My friend Cheryl and I have been hiking the Bruce Trail on and off since April and have covered a respectable distance. Besides all the amazing countryside we’ve seen, one fascinating aspect for me are those sights that seem to represent lost parts of peoples lives and perhaps even their dreams. We’ve passed closed mills and factories…
…towns past their heyday and abandoned homes along the trail and wondered about the families who may have lost it all or may have moved on to greener pastures.
We’ve been crossing rough terrain, usually in thick brush or seemingly the middle of nowhere and come across a broken fence, something that once marked a boundary or contained livestock or crops…a long time ago and built with hope and hard work but now overgrown as nature takes it back.
For me the most compelling are the dry boulder fences built by settlers using huge rocks they cleared from the land in hopes of tilling the soil. They suddenly appear in a forest and stretch for as far as you can see…each boulder painstakingly dug up and lifted now demarcating nothing. I’m sure I’ve bored my hiking companion silly as each time I point them out and marvel at the determination these long ago farmers showed.
And what’s the story behind this abandoned machine that blocked our path and cause a detour through greenery that may contain poison ivy?
As we walk this trail we think not only about those who have traversed it before us but also the lost times and hard times of those who lived in the places we pass in days gone by…
Okay I admit it…I do blog elsewhere and it means my favourite type of blogging here – where I have no restrictions – does sometimes take a back seat. But there I’ve come clean and I’m surprised too- yes I am a serial blogger!
It started innocently enough with our local on-line regional tourism board asking for applications from local bloggers and examples of previous blogs. I told them that I like exploring local outdoor spaces and referred them to this blog as my only example of previous work – how much trouble could that get me into?? Well maybe only a few of us responded because before I realized it I was staring down the barrel, caught in the web (insert appropriate cliche here) of a once every two week publication deadline!
And I couldn’t just blather on about whatever I wanted like I do here…and even worse I had to check my grammar and spelling all the time!
Well here I am 6 months in and they’ve just signed me up for another six…if I seem a little frazzled it’s because I’m going on vacation soon which means I need to have a couple of extra columns ready to go! Take this posting as a warning – be very careful what you ask for…
Just like my horse Romy searching through his grooming kit for goodies, Canada Day always makes me look for the gems that we have here in our special country.
As a country blessed with beautiful outdoor spaces, much of it rugged and still wild we are often stunned into reverential silence by what we are so lucky to have around us…and yet we are so frequently cavalier about our guardianship of the environment we find ourselves within.
So on this Canada Day 2014 I find myself whistfully searching for answers I know must be there just like the distant City you may be able to see in this photo.
My family came to Canada just after these wonderful volunteers started to forge the magnificent Bruce Trail I’m now hiking with my friend Cheryl.
This was just after the first universal medicare program had started in Canada – a testament to those things we prioritized as a country…it was and is a land of wonderful possibilities…but perplexing contradictions.
Maybe I wouldn’t have been as conflicted as I am but we’ve just had a federal by-election here, to elect four new members of our Federal parliament and the voter turnout ranged from 15 to 30%…Oh Canada!!
When we decided to hike the nearly 900 klms of the Bruce Trail we weren’t sure we’d stick with it but we were determined to try.
There are moments on this hike that keep you going and sometimes those moments feel like entire days. Glorious days where the sheer magnificence of what you’re seeing and hearing makes your spirit soar…this past weekend was filled with those.
Yes it rained on our first day and the mosquitoes were dreadful at times- but they just helped us pick up our speed.
It was breathing in the highly oxygenated air, fragrant with the scent of the forest and rain in springtime that lifted us up. How many glorious shades of green could there be?
It was looking ahead on the trail and seeing a huge deer looking back and not reaching for our cameras because the moment would be fleeting and we didn’t want to miss one second of it – then she bolted, flicking her white tail at us she ran in panic until she had located her precious fawn and ensured it’s safety. We cherished that moment for hours.
It was moments of quiet reverence as we mourned the trees lost through the past winters ice storm or uprooted by unnatural winds.
It was having hundreds of toads clamour across our path as they hopefully hunted the mosquitoes and we cheered them on!
It was standing open mouthed at the beauty of the hawks soaring over the forested peninsula below us as we relished the victory of our tough climb.
And then it was the smaller moments of companionship as my friend Cheryl and I walked in comfortable silence or chatted about our families, politics and life along the way.
These are the things that keep us going onwards to Tobermory or wherever we end up – distance measured in moments not kilometres.
Posted in Environment, Life, Photography, Thoughts, Travel, Uncategorized, Walking
Tagged Bruce Trail, Canadian wilderness, friendship, Hiking the Bruce trail, Iroquoia section of Bruce Trail, Special moments
A great author and passionate environmentalist has passed on and many creatures -including us!- have lost a champion. After the horror he witnessed as a soldier in WWII Farley Mowat despaired of the cruelty of mankind and spent his life speaking up about our destruction of the natural world. He was ornery and outspoken and as recently as last week he was in the press with the following comment about introducing WiFi to Parks Canada:
“My thoughts can be expressed quite simply. I think it is a disastrous, quite stupid, idiotic concept, and should be eliminated immediately. I have very strong feelings that national parks. provincial parks, any kind of parks, that are theoretically set up to provide for the protection of nature, in some form or another, should be respected absolutely and ultimately and human beings should be kept out of them as much as possible.”
Farley Mowat, one of Canada’s best known nature lovers
RIP Farley Mowat.
It has been a tough winter and the horses were showing a bit of that strain. Their environment had deteriorated badly with the winter melt and spring rains…
…so when my friend said she was moving her horses back to her own barn, I asked if ‘my boy Romy’ could move too.
Anyone who lives in a northern climate will tell you of the joy horses and other animals exhibit when they get their first sweet taste of green spring grass.
We rode our horses the couple of kilometres to their new pastures and were a little concerned that the change in their home could be disconcerting for them…but we couldn’t have been more wrong!
Romy kissing the grass!
Vegas savouring the sweetness.
From the moment they arrived and their hooves sank into the greener pastures they were in horse heaven. Their heads went down and they started savouring the sweet, green grass and even as we tried to take their bridles off they resisted, so that they could gobble as much as possible in case we took them back to their previous muddy abode.
Jube-Jube devouring the new shoots.
Yearling Arya contemplating the blue flowers.
Even the laying hens have a snazzy new home…
Spring has come to the country and our steeds have moved on to greener pastures…all is right with the world!