Posts Tagged ‘adventure’

My husband and I had booked this weekend getaway a couple of months before Christmas knowing we wouldn’t be visiting family in Montreal or having anyone over due to wonky schedules over the holidays. It was a nice, relaxing and long overdue escape. We loaded up the car, dropped the cat off at the kitty motel and headed north for a weekend of snowshoeing, good eats, exploration and hot chocolate by the fireplace in our room. Luckily for us, there was more snow up there than we have back home in southern Ontario – otherwise our snowshoeing would have become muddy hikes real quick.

Since checkin was only at 4pm, we stopped in Thornbury for lunch at a great place that got great reviews and was featured on the TV show “You Gotta Eat Here” called The Dam Pub. Touted as a gastro-pub, it’s set in a cozy old house and the menu was filled with traditional yet elevated pub fare – both of our meals were delicious! I had the bangers and mash and Chris had the Shepherd’s pie (with lamb). We both had the carrot cake for dessert – it was fabulous. We were sitting next to a window and relaxed while the snow fell in fat snowflakes – something we had yet to see this winter at home. I’d go back in a second. Our next stop was just down the street at The Cheese Gallery, a great shop that sells baked goods, a TON of different cheeses and various other products that pair well with cheese or makes for an otherwise yummy snack. We stocked up on several items that we’d have for dinner that night: baguette, saucisson, four types of cheese (Gruyere, St. Andre, smoked cheddar and honey cheddar), a lemon bar and 2 butter tarts. Needless to say dinner was fabulous paired with a Thirty Bench Cab Franc we brought with us from home. 🙂

We finally got to Blue Mountain and stayed at the Mosaic in  bachelor suite (with kitchenette and fireplace, overlooking the village). It was warm and cozy and perfect for our weekend getaway. After unpacking, we explored the village and stopped at the Christmas store since we still hadn’t found our Xmas ornament for 2015 (slackers).  Every year we buy an ornament that best represents the year; it can be about a trip, an activity, a funny incident, anything. Typically when we see the ornament, we KNOW it’s the one. And sure enough, after scouring the whole store, Chris spotted it – it was perfect! In 2015 we did a lot of hiking so finding a little hiker as our ornament was fitting. We named him Bruce after the Bruce Trail. 🙂 We swung by the village market to pick up a few more things for breakfasts and snacks, enjoyed the xmas lights still up in the village, then took it easy and enjoyed our dinner and wine by the fire.


On Saturday, we had breakfast then headed out to rent our snowshoes and join the guided Columbia snowshoe hike. We ere a small group of 7 people and our guide was great. We ended up trekking in the area called the Orchard, which is essentially a wooded area alongside the beginner ski hill. Snowshoeing on its own is quite the workout, but add in the uphill climb and it’s quite the cardio session. It was great to get to the top, got a couple of pics, then headed back down (much easier lol). It was mild (3-4 deg C) so we removed layers and hats/gloves as we went.



Took some pics of the village:




We had lunch at the Firehall Pizza Co. restaurant (me: Caesar salad + penne al a vodka, Chris: chicken club), then went exploring a bit more to scope out the other snowshoe trails in the area which were around the golf course but with the wind, all the snow was blown away.

More pics of the village and one of the ski hills from afar:





We had a repeat of last night’s dinner (crackers, cheese, wine), fire, coziness and stretching out my sore leg muscles after this morning’s trek. I also did some research in the area for more snowshoeing opportunities – and found a great alternative. 🙂

On Sunday we had breakfast then headed over to the Scenic Caves Nordic Centre. We had visited in the summer and explored the caves but I discovered last night that they also have 10km worth of snowshoe trails plus trails dedicated to cross-country skiing. What a find!!  We picked up our snowshoes and a trail map from the cabin and off we went. We ended up completing three trails totalling about 3.5-4.0 km: Lookout, Nature and Wild West. This was more scenic than yesterday’s trek and there was no one there! Granted we got there shortly after 9am when everyone else is probably still sleeping or eating breakfast. We saw maybe one skier in the forest but for the rest of our trek it was just Chris and I, the birds chirping and the streams rippling. Bliss.



