Metropolitan Homesick Blues

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Archive for June 2012

ADVERSITY

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Perhaps there is something about adversity that makes brothers and sisters of us all. Something in the sharing of what we choose to call our passion rather than just our hobby. Something about being out there in the soaking rain and wild wind, hiking a tortured root-twisted, rock-strewn, slippery trail in search of that perfect shot, that once-a-season-wildflower or that elusive bird you can hear but can’t see in the dense spring-green foliage. Birders and amateur botanists will understand. So will nature photographers, amateur or professional. At least, that’s my personal take after three foul weather days – two hiking the North Bruce and one photographing the waterfalls of Grey County (www.visitgrey.ca/waterfalls), in the company of strangers who willingly, without complaint, accepted whatever mother nature threw at us.

Day One was supposed to be spent on Flowerpot Island looking at the geology of the place and specifically orchids. But the pending high winds and storm coming in from the East cancelled the trip. Everyone was disappointed but graciously accepted Plan B. The rewards of this change first took us to the top of the National Park’s viewing tower where a Pileated Woodpecker glided by at our eye-level, banked directly in front of us, its slow, deep wing beats taking it to a treetop just eye-sight away. For some, it was a major sighting.

That afternoon on the Alvar Trail we came upon an Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake pretending to hide. We gawked and considered ourselves fortunate for the find. Continuing on we found another, coiled and from the sound of it, not pleased to be discovered. Two rattlers in the space of 15 minuets, it was a good day.

Day Two. Under darkening skies we headed to Malcolm Bluff Shores Nature Reserve (Malcolm Bluff Shores | Bruce Trail). It was cold. Winds were high. A heavy rain fell – not a good day. We hiked the lower trail. On one side it fell off steeply down to Georgian Bay. On the other a grey, cedar clad cliff face rose to a towering, heavily wooded precipice. A Black Throated Green Warbler was calling. My binoculars found it and I could finally say that I’d seen my first warbler. Not significant to anyone but me. We scrambled down a steep, slim, slippery path and scree to the rocky shoreline below to look for fossils but the pounding wind and rain drove us back up.

Malcolm Bluff Shores is a magnificent 1000 plus acre nature reserve with over 110 metres of elevation change and we happily climbed it all in what felt like a deluge. The top trail is spectacular as it hugs the crest of the cliff giving you spectacular lookouts that, in better weather, would probably present you with unlimited vistas of Georgian Bay. At that height, though, the gusts made covering the entire trail risky to say the least. So we headed home with a few lessons learned:

  • Wools socks stay warm when wet.
  • Glove liners are useless in the rain.
  • Gore Tex hiking boots are not always waterproof.
  • I need rain pants with pockets.
  • My rain gear is past its Best-Before-Date.
  • My camera doesn’t like the rain.

Day Three was a direct copy of days one and two only this time the objective was to photograph 4 different types of waterfalls. The idea of trying to shoot falling water in falling rain was amusing to me. Perhaps it was because waterfalls give off negative ions, which are supposed to be rejuvenating. That being said the adverse weather did not dampen our spirits (sorry for the pun) although at one point we did consider mutiny if only to preserve our cameras.

Plastic bags, wide brim hats and golf umbrellas held over tripods don’t necessarily keep splash spray away. In our defiance of Mother Nature the storm broke that afternoon and the sun shone…a just reward for our perseverance.

A fairly steep ascent up the side of a gorge brought us to a horseshoe shaped ‘bridal veil’ of falling water.They call Indian Falls a ‘classic plunge waterfall’ that drops about 15 metres into a bowl-shaped gorge.

Using a single leg of our tripods as walking sticks we navigated a tricky, narrow path down to its base. The drumming of the water into the bedrock sent spray all around us taking the place of the rain that had stopped. But, this was a wet infused with refreshing negative ions, so we had no choice but to be happy for it.

Our three days began under grey skies and ended under sunny skies. Through it all everyone stayed upbeat because were united under a common cause and here by choice. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why mere humans can oftentimes overcome nature’s adversity.  

A lone Dwarf Lake Iris on the Alvar Trail

Locked in the rock on the side of the gorge descending to Indian Falls

Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

June 4, 2012 at 3:17 PM