and through the vineyards of Niagara.

We looked out for historical features along our route. Besides Laura Secord’s homestead, 1-IMG_1413 General Brock Column and the Mackenzie Printery and Newspaper Museum in Queenston, we walked through the Screaming Tunnel, which according to legend, a young girl died here and if you strike a match inside the tunnel, you’ll hear her screaming. The tunnel was dark and wet. There was such a eerie feel to it that we just hurried on.  For a few kilometres, we were walking along the banks of the Welland Canal. Only Canal #3 was in operation and to my delight, I came across a lift bridge, which had played a very important role in the industrial development of southern Ontario.

Our last lag was to hike around the campus of Brock University. When finally we saw the grounds of De Cew House of which only the relics of the foundation remained, we picked up our pace to cross the river, and were received by Laura Secord and her friend.

It was a long hike and it took us over six hours to complete the 32 Kilometres. The Niagara Bruce Trail Club provided the hikers with a wholesome lunch at De Cew House, and very hospitable reception on all the four check points. The greatest reward at the end of the day was the badge of the Laura Secord Bicentennial Hike to sew on my backpack.

1-IMG_1443

Vierdaagse: A Four-Day Evening Walk, Dutch Style

1-IMG_1372

The location was Dundas Valley Conservation Park in Dundas, Ontario. The time was the second week of June 2013. This was my first Vierdaagse (meaning a four-day event in Dutch), which was into its 23rd year organized by the Dutch community in our region. It has been a tradition in Holland to have a four-day walking challenge in mid-July every year in Nijmegen. It started in 1908 with a goal to promote sports and exercises. Depending on age groups, people walk 30, 40 or 50 Km each day over four  consecutive days. The Canadian 4-day evening walk event is more a symbolic version with a choice of a long (10 Km) and a short (5 Km) walk every day. Participants came out on four evenings to do the walk.

There was a sea of orange (the Dutch national colour) at the start line. When the bugle (allegedly the horn from a Dutch canal boat) sounded, walkers headed out on their respective routes. I walked the long distance on Day 1 and Day 3, and the short distance on Day 2 and 4. The longer route took us into the forest of Dundas Valley, which was shaded. The route was marked by orange ribbons tied on the branches of the trees. The short route was along the Rail Trail, from the Trail Centre to Sanctuary Park and return, and it was flat and straight. The weather was not the most co-operative, especially on the first day, but it did not seem to dampen the enthusiasm of the people who had come out, many bringing children with them.

There were sightings of deer every evening, but I was only lucky enough to capture one of them on my iPhone on the last evening. Due to the rain, the fungi were rampant on the trail and many people stopped to take a picture of this big one growing on a tree trunk.

Back in the centre, there was a stall selling Dutch treats, such as pooffertjes–tiny pancakes brushed with butter and sprinkled with icing sugar– and croquettes. I tasted the pooffertjes for the first time. Yes, there was a “poof” sensation when I put it in my mouth!

At the end of the fourth evening, I was awarded my badge and a souvenir. Printed on it was “1” signifying that it was my first walk. Looking around, there were people who have done over ten years and one person with “19” on his badge. I’ll try to be back next year!

1-IMG_1384