Bruce Trail: Toronto Section

Day #11: Karen picked us up at Limehouse and took us back to the 401 underpass to start the Toronto section for our 20.4 km day. We had heard back from CBC via email that morning about doing a Fresh Air segment on our journey, so we called up Shana, a producer there, and chatted while we had an absolutely incredible view from the top of the escarpment. Afterwards, in Speyside, the mosquitoes were unrelenting until we got out onto a path between some farmer’s fields where we could see and hear the storm looming. We were headed towards it, and it was headed towards us. The long row of power lines towering above us for a stretch made me particularly nervous. We picked up the pace to cover the last bit of distance between us and the van, especially once the rain started to trickle down to us through the canopy. Mom laughed at me when I went to move from the cabin of the van to the front seat, and leapt in and slammed the door shut as lightning cracked above us. A literal minute after we were safely in the van, my phone received an emergency alert with a tornado warning for the area. It had been a hot day, and mom kept begging me to get out of the van and jump around in the rain, but I wouldn’t let her. The storm was too severe. It was quite some time before it passed enough for us to move on from the Limehouse lot. When we did get going, we had to stop and turn around because there was an emergency crew dealing with a very large downed tree which had fallen on some power lines and into the road. After arriving in Brampton, the storm caught up with us again and trapped us in the van for another little while before I was finally able to get out and get some food. With the raincoat partially covering my eyes and rain still coming down, I accidentally went into the wrong restaurant, and just got something there because I was too embarrassed to turn around and leave by the time I realized my mistake. I got to talk to Justin on the phone a bit that night to finally catch up. It was good to hear his voice. Mom bought some kind of non-alcoholic sparkling apple cider to celebrate over 200 kilometres of hiking together, and we also shared a pint of ice cream. I spent some time agonizing over the weather report, and hoping we wouldn’t be forced to take a zero day that would put us even further behind schedule.

Day #12: I woke up early to check the weather forecast again, and we decided to just go ahead and risk it. We met Karen at the roadside parking at Heritage Road and she took us back to Limehouse. It was full of incredible rock formations. The bugs were awful again, so we took all of our breaks on the sides of the roads we had to cross. Along Highway 7, the trail took us into some long grasses, wild flowers, and thistle that were absolutely saturated from the rain the night before. They bent over into the trail on either side to the point that it was hard to discern where it was, and it honestly felt more like bushwhacking. I got completely drenched, and my Goretex boots stayed wet into the next day. The mosquito situation didn’t improve much until we started escarpment-walking up in Silver Creek. Terra Cotta was our last conservation era of the day, but my feet hurt too much to appreciate it. I cried several times trying to get to the van in the last kilometres. Mom kept surging way ahead of me and refused to take a break. Her body seizes up sometimes when she stops, so she wanted to press on, but I desperately wanted to get off my feet and felt pretty frustrated with her unwillingness to balance our needs. After we finally finished up the nearly 25 km day, we spent the night at a motel in order to do our laundry, and take showers. I slept alone in a king-sized bed and was glad to have a bit of distance for the first time since starting.

Day #13: Marcus (@markonadventure), one of my longest standing Instagram friends since starting my @elisha.hikes account, offered to join us for a bit of our 21.5 km hike, and was also our trail angel that morning. He gave us a bag of peanut M&Ms, his favourite trail snack, and stayed with us until the stretch of road-walking after the Cheltenham Badlands, which we didn’t get to properly see. After he turned around to head back to his car, mom and I started paying attention for a good break spot. She was pulled off trail by the temptation of water, and got us off track enough that I had to do a difficult scramble one way, and then back again to return to the blazed path through the beautiful but technical rock formations. I finished the day tired and sore, but in better spirits than usual, and ordered myself some Japanese food at a little restaurant called Inaki, and ate in their parking lot. The server very kindly gave me some ice to go with my canned soda upon request. Then we went to park for the night in the driveway of our main Caledon Hills trail angels. I can’t say enough how amazing the trail angels have been. Our trip would not be possible without them. We have often lamented that there isn’t more infrastructure to support thru-hiking of the Bruce. There aren’t enough thru-hikers to merit catering to them, but without catering to them, it’s unlikely there will be many more. Other trails, like the Camino, or the triple crown trails in the States, better accommodate thru-hikers needs and therefore generate far more interest.

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