Sometimes achieving a goal doesn’t deliver the warm and fuzzy feeling of a job well done. That was the case with our recent completion of the Oak Ridges Moraine Trail in south-central Ontario.
Earlier this year, I included the Oak Ridges Moraine Trail on my 52 New Things list, but as we were about to finally finish hiking the entire trail end-to-end, I seriously questioned whether it deserved to be on the list.
It could hardly be considered an accomplishment when this 280 km trek took us 18 months to complete … compared with 10 months to finish the 890 km Bruce Trail.
How could I consider it an accomplishment when Helen had to drag me whining and complaining through the bulk of it?
Helen is hard-core. Once you start something, it must be finished. Enjoying it is optional … and I chose not to. It was an uninspiring, poorly marked trail that often had us confused and occasionally lost.
… but as I reflected on all the things I disliked about this trail, I began to realize we had also experienced many firsts.
Besides the obvious things like exercise, fresh air, and the camaraderie of a good friend, one of the key attractions to hiking has been the discovery of small communities and country roads that we would normally have no reason to see.
We passed through numerous little villages I had no idea existed … like Bewdley. I just love that name … and it was a lovely little town!
We found things that made us laugh and others things that deeply disturbed us …. like the discovery of what appeared to be a ‘killing zone’ likely from a coyote. The multiple bones scattered around felt rather creepy.
During the winter, snowshoes were occasionally required as we had to break trail where it was rarely travelled.
In fact it seemed that even in summer months, many sections of the trail were rarely used. Breaking trail through waist-high tall grass is really unpleasant as I imagine all the creepy-crawlies I can’t see.
Inspite of finding numerous deer tracks, we had only one sighting … on our last day of hiking and it was a small fawn. Surprisingly, his mom seemed nowhere in sight.
We did however get followed by a pig. She followed us until we reached her home further down the road. I’ve heard of free-range chickens, but this was a new one for us.
We also found fresh bear tracks. Even more disturbing were the smaller cub tracks which suggested that momma-bear was going to be a bit grouchy if we stumbled upon them. After that discovery I was on high alert for several kilometers. A close encounter with a bear was not on my agenda.
I once got my car stuck in deep snow and we needed to flag down a motorist to help push us out … nothing short of a minor miracle on a quiet road.
Yes, there were many firsts on this adventure, but having said all that, this is one experience I think looks better in the rear-view mirror.