Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Hike #19 January 30, 2012

Hike # 19
Date – January 29, 2012
Location – Map 9, Waterdown
Distance – 10.2 km
Total Trail Distance – 181.2 (712.8 to go)
Hikers – Steve, Elza, Dean, Marlene, Madeleine, Benjamin, Harold and Janette (Dan and Adrienne provide ground support)
Start – 60.6 Rock Chapel Road, Iroquoia Club
End – 70.8 Waterdown Road at Smokey Hollow Access Trail
Direction – North
Weather – Temperature near freezing, snowing constantly, heavily at times.
Details – Simon was injured in a hockey game Saturday night, so we are sad to learn that he is unable to join us. But we are excited to be hiking again after a long break.

We pick up Madeleine at the Aldershot GO station and meet Steve, Elza, Harold and Janette at the starting point. Dan drops Steve and Elza’s vehicle at the end point, while Adrienne drives our vehicle to Burlington for the afternoon, agreeing to rendezvous with us in about three hours at Smokey Hollow.

It starts snowing as we head out, and we do the entire hike with gentle snowflakes blanketing the ground – and our clothing. It is bright and beautiful and we love the silence that the snow creates. However, it also makes the footing treacherous in places, where ice has formed on the trail and is now covered with a deceptive and slick coating. There are a couple of spills.

We hear the sound of our boots crunching in the fresh snow and although we see footprints of one other human (and a dog) we actually meet only one other hiker the whole way.

We have gone only a few meters when we reach a bridge over Borer’s Falls. Ben chooses to walk on a narrow ledge over the falls (claiming “it’s a sidewalk”) but the rest of us clamber over a guard rail and walk “safely” on the road. When we get to the other side of the bridge we find a sign warning us not to walk on the ledge. Too bad the sign only benefits southbound hikers.

We cross under the newly reconstructed Highway 6 in a concrete tunnel, decorated with what Harold identifies as “naturally occurring graffiti.”

We emerge to find the ruins of an old stone house, and then a short while later encounter the surprising view of the back of a big-box store on Dundas Street. There are skaters playing pond hockey on a stormwater retention pond behind the development.

By now the snow is falling more heavily and the ground, which was brown, is completely blanketed. We cross railroad tracks and walk along the beautiful Grindstone Creek.

Dean said the hike would be mostly flat, but it most definitely is not, and we are getting tired.

Madeleine says the hike is too long.

But we delight in the silence and the beauty and the sound of our footsteps, and we are grateful for the friendship, physical strength and logistical planning (thanks Dean!) that make these hikes possible. We are glad to be alive and moving and enjoying the beauty of creation.

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