Hiking in in winter can take on different forms. In areas where there is a lot of snow, hikers go snow shoeing or cross-country skiing. I live in southern Ontario and there has not been that much snow around, and I usually do not have the time to spend an entire day with a group to be bused north for the snow. When I hike closer to home, I am still new to hiking and I have yet to try the challenging terrain where “icers” and trekkers are mandatory for safety. My recent hike is around the city trails of Oakville, Ontario.
We entered the trail near the Glen Abbey Recreation Centre on Third Line. We hiked along an interconnected and labyrinthine system of trails which looped around residential areas and at times close the main roads. We were first on the McCraeney Creek Trail. While we had trees and a creek on one side, the other side actually backed onto a school and residential area. I thought how fortunate the people who lived here were, because they had beautiful nature in their backyard.
Passing the residential area, we found ourselves walking not far from the Queen Elizabeth Highway (QEW) along Indian Ridge Trail. The industrial buildings and the highway would be hidden behind the tress in the summer and one could only tell one’s proximity to the city by the road noise. However, on this winter day, the buildings and roads were revealed through the lattice formed by the branches.
At one point, on Fourth Line, we had to cross the intersection near the ramp to go on the highway to continue the hike.
The trails linked up with one another and I tried to remember the trail signs: Glen Abbey Trail, Old Abbey Trail, Abbey Creek Trail and I lost count.
However, the advantage of hiking on city trails was the convenient exit (in case one got lost) to the road by finding a lamp. By design, we made an exit onto Monastery Drive and visited the legendary Monastery Bakery where freshly baked bread, rolls, bagels, cheese sticks, and the list went on tempted our palate. We bought our snacks and carried on.
I may have written before that there is always something new to learn from a hike, be it a bird sighting, or a rare plant.This time I found out that the trails were being maintained by clearing some trees and they were chopped into wood chips, which were then used to repair the slopes and to pave the trail. What a great way to return to the Earth what has come from the Earth!