Adventure Journal

Sunday, 29 April 2007

The Darkness Beckons...

Sunday, April 29 – 2007
12:15 – 16:11
Start: 12:15
Roads: Dry / clear
Visibility: 24km
Temp: +18C
Area: Queenston Quarry
Vehicle: Blue Pontiac Grand Prix
Weather: Sunny / Clear
Trail Conditions: Some mud spots
Hikers: Tori, Wolf, Christine
Plan: The Darkness Beckons... Explore the Queenston Caves
Equipment: Wet suits, steel-toed boots, bump cap and Petzel headlight, 2 Diving Torches (Underwater Kinetics) 2, 100ft lengths of rope, 6 glow sticks, tie-wraps, 3 strobe lights, equipment vest and hydration pack. We are missing one equipment harness, a bump cap and headlamp.

11:50 We stopped at shoppers Drug Mart in Niagara-On-the-Lake for batteries for the torches then onto the small parking lot by the 405 highway in queenston.

12:15 Put on all our packs and head out to the caves

12:30 We pass the old crane area and a girl in denim with very muddy bare feet and muddy sandals asking if we had seen her partner with a fishing rod.

12:43 We pass the small pretty valley with the Niagara Falls Native club marker

12:50 We descend the staircase marked 1000

12:55 A little tired from carrying all the gear, we arrived at the cave mouth and relaxed a little before putting on all our gear.

13:45 After struggling to get ready we descend into the darkness. The water was just above freezing, about 1m deep with very thick and deep sediment. Heading in a counter-clockwise direction we headed through the deep sediment and we came across a few sand-bar like areas which led-off to caves in the distance. We stayed in sections we could stand or almost stand-up in. As we circled around we saw a few small bats flying around as we disturbed them. My feet were very uncomfortable in the Cat Walking Machines I was wearing. Tori's feet also uncomfortable as the wet-suit socks pinched our feet as they made our shoes too small. There were a dozen or so small entrances allowing light into the caves. Tori's UK light failed and so did her backup light. I used my back-up Petzel head lamp and she used my large UK torch. Tori said she got very cold with only her thin summer gloves on. We came across a large amount of debris like wood, pop bottles, pipes, and other rubbish. The caves were spectacular to behold. They were very large and seemed to go on forever in all directions. We will be able to make multiple trips here and still not see everything.

14:30 Tori's feet were sore and she was cold so we decided to head back out of the caves. Before we exited we saw an area which would have been easily accessible and had paintings of someones hand and several white dots on the rocks. Excited but a little tired we headed out of the caves and stripped off our wetsuits and gear to relax in the sun. It was so quiet here. Off in the distance we could hear all kinds of birds. Tori made the hike here barefoot for comfort of her damaged ankle.

15:10 We started to pack up the gear and were joined by three cyclists who asked what was in there and see if we saw any remnants of an old washing machine – which we did no see.

15:14 We met a few people who came to scope-out the caves for something called geocaching. Apparently one of them was from the Toronto caving club.

15:30 We bid farewell to our caverns and headed up along the trail towards the car.

15:40 Passed the little Niagara Falls Nature Club marker and scenic valley

15:52 Passed the old crane structure en-route back to the car.

16:00 Tori hiked completely barefoot to help her sore ankle. It seems to be the only way she can hike without any pain. She kicked a branch with her right toe and cut it open, not very seriously.

16:11 We arrived back at the car and opened the boot to deposit our packs. We sat out for a bit to relax. Tori wore her black pants, red shirt and adventure hat. Wolf wore his camouflage pants, cross-toe Tevas, denim shirt and adventure hat. The walk was very tiring back to the car, but we are both excited to have the opportunity to go into the cave system.

16:35 We arrived home safely and unpacked our wet and muddy gear. Tori rested her sore ankle as she will be out of commission for a few days now.

Thursday, 26 April 2007

Found Some Caves in Queenston, Ontario

Thursday, April 26. 2007
11:30 – 15:00
Start: 11:50
Roads: Damp from rain
Visibility: 18km
Temp: +8C
Area: Niagara
Vehicle: Suburban
Weather: Overcast with some showers
Trail Conditions: Light mud
Hikers: Wolf, Tori, Lupis, Dogs
Plan: Find the caves by the Queenston Quarry

According to a small map we found on, The bruce trail has a small section near the beginning which goes on the North Side of the quarry and leads off to the caves. Although we don't expect the caves to be very much, they may be worth a short hike to find out.