It was warm again so the layers came off pretty quickly.





Nice area on the Nature trail with a little stream passing under a snowy bridge.


Pretty – all the mossy rocks reminded me of the family of trolls in Frozen. 🙂


Action shots!




We went back to the room to freshen up before lunch, and headed to the Firehall again (me: Old faithful burger with Caesar salad, Chris: Chicken cutlet sandwich with Caesar salad). Then off to Collingwood to visit a store I had read about and couldn’t wait to visit: The Collingwood Olive Oil Co. They offer tastings of olive oils and balsamic vinegars, and in so many delicious combinations – the flavours were just mind-blowing. We must have sampled 8-10 of each, some in combinations, others on their own. We had a fantastic time discovering all the great products and ended up buying 7 bottles: Herbes de Provence olive oil to pair with Cranberry Pear white balsamic for a delicious salad dressing. Chipotle olive oil to pair with Maple dark balsamic for an amazing salmon marinade or glaze. Harissa olive oil (for Chris to put on everything), Blood orange olive oil (for me to put on everything) and Neapolitan dark balsamic (great for roasted veggies). I can’t wait to start cooking with them. Cheryl and Alex were so friendly and knowledgeable, they really made the experience special and memorable – I’d go back in a second. Highly recommended to anyone in the area. We were so stuffed from the day that we ended up having a smoothie at Booster Juice for dinner with Doritos (can you say healthy? pfft). Watched the All Star game and went to bed early – we were pooped!

Checked out on Monday morning, stopped for groceries and picked up the cat before getting back home. It was a great weekend!

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After a cool and rainy week, we wanted to enjoy the sun and headed out to Mounstberg this morning, hoping to see the last of the fall colours. We’ve visited Mountsberg before and saw the birds of prey (very cool) but never hiked the trails. Today we chose to do the blue Lookout  trail, which was listed as 5.6km. The weather was sun and clouds and the occasional gust of wind but for the most part, it was nice and an above seasonal 15C degrees.

We saw no one else on the trail for the first hour, hour and a half. It was great! There were a lot of birds chirping and we got to see a few. Heard some ducks and geese in the nearby reservoir as well. We saw another snake – he looked more shocked to see us than we were to see him. We came across a couple of people on horseback near the end of our hike as well. Very quiet on the trail today.

Path to the trail:


Bunch of bird house condos in “Swallowville”. 🙂



The reservoir:




Mushrooms were everywhere:



Dark sky in the distance – made for a cool picture:



Into the woods we go….









Yellow leaves still hanging onto their branches before winter:



This shot turned out great – bulrushes:


Feeling small:


Another friend! 🙂




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It was supposed to be a gloomy and cool day today with a risk of showers but we decided to brave the winds and possibly wet weather anyway and headed down to Hamilton to hike a short section of the Bruce Trail that connected Sherman Falls to Tiffany Falls.

We decided to park on a small stretch of Lions Club Road that fit about maybe 5 cars and after a couple of U-turns and false starts, we found the entrance to the trail – which was right under our noses if we had started in the right direction to begin with. 🙂  Good times.

We don’t come down to the Hamilton area to hike very often and enjoyed what the area had to offer. They’re known for their waterfalls so we ticked two off of the list with today’s outing.

We started at Sherman Falls. There were 6 of us in our group: 4 adults and 2 children. Although the Bruce Trail is typically more rugged than the trails found in conservation areas, no one had any trouble today. There were a couple of rocky areas with a few steep steps here and there but very manageable for the most part.







The leaves haven’t fully started changing color here yet…but there were some red and yellow stragglers on the ground  The water was a bit low (typical for this time of year vs in the springtime) but it was still nice to see the small rapids and “babbling brook” sounds of the water trickling by. We only encountered a couple of other people at Sherman Falls and passed a few small groups along the trail to Tiffany Falls.

We saw some cool things along the way – like these HUGE mushrooms:


And this gnarly tree:



Side trail to the falls!


