I've had this certain ride on my "biking bucket list" for a while now. I wanted to ride from home out to the long closed up Little Lake Conservation Area and explore the area a bit. I was up nice and early on a Sunday morning so it seemed like the right time to check it out. I really enjoy Hay Creek (another closed camp ground) and the trails / old roads within it and thought Little Lake would be worth the look. I was out just after sunrise, leaving town via the Waterford Heritage Trail. At this early hour I had the entire trail to myself.
I really enjoy the Heritage Trail. Its a short (10km) ride from Simcoe to Waterford where it brings you through the old Co-Op silos and the Black Bridge, an old train trestle where you can get a birds eye view of the Waterford Ponds.
I left Waterford after a nice break / photo op and continued my quest North. This section from Waterford to Brantford is not as heavily used as the more Southern end of the trail and makes for a nice escape from the general population. I didn't see another soul for the entire ride from Waterford to Concession 3. Once at Concession 3, it was time to hit the open road and turn West towards my destination along the quiet back roads of Norfolk.
After grinding along I finally reached my destination, the old Little Lake Conservation area. I remember driving past this camp ground when I was younger and it being open. I'd have to guess its been closed for just over a decade, although I can't remember exactly when. I headed into the gate, hoping to find lots of neat abandoned roads and campsites. I did come across the foundation of the old camp office, but the roads where so overgrown it was tough to get anywhere. I tried pushing through but the brush was too thick. I'll have to come back one day in the fall / winter when the brush isn't so thick. It was a disappointment.
I left the camp ground and began my southern route back home. I took the opportunity for more photos in Teeterville at the Teeterville Pond, a man made reservoir with a dam on Big Creek. I have canoed this pond many times with my father and brother when we were young.
Just a bit more South from Teeterville is the little Hamlet of Windham Centre. I checked out the closed up Windham Public School where I attended middle school, which has stood empty for a number of years.
The crown jewel of Windham Centre is the WinDel Park. A baseball and soccer field that is heavily used. Out at the very back of the park though is another abandoned slice of history, The Windel Velodrome. Built in 1972 but it has been unused for many years, its one of the only Olympic Size velodromes in the province and the only outdoor one. The sad old velodrome is in bad shape, its asphalt cracked and weeds growing out of it, the surrounding grassy area over grown, and the lane markers barely visible. I cranked up the good ole CX bike and tore around the track like hell, dodging the renegade shrubbery as I tried to keep my speed up enough to ride high on the banked corners. I was surprised how much speed I was carrying and held a line just below the red center marker. It was a fun sprint but I decided that a few laps were enough as I still had some distance to cover back to Simcoe and my water was running low, not to mention my legs felt pretty heavy at this point.
The rest of the ride through Rattlesnake Harbor and Nixon was a nice quiet country stroll followed by some rail trail back home. I ended up riding nearly 60km and was back home for lunch, it was great. Even though Little Lake was a bust, I had a good time wandering the lonely roads. I've already formulated a plan in my head to get back to Little Lake CA on my fat bike when the brush is thinner in the fall so I can explore the old campground and beyond (Google Earth shows some promising looking stretches of dirt in the bush nearby). It was a typical Sunday adventure.
Many years ago I had an idea. It seemed like a great idea but looking back on it, I can't figure out if it was an idea forged from bravery or youthful stupidity. My friend Adam and I had decided to do a river run down Big Creek in my dad's Coleman canoe. We would leave from town and float our way down to the High Bridge. We had originally thought of canoeing to Lyndoch but figured that the High Bridge was just around the corner and would make for a nice extra hour or so of paddling. We dropped my car at the planned take out point and headed back into Delhi to start at Quance's Dam.
It was mid morning and the Coleman was in the water. I was doing steering duty in the back while Adam the greenhorn was the stroker out front. The ride from Quance's to the "Swimming Hole" was faster moving water and went by pretty quickly, all the while I was giving Adam tips and guidance so we would both survive the trip. Our first portage was just after the "Swimming Hole" and was an easy up and over type of log jam. I instructed Adam how to exit and pull the boat over, then watched a hillarious scene unfold.
Adam stood up in the front of the boat and reached his leg out to step in the massive log. He must have been a bit nervous because instead of standing on the huge tree in the river, he stepped onto a floating log about 12" long. He disappeared out of the front of the boat and beneath the water. A few seconds later his head popped out, arms frantically waving, and green floaty river scum stuck to his face and hair. It was one of those "America's Funniest Home Videos" moments.
After getting sorted out and over the log we carried on. The paddled through the beautiful Big Creek valley, through the old ruins of the Croton power dam, and into the Lyndoch stretch of river. This is where the fun began. We had numerous portages and where doing quite well at them. Just before the Lyndoch bridge we got a little too far sideways and collided with a tree, which rolled the boat under on the low side. Water started rushing in and we were sinking. The current sucked us and the canoe right under the fallen tree and spit us out the other side. We were lucky enough to have not gotten stuck in the log jam and drown, and the boat didn't get folded like a pretzel from the force of the water. Our new predicament found us both treading water, the Coleman was mostly submerged, and all our gear was floating to a little island about 150 feet down the river.
"What do we do?" Adam asked with a look of panic. I knew that we would not be able to lift the Coleman overhead to get the water out, as Adam had never done a wet entry in a canoe. We had no choice but to somehow get to that island to get ourselves right again, the river banks were steep and muddy.
"Get back in the boat and paddle to that island". I commanded him. He gave me a confused look, as the only part of the boat visible where the two ends sticking out of the water. We both did our best to get back in and paddle to the island. It must have looked hillarious. Two men up to their chests in water with paddles in hand trying to get their submarine to an island. I still laugh out loud when I think of it. Once at the island we got the boat sorted out and retrieved our gear.
"Shit, are you okay?" Adam asked looking down at me. A quick scan of myself and I realized that the top of my left hand had been cut open. I tugged the wound open an bit. It was deep. I wrapped my hand up in a sock and we carried on for the 'extra hour' segment of our trip. I still have that scar of the top of my hand, looking back at it, maybe I should have gotten stitches.
The extra bit of our trip turned into an excruciating 5 hours of portaging every 50 feet or so. By time we reached the High Bridge we could barely walk. It was getting late and we made it out just in time as the bush was just starting to get dark. Unbeknownst to me, the police had spotted my car sitting on the side of the road near the bridge and after noticing that it had been there for 7 hours or so, called my dad. He put the pieces together quickly..... missing canoe, car parked at the High Bridge...... he knew where we had gone and the terrain we would be in. He walked the bush as far as he could from the High Bridge up river yelling for us, but no luck.
I think dad was relieved to see us pull in with the canoe in the back of Adam's truck just as the evening sun was setting. I remember alot of "Are you guys stupid" and could see he had been a little on edge and worried about us being stuck out there overnight. We cleaned up the boat, had a few laughs, and I tended to my hand. Adam and I both vowed to never run the stretch of river from Lyndoch to the High Bridge again. Once in a lifetime was enough for us.
This is one of those bikes that I miss the most. It was unique and rode fantastic, if a little heavy. I rode this bike for one season before buying my first GT in 2003. The old Barracudas have a bit of a cult following now and I really wish I would have kept this bike. Check out the Barracuda Bikes Fan Website for more Barracuda info.
The Bric...._ mountain biker, road rider, heavyweight gear abuser. Built like a brick sh*thouse. No bike is safe.