Bruce Peninsula National Park -- June 2008
I met Patrick, Toni and Matt at Toni's building at 4:00pm this afternoon and we all piled into the Impala Patrick had rented and slowly made our way out of the downtown core. After negotiating traffic for an hour we finally exited the city. The drive to Tobermory is about 4 hours so we figured we'd make it by 9:00 at the very latest...we turned out to be wrong.
The start of the drive was mostly uneventful. I was manning the GPS but it's a really easy drive so I was mostly just following along as opposed to giving directions. We stopped for supper in Orangeville, at a British pub that turned out to be pretty good. Before arriving I had selected a restaurant using the listings on the GPS, but due to incompetent navigation on my part we drove right past it and ended up at the pub instead. Later, once I realized my mistake, we went by the originally selected restaurant and found that it had been torn down sometime ago so my mistake was actually a good thing. Orangeville is a nice little town, we walked the main street a bit and there were lots of fun shops and things. Most of it was expensive touristy stuff but it was all high class expensive touristy stuff so that made it ok.
From Toronto to Tobermory there's really just one road that makes sense to follow, highway 10. Unfortunately it's only one lane in either direction and with all the cottage traffic it gets pretty slow on a Friday afternoon/evening in the summer. So, with GPS in hand we set off to find a side road that would be less busy. We ended up on a perfect road, that was still mostly paved and ran exactly parallel to the highway. We made some pretty good time and the drive along the side road was a lot more interesting than the highway. There were lots of trees and rabbits and we even saw a wild turkey just standing at the side of the road!
After about half an hour on the side road I noticed on the GPS it was coming to an end. The GPS indicated there would be a paved road at the end that would take us directly back to the highway. So I told Patrick to keep going and then turn right when the road ended. Well...when we got to the end of our happy side road the so called "paved road" back to the highway turned out to be a single lane trail through dense forest with large rocks and washed out sections all the way along. We should have turned back but it was only one kilometre back to the high way and adventures are fun! So Patrick eased the car onto the trail and we began our bumpy journey up and down steep hills and over large pointy rocks that made me cringe for the rental cars tires. It soon became clear that the trail wasn't going to get better and that it was really meant for something a bit more hearty than a Chevrolet Impala. However the trail wasn't getting worse either so we kept going. Right up until the trail went into a big pond that appeared out of nowhere. We could see the trail come back out of the pond on the other side, but we realized that this was the end of the line and we'd have to turn back. Fortunately there was room to turn the car around, and after a few nice pictures we headed back and found an alternative route to the highway.
Well given our extended supper in Orangeville and the adventure with the pond, we arrived at the camp site quite a bit later than intended, around 10:30 or so. Fortunately the tents were easy to set up and Verna and Luis had arrived much earlier and had everything else ready to go. After securing the food in one of the cars we took a short walk in the dark to go look at the stars and then went to bed.
I love the freedom that my Digital SLR camera gives me and the scenery in the park gave me many opportunities to play. I must have taken hundreds of photos today. It was really cool having Patrick around with his camera because we could talk about camera stuff and take the time to do lots of photos without inconveniencing anyone else. We stayed together and they went on ahead if they were bored.
We got an early start this morning, with a breakfast of sausages and pancakes made by Verna. The pancakes were super light and fluffy because the mix she bought required eggs to be added not just water. Mmmmm! Once breakfast was done we put on sunscreen and bug spray and then packed up some lunch and other essentials and headed out for a day long hike on the Bruce Trail.
The Bruce Trail runs along the Niagara Escarpment from Niagara Falls all the way to Tobermory. It's an awesome place to walk anywhere along its length but I think it's especially nice near Tobermory. It follows Georgian bay and there are huge cliffs and rocks everywhere. The water is so blue and clear (and cold!) and the trail is very well maintained in the area.
So we walked to the trail, and then quickly came to our first stop of the day where we were able to climb down into a rocky area near the water. There were many photos taken and lots of fun opportunities for me to explore by climbing on the rocks. I should have brought my climbing shoes!! I found this awesome cave that looked out over the water and had a really cool line up and out which I would have definitely attempted had I had my shoes there. Oh well, now I know for next time! After a while a large group of high school kids showed up and started jumping in the freezing water. Their reactions were hilarious, but also loud so we left soon after.
The next stop slightly further up the trail had a cool hole in the ground that you could climb through and come out on an ledge right at the water. Again the colours were just so amazing that we had to stop and take more photos and just relax on the rocks. At the back of the area was another cave with a tunnel in the water that you could swim through if you were sufficiently brave. Given the temperature of the water...we opted to just take photos.
