Kayaking Welland River

Kayaking Welland River

Egret on the River

We finally had some nice weather and got a decent few hours of kayaking in after a crappy Spring.  We didn't want to  make our first run in one of the swollen rivers in the area.  Just wanted an easy day of it.  Went to a small park along the river between Chippewa and Niagara Falls.  North side.  If you go south on Dorchester from McLeod and turn right when you get to the end you will follow Chippewa Parkway around.  Once you are going along the river you will see a small park with a spot to launch boats.  If you get to the Canoe Club (George Bukator Park) you have gone way too far.

The river is quite wide and open so if you are out on a sunny day long sleeves or some sunscreen might be in order.  And a hat.  Was a nice breeze so kept the bugs away whereas a smaller enclosed river at this time of year, with all this rain, well, makes for lots of mosquitos.  We went about 4km along the river. The first bit you are going with a current until you get to about the railway bridge and the QEW bridge.  Check out the bridge, though.  It is an old one that would rotate to let boats pass.  Past there it is pretty easy going both ways.  We saw nowhere along that stretch for putting up the kayaks.  There are a few private docks only.  Not too many people out on the water. The benefit of going out during the week, I guess.

Lots of bird life.  You can see the 'Egret' video below.  This video was done with Adobe Premiere Pro.  I just downloaded it.  I have no natural intuition with these programs.  I have a son that edits movies for a living.   He was a natural since he was 12!   Not me so much.  I do like the program.  One can do so much more that with simple free  programs.  Looking forward to really learning and using the program.


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Hiking Ithaca, New York

Hiking Ithaca, New York

Buttermilk State Park, Watkins Glen State Park

Buttermilk Falls, Watkins Glen and other waterfalls

Hiking Ithaca, Watkins Glen water falls.

Booked a concert to go see in Ithaca, New York this for this past weekend.  A finger picking guitar legend named Leo Kottke.  He played at the Hangar Theatre last Saturday night.

As my wife and I are avid hikers we thought it would be good to see some of the sights while we were in the area.  I did some research before leaving on the trip and found that there are an amazing numer of spectacular waterfalls in the area of Ithaca and Watkins Glen.  All around the Finger Lakes area.

On our way in to Ithaca, along the west side of Cayuga Lake, we stopped at Taughannock State Park.  We first drove up to the top overlook to see the falls from there – tall!  Then drove around the hiked in from the parking lot.  More of a walk than a hike really. Only took 10 minutes.  One of the highest drops of a waterfall east of the Rockies apparently at 215 feet.

From there we checked in to our AirBnB in town and got some dinner.  After that we hiked Buttermilk Falls.  We started at the top and hiked down to almost the park at the bottom then back up(obviously).  We take a lot of photos so going the first direction takes us about 3 times as long as coming back.  We were there on the Friday evening, a little while before dusk, which makes for much better light than the middle of the day.  I liked this one as there weren’t too many people as opposed to Watkins Glen – that was packed.

I didn’t have much choice of the weekend I wanted to go because of the concert but going again I would not choose the graduation weekend.  So many parents hiking about with their graduates.

Saturday was spent see a bit of the town, Ithaca Farmers Market in the morning where I was able to get my second breakfast of this delicious breakfast samosa.  We went to Robert Treman State Park but the gorge trail was close due to all the rain so we ended up doing a short walk about there.  Couldn’t really see much of the falls.  We circled around and were able to see a bit more at the base but not much walking about.  We went through the university and circled around Bebee Lake. Very Spring like with the students out on the lake in their canoes. If you make that walk around the lake, be sure to go up the short spur just past the bridge along the river and you can see a nice waterfall or two.

It was too early for much in the way of flowers in their botanical gardens.

On Sunday, Watkins Glen, even with the crowds, was amazing.  I have not yet done any research on what went into the construction of the walkways and bridges etc but they were masterful.  You are climbing a lot of stair but this is completely worth the effort.  If you are debating whether to take the rim trail back instead, it is not hard at all and should take you about a quarter of the time to get to the parking lot at the entrance on S Pavilion Road.  

Below are just a few of the photos.

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Rockway to Louth Falls

Rockway to Louth Falls

Bruce Trail End2End - Rockway to Louth Falls

Yesterday we hiked from Rockaway to Louth Falls.  We took only one car so had to hike there and back.  It was one of our more enjoyable hikes.  Well, it did rain for half the time…

We had the trail to ourselves and there was a fair bit of up and down.  More that a lot of the trails here we’ve done so far.  