11:30 We set out to head towards the queenston quarry and will most likely park at one of the small parking lots listed on the east side of portage road up by the St. David's horseshoe club. We found a small parking lot and put the truck there. M erlin refused to listen and injured himself jumping out of the truck. We got the dogs ready and set-out on the trails around 11:50. We headed down towards the quarry and descended to the quarry floor and walked along it to the North East side past lots of rocks and along a steep cliff. We stopped to take some photographs only to find we left the CF card for the camera at home. Angered – a quick flick into the hard rocks and boulders brought a quick end to the old HP 315 camera. We followed alongthe North wall of the quarry but did not come across any caves or even crevasses.

12:45 We stopped on the bleak but beautiful landscape to fill out our journal.

13:20 In a patchwork attempt to link back-up with the Bruce Trail and head back to the truck, we headed North West from the Quarry. Tori's ankle has been starting to trouble her. Some time ago she severely sprained it in an accident at work and was laid off as a result. When we hike now, she always has trouble with it. There is no way she could stand for 8hrs per day at her old job. A short 3 to 4 hr hike will lay her up for two days afterward. The scenery where we stopped is totally different here. Several large rock piles and outcroppins have given way to a beautiful rugged grass covered field dotted with lots of small ponds. Merlin and Morgana headed off to explore while I sat and Tori rested her ankle for a while.

13:38 Shortly after a break we started following a large stone-packed trail. The trail led off to one side where we saw several dozen large boulders all lined up. Just behind the boulders led us to a startling discovery – the mouth of the cave system we had been seeking! I slipped off my pack and got-out my new silver LED torch I'd just bought yesterday and descended into the caves. They were dark and somewhat filled with water. Sadly no camera. We went in with the dogs as far as we could with our galoshes, then stopped to enjoy this amasing discovery. We used the LED torch to see off as far as we could, then headed out of the caves. I sat on a rock by an old campfire while Tori headed up to look for our position. She found this trail area links up directly to the Bruce Trail. We sat and relaxed for a while as we are both very amased and pleased at ourselves. The cave entrance has some trees around it – perfect for our lines. This place is defiantly what we were seeking.

13:58 We decide to head back towards the truck.

14:03 The cave-trail links up with the Bruce Trail at a section that splits off three ways like a chickens foot. To the far right trail is a small hill / slope. Wolf wrote the word "caves" with an arrow pointing in the direction for further reference when we come back in the future. We headed E.N.E. On the bruce trail back towards the truck. Songbirds could be heard on the trees in the distance.

14:06 We went up a staircase with a metal label "1000" on a tree beside them.

14:13 We passed a beautiful little valley covered with large boulders covered in moss A beautiful scene. A marker post marked "Niagara Falls Nature Club" stands at the nicest viewing area. This post will be our "almost there" marker when we come back with the proper equipment to explore the cave.

14:27 We passed by the ruins of what could be an old crane or water tower. The aroma of a recent campfire still lingers in the area.

14:42 We were very close to the truck when we passed a couple – the girl holding fishing poles and wearing blue nylon pants and bright green flip-flips with perfectly painted blood red toes.

14:45 Shortly after we arrived back at the truck and completed our hike journal. Wolf wore galoshes, camouflage pants, denim shirt, hiking jacket and adventure hat. Tori wore galoshes, black pants and red shirt with her hiking jacket and adventure hat. Tori used her Schratt 1803 hiking poles which she said helped prevent a few further injuries to her ankle but required more effort to use. Tori and the dogs are very tired. Wolf is a little tired, but still happy about the discovery of the caves. We will start making an equipment list and have to come back soon.

14:50 We packed the dogs and daypack into the truck and headed for home. Wolf brought along the Brunton Nomad electric compass for the first time since we bought it several years ago. Although we did not really use it, it was good to have although a G.P.S. Unit would have been more useful. We arrived home safely just as a very bad rainstorm dumped on us. Good thing we got off the trails when we did.

