All I want for my birthday is a sunrise and a long trail

I haven’t posted anything in the past couple of months. Our four-week trip turned into a lengthy vacation from all things Internet, and with planning, preparing, packing and unpacking, there was little time to write and post updates. Now, back home with both my camera memory card and the one inside my head filled to the brim, I am slowly making my way through all the experiences. That may take some time so in the meantime here is a post I wrote right before we left but never got a chance to publish.

view from Lakefront Promenade Park in Mississauga at sunrise

What’s your idea of a perfect birthday celebration? Mine usually starts with a sunrise. Waiting for the horizon to explode and catapult a giant fiery orb into the sky is my time to reflect on the past year, all the new things discovered, new places explored and new people met. It’s the time to consider how these new experiences and learnings have expanded my horizons in every possible way and how much further I want to move the horizon line in the year to come.

view from Lakefront Promenade Park in Mississauga at sunrise

This year I headed to the Lakefront Promenade Park in Mississauga — a perfect sunrise spot with an ever present CN Tower and a lighthouse, a fitting metaphor for all the supports I received from family, friends and colleagues that helped guide me through stressful times this year.

lighthouse in Lakefront Promenade Park in Mississauga at sunrise

I kept thinking about wayfinding and road markers as I went on a hike later that day. Nassagaweya Canyon trail connecting Rattlesnake Point and Crawford Lake Conservation Areas has been on my list for a while. But somehow every time we visited either park it was too late in the day to cross the canyon. Now with the whole day ahead of me I could finally tackle this exciting adventure.

Nassagaweya Canyon Trail

I decided to start at Rattlesnake Point because it was closer to home. Also because Rattlesnake Point sits on the Milton Outlier. Once part of the Niagara Escarpment, it got separated by a preglacial river that left behind the Nassagaweya Canyon. “Outlier” seemed like a good description for my current state of mind as I increasingly question my place and fit with the modern world. The canyon seems to be getting wider. Good thing there is a trail connecting the two.

Rattlesnake Point plaque

I got the map at the park gate but it only covered the conservation area. The orange line of the Nassagaweya Canyon trail ran off the map and into the unknown. The only information I got from it was that the trail was almost five kilometers long and connected Rattlesnake Point to Crawford Lake. Luckily, the trail was well maintained and well-marked with orange blazes. It didn’t prevent me from taking a wrong turn somewhere halfway even though there was a map right at the intersection. It didn’t help that the “You are here” section was scratched off. Lost in the non-existent part of the map and with a noisy group approaching, I dove to the right when I should’ve continued straight ahead. Luckily, I quickly realized my mistake and retraced my steps. On the plus side, this maneuver helped shake off other hikers. I acquired another following instead, though –- winged and buzzing.

Nassagaweya Canyon Trail

I started my hike at the Rattlesnake Point lookout – a familiar spot we visited several times before but with a completely different view. The checkered expanse of the farmland down below was somehow smaller framed by the overwhelming greenery of the surrounding forest. I thought of a phrase that you cannot enter the same river twice. Same seems to be true of any natural spot constantly reshaped by changing seasons and filtered through our inner state. By the time I got to Crawford Lake, the difference was even more dramatic. Our last visit to the park was in the winter – the time of clear lines, open spaces and extreme contrasts. This time around, submerged under the sea of greenery the place I thought I knew looked more like a distant reverie.

view from Rattlesnake point

vulture in a tree

view from Buffalo Craig Lookout in Rattlesnake Point

Bruce trail at Crawford Lake Conservation Area

Bruce trail at Crawford Lake Conservation Area

I wandered around Crawford Lake Conservation Area, visited its namesake – a rare meromictic lake where different layers don’t mix. I stopped by the Nassagaweya Canyon lookout and waved to myself from two hours ago and another me from the future.

Crawford Lake

trail at Crawford Lake Conservation Area

view of Nassagaweya Canyon from Crawford Lake Conservation Area

On my way back I came to a split off: Bruce Trail continued straight, while the Nassagaweya Canyon trail that brought me here veered to the left. I wasn’t sure whether Bruce Trail would take me back to Rattlesnake Point but decided to try my chances. It followed a creek at the bottom of the canyon for quite some time before it took a sharp turn left and started climbing up. It rejoined the Nassagaweya Canyon Trail not far from the Buffalo Crag lookout. After that, it was only a short walk back.

Bruce Trail in Nassagaweya Canyon

Bruce Trail in Nassagaweya Canyon     Bruce Trail in Nassagaweya Canyon

Rattlesnake Poitn side trail

I stopped at a rocky outcrop jutting over the valley. My sore muscles were buzzing with the energy of the forest. I could feel the afternoon sun on my face. A celebratory dinner with my husband and kids was awaiting. At that moment life was perfect.

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