“Do we have to die first?”

Well the question did set me back on my heels a bit…Greed and corruption, the pursuit of wealth and power, self interest everywhere…there’s no doubt it can get you down sometimes. If you try however you can find the counter forces of community building, simple pleasures, selflessly helping others. That wonderful proverb about society being great when we plant trees in whose shade we’ll never sit sums it up perfectly.

Days last light

Days last light

One example of this generosity, can be found along the Bruce Trail I’m walking with my dear friend Cheryl. We’re into our second year now – clearly we’re taking our time and relishing our days!

Stairway to heaven
This is a nearly 900 kilometre trail along the Niagara escarpment and it’s maintained entirely by volunteers and has been for the 50 years of its existence. They keep the paths clear of fallen trees, build bridges, stairways, styles and even thoughtfully add an occasional dog door!

For dogs who can't climb.

For dogs who can’t climb.

There are sometimes heaven sent benches along the way – such a kindness, especially in poison ivy season! Many of them are memorial benches to people and other creatures who have enjoyed this jewel of a trail.

Dog memorial

But then there are the ones that are just there out of kindness.

Welcome seat

We have no idea who these strangers are who provide a little comfort but Cheryl and I have often discussed how we want to be one of those strangers. If I should keel over on the trail one day, she likes to say, make sure my kids know I want to donate a bench…and I ask the same of her.

Benches 2

On the last hike Cheryl wondered why we had to die before we donated a bench – good question! Maybe a bench to celebrate our completion – check back here in a couple of years…

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This entry was posted in Environment, Hiking, Life, Photography, Puzzles and Contradictions, Thoughts, Walking and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

46 Responses to “Do we have to die first?”

  1. Thank you for showing us the beauty of nature in your area.
    The thought on donating a the trail bench reminded me of what my Mother used to say.
    ” If I have something coming to me, now’s the time to slip it to me, because I can’t read my tome-stone when I am dead.” It can works in reverse. Enjoy every step.

  2. Gallivanta says:

    I am all for the do it before you die, then you can have the pleasure of seeing and maybe using the bench.

  3. agnesashe says:

    The last resting seat is a very swanky affair. If the trail is run by volunteers who decides where a bench can be placed and what it looks like? On a technical, I notice you are walking the trail in stages and it’s not circular, so, I was wondering how you get back to your cars/homes? Looks like a special, memorable undertaking and nice to share with friends. Your posts are turning out to provide some excellent publicity for visiting Canada!

    • While the Bruce Trail Conservancy is volunteer run it does have a couple of administrative staff and a volunteer Board (elected by us members!) and they put together the guidelines. There are parts of the trail that are joined through private property – the landowners allow access, so a major part of their efforts go into either accumulating land through purchase or hopefully donations and bequeaths. We both drive from our respective homes (2 1/2 hours apart) and meet up at the end point of the hike where we leave a car and then both drive to the start point. We try to hike over 2 and sometimes 3 consecutive days staying at either Cheryl’s house or mine or a friends…occasionally we treat ourselves to a B&B close to our hiking area. It is a wonderful experience and one that isn’t well enough known about – let me know if you’re planning a Bruce Trail hiking vacation and I’ll join you for part of it!

      • agnesashe says:

        Thank you for taking the time to explain. I think that it’s uplifting to know that people care about their environmental heritage to work together in this way and maintain such a trail. The set up sounds similar to some of our Wildlife Trusts which help conserve parts of the UK for everybody to enjoy.
        All your photographs make it look very tempting. They remind me of parts of Scotland, but on a grander scale. I must also say I admire your’s and Cheryl’s ‘hiking’ energy. Perhaps one day I’ll manage a trip to Canada.

  4. margaret21 says:

    This is a trail I’d love to do. And with added benches, perhaps one from you? An added bonus!

  5. Bruce Trail looks like a lovely place to hike along. And I agree with the question. Would be nice to have a bench in our name while we are still alive.

  6. Beautiful photos and thoughts. Yes, I agree with you about the benches. It’s always great to come upon one when one’s legs need a short respite. My MiL donated a bench to her village in England to celebrate her 100th birthday almost 2 years ago. It replaced the bench which had been vandalised and removed, on which she used to rest after climbing up the sharp incline to her local post office.

