Thursday, 24 May 2012

Backus Woods Hike

For the first time since I began this project, I am dedicating this blog to one person - my good friend, Gloria, who was raised in Simcoe, Ontario which is the closest town to Backus Woods. Gloria is another blogger and her topic is recipes from her and her mother's recipe books.

While this hike was led by Jack Candido, this was NOT along the Bruce Trail nor any of the subsidiary trails - the Backus Woods are found many miles to the west of the escarpment. The route for this hike was chosen because it was through the woods and it took us to a place of historic significance.

As we usually did on out-of-town hikes, we met at the 'Kiss-N-Ride' pickup spot at the west end Kipling Subway Station - and there were sufficient cars to take everybody to the 'trail head'. There were four of us in our car - a younger man driving and we three older men. One of the men was a right royal 'pain-in-the-butt' from beginning to end - very opinionated as well as demanding. Before we left Kipling, Jack gave the drivers an expected time for arrival at the trail head and, as we were later in leaving than originally planned, the timing was tight.  Still the 'demanding one' absolutely insisted that we stop along the way at a Tim Horton's outlet so he could get a coffee and a munchy. The driver and I were NOT amused - so he (Ari) drove over the speed limit until stopped by an OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) Officer and given a ticket.

As it so happened, we were not the last vehicle to arrive at the rendezvous but the final vehicles were not far behind.

                                           The parking lot which we used as our 'trail head'    

Along the route to our destination there were blue arrows attached to occasional trees pointing to the route - the entire area is a 'rabbit warren' of trails going in all directions. However, we were following a creek for most of the route and, as long as it was to our left, we were on the correct path. 

                                                             Derrich Creek

Eventually we came out of the forest into a clearing where there was a picnic shelter as well as a monument commemorating the wild turkeys. Those birds thrived in Southern Ontario but had been hunted to extinction. Fortunately, flocks still survived in Pennsylvania so some of those birds were re-introduced to Ontario and are found in those woods near the Backus Mill Historical Site. We stopped for lunch there and, while we were eating, a group of young adults appeared - they were students from McMaster University in Hamilton who were there to check up on the wild turkeys.

                                                          Wild Turkey Monument

                                                           Wild Turkey Restoration

In order to clearly read the above - and all 'Historic Signs' in these blogs - just click on the image and an enlarged version will appear in a separate window. Indeed, readers can view enlargements of all photos by the same procedure.

          Lunch Break - the roof of the picnic shelter is just visible in the upper right.

                                                 Nearby were some wild grapes.

As most of the student group were young women I had to be discreet in finding a place in which to relieve myself. When I returned to the group most of them laughed  - my trousers from the knees down were covered by burrs called 'hitchhikers' . I tried to remove them all myself but the majority just fell off of my pants. Still - while amusing - it was embarrassing!

After we finished eating we continued on our way to the historical site (already we were more than half way there)

In 1797 an immigrant from Yorkshire named John Backhouse migrated to Upper Canada and took a land grant between the village of Simcoe and Lake Erie. Upon this land - a 'homestead' - he cleared some acres in order to plant crops, built a house and a grist mill. 

                                                  The Backhouse (Backus) Homestead

                                        The grist mill - now a heritage building.

         Click on this photo and an enlarged version will appear in a separate window.

                                                           The Mill Pond

After looking around the historical site for a half hour or so it was time to return to the parked cars and drive into Simcoe in order to honor our reservation at the wonderful Blue Elephant Restaurant in a beautiful old mansion in the town.

All we had to do was to follow Derrich Creek.

    Unfortunately, the troublesome pair headed off on their own and became completely lost. While most of our group were able to keep the reservation, we passengers from Jack Candido's car and the car which I rode in had to remain behind to search for them. An hour and a half later they were finally spotted out on the County Road more than half a mile from the parking lot!

However, we were still in time to partake of that lovely dinner and then to have a quick and safe ride back into town. 


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