Earlier this summer I had the opportunity to run large portions of the Bruce trail with a group of amazing runners. We set a ‘Furthest Known Distance’ for 48 hours northbound along the Bruce Trail. For my first leg I met a teammate at the top of the Wellington stairs and ran a 13km stretch to Old Dundas road. Along the way I hit sections of the Bruce I had never explored and discovered just how webbed Hamilton is with great technical trail. Here are some of the lessons I was happy to learn after 48 hours on the Bruce.
1. Learn to Blaze
You’ve probably seen them all over town but if you’re not a seasoned hiker it’s easy to ignore the white and blue dashes, known as ‘blazes’, that guide you down the Bruce Trail. No one likes being lost and the trail takes some confusing turns as it crosses highways and travels the escarpment. Good news is the system is simple and once you know what to look for you’ll be able to navigate the trail even if you’re speed hiking in the middle of the night with nothing but a headlamp.
White blazes mark the main trail while blue blazes mark the many side trails you’re able to explore. A single blaze means continue straight while double blazes indicate an upcoming or turn. Simply follow the direction of the top blaze and you should stay on track. That’s it!
The Bruce runs along some major roadways before ducking under bridges or onto smaller single-track trails you may likely miss. Knowing how to read blazes will come in handy when trying to find your first access to the trail.
2. Don’t Get Lost & Support the Bruce
The Bruce Trail is taken care of by groups of volunteers all across the province. Here are two ways to pitch in and support this great natural resource. Maps are available at Adventure Attic, MEC.ca or directly through brucetrail.org. There is also an impressive app that lets you measure distance, track current location and easily distinguish between main and side trails. We used the app constantly on our FTD attempt and I can’t say enough good things about it.
3. Stay Fuelled
Be sure to bring enough water, snacks and electrolytes for your hike. The Bruce Trail is just that, a trail through the woods but luckily it does intersect with a public water fountain and washroom at the base of the Chedoke Stairs.
Keeping your body fuelled during a long hike is a key to enjoying yourself. Check out this homemade granola bar formula from NoMeatAthlete. Remember during longer, lower intensity endurance exercise our body relies on burning fat for fuel. It is important to eat healthy fats before and during activities as well as carbs to sustain energy. Those looking for a way to replenish lost electrolytes without added sugars or artificial sweeteners can check out products like Nuun or Emergen-C that can be easily added to your water.
4. Get the Gear
To make hiking or trail running a regular part of your life you will need to invest in a good pair of shoes and socks. If running is your goal our friends at The Runner’s Den in Westdale are experts at sizing and fitting you with the right model. Hiking boots are often more of an investment so do some research before you buy. REI (the American MEC) has a full right up on what to look for when selecting and sizing a boot. Momentum members get a discount on footwear at Adventure Attic, who also have great staff to help outfit you.
Whenever you’re sizing shoes for hiking or running be sure to account for swelling & try them on at the end of the day when your foot is largest. Be sure your heel is locked in place without rubbing and that you have enough room around the toes for any technical downhills.
Now all that’s left is to get out there and hit the trails. See you on the Bruce #HamOnt! #GetMomentum
Cole Czuchnicki / Momentum Coach
firstname.lastname@example.org / 289.527.3780
10 George Street, Hamilton, ON L8P 4Y4