Part 41: 3rd Line to 4th Line
Date: 14 October 2019
Start: 3rd Line at Grey County Road 19, The Blue Mountains
End: 4th Line at Intercept Side Trail, near Loree
Distance covered: 11.6 km
Total distance covered: 508.2
498. It’s the second Monday in October, and that means it’s Canadian Thanksgiving (Action de grâce to francophones). This is the second hike in which we are making up the stretch of Trail in the Blue Mountains we omitted after Hike #35. It’s also a hike on which we pass a couple of significant milestones. Though the weather is very changeable today, it’s just about peak colour here in Grey County. This is, or was, prime apple-growing country, with ripe, tempting fruit still clinging to wild apple trees.
499. The first part of today’s hike takes us along the shoulder of busy Grey Road 19. Perhaps the local farmer thinks Bruce hikers are wont to dodge the traffic by tramping through his fields. But is this sign legitimate, or just a scare tactic? While waste water has been used to irrigate crops for centuries, these days, at least in the developed world, the effluent must be disinfected, oxidized, coagulated, clarified, and filtered first. This procedure may be cost-effective in semi-arid regions like the Saskatchewan prairie (average precipitation 345 mm per annum), but here in Grey County (869 mm)?
500. Our first milestone comes early in today’s hike, though its precise location is indeterminable. But as this is the 500th image in this photoblog, somewhere near here we must have completed 500 km of the almost 900 km of the Trail. The image shows a sideroad, framed by autumn foliage, heading steeply off the top of the Escarpment down towards Nottawasaga Bay.
501. And now, on top of the Blue Mountains on Thanksgiving, we encounter a phenomenon unprecedented in our Bruce Trail experience so far: lots of other people!
502. The Bruce Trail here is shared, or rather, it’s overlaid by, a paved path that skirts the top edge of the Escarpment. During winter this is a ski area, but today it seems to be overrun by families and groups getting various kinds of exercise and checking out the spectacular views on this chilly but till now fine day.
503. One ski lift is operating, ferrying sightseers down and delivering mountain bikes up to the top of the Escarpment …
504. … where they can be rented by folks who like coasting downhill at high speed wearing complicated headgear but aren’t quite as keen on having to pedal up the 450 m scarp face from Blue Mountain Village.
505. Suddenly, the sky turns leaden and the day trippers start to take cover …
506. … as a squall of rain rapidly sweeps inland off the Lake. We scarcely notice that we are approaching our second milestone today: the boundary between the Blue Mountains and Beaver Valley Club Sections of the Bruce Trail.
507. Soon the weather starts to clear. The zoom lens reveals that what looks from a distance like a cathedral standing at the water’s edge is actually a grain elevator. Before Collingwood (pop. 22,000) catered to nearby ski resorts, it was a busy port and a centre of shipbuilding, “the Chicago of the North” by some accounts. The Collingwood Terminal grain elevator, consisting of 52 silos in four rows of thirteen each, was built in 1929 and abandoned in 1993. It will cost $10 million to renovate the huge concrete structure, or $5 million to demolish it. On the Bay Magazine noted: “In 2012, a pair of local residents proposed turning the elevators into a specialty mushroom farm. Other ideas floated over the years have included an office building, art gallery, marine museum, youth centre, sports facility, resort, cruise ship terminal, restaurant, shops and services, hotel, and condominiums.” Currently the bird poop in the taller tower is two feet thick.
508. And now the sun is shining again. At the top of the image is Nottawasaga Island lighthouse, and below it, part of Blue Mountain Village, Ontario’s largest alpine ski resort. Like the grain elevator and for a similar reason, the lighthouse has been abandoned, but it has generated a Preservation Society: “Having saved countless lives through its 159 year history, the life of the Nottawasaga Lighthouse is now endangered itself and needs saving. Lighthouses such as this have played an integral role in Canada’s maritime history and in particular, Collingwood’s shipbuilding past. Although no longer a ‘lighted’ navigational aid, the mere physical presence of this towering structure serves to assist recreational boaters in visually navigating their way safety back to the safe harbour in Collingwood both in good weather and in bad.”