Officially, it’s winter here in Canada. Although you wouldn’t say it as we’ve been wearing light spring jackets and running shoes for the past three days and the temperature is expected to rise to 15ºC on Christmas Eve. Sometimes, I feel like we overslept and woke up on the first day of spring. On Saturday, however, we saw winter’s slight attempts to establish its reign. A few flurries caused a lot of excitement, at least for me. My husband has a slightly more ambivalent relationship with snow since he has to do more driving. We had a lengthy discussion about merits and disadvantages of winter on the way to Mount Nemo, our microadventure destination for the day. We had observed it from Rattlesnake Point a few weeks ago and decided it was time to take a closer look.
Mount Nemo is part of the Niagara Escarpment and one of Conservation Halton’s parks. As the information panel will tell you, Mount Nemo is home to a unique cliff-edge ecosystem with several trails running through it, including the famous Bruce Trail. With the escarpment height here ranging between 10 and 30 metres, it is a prominent landmark in Halton and proudly carries Mount in its name. The Nemo part, the name it shares with two famous fictional characters – Jules Verne’s Captain and one curious clown fish, came from the local post office. When nobody could come up with the name for the post office, the Latin word ‘Nemo,’ which means ‘no one,’ was chosen.
When we arrived at the conservation area, the ground was dusted with snow and the air was crisp and fresh. While my husband was paying our entrance fees (the self-serve station only accepts cash this time of year so make sure to bring some), I got out of the car to take some pictures.
We stopped by the information panel before setting on a hike. There were beautiful, wooden walking sticks propped up against the sign for anyone to use. There are two trails in the park: North Loop (2.6 km), which follows the Bruce Trail, and South Loop (2.3 km), which follows the Bruce along the cliff edge and then veers off and connects back to North Loop. We decided we had enough time to cover both of them.
We started the walk with discussing our son’s poor choice of shoes for the weather. A free spirit, he detests anything tight or constricting and would probably go barefoot year round if we allowed him. He had put on a pair of running shoes, which seemed inadequate for the snow and slightly colder temperatures. In the end, there was nothing we could do and we proceeded with the hike hoping constant movement would keep him warm.
We started with the South Loop and soon reached the edge of the cliff lined with ancient cedars (some of them are over 1,000 years old). We didn’t risk going too close to the edge since the ground was slippery (and it’s not a good practice anyway).
Information panels in the park promise some prominent views from the top, including Toronto’s CN Tower, Rattlesnake Point and Nassagaweya Canyon. Needless to say that with snow falling it wasn’t a particularly great day for views. Rattlesnake Point was visible though, and we even managed to make out the contours of CN Tower through the haze. The patchwork of farmland down below was uniformly white, divided by perpendicular lines of bare trees.
Rock fissures were an exciting part of our hike. We spent some time climbing through them trying not to slip up on snow-dusted rocks.
Our hike through the first snow of the winter ended shortly before sunset. I know snow is a bit of a stretch since it was so scarce and short-lived, but it was fun nonetheless. With traces of white everywhere, the forest looked solemn and serene.
It was also our fourth park along the Bruce Trail. By now, we’ve probably covered somewhere around 1% of the whole Bruce Trail system. I know it sounds ridiculously insignificant but it means we have a lot more adventures ahead of us.