Hike #26 – Hydrocut

Hike #26 – Halfway!
Hydrocut, Kitchener/Wilmot
04-March-2016

I love the silence of nature.

I also love this space; the Hydrocut has been on my wishlist for awhile! I checked out their website (www.hydrocut.ca) and saw the available trails and parking areas. It’s mostly for mountain biking, but the multi-use trail is excellent for the rest of us on foot, horse, or bike.

I will definitely have to revisit this place in the summer.

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Hike #25 – Bruce Trail/Dufferin Quarry

Hike #25
Bruce Trail/Dufferin Quarry Bridge
Milton, Ontario
28-February-2016

I woke up today with my leg still aching, but a few quick stretches later I was ready to get going. The weather was unbelieveable: 14 degrees Celsius in FEBRUARY?! I couldn’t resist.

I picked up my Bruce Trail guidebook and planned out where to go.

There’s a gap in the escarpment in Milton, and I wanted to explore it. Turns out there’s a quarry in there, with a bridge that keeps the Bruce Trail connected.

I headed out with all my gear and found parking along Dublin Road. The trailhead was where it seemed like private property, but all the trails online showed this to be an entrance, so away I went.

I’m glad I had my icers on, as it was uphill for almost a kilometre until I reached the white blazes of the Bruce Trail. At the top I met a couple coming from the direction I was heading into, and asked if there was ice along the trail. They said no, but I quickly realized that was not the case. Back on the icers went; there were a few crevices with ice around them that I didn’t want to risk anything preventable happening. I don’t want to be “that hiker” in the next news article.

A majority of this hike I was alone with no one else in sight. I know, this is also a huge safety risk that I’m told over and over. I can’t help it. I like hiking alone, and generally just being alone. It’s nice to have company sometimes, but if your hike mates aren’t going the same pace it kind of defeats the purpose. Plus, I stop and just breathe it all in or take photos frequently. None of this is a race to me. I’m out there to be out there in nature. I don’t know how else to describe it. Thinking, appreciating, being.

I could smell skunks that I likely scared while trekking along that rocky, muddy trail. It was nearer the end when I passed more couples, and dogs, enjoying the unusual February warmth.

At the completion, I emerged from a hole in the wall -literally- onto a narrow shoulder along Sixth Line Nassagaweya, covered in mud and hungry for the barbecue we were going to afterwards!

Bruce Trail Membership

It’s all official now – my Bruce Trail membership arrived today! And with a new patch!

As a trail I grew up trekking on every summer, it’s about damn time I gave back monetarily and by hand – physically improving it. I’m looking forward to it!

I should find those old, old photos of my early hiking days…

Hike #23 – Crane Park

Hike #23

Crane Park

Guelph, Ontario

January 29, 2016

Sunny, sunny, sunny day… was incredibly deceiving! It was -10C but -17C with the windchill. Just have to dress warm and get out there, which I did.

I was actually looking for another trail when I found Crane Park. Parking for one of the entrances to the Niska Trail was signed “NO PARKING; Snowplow Turnaround” only; I guess I’ll have to try again in the spring 🙂

The trees in the forested part I walked through… just cracked so loudly I was sure with just one gust they were going to collapse down onto me. In this video you can also hear the baby squirrels squawking 🙂

Crane Park is a leash-free area, and it made me (again) wish I had a hiking dog. One day:)

 

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! 🙂

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 🙂

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 🙂

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 🙂

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. 😉

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.