It started raining about 15 minutes before we got to Louth Falls.  Took us just under 2 hours to get there from Rockway parking lot.  We tend to dilly-dally taking photos and such so if you are hiking in earnest it will likely take you an hour each way.  Total was a little over 10K the way we did it.  

My wife brought a walking stick/ski pole.  I should have brought something.  We have good walking sticks but most of the hikes we have been on in the Niagara region, there really has been no need.  As there was a fair bit of ups and downs on this hike and with the rain and all it made for some pretty slippery slopes.  Definitely would have made my life easier.  

Also, the rain made a good argument for carrying a dry shirt and even a light rain slicker.  I was once hiking Ha Ling, up behind Canmore, Alberta.   It was quite warm where we started and I was drenched with sweat by the time I got to the top.  Tough climb.  There were snow flurries at the top. Fortunately I had a dry shirt in my backpack that I could change into.  

I read in some adventure or spy novel once a very smart idea in case of rain when you are stuck in the woods.  If all you had was a large plastic back that was waterproof, you could place all of your clothes in that while it was raining, (yeah, if you are soaked, you are going to get freezing cold anyway), once the rain had stopped, you cold dress in dry clothes and you would actually be much better off than if you let your clothes get drenched.  A simple plastic bag of some sort is practically weightless.

By the time we got back to the car the rain had, of course, stopped.  

We likely only have a couple more good hikes that we can get in before the kayaks come out and we on the rivers and lakes instead of the trails.  

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Bruce Trail End2End Catch-Up Jan – April 2019

Hike #4 Bruce Trail End2End

Here is a little catch up.  We have done several hikes since last post.  A couple of reasons for doing these.  One is that I just like sharing our adventures and the other is that at some point or other, likely two or three years down the road… or much more, I’m going to want some sort of evidence that we hiked the whole damn thing.  So this is a bit of record keeping.  This kills two birds with one stone.  

My last post on this project was 11 Jan this year.  

So hike #4 goes along Glendale from near The Keg, across Highway 406 then up the hill - Tremont Dr.  I really hate is when hiking takes me on a road.  I’m more used to hiking in the mountains in Alberta and BC.  I like most of the Bruce Trail but having to walk streets kind of sucks.

Once past that, though, it is a pretty nice walk.  Still cold enough when we did it that it wasn’t too muddy.  You come past Brock University and they along Lake Moodie and then end up in the parking lot at Decew House Heritage Park. A little ways down from Decew Falls.  This is all just across from Lake Gibson.  I’m really hoping it warms up in the next few weeks enough for us to get out in the kayaks on this water.  

We used two cars with this one as we didn’t want to walk both ways.  

Hike #5 Bruce Trail End2End

The next section that we did goes from that parking lot at Decew Heritage park to Decew Falls.  Fairly short walk but was a warm enough day.  We took one car and came back part way along the road then back up the embankment along Decew Road.  Then we were back on the trail to Heritage Park.  We used just the one car as it was short and easy enough to do the loop.  We actually did this loop before we started to officially, in our heads, do the Bruce Trail End2End.  There is an old mill at Decew Falls that we have visited a few times.  Quite historic.  If you are lucky enough to  get there when it is open or someone can open it for you, it is worth looking around.  I’m including some photos of that here as well.

Hike #6 Bruce Trail End2End

Next is Short Hills.  We had hiked Short Hills previously but the section from Decew Falls to the parking lot at the north end of the park we had not done completely.  It was a snowy day and we hadn’t had much of chance to do any snowshoeing so we parked at that parking lot - north end off Pelham Rd.  I think we did part of it on a little side trail that paralleled the actual, official trail but we went to Decew and back. One car again.  

Hike #7 Bruce Trail End2End

The rest of Short Hills Bruce Trail hike we did much earlier.  We moved here in September 2017. In October/November that year it was one of our first hikes.  We started a bit late in the day.  There is a little parking lot west of Silver Springs Dr on Holland Rd.  We parked there and did the first loop going clockwise.  We didn’t know how long this hike would be and it was dusk when we were finishing up the last bit.  It was muddy and slippery.  We could barely see the last couple of hundred metres.  But we made it.  We carry flashlights now when we go later in the day. 



