As you can probably guess, it’s not been easy for Marian and me to find ourselves benched during our favourite hiking season of the year. Marian broke her ankle on the trail in August, and we are currently on an enforced hiatus while her ankle heals. It’s been frustrating to sit by as the leaves turned colour while the temperatures stayed warm, not to mention the fact that the mosquitos are gone. Marian will need to tell her own story some time about what it’s been like to be immobilized suddenly — there`s lots of material for “musings” there. For me, I’ve had to find my own ways to be outside, to be active. That too is a creative process, and has its own rewards.
One of my new things to do was to finally connect with the Oak Ridges Trail Association (ORTA), an organization that developed a trail system in the Oak Ridges Moraine area north of Toronto. I’ve purchased their trail guidebook, a binder not unlike the Bruce Trail Guidebook with pullout maps showing the network of about 300 km. of trail. I was happy to learn that the Oak Ridges Trail now connects with the Bruce Trail just north of Mono Mills. It made me feel I was among friends!
And finally, last Friday morning, I woke up knowing I was about to pull on my hiking boots again. The wind was howling outside, which seemed fitting. It looked like it was going to be one of those invigorating days that thumbs its nose at fair-weather folks, the kind that always energized me. As we drove to our starting point near McCowan Road and Aurora Side Road the skies were grey and full of drama, a perfect counterpoint to trees poised on the edge between seasons, a few remaining leaves still brilliant orange but many already bare and wintery. I was with my friend Lyn and we had found a group hike listed on the ORTA website that seemed like a good introduction to the Oak Ridges trail. The group turned out to be small, only 8 people including ourselves and the hike leaders. Our hike took us through a crazy maze of interconnecting trails, white, blue and unmarked, one we would not have designed ourselves but a good 2 1/2 hour workout. I want to be honest and say I did miss the limestone and the ancient cedars and the awe-inspiring lookouts of the Bruce. The Bruce is incredibly special and always will have that place in my heart. But there were a lot of similarities too, like being on marked trails, connecting with a community that shared my love of the woods and of hiking, and was also committed to the preservation of an important nature land feature. With my new guidebook I’m looking forward to more explorations ahead. Magdalena
with thanks to Frank Alexander for the photos