Thursday, March 13, 2014

You Can’t Hike the same Trail Twice

There are a few local trails that have over time, become my “go to” destination when I am feeling the urge to get out for a few hours. These are not necessarily the most spectacular of our local destinations but for me there is a sense of familiarity and comfort on these trails that have made them my place to re-charge, my Fortress of Solitude, so to speak.

In spite of visiting often, I am learning that the trail, much like us, is constantly changing, evolving through the changing seasons, growing and dying and never appearing quite the same way twice.

I have also learned that these local and easy to get to destinations can contain
within them those same unique experiences and surprise glimpses of wildlife as what we would expect to see in a far more remote area. The lesson here is that a visit to a trail that is close to home can often be as rewarding as one that takes hours of driving and months of preplanning to get to.

There is room for wonder everywhere as long as you are prepared to open yourself to the opportunity. The changing of the seasons that we experience in our climate play a significant role in this and the sights, sounds and smells on the trail can vary dramatically week to week and based on changes in the weather, even day to day.

I particularly like to explore immediately after a rain or during a light snowfall. I also find that an early morning hike provides a vastly different feast for your senses than one enjoyed at dusk.

Even a familiar trail approached from an unfamiliar direction makes the experience seem fresh and new. 
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.”

I believe that this philosophy applies equally to the trail. Because as long as I’ve opened myself to be aware, it’s not the same. To the uninitiated it may appear to be the same trail but it’s still different: different light, different feel, different colors, different sounds, different smells and ultimately a different experience.

I can sense that since my last visit, it has changed, and so have I.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Winter Hike to Tiffany Falls – Ancaster

When considering a destination for a short winter hike in the area, it’s tough to beat Tiffany Falls. The trail is short and the reward at the end is a view of a waterfall that is amazing to see in any season.

Tiffany Falls is a 21 metre high (70 foot) cascade waterfall and has water flow all year, although at this time of year you only see it in spots. You can still hear it though as it falls behind massive sheets of thick ice.

Tiffany Falls Conservation Area is an amazing gem in the area and is considered to be a site of importance from a geographical perspective.  Its bedrock exposures are considered an Earth Science Area of Regional Significance.  The central feature of the conservation area is the two waterfalls within it, Tiffany Falls and Washboard Falls, formed by Tiffany Creek.

Last Saturday, I headed in for a visit accompanied by my daughter Julia and our dog, Stella. Although the trails were icy, we were able to navigate them with reasonable ease and soon were standing at the base of this beautiful waterfall. On this day we were also treated to the site of ice climbers as they bravely scaled the thick ice. 

Tiffany Falls is located at the Tiffany Falls Conservation Area in Ancaster.  To get there from Hwy 403 take the Lincoln Alexander Parkway exit and keep to the right to merge onto Rousseau St. At the ‘T’ intersection turn right onto Wilson St. E. Park at Tiffany Falls Conservation Area and follow the trail to the waterfall.

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