Annette’s Bruce Trail End to End Instalment #1


Map 1 of 5, Queenston to Grimsby. Niagara Club Section

The southernmost section of the Bruce Trail lies in Queenston, Ontario. Queenston is the more historic areas of Canada.

The weather was -4c, overcast and the wind was quite chilly.  I layered up because I wasn’t sure how the conditions would differentiate  in the bush and I always want be prepared for changes in the environment. I brought snowshoes, but I didn’t think that I was going to need them. The weather has been unseasonably warm and there was hardly any snowfall.

Find your way to Queenston Heights, and park near the site of the famous British-American battle of 1812. It is also now a great walking park with lots to see, including the amazing view of the Niagara River. Here sits the “Brock Monument” named after General Sir Isaac Brock.

In the park, the ground looked like spring with patches of snow and grass scattered around. There you will also find the Cairn marking the Southern Terminus of the Bruce Trail.

Follow the markings of the trail (2 sets of blazes) as you begin your hike on a paved walkway through the park to the edge of the bush. There you will find the Bruce Trail sign to the entrance of the forest.

The Queenston Quarry

This section of the trail holds many hidden wonders. Old farm houses, parts of the cold war, mine shafts, and even old lime kilns from a local quarry.Soon you will come to the Queenston Quarry established in 1837. The coordinates of these historical sites can be found on the “Ontario Abandoned Places” web-site, as indicated below.

The Queenston mines:

Prior to the open-face digging of Queenston Quarry, a mine was established here in the 1830s, making it one of the oldest in Canada. GPS is suggested, as there is a maze of paths in this area. Entrance coordinates are: N 43 9.300 W 79 05.369 and can be spotted from a distance by a long line of large limestone blocks that have been placed in front of the entrance area. *remember to go to Ontario Abandoned Places” for coordinates.

Next to see is one of the last remaining rail lines in the area (right picture below). The line was used to transport big chunks of the Dolomite and limestone rock.

Abandoned radio/microwave communications tower

Keep walking and soon you will come upon an abandoned radio/microwave communications tower  that sits right beside the trail, and was apparently built in the midst of the Cold-War ’50s. GPS coordinates: N 43 9.360 W 79 4.865

This was a radio/microwave communications tower erected by Fleet Industries in the 1950s during the era of fear of communism. The antenna was part of the DEW (Distant Early Warning) system.Thistower was used to test and calibrate large parabolic dishes. 

You’ll see some artifacts here and there left behind by the quarry. Note the stone foundations (mostly off to the left). You can see the 3 marks on the rock. This is where the dynamite was inserted into the rock at the Queenston Quarry.

OFF-TRAIL: A small settlement of houses and a general store were built here as permanent quarters for the workers. The remains of at least three of these buildings can still be found here today. There are other foundation remains further north along the escarpment for those who wish to explore deeper into the bush. This is one of the off path ruins. I didn’t get to it, but maybe one day I will go back to find the Village.

The rest of the hike was pleasant. Some of the hills were a bit slippery, but overall the conditions were mostly snowcovered, but only a few cms worth. I keep having to change my layers of clothing because when the trees opened up the wind brought on that chill. When they were close together I then warmed up again. I didn’t want to over-heat and sweat too much. Once you get wet, your going to get cold. Take the time to inter-change your clothing, as often as the conditions change.

Around the 4km mark you will see the Trail split to the right and left.  As indicated by the Trail Blaze  (white rectangle means main trail), the main trail continues to the right. (when there are two white blazes, top blaze indicates direction of the main trail.)

The Trail to the left will take you to a fence outlining private property. The a trail to the right is at the 4.2 km point where the Upper Canada Heritage Trail met the Bruce Trail.

It is here where I doubled back to the main parking lot. Things are always in a different perspective when you view them from the opposite way. One thing that I missed on the way forward was the beautiful Niagara River to my right. I was so busy looking left for the historical sites that I didn’t take an all around look. I saw it on the way back though. I couldn’t believe that I had missed  seeing this grand river on the first part of my hike. I was reminded of a lesson in my Search and Rescue days – always take the time to STOP and LOOK UP, BEHIND YOU and a complete 360 TURN ABOUT. Only then can you see all perspectives and minimize missing out on something important!

Niagara RiverLesson: “PERSPECTIVE, what you see depends not only on what you look at, but also on where you look from”!

To follow more of Annette's adventures visit her Blog!! Interested in booking your own Magical Adventure Tour? Hiking, Caving, and survival skills: Magical Adventure Tours

Catalonia Million Dollar Trip!