One of us being brave:






He made it back to the trail safe and sound. 🙂


Tiffany Falls:



We hiked about 6 km total and got to enjoy a real fall day outside in nature. Great way to start the autumn season!

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To kick off the warm weather season, we bought an annual pass to the Halton Conservation Areas. This pass will give us entry into seven conservation parks in our area so we can enjoy the outdoors, hike to our hearts’ content and have fun.

We kicked things off this morning with a 5km hike at Mount Nemo, one of the parks we didn’t get to last year. What made it interesting was that both loops at Nemo are along the Bruce Trail which typically has more rugged terrain and inclines. This was no paved or packed stroll through the woods. And we loved it!

We got to see lots of flowers and trees. Wildlife such as chipmunks, turkey vultures, other birds – no snakes this time. Beautiful lookouts and views – the day was so clear, we were able to see downtown Toronto from up there.

The trail has lots of roots, rocks, twists and turns, and there are some steep drops. We need to get hiking poles. Word of warning: There is no fencing so don’t get too close to the cliff or you’ll end up bungee jumping without a cord. 🙂

Great great day!

We started with the yellow loop, then the red loop. Did then both from 11:45am to 1:30pm, about 5km.


Can’t escape them. 🙂 This one was particularly poofy.


Beautiful trees…


These smelled good!


Chris in the trail


Christmas trees!


These were cool – with the wind, their leaves flickered in the sunlight and looked like confetti.


More flowers…


Some parts of the trail were narrower and flat.


Great views!



You could see the CN tower from here – hard to see in the pic though.




In a few spots there were narrow packed-earth bridges and if you looked over, you could see gaps in the rock – creepy yet cool.


Don’t get too close to the edge!


Golf course


More flowers… 🙂



Saw this left on a tree stump – pretty 🙂



Cool looking tree


Yes. More flowers.


Some parts of the trail were on somewhat steep inclines with rocks and roots…



Bruce Trail lingo 🙂



Purple flowers 🙂


And some parts were very steep. 🙂


This one was pretty tough to get down but we were fine.  We should get hiking poles…would have made this one much easier.


Last bunch of flowers on our way back to the parking lot.


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This morning we visited Albion Falls and hiked in the surrounding area to enjoy the fall foliage. It was a cool day and partially cloudy. It took us about 20-25 minutes to drive there and there are a few parking lots in the area (free) with signs to the viewing platforms. It was very scenic and the colours of the leaves are pretty close to their peak right now. Great morning!

View from the bridge on Mountain Brow Rd – you can hear the falls from here.



View from the viewing platform on the opposite side:



You can actually see our parked car in the distance, just above the falls in the pic and to the right – ours is he white one 🙂



On the trail…





Ok, I nudged the yellow leaf closer to the red and green ones but the contrast was really too great to pass up. 🙂



There’s a short staircase (maybe 15 steps) and a dirt path down the other side of the falls:



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This morning we headed to Rattlesnake Point, another conservation area in the Milton, ON area hoping to enjoy some early fall foliage. Although the drive there was a sight to behold with some trees sporting bright yellow, fiery orange and deep red leaves, there was still quite a bit of green and very little along the trails in the park. The next couple of weeks should be showstopping.

We followed two trails. The Vista Adventure trail (red) and the Buffalo Craig trail (yellow), a total of about 4.5 km. It was quite busy for a Sunday morning with lots of families on the trails. We also saw several people rock climbing which is an activity offered here.














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Today we headed over to Hilton Falls and followed the yellow trail (Hilton Falls trail). I’m eager for the colorful fall foliage but there’s still a lot of green; just a bit of yellow and once in a while a hint of red. Not quite there yet but it’s coming soon. It was a warm day, 20C degrees and sunny. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the summer season with the green grass, warm weather and long days. But I feel most alive in the fall, when the air changes and I can smell the leaves, the colors change with yellow, oranges and red, and all I want to eat are apples, cider, squash and Thanksgiving dinner. 🙂 Aaaah, bliss.

Anyhoo – I digress.

