Hawkesville to Wallenstein 5 km

Hawksville to Wallenstein100 KM Loop

Entering the heart of Mennonite Country is like stepping into another century. There are indications that the modern day is upon us and yet the pace is decidedly slower. If you are looking for handmade quilts, custom made wood furniture, fresh baked goods or maple syrup, this is your destination.

The Mennonites settled in this area in 1805 and it is easy to believe little IMG_5194has changed since then, except for a new bridge over the Conestoga River. If you look to the west, a few older bridges that have fallen into disrepair are still visible. One road now simply ends at a front yard, but it is clear that it used to meet up with a bridge and cross over to the other side of the river.

IMG_5219This part of the trail is along Temperance Road, which seems appropriately named for the people that live along it. It’s trail status is poorly marked and I was going to say that it was unmarked, but I realized that this sign actually says, Trans Canada Trail on it, it is just so faded, I didn’t realize what it said. Not much direction is needed. You simply follow the road until it dumps onto another road. So as long as you can overcome the desire to turn off of it, you should be fine with or without legible signage.

Temperance Road is a gravel top road that is IMG_5218approximately two vehicles wide with drainage ditches running up both sides. There was little traffic on it the day that I walked it, except for the trucks servicing one small factory.

IMG_5202On the road, you are surrounded by countryside. The hilly rolling nature of the area provides great views and vistas of the farmland, river and patches of trees. Most of the farms are decidedly Mennonite IMG_5203and the architecture is quite distinct. Note the chimneys that are open to the air with a over to keep out the rain. Most of these properties do not have hydro lines going up to the property – house or barn.

If you want to learn how to save the environment these people still practise many of the old methods of farming including using horses to move farm equipment and buggies for people.

IMG_5206You know you are in Mennonite country when the signs warn of cars ahead. (very old fashioned cars, but cars none-the-less). This particular sign was warning of the intersection with the next arm of the walk. Temperance Road dumps onto Herrogott Road which is a black top two lane road that has a moderate but consistent amount of traffic on it. I do not like to walk down roads but this piece connects to the next part of the trail with is completely off road, so it is worth making due.

IMG_5213The sides of the road are quite wide, enough to accommodate two draft horses pulling a piece of farm equipment. Along this stretch I was passed by a few horses. One older couple actually pulled out onto the road to give me room to walk along the side of the road, away from traffic.

Along this stretch you will pass Wallenstein General Store and it is worth a visit. This store has books, fabric, a huge assortment of black, white and beige button up sweaters, tools, bulk grains, fresh baked goods, local and imported produce, IMG_5209luncheon meats, Keurig coffee, over the counter medications, frozen food and ice-cream. With the possible exception of electronics and iPhones, it seemed to have everything you could want. I bought a tray of pecan butter tarts and a very large beefsteak tomato, yes, it had the flavour I remember.

There are chairs and a bench to sit on out front and at the side of the building. It is a busy intersection, but not in the same way that a busy intersection feels in the city. While I sat I saw an eclectic mix of modern vehicles, buggies with horses, older women on bikes and pedestrians of all shapes and sizes.

Despite the bit of the walk along the road, this is a nice walk with great vistas, a glimpse of another way of living and access to some of the best hand made items you could find.

 

 

 

Marden Tract 4 km

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 6.45.22 PM100 KM Loop

My first step was to put together a map showing all of the trails that would join up and become the loop. Having the maps all in one place there was a small jog that did not have an identified trail, so I headed out to see if it was walkable. It is very easy to draw a line on a map, but much more difficult to walk along that line if there are fences, rivers or other obstacles in your way.

I got off to a rough start. I drove out to the beginning of my drawn line to find that the maps I had were not accurate. First step, figure out where the map went wrong and start from the end of the last actual trail. The IMG_5169map had shown the trail going along a train track and the owners of the property the tracks went through had clearly marked, “Private Property”, no trespassing. There was a trail that went off to the east near the same spot, so I decided to walk down it and discover where it went.

