Sunday, October 16, 2011

Thankful for the “Valley View”

Date of hike:  Sun. Oct. 9, 2011   Weather:  21C, sunny; 26C at completion

Section:  13

Duration of hike (including a 20 minute lunch stop part-way):  4 hours 26 minutes  

Distance:  15.6 km

Cumulative distance:  56.7 km

Section 13 of the Thames Valley Trail does not travel along much of a trail per fact, over half of it follows Valley View Road, a gravel side road.  But on this glorious fall day (or should I say summer-like), the brilliant fall colours that were seen in every direction, made this excursion a bit more bearable.

We started at the same point as our last leg, parking just off of Plover Mills Road, but headed south along the trail this time.  The first part of our hike proved to be the longest part that was on actual trail. 
We walked along the river edge of a stately country property, complete with fenced areas for horses and their paddock, admiring the home and imagining the view they must have. 

Earlier, while driving along Valley View Road, to our parking destination, we noticed many grand homes built along the bluff of the river and overlooking the valley.  Our guess is that many of these home owners are not allowing the trail to pass through their property—except for this one home owner.  A couple of new homes were being built and there was one that was being renovated that was actually having an open house that day.  We couldn’t resist stopping in for a bit—after all, how often does one get to hike AND check out a new home prospect?  The view from their back window was absolutely lovely, so we could see why this road had become a real estate hot spot.

When we had to come back up to the road, away from the river, at least we still had many vantage points from the road where we could see the river valley.  That made walking along the road much more pleasant, especially with the “painter’s palette” of colours that had transformed the summer countryside into one with autumn hues.

We reached our turn-around point in just under two hours and then headed back, looking for a place to stop for lunch. 
Our turn around point took us to the
north boundary of Fanshawe Cons. Area,
where we will be hiking on the next leg.
In order to find a cool spot to sit, we had to stray off of the path and head towards the river, but we found a scenic spot where we didn’t think we would be trespassing on any private property.  As long as we were certain to carry out our garbage, who could really object?  In fact, we collected one small shopping bag of cans, bottles, and other trash, thereby fulfilling one of the trail users codes...”Carry out all garbage and litter—even other people’s.”
Our riverside view for our lunch stop.
The return hike back to the car took just a bit longer, though it seemed longer than it was.  Perhaps the heat of the day was getting to us somewhat.  There was record temperatures set for Oct. 9...not sure if that was the case in this particular locale, but if not, it had to be awfully close! 
Puffballs on a rotting log--under-ripe stage.
Ripe puffballs giving off spores.
A shaded section of the trail that passed
through a wooded area, just before the
As we entered back along the edge of the one country property, we couldn’t resist taking our shoes and socks off and dipping our feet in the cool running water of the Thames, perching upon some rocks that were at the river’s edge. 

Paul even went as far as setting himself down between a couple of boulders, submerging his entire legs and enjoying a bit of cryotherapy.

If it had not been for the awesome views of the river valley and its colours and finally sighting a blue heron, this uninspiring section of the Thames Valley Trail would not have been so enjoyable for us. 

It would be appropriate to say that being Thanksgiving weekend, we were certainly thankful for the particulars that made this leg worth our while.  Nonetheless, section 13 has been completed, there and back, and we can look forward to hiking through Fanshawe Conservation Area on our next couple of legs.
Ripened milkweed--a thing
of beauty.
Looked for a ridge of sumac in
its vibrant red, but this was the
best we came across--not bad

Cheers to Mother Earth and her beauty!
Hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving!

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