Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Upper Valley

After the views from Talisman to the north yesterday, today we'll cross the valley and check out the view south into the narrower upper valley.  First, we need to climb to the top of Old Baldy, the cliffs on the east side of the valley towering above the village of Kimberley, seen in the distance in the last photo yesterday.

These cliffs are a limestone 'bioherm', an ancient coral reef built up into a significant mound of rock along the Niagara Escarpment.  Today we label it the Amabel dolomite; dolomite is limestone infused with magnesium which makes it very hard and resistant to erosion.  In any case, the view from the top is spectacular.

This is the view south into the narrower upper valley, taken in early spring when the trees had just come out in new leaves.  You reach the cliffs by a short 20 minute hike on the Bruce Trail from the convenient parking lot, and on holiday weekends, especially at Thanksgiving when the leaves have turned, this is a VERY popular walk.  It's also a popular rock climbing site, so it's not too surprising to look over the edge of the cliff into the face of a rock climber!  In the far distance on the right hand slope you can see a clearing, which is the Beaver Valley Ski Club, and the location for the photo below.

At the top of avalanche ski run (reputedly the steepest in Ontario) at the Beaver Valley Ski Club, you get a great view south, and you can see clearly how the valley is getting narrower in this direction.  If you head upstream far enough, you will ultimately find the two popular waterfalls in the area, Eugenia Falls and Hoggs Falls.

To explain the geology a bit, I have to resort to an early winter picture, because the geological layers are completely obscured when the leaves come out.  This picture is a closer view of the centre left of the photo above. The Amabel dolomite of the cliffs is here buried underneath the forest on top of the escarpment.  The gentler sloping open fields are softer shale that erodes readily into these slopes.  Then you find the strikingly flat Manitoulin Formation, a thinner limestone layer that was laid down as part of a delta formed to the northwest of the precursor of the Appalachian mountain range.  Finally the long lower slope is the Ordovician shale that erodes to form the very steep sides of the valley.

The towers, the pipes running down the hill, and the building at the bottom, are the Eugenia Power Plant, which will be 100 years old next year - but that's another story.

At this point you can turn around and look northwards, out over the ski hill back toward the cliffs of Old Baldy.  You might be able to just catch a hint of blue from Georgian Bay on the left horizon.  We'll head that direction tomorrow.


  1. How simply beautiful! I love that view to the south. It's fascinating information about the geology, too. Thanks! :-)

  2. The second picture is my favorite though they all are beautiful. Is is windy standing on those rocks?

  3. Very beautiful countryside. I find your posts interesting and like that you have used photos from each season to show how it looks. We live in an awesome country!

  4. Ah, we have dolomite features here too. Thanks for sharing your excellent pictures.

  5. Holy Cow! You really don't want to have a fear of heights, do you? What magnificent views! I love the contrast of those two photos. That was neat. How beautiful of an area, for sure!