Sunday, 27 July 2014

Probably The Most Beautiful Place In Ontario - Day 1

After seeing pictures of the Bruce Peninsula area on instagram, I knew I had to go there. It was so beautiful in pictures I couldn't even imagine how beautiful it would be in real life. I had a long weekend at the end of June for Canada Day, my sister and husband were off work as well. We ended up planning this trip pretty last minute. I learned that a ton of people go up to this area for long weekends in the summer. My husband hates camping, so that was out, every hotel was completely full, and it took ages for us to find a bed and breakfast that was available. The first one we did find was only available for the first two days of our trip. We booked it just in case we couldn't find anything else. Thankfully, we did end up finding another B&B for our last two nights. Because of our terrible planning skills, it ended up costing way more than I wanted to spend. It was worth it though. It was amazing up there. A couple days in I started looking up houses for sale in the area, haha. Before we left I purchased the Bruce Trail Reference Guide, which is available on the Bruce Trail website and also in a few book stores as well. It has maps of all of the areas of the Bruce Trail so I used it (along with google) to plan our hikes for the weekend. We weren't able to go everywhere I wanted to because one of the places on our list was an island and the boat rides to get there were ridiculously over-priced. I hope to go one day though! 

We left Toronto on Thursday evening after I finished work. It was about a 4.5 to 5 hour drive to our first B&B. We stayed at Moeke's Ankerstee B&B for Thursday and Friday night. Ina was a wonderful host! She is very easy to get along with and nice to talk to! She also has the nicest dog in the world whose name escapes me at the moment...she was so sweet though! 

Our first night basically just consisted of us meeting Ina and then going to bed, since we arrived so late. We woke up early the next morning for a delicious breakfast of eggs, bacon, yogurt with fruit, tomatoes, and toast. The first day was our longest hike. Ina's B&B was closer to Lion's Head than our next B&B was so it obviously made sense to do our hike at Lion's Head while we were closer to it. In hindsight, putting the longest, most grueling hike first was probably not the greatest idea, haha. 

When I looked at the trail maps from my reference guide book, and searched the internet for tips, I found a loop at the Lion's Head trails. It was a 16 or 17km loop. I thought to myself "the average walking speed is about 4km/h so this should take us 4 hours and we can take an hour or 2 to stop and take in the sights". Little did I know that this trail was not like walking on a nice path, and you go up and down over and over. I imagined it would be the same as the trail my sister and I walked in Hockley Valley. It was wide and flat and easy. This trail was nothing like that at all. Rarely were we walking on anything but big rocks or boulders and tree roots. To make matters worse, I decided my most comfortable shoes were my Reebok Easy Tone runners. These shoes have balls on the heel and toes of your feet so that you are always off balance and using more muscles to walk. This does not go over well on ground that is already super uneven. I fell down once, almost twisted my ankle numerous times, and thinking back, I am lucky I didn't fall off the edge of a cliff and plummet to my death. 

We were really not as prepared for this hike as we thought we were. We didn't bring enough actual food, or water for that matter, and it was over 7 hours of hard, fast walking. When we got to our first lookout and checked our trail map, we saw that we had barely gone anywhere and still had a whole huge loop to complete. This freaked us out so we barely had time to stop and take anything in and we had to keep going at a fast pace because we were worried we wouldn't make it out of the deep forest before sundown. There are dangerous animals that deep in the wilderness so we really didn't want to be there in the dark, haha. But let's start from the beginning!

We drove to Lion's Head and found the parking lot for the trail entrance that we planned to take. After sunscreening and bug-spraying up, we grabbed our backpacks and excitedly hurried onto the trail. A little ways in, on the side of the trail, there was this "pothole" made by glaciers. It was kind of cool! 

Me Inside the Pothole

Inside the pothole from above

View From Inside the Pothole Looking Up
In this area, the ground was still nice and foresty (as opposed to just huge boulders). I fell in love with walking on forest paths. The ground is so soft and bouncy. It is just so lovely to walk on! I wanted to take off my shoes and become an elf and live there forever....except the reference book warned us that there was a lot of poison ivy in the area so I did not do that, haha. It made me wish I lived in a time before concrete and asphalt. Imagine how nice it would be if we could walk on soft ground like that all the time. It just made me so happy for some reason. 

After walking for a while longer we came to our first lookout, and it was beautiful. As you kept walking along the path there were small lookouts everywhere. Be prepared for a billion pictures...


I love the little white tree on the big white cliff

I love how trees can just grow out of the rock so high up

I know this looks nothing like Hawaii, but I was reminded of it here. When I was in Hawaii this past December, I went to a black sand beach on the big island. It was stunning. I was so taken by the way the black of the sand, the blue of the ocean, and the green of the plants just went together so beautifully. When I was here, it was kind of the same idea except instead of black sand it was the white rock of the cliffs. It looked amazing with the green of the trees and the blue of the lake and the sky. 

After these views, the trail goes further back from the edge and you make your way down. You end up on a rock/boulder beach at the lake. Hard to walk on in Reebok easy tones, but beautiful. That is where we decided to go swimming, haha. One of the most amazing parts of this hike was that we were completely alone for the majority of the time. We passed by people for the first bit and we ran into these two girls we met at the first lookout a couple more times, the last time being at this boulder beach, they turned back here. We were not even halfway through our hike at that point! The rest of the hike there was NOBODY. It seemed like nobody had even been down the trails in a long time because we were walking through spider webs the entire way after we went swimming. Oh, and by the way, the water was freezing. I had my feet in there and it was so cold they hurt. We had to get all the way in though! 

About to swim in freezing cold Lake Huron

The end part of the bouldery beach
After this section we got to walk uphill back to the top of the cliffs...yay...haha. This was the part of the hike where we were completely alone. I felt like I could build a treehouse and live there and nobody would ever find out. Maybe I will someday, haha. Alright, now for a whole lot more pictures! It may just look basically like the same picture over and over to some people but I just love it there so much and think all the pictures are beautiful and can't get enough of this place.

This rock jutting out looked like a gun, somewhere around this area was a place called Gun Point so we thought this might be why it's called that...

And this is a not so great attempt at a panoramic picture...

After these areas you go further into the forest, away from the lake. That is when we really tried to pick up the pace and get out of there before it got dark! We ended up having lots of time before the sun went down but we were so tired and hungry and just beat that we wanted to get back to the car as soon as we could. When we finally got to the side trail that would lead us back close to the trail that we started on, we were ecstatic and had a temporary energy renewal, haha. It took us over 7 hours to complete the entire loop and get back to our car. 

The first thing I did when we got to the car was take off my shoes and change into sandals. Then we just sat in the car with the windows rolled down and the doors open, not just because it was so hot, but because we reeked of bug spray...I think we went a little overboard with it. We went to the first restaurant we saw and ordered huge meals. Even just getting out of the car and walking to the restaurant was a difficult task by this point. My legs were so tired and sore, haha. We could barely even eat our food, I guess out of exhaustion. We got back to the B&B around 5:30 or 6. We all had showers and laid in bed. Sara was asleep by about 6:30pm, haha. My husband and I stayed up reading for a couple of hours and were asleep around 8 or 8:30pm! 

Immediately following the hike, I was thinking it was a terrible idea and we shouldn't have gone so far but after a couple of days, the bad memories started to fade and I found myself thinking about "next time"! I would definitely do it all over better shoes...with more food and water...

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