With the weather last week teasing us with warm spring conditions one day, followed by a mad rush to get back to “old man winter” the next. One needed to be ready to get out when that “warm spring moment” came around.
Lynn’s a bit more of a “fair weather” adventurer than I am, so when a warm and sunny day presented itself, we headed over to hike through the Bruce Trail and Old Baldy.
The Old Baldy Lookout along the Bruce Trail can be easily accessed from the parking lot within the Old Baldy Conservation Area, part of the Grey Sauble Conservation Authority.
Now, me giving you the location for the Old Baldy parking area would be equivalent to me trying to explain neurosurgery. The first one I’ll try to; the second…. maybe not.
If you’re coming from my area of north Simcoe County, I found it confusing enough. I guess it’s at the end of Sideroad 7B, which is off of the 3rd Line of Grey County after turning from Grey County 119. Confusing or what?
It’s actually pretty simple.
The Village of Kimberley in the Beaver Valley sits more or less at the base of Old Baldy. Google Map the directions or use a gps and you’ll be good to go.
As some of you may know, we have a senior dog who isn’t able to adventure with us over any significant distance. Lynn has a good friend who loves Katie, and will come over on her way to and from work to let Katie out to the bathroom and such. Lynn’s friend wasn’t available his day, so we had to leave Katie by herself.
We thought, no problem. We’ll start from the parking lot and head south along the Bruce Trail for 2 to 3 hours, turn around and head back. Looked good on paper: warm temps(check); decent distance to be covered(check); coffee in hand(check); backpack in order(check). Off we went.
Leaving the parking area, we followed this boardwalk through a deciduous forest. Not to get too weird, but it felt that everything was starting to wake up from this long and snowy winter.
We’ve all felt that before. Waking up in the morning after all long night of sleep; you open the blinds and the sunshine fills the room. Finally warmth; a big stretch and your ready to start another day. I think it was like that for the forest through here. You could almost feel and hear the trees stretching and whispering – “finally; we’re awake and we’re ready to get up now.”
The path winds itself through the forest and along the edge of a field, slowing climbing the escarpment heading to the cliff tops of Old Baldy.
In short order, this was becoming a great outing. Warm temperatures; little wind(which was about to change in just a few short minutes); and only one other couple that we could see out there. Perfection and all of this in just 15 short minutes!
Ok. We’re going to head down a short side trail for a second. I’m thrilled that people get out and hike, canoe, kayak, camp and do whatever in our great outdoors. One of the reasons we write this crazy blog is to encourage people to get out there.
Whether it be for exercise, refuelling your soul, mental wellness or any other host of great reasons. Excellent.
Couple of beefs here though:
- Not sure why you would hike up to Old Baldy, and suck back a couple of Molson Tall Boys while standing at the edge of a cliff face(that’s where I found the cans) and with a cliff edge that has the potential to leave a huge and forever divot on your body should you tumble off. No, offence to Molson’s (and a fine brewer I must say). I don’t think it was them who were there. It’s not the consumption of the beer. How many of us, have gone on a canoe/kayak trip, brought a splash of wine, Bailey’s or something else in a re-usable container and enjoyed a relaxing drink around a campfire after a long day. We all have. But, pack your garbage out with you. If you pack it in; pack it out! I like a cold brew just as much as any person, but come on. On a positive note, our family fortune increase by about 40 cents. I love the refund you get when you return empties to the beer store.
- I understand that in nature, the call of nature can sneak up and tap you on the shoulder. Tough to enjoy the view or paddle the kayak when your bladder is screaming at you, “why didn’t you listen to what your Mother told you all though years ago; go before you get in the car.” Without going into specifics, I’m just going to make the assumption that us guys have it a little easier than you gals, when it come to going pee in the woods. Now, did I mention we saw one other younger couple out there. Oh, I did. Excellent But, come on. Buddy, if you have to go pee, what possessed you to assume it would be “private” to pee standing on a well-travelled and sought after lookout at Old Baldy, while watching your stream of urine cascade over the cliff edge. Twenty feet away, you had a fine selection of trees you could have stood behind, Oh, but no. You have to do your version of a waterfall in the full view of most of Grey County. Hope you didn’t get any backsplash on your pants given the way the wind was blowing.
Gosh, I feel better now. When chatting with a fellow blogger recently, she said, “Isn’t writing therapeutic.” Right now I’m thinking, “Yup, that’s about the truest statement I’ve heard in a long time.”
So, getting back to the main trail.
This was the first real decent glimpse and sweet view of the Beaver Valley we as hiked through the forest from the parking lot. The bonus is – this view is only about 15 minutes or so from where we parked.
One of the many things that drives me to the outdoors is this “in tune with nature and surrounding sensation.” Other bloggers who I follow and chat with have far better expressed this feeling then I can.
For me, it is, “stepping into the painting versus looking at the painting.” It isn’t sort of stepping or it isn’t like stepping; it is stepping. I’ve become one with where I’m at that moment. Everything that is crappy-gone; tension-gone; anxiety-gone; worries-gone.
I love “the summit view.” But, what I really love is finding that prefect moment. A south-facing hill or rock crop. The sun is shining and it’s not too hot out. Take the old backpack off; slip on my sunglasses; get myself comfortable. Tilt my face slightly upwards lean back and then just let myself be renewed.
Sometimes I think I’m the “horse of a different colour”, which is okay. Is it like this every outing? Maybe, maybe not. If Lynn and I are free-scrambling up a rock face, I sort of like to be focused on what I’m doing. Sorry, not interested in one of those “huge and forever body divots.
