Hike #15 – Old Baldy -Campbell’s Hill

Date: April 16th, 2016
Old Baldy (42.8) to Campbell Rd.(55.9).13 kms.

 

Musings

I am very familiar with Old Baldy and I have taken many of you there to enjoy the forest, the rock and the incredible vista looking over the sleepy hamlet of Kimberly and the panoramic view of the beautiful Beaver Valley. At Old Baldy itself, the Niagara Escarpment face is 152 m high of the Dolomite rock and is a favorite for rock climbers. The turkey vultures and buteo hawks were soaring today, as they always do. Ancient cedar trees cling to the Escarpment edge, some only 2ft tall, as they adjust to the winter harshness. They have lived here between 300-700 yrs. I had the privilege of having the first butterfly of spring hitch a ride on my finger and a couple of frogs paying no attention to me at all…spring has sprung folks and this hike is one of the most beautiful in the area!

Rolling, glacially sculpted farmlands are interspersed with patches of deciduous forest, meandering rivers and creek valleys lined in dark green cedar. The rural countryside is dotted with farming homesteads not greatly changed in over a century. Sheep and cattle graze on rich pastureland; fields of golden wheat and green corn ripen in the long days of summer. The Beaver Valley has a unique microclimate which makes it particularly suitable for growing apples. Grey County grows more apples than any other county in Ontario.

Most of the world’s population of Hart’s-tongue fern is located in Grey‘s forests. Look for its flat, blade-like leaves on shaded talus slopes, in mossy ravines and in moist, rocky Escarpment forests.Hart’s-tongue Fern grows on calcareous rocks in deep shade on slopes in deciduous forest. Most Ontario occurrences are in maple-beech forest. Established plants can grow in exposed, rocky crevices and on outcrops, but moist, mossy areas seem to be essential for spore germination and early plant development.

 

 

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Hike 14, Eugenia Falls to Hoggs Falls

Date: April 09, 2016
Weather: -4c, Sunny
Highlights: The falls for sure!

The Book Ends of Waterfalls

A beautiful day of sun, glistening snow and stunning waterfalls makes one feel alive! I had some good friends join me on this hike and we stopped along the way to have a “potluck” winter picnic. The vista was spectacular and the power of the half frozen falls brought us to a silence of awe. A local resident told us that the dam at Eugenia Lake was opened to let the water flow down to the falls to prevent the lake from over-flowing, and it was spectacular. I have never seen it like this before. What an amazing hike!

 

Hoggs Falls

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Hike 13, Waterdown

Hike #13 - Map 9: Waterdown 
Date: March 9
Location: Great Falls, Waterdown Woods, Kerncliff Park, City View Park 
- Mount Nemo start.
Weather: 20c (h), light showers, cloudy with sunny periods

Musings

The forests were so surreal and diverse. There is no doubt that spring has begun. The ground is thawing quickly and evidence of spring is all around. Small yellow flowers have bloomed and I can see new ones that have just poked their green heads above the ground ready to open. It is critical that everyone stay on the trails as to not disturb the spring vegetation emerging and the inhabitants of the forest. Also, it is VERY muddy everywhere, making my hike slippery and dirty. In Jan, when I hiked I wore running shoes, but the ground was still frozen; it was just a top ground thaw in winter. Today, it was a lot of work to get a short distance. I hiked 7 hrs and only achieved 15 kms, although I did take a 45 minute lunch break at a beautiful place and had several “breaks” due to the struggle with walking in the mud. The ground is thawing deep everywhere, so think about where placing your footing as you may find yourself on your butt from the slippery surface. I will let the ground dry some and return next week. 

My hike started from the Grand Falls; a site that one never gets tired of. It is here that I saw the bright yellow patch of eranthis flowers. So nice to see a sign of spring besides the mud.

The trail continued across Mill Street and right into a lovely grassed area. I could feel the warm air permeate from the ground and I immediately thought of my childhood home on the Escarpment. I always liked the smell of that long yellow grass that lingered in the air in the thaw. It was a sign of spring.

The
“HOLLOW TREE FOREST”

At the edge of the field was a very small forest that held the most magical hollow trees and moss covered rocks. A couple of hawks were soaring in a circular movement high above looking for their next meal. I hoped that one of them would drop a feather for me, but it wasn’t going to happen today. As I entered into the forest, I immediately saw  it was a place where the trees stood tall, but have no centre in them. I went inside the trunk and it was hollow as far up the tree as I could see. I was expecting Bilbo Baggins to come and greet me at any time! This was a very enchanting place and I liked it  very much. You can see below the comparison of where my imagination took me.