WOW..I am so blown away by this 6 days in Catalonia...I really took it all in and how my ‘Catalonia Express’ trip will run....and oh my goodness me! You MUST come on this trip! IT COMPLETELY ROCKS! BLEW MY MIND!!!!
A beautiful blend of 3 totally different aspects of this area! All equally amazing! Man...I want to sign up for this Tour! 4 Days Trekking through the Pyrenees Hut to Hut with incredible landscape that is just different than anywhere I have been - 2 Days - COSTA BRAVA (Wild Coast) Cadeques...a Wowser of a seaside village with so much super cool history... that maintains its charm even being so popular! Salvador Dali, famous artist said ‘ I have spent a delightful summer as always, in the perfect and dreamy town of Cadeques....There alongside the Latin Sea, I have been quenched by light and colour.’ From here we dive into our 2 Day Kayaking adventure to Cap de Creaus ...this will BLOW YOUR MIND...then onward for 2 days in the ELECTRIC ...beautiful energy city of Barcelona...Ok I cannot contain myself....speechless...I still h!ave the permanent on my face I had doing the 3 hour Kayak adventure. Thank you PAU!! I will keep as short as I can...I did my trip like I was a participant ..of course but going to seek out unique and cool corners of my itinerary..learning more and feeling the energy of t!he place.!
So Catalonia Express Magic Moments at a Glance....Whoohooos,...heavy climbing legs... captivating sights and stories, traversing peaks, incredible cafes, beautiful people and f!riend meet ups, WHAT ONE CAN DO IN 6 DAYS....ok....MUCH.! PART1 ! From the Airport I picked up my VW Polo (wish it was a T2..but they didn't have any for me!) and blazed down the highway direct to the old quaint village of Ribes de Freser to start my Hut to Hut trek. This all kicked off the next morning at the ‘CHEERS’ hangout -‘ where everybody knows your name’..called BAR GUSI...a big bar where lots can hang out for ‘ Cortados and pre mountain sport CONVERSATION...I met some great friends there Laura and Josep...couple Cafe Solos, omelette (thank you Jordi) and then I was off!! I powered my way to my overnight hut ‘Ulldeter’ through the Vall de Coma de Vaca...I am not usually captivated by flowers but I kept wanting to roll around in these incredible purple flowers... everything looked so VIVID!! ‘Willy’ the owner of Ulldeter Hut..was busy serving his crowd of people!!


I had big Vision for Day 2 - a long way to get to Nuria - a mountain resort I was staying at...but I was going to do it...I had a little bit of a back up though! At Caranca Hut ..I was in France...COOL! The owner was wonderful..making me fresh omelette and packing bread to fuel me for my long trek...But I needed a different kind of fuel to get me through the huge pack of Cows I had to walk through leaving Caranca Hut. I looked at the cattle, then looked at my friend, and then back at the cows (hey I have a good reason to feel that way) ... oh no..i have to walk through there...he says...NO PROBLEM...I asked him to come out with me and watch...with a smile he does. As I self coach myself through the path...i feel good as I am doing legs shaking....then I see him running towards me with his hands hanging low mimicking something big there..yelling ‘TORO...TORO!...You must go around...! ah no..just when I had the guts...! Long day but absolutely ROCKED! Last day powered up to the Puigmal I have always w!anted to get to...caught in a bit of a HAIL thing on the way down....!
PART 2! I always have the Belief I will find a place to stay easy....(like some people do with parking)...and there we go...right to the seaside town of Llanca and then right into Hostal Florida...which is a hidden little gem I found driving my Polo through the narrow white housed streets  OK now onto Cadeques - Look this up everybody...this is a must visit..if you love the ocean, kayak, old stone streets, funky cafes and shops...and yes romantic adventure..this is for you... There is an incredible ENERGY here that I love...Lots of artists come here to CREATE...!

OK it is bye bye coast and onward in my POLO to BARCELONA....! 2 friend Birthday meet ups with Anke and Gemma! Overnighting in the Cool Gothic Quarter, Blazin Beach run, funky cafes, electric energy...just takin it all in...and only 24hrs in BARCA! One of the best 6 days I have ever had...! CATALONIAN EXPRESS complete...cannot wait until the real thing this September!! Who else wants to join the PARTY???!

Find out about this trip and other amazing trips at:

If you are interested in this hiking tour or others please visit and see the poster below:


Spring – A delight to the senses.

Wow….it’s been a long winter! A great winter for sure… but definitely long. I guess that’s why I’m really enjoying this spring so much. Sure, it’s not balmy and sunshine everyday but most of the snow is gone and I don’t have to wear my winter coat and snow pants anymore. Yes!

Every day I take my dog out for a walk and like to go to different spots along the Bruce Trail. Last week I found myself in the Kolapore Uplands off Grey Rd. 2 and it was amazing. It was such a treat for the senses.

First there was the visual……instead of seeing white everywhere I was actually seeing bits of green coming up. The leeks have started to grow, along with the trilliums and even fiddleheads. The more I walked the more colours I saw…yellow, white and blue wild flowers growing along the trail. Awesome!

