Part 46: Grey County Road 12 to Holland-Sydenham Townline
Date: 8 June 2020
Start: Grey County Road 12, Blantyre
End: Holland-Sydenham Townline at Grey County Road 29, Walters Falls
Distance covered: 10.0 km
Total distance covered: 568.7 km
560. “We’ll be back in the New Year as soon as the weather allows.” So I wrote at the end of our last hike on 25 November 2019, six and a half months ago. We have experienced several unexpected delays over the past 45 hikes, but we never dreamed that, in an unprecedented move, the Bruce Trail Conservancy would close the Trail itself in spring 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Then, last Tuesday 2 June, with the Ontario COVID-19 infection rate slowing, the BTC reopened 85% of the Trail. And so, half a year older but probably none the wiser, Mike and I are on the Trail again, starting where we left off at Blantyre. It’s great to be back!
561. Remarkably, until recently scientists didn’t understand how the dandelion seed dispersing mechanism worked (though most two-year-olds could have explained it to them). A 2018 article in the leading science journal Nature reveals all. The researchers tells us that they visualized the flow of air around dandelion seeds as a separated vortex ring. “We hypothesized that the circular disk-like geometry and the porosity of the pappus [i.e., each fluffy tuft] are the key design features that enable the formation of the separated vortex ring. … The porosity of the dandelion pappus appears to be tuned precisely to stabilize the vortex, while maximizing aerodynamic loading and minimizing material requirements. The discovery of the separated vortex ring provides evidence of the existence of a new class of fluid behaviour around fluid-immersed bodies that may underlie locomotion, weight reduction and particle retention in biological and manmade structures.” See Cummins, C., Seale, M., Macente, A. et al. “A separated vortex ring underlies the flight of the dandelion.” Nature 562, 414–418 (2018).
While you’re taking this on board, I’ll observe that a dandelion clock is defined as the number of puffs that a child needs to detach every bit of fluff from a post-flowering dandelion. Science has yet to determine whether this number corresponds to the time of day the fluff-puffing takes place.
562. These are (I think) fine examples of Polyporus squamosus, a.k.a. the Dryad’s Saddle or Pheasant’s Back mushroom. It’s a squamous (i.e., scaly) polypore, usually found growing on a dead deciduous tree.
563. Considering that the Bruce Trail was closed for months, we are delighted to find this section of Trail, the first we have hiked that’s under the auspices of the Sydenham Club, well maintained and blazed. This gentleman is weed-whacking the overgrown Trail as we hike by. Many thanks to the Sydenham Club Trail captains and their crew of hard-working volunteers.
564. Mike poses on this fine bridge over Rocklyn Creek, a tributary of the Bighead River.
565. What’s with that smug expression on Nick’s face? Well, he’s just worked out that if it’s only 221 km to Tobermory, then we’ve completed three quarters of the Trail! But that complacent smile doesn’t last. By the time he and Mike are home again, both have smelled a fake news rat. In fact, both have correctly estimated that they have actually “only” completed (as the number beginning this paragraph indicates) about 565 km from Niagara and therefore have roughly 325 km to go to Tobermory. The two distances on the crude, hand-painted sign are each off by about 100 km! Please tear down that sign, Sydenham Trail Captains!
566. I just happen to like this blaze, blandly adorning the top edge of a cliff face in Walters Falls Management Area.
567. The squeezed-together contour lines on the map should have alerted us. Just when we’re thinking it’ll be a brief stroll in the park to today’s end point, the St. Vincent-Sydenham Townline takes it into its head to scale the full height of the Escarpment at what seems like a 45-degree angle. This is the view northwards from the summit back down the hill we’ve just climbed.
568. In a field adjoining the Trail, a bull approaches one of his harem. Could it be that he is about to flout the guidelines on social distancing?
569. Both the main Trail and this parallel side trail at the end point of today’s hike are still closed as a result of the pandemic. We can assure private landowners that social distancing by human beings (if not by livestock) on most sections of the Bruce Trail is not difficult to maintain. That’s particularly true of the Trail in Grey County, whose population density is a mere 20.8 people per square km, one of the lowest of all counties in southern Ontario. In fact, even under “normal” conditions it’s quite unusual to meet another hiker on any given 10 km section of Trail in this area.