The Heritage Trees of Waterdown Woods

Very soon after, I entered the Conservation Halton’s Waterdown Woods area, which is home to a very mature forest. The century old trees living here command seniority, standing strong over all others and providing shelter and shade to all in need of it.

 

Search & Rescue – Behavior of a Lost Person

As I looked around this magnificent aged forest, I noticed several of the fallen trees lay broken and hollow on the ground. This reminded me of my Search & Rescue days when I learned of how small children would often climb into hollow trees such as these when they were scared and lost in the woods. My team mates and I were trained to look into the hollows of trees, rock formations and ground, calling out the name of the little one that was lost.

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Kerncliff Park, City View Park and onward to Fisher’s Pond

In the serenity of the forests, the sights continued to pull me into deep thoughts. I thought of many things of the past with each step I took in the thick, slippery mud. Hiking in the mud was an exhausting task, especially with my additional 15 pd backpack. I thought of how in war the soldiers drugged through these conditions for days on end. I thought of a dear friend, “Fred”, my 87 yr old buddy from down the hall. Fred, a Paratrooper in WW2, liked very much to share his WW2 stories and songs with me; whom he affectionately called his “blond-bombshell.” I cherish my memories of me and Fred and think of him often.

I ended my day dirty, quite tired and a little bit wiser. This was a very magical area. Thank-you to the Iroquoia Club – Bruce Trail Conservancy, for their hard work in keeping this section of the Bruce Trail so clean and well marked!

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Hike 12, Rock Chapel Sanctuary – Smokey Hollow

Date: - March 8, 2016
Weather: 10c, 
Highlights:  Ray Lowe's Side Trail, Rock Chapel Sanctuary, Royal Botantical Gardens, Lower Borer’s Falls, Rock Chapel Falls

( 58.6) Sydenham Rd., up, up, up to Rock Chapel Sanctuary, Royal Botanical Gardens, Bores Falls, forest after forest until the end, Grindstone creek to the “Great Falls” (71.0) waterfall at Smokey Hollow.

Warm spring weather, beautiful forests and falls. Lots of uphill climbing today, and the biggest challenge – VERY slippery mud. I was exhausted at the end and was covered in mud. Gorgeous scenery though. Here you will find outdoor display signs explaining the formation of the Escarpment. It is fantastic!!

Musings

The best things about hiking the Bruce Trail is going back into ancient time. Imagine going back to the beginning of earth’s creation, 500 to 400 million years ago during the Ordovician and Silurian Periods belonging to the Paleozoic Era.  At this time, a large area of North America, including  Southern Ontario, was covered by warm shallow water.  The Escarpments caprock is comprised of dolostone and limestone created by the coral of that warm water sea. The base is comprised of sediments forming shale. Herein, one can find the beginning of marine life in the form of fossils; primarily being the Trilobite. I have my own fossil collection that I like to share with friends and groups. I do a full Niagara Escarpment, Bruce Trail presentation as well. 

 

 

Royal Botanical Gardens

The landscapes of Royal Botanical Gardens have a grand story to tell, from primeval forest and prairie to degraded landscape, restored nature sanctuary and internationally known living museum.

Let’s begin:

Rock Chapel Sanctuary

Rock Chapel, a 72-hectare nature sanctuary located on the Flamborough-Dundas municipal boundary along the Niagara Escarpment, is part of the Niagara Escarpment UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. This south-facing forested habitat features Borer’s Falls and the escarpment valley. The escarpment and its wooded areas are home to a diverse range of rare and uncommon plants and birds. The escarpment edge supports a rare eastern white cedar old growth forest community.  Rock Chapel, named for a frame chapel erected in 1822

As you round the escarpment, a newly constructed stairway takes you along a geological exhibit. Each exposed formation name and rock type is labeled. In an escarpment minute you walk through 420 million years of history.

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Sand, silt and clay were deposited and over time compressed into sedimentary rock strata. Thus the Escarpment is made up of sedimentary rock. The coarse materials were deposited at the ancient sea’s deltas and later compressed and hardened to form sandstone. Lighter materials were carried out farther and nestled into the sea bed as clay and over time become shales, which are found at the base of the Escarpment.

