This was a wild trip, from beginning to end. What were we thinking?? Oh yeah, we were thinking this would be a great training exercise for our upcoming TMB trip. This loop along the Bruce Trail, crossing through Hogg’s Falls, Eugenia Falls Conservation Area, and Campbell’s/Graham’s Hill side trail, was supposed to be 25km, which is longer than our longest planned day for TMB. The idea is that since it’s flat land, we’ll go farther laterally, since we aren’t going up.
And then it snowed. I’ve mentioned before that snow adds a good workout, and this was certainly no exception.
It snowed and it snowed and it snowed. It snowed the night before. It snowed in the morning as we ate breakfast. And it snowed as we trudged along.
We parked at North St. The plan was to start at Campbell’s Hill, but the road to get there looked really steep. And snowy. And having just had my car pulled out of the muddy ice, I was not looking for any more vehicular adventures.
From North St, we headed north towards Campbell’s Hill and took the side trail across, back to the main Bruce Trail. This was slow going. Campbell’s/Graham’s Hill side trail was sheer ice underneath the fresh snow. I fell twice, and I normally don’t slip in these situations. Foreshadowing for the trip to come.
We eventually made our way over to the main Bruce Trail, and headed south. South meant going up a hill. Thankfully, this one was not as icy underneath. And it had a pretty decent view. Or it would have, if it weren’t so weather-y.
At this point, we’re still feeling pretty good. We’re barely 6km in and it’s been nearly two hours. Not our best record, but hey; it’s snowing – and we’re finally off the road and in to the real trails.
And then we come to our first water crossing. Apparently the Bruce Trail has yet to get around to building anything to get over these expanses. That’s fine, it’s small enough that we can throw a log on it and inch our way across.
Except my hiking partner takes a dip in this one. Luckily I’m fast enough on the yank-back that her boot isn’t fully submersed, and the waterproofing saves her. Thank you, Solomon!
Alright, we make it across this stream and continue on our way. It’s actually a nice hike, and even though there is this fresh snow (still falling) it’s obvious this trail hasn’t been hiked all winter.
I do love making fresh tracks in snow. But apparently some humans did beat us here at some point.
I don’t love unbridged water crossings. We came to yet another stream without a bridge. Now, it is snowing, and it’s fairly chilly, but the water is no longer frozen around here. Somehow we both made it across this stream without any great failure.
Onwards! Now we’re getting pretty tired. we’re only about half way down this side of the main Bruce Trail, which means we still have more than half way to go for the entire loop. Ugh.
And then we hit the third water crossing. This one was the deepest by far, but it has rocks, so easy right? Wrong. I misstepped and ended up with a boot full of water.
Fortunately I had taken my backpack with me, which means I was prepared with a fresh pair of socks and a towel to soak up the worst of the river in my boot. Not perfect, but at least I’m not losing my toes.
We’ve still got far too long to go now. We’re miserable. There’s no chatter. I’m fully expecting to wind up on the shores of some small lake that we have to levitate across. I hear running water in the distance.
And then, by some miracle. We’re on the road. It’s another parking area, down by Hogg’s Falls. We are so done at this point, I actually tried to call a cab. It didn’t work.
We did however help a couple ladies get out of the parking lot – which was a solid sheet of ice. We all fell, several times, trying to push this car out. Finally the driver just backed up as far as she could and went for it – cautiously, so as not to end up in the ditch on the other side of the dirt road (or what would be a dirt road, if it weren’t covered in snow and ice).
They thanked us and went on their way. Only afterwards did it occur to us that we might have asked them for a ride. Oh well. We opted to walk up the Lower Valley Road, rather than follow the Bruce Trail farther east between that and Beaver Valley Road.
We were able to pick up the Bruce Trail again as it veered off from the road into Eugenia Falls Conservation Area, which is much greener than the other side of this Bruce Trail loop. It’s at this point that my phone is dying, so I turned it off to get at least partial tracking. The road-walking helped conserve and return some of our energy and we weren’t too miserable getting back on the trail at this point. Second wind, I guess?
I’m sure Eugenia Fall Conservation Area is a lovely place, but I had no interest in it at this point. We did cross paths with a group from Vancouver that were visiting and exchanged some trail recommendations for both areas.
Finally, we were on the final stretch. We decided to take the road again, rather than the meandering trail. It doesn’t save us much on distance, but it’s easier still.
Look how happy we are here, at the beginning of the trail, still thinking this is a good idea!
515m elevation gain
(plus another 1.5 hours, and 5-6kms to actually get back to the car)