Hike #8 Bruce Trail End2End

We did another big loop a few weeks later.  Started at the north parking lot at Pelham Rd and south counter clockwise.  So about 2/3s of the hike was the ‘official’ Bruce Trail.  It is a pretty straight run going south for a bit.  A little more than half way down that stretch, we saw a deer carcass.  Partially eaten and coyote tracks all round.  Looked like a recent kill.  Likely the morning hikers scared them off.  Probably a good idea to keep your puppies on a leash if you are out there, particularly in the early morning or evenings.  That is also a very nice loop - brings you around and back up by the parking lot at the end of Wiley Rd.  We have snowshoed in from that parking lot a few times in winter and done a side trail in the centre of the park.  It is a well travelled but very pretty park.  

Hike #9 Bruce Trail End2End - Rockaway Falls

Our most recent hike/walk was a ‘there and back’ from Rockaway Falls to the edge of Short Hills.   This one is actually a pretty nice hike.  We did it last week, I think it was Tuesday the 26th March.  It takes you past some nice horse farms.  You may see some riders out there and possibly one big ass dog (the size of a small horse) may bark at you from a distance.  There were a couple of spots that were a bit mushy and wet but lots of leaves on the ground made it OK.  Took us a couple of hours but we tend to dilly-dally a bit taking  photos and such.  If you were on a mission you could do it much faster. 

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Winter Storm – Ajax, Ontario 2019

Cold walk to Lake Ontario

It has been bitter cold here in Ontario the last couple few days.  It has been very cold pretty much everywhere the last couple of days.  We drove along the lakefront earlier today and saw mist coming off the water.  Huge waves.  

So, about three o’clock I wrapped myself up in several layers.  Several.  Long underwear, pants and ski pants.  Temperature was about -15C or less but the wind was brutal coming off the lake.  Not much for it with hands getting cold when you are holding a camera but at least the rest of me could be warm.  

I mucked about for about 45 minutes or so before the cold really started getting to me.  It was totally amazing watching the mist, the waves, the clouds and the sun coming through giving an edge to everything.

I’ll try again tomorrow but no promises.  Check out the photos below:

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Bruce Trail End2End – Hike #3

Bruce Trail End2End Hike #3

11th Jan 2019

Short, easy hike: 7.2 KM

This section of our Bruce Trail hike went from the west end of Woodend Conservation Area at Taylor Rd to the Mall where the Keg Restaurant is on Glendale Ave near Highway 406.  

I was a little cooler, not too cold, but enough so that the path was more frozen than muddy. As you walk along the first part, you go through a golf course.  Weren’t any golfers out in the snow. At the end of that part of the path, you come to water so you have to turn left or right. The Bruce Trail proper turns right but through the trees to the left I saw a bridge for the train that I thought may be somewhat photogenic with the sun shining and all.  So we headed up that way.  Glad we did, as this made for some nice photos.  

You have three options here: 1. Go back and do the trail along the east side the water way.  2. Cross the bridge and do the path on the west side of the waterway or 3. continue a little further and walk the road.  It is a side/service road - kind of boring.  If I was going to do this again, I would take door #1 or door #2.

From there you get to Glendale Ave. Walk that across the Welland Canal where you follow the white marks to the left (south).  The trail works along the Welland Canal Parkway and goes under the same railway as you encountered earlier.  A little past there you will start to uphill and there is a path on your right that kind of doubles back.  Take that - going back toward the railway.  Follow it up and to the left as you get to the railway again.  

As long as you keep following the trail markers - the white painted slashes, you should be good.  This wasn’t the most exciting hike I’d ever been on as I do like walking in the woods and there was quite a bit of roadway to walk on, but the parts that were woodsy were wonderful.  And winter is our favourite time to hike.  

We parked our second car at the mall of the Keg and as usual, because we tend to start our hikes somewhat late, we arrived there a little before dark.  

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Bruce Trail Supplement – Decew Falls and Morningstar Mill

Bruce Trail: Decew Falls

Bruce Trail - Supplement - Decew Falls and Morningstar Mill

Got up to some new snow this morning so thought we’d go for a drive and maybe a short hike to catch some nice photos of the trees all white and all.  We are old so it took us a while.  I had to eat breakfast and all.  

