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By George Bailey, Niagara Falls Review, link to original post

Bruce Trail hiking narrative available at www.footprintpress.com

Bruce Trail hiking narrative available at http://www.footprintpress.com

As a travel writer, once in a while I get invited to attend various travel-related events. When an invitation was extended to me to take part in one of the soon-to-be-introduced Bruce Trail Waterfall Walks (August 2013), I thought it would be just like any other hike. Boy, was I wrong. Yes, it was a hike, but much more.

Maria Fortunato, executive director of the Hamilton Halton Brant Regional Tourism Association (www.theheartofontario.com), explained, “This walk has been a year in the making. It’s a type of packaged walking tour that’s never been done in Ontario. It’s most unique”. There are two tours offered, all-inclusive two-day and five-day waterfall walking holidays that wind along the Bruce Trail atop the Niagara Escarpment in the Hamilton-Halton area. Groups consist of anywhere from 12 to 20.Participants stay over night in top-notch hotels with scrumptious meals. No beans and wieners here.

1297441800177_ORIGINALI decided to put on my best walking shoes and try out this new adventure.

From the moment I stepped onto the trail on the rocky collar of the Niagara Escarpment (a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve) near the edge of Hamilton, I knew it was going to be interesting. What was unique about this hike was that I observed my surroundings in a different way. It was because I was accompanied by a knowledgeable guide, Beth (Kummling) Gilhespy, executive director of the Bruce Trail Conservancy (www.brucetrail.org or 1-800-665-4453). She was a walking encyclopedia about the geology along the trail.

The morning walk took us through a Carolinian forest, past numerous waterfalls (there are 28 waterfalls along the Niagara Escarpment) and scenic lookouts that left me in awe. Things you might see along the trail are paw paw, flowering dogwood and sweet chestnut. If you’re lucky (I wasn’t), you might get a glimpse of a southern flying squirrel or wooded warbler. This hike would be perfect for birders to add more names to their list of birds they’ve spotted.

1297441800207_ORIGINALAfter a full morning of walking 10 kilometres, we took a lunch break at the Ancaster Mill Restaurant. This landmark Ancaster dining establishment is a beautifully restored 19th-century grist mill. The nature theme continued with our Earth to Table cuisine. We lingered after lunch to absorb the lovely waterfall outside our dining room table.

After another afternoon of hiking (we were all wiped, but with that type of tiredness that you feel good about), we were shuttled to the Best Western Luxury C Hotel on Stone Church Rd. above the escarpment, which was home for the night. Home was never like this. After a real good shower, I rested for a few hours and then headed downstairs for another delicious meal, where we reminisced about our day of adventure. Sleep that night was easy.

I have to make a confession at this point. Due to other plans I had that day, I didn’t continue the hike. A few days later I spoke with a few of my fellow hikers who said they were now hooked on hiking and plan to do it again.

About the Bruce Trail

The Bruce Trail starts (or ends, depending on where you are) at Queenston Heights and winds its way along the Niagara Escarpment through the Niagara region before heading towards the Bruce Peninsula at Tobermory. It is Canada’s oldest and longest footpath, over 880 km beginning to end.

The Bruce Trail is funded almost entirely by individuals, organizations, foundations and corporations. Less than 1% is contributed by any level of government. Isn’t that refreshing?

Costs for the Bruce Trail Waterfall Walks

Keep in mind this tour includes a highly knowledgeable trail guide, accommodations in first-rate hotels, breakfast, lunch and dinner each day and ground transportation between your hotels and restaurants. Also included are a one-year Bruce Trail Conservancy membership and an official Bruce Trail guidebook.

A two-day hike of 25 km where you view 19 waterfalls is $588 (+tax) per person, double occupancy. Single occupancy is $794.

A five-day hike of 45 km where you view 28 waterfalls is $1,198 (+ tax) per person, double occupancy. Single occupancy is $1,499.

www.grand-experiences.com/bruce-trail or 1-888-258-0441

To read about an adventure thru-hiking the entire Bruce Trail pick up a copy of Bruce Trail – An Adventure Along the Niagara Escarpment.

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Take A Hike - Rochester 3rd edition

Take A Hike – Rochester 3rd edition

Spring is coming – eventually. Be prepared when that warm, sunny day arrives by purchasing guidebooks now so you can hit the trail and enjoy the burst of spring. The latest (3rd) edition of Take A Hike – Family Walks in the Rochester NY Area” is ON SALE for only $16.95 (retail $19.95).

Also ON SALE for $12:
Bruce Trail – An Adventure Along the Niagara Escarpment
Take Your Bike – Family Rides in the Finger Lakes & Genesee Valley Region.

Take Your Bike - Genesee Valley

Take Your Bike – Genesee Valley

Stock up – no matter how many guidebooks you purchase at www.footprintpress.com, the shipping for the entire order is only $3.50.  We have guidebooks for hiking, biking, paddling, exploring waterfalls, and more – lots of fun spring adventures to enjoy across New York State.

Bruce Trail hiking narrative

Bruce Trail hiking narrative

 

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Reported by Paul Legall, Open File, link to original post

The leggy hiker on the book cover looked like she had been airlifted from a chic Yorkville women’s shop and plunked down in the middle of the Bruce Trail where she was photographed climbing over a wire fence. Decked out in a mini skirt, pumps, designer shades and a wide-brimmed hat that obscured part of her face, the woman in the image produced an enigmatic effect similar to the Mona Lisa.

