Cold War and Queenston Quarry

Wow, it's been a while since I've been out to take pictures, much less had a chance to put together a post, but today is the day. After 2 weeks of colds and flu, bitter temperatures, ice, and far too much blowing snow, the last day of my vacation provided for dark, but downright balmy conditions for a hike. I layered up, strapped on the boots, and headed out along the section of Bruce Trail running atop the Queenston Quarry.

If you've never been to the area, it's a fantastic hike. The trails are easy-to-moderate in difficulty, and actually easier to follow in the snow than they are in the height of summer. The trail runs atop a natural ridge, with the Escarpment dropping steeply off to one side, and the cliffs of Queenston Quarry dropping even more steeply off the other side, so it makes for some great views.

Of course, some of the sights are right at your feet, so it helps to keep your eyes always moving. I had a hard time creating just the right angle with this fallen tree, but it's always struck me as a sleeping dragon, with one eye open, watching against thieving dwarves and hobbits walking by.

Perhaps the most intrigue aspect of the trail, however, is a rusted ruin that I have been completely mistaken about for years. Given its size and shape, and it's proximity to the Quarry's edge, I had always assumed it to be some sort of quarry equipment, like a crane, or similar sort of winch. As it turns out, however, it is actually a Cold War relic - a radio microwave communications tower used to calibrate dishes destined for the Distant Early Warning line that kept a close, Northern-most watch over the Soviet Union. Who ever would have guessed?

Further along the trail are some breathtaking views of the Quarry itself, which looks almost fantastical beneath the ice and snow, and nothing at all like the empty, barren, rocky scar it resembles in the summer. That's not to say the Quarry doesn't serve a purpose - I've gone fossil hunting there on more that one occasion . . . and have been politely kicked out for my own safety more than once - but it does look far more interesting in the depths of winter.

Once you get past the Quarry, the Bruce Trail really begins to resemble the kind of epic pathway you might expect. Well-marked (look for the white blazes on the trees) and well-traveled (just follow the footsteps), it really does seem as if it could go on forever.

Fortunately, the trail branches in numerous places so, even after all these years, there are still new discoveries to be made. Today's discovery was a series of caves running beneath the escarpment. I'm not sure how far back they go, but I know it was farther that my meagre flashlight could reach.

All-in-all, a great way to end my vacation. For those of you who are interested, I put 4.10 miles beneath my boots today, and I'm going to be feeling it tomorrow!


  1. I enjoyed your beautiful photos and descriptions. Thanks for sharing your day out.


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