Date hiked: April 2019
Area: Hockley Valley Provincial Nature Reserve, Mono
Bruce Trail distance: 4.9 km
Difficulty: Hard – but because it was icy
Parking: Off 3rd Line EHS (from the side trail) there are parking spots for about 5-7 cars on the roadside. You can also park off Dunby Rd. right off the entrance to the trail.
We missed the memo of icy conditions when we went on this hike. For the first hike of 2019, we ventured to where we left off, the section that is the northern side of the Hockley Valley Provincial Nature Reserve. The bottom section of this hike is part of the Jeju Olle Friendship trail shared with South Korea. We completed the other half of the trail during our first visit to the Hockley Valley Provincial Nature Reserve.
What we didn’t realized was that the weather was cooler than it is closer to Toronto, so the conditions were extremely icy especially in parts of the trail where it dipped down into the valleys and creeks as those are places that the sun probably doesn’t reach as easily.
A friend came with us on this hike, but we didn’t have 2 cars. So Hubs locked his bike to a tree just outside of a side trail poking onto 3rd Line EHS, then we drove up to Dunby Rd to park the car at the Bruce Trail entrance and started there. An innocent walk through the fields greeted us for the first kilometre and we thought this hike would be done quickly.
Little did we know, once we entered the forest, the trail turned to ice. We struggled climbing up and down the slope as the trail was a complete sheet of ice. We grabbed tree trunks and branches and desperately tried to hang off them as we found our next footing. It took us almost an hour to move through the next kilometre.
Thankfully, angels were sent to us not once, not twice, but three times, in the form of hiking groups that were equipped with crampons. They helped carry the kids up the iced hills and I grabbed this really nice lady’s arm and walked/slipped up the hill. I’m sure they thought we were crazy to continue the hike, and also probably secretly judged that we were bad parents subjecting our kids to hike in these conditions.
(On a side note, I was amazed at the ability of Older Daughter (OD) as she very easily walked up the slope. Her hiking boots wasn’t anything fancy, but I think she was so light that she didn’t slip down. I, on the other hand, took one step and proceeded to slip and fall on the ice if it was remotely on a slope.)
There was one part were the sheet of ice sloped towards a gushing river. Hubs told me later he was prepared to jump into the river to rescue any children. I was very nervous for the kids for this part. We even tried to avoid the ice by going off trail and climbing up the forest hill to see if we could get to the other side, but that was a fail.
We all survived and was totally relieved and happy to see the end. That was a stressful hike and once we got home, we ordered some crampons!