For the past couple of months we have experienced record-setting cold temperatures, frigid wind chills, and a steady accumulation of snow. While winter can be an enjoyable season, this year’s weather has made it anything but. Ice fishing outings have involved a lot less moving around and far more time in the hut. And though I enjoy spending time with the horses and chickens, survival instincts have ruled as my visits become shorter and more geared towards keeping everybody warm, including myself.
When yesterday warmed up to -8C, and the sun shone like a summer’s day, Darrell and I decided it was high time we escape the confines of four walls and take a trip to somewhere we could do a little hiking.
Our destination of choice was Harrison Park in Owen Sound. We’ve been there many times in the past, but our exploring was usually limited to the Harrison Park Inn Restaurant, where we would stop for some battered mushrooms after a day of fishing. This time we brought the dogs and our winter boots, hoping to enjoy the beautiful day. Since we arrived around lunch, we made our usual stop at the restaurant before hitting the trails. The dogs begged for a mushroom but had to settle for carrots.
As we got ourselves organized, vehicles full of children and toboggans pulled into the parking lot, with their young occupants racing towards one of the best toboggan hills I’ve seen in recent years. Some older kids decided to skip the hill in favour of scaling the valley wall and sliding back down in the deep, powdery snow, often tangling up with those that had descended before them. People arrived with snowshoes, heading for the path least-traveled, having some fun with the deeper snow. Laughter, smiles, and rosy cheeks were everywhere.
We set out with the dogs along the portion of the Bruce Trail that passes through the park. Jack and Molly pulled at their leashes, eager to investigate new smells and make new friends. Other visitors had created some side trails, so we took advantage and explored more of the forest. Standing up higher we found a beautiful view of the Sydenham River. The river was nearly frozen over, but the sunshine was working its magic and melting the ice, causing large chunks to break off and go crashing downstream.
I managed to stay upright for most of the hike, until I tripped over a log on the descent and went bodysurfing through the fluffy snow. It was too nice of a day to care about it, so I laughed and righted myself, as Darrell tried hard to get his laughter under control while keeping the dogs from jumping on top of me.
The snowmobile trail travels through the park and we spent a few minutes watching some incredible machines pass by us. We now live in a great area for snowmobiling, and you can be sure a couple of those toys are going on our wishlist.
We walked through the park and I got my first glimpse of where the campsites are located, with Darrell pointing out the sites that his family had preferred over the years. It’s really quite a nice spot with lots of matures trees and a naturalized area following along the little creek.
A cacophony of screeching grabbed my attention and Darrell told me there was a little area set aside for geese, swans, and ducks. And oh yeah, there were pheasants. Had I seen the pheasants? No, of course I hadn’t; why hadn’t he mentioned them before? I love birds!
Since the dogs were not allowed within the bird sanctuary, we had to take turns walking through, but wow, it was worth it. The pheasants were beautiful. So many different colours, so much variation – I could have spent the entire day observing them.
We concluded our day with a walk down the Freedom Trail, a nice pathway that follows the river and provides some exceptional views.
Harrison Park proved to be the perfect destination on a lovely winter day. I can’t wait to go back.