Less than ten feet onto the trail I was accosted by mosquitos. I hadn’t seen many so far this spring and I had not even thought about mosquito repellent. So, I decided to just try to ignore them and continue my walk. Once my scent had spread across the wooded area, there was no way I could continue. Like a neon sign saying, “eat here” I was attracting hundreds of starving insects. I tried to walk but they were so thick I couldn’t see for the swarm. I stood there batting them away and killing the ones that had begun to sting me. Unable to walk through the cloud of bugs, I returned to get bug spray.

I had left early in the morning, knowing that the day was supposed to get really hot later, so there were no stores open near my location. I travelled all of the way home to get bug spray. I had no choice. When I re-arrived at the start of the trail, I knew where I was going and I applied a heavy layer of deet and entered to see where the trail would lead.

IMG_5177The path was well maintained, clay surface about three feet wide. There was the odd tree that had fallen over the path,but little else in the way of obstacles. I found myself winding IMG_5176through old growth trees and untouched wild flowers. Trilliums, Ontario’s flower, grew in patches along the trail. What Canada may be lacking in historic buildings it makes up for in ancient forests that have been left largely untouched.IMG_5178

The trail came an end at a farm gateIMG_5181 that was wide enough to let a tractor pull a piece of equipment through. To the right of the gate there was a space large enough to walk through and a small foot path was visible. This less groomed path meandered up to the left and turned to the right ending at what could generously be called a road. My guess is that it was once a gravel top road and it was now just managed enough to let maintenance trucks through to service the large hydro lines that run up the east side.

IMG_5184

This road extended just over two kilometres past the wooded area, some farmer’s crops and dumped onto a major road that runs east-west across the north end of the city of Guelph. This busy street is not idea for hiking, but it does connect to the next identified part of the Trans Canada Trail, so I’ll walk it in the future. On this particular walk, I had a choice between two restaurants and a coffee shop that were both at the intersection where the path ended.

Unlike the Camino in Spain, which is clearly one-directional, with everyone travelling to the west, this 100 km loop can easily be done in either direction. For this particular segment, the one entrance point is on Silvercreek Parkway (Road 39) and is marked with a sign.IMG_5169 If you are entering from the other end, there is a path that veers off on the north side of Woodlawn Road at the intersection with Edinburgh. It is unmarked.

Starting from Woodlawn, you would travel directly north until you reached this sign:IMG_5192

Clearly, the sign is meant to be read by someone travelling in the other direction, but it is the only sign, so this is what you would see. At the sign, you would turn left and follow the foot path until you enter the forest on the other side of the gate, described above.

All and all a nice scenic walk far enough from roads to be quiet and during my walk there was only a little evidence that anyone used this space. A nice blend of being deep in the forest with good footing and being within walking distance of coffee shops, washrooms and restaurants.

Meseta

IMG_2325Pilgrims are dropping like flies. The stretch of the Camino that precedes Leon is a long straight path that runs beside the highway. The heat, sun and monotonous flatness is seen by some as meditative.

The cold reality (or hot!) is that a couple of people have been hospitalized for heat stroke, many more have suffered headaches and illness and some have chosen public transport.

There is little to see on this piece of the Camino that can take several days to cross on foot. No one said that it would be easy.

100 KM Loop

Changing Landscapes of the Camino  

Albergue? 

The Camino Walk

Another Night on the Camino

Magic on the Camino

Hiking Poles for the Camino 

Camino de Santiago

Changing Landscapes of the Camino

IMG_2363A church bell is sounding off the time of day while a dog barks and a flurry of swallows chirp and dive in the plaza. Every small town has the same assortment of wild cats, often of a Siamese or calico descent. A rooster just crowed to remind me that this constant reminder of the rural nature of the towns is ever present. Most of the dogs move along free of a leash and often free of an owner.

The Camino takes travelers through town after town, open fields and cities. The towns are living evidence of how life was lived hundreds of years ago and the cities still reflect the architecture while adding modern touches. Often the view of a small town will bring a sense of relief that is quickly thwarted by the fact that they are usually an uphill climb away. The older cities are surrounded by walls that were used to protect the inhabitants. On the same note, they were placed up on a hill so that invaders could be seen coming from a distance. As you enter the Meseta this character slowly changes. The ground becomes flatter and the towns become more sprawling. The challenge of the steep climbs and fast descents gives way to the extreme heat. Temperatures in the 30s and 40sC make travel in the afternoon very difficult. One difficulty is replaced by another and on it goes…such is the Camino.