It wasn’t the kind of getup you’d normally encounter on the Niagara Escarpment trails, where hikers often have to fend off rattlesnakes and other wildlife, scramble over boulders and fallen trees, and deal with extreme weather conditions while camping under the stars. The only hints that she might be a serious trekker were the hiking boots slung over her shoulder and the walking stick she was clutching in her daintily-gloved left hand.

Hamilton author Andy Camani, who set up the shot, wanted an edgy picture that would stop readers in their tracks and compel them to pick up his new book and read the blurb to find out what it was about.

Called “One Hundred Hikers, One hundred Hikes, From Tobermory to Kilimanjaro,” the book consists of personal stories he solicited from contacts in the hiking community.

Camani wanted people to describe their most memorable hikes in less than 1,000 words. What he got was an eclectic collection of personal anecdotes; stories came from amateur writers of all ages who described encounters with rattlesnakes on the Bruce Trails, muskox in the Arctic and a suspected Sasquatch in Algonquin Park that turned out to be a barefooted hiker with huge feet.  (For a full tale of hiking the Bruce Trail try “Bruce Trail – An Adventure Along the Niagara Escarpment.”)

Camani, 60, who spent $20,000 of his own money on the project, offered to donate the proceeds to the Bruce Trail Conservancy.

But when he showed the august Conservancy directors his proposed cover, they winced in horror and held a special meeting to decide whether they could endorse the project. “They said it was ‘racy’ and might offend women; they wanted the usual picture of a pair of hiking boots draped over a log ,” Camani told OpenFile. “I told them I wanted racy … I told them 80 per cent of books are sold by the cover.”

The directors decided to endorse the book – and accept the money – after a Toronto ad firm decided his cover wasn’t sexist or too racy for the hiking community. “They put my cover and a picture of the hiking boots on [a] log on the wall and had the office staff, both women and men, vote on it. Mine won nine to one,” Camani said.

So, who was that enigmatic model under the wide hat?  Her name is Dr. Shirley Caspin, a Toronto general practitioner who is also a serious hiker. A good sport, she agreed to pose for the photograph as a lark and as a favour to the author.

She also agreed to write a story for the book. Caspin’s tale involves a trip to California as a naive teenager, when was she was suddenly slam-dunked into a bizarre world of sex, drugs and rock and roll. Caspin had been dispatched from Montreal as a family emissary to visit an uncle who’d absconded to the west coast after a nasty divorce. The uncle had an intimidating new wife who took an immediate shine to the timid teenager and insisted on applying sun tan lotion on her body any time the sun blinked over the horizon. “To her credit, I never developed sunburn,” Caspin recalled.

Caspin says she decided the Los Angeles scene was a bit too weird for her, and to escape the craziness, she joined a pot-smoking Harvard professor and group of European hikers for an overnight camping trip in Yosemite National Park. They ended up on top of a mountain called the Half Dome where the professor convinced her to try pot for the first time and persuaded her to zip their sleeping bags together for warmth. When she woke up the next morning, she was shocked to see his hairy arm sticking out of the sleeping bag. “Dear God, please keep him asleep … I promise never to smoke that shit again,” she prayed.

But when Caspin looks back on the experience today, she feels a wistful nostalgia. “During the ensuing years, the great outdoors would prove a comforting and reliable antidote for life’[s] stresses,” she wrote. “On this summer night in July, 1972, I felt blessed and certain that all was right with the universe.”

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Click here to read Norm Kern’s experience hiking a portion of the Bruce Trail.
SUEONROCKSSMALLWe appreciate that Norm referenced our travel narrative “Bruce Trail – An Adventure Along the Niagara Escarpment.”

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BRUCE TRAIL COVERRich & I received an email recently, thanking us for inspiration. The Wolfmaan had read our travel narrative “Bruce Tail – An Adventure Along the Niagara Escarpment” and was inspired to take his own journey – in his own way. He left recently on a 2-month thru-hike … barefoot!  As the long distance hiker saying goes “hike your own hike.” We wish Wolfmaan and his dog Lupis well and an adventure filled trip. Click here to view Wolfmaan’s unusual web site/blog.

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Packing Your Pack

backpackClick here for a good article on how to pack your backpack.

Then get inspired to head out backpacking by reading the travel narrative “Bruce Trail – An Adventure Along the Niagara Escarpment.”

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fruitland_falls_autumnsmI know many of you enjoy discovering waterfalls using my guidebook “200 Waterfalls in Central & Western New York.” Well, I left New York recently for a short jaunt west into Ontario, Canada – to a city called Hamilton.  It’s easy to get to – take the bridge across the Niagara River at Niagara Falls and follow the QEW to the end of Lake Ontario – before the QEW bends north around the western end of the lake. I headed there for a family reunion.

During a chat with my cousin, she queried “do you know that Hamilton is considered the waterfall capital of the world?” I admitted that I didn’t know this, but I had certainly enjoyed many waterfalls in and near Hamilton as I thru-hiked the Bruce Trail. Then I get home and this article pops up: Hamilton:Waterfall Capital of the World?

It’s karma – I was meant to pass along the secret. Plan a visit to Hamilton, maybe during spring melt when the waterfalls are gushing. Here’s a handy web site to guide your visit.

Photo: Fruitland Falls by Joe Hollick

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