Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Oh Christmas Tree!

Date of hike:  Sun. Dec. 25, 2011      

Weather:  2C, cloudy & overcast; SW wind @ 28km/hr  Windchill:  -4C

Duration of hike:  1 hour 27 minutes  
Section:  11—Main Trail (from parking lot at east end of Windermere Rd. to Highbury Ave.)
Distance:  6.2 km              Cumulative distance:  92.5 km

After what seemed to be a long hiatus since our last hike, we finally hit the trail again on Christmas Day.  A family outdoor expedition is a traditional part of our December 25th plan, and what better opportunity to complete another leg of the trail, with Gillian and Matthew joining us.

We drove the very short distance from our home, to the parking lot at the east end of Windermere Road, where it dead ends, and began from there.  This area is well used for a variety of different reasons; people bring their dogs for a walk (sometimes leash-free), walk the looped trail that is there, or cycle/run the maze of paths that branch off in different directions.  These trails and paths are accessible from a few other points out of the Northridge subdivision, and one will always encounter the “locals” taking full advantage of the wilderness paradise in their own back yard.

Kilally Meadows is a designated Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA), which lies on flood plain land and is therefore not advisable for development.  But that leaves it unspoiled, for all nature enthusiasts to enjoy.  Nonetheless, when trekking through this section, be forewarned that some parts could be under water, or still very soggy if heavy rain has recently fallen.  The late fall and early start to the winter of 2011 has been a wet one and though there wasn’t anything submerged, there were a few muddy areas that we had to tip toe through.

Paul and I have run these trails countless numbers of times; either an out-and-back route on the north side of the river, or looping around and connecting on the bike path that follows the river on the south side (this is part of the Blue Trail of this section).  We could probably navigate our way along with our eyes closed…at least Paul probably could!
A view of the Blue Trail Loop on the south side of the river.
This area has always taken me back to my own memories of playing in a wooded lot/fallow field area that was located just on the outskirts of Chatham, where I grew up, near my childhood home.  My neighbourhood friends and I spent endless hours playing adventure games, hide and seek, and tag, in an area very similar to this.  There’s evidence that this area serves the same purpose for the children who live nearby as well.

Now that we’re hiking in the winter, the scenery has become bleak and especially drab on an overcast and cloudy day.  But there’s still beauty to be discovered—you just have to have a patient eye and see things from a different perspective. 
The turning of the seasons is a wondrous thing, reminding us that everything has a purpose and a cycle to follow.  Right now, the plants and trees that thrive here on warm and sunny days are resting and lying in wait for the spring equinox.

But the evergreens of course, provide a splash of eternal colour.  And, being Christmas Day, it seemed more than appropriate to have a photo by a “Christmas” tree. 

The east end of this leg followed a path, high
up on the bluff, behind some homes.

One homeowner built some steps down from
the bluff and now has a lovely sitting area
with a view!

What every teen age boy does while
hiking with his family! :)
A familiar spot--this tree trunk has two 90
degree bends, providing a handy spot to sit.
Looking upstream.....

....looking downstream.

Perhaps the next time out, we will need snow boots and not just hiking boots.  Or maybe we’ll even get to try out our new snowshoes that Santa brought us.  If we were doing this last year at this time, then we definitely would need them!  At any rate, we are ready for anything that the seasons throw our way, as we continue on our quest to complete the TV Trail, end and back.

So, with this being our last hike of 2011….see you in 2012!

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