100 KM Loop

Meseta

Albergue? 

The Camino Walk

Another Night on the Camino

Magic on the Camino

Hiking Poles for the Camino 

Camino de Santiago

www.wendypowell.ca

Albergue?

IMG_2307He opened the main doors to show me where the beds were in this particular albergue. The large open space had once been a garage, perhaps for farm equipment, and still sported two rectangular doors that could be rolled up and out of the way to let trucks in or out. Now, it was a huge open space with painted floors, multiple bunk beds, some plastic chairs and a couple of tables. The albergues are as different as they could possibly be. Last night I stayed in an ancient home that had been built originally from rocks and cement and had been located beside a natural spring. There was no electricity and dinner was eaten by candlelight and the remains of the twilight before the sun set. In a broad way the albergues can be divided into three categories: municipal, private and religious. The religious ones are often found in ancient structures and might be run by nuns with strict curfew times and times before which you are not allowed to leave in the morning. Most of the municipal ones are large, newer and have extra amenities like individual outlets to charge your personal phones and cameras. The private ones are as individual as the people that run the places, varying from private museum-like spaces to elaborately decorated artsy places. It is always a gamble. The descriptions in the guidebooks do not account for these types of qualities and focus on quantifiable things like the number of beds, availability of services and classification i.e. private. So, tonight will be spent in a large garage with the possibility of forty other pilgrims all sharing the space. I hope that there are not many that snore…

100 KM Loop

 

Meseta

Changing Landscapes of the Camino

The Camino Walk

Another Night on the Camino

Magic on the Camino

Hiking Poles for the Camino 

Camino de Santiago

Albergue?

IMG_2307He opened the main doors to show me where the beds were in this particular albergue. The large open space had once been a garage, perhaps for farm equipment, and still sported two rectangular doors that could be rolled up and out of the way to let trucks in or out. Now, it was a huge open space with painted floors, multiple bunk beds, some plastic chairs and a couple of tables.

The albergues are as different as they could possibly be. Last night I stayed in an ancient home that had been built originally from rocks and cement and had been located beside a natural spring. There was no electricity and dinner was eaten by candlelight and the remains of the twilight before the sun set.

In a broad way the albergues can be
divided into three categories: municipal, private and religious. The religious ones are often found in ancient structures and might be run by nuns with strict curfew times and times before which you are not allowed to leave in the morning. Most of the municipal ones are large, newer and have extra amenities like individual outlets to charge your personal phones and cameras. The private ones are as individual as the people that run the places, varying from private museum-like spaces to elaborately decorated artsy places.

It is always a gamble. The descriptions in the guidebooks do not account for these types of qualities and focus on quantifiable things like the number of beds, availability of services and classification i.e. private.

So, tonight will be spent in a large garage with the possibility of forty other pilgrims all sharing the space. I hope that there are not many that snore…

100 KM Loop

Meseta

Changing Landscapes of the Camino

The Camino Walk

Another Night on the Camino

Magic on the Camino

Hiking Poles for the Camino 

Camino de Santiago

The Camino Walk

IMG_2269The Camino walk is characterized by a tightening of the legs and upper body in reaction to the pain generated from moving your legs and putting weight on your feet. This cramped gait is the way that you can identify someone in town that has been walking on the Camino.

Several towns have specialists that work for donations and spend several hours each evening treating the results of prolonged walking.

I am becoming somewhat of an expert on blister care myself. First, there are two types of feet. The ones that dry out from the heat which causes cracking and sores and irritated skin. I am from the other camp. My feet sweat so much I have trouble keeping my boots dry.

Dry feet should be covered in Vaseline. This is the opposite for sweaty feet which should be powdered and treated to dry socks at shockingly frequent intervals.

Once a blister has formed it should be drained. Yes, this does increase the chance for infection but until it is drained the pocket of liquid stuck under the skin will move around enlarging the size of the blister.

The draining can be accomplished with a syringe, a needle or a needle and thread. The thread is apparently left in place to allow the blister to keep draining.

