Part 39: East Back Line to Grey Road 30
Date: 30 September 2019
Start: East Back Line, Flesherton
End: Grey Road 30, near Vandeleur
Distance covered: 10.5 km
Total distance covered: 485.3 km
476. These are small stump puffballs (Lycoperdon pyriforme). They are saprobic, i.e., they live off dead or decaying wood. In maturity, they develop holes at the top from which spores are emitted when excited by rainfall or wind. You can eat these puffballs when they’re immature, though whether you’d want to is another matter.
477. Backlit saplings form a delicate chromatic composition near Hogg’s Falls in the Beaver Valley.
478. We stop to chat to a group of women from the London, Ontario area who, like us, are doing the Bruce Trail end-to-end in a northerly direction. They call themselves the Bruce Babes and get together periodically for consecutive hikes over several days. Today they’re on their fourth hike in as many days, a feat almost certainly beyond our physical capacity. I doubt if we’d be able to keep up with them on a single hike on the flat. Best wishes for a satisfactory run to Tobermory, Babes!
479. This is the view, from the west, of the eastern side of Beaver Valley, the side we have already hiked. The twin surge towers of Eugenia’s vintage hydroelectric plant are clearly visible, and the thickly wooded slopes are definitely taking on an autumnal tint.
480. A small skull, missing its jaw and front teeth, seems to have been deliberately positioned on a mossy rock. Its long, narrow shape suggests an animal such as a raccoon. But really, it could be a sabre-toothed tiger cub, for all I know about identifying animals from their bones.
481. One of the Bruce Babes pointed out to us this fine fly agaric mushroom (Amanita muscaria) under a tree by the Trail. The North American variety is commonly a yellowy orange like this one, while the European kind is the iconic scarlet toadstool with white spots. The “fly” part of its name acknowledges that it was once crumbled into milk and used as an insecticide. Fly agarics are often associated with shamanism and other forms of visionary experience, as when eaten they bring on hallucinations, delirium, and even seizures. For there’s a price to pay for whatever spiritual insights they might deliver: though they probably won’t kill you, they are quite poisonous.
482. Mike spots this beautiful stump decorated with moss and ferns, so this image is dedicated to him: “As the Italians say, Good company in a journey makes the way to seem the shorter”: Izaak Walton, The Compleat Angler (1653).
483. I have frequently moaned about McMansions built in obtrusive spots on the edge of the Escarpment. But I have to say, this Swiss chalet-style villa does complement this scene …
484. … especially when we descend to the Valley floor and realize just how far and how beautifully this creek tumbles before it joins the Beaver River. The house, La Quiete (Italian for “peace and quiet”), is on Grey Road 30 and was built in 1995 to resemble a chalet in Klosters, Switzerland owned by the late film actress Deborah Kerr. How do I know this? The property was the subject of a feature in the Globe and Mail newspaper when it was last sold … in 2009 for $2,450,000.
485A & B. It looks like someone has nailed horse’s hooves up the side of this tree. Actually these are the polypore fungus Fomes fomentarius, a.k.a. hoof fungus, tinder fungus, or ice man fungus. Ötzi the Iceman, the 5,000-year-old mummified remains of a man found frozen in an Alpine glacier in 1991, carried a string of these fungi together with his fire-making apparatus. As the mushrooms aren’t edible, it’s assumed that Ötzi used them as kindling. That’s because ancient people knew how to extract and treat their spongy inner layer until it became a substance called amadou. Aside from being excellent tinder, amadou could also be used as a leather-like fabric to make hats.