Monday, April 18, 2016

Cottage Season is approaching Muskoka/Bala/Severn

Spring is full of excitement as we make our first trip of the year back up to the cottage.  There has been lots of news reports about high water so when we set off we are never sure about what we will find.  Our driveway is about 400 feet long (wouldn't it be nice if it was also 400 feet wide - other than the taxes LOL).  Quick left turn in and quicker stop.  First surprise of the season, we are going to have to walk down to the cottage.  The top of a giant pine tree blew off and knocked down another tree and multiple saplings on the way.

Thankfully it was the branches and not the trunk that was on the driveway, this is something we can definitely do if we can rent a bigger chainsaw.

Thankfully the cottage had no trees on it, still lots of snow around the property and lots of ice under the cottage.  No water turning on this weekend.  One of our footings has fallen down, but other than that the cottage survived another Canadian winter and so did we.

In 18 years at the cottage we have never seen a deer on our property, but they came for a visit over the winter.  My property is full of hostas in the summer, a favourite food of the deer, hopefully they are heading north now.  :)

Neighbours docks are underwater on the Saturday, but when we went back up on the Sunday for tree removal the water had receded enough that you could walk on their docks.  Our docks thankfully were just fine and waiting for our boat.  You don't often see a boat zipping along in the April water, you have to be careful after a year like this as there are always lots of debris in the water, planks, branches, noodles and other items from boathouses that had been left on the dock inside the boathouse and floated off with the rising water.
After we realized that we didn't have a long enough extension cord for our electric chainsaw, we headed for a little tour of the area.  There is nothing I like more than heading up Hwy 11 to the cottage and then crossing over the the 400 and heading down the Georgian Bay side (my penchant for travelling in circles).  High water time always means a trip to Bala.  Just as we parked near Don's Bakery (dang it was closed), this northern train went by with a beautiful caboose.
The dam is fully open and water is leaving at an amazing rate.  Everytime I see this I am amazed that we have any water left in Muskoka.  You can see why they want to put a hydro-electric plant in to harness all this energy.  In the summer you can walk across the falls or sit in the water.  This is just 1 of 2 connections joining Lake Muskoka to the Moon River and finally to Gerogian Bay.

It is amazing how clear and calm the water looks at the top of the falls.

This is the other entrance to the Moon river, again the dam is fully open.  People stand on the rocks during the summer to fish, definitely wouldn't want to fall into this.

2 or 3 years ago the water was up to the windows on this cottage.  It is amazing it is still standing.  

Our next stop was Loch 45 on the Trent/Severn Waterway, the water was flowing just as fast here.  

Days like this, water like glass, could you ask for anything more beautiful.  (Maybe have it happen in July).

Sunday turns out to be another beautiful day and Home Depot has a 20 inch chainsaw we can rent so off we go back to the cottage to clear out the driveway.  My great Canadian guy starts removing branches and I cart them off to the bush.  A great day, looking forward to my epsom salt bath when I get home with a bottle of wine and our homemade pizza.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

A walk along the Niagara Escarpment

I don't usually have to work Fridays.  Every Monday I start checking the weather and in March and April every Wednesday the weather has been horrible.  So I have worked.  Well finally this weeks weather was looking promising.  Where should I go on my adventure, the cottage.  Nope going there on Saturday.  The Elora Gorge, nope been there.  And then I remembered a posting on Facebook about all these marvelous little waterfalls in the Hamilton area that are part of the Niagara Escarpment.

I keep checking the weather and finally I am feeling optimistic that the weatherman is going to get it right and I start checking on the different waterfalls in the Hamilton area around an hour away.  There is a great webpage called "Cascades of Waterfalls" which lists them all, parking and the waterfall of the week.  Well how can you resist something called "Great Falls" in the little town of Waterdown.

Now to find an unsuspecting friend.  Hmmmm Bob is away, let's try Sharon.  Yeah!!!! she is available.  Leave Sharon's at about 9:50 and we are in Waterdown before 11.  What an easy drive, 400, 407, exit hwy 5/Dundas and voila we are there.  Ooops a wrong turn, we went north instead of south.  Thankfully there was construction as you go under the railroad bridge, on this very curvy road because if we didn't have to stop we probably would have driven right by the parking lot.

 At this point in time we still aren't sure we are in the right spot, but there are definitely waterfalls, we can here them.  The great thing about doing this in April, is there is a ton of water coming down the falls.  There is a great viewing area at the top of the falls looking down.  What a great idea we are thinking and then we realize we have to walk down.  What goes down must come back up, but off we set.

The trail at the top is very muddy, looks like a herd of cows has gone through and churned up all the mud, so we go off trail and climb over the fence when we get to the stairs.  We are laughing quite exuberantly as we make our way down the side of the ravine.  Around this time we realize we forgot to stop at Tim's for a pee break and a sandwich.  All this flowing water and our laughter is making us both a wee bit uncomfortable.

As there were a number of cars in the parking lot and there isn't any tree cover, we start looking for areas where we might be able to take a little privacy break.  Thank goodness there is finally some flat ground, perching over the ravine with our little bums hanging out wasn't something our knees were looking forward too.

The root systems were amazing, when you were walking you had to keep your eyes on your feet to make sure you didn't trip on the roots weaving back and forward across the paths.  

Finally flat ground, this is Grindestone Creek which goes all the way to the lake.  
I never like having to retrace my steps, but today it reinforced the fact that sometimes the opposite view is even more beautiful.  Going uphill also feels safer so it was easier to lift our head up and have a look around as we were walking.  :)

To think in another 4 to 6 weeks, all the trees and shrubs will be in full bloom and the forest will look totally different again.  

Time for a sandwich, Waterdown is a busy little town, the traffic was terrible at lunchtime.  We pass an "Autism Funding Protest" which we are glad to beep our horn in support of.  Finally we spot a Mr. Sub.  After checking out the map we realize we were in the right spot and if we had continued on we would have come across 3 more smaller waterfalls.  The total walk there and back is 10 km.  Our thinking hats go on and we think what the heck why not drive to the bottom and walk back up to where we were.  Surely there will be parking at the bottom of the trail.  Well if there was we couldn't find it.  Stop again, get the map out no idea how to get to them, but luckily for us the lake is right ahead.  Off we go to Hamilton Harbour/Burlington Bay.  Park the car right on the water, but wow it is too windy and cold to sit on the lovely park benches so we eat our lunch in the car.  Thanks again Sharon for the lunch, it was delish and I was hungry.  

It seems like everywhere I go there is a bevy of swans.  All paired off .  Their babies are so difficult to spot, but maybe one day.

There is a lovely walk around the bay and up into the ravine.  The whole way around the bay we were moaning about the cold and almost gave up and went back to the car but by the time we are at the top, the coats are coming undone.

Every time Sharon saw a log she kept mentioning that her grandson London would love walking along them.  Well sometimes you just have to let the kid out in you and off she went up the tree, at least this one wasn't over water :).  

Yes this tree is in the GTA, it's huge.  Letting the kid in me out.  Hugging a tree.  :)

Thanks Sharon for lunch and the company and the laughs.

At the top of the ravine there is a lovely pavilion called Geraldo's at La Salle Park , a lovely area surrounded by amazing waterfront houses.  If you are looking for a walk check out the Bruce Trail/Niagara Escarpment trails, they are just starting to spring back to life.