Once drained, soaked with iodine and covered with an antibiotic cream on gauze it is then covered with a sticky bandage. This is supposed to allow the blisters to heal. I’ll let you know if that is true in a couple of days.

100 KM loop

Meseta

Changing Landscapes of the Camino

Albergue? 

Another Night on the Camino

Magic on the Camino

Hiking Poles for the Camino 

Camino de Santiago

www.wendypowell.ca

The Camino Walk

IMG_2313The Camino walk is characterized by a tightening of the legs and upper body in reaction to the pain generated from moving your legs and putting weight on your feet. This cramped gait is the way that you can identify someone in town that has been walking on the Camino.

Several towns have specialists that work for donations and spend several hours each evening treating the results of prolonged walking.

I am becoming somewhat of an expert on blister care myself. First, there are two types of feet. The ones that dry out from the heat which causes cracking and sores and irritated skin. I am from the other camp. My feet sweat so much I have trouble keeping my boots dry.

Dry feet should be covered in Vaseline. This is the opposite for sweaty feet which should be powdered and treated to dry socks at shockingly frequent intervals.

Once a blister has formed it should be drained. Yes, this does increase the chance for infection but until it is drained the pocket of liquid stuck under the skin will move around enlarging the size of the blister.

The draining can be accomplished with a syringe, a needle or a needle and thread. The thread is apparently left in place to allow the blister to keep draining.

Once drained, soaked with iodine and covered with an antibiotic cream on gauze it is then covered with a sticky bandage. This is supposed to allow the blisters to heal. I’ll let you know if that is true in a couple of days.

100 KM Loop

Meseta

Changing Landscapes of the Camino

Albergue? 

Another Night on the Camino

Magic on the Camino

Hiking Poles for the Camino 

Camino de Santiago

www.wendypowell.ca

Another Night on the Camino

IMG_2284A kilometer, it turns out, is not a very good measure of a walk. It does not account for incline or decline, footing, stairs, wind, weather and unfortunately distance.

On the Camino, one of the first things that you realize is that all distances are “as the bird flies” and do not take into consideration how many bends there are in the path or even if the path bends back on itself.

The first time that it takes over an hour to walk less than a kilometer the uselessness of this measurement becomes apparent.

The truth about kilometers is second only in importance to having a place to sleep when you are finished for the day. In July, it turns out, this can be quite tricky. There are way more pilgrims than there are albergue beds.

This long winded explanation is really just my way of explaining why I have ended up without a ‘camma’ or bed in an albergue, not to be confused with a place to sleep, on a few nights already. Much to my dismay I ended up sleeping on a cement floored area designed for handball and futsal, considered the purest form of football, but I digress.

I slept with several men last night (and several women) in sleeping bags outside on a cement pad. Such is the Camino.

100 KM Loop

Changing Landscapes of the Camino

Albergue? 

The Camino Walk

Magic on the Camino

Hiking Poles for the Camino

Camino de Santiago

Meseta

http://www.wendypowell.ca

Sent from my iPhone

Another Night on the Camino

IMG_2284A kilometer, it turns out, is not a very good measure of a walk. It does not account for incline or decline, footing, stairs, wind, weather and unfortunately distance.

On the Camino, one of the first things that you realize is that all distances are “as the bird flies” and do not take into consideration how many bends there are in the path or even if the path bends back on itself.

The first time that it takes over an hour to walk less than a kilometer the uselessness of this measurement becomes apparent.

The truth about kilometers is second only in importance to having a place to sleep when you are finished for the day. In July, it turns out, this can be quite tricky. There are way more pilgrims than there are albergue beds.

This long winded explanation is really just my way of explaining why I have ended up without a ‘camma’ or bed in an albergue, not to be confused with a place to sleep, on a few nights already. Much to my dismay I ended up sleeping on a cement floored area designed for handball and futsal, considered the purest form of football, but I digress.

I slept with several men last night (and several women) in sleeping bags outside on a cement pad. Such is the Camino.

100 KM Loop

Changing Landscapes of the Camino

Albergue? 

The Camino Walk

Magic on the Camino

Hiking Poles for the Camino

Camino de Santiago

Meseta

http://www.wendypowell.ca

Sent from my iPhone