“Hole in the Wall” Limestone Hike

This summer Katie, Darcy and I have been hitting the trails doing some small hikes close to home. Today was our 3rd hike we have done together–all the hikes have been usually a 10-15min car ride away-today it took a bit longer because we had to wait for a train! It has been fun to explore Halton and have new adventures so close to home.

This just shows a map of the area and how long of a distance we hiked!

Today we all had a late start, but around 10ish we looked at the temperature and it was only 24C so we got excited and decided to go venture out for a hike. We were able to get everything we needed put together and were in the car leaving by 10:30ish.

Our destination was Limestone Conservation Area . Here’s a bit more about the area:

“A visit to Limehouse Conservation Area is an opportunity to experience the natural wonders of the Niagara Escarpment as well as the cultural heritage of its past. The Bruce Trail and its side trails take visitors through a variety of Escarpment landscapes and even into its geological heart at an area known as the “Hole in the Wall”, where ladders cut through fissures in the escarpment rock. Credit Valley Conservation has installed and re-opened the bridge over Black Creek at Limehouse and the Bruce Trail has been re-routed accordingly, taking the visitor past unique natural and cultural features. Past to Present: Trails also take visitors past remnants of the Lime industry where they can stand before huge lime kilns and associated features like an old powderhouse. These cultural heritage resources of the 1800’s are representative of an important part of Ontario ‘s past associated with the Niagara Escarpment resources.” Source

Photo credit: Darcy Theriault

Hiking has something I have loved to do and dreamed of the day I could share that with my children. The summer I was expecting Katie with my hiking group we did a series of 5 hikes to get a badge each were 10-15kms (I know I left you hanging… maybe someday I’ll go back and finish up sharing about that hiking series… spoiler alert: I did finish and I did get my badge!!)

Because of life the past 2 summers I haven’t been able to get on any hiking trails at all. So this summer wanted to I change that–let me tell you hiking with a toddler is so much fun.

You just have to be prepared. Make sure you bring snacks and water for both of you and have enough time to go at a toddler pace! I also have a MEC Hiking backpack (got it used off of FB marketplace has been the best $50 investment!- even though it’s missing the backpack that clips onto the bottom).

Katie usually starts off walking…then after our first break often climbs in for a ride…then often gets out to do the last km of our hike. Katie is now 34lbs…so hiking with that weight on your back is another fun way to get your exercise in! Today she walked probably 2kms then got a ride for about 1km…and then walked the final 2kms back to the car.

It’s also about knowing your child’s abilities and going with it. Today on the trail a couple asked if their son could handle the hike? I said, “I have no clue–a) I’ve never been here and b) I don’t know what your son is capable of”. You need to know your child’s abilities in order to assess if they can do activities safely…and at what level of risk is it for them.

All spring I have been working with Katie to build up endurance in walking so that we could be able to hike this summer some of the longer trails. We have practiced by walking on a nature trail behind our house and into the neighbourhood with a 3km loop. At first she would only walk a portion of it (getting rides in the wagon)… but now can walk the whole thing, but sometimes still chooses a ride in the wagon over walking!

You also have to be prepared to walk “a toddler km” pace… that can take anywhere from 15 to 35+mins! It’s so refreshing to stop and see the world from their level and eyes–what do they notice, what do they see… what catches their attention. Just need to keep that mind with meals/naps etc.

Darcy is an amazing photographer. I’ve been so lucky to be able to include a few of hers in this post…as well as share some of the ones she captures of Katie in action on a daily basis.

She and I have enjoyed bringing our cameras for our hikes–Katie has also decided that she needs to bring her camera! (It’s a little wooden camera…that she uses backwards to take photos!) But it makes the hikes extra fun–because often she says, “need to stop to take a photo momma–just a second!” (just like her momma–monkey see monkey do!)

This part of the trail is so much fun. They call it the “Hole in the Wall”–they have added ladders to be able to get down and walk thru the fissures of the rock in the escarpment. I was definitely glad to have a 2nd set of hands as I sent Katie down the ladder… (she wasn’t in the backpack yet).

