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

Advertisements

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 #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 β€œNO PARKING; Snowplow Turnaround” only; I guess I’ll have to try again in the spring πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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! πŸ™‚

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 #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 #15 Toronto Zoo

Hike #15
Toronto Zoo
Toronto, Ontario
December 6, 2015

Most definitely I am counting our day at the zoo as Hike #15! We trekked along at least 10 kilometers to see animals that were somewhat awake and coherent. Sometimes going in the winter months means seeing the animals up and active as they aren’t as fatigued as during the summer. Also a plus, there aren’t nearly as many people and kids wandering around and screaming (but there’s always one…even on this day. Sigh.)

I didn’t realize quite how many turtles were at the Toronto Zoo… I’m sure we saw at least 10 different species! Welcome to the Turtle Zoo! πŸ™‚