Bruce Trail: Caledon Hills

Day #14: We had a good sleep in the dark driveway of our trail angels, Twila and Gren. Mom and I went to the local Starbucks, used the bathroom, got some drinks, and hung out in the parking lot to do our CBC Fresh Air interview with Jason D’Souza. Mom sat on the patio, and I sat in the van while we were on air over our phones. It resulted in a late start hiking, but we both enjoyed the segment and discussed it throughout the day.

Later, when being shuttled by Twila and Gren, they told us that Elton John owns a property along our route for the day. When we got there, we enjoyed an incredible view of the Toronto skyline, and I ate my leftover Japanese food under one of his roadside trees. Since we had quite a bit of road-walking that day, I called up Justin and we had a chat on the phone while I walked with relative ease over the gravel. We text regularly, but it has been hard to find the time to actually talk. On Finnerty Side Road, we had our midday break under two big cedars with our Niagara ponchos spread out on the ground beneath us. Our final break was at Tim Horton’s, which the trail extends almost all the way to, forcing one to cross at the intersection, rather than where the trail would more naturally cross on busy Highway 9. Mom waited outside to keep an eye on our packs while the staff prepared our food. She was impatient to go to the bathroom, and was gesturing at me through the window while I waited for the food. It took a bit longer than expected. We got large lemonade slushies, and ate rice bowls outside sitting on the curb. She was frustrated with me for our failure to make a plan of where to sit before I went in to order, and most importantly, before she went to the bathroom. I hadn’t known the importance of any of that before she sent me in to get our food, so I shrugged it off and just tried to focus on enjoying the meal that I’d been fantasizing about for hours.

The terrain was quite easy compared to the early sections of the Bruce, but there were certainly hills. There was a particularly deep valley to climb out of just before we came to our parking spot. Once we got past the treeline, it was nice to see the van there from the top of the meadow after a 27.5km day. When we got back to Twila and Gren’s place, they let us use their shower (which was the most I’ve ever appreciated a shower), and gifted us peaches as well as what might be the best butter-tarts I’ve tried. It was well after dark by then, and they have a long, steep driveway, so Twila insisted on driving us back up to the top of their lane where we over-nighted in the van.

Day #15: I slept poorly, and struggled to keep my eyes open in the morning, even as mom was driving and I was navigating. The forecast had predicted bad weather, and I was rooting for there to be a storm so I wouldn’t have to hike. Mom got me out of bed with the possibility of a half day, though we parked as though we were doing a full day. I only lasted the two hours and 5.5km it took to get from 7th Line to Airport Road with me dragging my feet. I was inexplicably in tears most of the way. It was the first day where I just really did not want to be hiking. There had been a day (#7) where mom coaxed me into it and I came around, but that wasn’t going to work this time. I used the hail in the forecast as an excuse to message Twila, who sent Gren to rescue us at Airport Road. Really the weather was starting to clear after a little bit of rain, but I needed to get off the trail and it seemed like a reasonable excuse. Gren was very kind about it, and even pulled over when I had a moment of panic that I’d forgotten my trekking poles on the side of the road. Mom peered into the back of the truck, and they were there. He dropped us off at our van on Dunby road, where we had hoped to walk to, and I immediately had a much-needed nap. Afterwards, we went to Orangeville for the night, and the storm finally caught up with us. I went to sleep with the van shaking in the wind, and lightning on the horizon.

Day #16: We realized once Twila was on her way to us at Dunby Road that we were meant to walk beyond there to make up a little of the previous day’s lost time. She led us to Mono Centre where we parked for the day, and she returned us to Airport Road. Later her and Maggie (their dog) met us on a rugged side road to return my knife which had fallen off my pack belt in their truck. I worried Twila and Gren would think we were completely disorganized, but as always they were nothing but nice and accommodating.

Shortly after that, while taking a brief break, a German 18-year old named Leon caught up to us and spent the rest of the day hiking and breaking with us. He was a very nice young man who certainly could have said goodbye and outpaced us, but chose to keep us around for the company. He was also on his way to Tobermory, but had started near Georgetown. Something about having him with us sped us up considerably, and we set a record pace of 4.4 km/hr which we have yet to beat. We put in 23.5 km over 8.5 hours, with the breaks factored in. It was also a pleasure to offer up some trail magic of our own, as we loaded Leon’s pack with extra bars and other trail foods before he went on his way.

The day had many, many hills, but was easy footing, with the exception of a scramble off of 3rd Line. We noted that Caledon Hills had more stairs than previous sections, and that they had a very comfortable low rise. There were also plenty of creeks along the way. Day #16 marked the first third of the Bruce complete, and transitioned us into the next section.

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