Darcy at the bottom of the ladder and then on the other side of the “Hole in the Wall”.

Photo credit: Darcy Theriault

Katie was so excited to go down the ladders…she talked about getting back to the ladders and really didn’t want to leave this spot on the hike. However, we were able to re-direct her attention so we could find new things to explore!

This whole area–can be pretty hazardous…there are lots of fissures and cracks you could fall into. So if you have young children make sure to hold their hands and not let them wander away from you. Katie has learned in our hikes so far this year that we need to stay on the trail. Today we added “need to hold momma’s hand for safety”. She is pretty good listening to these rules, and knows if she doesn’t I will just put her up the backpack and she usually likes her freedom–so she will stop and hold my hand!

Katie loved walking back thru the “Hole in the Wall” to the ladder.

When you hike with a toddler you need to get use to rests and breaks! Katie sat here on this rock and watched others walk down the hill that we just came down. Katie usually announces that there are people coming on a trail and we often get to the side to give them space to pass. (I think this might because I keep telling her she needs to give people space because of Covid-19).

The first time we crossed this little bridge Katie was in the backpack…it was so tight that I couldn’t even turn the other direction! On our return trip she was so excited to be over the water–got down on all 4s to see if she could see the water…then peaked through the railing to see the cool rock-bridge left over from the late 1800s early 1900s industry in the area.

My attempt to get a selfie of all of us… it was very rushed and not in focus!

The Limehouse kilns date back to 1800’s represent an important part of Ontario’s past associated with the Niagara Escarpment’s natural resources. The Lime Kilns operated for approx. 75 years (from the late 1840s to 1915). It would employ over 100 men at times. The kilns closed when more modern technologies became available, the quarries were being exhausted and the realization that blasting associated with quarrying was encroaching on the residential area!

This is one of the Draw Kilns…they date from the early 1870s. This style of kiln required 3 days to start up to get to heat the interior walls, but was considered an improvement over the ‘set kilns’ as they could be used constantly. The draw kiln was approximately 16 metres high–making the top of the kiln level with the quarry…so that horse teams could bring in the wagon loads of raw limestone to the opening at the top of the kiln. From my research it looks like this kiln is being worked on and restored. It’s behind a fence–because those rocks have been there a long time, but you never know when one might decide to come crashing down!

This is one of the remnants of a “Set Kiln”… this dates back to the 1850s. There was a row of them–each kiln was approx. 4metres in height and 2 1/2metres in depth and hollow with an opening at the top. Limestone & other ingredients were loaded into the kiln along with firewood. The kiln would burn for 3-4 days with wood being added in the fire holes at the bottom front of the kiln. A set kiln had to shut down and cool before the lime chunks could be removed out of the fire hole. This is what made the “draw kiln” more popular technology because it didn’t have to shut down to remove the limestone chunks–it was a continuous operation!

Here is a “Powder Magazine” or Explosives Storage. It was erected in the mid-1850s, is located in a slight depression of the old quarry floor to limit damage from debris in case of an accidental explosion. A secure storage place was necessary for the various explosives and gunpowder used in the blasting operations.

So many of my photos of Katie are blur and motion/freeze. No matter how fast my shutter speed is–she’s always in motion!

We met a Cockatoo on the hike today… His name was Danny. His owners stepped back to let us pass safely–and Katie was excited to see him!

Coming back to the ‘sitting rock’…watching people come down before we go back up to the ladders!

Photo credit: Darcy Theriault

Another fun tip for us… is Katie has been so excited and loves to play “tag”…so to pick up the pace once we were past the fissure/cracks… we let her “chase” us, her running behind letting you know you were “it!” Even some strangers on the hike today got an “Your IT…Hi, Hello… Your IT” greeting!

It was a great day. We hiked 5.25km and it took us 1 hour and 42mins to complete. (This included our stops and snack breaks!). I was so happy to finally be able to have visited this place–been wanting to for awhile…I do want to go back at some point to do some more of the trails around and explore a bit more!

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