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Coral reefs also established in these warm waters. Compression of calcium (lime) from the coral rock and the accumulation of marine organisms formed carbonate rock, which are mainly made up of dolomites and limestones. These carbonates form the caprock of the Escarpment.

 

Hamilton Conservation Area

Ray Lowes side trail: here you can turn right a hike the Ray Lowes side trail, or stay on the main trail.

Did You Know?
Ray Lowes of Hamilton was the founder or “father” of the Bruce Trail, an 895 kilometer footpath stretching from Niagara Falls to Tobermory, North America’s longest, volunteer-maintained trail. Ray passed away in 2007.

Boers Falls Conservation area

Bores Falls: Also known as Rock Chapel Falls.

Borer’s Falls is 15 metres high and can be seen year round. It is  is a 15 metre high ribbon-style waterfall found in the Borer’s Falls Conservation Area in Dundas, Hamilton,

Borer’s Falls was originally used to provide water power for the Rock Chapel Village Sawmill. This mill was run by the Borer family for over a century. After years of land clearing throughout the area, the creek’s flow was altered to the point where it could no longer power the mill. Borer family descendants still live in the area today.

The area is a hiker’s haven and also an ice-climbing destination in the winter when the weather is cold enough to freeze the Falls.

 

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Tunnel under Hwy 6 (64.6)

I totally thought of when Harry Potter met the Dementors in the same type of tunnel in “The Chamber of Secrets” when I walked through here. Imagination is a wonderful thing!

Homestead Ruins

As soon as you turn right after coming from the tunnel and go up a small slop you reach this homestead ruin. It is not explained as to why these ruins are here. I spend some time here, but did not get any particular energy from it.

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Grindstone Creek

All I can say is “Spectacular” !!!

Grindstone Creek originates above the Niagara Escarpment in Flamborough. It drains an area of 90 square kilometres making it one of the main tributaries discharging into the northwest-end of Hamilton Harbour .  A 50-hectare marsh lies in Hendrie Valley, where the lower portion of Grindstone Creek flows. This highly productive, shallow wetland, northeast of Cootes Paradise, provides crucial spawning, nursery and adult habitat for many native fish as well as food and shelter for a variety of birds, mammals, amphibians and insects.

 

Great Falls – Stunning!

Falls Type: terraced ribbon   Falls facing: S
Falls Latitude: N43.33044    Longitude: W79.88708
Height: 6 m    Width: 4.5 m

The area around the falls is known as Smokey Hollow which was once heavily industrial.  Grindstone Creek was a source of power for a sawmill at the base of Great Falls. Other mills were also located nearby over the years.

However by 1912 the mills had all shut down. A big fire had ended the life of the last mill ,but the railroad deciding to bypass the town was the final blow. There is almost nothing left to show what was once there -all of the mill building stone was pilfered for other uses.

.End of the day! very, very tired…wow, that mud was so difficult to walk in.

Hike 11,

Date: March 07, 2016
Weather: 14c
Location: Map #8, Dundas, ON - Tiffany Falls Conservation Area, Sherman Falls - 
Hamilton Conservation Authority, Cantebury Falls (side trail) , 
Dundas Valley Conservation Area

Musings

With a bit of a bounce in my stride, I headed out for the day. The sun was shining and the birds and squirrels responded with song and dance that filled the forest with a natural joy.  The energy was wonderful in this beautiful area, which is home to the most unique creatures, plants and trees. It is an arboreal wonderland and meandering through its loveliness gave me a feeling of belonging.  As I hiked through, I could feel the sense that this beautiful place also held the legend of tragedy of lost love and hope.  The story of a coachman who feel in love with a girl of different social status and was denied a union of marriage with her. The Hermitage tells this story within it’s ruins.  At the crossroads burial place of the coachman, a vision of a puffin bird appeared to me and I knew it represented his broken heart .  In the bird animal spirit world, the puffin is Graceful in the water, clumsy on land and in the air, out of water there is difficulty finding equilibrium in life, using body language to convey messages, throwing tantrums when upset. The appearance of the Puffin signals a time for prayer. The coachman, who could not have his love, ended his life by self hanging rather than live with the unbalanced life that his loneliness would bring. The forest tells the story, we need only turn the page….

 

 

Carolinian Canada

Dundas Valley is designated a “Carolinian Canada” area and has some of the rarest forms of plants, birds and other wildlife to be found along the 40 kilometers of trails that wind through the Valley. The Valley resulted from pre-glacial erosion, which cut deeply into the Niagara Escarpment. Later the glaciers eroded the surface further and rocky, unstratified material was deposited by the advancing and retreating ice lobes covering the area.

