Friday, June 04, 2010

Hilton Falls Loop - the longest hike I've ever taken

The Hilton Falls Loop (GCRDC1) is a 25+ km, 12 stage multi cache along the Bruce Trail in Milton Ontario. Kevin and I were on vacation and thought it would be a good one to try since we had the time... ok, so the truth is I thought it would be fun, Kevin was a good sport and came along with me. :)

We planned to do this cache in two days so we could take some side trails and find other caches in the area. Because it's a loop this ended up adding many extra kilometers to our total trip, losing the trail and backtracking/bushwhacking also added to the time and kilometers. In the end we did it in three days.

Day 1

Day one we stayed within the park boundaries of Hilton Falls and Bullet and Lexus came along for the trip. The entire hike would have been way too much for the puppy, and Bullet was trialling on the weekend so I was being overprotective and paranoid about him getting injured.

Lexus helping me navigate.

Day 2

Glory had us to herself on day two and she loved it! This day was to contain the bulk of our adventure. When we left the weather was warm, the sky was clear, the bugs were biting. A 5 km hike brought us directly to where we left off the day before and we were soon out of the park and on the Bruce Trail. The Bruce Trail is 885 km long and follows the Niagara Escarpment from Tobermory to the Niagara Falls area, with hundreds of km of side trails.

Follow the blazes...

So we walked, climbed and walked some more. We picked up a couple other caches on our route, but after a few hours we kept to the main loop. Half a km here and half a km there add up.

We got really lost at our furthest distance from the start and ended up in a construction zone on the wrong side of a wire fence. After following the boundary for a while we decided to scale it, lifted Glory over (good thing she's small) and found the trail again after some thick bushwhacking. Whew! We were only guessing the trail was in that direction.

Resting along the way.

Later in the afternoon the sky started to darken, and quickly. There was a storm on the way and we had NO idea where we were. Our only option was to keep going.

The sky darkening over a quarry along our route.

The skies opened while we were in a forest and it gave us the whole shebang - lightening & thunder with heavy wind. A branch came down right in front of me. Thankfully we had bags with us to protect our gear. At first we were disgruntled but soon we were laughing at our predicament, if a little hysterically. It helped that we were only a few markers/hours from the end and had started to recognize where we were.

Glory and I getting wet, but we were getting closer to the end!

We lost the trail after we crossed the road pictured above and ended up, once again, on the wrong side of a fence, this time at the base of a waterfall. It was wide and shallow filled with slimy, slippery rocks. We had no option but to cross it. At first we tried to balance on the rocks, but in the end we were soaking wet anyway so we just walked through it, climbed the hill and found the trail. (Squish, Squish, Squish) A little backtracking to the next marker (over a stile that we missed!) and we were almost there!

The last marker took us back to the very first one of the day before where we spent some time looking for the cache. Note to self - ALWAYS READ THE DIRECTIONS! Turns out that there were three extra numbers at each marker that we were to mark down and do a little math to find the coordinates for the end. Good thing I had taken pictures of each marker or we would have been hiking it all over again to collect those numbers. I would have, anyway. Something tells me I don't think I could have convinced Kevin to hike the entire route again.

We were being eaten alive, we were soaking wet, cold and tired so we left finding the cache for the next day.

So very wet...

Day 3

This day was easy compared to the days before. I had the coordinates of the Hilton Loop in hand, as well as the coordinates for a few other puzzle caches that were in the park. The storm had passed, the sun was shining and we were ready to finish this beast. Bullet came along for the ride.

Bullet's ready!

A short hike brought us to the final where a small search ended in discovery. Sweet success!

The more effort something takes, the more satisfying the accomplishment. Sweet success!

To remember the day I traded a squirrel for the bulldog, perfect eh?

Overall it was a rewarding, rememberable hike that I plan on doing again. Would anyone like to join me? :)


Jenn@ You know... that blog? said...

I've done SOME of that trek - about 4 hours of it, before the bugs started biting fortunately :) It's gorgeous! But no, I'm not joining you... you get lost too much! ;) Besides, you're in much better shape than I am, and I wouldn't be able to keep up I'm sure. Looks like you had fun though! Kevin is such a good sport!

Gracie said...
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