The other day my older son said “Lord of the Rings” was boring because people walked a lot and didn’t do much. And then, he added that if he wanted to read about people walking, he’d just read my blog. I don’t know if I should feel offended since he implied my blog was boring or flattered that it was compared to a classic. But here comes another post about walking.
As I mentioned in my previous post, a nature adventure was long overdue. I was hoping to go further north, like Scenic Caves near Collingwood, to do some cross-country skiing. However, my husband, always the more sensible of the two (or a buzzkill as I call him), noted that it was too much of a drive for a one-day trip. Annoyed as I was, I had to agree. It was already pretty late in the day so by the time we’d have gotten there, there wouldn’t have been much time left to ski.
In the end, we agreed on Hilton Falls Conservation Area about 30 minutes away from home. Our younger son immediately consulted his geocaching map and pronounced it a very good choice. We had brunch, packed some snacks and water, wrote down clues for the caches and were on our way.
Hilton Falls is one the Conservation Halton parks. It is the fourth one we have visited, and I must say it is my favourite so far. The falls, of course, is the main attraction but there are also over 30 kilometres of trails, including part of the famous Bruce Trail. Three of the trails are usually groomed for skiing in the winter with gear rentals available right in the park. However, with this winter being so flaky, the rentals were closed.
We had to settle on walking, and we couldn’t have picked a better day: fresh, crisp air, sunny skies, trees casting long shadows on the snow.
There were quite a few people in the park. Some were skiing (those lucky ones who brought their own gear), some were pulled in sleds. There were a couple of people on fat bikes. But the majority were walkers just like us.
We started on the Hilton Falls Trail, then turned onto Bruce, which eventually took us to the edge of Niagara Escarpment with its signature rocky outcrops and cedars.
The most interesting feature along the trail was a pothole. As the glaciers were retreating some 12,000-14,000 years ago, loose stones got caught in a water swirl, spinning round and round until they formed this perfectly circular, smooth well. As you can see, it also bears signs of more recent history left by some not very smart hikers.
The area around the falls was pretty busy. There was a fire going, a great place to warm up and have a snack.
Hand feeding chickadees was another popular activity. We received a bag of seeds when we paid our entrance fees at the gate. But our fellow bird-feeders told us that chickadees loved peanuts and shared some with us. And it seemed to work: our little group standing there with outstretched hands was attracting birds and people alike. So here is the tip: bring peanuts and seeds with you when heading to Hilton Falls.
The Falls, of course, were the main attraction. Rushing water under the thin lace of ice looked magnificent.
Once we checked out the falls and fed the birds, our son started his search for geocaches. In the end, he found three, one was particularly tricky. It was quite an achievement, I must say, considering he didn’t use any GPS devices, just a map and some clues. He says he can smell them. He couldn’t smell all of them, however, so we decided to leave the remaining geocaches for another time.
As we were leaving the park, we were treated to a splendid sight: a plump, orange wolf moon making its way through the tree branches, eventually perching on an electrical wire. A single note on a music sheet in the purple sky.