Gorgeous weather today while we slack-packed from the southeast corner of Mono Cliffs to up north of Boyne River! My wife dropped us off at the beginning of the Dufferin section of the Bruce Trail, and then picked us later in the afternoon in time to come back home for a dinner with our sewing-red-fleece daughter. We did something like 25 km at an only slightly faster than usual relaxed pace between 7 A.M. and 4 P.M. The joys of a light pack! That gave us time for a great dinner, the opportunity to shop for resupplies, and time to repack everything because tomorrow we start back with full loads on our way up to Singhampton for Saturday and Sunday nights. (Thanks in advance, S!!!)
- The spectacular yellow cliffs in Mono Cliffs Park, complete with a Turkey Vulture presumably on a nest. Can you spot the Turkey Vulture on the nest?
- The wonderful ‘Sheldon Spring’, so named by high school students of mine back in 1976 when Bill Currie pointed it out as one of the sources of Sheldon Creek which ran through ‘our’ outdoor education school eight kilometres to the east. Clear cold clean water coming out of the ground at a constant 7ºC year-round!
- The sad extent of the ice damage from our storm of not much more than a month ago … We were still finding damage even at the end of the day some 20 km north.
- McCarston’s Lake in the middle of Mono Cliffs Park never ceases to thrill me! Such a spectacular example of a kettle lake!
- A wonderful row of Jubilee Maples along the Mono line just west of Mono Cliffs. This is the best preserved such row I’ve seen — and sadly, even these are aging and decaying. But the majestic sense of this tribute to Queen Victoria shines through!
- Going through the fields at the back ends of the farms northwest of Mono Cliffs Park, there were fields of tinkling bobolinks, gurgling as the males soared up from old hay and shrubs to announce to their mates that they had spotted some stinking hikers. I don’t know when I last saw so many of these gorgeous birds! (Charles Darwin noted them in Patagonia on their wintering grounds during his travels on the Beagle, and thought them striking in colouration and plentiful in number!)
- While we sat being thrilled by the bobolinks, we ate some of my friend Dolores’ incredible shortbread that she delivered yesterday in. Kookork called it one of the most memorable moments so far as we enter our third week. Great sunny pleasant weather, overlooking the farm where my beloved Laddie was born nearly thirty years ago, being serenaded by bobolinks, and treasuring the best shortbread. Yep!
- We met up with four Bruce Trail volunteers shortly after, as they inspected a fifteen kilometre portion of the Trail. One of them recognized us from seeing us down just by the north edge of the Royal Botanic Gardens! The work of trail maintainers and volunteers is truly impressive! We thanked them profusely. Perhaps that’s a coming activity for me — if I drop some other volunteer activity …
- I’m not sure quite how to report this … And maybe I shouldn’t … I had heard of a solo thruhiker who was a day ahead of us back when we were down in the Niagara area. We have been discussing this frequently, wondering if we’d catch up to him/her, and assuming they knew what they were doing and probably quite blasting along with an ultralight approach. There doesn’t seem to be any report of how many thruhikers such as us actually complete the Bruce Trail each season. (It’s not an encouraged or even condoned activity — which is a topic for another blog post perhaps.) So when we saw a solo hiker carrying a big pack up one of the Boyne Valley hills, our hopes were raised. Could we have actually leap-frogged over this mythic thruhiker because we’ve jumped a couple of sections in order to maintain a schedule of mine that has some fixed dates? (I’ll return and complete those sections once I get to Tobermory.) Instead we chatted with a young man carrying a huge backpack, with gear hanging off it, and a heavy dry bag of food alternating between hands. Our guess is that he’s carrying over 35 kilograms … He started last week in Georgetown, and thinks he can complete the Trail in three months. (We’re aiming at a leisurely 42 days, which is very far from fast …) We desperately wanted to sit him down and do a gear review with him. We didn’t, though we wish we could offer him some help. A sleeping mat would help, as would a lighter tent and stove, and dehydrated food instead of dried beans, … At least he’s enjoying himself, all the more amazing considering his inappropriate equipment and huge load.
- BTW, my base weight plus clothing is now down to about 12 kg, and my full pack with five days of food and fuel plus almost 2 litres of water is 17 kg. I’m packing fewer of my fears, using a new pack that’s half the weight of my original pack, and still fully in the comfort zone in every way. Now to see if I can reduce that base weight even more …