What I should have started this post with was: Yes, we saw a snake!

I teeny tiny one, and I was too slow to take a picture but we enjoyed several seconds’ worth of watching him pause in his tracks (probably wondering why the crazy humans went off the beaten path and dared disrupt his midday stroll) then slither away through the forest.

But, back to the beginning of the trail first… Most of the trail was packed dirt and quite wide. Very easy and very flat, lots of shade.


There was a lot of moss – that was pretty cool.


As always, looking up provides a different perspective on things. I kept peeking for any sign of the leaves changing color but all I saw was green, and occasionally some yellow. Soon, soon.


Pretty… A bumblebee (top) happily buzzing around…


Surprised to see a ripe raspberry still around – you’d think they’d all be munched up by now.


As we approached the area where the falls were, there was a fire going (that smelled amazing!!!) with lots of seating, picnic tables and rocks. There are a few viewing areas – we visited them all. This pic was taken from the path approaching the fire area:


The view at the top of the falls – I could sit here for hours, just listening to the water…


The water was super clear. The view straight ahead to the other side:


The view upstream:


We followed a short trail (that connected to the Bruce trail) along the water to get a better view of the mill ruins. We had to climb some pretty steep rock to get up there and it was along this path that we met our snake friend. He was small – maybe a foot and a half in length, black with a yellow stripe.


I Googled snakes commonly found in southeastern Ontario and we think it was an Eastern Garter snake, like this guy:

Photo by Joe Crowley

Photo by Joe Crowley

We were still giggly from our snake encounter as we made our way back to the fire area and headed to the cairn, another viewing area.


View of the opening where the mill wheel would have been:


View upstream from this vantage point:



We made our way down the stairs to the lower viewing area.


Good view of the falls from here:


More mill ruins…


Cool trees and cliff near the stairs:


We then headed back on the yellow trail…


Saw some cool lichen too – I had to ask Chris what it was since it looked like ice but at 20C degrees, clearly couldn’t be. Neat eh?


That was our hike! An easy one – it was about 4km and took us about 1.25 hours including the time spent at the falls.

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This morning we ventured out to Christie Lake in the Hamilton Conservation Area. It was a beautiful morning – and after a 25 minute drive West on Dundas St, we got to the lake at about 10:30am and it was 18C, sunny and dry – a perfect late summer day.

We wanted to hike the “Round the Lake” trail since it was listed as 5.6km for the loop and we likely hit 6km with the initial back and forth we did trying to find the trail head. 🙂 At a leisurely pace, it took us about 2 hours.

The trail goes over grass in some areas and mostly packed dirt paths through the forest areas. There are a few hills but nothing very difficult. Once on the trail, the markings were clear for the trail we were on as well as several other walking and mountain bike trails crossing it.

The scenery was very diverse as you’ll see from the photos – and I can only imagine how beautiful it must be in the fall once the leaves start to change color.

Right after we parked the car (near the marina area) and headed out to find the trail head, we spied this heron perched in the sun. He was quite large.


He let us get pretty close then flew to a nearby post – what a graceful bird. I’d never seen a heron fly before – he was huge!


The lake was serene and beautiful. Our hike took us on a full loop around the lake.

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There were lots of wildflowers and butterflies darting around. I was lucky to catch this guy:



We also saw what we believe is a loon. He jumped into the water as he saw us walking by.


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Crossing to the south side of the lake:




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This side of the trail was mostly forest and the trees offered some shade.


It was cool to see the trees lush and green on one side of the path but very dry on the other, except at the very top where they grew leaves:




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Here’s a good shot of dry on one side and lush on the other:



One of the trail markers (showing a picture of the lake):

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You can see the lake on the left through the foliage:




The trail brought us to the Darnley Dam which was pretty cool.

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Approaching from the north side, right before you cross the pedestrian bridge, there’s a trail on the right to go down and see the Darnley Cascade waterfall – there was a small walking path to do down further as well.