Behind Sherman Falls

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Dundas Conservation Area

Bells Inscription:  “Where there is no vision, The People parish” Proverbs 29 Oct 7th , 1970

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Hamilton Conservation Authority property, Little Canterbury Falls, Canterbury Falls
Hermitage Ruins

Unfortunately for me, the Hermitage was under restoration and fenced. So, I didn’t get to really explore the ruins like I would have liked. I did research it though and I will return when it’s completed.

In 1972, the Hamilton Conservation Authority purchased 120 acres of land in the Dundas Valley from Mr. Charles Hill. This property was for many years part of an estate known as “The Hermitage”. The stone house and outbuildings, which now only exist in ruins, were built by Mr. George Gordon Browne Leith, when he bought the property in 1855.

The Legend

In 1833, the land was sold to an Englishman, Otto Ives. He came to Canada from Greece with a Greek wife. There is a legend that the Ives’ coachman, William Black, fell in love with Mrs. Ives’ niece, who had accompanied her to Canada. He asked Ives for permission to marry, but was emphatically refused. The next morning, Black did not appear with the carriage and was later found hanging from the stable rafters. A suicide could not be buried in a churchyard, so he was buried at the crossroads where Lover’s Lane joins Sulphur Springs Road. On moonlit night, some say that he can be heard crying for his lost love.

Sulphur Creek

Faces in the Forest. Do you see the image of the Puffin?

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Dundas Valley Trail Centre, Sulphur Srings Station

a replica, but a great one!

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Tiffany Falls

Sydenham Rd/Melville Street

All done for the day!! I really enjoyed this section. I would have continued further, but my pick-up couldn’t accommodate a later time. Dundas is a great town, I will go back for sure!

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Hike 10,

Date: February 10, 2016
Location: Scenic Drive(40.6) - Wilson St., E., (44.0-45.0)
Weather: -11c, Blizzard conditions, 
2 hrs of refreshing air, beautiful forest, rock and no Graffiti. 
Had to quit because of weather conditions.
Musings

The weather was nippy, no denying that. At times the wind swirled around making it difficult to see too far ahead. I never do mind the cool air on my face, but I did keep my hat and neck warmer on so I didn’t loose any body heat. The main trail that neared Hwy 403 became very difficult to find. The white blaze disappeared and I had to use my common sense and experience to get myself back on track. I could hear the hwy and I used a side trail to get me to it. It ended up meeting the main trail and all was good. The forest was very pretty, despite the temperamental weather conditions. After only 5 kms, I had to call it quits. I was in the middle of a blizzard…

Iroquoia Heights Conservation Area
Filman Rd.,

Descending to Wilson Street E. and that’s a wrap!

 

Hike 3, Short Hills, Niagara Region, Remembering Laura Secord

Date: January 26th, 2016
Location: Brock University (25.3) to Rockway (45.6), 21kms
Weather: Mostly rain, 40km wind gusts, icy muddy trail
Highlights: Laura Secord, Decaw Falls/Morningstar Mill, Short Hills Provincial Park

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MUSINGS

The power of weather could be felt this day, and my strength, both physical and mental, was on high alert and was definitely going to be tested. I started out later than usual as I was waiting for wet ground, from the over-night and early morning rain  to dry just a little. The weather report said the day would settle to over-cast skies with no more precipitation, but it didn’t end up being like that. Winds were so strong I wondered if I would start to see tree branches break off and cows flying in the air. It rained, torrential at times, throughout the entire day and the sound of the rain was starting to get on my nerves. It was constant noise. I did have periods of brief sun, but throughout it all, the waterfalls and history of the area was amazing! I will go back when the weather is nicer.

Werifesteria

“As I began walking on the trail, I looked up at the darkening winter sky. The grey, black color of the clouds looked like that of a rat, disheveled and rebellious, ready to rain havoc below, at its own will and mood. I did not trust it. It was the morning hour, yet the daylight was dull and cold and it send shivers down my spine. The Trail was a combination of wet mud, snow and ice, making for an unsteady footing. As I walked mindfully, I had a vigil watch on the weather conditions, which seemed to become increasing inclement. Suddenly, as if a window had been opened, I felt a quick and powerful wind that blew my rainhat off my head. Then, with the power of 80 horses, the wind galloped with a fiery through the forest that commanded attention from all that was in it’s path. I knew that it would take all my strength to continue and defeat my own desire to quit…”

 

LAURA SECORD

The Laura Secord Legacy Trail continued to intertwine with the Bruce Trail sectioned here. She reportedly walked 20 miles (32 km) through rough terrain and brush, from present-day Queenston through to Short Hills (see below) before she arrived at the camp of allied Mohawk warriors, who led her the rest of the way to FitzGibbon’s headquarters at the DeCou House. During the war of 1812, DeCou served in the Lincoln Militia and his home served as headquarters by the British.

