Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Take Me Home, Country Roads

Date of hike:  Sat.  July 7, 2012
Weather: 28C at start (humidex of 39C), sunny; 31C at completion (humidex of 41C)

Duration of hike:  5 hours 34 minutes

Section:  1—from corner of Springer Road and Sharon Road (15.0 km) to corner of Bell Road and Little Church Drive (approximately 4.0km mark)

Distance: 22.0 km             Cumulative distance:  218.9 km

Not going to lie to you; this was my least favourite of all the hikes we have done.  Not sure whether it was the uninspiring route….long stretches of paved and gravel roads, going along the edge of corn and soy bean fields and wood lots,

with limited time spent in the actual wood lots. 

Or was it the stinging nettle that we encountered through one high grassy area....

….or could it have been the intense heat and sun of the day?
At the turn around point--intersection of
Little Church Drive and Bell Road--you
can see the effects of the heat and
fatigue in our faces!
In all likelihood, it was all of the above.  But we had to do what we had to do.  With only a few possible days to get out there and a long stretch still left to finish off, this was the reality of the situation.
Section 1 largely consists of roadways and cutting along the edge of fields, just skirting the boundaries of wood lots, occasionally cutting through them. 
When the trail guide says that "the trail may become
indistinct here"....they're not kidding!  Just keep the
wood lot to your one side.
Essentially, section 1 connects the Thames Valley Trail to the Elgin Trail, and tries to find a somewhat interesting way to do it.  Could the last section join the two trails in a more direct manner?  Most definitely….straight down Carriage Road from Sharon Road, then an east turn onto Southdel Road would get the job done.  But that would be even less enjoyable than the current route!  Nonetheless, we persevered through the long stretches of lonely roads and trudged along the dusty borders of seemingly countless fields, to complete most of this section in one go.

I would doubt that few people would choose to complete this section of the trail, unless like ourselves, they are attempting to do the full length.  There’s little reason to explore this section of the trail, quite honestly.  However, if one must explore this section, I would recommend a bright and sunny, but cool autumn day, over any other time of the year. 
The spring may prove to be too wet and muddy when traversing the fields, while the winter may be just too desolate and unprotected on the long stretches of open road.  A blistering hot summer day is not an ideal time either, as we learned that from experience.

At any rate, we survived and dragged our tired bodies home, where a cool shower waited as well as a lovely dinner.  It wasn’t a total exercise in futility though.  We completed more of this last bit of the trail than anticipated, leaving only one more required outing to finish the Thames Valley Project.  Being the hot day that it was, we needed to refill our water bottles at one of the country homes we passed by.  The lady there was kind enough to do that for us, plus she threw in a couple of freshly picked zucchinis from her garden.  I know….she was probably glad to get rid of some of her surplus, but a nice gesture on her part!  We passed one farm that had pens with horses, sheep, goats, and a llama….I love llamas!  Forgot to ask the owner what this fellow’s name was, so I’m naming him Charlie.  In the end, all was not lost!

"Charlie" the llama--posing pretty!
This little gold finch serenaded us during our lunch stop.

We could see this teepee from the edge of
one of the wood lots that we skirted.
Just one more hike and we will be able to wrap things up.  The last little bit will be pretty straightforward, and we’re anxious to toast the point where the Thames Valley Trail meets the Elgin Trail; it’s been an adventure!

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