Shale, poison ivy, floating Coltsfoot, and the Peninsula!

At many places along the Trail since Niagara, we’ve come across the ochre reds and slate greens of shale layers. (Somebody please check for me:  Is this Queenston Shale? Or the Grimsby horizon?) Think the Plunge Pool at Niagara Falls. Or the Cheltenham Badlands. Or  what’s known locally around Orangeville as the Red Mud Cliffs along the Hockley Valley. Up here (Devil’s Glen through to Craigleith, these layers are often associated with muddy and sloppy sections of the Trail, where water oozes out of the shale, or above or below it, to make for slippery messy footing. Sometimes, as today on the southeast corner of the Len Gertler Forest near Collingwood, the streams are coloured rusty-brown by the fine silt coming from the shale. 

Red & green shales by the Swiss Meadows above Collingwood


Hopefully not as a portent, I saw my first Poison Ivy in well over a week. I have a botanist’s eye for and a sufferer’s fear of this stuff. Seeing the incredible tree-climbing vines of it as far north as the upper limits of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington quite struck fear in me. But since not far north of there, I’ve been puzzled by not seeing any of it — until today, coming out of the Scenic Caves property. Oh my, those pretty red triplet leaves … OH DAMN THOSE LEAVES!!! I guess I’m in for a treat up on the Peninsula and before …


Once through the decidedly boring cartoon of the Blue Mountain ski hills, we took a break at the top of one of the many narrow gullies cutting up into the escarpment. The cool & light north breezes off the Bay were blowing up the gully. I saw a dandelion-like seed pappus floating up the hill towards me. It gently floated right past my head. And then another. And another. And I finally realized there was a near constant train of them floating up the hill from the patch of Coltsfoot growing in the sunny seepage area at the bottom. I sat entranced by the grace of these seeds!

The Gully of the Floating Coltsfoot

Finally, sitting at the top of one of the ski hills pointed north out onto the vast expanse of Georgian Bay, I realized I was fulfilling one of my ‘dream images’. Here I was, at the top of a cliff, enjoying a stunning sunset in a coolish breeze — and I was wearing the red fleece hoodie that our sewing daughter custom-made for me. This was the very image that I used to crystallize exactly what I wanted the hoodie for! Wow! Thanks, sweetheart!!!


I also realized that we had rounded the tip of the Blue Mountain cape, and instead of the last several days view across Wasaga to Huronia, I could see the cape that leads to Owen Sound — and on the distance, the outline of the Bruce Peninsula! Wow!

(Below us, May 2-4 fireworks are beginning …)

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4 thoughts on “Shale, poison ivy, floating Coltsfoot, and the Peninsula!

    • Ooh — just saw your offer, Will. Yes, we are past Kolapore … Asparagus & your excellent aged barley water, now that would’ve fine!

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