Next was the smell. There is a definite smell to spring…..earthy, organic…..and yes…if you are in the forest sometimes even a skunk smell. Luckily on this particular day I was out – I didn’t come across that smell (and lucky for my dog too).

I found a spot on a rock where I could just sit for a bit and take in even more of the forest. The sound of the forest. It was the coolest. I could hear a woodpecker working away on a tree, a number of other birds calling out to one another. But what struck me most was the sound of the leaves moving. As everything is growing you can actually hear the leaves scrunching as the fiddleheads are trying to pop up through them. Amazing!

Touch is another one of our senses. And if you are like me and you see a rock covered in this beautiful green moss, it’s impossible not to touch it. It feels so soft and gentle – the complete opposite of what it’s usually growing on. Pretty much anywhere you hike around Collingwood you’ll come across some moss….rich in color and soft to the touch.

I ended my hike and went back home feeling totally energized from being outside. And this is where the 5th sense comes in…..taste. My partner Tom had gone out fishing that morning and caught a big trout. That night for dinner he cooked up the fish he caught and it was so delicious.

There’s something about being outside that awakens the senses…..especially in the spring. I highly recommend it!

Starting today May 1st there is a nation wide challenge going on. Try spending at least 30 minutes outside. For more info check out: http://30×

Go for a Hike!

Growing up on the Niagara Escarpment I have had many adventures on our local trails; Bruce Trail, Kolapore, Three-Stage, local ski hills and more! Hiking around here is an invigorating experience… and being mindful of some basic essentials can make it all the more enjoyable for you.

Of course, one of the most essential issues is hydration. Staying well hydrated is not only vital for you on a survival level… but you may be surprised by how it can influence your energy too. Don’t wait until you feel fatigued to drink though, once you feel thirsty you are already well on your way to being dehydrated. I recommend investing in a good hydration system (such as CamelBak) which holds a bladder of water in a backpack that you sip, virtually hands-free, through a tube that loops over your shoulder. No stopping to pull a bottle out of your pack or fumbling with lids when you have a great system like this!

If you are going to be gone for more than an hour be sure to take some trail-friendly snacks with you. Fruit (fresh or dried, but fresh will also provide extra hydration) and raw nuts work well. If you take a snack bar be sure to carry the wrapper out with you to dispose of appropriately!

When you find your energy beginning to wane there are a few things you can try. Firstly, take a few sips of water. Snowshoeing a couple of years ago I thought I was incredibly out of shape before reaching the top of the first incline… until I stopped for a mouthful of water and was suddenly fully reinvigorated! You can also stop for a few minutes to ‘catch your breath’ and take in the views… or this may be the perfect time to try one of your packed snacks. Of course, always be sure to fuel-up with nourishing food prior to commencing your hike; no point trying to enjoy your hike on an empty tank! If shortness of breath is a problem for you, which none of the above suggestions alleviate, be sure to consult your healthcare provider.

Pace yourself. Two things that 3 weeks of Outward Bound in the BC mountains taught me were to shorten my pace (especially on the inclines) and to take the hills in a zig-zag pattern; to prevent injury as well as aid endurance. I still adhere to these guidelines today, touring our local Niagara Escarpment, and notice a great improvement in the stamina of my joints and muscles.

When injury does happen, Traumeel ointment is a great remedy to keep in your pack. Applying this to unbroken skin helps reduce inflammation, swelling and bruising. When you get home be sure to ice any bothersome joints that may be warmer than the rest of your body. A post-hike hot-tub can feel wonderful to tired muscles… but be sure to ice those joints again when you get out.

Try your hike in silence. Trust me, just try it!

If you are looking for a more full-body workout, consider hiking with ski poles; these are particularly helpful on the steep inclines. And on the steep declines be sure to mind your knees as this part of the hike is especially hard on these joints.

So often it is tempting to sit down and relax after a long hike but this is when it is especially important to stretch; I am guilty of this too! Pay particular attention to your quads, calves, hamstrings and hip flexors; you will appreciate these 5 minutes when you wake the next morning!

Lastly, always be sure to let somebody know where you are going especially if you are hiking alone. And carry a mobile phone, because even the most experienced explorer can turn an ankle when their eyes are taking in the beauty of their surroundings rather than the trail beneath their feet.

If your joints, mobility or energy level are preventing you from truly enjoying your outdoor adventures consider consulting a licensed naturopathic doctor to explore ways you can feel better.

The trails await you… now get out there and have fun this season!

Make your own sports drink!
2 cups coconut water*
2 Lg Medjool dates, pitted and soaked in hot water ~5minutes
1 tsp raw coconut oil*
Juice from 1⁄2 lemon and 1⁄4 lime
Celtic sea salt* to taste
Combine all ingredients in blender and enjoy before your hike. *these products are available at most health food stores
Source: Thrive Fitness, by Brendan Brazier

This article was originally published in Escarpment Magazine, Autumn 2009

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