A writer's journal and photography blog documenting 900km of hiking End-to-End on the Bruce Trail from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Tobermory, Canada
Sunday May 18, 2014. Sunny with increasing cloud, 18°C
Southern Terminus Queenston Heights Park (km 0) to Woodend Conservation Area Taylor Rd. (km 15.2) 4H08m
I don’t know which of my feet started our “End-to-End” hike of the Bruce Trail on Sunday, but I can tell you that about three hours in, they were both complaining a little — symptoms of a long winter and the typical inertia of a desk job. I didn’t pay too much attention, because the day was sunny and a comfortable 18°C, and we were excited to finally be on the trail.
After the requisite photo shoot at the Southern Terminus in Queenston Heights Park, Ian and I set out with our companions of the day — our youngest son, and our border terrier — to complete about 16km of the Niagara Section, from the Terminus to the Woodend Conservation Area parking lot off Taylor Road. We did it in just over 4 hours.
Our timing was perfect. The Japanese Cherries, or Sakura, in Queenston Heights Park were in full bloom and gave a splendid Hanami display. If you’re heading to the terminus, you can find out what’s blooming in the Parks before you go. We took a minor detour from the trail to visit Brock’s Monument before we headed into the woods at the west end of the park.
The 56m stone memorial honours the fallen hero of the Battle of Queenston Heights, British Major General Sir Isaac Brock, who is credited for ensuring Canada was well prepared to defend its territory against the Americans in the War of 1812. I have to say, I felt a little sorry for Major General Roger Sheaffe, who only deserved a passing mention in the Historical Plaque, despite the fact that it was Sheaffe who was responsible for eventually turning back the American offensive in which General Brock perished.
When we entered the woods, Spring rewarded us with a photo shoot. The wild leeks and trout lilies are past their prime but there were vast carpets of showy trilliums, violets, mayapple (it should be blooming by next week – my favourite!), tender ferns, and jack in the pulpit. I use this website for Ontario wildflower identification.
The major rains we had the week previous made the trail quite muddy in spots, but believe me, by the time you get to about kilometre 12, you’re too tired to worry about cleaning the muck off your boots. Because the Escarpment area that the trail passes through is densely wooded, you don’t get many views northward to the Niagara-on-the-Lake vineyards, but the only real disappointment on our walk was the blatant disregard for posted trail restrictions and warnings against the use of motorized vehicles. The section of the trail between Fireman’s Park and the QEW overpass is heavily used by dirt bike and ATV owners, and therefore severely damaged and eroded.
Niagara Club volunteers certainly have their work cut out for them, but hikers are soon rewarded with the childish pleasure of hopping from stone to stone across puddles and letting out their frustrations in the aptly named Screaming Tunnel on the other side of the overpass.
Looking ahead at the weather forecast, I expect we’ll be taking our next step onto the trail from Woodend Conservation Area next weekend. Will it be left foot or right foot? Say hi if you see us!