Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Bruce Trail: Brock's Monument to Firemans Park

Nicola and I have been talking about walking the length of the Bruce Trail for a couple of years now and when we last got together we decided to stop talking and start walking. We looked at our calendars and marked off about 5 days this year that we can both dedicate to the project. Sunday was the first. We drove down to Niagara on Saturday afternoon.
We stayed in a cheap motel about a block from the Skylon.
I got there about an hour before Nicola,
time enough to walk down through the impressive gardens

and get a quick peak
at the falls.

I have always had a love-hate relationship with "the falls". It is always so crowded, too many cars and so tacky. On the other hand, as a family, we always had a good time there. When the kids were young a visit meant; a drive by the falls, cycling on the Niagara Parkway trail followed by buffet dinner at Ponderosa on the U.S. side. When the kids were gone it meant; staying at a hotel, driving or walking by the falls, cycling on the parkway and visiting wineries.
After Nicola got there we walked to a nearby restaurant and caught up over a glass of wine. We then took Mum and Dad out for Father's Day to the Ming Teh restaurant in Fort Erie (excellent food and a great view of the Niagara river).
Thunderstorms were in the forecast for the afternoon so we set an alarm, had a buffet breakfast and drove to our end point, Firemans Park, to drop off Nicola's car. There was a festival being set up in the park so we were glad we were there early to get a parking spot.
We were at Brock's Monument, by about 9am. Hot, muggy, windy and lots of dark clouds around. It drizzled rain while we were getting our hikers on and setting up our hiking poles.
The information that Nicola had printed off from the internet indicated that there was a cairn marking the start of the trail but all we could find was this sign.
We were feeling pretty pumped about finally getting started. Selfie by Nicola.
The first flash of white. The trail is marked by these white painted markers and turns are marked with one flash above the other. Side trails are in different colours.

We were often walking along the Niagara Escarpment ridge and could see glimpses of the plain, towards Niagara-on-the-lake, below us, through the trees.
This made us wonder what type of rock it was. Quick google and the answer is: dolomitic limestone.
Negotiating water over running its culvert.
A little slippery
but quite photogenic.
It was lushly green with plants and flowers in bloom.
There was no information signage along the way (and you know how I love my info plaques). This looks like a hoist of some kind, near an abandoned quarry.

This rock, with its trail marker, showed signs of the drill holes.
Occasionally we were traversing rocky gorges
other times it was woodland or meadow paths. Photo by Nicola.
A number of times we found ourselves on side trails and had to back track to find the white flashes again.
There were some really steep scrambles when we were glad to have the poles for support.

We actually didn't have to go over the stile, we went round it. Photo kindly taken by another hiker. There weren't a lot of people on the trail; one large group and a couple of couples. Probably the heat and humidity had put people off.
The Bruce trail joined the Laura Secord legacy trail for a while.

Then it joined a road
and this long gradual hill was probably the worst part of the whole hike. We stopped for a granola bar and for Nicola to put on her ankle brace, at the top of the hill where the trail re-entered the woods. At this point we were about 2 km from our destination.
It turned out that the festival at Firemans park was a rally of antique VWs.
Lots of jellybean colours
As well as the camper vans there were bugs, cabrioles and dune buggys.
Although we had been drinking water the whole time we were desperate for some caffeine. These were our celebratory iced cap and iced latte from Tims.
Next blog I will outline what we learned from this experience to take into our next hike, in July.

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