Sunday, 22 April 2007

Rattlesnake Park - April 22 - 2007

Sunday, April 22, 2007
10:50 – 15:00
Start: 11:00
Roads: Dry / Clear
Visibility: 24km
Temp: +20C
Area: Halton Hills
Vehicle: Suburban
Weather: Clear with some wind
Trail Conditions: Dry / stone packed
Hikers: Christopher, Sly, Fabian, Tori, Wolf, Christine
Plan: Hike Escarpment Trail

This is the first time we have hiked with Christopher, Sly and Fabian. We arrived around 11:00 at Rattlesnake park and paid the fees to get in. We hiked around the look out trail and took lots of photographs. On the way to the long trail, Wolf found a cave opening and Christopher took some photos of Wolf in the cave. As we went further along we came to a cave where we saw some young guys going end to end in the cave. Tori, Wolf and Fabian decided to go as well. Unfortunatly Wolf did not fit. We headed up the trail and around 12:30hrs stopped for lunch at this very fabulous look out full of giant rocks. We sat on an outcropping and watched the giant hawks and turkey-vultures glide through he air on the wind-whipped hills. We brought some canned ham and tuna and had lunch with Christopher, Sly and Fabian. The view here is spectacular as I write the log for this hike. My pith hat is actually keeping me shaded and very cool by it's design. After lunch we headed along the trail to find even more crevasses. As we went to go into a crevasse, Christine sat on a rock and somehow slipped off, and tumbled backwards, cracking her head on a rock. She felt very lightheaded. The photo opportunities in the crevasse were spectacular. We continued on a little ways more then Christine started to feel lightheaded and dizzy so we headed back towards the truck. We arrived back at the truck using a nice smooth trail. By 15:16 we packed the dogs in the truck and relaxed a little bit. Fabian spilled pop in Sly's shoes and she had to return home barefoot. Wolf wore his Keen sandals, gaiters and 9 pocket EMS pants, grey ex-officio shirt, pith hat and open-finger gloves. Tori wore her Teva's, black pants and Harry Potter red T-shirt. We all had a good time, even though most of us are quite tired and pooped. We took Christopher, Sly, and Fabian home and returned to our home. We did take our hiking pioles but the terrain was so easy we did not need them. We all dressed for rugged, harsh conditions, but were surprised to see how easy the trails were. All the rock climbers and others were much more nicely dressed than us. Christine still feels bad from the knock on the head and put some ice on it at home. We all had a great time, but certainly it was not as challenging as expected.

Friday, 20 April 2007

Seaway Lock Hike - April 20, 2007

Friday, April 20, 2007
11:00 – 14:15
Start: 11:08
Roads: Dry / Clear
Visibility: 24km
Temp: +18C
Area: Seaway Locks - 3rd Canal
Vehicle: Suburban
Weather: Bright and Sunny
Trail Conditions: Some Mud
Hikers: Tori, Chris, Wolf, Dogs
Plan: Hike around the locks and shoe Chris their beauty and history

---> Red Nose Hike <---

We arrived behind GM plant 2, geared everyone up and headed towards the train bridge. A small valley reveals an old run-off control section of the previous canal. We crossed the train bridge and headed south to one of the old locks. The lock had an orange lifering in it which appears to be anchored in place. Chris contemplated a way to retrieve it. The west wall of the lock has started to succumb to the ravages of time. Sadly it is starting to crumble and fall. We headed Nothbound and under the old train bridge. Earlier a single red and black CN train passed over. Chris waived at the train and the conductor blew the air horn. The underside of the bridge shoes beautiful giant sprockets and bearings like an old clock. It is truly a shame that the seaway has let the area go so badly.. We continued southbound on the east side of the locks to the other lock which still has three cars in it. Two of which are inverted. A blue Asian car and white minivan and an old k-car upright. We stopped to relax and enjoy the smells of this warm weather and the phenomenal scenery. Wolf took the opportunity to work on the hike log. We left the lock and headed t the third lock which has always been a favorite of Wolfs as it has places to sit in the form of large flat rocks. Off in the distance we found a large orange lifering. We made our way down the steep, rocky and thorny pathway to a small jetty which had the lifering on it. Wolf let Lupis off his leash so he could make his own path. Arriving at the canal water level, Lupis got a drink when Wolf got Lupis and noticed an old small car. At one point intact, now destroyed by time. The small 4 cylinder engine badly damaged and the little radiator still in place. Chris carried the lifering over her head, then decided to carry it under her arms. It promptly fell into the water. Trying to pick up the life ring, her lipstick fell out and into the water and floated away until Tori caught it with her hiking poles. As Chris fumbled for the lipstick she fell into very deep water and got soaked. We laughed and laughed. We decided to climb up the hill and head up. En-Route back to the trail, Chris slipped backwards and into a hawthorn bush, spikes piercing her buttocks. It looked very painful. We headed southbound to yet another old, decaying lock and breaked to ill out the logbook then headed out southbound on the east side. We hiked along the Glendale Avenue overpass and made the long trek back towards the truck on the west bank of the old canal. By the train bridge went down to the waters edge and let the dogs drink then had to wait for a long train. We returned to the truck with some very exhausted dogs and Tori. Chris wore a pair of boots, purple jogging pants and a lavender top with large orange lifering. Tori wore her Teva sandals, black pants and white/grey Navajo patterned shirt with hiking jacket and her new Schratt 1803 hiking poles which she said helped her ankle quite a bit. Wolf wore his Faded Glory boots with gaiters, black EMS 9-pocket pants, a denim shirt and hiking jacket. Both Wolf and Tori wore their adventure hats. It was a great hike as Friday is a week-day and we saw nobody on the trails.

