Facultative or Obligate; The Journey is The Destination; and the Razor’s Edge

A long shadow

A very slow short day. From High Dump to Storm Haven, from one exquisite campsite to another, all of 9.1km. Supposedly the most difficult section of the whole Bruce Trail. 

We don’t think so … Challenging in parts, yes. And would be even more so in wet weather. (We’ll find out tomorrow …) Difficult for the many obvious neophytes based in the national park at Cypress Lake. (Oh dear — are we inappropriately lauding ourselves as being experts after a scant 38 days along the Trail?) But not as difficult or as dangerous as, say, the Trail down the east side of Owen Sound. 

Am I glad I headed northbound out of Niagara instead of southbound from Tobermory? Yes, absolutely — because I wanted to trace Spring northwards. Could I have headed southbound from Tobermory? Aside from the obvious loss of the so very fortuitous meeting with Kookork, I’d have been in much greater danger of injury because I simple didn’t know how to hike. And I’ve have been constantly and seriously worried about water sources instead of having learned so much about water, treatment, and hydration. 

Back and forth across the arguments, eh? For an experienced thruhiker, one who has the equipment ‘dialed’ in, who understands how to get water as well as knows personal foot care, and perhaps above all, who knows how to pace themselves, SOBO from Tobermory would be fine. Personally, I learned so much from Kookork about not ‘packing for my fears’, about water sources, and about the value for me of going slowly, NOBO from Niagara was unquestionably appropriate. 

So is this a testimony to Kookork? Absolutely!

Facultative or Obligate?

The real reason we went so slowly today was because of our back and forth discussion about the continuum between introversion and extroversion. Perhaps we’d take twenty steps before I’d stop and struggle to elaborate a point. Or sometimes Kookork (always in the lead on woodland trails) would stop and face me to emphasize something he’d come to understand. 

Taking an essential distinction that introverts rely on self-evaluation and reflection, whereas extroverts gain strength through interaction with others, these almost forty days have helped me to more clearly understand that I’m much more empowered by social interactions than I have given myself credit for in the past. From the almost constant interactions with Kookork, to the rich messaging back and forth with several of you, to the emotionally deep visits we had along the way with friends from across so much of my life, to the meditative sharing of this blog, to appreciating so fully my family (not ‘missing’ as much as feeling pointedly connected across so many channels), this hike has been a fundamentally social and enormously positive experience. 

So unlike what I had expected would be a solo experience …

Thank you, all!

The Journey is The Destination

The Journey is the Destination

We met a group of boys and girls from Ancaster out with their Scout leaders, proudly hiking to Cypress Lake. Their t-shirts proclaimed “The Journey is the Destination”. Amen! And thanks to the volunteer leaders!


Many woodland plants spread vegetatively, which means that quite large populations can actually be derived from a single plant and are thus genetically identical. (Without comfirming, I believe there are aspen groves out in ?Wyoming? that cover square kilometres and are demonstrably one interconnected plant. I believe that large-scale cloning is also true of our Large-toothed Aspens.) If that vegetative growth is combined with a genetic requirement for cross-pollination (to create genetic diversity), then plants need some kind of fallback strategy. One such strategy is cleistogamy – “hidden seeds”.  In Gaywings (Fringed Polygalas, Polygala paucifolia), stands of plants will produce sterile-looking stems with small flowers that never open and yet produce seeds. We found them today, after Thorpee alerted me to look for them! (I believe this was the topic of his Master’s thesis.) 

Cleistogamous flower and fruit of Gaywings


Sunrise at High Dump

Blues and Turquoises

A tough afternoon on the beach

Blue-sky gazing

  • About 7 P.M. we were (rightly!) asked to leave the site we had squatted upon at Storm Haven by a young couple who had booked the site. As of 8:20 P.M., we’re still OK on an adjacent site … Our fault. We didn’t book a site, thinking that since last night we had High Dump to ourselves, we’d be OK tonight. But it’s a Friday … And I get no cell signal out here, so I can’t even check, let alone make a reservation … (This post will be published tomorrow …) Update:  We had to move again at about 9:30 … Śtill 2 sites open …
  • Kookork heard a bear several times during the night — but Delta wasn’t concerned. Then Kookork realized the sounds were coming from the hammock beside him …
  • Fine rumbling through the night. Thunder, not me …
  • I must read Somerset Maugham’s Razor’s Edge. That book has had a profound influence on Kookork. 

8 thoughts on “Facultative or Obligate; The Journey is The Destination; and the Razor’s Edge

  1. I’ve long seen you as a born teacher, including in everyday life (a good thing!), which is very social indeed, so I’m not startled at all. Also you seem to automatically notice real and potential distress in folk. Enjoy my favourite place in the world, the Upper Bruce!

  2. Herb was up hiking in Sydenham & met the through hiker from Georgetown on the 8th & 9th. On the 9th he was camping at Skinner’s Bluff & the 10th he was headed to the Wiarton campground for 2 nights. His tent is blue & orange if you want to check it out on the way home. Let me know if & when you are walking the Caledon section you by-passed.

    Congratulations on your accomplishment. An experience like that teaches us a lot about ourselves,
    We’ve enjoyed all your
    posts & pics, We’re so fortunate to have the Bruce Trail at our back door so to speak,
    Take care Mark & travel safe.

    • “Tapac” indeed — amazing! He was really struggling when we saw him. Sounds like the same tent.
      We are doing the Caledon 73km Tues/Wed/Thurs. which day suits you best?

  3. Isn’t it amazing how much being in…no journeying through..the vastness of this amazing planet…can help us look so deeply inward! You’ve had an incredible journey on many levels! Looking forward to more stories when we meet up again…over salmon and wine perhaps 🙂

  4. Thanks for your insightful words of wisdom and encouragement. We couldn’t have asked for a better way to begin our trek.

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