Yesterday was about finishing, for sure. But more happened than just the last few steps and the immediate celebration. So here’s a few more bits from our last day.
On our last kilometre into Tobermory a few days ago, we were passed by a young couple carrying big packs. I shouted across the highway to them about our (near) completion northbound from Niagara In return, they whooped and shouted back that’s what they were aiming for — a southbound thruhike, camping along the way. They were the only other real thruhikers we saw (or could confirm) along the whole Trail.
We did see way back in the Boyne River / Pine River area a young fellow who had started in Georgetown and was aiming to get to Tobermory. We nicknamed him DoublePack or Tupac for not only his horridly big and heavy pack but also because he was carrying 20 lbs of food in a dry bag in one hand. We marveled when Herb saw him near Wiarton as we reached Tobermory. So he counts as the only other camper we saw along the way other than destination campers at Cypress Lake.
We did see, however, many people along the way who were determined section hikers, knocking off chunks of the Trail a day or a few days at a time, and completing the whole thing over months or often years. Such was today’s couple of section hikers. Two women from Barrie and Huntsville, hiking three days based out of a (palatial!) B&B, and doing a good bit of the Caledon section. They do four such trips each year and aim to complete an official ‘end-to-end’ over three or so years.
We often commented with admiration on the feat of such hikers after chatting with them. It takes huge dedication to plan such intermittent trips, including accommodation and transportation. It would also be a great way to celebrate a friendship over time!
It also somehow seems easier just to throw gear into a backpack and just start and go the way we did it, especially following Kookork’s approach of simple resupply along the way.
Our hats (shamaghs!) are off to section hikers!
There are several expressions of barren Queenston Shale near the famous Cheltenham Badlands. In fact, we saw exposures of the red and interbanded green shale occasionally along the length of the Bruce Trail. Horizons of shale are often associated with springs and wetlands immediately above — because the clays of the shale are relatively impervious to water flow.
Occasionally where the shale is exposed in flattish layers, and where human interference is high either through over-farming or over-grazing and/or moderate levels of human traffic, there are dramatic and colourful barren areas called ‘badlands’.
Recently, the biggest and most dramatic area of exposed Queenston Shale, the Cheltenham Badlands, have been closed off for ‘natural regeneration’.
Except that the badlands are unnatural and of largely human origin … Allowing them to naturally regenerate will restore the forest, at least to the extent that the badlands have been caused by human interference. But then there will not be ‘badlands’ … They are largely anthropogenic as far as I know.
And I think wrong-headed.
I’d propose that the Badlands be recognized for what they are: primarily anthropogenic. As such, perhaps half could be closed off and allowed to regenerate (which would duplicate and extend the rest of the existing property, as well as the surrounding lands). But I would maintain that should/must be accompanied by at least simple signs explaining how ‘natural regeneration’ in fact ‘ruins’ the artificial and anthropogenic badlands. All that should be accompanied by maintaining the open access to half of the existing badlands to allow them to continue as barren wastes while pointing out their largely anthropogenic origin and artificiality. The Badlands could be a potent educational tool in enriching the public understanding of our human ecological impact.
‘Kookork’ is my amazing hiking partner’s online name. It’s a Persian vernacular name of a large high-montane pheasant, probably what is known in English as Caspian Snowcock, Tetraogallus caspius. It is found in the mountains of eastern Turkey and Armenia, and throughout the Alborz Mountains of Northern Iran. It’s a bird usually only seen by serious Iranian hikers and climbers — and Kookork is one of them!
Kookork’s four-legged companion is an 8-year-old Sheltie with the Persian name “Delta”. That translates somewhat literally as ‘like my heart’ or ‘similar to my heart’. I transliterate it to be closer to ‘soul mate’, which he certainly is for Kookork.
I’m so impressed with Delta as a trail dog. Agile, energetic, smart, independent yet highly obedient, Delta always hiked either between us, or slightly behind me. He was an excellent signaler of oncoming people. He knew when to take cover behind one of us if an aggressive dog was near. If I dropped behind to take a photograph, he would resolutely stop and not move until I caught up, until the pack was together. He was also finely attuned to the sound of my gorp or jerky bags …
This is the second complete proper camping thruhike of the Bruce Trail for both Kookork and for Delta. We’re wondering if any dog has ever done that before … My wife got him special dog tag to announce to the world his remarkable second completion of the Bruce Trail.
To thank Kookork, my wife gave him a pottery figurine that had been made of me some thirty years ago. It’s a dead ringer of Kookork!