Those who have been following this blog are aware of my frustrations with the extremely un-wintery behaviour of this year’s winter, at least in my part of the world, and the extent to which we’d been going to find even a little bit of snow. So you can imagine my delight when we woke up to a major snowfall this past Sunday. We knew this winter spike might no last long so we dropped all our chores and headed outside. It was magical.
Here are a few more ways we managed to add some winter to our microadventures.
Hiking and geocaching at Silver Spring
Silver Creek Conservation Area is the largest park of the Credit Valley Conservation Authority. It offers close to 15 kilometres of hiking trails, including a part of the Bruce Trail, and has a good number of geocaches hidden within its boundaries.
It wasn’t our first visit to Silver Creek. We came last winter with my friend Fancy Boots. Because it was a busy time of the year, that trip report never made it onto the blog. Back then, we hiked some of the Bruce Trail and found three geocaches. I remember It was a particularly gloomy day. The trails were slippery. And there was a memorable (for all the wrong reasons) trip to a porta potty.
When we visited this time, it was much brighter, there was also a good snow cover, which was packed but not slippery. The porta potty was still there but, luckily, no one needed to use it.
This time we decided to explore the Bruce Trail in the other direction – from the information panel near Fallbrook Trail to 10th Line, and the Roberts Side Trail. We had six geocaches on our list but ended up finding only four, not a bad number considering digging for them in the snow can sometimes be tricky.
All in all, it was a great hike that featured a frozen pond, a lookout over the valley, beautiful escarpment rocks, tracks and other small treasures along the way.
Also lots of sun, a rarity this winter which so far has been mostly grey and overcast
Cross-country skiing at Terra Cotta
I’ve been wanting to go cross-country skiing for quite a while but it didn’t seem possible without having to drive at least two hours up north. Then we discovered that Terra Cotta Conservation Area actually had all its trails open and offered gear rentals. Only about 40 minutes away, it was a great option.
Terra Cotta is another park we visited before but didn’t have time to blog about. We came here around the same time last year for our first real geocaching adventure with a GPS unit and all. And as you can see from the pictures, there was even less snow on the ground. In fact, from what I remember, the only thing that remotely reminded of winter last year were extremely slippery trails. So I guess this winter is not as unusual as I may think. Thanks, climate change.
Like Silver Creek, Terra Cotta is also part of the Credit Valley Conservation. They are located across the road from each other connected by the famous Bruce Trail. In addition to Bruce, the park has several side trails where you can either ski or snowshoe in the winter. Both ski and snowshoe rentals are available at the visitor centre. The trails here are not as hilly as at the neighbouring Silver Creek. For walking that is, with skis on it was a completely different ball game.
Terra Cotta gets its name from the brick-red shale covering much of its soil at the base of the Escarpment and on riverbeds. Because there was so little snow, we found some patches last year, which reminded of the Cheltenham Badlands, but smaller.
Now back to skiing. With the temperature rising on Saturday, we were worried we’d have to change our plans, but luckily the trails were still open even if they got a little bit icy by the end of the day.
We started with the Terra Cotta Lane Trail, which was mostly flat — a perfect place to start since after a one-year break I felt out of shape and out of balance. We then turned onto the Vaughan Trail, which offered more excitement and also more opportunities to fall. Some parts of the trail had straw bails at the base of each tree. I guess we weren’t the only ones bumping into them.
The trails aren’t very long and didn’t take long to complete, especially on skis. By the end of the day, we also did the Wetland and McGregor Spring Pond Trail, and then ended with another loop around the Terra Cotta Lane.
Our great day of skiing also featured beautiful views and a bonus at the end — two deer who came to say good-bye as we were leaving the park.
So we got a bit of winter into our system. Now as I watch the snow slowly disappear and with +10 degrees in the forecast for the upcoming weekend, I wonder if we’ll have another opportunity. On the other hand, with all the gloom and greyness that seem to be this winter’s trademark, I think I am ready for spring.