Many of us have taken a leisurely afternoon stroll along a section of the Bruce Trail where we have marvelled at the natural beauty while soaking up the solitude of a place away from the sounds of tires on asphalt and the constant chirping of cell phones.
A leisurely stroll just didn't cut it for adventure journalist Steve Hainsworth though, who last summer decided to hike the entire 885 kilometres of the Bruce from Niagara Falls all the way to Tobermory.
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, and he has chronicled his adventure in a new book called “Adventures With Bruce.”
Along with the pain and discomfort experienced during his trek, Hainsworth also discovered incredible beauty both in the natural landscape of the Bruce, and the people he met along the way.
With his book now available in local bookstores, everyone can take on the Bruce from the comfort of their Muskoka chair, and they don't need to invest 30 days to do it. The 107 page book is a perfect summertime read that should come with a warning attached: May cause reader to want to get out and do some hiking.
Filled with nearly 60 photos to compliment Hainsworth's account of his journey, Adventures With Bruce introduces us to a trail that we all know exists, but few of us have explored to any great extent.
In a recent phone interview with The Meaford Independent 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.”
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....the community spirit along these rural roads is comforting.
“The feeling of community in Meaford and Sydenham area is absolutely beautiful,” Hainsworth told The Independent.
Given the overgrowth along the trail though, the Sydenham section was also very challenging for Hainsworth who says that some days in Sydenham left him with soaked shoes and plenty of scratches from branches and shrubs that encroach upon the footpath.
He didn't go 'hard-core' with his hike by camping under the stars along the way – Hainsworth hiked an average of 30 kilometres each day, but on most days he was picked up at the end of his hike and then dropped off the following morning to continue his journey. He says that though some have hiked the trail that way, if the Bruce is lacking anything it is areas to set up camp.
“It is nearly impossible to camp along the whole trail, especially in the urban areas. There aren't many camp sites given the length of the trail,” says Hainsworth.
When asked what he would do differently if he were to hike The Bruce again, Hainsworth is quick to reply.
“I would go with a group of people to share the experience,” says Hainsworth who hiked the trail alone but for the hikers he met along the way, and a final four day stretch to Tobermory during which his wife joined him, “It would be nice to expose people to the natural beauty in their own back yard.”
With 'Adventures With Bruce' Hainsworth has done just that, he has taken anyone who picks up his book along for the adventure.
'Adventures With Bruce' is available at Stuff to Read in Meaford, and if you are closer to Owen Sound, you can find it at the Downtown Bookstore, Mikes, or the Ginger Press. You can also find it online by visiting adventureswithbruce.com
The copy of the book submitted to The Independent by the author for review will be donated to the Meaford Public Library and will be available there soon.
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