Saturday, 14 April 2007

Grand Trunk Railroad Tunnel Hike, April 14 - 2007

Saturday, April 14, 2007
12:00 – 14:30
Start: 12:10
Roads: Dry / Clear
Visibility: 24km
Temp: +6C
Area: Canal Seaway Property
Vehicle: Suburban
Weather: Overcast
Trail Conditions: Mud
Hikers: Chris, Tori, Wolf, Three Dogs
Plan: get out and get some exercise, see the Grand Trunk Railroad Tunnel this year
---> Red Nose Hike <---

We parked the truck behind the GM plant 2 on Glendale avenue. The trails were very busy with ATV and 'ute drivers enjoying the somewhat warm weather and mud to play in. We hiked along the stone road until it veered off into the woods which had some very deep mud puts which we walked around. Then down a large muddy hill to which Chris had a difficult time getting down.


After Chris slipped and fumbled down the steep trail, we found ourselves at the mouth of the old Grand Trunk railroad tunnel built in 1885. Unfortunately several years ago the seaway bricked-up this large and beautiful tunnel, however vandals have wrecked the bricking and allowed us access to the tunnel again.

As we went into the dark tunnel, Chris tripped a few times over the uneven floor, we did not bring a torch. After a few mins into the tunnel, we headed out and took a couple of photographs with our HP 315 digital camera. We ascended a steep rocky roadway to find large timbers all cut up laying at the top of it. Perhaps the seaway has removed them from the tunnel to hope it will collapse and keep people out of this historic site. We could hear the constant hum and whirr of ATV's and dirt bikes off in the distance. After resting for a bit on the timbers we headed out towards the old canal which was turned into the dam. I showed Chris the collection pond and explained how when it is drained in winter you can see the old locks from the canal. We walked to t he edge of the dam and could see the old car still in the shallow water below. Rusted and decayed by the raveges of time. Brian and I paid and up-close visit to the car last year. We went around the big Sound Dam as you can walk over it, then up a steep hill on the other side of the canal. We took some photos of myself and Lupis. There was someone off in the distance who took several photos of us up on the hill. We found this very irritating. We found no continuing trails on the east side of the canal so we made our way back and over towards the "Siren dam". As it is called. We hiked along the west bank of the canal for a bit and saw some fo the old canal parts, lock doors and cement mushrooms used to tie-off ships in the 1800's. We passed the old lock parts and went back-up to the dirt road then started to follow it back to the truck. Morgana got a large thorn stuck in her front paw Tori removed it. We stopped at a look-out point to see even more old parts of the locks. We continued on and arrived back at the truck. Tori wore her Birkenstock calgary boots black pants and red shirt with her hiking jacket. Wolf wore his faded glory boots and gaiters, with work cover-alls and no hat. Chris wore Nana's black boots, black pants, floral shirt and a purple knit jacket. The hike went fast and well. We would have enjoyed it more had we not heard the constant wine of dirt-bikes and ATV's on the trail. As we were leaving, we saw several 'utes coming out of the mud areas – just covered in thick mud from 4x4ing. There was also a dog in the one truck, a kind of pit-bull who was running around and all covered in mud and soaking wet.

