Hike #22 – Natchez Woods

Hike #22
Otterbein/Walter Bean Trail/Natchez Hills
Kitchener, Ontario
January 28, 2016

It was late in the day when I set off on this trail. The sky was clouded over. I’d been on the trail for 10 minutes when the heavy snow started to fall.

This was one trail I’d never been on before. I’ve parked at this trailhead before many times… for geocaching and kayak launching. I headed down the obvious pathway, running parallel to the river, and up a steep hill. That’s where I grabbed the black & white Instagram photo. It was a nice view, and even nicer that there aren’t any houses in the frame! Buildings and houses and construction are just everywhere now… when I continued on this trail from this point, I could hear the sounds of a chainsaw and the smell of fresh-cut boards. Thankfully I couldn’t see it.
The trail eventually turned into a narrow path between cedars and it was almost like a fairy tale.

Out of the trees and following the trail back towards the trailhead, I rounded Natchez Hill and a new giant apartment building came into view, almost like something you would see in a movie. I didn’t approach it (because I wasn’t in a movie…) and kept going. The snow was still falling at a good pace and I was finally walking along the powerlines path. At one point I couldn’t help but take notice of a peculiar footprint pattern. It was two (human) feet, about shoulder-lenth apart, with a, *ahem*, yellowish hole into the snow, between the footprints. I guess when you gotta go, you gotta go! πŸ™‚

Hike #21 – Sandy Hills Trail

January 25, 2016
Hike #21
Sandy Hills Trail
Elmira, Ontario

My first night hike for my challenge! A friend of mine (who is also part of the 52 Hike Challenge) invited me along for this group event in Elmira, part of Woolwich Township. It was their first official night hike as well, and included a couple stops during the 2.5km hike through the woods. One of the stops was to be still, silent, flashlights off, and to hear nature at night. While I don’t mind listening to nature during daylight hikes, it’s a little more intense at night, in the dark. At least with a medium-sized group it wasn’t so bad.

Another stop introduced us to our sense of sight. Each person was given a recipe card and a crayon with the label removed. We had to guess what colour we had and write it on the card, again with all our lights out. I was sure mine was orange (it was black!)

The remainder of the hike was peaceful. It wasn’t too cold thankfully, and we were presented with hot apple cider back at the trailhead. My friend Kyle also received his hiking patch for completing 200km of trails in the Woolwich Township. I think he’s the first person to do it, too. Awesome!

Hike #20 – Walter Bean Trail

Hike #20
January 8, 2016
Walter Bean Trail/Freeport
Kitchener, Ontario

Happy “Canoe” Year! Another favourite outdoor activity of mine is definitely paddling – kayaking, to be more specific. I love getting my family out on the river with me by renting kayaks for them from Canoeing the Grand in Kitchener. Awesome little business that I always have great service from, and the people are always friendly!

I wanted this milestone-ish of a hike to be a little more *wow*, but I thought it would be more important to just get outside instead of waiting for the perfect hike or to plan for something more elaborate. There’s still time to hike fancier trails, anyways πŸ™‚

I’ve been driving up and down Highway 8 through Kitchener for years, and always saw this trail down below, but never investigated until today.

Well, it was a bit slippery out there. Some sections are trampled down with snow and ice, some of it is just regular gravel. I even saw one little green patch of grass growing in the middle of the pathway πŸ™‚

A moment of excitement today: Usually when you’re walking through any kind of wooded area, there will be some rustling of branches or leaves, a kind of sound that indicates you’re never alone out there, and that wildlife exists even if we can’t always see it.
Well! A heard a longer, louder rustle beside me, and as I turned, my eyes were met with a coyote enjoying some kind of a snack. Literally only five feet from where I was standing. I wouldn’t say I was scared but it did startle me. I surveyed the surrounding area to see if there were any more creatures of the coyote kind, just in case – all clear. I took a couple photos, and continued. The coyote watched me for a few minutes, and then abandoned his “snack” and went trotting in the opposite direction.

It was a decent walk today. I still don’t mind hiking alone πŸ™‚

Hike #19 – Dundurn Stairs & Chedoke Radial Trail

Hike #19
December 18, 2015
Dundurn Stairs/Chedoke Radial Trail/Bruce Trail
Hamilton, Ontario

I was browsing Instagram this morning and came across the Dundurn Stairs in Hamilton. Relatively close to Kitchener, why not?!

Hike #18 – Hilton Falls & Bruce Trail

Hike #18
December 13, 2015
Hilton Falls/Bruce Trail
Campbellville, Ontario

Years ago if friends of mine said they wanted to go out hiking, and I woke up to rainy, cold, grey skies, I would have immediately cancelled and gone back to sleep. Not anymore.

