Part 29: Hockley Road to 3rd Line EHS
Date: Thursday 23 May 2019
Start: Hockley Road at 2nd Line EHS, Orangeville
End: 3rd Line EHS at Hwy 8, Mono
Distance covered: 8.6 km
Total distance covered: 352.7 km
345. We begin this hike in the Hockley Valley, well south of our last finishing point. That’s because when we resumed in March, we decided to defer the demanding section through the Hockley Valley Provincial Nature Reserve until the weather and trail conditions improved. Now it’s late May, and conditions look mild and pastoral at our start point. So, why do most cows face the same way when grazing? Folk wisdom tells us that it’s because they are herd animals, ready to flee in the same direction when predators appear. Perhaps the nonconformist at bottom left is actually a watch-cow keeping a wary eye over the herd’s rump.
346. This is a beautiful section of Trail through the May woods. “And thus it passed on from Candlemass until after Easter, that the month of May was come, when every lusty heart beginneth to blossom, and to bring forth fruit; for like as herbs and trees bring forth fruit and flourish in May, in likewise every lusty heart that is in any manner a lover, springeth and flourisheth in lusty deeds. For it giveth unto all lovers courage, that lusty month of May, in something to constrain him to some manner of thing more in that month than in any other month, for divers causes” – Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte d’Arthur (1485), 18:25. As we are respectable married gentlemen, this hike will serve as our lusty deed for the day.
347. The Wake-Robin (Trillium erectum), a.k.a. Purple Trillium, Stinking Benjamin, American True-Love, Birthroot, Bumblebee Root, Indian Shamrock, Stinking Willie, and Threeleaf Nightshade. It’s called Wake-Robin probably because it blooms around the time in early spring that robins appear. It smells like rotting meat, but that’s a clever adaptation: its pollinators are flesh-flies who normally seek out actual carrion on which to lay their eggs.
348. Once out of the Nature Reserve we find ourselves in a scene reminiscent of the Saskatchewan prairie, where Mike and I spent so much of our lives …
349. … but the local farm house is quintessential Ontario: a one-and-a-half-storey cottage with a simple rectangular floor plan, a medium-pitched front-to-back roof, and a steep-pitched central dormer window framed by ornamental bargeboard and brickwork. The architectural type is so popular in these parts because in the nineteenth century, one-and-a-half storeys were taxed as a cheaper rate than full two storeys. Note the simplified Gothic form of the upper central window.
350. We stop to chat with Phil, the local Bruce Trail maintenance person, hard at work cutting back vegetation encroaching on the junction with a side trail. He’s one of many unsung volunteer heroes who keep the Trail open for the likes of us!
351. These are trout lilies (Erythronium americanum), one of Ontario’s earliest blooming and most appealing wildflowers. Apparently the grey-green leaves mottled with brown bring up the association with the fish. Trout lilies are myrmechochorous, i.e., at least partly propagated by the actions of ants.
352. I’m no fern expert, but these, evidently planted by the roadside to help retain the muddy slope, are probably ostrich ferns, that typically grow in a vase-shaped clumps (“crowns”) resembling ostrich plumes.
353. Time to check our progress in the big picture. Our current endpoint is a little north of Shelburne, but we are still considerably less than halfway to our goal thanks to all those loops northwest of Collingwood. We have currently completed about 39% of the Trail.