As someone very accurately pointed out in their comment to one of my previous posts, November is not the prettiest of months. Devoid of colour, without any kind of cover, be it foliage or snow, November landscapes stand with all their sharp edges and irregularities exposed, looking vulnerable and lackluster. While this year we’ve been extremely lucky (the planet not so much) with warm weather and fall colours lasting longer than usual, November inevitably arrived undressing the trees and injecting notes of melancholy into the air. Determined not to give in to its mournful call, we set out in search of beauty.
For our adventure we chose a place with a beautiful and mysterious name Eramosa Karst. Located in Stoney Creek in the traditional territory of the Haudensaunee and Anishnaabeg, this park is the newest addition to Hamilton Conservation Authority. It is fairly small, but has the largest number of unique karst features in any single area in the province.
What is karst? It comes from a Slavic word that means barren, stony ground. It is also the name of a region in Slovenia that is well-known for sinkholes and springs. So geologists have adopted “karst” as the term for a terrain that features underground drainage, caves and passages caused by dissolving rock. The Eramosa Karst Conservation Area contains examples of 16 karst features, including soil pipes, sinking streams, overflow sinks, dry valleys and a 335 metre-long cave (the tenth longest in Ontario).
The park has the main Karst Features Trail with a few shortcuts and a number of shorter side trails. It all looked fairly simple on the map but somehow we managed to make a wrong turn and get lost, or should I say confused for a little while.
Eventually we figured out where we were and managed to see most of the parks features, like the Pottruff and Nexus caves.
There were quite a few streams disappearing under the ground.
So all in all there were a few places for our son to climb and explore, which he enjoyed a lot. He also tried to look for geocaches but was experiencing some challenges so eventually he put his GPS unit away. He still found two more after that simply because he thought the spot looked like a good place for a geocache.
Because Eramosa Karst is located right in Stoney Creek, the city was hard to escape on some parts of the trail. But there were also many spots where it seemed distant and faraway.
And there were so many beautiful, magical moments along the way, like clouds of moths fluttering around, their wings so translucent that they seemed to disappear into thin air (and therefore were hard to capture on camera unless they landed on a tree trunk). The light seeping through dry husks and bare branches. Spots of colour dotting the landscape.
Our mission was a success: there was plenty of beauty waiting to be discovered. But most importantly it was a great reminder that while everything may seem bleak, nature is just resting before the explosion of colour that is sure to come in the spring. That sometimes those moments of vulnerability and quietness are not only inevitable but also necessary for all of us to come back stronger and more radiant.