Part 24: Side Road 5 to 4th Line EHS
Date: Friday 23 November 2018
Start: Side Road 5, Orangeville
End: 4th Line EHS, Mono
Distance covered: 9.6 km
Total distance covered: 307.2 km
299. And so fall becomes winter. When we began our hike in April, Mike and I swore that we would not continue when snow covered the Trail. But now, towards the end of November, some important goals beckon seductively. We want to complete 300 kms, so that we can say we’ve done one third of the Trail in the first year of our three-year plan. Also, we’re tantalizingly close to the boundary with Dufferin Hi-Land, the fifth Club section of the nine constituting the whole Trail. Five out of nine in one year looks like real progress! And finally we’d like to see what the beautiful landscape of Dufferin County looks like under snow.
300. Here’s a fairy tale to mark km 300. It’s true in all essentials, including the hat:
Once upon a time, two old men drove their buggy into an empty snow-covered Bruce Trail parking lot that looked nice and flat. But in fact the lot sloped downwards away from the road, and their horse was old, tired, and poorly shod. The more the three struggled, the more the buggy slid backwards. They all ended up down at the end of the lot as far away from the exit to the road as you can get. As the silly pair stood there exhausted, scratching their heads, another buggy drew in from the road, and out stepped one of Santa’s elves. The pair immediately recognised him from his droopy red woollen hat, though he was the biggest elf they’d ever seen. Pausing only for breath, the elf rapped out a series of instructions, then applied his shoulder to the rear of the stuck buggy. And in three shakes of a lamb’s tail, the buggy was perched at the top of the hill by the road. The two old sillies thanked the elf profusely, because if he hadn’t shown up, they and their horse and buggy would still be there today, frozen in place for all eternity.
P.S. The elf left before we could take a picture of him, but then elves are shy creatures who don’t like having their likenesses posted on the Internet.
P.P.S. You can’t see any “hill” in the picture? Well, if you compare the far end of the parking lot to the far end of the road on the right, you can surely discern a difference of at least 1000 mm of elevation between them. And did I not mention that the parking lot had been cursed by a bad fairy?
301. Without further ado, into the snowy woods we go …
302. Soon we come upon blue plastic tubing wrapped around trees and strung over the Trail. A nearby wooden hut with a sign attached, “Je suis d’érable,” helps us make sense of it.
The phrase means “I am maple” in French, and the building is a sugar shack owned by an international Taoist organization called Tiger’s Mouth. We’re in a plantation of sugar maples ready to be tapped in the spring. If a sugar maple falls in this forest and there’s nobody around to hear it, does it make a sound?
303. As we cross Airport Road and look north towards Hockley Valley, the landscape seems … almost Alpine.
304. Did three giant engines fall off a passing jetliner here? No, these are snow-making machines belonging to a now abandoned downhill ski area.
305. This rather striking section of Trail is called Hemlock Ridge, it being a ridge … lined with hemlocks! The going looks precarious, but fortunately the snow underfoot is soft and relatively untrodden, at least by humans. Soon we’ll arrive at Dave’s Pinnacle, the highest point on this section of Trail. This spot commemorates Dave Moule, one of those local heroes without whom there would be no Bruce Trail. Read about him and his wife Sally in this article by Nicola Ross from In the Hills magazine (22 November 2017). (Hikers in southern Ontario will know Ms. Ross as the author of the brilliant “Loops & Lattes” series of hiking guides, including one on Dufferin County.)
306. The snow-covered Trail is untrammeled by humans for much of its length, but almost every section of it is imprinted with animal or bird tracks. These tracks made by two different creatures intrigue us. We reckon that the arrow-shaped ones were made by a wild turkey, while the others were made by some kind of cat stalking it. But our woodcraft is rudimentary. If someone tells us that from these clues, it’s obvious that one day a poodle trotted along the Trail and the next day a peacock strutted in the other direction, we stand corrected.
307. In this steep ravine just before the end of today’s relatively short hike, tree trunks are lying in shattered piles everywhere. Was this caused by a sudden spring run-off? The damage looks too extensive. We feel that the ravine must have been hit by a downburst of wind or even a tornado. Surely that’s not impossible, as a very damaging tornado did strike Orangeville in 1985.