Hike at Eramosa Karst Conservation Area

Saturday, April 22, 2017
EARTH DAY!
Found 2 geocaches
Approx. 3.5km

Determined to use my Hamilton Conservation Annual pass, I picked the Eramosa Karst Conservation Area to explore. Mild trails, easy to walk or run. Tall, tall trees and hills.

I discovered various caves along the trails… I’m not a cave person, so just glancing into some of them was just fine by me!

Every time I step out of my house I realize just how lucky we are that all these conservation areas are here, and so close by. I absolutely love it and never want to take it for granted.

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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 #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!

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.

I’ve been slacking with my hiking challenge, but I haven’t given up. Life just gets in the way, like sickness, and terrible weather, and… Now I’m just making excuses.

At my current job I have the ability to listen to music or podcasts, or my more recent muse – audio books. I signed up with the Amazon company Audible.com and got a free book. I saw this title (A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson) at the local bookstore and thought it might be a good first choice. Well, almost 10 hours of listening and I finished it today. Bill wrote about his experience on the Appalachian Trail, or “AT”, with a long lost friend. Hearing his descriptions of nature and peacefulness, (blended in of course with complaints of heavy packs and blistered feet), makes me desperate to get back outside and on a trail. Any trail. Trails with more substance.
In short, it was a great book and a great intro to audio books. I have one more credit with Audible, but I’m not sure what to get next!

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 #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 #13 – Hastings Heritage Trail

Hike #13
Hastings Heritage Trail
Madoc, Ontario
November 30, 2015

We were camping up near Madoc and found this trail, which is designed mostly for ATVs and dirt bikes, but it also advertises that it’s good for hikers, too. I’d love to hike the whole trail, maybe in the summer… it’s only 170.7 kilometers for this section of the Eastern Ontario Trail Alliance trail!

A couple geocaches found along this trail and we looped back to where we started. Not too bad, but we did walk along part of Highway 62 which could be dangerous at times. Thankfully only a handful of cars drove by us as we made our way back. Nice trail!

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.