We drove around a bit and ended up at Decew Falls; we had been there before and it is quite photogenic so we thought, with the snow it would be quite nice.  A fair bit of the snow had melted off the trees but it was still quite lovely.  

We were just beginning to walk about taking photos when one of the volunteers came out of the big house there and asked if we’d like to look inside some of the buildings.  We had never been in them, although we had been through there a few times, so said we’d love to.  

The place dates back to 1895. There is a sign that is now inside the building, you can see the photo below, that was up on the outside for 100 years.  As you can see from the photo below, the shot of the sign inside, it is still in pretty good shape.  Terry, the fellow that was showing us about, said the replacement sign they put up lasted about 20 years.  There is another one up there on the outside now.

It is called the Mountain Mill or Morningstar Mill (or both).  The original grist mill, still working, was built in 1872.  

Terry, our guide, was full of an amazing amount of information.  Can’t remember half of it but he also loaded us down with pamphlets so that it wasn’t completely necessary for me to remember every detail.  There is a photo below of the mill/grinder thingy where they actually make flour.  Apparently, you can’t buy it, they have to give it to you if you want, you can donate.  The mill is turned by the water from the river.  

(Rant: Amazing the bureaucratic complexities of any government at any level.  Terry tells us that it take ages to get money, if they get it at all and they are way down the list.  And here with the flour, they could actually make money to pay for some of the restorations and thus not have to wait for various approvals.  But no, the bureaucrats need a ‘raison d’etre’!)

Next door, at the back of the building they rebuilt the Mill part with old barn boards and beams.  Built last time in 1995 I believe.  They have the original cranks and shafts of the mill there as well.  Some cool views of the falls from the windows inside.  And one photo, if you cannot figure out what it is, looking straight down to where the water turns the wheel thingy for the mill.

The house, originally lived in by the Morningstar Family has been restored a couple of times.  All of the work is now done by caring volunteers.  

Lots more information about Decew Falls and Morningstar Mill and Family here:  http://morningstarmill.ca

This spot is on the Bruce Trail.  If you make it the beginning or end of one of your hikes, try and time it when they are open for tourists.  Depending on how many kilometres that you do each hike, this will be anywhere from your fourth to sixth segment.  

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Bruce Trail End2End – Hike #2

Hike #2 Bruce Trail

Marty's Road Trip

Yvonne and I did our second hike of the Bruce Trail Friday the 11th of January 2019. Was a bit shorter than the first - was approximately 6 km. I say this in inexact figures as although I had two electronic ways to track our hike I kinda messed up both.

First my iPhone. I like the phone but it doesn’t like the cold. It died about 2/3s of the way through the hike. It was a pretty chilly day and I kept in an outside jacket pocket. I was using the Bruce Trail App on it so it caught the first part of the hike and because I thought I was tracking it also on my Garmin watch (hiking app), I wasn’t too worried. But then after a few hundred meters I checked the watch and realized, new app, and I forgot to hit ‘start’. So, the hike is mapped in parts as you will see below.

A point here on the iPhone. From my research, they generally don’t like the cold. If you are hiking with it, keep it close to your body and as a back up keep an external charger, if you don’t want to lose part of the data from your hike.

This hike, as I mentioned was about 6 km or so. It was cold, about minus 5 C so the trail wasn’t muddy. We have very good winter boots, coming from Calgary where hiking in -15C to -20C wasn’t that uncommon for us. It’s the wind that kills us. When it comes off Lake Ontario and hits you on that exposed part of the escarpment, it is harsh. It was a very nice sunny day and fortunately it wasn’t windy at all. Which made the hike quite pleasant.

We started on the east side of Fireman’s Park at the bottom of Dorchester Rd. There is parking at the very end and a secondary trail that starts there. The main trail starts up near the rail tracks. There are two concrete barriers there. We parked there but likely shouldn’t have although there aren’t any ‘No Parking’ signs.

Most of the first part of the trail is low and in the woods so is protected from the wind, if you are there in winter. The trail is always quite well marked. We did go on a secondary loop along the QEW for a couple of hundred metres coming up to the walking bridge by the railway. Didn’t matter that much. The bridge is where my phone died. I was taking a few pictures and kaput! A couple of hundred meters beyond that is the Howling Bridge. You have to walk under that. It was mostly filled with water/ice. There was an edge of gravel on one sight. Not much choice but to go through there, so make sure that you have waterproof footwear.

