Bruce Trail: Blue Mountains

***As of today, September 30th 2022, we are officially DONE our Bruce Trail end-to-end hike! Blogs about each section will continue to be written and released, as I play catch up.***

Day #20: Trail angel Rob met us at County Road 91 and returned us to 9/10 Sideroad for our 25.22 km hike. He jokingly referred to the Bruce Trail community as a cult. It isn’t, of course, but its members are very devoted to the trail, as well as the people who hike it, and we certainly would not be able to do this trip without their support.

Early on we found it unclear whether to walk on or beside Concession 10. The blazes were pretty far into the ditch, but we didn’t spot anywhere to enter, so we walked along the road. We got our pace up through a cedar forest in Nottawasaga Bluffs with mosquitoes pursuing us. One of our four breaks was at Mad River, then I got my pace up again rage-hiking after I got stung by two more wasps. I saw them both on my left calf as they stung me, swept them off, and told mom to run in case more were coming. That brings the count up to FIVE wasp stings on this trip. The injustice of it got me up and out of Devil’s Glen fast. Notably, there were a few places in Devil’s Glen where more blazes would’ve been helpful. Our last break we took on a stretch of grass after walking through a field for awhile. A woman came along on a bike and asked if we’d been on CBC. We were thrilled to be recognized!

We still felt OK by the end of our 9.5 hour hike and I suspect taping my arches helped.

Day #21: Rob and his wife Kelly collected us at Petun Conservation Area and delivered us to County Road 91. There were a lot more people out and about on trail, likely because it was a Sunday and we were in more popular areas. We chatted with some enthusiastic folks in Nottawasaga Lookout Provincial Nature Reserve, which was a beautiful and easy stretch of trail.

Pretty River Valley Provincial Park lived up to its name, but required a nearly 4 km trek across some serious elevation change that took us a full hour to climb. There were several view points at the top, and we took a break at the third one after talking to a family with several generations of hikers all out together who said we should hold out for that particular spot. Near the bottom of the hill, and then again at the top, we met a couple runners and they chatted with us for a while as well. Near the end, we met a volunteer maintaining the trail in preparation for the upcoming Blue Mountains end-to-end, and then finished the day at Petun Conservation Area after a short rocky bit. The 18.2 km hike took us 6.5 hours.

Day #22: Rob picked us up again at 6th Line and brought us to where the trail crosses the road after the Petun lot. I chugged down my coffee just as he was arriving to get us. Mom forgot to take off her white sweater before leaving with Rob, so I somewhat begrudgingly offered to carry it for the day in my big Deuter pack.

We did a bit of scrambling in the morning, just beyond Petun. I got my first ever view of Georgian Bay (or more specifically Nottawasaga Bay), followed by many subsequent views from the Blue Mountains. We spoke to a bunch of people at length again. A family that was billeting two young hockey players took our picture, and then a group of Asian hikers applauded us as we crested a steep hill. As I was stopped to bandage up my feet, we met two couples, the second of which included a young woman named Brie who said doing the Bruce was a dream of hers. She had done a lot of bikepacking with friends, but was hesitant to do any backpacking on her own, despite a desire to.

We crossed over to the Beaver Valley section, the boundary for which is oddly part way across the Blue Mountains. The Len Gertler Memorial Loree Forest was lovely, but some of the gravel stretches after were rough and steep. I limped to the finish line. My toes were hurting by then, as well as the rest of my feet, not to mention my knees and my back. It was another 25+ km day, and we got back to the van after just under 10 hours.

We struggled to find a trail angel for the next morning, and when we finally secured one, it was almost disappointing as I felt I could really use a break.

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