Hike #27 – Mill Run Trail

Finally! I put down the paddle and put on my hiking shoes again. Hike #27, completed, puts me over the halfway-done mark for the challenge.

May 30, 2016
Cambridge, Ontario

http://www.ontariotrails.on.ca/trails/view/mill-run-trail

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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.

Hike #24 – Long Sault Conservation

Hike #24
Long Sault Conservation Area/Oak Ridges Moraine
Barnowl and Bluebird Trails
Clarington, Ontario
27-Feb-2016

Two more hikes to go until I can say I’m halfway completed my challenge to 52! The challenge is going really well, and I’m glad I have been getting out during this (lack of?) winter!

Today’s hike was about 2 hours from Kitchener, but I don’t mind commuting. I’m used to it now; driving all over southwestern Ontario it seems.

Well, this week I signed up for a Bruce Trail membership, and made the Toronto Club my base. I’m excited! So excited that I started browsing the available hikes and signed up for this one the day before! The website has a list of all kinds of group hikes with all the pertinent details.

This one was broken into two parts; the first half was a scheduled 9km with a dropout point back at the parking lot, and the second half was another 8km on the other side of the forest.

It was my intention to do both hikes, if time allowed (we had to be back in Kitchener by 7pm, but I didn’t want to be rushed, and also wanted to leave some time for a nap if needed… hiking can be exhausting!)

About half way into the first hike my knee started feeling a little annoyed with me. Climbing over rocks, on ice, through snow. Shortly after that, my leg started to seize up and it was actually painful to walk uphill. Thankfully I invested in walking sticks and icers the night before, but even they weren’t exactly helping. I limped for the last 4km, and the worst part of those last kilometers was that the trail was undergoing some work… cut trees and branches were strewn across the trail, making my already-challenged hobble even more challenging (and painful.)

Wincing along behind the other 11 hikers, the trail sweeper (Marilyn!) and I eventually made it back to the parking lot. Trail Leader Glynn came up and suggested I try electrolyte pills next time – I’m pretty sure my pain was partly due to the lack of water in my body. Winter is so harsh that way. I think I’ll give them a try, or at least bring along a bottle of Gatorade next time.

Shortly before my leg started to annoy me, Glynn stopped us all for a quick breather and casually reminded us that there could be bears out in the woods. That was excellent news (!!) as I had left my bear bell in the car! No bears were spotted anyways πŸ˜‰

The hike overall was awesome. We started out at a face pace, the weather was fantastic… I absolutely love when the sun is shining; even if it’s freeze-your-face-off frigid. The sun makes everything so happy.

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 #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 #14 Cyprus Lake

Hike #14
Cyprus Lake Trail/Grotto/Indian Head Cove/Bruce Trail
Bruce Peninsula National Park (Tobermory, Ontario)
December 2, 2015

An adventurous day driving up to the Bruce Peninsula National Park!Β 

My boyfriend had never been up north that way, so we decided to take advantage of our previous plans and head up! (We were originally going to meet up with a walking group in Wiarton, but traffic on the 401WB expressway was backed up two hours… ugh!)Β 

The BPNP is one of my absolute favourite places to hike and to just be. The trails are clearly marked, the air is fresh, there are trees and trees and trees, and the views along the cliffs of Georgian Bay are just simply amazing. I could never get bored of this area.Β 

Being December, we didn’t have a whole lot of daylight to use, but we sure had almost the entire park to ourselves – at least, along where we hiked.

I kept my bear bell on most of the time we were on the trails. You just never know, especially when I saw quite large tracks in the mud. (They turned out to belong to a Beethoven dog – that was a relief! I’m going to look into learning more about what tracks belong to what animals now…) πŸ™‚

Hike #8 Huron Natural Area

Hike #8

November 5, 2015

Huron Natural Area, Kitchener

I had one day off this week. I took advantage of the unusually beautiful November weather (it was 23 degrees Celsius, what!) The skies were mostly clear, the sun was as high as it could be, with barely a breeze blowing by. The air wasn’t anything like the summer air; this was different, and although it was warm, it still held a crispness to it.

I used to hike along a very small portion of this trail years ago and decided to tackle it with my two free hours. I covered approximately 3.7 kilometers in just under two hours… I stop too frequently to capture photos!

One section of the trail was in a boggy swamp area, with felled logs to cross it. As I got closer to the makeshift bridge, there were animal prints in the mud… they looked a bit large to belong to a dog, and it was then I realized I hadn’t seen anyone else in the area for awhile. I picked up a stick for safety (there have been cougar sightings in Kitchener before, so I wasn’t going to take any chances…)
Without falling into the bog, I made it across the logs and landed safely on solid, dry ground again, and I was met by two girls looking for the actual trail. The other side of the swamp didn’t have a direct “trail” look to it, so thankfully my phone’s GPS came in handy πŸ™‚

Along one of the side trails, mountain biker went ahead of me and stirred up the leaves. It released a true-to-autumn fragrance which made me want to grab a mug of hot apple cider!