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Cold Water Dive Number 124

Sunday, November 04 - 2007
11:15 – 12:36
Dive Number 124
Start: 11:00
Roads: Dry / clear
Visibility: 24km
Temp: +12C
Water Temp: +8C
Area: East Main Street Bridge, Welland, Ontario
Vehicle: Gold Chevy Cobolt AYTK-941
Weather: Mostly Cloudy
Visibility: 10m
Divers: Wolf, Chuck
Dive Wench(es): Tori, Thomas
Maximum Depth: 10m
Plan: Cold Water Dive

We arrived at the King and Division Street intersection which was filled with cars to do church still being in session across the street at 11:00hrs. We found a single spot and parked the rental gold Chevy Cobalt 4-door we have as the Niva is still in for repair after the accident it was involved in a few weeks back. We started kitting up just as a friend Thomas from work arrived with his dog Eowyn. I wore my DUI Dry Suit, Aga mask, and black Luxfer Aluminum 12L tank. We entered the water by the steel dock and noticed that the steel pots we moved for the city on Oct. 14th (Dive 123) were still where we moved them and had not been recovered. As we descended the sharp cold stabbed at my unprotected head. Even with the dry suit I felt cold. Chuck completely froze in his rental we suit. With the low tempratures and great visibility we saw a lot od debris like bicycles, skateboards, scooters, etc. I even found a silver Samsung flip mobile phone from Telus! I found a long, thick cable running across the bottom off the canal system, we followed it for a while but could not find the end of it. At one point during the dive Chuck decided to break surface to find our position. As he ascended I looked at the ascent line. The sight was very humorous to behold. There in the clear water, was a long yellow line with all kinds of stuff attached to it – a skateboard, a cup, and other "treasures" we had decided to find and bring back to shore with us. We ended the dive when I reached 30 bar in my tank and returned to the shore. I had a catastophic wrist seal failure on my right wrist on my drysuit. A few months ago the left wrist seal suffered a catastophic failure on September 1st on Dive 111 in Lake Erie.

Next time I go diving this year, I will wear my thermal hood and thermal skivies under my drysuit. We will also bring a large heater to stand infront of as we doff our equipment.

We went to our local coffee shop to relax, warm up, and discuss the dive and future explorations in the frigid waters of Canada.

Sunday, 1 April 2007

Short Hills Provincial Park - Friday, March 23 – 2007

Sunday – April 01 – 2007
08:25 – 10:15
Start: 08:30
Roads: Damp from rain
Visibility: 18km
Temp: +6C
Area: Short Hills Park
Vehicle: Suburban
Trail Conditions: mud
Weather: Overcast / light rain
Hikers: Wolf, Tori, 3 dogs
Plan: Hike a trail using the Wiley road entrance to the park.

We parked the truck at the Wiley road entrance and got on our rain gear and galoshes. Tori wore her galoshes, adventure hat and a Vietnam war era poncho we had kicking around. Wolf wore a full-length military rainsuit with a hood and carried the daypack with the hydration pack in it.

As soon as we hit the trails, it was deep, thick mud up to our ankles and really slowed us down. We decided to hike trail #6 which seemed to be a little drier. We headed west along the trail. We saw a guy walking in the rain wearing jeans and a plaid shirt going off into the woods. We figured he may have been tracking to poach. We headed up and went by some power lines and just then we heard a loud crack of thunder. Tori put a leash on Merlin so he did not take off. We then ducked under the forest canopy. The trail split and we seemed to loose the blue trail. We headed along what now seemed to be the yellow trail and came to the top of a small waterfall and then we headed up a long ridge for a while. Tori spotted a neon orange flip-flop laying upside down near a tree and wondered who would hike in flip-flops. As we continued on down the ridge we saw some blue markers and small bridges. We decided to head down the steep ridge and continue on the blue train. En-route down the steep ridge, Tori slipped down on her butt. Wolf slipped gently and did not fall. Upon reaching the bridges we realised we must have been in Camp Wetaskawin – the boy scout camp located within the park. We saw campsite posts in yellow with red writing. We decided the rain and mud were not worth battling and headed towards the ridge again and found a place to ascend and join up the yellow trail again. We headed back on the trail, past the orange flip-flop and towards the water fall. We stopped fro a while at the water fall to enjoy it's beauty. The rocks were all covered in moss, the smell of the rain in the woods made the experience so amasing. We took the tags off the dogs so when they run it would be quiet. This really made the hike more enjoyable. Wolf told Tori that this was the picture-perfect scene to capture in your mind to use for a meditation as your "inner space". After enjoying the beauty and sanctity of this site, we made the trek back to the truck. The deep mud made hiking difficult. Wolf noticed a leak in his rain suit on the crotch and left leg which made need to be repaired. We arrived at the truck and stripped off our rain gear, loaded the dogs in the truck and headed home. When we got home Wolf washed up the boots and Tori washed the mud off the dogs. Although only a short hike, it was very peaceful and relaxing.