Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Deadline Looming!

Date of hike:  Sun.  June 24, 2012
Weather: 27C (humidex of 29C); partly cloudy and overcast at times                                                                                       
Duration of hike:  2 hours 32 minutes

Section:  3—from Delaware Conservation Area parking lot to the boundary of the old Delaware Dump and Miller Road (4.3 km mark)

Distance:  7.4 km              Cumulative distance:  180.3 km

After a six week reprieve, we were just itching to get out on the trail again.  It had been a busy month for both of us, but if we are to complete the full trail, end and back, within a 12 month time period, then we best get back to business!  The Thames Valley Trail Association offers a badge to those who complete the full distance, end to end, within this designated time frame.  We, however, are doing twice the distance; so while it does pose a greater challenge, it isn’t anything that is unachievable.  Nevertheless, we have only slightly more than one month to finish this baby off!  It really isn’t about the badge, but the significance of the feat.
Highway 2 bridge over the Thames--looking from
the north side.

Leaving from the Delaware Conservation Area parking lot, the trail seemed to be fairly obvious.  But hikers be forewarned…..if travelling south along the path, don’t miss this crucial turn! 
The trail blazes are on rocks beneath
the bridge--to the left of the bridge buttress.
Shortly after heading out, the route passes beneath the Highway 2 bridge that goes over the Thames River.  Without paying close attention to the trail guide directions, we continued along the river’s edge instead of diverting away from it.  The trail blaze was down low, instead of high, so we easily missed it.  After a short time of trying to navigate our way through tall grass and weeds, we realized that something was amiss and turned back.  
You know you've gone the right way when you
see the remains of the old bridge buttress--where the
highway used to go before road improvements were made.
Checking the trail guide, we saw that we actually needed to go away from the river and along a quiet side street in the village of Delaware, before heading back onto a wooded trail.  Our "getting lost", added a little bit of extra time and distance to this excursion, but nothing too significant.  Lesson to be learned…..always keep a sharp eye open for the trail blazes….if none are in view, then you are probably off course!
Heading down a wooded path--we were
in for a treat!
This section of the trail was a veritable wildlife paradise.  The tree cover was dense and the plant life was lush. 

Another oxbow lake was tucked away, hidden from any human influence, giving the birds, animals, and aquatic life their own private sanctuary. 
 As well, the trail traversed a steep bluff that required many up and down climbs.  It made for an interesting and challenging trek, to say the least.  Trail volunteers have made this section a bit easier though, with their built-in steps, bridges, and culverts over wet spots and ravines.
A steep climb, heading up and out
of the trail--toward the trail re-route.
A trail re-route occurs along this section as well.  One need not worry about missing this re-direction though.  It was well marked and easy to find.  I had printed off the re-route directions from the TV Trail web-site, but found them to be somewhat confusing as there seemed to be two different sets of directions.  To simplify, just follow the blazes up the bluff that goes along the fenced edge of Highway 402. 
This takes you to Miller Road, which passes over the 402 and toward a dead end that once lead to the entrance of the Delaware Dump.  The dump is now closed, but you can still see some signs of stray debris lying about.  However, as you walk along the old border of the dump, you re-connect with the trail as it returns to the Thames.
 We made this our turn around point for this trip and stopped here for a short refreshment break.
Our view while we stopped for a little break.
With the approach of the lazy days of summer, we can hopefully complete what remains of the trail, before July 26.  That date marks the one year anniversary of when we began this adventure.  In fact, we will need to get it all done before we leave on holidays, just prior to that date.  So here’s looking forward to the home stretch!
Paul, sampling some of the wild raspberries that
grow along the trail.
Stopping to smell the tiger lillies.
Colourful graffiti under Highway 2
bridge--can't show you all of it--too many
#$**##*! expletives!

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