At this point we had spent more time stopped than we had walking so we picked up the pace a little and only made short stops to take interesting photos. At one point on the trail we found a hole in the ground that led down to an area underneath a huge overhang. Luis, Patrick and I split off from the group to explore it and had a fun time climbing down and the back up. The climbing was definitely a highlight for me on this trip!
Eventually we found a deserted stretch of shore on the trail and stopped for a lunch of wraps filled with delicious toppings. We had turkey as the meat with tomatoes, cucumbers, spinach, avocado, cheese and dijon mayo for toppings. The avocado totally made this meal and it was a hit all around. We also had carrots, apples, honeydew melon and brownies for snacks. We were very well fed! After lunch we hung around the shore for a while, wading in the super cold water and playing with cameras.
The walk back was less eventful, but still beautiful. On our return we were all hot and sweaty so we went to the little lake on the camp site for some swimming. It wasn't as cold as Georgian Bay, but it wasn't exactly bath water either. So after a good swim we head back to the site and started preparing for supper. We were going to have vegetables and steak grilled on the fire so we needed to gather firewood and also get things prepared. While Verna and Matt prepared food, Patrick, Toni and I drove in to Tobermory to pick up some supplies that we had forgotten. I haven't been to Tobermory since I was little but it's a really nice little town!
Supper was delicious! The meat turned out perfect and the vegetables even more perfect! But we didn't wait around long savouring the flavours because we wanted to go back out to the shore along the Bruce Trail to take photos of the sunset and that time was quickly approaching. So we quickly cleaned up and headed out.
Sunsets over Georgian Bay are simply stunning! It was pretty cloudy as we were leaving the site so we were worried about the view but the clouds made it even better! The colours produced were just unbelievable. I took lots of really good photos but I don't think they do it justice. It's really something you just need to experience. We stayed for the whole show and I had some more fun climbing on rocks and then we walked back to the site in the dark for roasted marshmallows and hot chocolate. After relaxing for a while we headed to bed.
We had to be off the site by 11:00am this morning which seemed bad at first but turned out well because it got us moving early and we were able to do a lot of stuff today as a result.
We started off with a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs, bagels and extra thick bacon. Patrick got adventurous with the final few rashers and made maple fried bacon which is as deliciously glorious as it sounds. Then we cleaned up and packed up and drove out of the campsite.
Today's activity was a visit to Flowerpot Island just off the coast of Tobermory. We didn't plan it well though and arrived at the docks just in time to see the ferry pull out of the harbour. It looked like we'd have to wait around Tobermory for two hours to get the next one but then we noticed that you could also take a speed boat to the island. We then found out that the ferry is also a tour of the area and it takes an hour and a half just to get to the island while the speed boat only takes fifteen minutes! We were really only interested in exploring the island so this was perfect! The speed boat was leaving just after we arrived and it was cheaper than the slow boring ferry. Good times!
So after a speedy windy trip to the island we headed out along the trails to see the famous "flowerpot" rock formations. Again the views of rocks and trees were amazing and the trails through the woods were sooooooo green. It was all so lush and beautiful. There were also some really cool limestone caves. Of course many photos were taken again.
We stopped for a lunch of more wraps at the lighthouse on the island and then we hung around the shore on some rocks. This time we decided to take a dip in Georgian Bay despite the cold. By dip I mean jump in and then get out as fast as possible. That water is freezing! It was lots of fun though and very relaxing. The area near the light house had a small cottage-style house there that the volunteers who help out on the island get to stay at. I want to look into volunteering there because that would be an awesome place to stay!
Once we were dry, we continued our walk along the loop, and eventually ended back at the docks to catch the speed boat back to Tobermory. In Tobermory we said our goodbyes to Verna and Luis and started the drive home. However Patrick likes to get the most out of his trips and instructed me to find us an interesting route home. I figured that he'd never driven the super hilly stretch of Airport Road before and so we followed the shore of Georgian Bay to Collingwood.
The route home couldn't have been better if I had planned it in advance. The road along the shore was beautiful and as we came into Collingwood a rainbow appeared over Blue Mountain that stretched into the Bay. We stopped to take pictures and then drove up to the top of Blue Mountain where more views and picture taking ensued. Then a quick stop for supper and we headed out along Airport Road.
Before getting too far, we noticed that there was yet another amazing sunset occurring behind us as we drove so we pulled over and took more photos while watching the sun disappear behind the trees and hills. I've never seen so many colours all at once before! The trip down Airport Road went well and Patrick and Toni were suitably impressed with the hills. It's always fun taking someone down that road who hadn't done it before.
This was to be the end of our adventuring however, as it was getting late and we were pretty tired. We took main roads back to Toronto after finishing on Airport Road and rolled up to our buildings at about 11:30pm. This was a fantastic trip!