But, those “painting moments”, I assure you leave you begging to get back out for more.
Oh my. We’ve gone down a couple of side trails, where I didn’t think we were going. So…
A couple of panos across the Beaver Valley.
Those two panos above, I took with my phone. Not sure how other phones work, but with mine you click panorama; press the shutter and follow the little thing on the screen, while slowing moving the phone to capture the moment.
Folks, we’ll now head down side-trail Number 3.
Now, I’ve done enough laps “around the track” over the years. So, I have a real good understanding of my limits; when I’m pushing those limits; when I’ve exceeded the limits; and finally when its “time to back away from the edge.”
Normally, I could have stood on the edge of Old Baldy, likely with my toes over the edge and stood there for a long time. Why bring this up. Things can change rapidly in the outdoors. Even on a what all of us would consider an easy hike that we might take “Grandma on.” No offence to all the Grandma’s out there.
Standing on the lookouts at Old Baldy near the edge, but not on the edge and admiring the views across the Beaver Valley on a calm day is one thing.
Doing the same in wind that actually blew that pink hat off Lynn’s head is something entirely different.
Here’s where I’m going.
Get out a dictionary and lookup the phrase “dumb-ass” Got it. See my picture? You thought I would extoll how I make such great decisions in the wild.
Here was my thinking.. While Lynn’s off taking shots(safely I must say):
I’ll get my phone out; creep up to the edge of Old Baldy; not concerned it’s 250 to 300 feet straight down at this point; look at all the experience I have; didn’t I just say I had experience; I’ll get a couple of great pano shots; go home write a great blog about our outing; pop those pics in; people will love me; everyone will comment, “it’s the best – thank you for sharing.”
You see, “dumb-ass” doesn’t discriminate.
I really didn’t take into account how windy it really was once we got to the lookouts. And more importantly how the wind was blowing. Think driving on the highway and getting blasted a massive gust of wind that moves your car in the lane. Kind of unsettling right?
At the lookouts, the wind was an ever-changing mixture of:
- very, very strong, but constant blowing
- massive and I mean massive gusts of wind that would just shoot across the Beaver Valley and hit Old Baldy like a train
So, lets combine that with this honey.
I don’t know much about vertigo or how it occurs or even the sensation of vertigo. But the feeling I was experiencing – not good. Let’s just say, at one point in this moment, which was only a few seconds, I had this feeling that my next phone pic would be of the rock face speeding by just before I hit the bottom of the Beaver Valley.
Standing there, I had this sensation that I was about to topple over the top of Old Baldy. And let me tell you I didn’t like it. In fact, it was one of those “You idiot. Move away from the cliff edge. Lynn may want the insurance money, but she doesn’t want it today” kind of moments.
So, the point is this.
Despite, having years of experience, knowing limits and all that stuff. It can be series of small things, that if taken individually might not necessarily amount to or mean much at all.
This is where the danger lies.
We fool ourselves into thinking danger and it’s results are found in a big events.
This is true for those big events.
See, what I failed to recognize was that seemingly small things, which by themselves might be fine(think dumb-ass here), but when they’re combined together, could lead to a whole new level of hurt.
This is where people get into trouble.
It can be series small events, poor decisions made; failing to know limits and such that makes a good day – go south real fast.
Here’s one simple example. How many of us have forgotten to apply suncreen or re-apply it and then spent the day in a canoe or kayak in the blazing sun, only to find yourself lying in your tent out in “Middle Earth” someplace at 7 pm, incoherent and your partner wondering, “What the f@#$ are we supposed to do now? Small event; bad decision; potentially dire consequences.
Yup, done that one.
In past, I was very fond of the “whole de-hydration concept.”
Told you, for those wondering what I look like. Take dictionary; look up dumb-ass; photo is me.
I had failed to respect that:
- Old Baldy is 250 to 300 feet above the Beaver Valley
- warning signs of steep cliffs – danger(hey, I’ve got experience)
- this a big valley area which could result in different weather patterns from the valley bottom(no wind) as compared to the top of the escarpment(big time wind)
- and not that it was windy(which was important) – but what the wind was doing
- focussing on the small screen on my phone took my focus off the horizon which likely help lead to the vertigo feeling
- likely something else I’m forgetting
- combining all those things and then getting WAY TO CLOSE TO THE EDGE
However, I did know this limit.
When I had the sensation that I was starting the sway and my head was starting to spin a bit and that there was a dandy chance that I might be proving the whole gravity thing. I said, “Nope, the consequences(which likely would have been my last) of trying to get this picture would have far out-weighed any comments received through the “old blog.”
It was time to “move away from the edge.”
It’s when we fail to recognize we may be heading into a “series of unfortunate events”, that bad stuff happens. Even on a simple hike like this. Be aware. We don’t need anymore dumb-asses. Even though there would appear to be plenty of seating still available.
We’ve met a lot of great outdoor types over the years. Met many more since pressing publish with “justabitfurther.”
We really want to keep those friendships going and to make some new ones along the way.
So, be safe. Do, what you love to do out there. The birds are chirping. Me thinks spring is near. Write about where you’re at in life; your trips and adventures.
Gee, even write about your dumb-ass move.
But, only write about one you did.
I’ll need all the gigabytes or whatever the term is on the internet to write about mine. Believe me, I been able to gather a few over the years.
You did look-up “dumb-ass” in the dictionary – right?
Yup. The only comments would have been – “He was a nice guy. But, what a dumb-ass.”
I’ll get to Part 2 of your trip to Old Baldy later today or tomorrow.