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This path also brought you to the old Darnley Grist Mill:


After that, we headed back up to the pedestrian bridge to cross it and head back towards where we parked the car. Posted on the side of the pedestrian bridge:


On the bridge, facing Christie Lake:




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On the bridge facing the other side:


On the bridge, facing Spencer Creek. On the other side of the bridge is where the “Spencer Adventure” links to the trail that would bring you to Webster’s Falls (a must see).


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It was a great hike with lots to see and lots of different terrain. Christie Lake has a ton of activities too: You can rent boats (canoes and row boats – we saw some), fish, swim (they rent tubes), play disc golf, enjoy a picnic and/or barbecue, not to mention lots of trails for walkers or mountain bikers. It’s a great place to relax and enjoy nature.

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Our goal when we set out this morning was to explore the East Bank trail of the section of Sixteen Mile Creek between Dundas and Upper Middle Road, estimated to be about 2.5 km one way. We headed out on the East Bank trail, enjoying the views and catching a glimpse o a family of ducks bathing in the creek; they were gurgling and splashing and having a lively old time. I couldn’t get a good pic as we spied them through tree foliage and I still haven’t figured out how to change focus on my camera (so it was only focusing on the leaves…).

The path was packed gravel and dirt, some parts were paved, and there are some bridges along the way. It’s a relatively easy hike; there are some stairs and steeper hills as you get deeper into the trail. As other posters have mentioned, the signage is somewhat limited which is how we ended up doing the full loop as opposed to doubling back the way we came. No harm done as we can now say we walked the full loop (including East Bank, Inner and West Bank trails) and we got to see some nice scenery along the way.

The ducks were just behind this area:

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A lot of the trail paths were like this:

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Isn’t this a great tree? Check out those roots. To me, it looks like a woman in a gown with a long train (roots) with her arms outstretched, reaching for something/someone across the creek. To my husband, it looks lik a tree. 🙂 To each his own right?

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The water was pretty clear:

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We stopped at a small lookout area and I noticed some red leaves on the ground – first day of September and fall is slowly approaching. I looked up to see where the red leaves came from and saw this. Nice surprise. Note to hikers: Look Don’t forget to look up or you might miss something special!

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Yep, we went back. This time with my sister-in-law, her husband and their two kids. We ate lunch once we arrived, then we were off to explore the kids’ fun area where we learned that there was a new baby goat in their midst (gasp!) – could not wait.

There were tons of things to see and do and the kids (big and small) had a great time. There were lots of animals, beautiful scenery and growing crops (pumpkins are coming!), hay bales for the kids to play in, a spider web to climb, a nice lookout platform with great views over the escarpment (we actually saw the CN Tower – it was a clear day!), tractor “bikes” to roll around on, did I mention the goats?, an informative wagon ride that toured the farm and surrounding irrigation ponds, and more!  We had a great time – it was a gorgeous day, sunny and bright. We stopped by the market on the way out and home we went for a Hawaiian themed dinner party. 🙂


These chickens were hilarious – you pressed a button and they would tell a joke.


Lots of sunflowers made the view really “country cozy”.


Pony rides!






View of an irrigation pond from our wagon ride – complete with ducks and fountain:


Bee hives that house one million bees:


View of the newly built velodrome for the Pan Am games to be held in Toronto in July 2015:


More pretty sunflowers:



The pumpkins have started to grow:


The wagon we rode 🙂 Farmer Don was a great guide!


Old-fashioned tractor:


Windmill above the hay bales:


I couldn’t help myself…I hate spiders…except when they wear slippers and rollerblades. 🙂




Views from the lookout over the escarpment:












This little guy was my favourite 🙂


Oh my goodness…





View of the Lookout platform from the bottom


More goats…



Goats goats goats



More pumpkins 🙂 And more sunflowers.



The sunflowers were so tall! Much taller than me!




The entrance to the maze (more of a path but it was cute)


Chloe leading me through the maze








Bunnies are so cute


They live in Bunnyville


Chris, the goat whisperer 🙂






A farm wouldn’t be complete without a rooster. 🙂


Farmer Chloe


Farmer Zach


Being silly during our Hawaii-themed dinner 🙂




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