Nina Spencer

Buck Up for an Urban Surprise

On Sunday, November 14 we chose to walk a quicker, urban trail that, although wouldn't give us much in the way of incline or rough terrain training, would help us log some serious "Ks". And so we hiked the "Discovery Trail" along the Humber River, picking the path up in suburban Toronto's/Etobicoke's James Gardens and traveling along for four hours to Lake Ontario/the mouth of the Humber and back. I hadn't done this trail in at least 25 years (and that was by bike). Funny how the passage of time (and cycling, instead of walking) can make one's memory of the distance from point A to B seem shorter. We covered a lot less literal ground in four hours than I'd anticipated, despite that we were walking at a brisk pace of a mile every twenty minutes (in the cold and rain).

Nothing all that eventful or scary happened on this training hike-not like last week's hike in Algonquin where I feared slipping off a 2000' cliff and chose to slide back down the safe side of the rock on my posterior! But something noteworthy and lesson making did happen, even on this safe, urban jaunt:

We've hiked the back/north country of Algonquin Park so many times now since July and barely encountered any wildlife on the Centennial Ridges Trail, but this urban November 14th morning, right there in the paved parking lot before heading off for our walk...there was a wild deer...a young buck with antlers and everything! Right there beyond the asphalt, just grazing away and enjoying the quiet of a Sunday morning in the city! Amazing! I've lived in Toronto all my life and have never, ever seen a wild deer so deeply into this urban centre (although I have seen plenty in the zoo at High Park, but that doesn't count). I snuck up behind some pine trees for the best, discreet vantage point and began practicing with my new digital camera (purchased especially to take great pics while on Kilimanjaro!). I click, click, clicked away at this beauty, until he saw me, ran away a bit, stopped suddenly, turned and gave me a good stare down...almost daring me to take his picture...and then he was off again.

My workplace (and life!) "take-aways" from this hike?:

  1. Sometimes we try so to hard to have a wonderful or beautiful, exotic or rare experience, and think we must go somewhere "else" to find this effect (and true enough, sometimes you really do have to go afar to have such an experience, e.g. there's not any Mount Kilimanjaro in Canada...one has to go where it is!); but, oftentimes a simple and joyful wonder can come to you right in your own "back yard"!
  2. Not all journeys have to be full of gnarly, windy rough trails and steep, challenging inclines to be functional, productive and satisfying experiences. Sometimes straight and simple "gets the job done", too. By the time we were done this "easy" hike, we'd logged 13K and, although easier K than some serious country hikes in which we've partaken, purely in terms of Ks, this hike, on November 14th, was the third longest hike we've encountered in five months (the others being 15K and 17 K, both at Rattlesnake Point, west of Toronto, along the Bruce Trail, atop the Niagara Escarpment).
  3. Just because you're "in the city" doesn't mean you should wear less layers/be less prepared for any eventuality. I was cold for much of our walk and should have worn one extra layer, just as I do for all our "away" hikes. Being close to home is no reason to get careless or cavalier and neglect necessary gear. Lesson learned. Just because you're familiar with your surroundings (at work or elsewhere), always come ready for any eventuality and prepared with all your "gear".