At Hilton Falls Conservation Area there are several trails to take. We decided as a group to hike the Hilton Falls loop, about 4.3km.
The inopportune weather actually for interesting photographs. I love the mist-fog hanging in the tree tops; the rain brightened the leaves and bark, strengthening the colours in the otherwise dull forest.

We fed chickadees along the way, too. There’s a section with several bird feeders hanging around; I didn’t even need seeds for a bird to land on my hand within thirty seconds!

The actual falls weren’t anything overly amazing. In the area, though, someone before us had started a fire in what looked like a welcoming community fire pit with benches all around. It smelled so wonderful and inviting!

Finding the trail back towards the parking lot entrance was a little more difficult than we all expected; in this conservation area, there are several trails going in all sorts of directions. Thankfully, I used the AllTrails app on my phone to lead us in the right direction! On that note, I need to get a real compass so as not to have to rely on a cellphone in the woods. πŸ˜‰

It was a great hike and I’m definiely returning in the spring and summer and fall. Beautiful area.

—–

When I took up the challenge, I didn’t give myself enough faith to actually complete it. This was only 18/52, but I’m feeling great about reaching the end and really, truly completing the challenge. Not for some imaginary trophy but to actually say I Did It.
I’ve tried many different challenges without finishing them. Got close. But something “always” got in the way and I threw my arms up and fell on my face, figuratively speaking of course. This challenge feels different, something I need to do, for myself.

FitBit in my sock
lace up the Keen boots
pull on those base layers
fill up the hydration pack
oh, is the camera charged?
Just Go.

Hike #17 Grand Valley Trail

Hike #17
Grand Valley Trail
Kitchener, Ontario

Awhile ago I joined an online group for hiking and discovered this trail group. About 15 people showed up for this 10km hike through the Homer Watson Park down through Doon and back. What a great hike!

I chatted with a few people, and the the hike leader. He told me about a good section of the trail that had to be re-routed several times because of new home construction. So many new houses.

The weather was cooperative today; when I woke up, it was supposed to be a high of 7C with light rain all day. We didn’t see a drop! It was still cool (hello, December) but very tolerble. I had on my thermal base layers and a sweater and I was good. The weather is sure keeping all the grass bright green!

I really started to feel it around kilometre 7… I need to hike more, and not just easy trails. We hiked up and down and through the bush and down city-paved trails. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to finish, to be honest. And this was only 10km! For shame.

But, I made it. I saw my car parked in the lot and kept moving forward. Success πŸ™‚

Hike #16 Iron Horse Trail

Hike #16
Iron Horse Trail
Waterloo to Kitchener, Ontario

This trail has been on my wishlist for awhile, and I was finally able to hitch a ride to the trailhead while leaving my car at the end.

Still hard to believe it’s December 11th and it was 11 degrees outside.

This 5km trail is paved end to end and was an easy walk. I passed so much garbage! I’m going to bring garbage bags with me next time, just to try and clean it up a bit. It was sad to see, but for a trail running between buildings and a rain run-off creek through the downtown-ish area, I’m not entirely surprised. What is interesting are the scattered pieces of old railway along the route πŸ™‚

Hike #11 Snyder’s Flats

Hike #11
Snyder’s Flats, Bloomingdale, Ontario

I decided to tackle this little well-known area again, and this time as part of my challenge.

A little under 3km in the mix of sunshine and clouds… ever rolling clouds, threatening to dump more snow (they didn’t!)

A friend of mine took this trail about a week ago and was greeted with “No Trespassing” signs, taped-off trails, and a detour map. Apparently, the sand and gravel company has taken over parts of this land and closed a large section of the trail. However, I didn’t encounter any taped-off areas, or evidence of such tape. I’m glad I was able to take this trail in case it does get shut down permanently; it’s such a nice area, too, and I wasn’t the only one out there. I passed quite a few people, and lots of dog companions!

I wish I had a hiking dog.

Hike #9 Bechtel Park

Hike #9

Bechtel Park, Waterloo

I had to bundle up for this hike. It started out a bit rainy, and then the sun came out for a short while. I broke in my new Keen Koven Polar boots on this trail! They are so comfortable, and waterproof, and lined for winter πŸ™‚ I’m just a little bit excited for the snow hikes now!

This trail was a little shortened due to construction in the area, but I’m looking forward to going back. There were more paths to take that went a bit farther!

I passed a sign near the end of this trail that stated I was sharing the woods with coyotes and foxes. While I’m not entirely scared of these creatures, I’m still glad I saw the sign near the end. Bears are what really instill fear in me when it comes to hiking alone! :/