This year marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Bruce Trail, and as part of the celebration, a ceremonial baton has been travelling the length of the trail, starting in Niagara Falls at the beginning of April. The baton will reach the end of the trail in Tobermory on June 10, but before it gets there, it will pass through the local section of the trail in the coming days.
“The baton will be handed over from the Blue Mountain Club to the Beaver Valley Club on May 7th,” advised organizers. “Guests will be at Swiss Meadows to mark the beginning of the Beaver Valley route. Passing through Loree Forest, the Kolapore Uplands, the Eugenia Falls and Hogg’s Fall’s areas, the Wodehouse Karst, wetlands at Epping, and Rocklyn Creek Grey Sauble Conservation Areas, volunteers will carry the baton northward.”
The Sydenham Bruce Trail Club is planning some special hikes later this month as part of the celebration.
“The baton will arrive in Sydenham section on May 15, at Blantyre. We have planned a series of day hikes, averaging 10 to 14 km per day, until May 27, when we will pass the baton on to Peninsula Club in Wiarton,” notes the Sydenham Bruce Trail Club.
In a 2011 interview with The Meaford Independent, adventure journalist Steve Hainsworth said that those of us living in the Meaford area are very fortunate to have some of the most beautiful sections of the Bruce Trail right in our own back yard. But he wasn't just talking about Eugenia Falls or Hoggs Falls – two popular destinations for leisure hiking just a stone's throw from Meaford.
“The Sydenham section at 170 kilometres is one of the longest sections of the trail, and it is also one of the least travelled,” Hainsworth told The Independent, “So it is overgrown in a lot of areas, but it is full of natural beauty.”
For 30 days Hainsworth endured blistered feet, swarms of bugs, heat, rain, and exhaustion in his bid to conquer Canada's oldest and longest footpath, which he chronicled in his book Adventures With Bruce.
Twenty pages of his book are dedicated to the Sydenham section of the trail, and it is in this area in particular that Hainsworth was struck by the beauty of the people who reside in close proximity to The Bruce.
After lunch, I cruise country concessions leading me to the Bognor Marsh area. At one point, I'm passed by a tractor hauling double trailers stacked high with hay bales. The engine idles beside me.
“Want a lift?” asks the adolescent operator. He nods back towards the trailers where a few farmhands are precariously perched atop the teetering towers.
“Thanks anyways,” I reply as the tractor and its towering load take off again.
This isn't the first time I've been offered a ride by friendly locals....t he community spirit along these rural roads is comforting.
“The feeling of community in Meaford and Sydenham area is absolutely beautiful,” Hainsworth told The Independent.
The Beaver Valley Bruce Trail Club is encouraging those interested to join them to celebrate as the baton passes through our area. You can follow #brucetrailbaton on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, for posts and photos.
Contact Hiker Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to sign up for any of the baton hikes. More details and registration information is available at www.beavervalleybrucetrail.org/events.html#relay.