Observers of the Fall Migration
September 15, Day 33

S
lept in this morning—we earned it! We were surprised yesterday by the steep descent to High Dump campground. Previous descents to dumps had been gradual. As a result, first thing this morning, before was alert, I had to climb straight up a rugged rock cliff. The overcast skies and a nice breeze actually made for pleasant hiking along the cliff edge where often there’s no tree cover. The two islands that we could see last night (Flowerpot and Bear’s Rump Islands) were lost in fog this morning. Our gentle country lane stroll of yesterday was gone too. The trail guide said that today’s hike would be the most difficult part of the trail, and sure enough, the terrain was hilly with rough, slippery escarpment rock.

    We had a visitor last night. Most nights we hung all of the food including toothpaste and pots. But last night, we came up with a thousand excuses not to do it. It was getting dark. I couldn’t find the rope. None of the branches was low enough. The bag would get wet if it rained, and so on. Something kept sniffing at the tent corner where we stored the food bag. We shooed it away several times, and in the morning everything was still intact. We thought that it was a porcupine, but we found out later that we were in black bear country. I’m glad that Rich didn’t unzip the tent fly to look out. And if it was a bear, I’m also glad that he or she was not very hungry. Not hanging our food bag was a mistake we won’t make again.

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Walking the cobblestone beaches along foggy Georgian Bay

As we picked our way through the rocks, we came to the escarpment edge many times. Gradually the fog lifted, the shadow of islands appeared, and we watched Cave Point take shape as we got closer. I couldn’t resist taking pictures of the spectacular cliffs from our break spot along Halfway Dump. Within an hour, we were standing on top of the cliff that I had just taken a picture of from the beach. The rocks were wet and slippery, appearing to sweat. We continued along and lunched on the beach at the Ledges. As we sat on a rock ledge eating, a flock of Canada geese came toward us. They were flying just above water level, as they crossed Georgian Bay on their migration south. Now with the cliffs in front of them, they flapped hard. They banked upward to clear the trees onshore and flew fifteen feet (5 m) over our heads. They were working hard, tired after a long flight over water. Last night, even after dark, and throughout the day, waves of migrating Canada geese flew overhead, possibly taking advantage of the prevailing northerly winds. Winter can’t be too far behind.

    We were on beaches repeatedly today but never swam. The breeze and cool temperatures kept us out of the water. As we progressed north along the stone beaches, the rounded cobblestones got larger then turned into jagged rocks. They were very hard to walk on, providing an unstable footing. In fact, all of today was tough walking, and when we stopped at 4:30 p.m., we were just as tired as yesterday even though we did only half as many miles. Part of our slowness was because we were sightseeing. We stopped often to enjoy the views, glance at caves, grottoes, and all of the exotic things along the way. The Cyprus Lake area was especially scenic. There were many people on this section of trail doing a one-day exploration.

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On top of the escarpment cliffs along Georgian Bay