Friday, February 03, 2012

Right in Our Own Back Yard!

Date of hike:  Thurs. Jan. 5, 2012 
Weather:  -2C, partly cloudy; slight W wind (at start)--+1C (at completion)

Duration of hike:  3 hours 56 minutes (including 15 min stop for lunch)

11—Main Trail (from parking lot at east end of Windermere Rd. to Adelaide St.) and
10—continuing from Adelaide St. to Gibbons Park (Victoria St. parking lot)

 Distance:  13.6 km            Cumulative distance:  106.1 km

 Another holiday hike, but this time Gillian’s boyfriend joined us, along with Matthew, and Gillian too of course!  Tory was spending the second week of the holidays with us, from his home near Winnipeg.  So it was great to be able to show him some of the trail.

We picked up from where we left off last time--in the parking lot at the east end of Windermere Road--but now headed west along the river and the trail.  This marked our first official “snow” hike. 

There was enough snow to need boots, but not enough to break in our new snowshoes.  The trail had already seen quite a bit of traffic, by the looks of how well tramped down it was. 
The only challenge was making small detours, here and there, to go around some areas that were still flooded after the rain we had had the previous week. 
This low-lying area was still quite flooded--luckily it was just
adjacent to the trail and we didn't have to worry about
getting around it.

We had to go slightly off of the trail and
around this section though.

The water had receded beneath the ice on this flooded
section--we took a chance and slowly made our way
over it.

You could say that much of this section of the trail is in our own backyard….literally!  We made our way along the trail that parallels the bike paths by the soccer fields....then climbed the hill to come out behind St. Peter’s Seminary, followed by King’s College. 
St. Peter's Seminary
Heading down the hill behind
King's College (don't let the scowl on
the teen age boy's face fool you!).
Next up, was Ross Park, followed by the trails on the opposite side of the river to the University of Western Ontario (or I guess I should say “Western University”), until finally we found ourselves in the Victoria Street parking lot of Gibbons Park.  That’s where we stopped for our lunch, making this our turn around point.
Heading west along the trail through Ross Park.

Canada Geese taking a time out in a calm alcove, visible
from Ross Park.

Heading under the Richmond St. bridge--the sign does not lie!

UWO and University Hospital is just on the other side
of the river--but you'd never know that from this photo.

The official turn around point--where we'll
start the next time.
We have run on parts of this section of the trail so many times, it would be pointless to try and come up with a number.  Being able to access the trail, from practically “right in our own backyard”, has meant that the trail has always been a “go-to” first choice for many a running route.  We have encountered plenty of hikers making their way and following the trail marks over the years, while we were running them.  I think this is a popular section to explore since it is right in heart of London and so easy to get to.

That being said, it doesn’t make it any less of an outdoor adventure to trek along this section.  It always amazes me that, in spite of being in the middle of a large city, there are pockets of wilderness and everything that goes with it. 
Medway Creek--a tributary of the Thames River--emptying
into the mainstream.
There are some points that I could swear that I was hiking along a river in northern Ontario, far and away from any urban civilization.  Not only did we see evidence of the busy work of a few beavers, but an owl even flew over us at one point. We must have startled it from its daytime slumber. Unfortunately, I wasn’t quick enough to get its photo--I think I was too awestruck!
Imagine the frustration felt by the beavers
responsible for this one!

The Thames Valley Trail Association will
soon need to replace this tree marker!
But we’ve now come into the city and the next few hikes will take us along the Thames as it winds through London and then westward.  We’ve also passed the 100km mark and are approaching the half way mark of our goal.  So far, so good!
Even Mother Nature had hung some glass ornaments for
the Christmas holidays!
Gillian and Tory peering through a thin sheet of ice.
High on the bluff just behind St. Peter's Seminary.
Gillian found a "comfortable" spot to sit and rest.

Love the camouflage gear on this one tree--happy trails!

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