As you can see, I can relate to the walk Laura had. She and I have the same look on our faces!

Laura Secords Trail

I stayed on the Bruce Trail and did not veer off to see the Decou House.  The foundation remains after a fire destroyed it in 1950 under mysterious circumstances. (before and after pics below). I will do the Laura Secord Legacy Trail when I am done the Bruce Trail.

The sites!

Lake Gibson and Lake Moodie Hydroelectric Reservoirs

Almost all of the water supplied to these lakes comes from Lake Erie via the Welland Canal, and the lakes form part of the Twelve Mile Creek watershed.

Lake Gibson is not a natural feature, but rather an artificially created reservoir.  The lake was created by flooding the shallow valley of Beaverdams Creek, which was a meandering stream flowing through this area and plunging over the Niagara Escarpment at Decew Falls, flowing from the south east under the DeCew Road bridge and at that point becoming Lake Moodie. These are part of the six sub-watersheds of the Upper Twelve Mile Creek Watershed.

 

 

DECEW FALLS and MORNINGSTAR MILL

After my trek through the Decew Escarpment, I finally arrived at the Decew Falls, which is named after John DeCou. He purchased the land in about 1788, buying 100 acres with an axe and an indian blanket. In 1812 he purchased the land along the top of the escarpment from his newly built stone house to Decew Falls.   Following the war, DeCew lived in the house with his wife Katharine, raising eleven children and operating a mill a short distance away. In 1883, Wilson Morningstar purchased the property renaming it Morningstar Mill, the name that is still used today. Decew Falls (below) is named after John DeCou.

 

THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE AT DECAW FALLS

The spiral staircase built by Wilson Morningstar, c. 1890, to provide safe access into the bottom of the gorge. To get down into the falls now, you have to climb down the gorge quite far down the trail. The walk is precarious as you have to hold onto ropes tied to a tree on the side of the hill to get anywhere near the falls. A couple of hundred feet from the Mill, look for a well travelled spot along the edge of the gorge. The rope is yellow, but it is not easy to spot from the main trail. On a day like today, I had no intention of taking that risk.

THE LAST DRAGON

The Thorold Post on September 10, 1886 reports that after completing this work, Wilson took a few moments to admire the beauty of the morning glories he had planted among the rocks in the spring. ‘While walking around the boulders a snake about 5 feet long came out…from the head to the middle of the body the snake was of a pure scarlet color, the remainder to the tail being a deep black.  On the head was a well-developed pair of velvety horns and a protuberance of blue color resembling a rooster’s comb.  The mouth of the snake, strange to say, was pointed like the beak of a bird.’ Astonished, Wilson killed it ‘with a well-directed blow on the head.’ The last of the dragons or…???

scarlet dragon

 

SHORT HILLS PROVINCIAL PARK

This is one of the nicest parks I have had the privilege to pass through. The weather settled long enough for me to enjoy it for a short time, but I did miss the blaze and walked a bit passed my mark. When I turned around and re-traced, I finally saw the blaze. It had been blown over by the 50km winds from earlier in the day!

short hills park

The Palaeozoic Path has been developed with the beginner hiker in mind. The Palaeozoic Path has a hard surface which is covered in gravel to give people with disabilities the opportunity to experience the park. I like this very much!

Terrace Creek Falls

Terrace Creek Falls is located in Shorthills Provincial Park
Falls Type: curtain plunge   Falls facing: NE
Falls Latitude: N43.09566    Longitude: W79.28040
Height: 6 m    Width: 17 m

Swayze Falls

Swayze Falls is a Niagara Region waterfall located in the Southwest corner of Shorthills Provincial Park in Pelham, St. Catharines. The southern lot off Roland Road just east of Effingham St is the best place to park and parking is free.

Falls Type: terraced ribbon   Falls facing: S
Falls Latitude: N43.09283    Longitude: W79.30326
Height: 14 m    Width: 6 m

 

Done and exhausted…what a day!

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