  7. Sartenada says:

    Hiking is wonderful. I loved your photos very much. Did I see correct that there were Nordic Walking Sticks by the bench?

    Happy blogging!

    • We couldn’t do this trail without our trusty hiking poles! They’ve stopped us from slipping on ice and mud, tested the way before we’ve stepped there and helped us switch to four legged drive on steep slopes. Thanks for the visit.

  8. Girl Gone Expat says:

    Such a lovely trail, lush and green. And who says you can’t buy a bench it you want to! 🙂 Are your goal to complete all 900 kilometres?

  9. Nancy says:

    I love how you write… You have such an elegant style. This trail that you often talk of and share such beautiful photos of, is lovely. I can’t wait to see your bench upon completion!!

  10. The benches mean so much and seem to be positioned just when we’re tired and hungry and need a rest. We laugh about how a few years ago we might have perched on a log or on the ground but now not sure how we’d get up, even if we could get down. Hiking as retirees, however active, does make a difference in distance travelled, pleasures appreciated and ointments used!

  11. mommermom says:

    What an absolutely marvelous trail! To have such a beautiful place to walk, meditate, explore, and spend time with a good friend what a treasure! ♡

  12. Gunta says:

    Looks like a great hike, but I’m trying to imagine how the dog door might work. Why the dog can’t just go where the humans do?

    • Some parts of the trail are fenced and for this the trail angels provide a style…their rungs are narrow and hard for dogs to climb – although as you know a poodle would give it a good try! You’ll see in the photo that a gap has been left in the fence next to the style – so thoughtful.

      • Gunta says:

        Thanks, now I get it (had to study the image a bit), but you’re right that the poodle would likely attempt it. Getting down might be more of a challenge, luckily she’s small enough to pick up. 🙂

  13. restlessjo says:

    That is a lovely idea! And, incidentally, do you know Jude at https://smallbluegreenwords.wordpress.com/? She runs a great bench challenge, and even aside from that, I’m sure you’d love her blog. 🙂

  14. Lavinia Ross says:

    No, no, don’t die first!!! I like the idea of paying it forward. That looks like a beautiful trail and should have a bench in your names. I like the dog door on that section. Very thoughtful!

    I wonder if that gnome is still out there somewhere….

  15. Catchy title but DON’T DO IT!

  16. How wonderful to do this walk with your good friend. I think it is super that people look after this beautiful place .. And it is too! Thanks for sharing ..

    • The community that has formed to support the Bruce Trail, all along its length, is pretty amazing. Yes it is very special being able to share this with Cheryl – couldn’t imagine doing it without her!

  17. pommepal says:

    What a marvellous part of the country to hike in. How far do you hike each time? Bench donation is a great idea.

    • We’ve been delighted to find the trail in our own ‘backyard’ and are constantly amazed by its wildness. We are not super hikers – knees, hips etc- but average 12-15 klm per day and like to hike over two consecutive days. We’re slow but steady!

  18. joannesisco says:

    Isn’t it funny? … I can’t say I noticed many benches along the way. We rarely stopped for long … even to eat. I guess that’s what happens when 2 long distance runners become hikers.

    I think it’s a wonderful idea to commemorate your End-to-End with a bench donation. That’s a very thoughtful and lasting gesture.

    Love your pictures – especially the rock climb. There are a lot of those to remember!! 🙂
    What section of the trail were you on here?

    • You two covered the trail much faster for sure – we only speed up when trying to escape mosquitoes😱. The rocky stairs were on the trail just north of Hamilton – you may recall we vary our maps depending on season and shared driving distance. We so appreciate those occasional benches so would be nice to pay it forward!

      • joannesisco says:

        We travelled the entire southern part of the trail up to the Dufferin HIghlands in winter, so your experiences may be quite different from ours.
        I loved the Iroquoia section for all the waterfalls. Gorgeous!
        oh my, but how I remember the mosquitoes!!

  19. Brenda elliott says:

    I love your stories from the Bruce Trails!

  20. Ingrid says:

    Looks like a beautiful place to hike…. right up my alley 🙂

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