Once you are out of the tunnel you have a bit of a walk along the road. Don’t worry, there is a sign telling you where to turn right. You are going through someone’s property - be respectful. And it is quite a pretty property. Then back in the woods of Woodend Conversation Area.

If you are parking your other car at this end, you have a choice. You can park at the entrance to the park, near Taylor Road or go all the way into the park and park near the education centre/outdoor school. There is a parking lot there. It is a little bit of a walk from where you come out of the woods but not that far.

You can also cross the road when the sign is there and follow the trail through the woods. We had done that part of the trail 2-3 times so didn’t bother this time. That section is a nice hike as it looks over Lake Ontario. Can be windy but great views, particularly in the winter when fewer leaves on the trees.


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Bruce Trail End2end – Part #1

Bruce Trail End2End Hike #1


(Part of) Marty's Road Trip

Two days ago, at the pool, Anita, a good friend, told me that she and her husband are working on hiking The Bruce Trail end to end a little bit at a time.  This inspired me.  Yvonne and I have been here for almost a year and a half and have done some hiking but it has been different than hiking Alberta.  

So, yesterday, inspired with a goal, we started! We began at Queenston Park.  That is at the conjunction of Portage Rd and Niagara Parkway.  There is a little monument (cairn) that you will see in the first photo.  That is the southern end of the 890 km hike.  It is a decent sized park so to save you some wandering around looking, go to the eastern most reach of the parking lot. Right near the traffic circle you should see it.  If you then face away from the river, you should see the white trail markings on the larger trees.  Just follow those. At the other end of the park, you will see the actual trail head into the woods. 

We parked the ‘end’ car at a small parking lot at the very north end of Dorchester road.  It is at the end of the road leading north from Mountain Rd. running along Fireman’s Park.  Yesterday's hike was about 8.3 kilometers.  

It is January and the temperature yesterday was about plus 9 Celcius.  So it was pretty muddy.  Wear boots.  The majority of the trail is fairly easy going but there are a couple middle parts where there are some somewhat steep climbs down.  With the covering of leaves there were some pretty slippery spots.  

We were late afternoon, so the areas with leaves coating the forest floor and the sun coming through the trees made for some quite pretty hiking.  Those spots were generally out of the wind which made it quite peaceful.  

Speaking of wind, depending on the direction you can be protected or not. If you are hiking along the ridge and the wind is coming off Lake Ontario when it is a chilly day, you are going to feel it.  If it is cold, wear something that will cut the wind.

Below, you will see some photos from our first day.  I’m not sure how often we will get to hike this but as much as we can. Maybe we’ll get some sections done with our snowshoes.  Who knows?  There are some sections of the trail that we’ve done already, so we may or may not repeat them.

Also, we are using two cars, as advised by my friend but when we get a little further afield, we will likely make use of Uber for the short runs back to the car.

I downloaded the Bruce Trail app as well, to my iPhone to keep track of distances, and hike we do, etc. I may also track the hikes on my Garmin watch.  The hiking app on my phone will keep exact distances of the hikes.  And will keep track of steps.  

I went online and purchased the whole map thing.  I figured that we are going to hike the whole damn trail over the next couple (or more) of years, so the maps they supply should earn their keep.

Here is a link to purchase if want: Bruce Trail Map Guide

And thanks again Anita for the inspiration!

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Zombie Mud Run – Campark Resort – Niagara Falls 2018

Campark Resorts - Zombie Mud Run - 2018

Try and outrun the zombies but ‘alive’ or ‘dead’ you finish.  

Mud, water and zombies and lots of obstacles.  My first time photographing and enjoying this event.  Watching, it looked like all were having a really great time.  The whole even is wonderfully entertaining.  

Zombies are spread about the run periodically to try and take your lives - each ribbon is a ‘life’.  And there were a few spots where you could bargain for some extra lives.  Also, I there was some anti zombie dust(pixie dust?) available to some that could be used to ward off the zombies at just the right moment.  

This is now a once a year event.  Pretty obvious to the passing locals with a hundred cars parked along Lundy’s Lane outside the park.  With almost 400 participants and numerous staff and volunteers it looks like fun was had by all.

Here are a few photos of some participants, some zombies and a few of the obstacles.  Wonderful expressions on the faces!

Click the first photo to get to the slide show:

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