Wednesday, December 30, 2009

skate from Dundas


Cootes Paradise is proving an excellent skating destination for area blades. Today, the hockey games were numerous, and the skaters of all ages ranged across the frozen marsh from Princess Point toward West Pond. The cold makes nature come alive in new ways for those who get outdoors.
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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Swedish or Canadian?



The message from this 1973 commercial was embedded in my brain when I was a kid - something about it inspired a sort of Nationalistic shame/pride - sort of the way Canada is embarrassingly lagging when it comes to Climate Change - in Copenhagen no less (not Sweden, but close enough). I remember thinking, I don't want to lose this battle.

When I think of how we measure up as a Nation when it comes to fitness, I think we might want to hold a place for some nostalgic memory, and perhaps get back in the fight to stay in good physical health.

Rather than walking for purely recreational pursuits, build a little walk into your life for daily trips - it really is the best way to get exercise, and the recreation is there once you leave the shelter of your car.

Challenge yourself to try a little harder, go a bit further, and get a little more Particpaction!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

valley inn


Hamilton area hikers and cyclists will be glad to know that the Valley Inn Road bridge is still open. The city has begun some of the improvements to the area now that the road is officially closed to motorized traffic.
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Monday, December 7, 2009

taking the temporary road

Sunday afternoon activity on the south side of lower Spencer Creek: it looks like the hydro work is wrapping up, and they were removing the temporary construction roadway laid down to protect the forest floor (though it appears that some of the work wasn't sensitive to the wildlife). The Spencer Creek Trail along the old rail line on the North side is back open for your pedestrian ramblings.
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Sunday, December 6, 2009

twilight


No Vampires, just a day coming to an end as Spencer Creek approaches Cootes Drive at twilight. A recent frost has done its artistic part to alter the landscape's flora, and there is evidence of coming winter's bite with the beginnings of ice on shallow and slow moving areas of the creek. Snow is forecast for tomorrow, keeping the ever changing in the ecological equation.
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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

mapping the future


View SHIFTING GEARS CYCLING PLAN in a larger map

Combine with this for a closer look at cycling infrastructure planned for Dundas/Hamilton


View City of Hamilton Ward Boundaries in a larger map

Friday, November 27, 2009

secret passage?


This highway pedestrian underpass is certainly a welcome bit of infrastructure for Bruce Trail hikers who formerly had to take their life in their hands to cross #6 Highway between Hamilton and Waterdown. With stairs leading from the Bruce Trail to the underpass on the Burlington and the Hamilton side of the underpass, the trek is now terror free.
As far as I know, there has been no official opening or announcement, but for you lucky readers, know that it is open for your ambulatory business anytime.
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Monday, November 23, 2009

Iroquoia Heights Trails Reopened

Ancaster park reopens after native assurances

The Hamilton Spectator, (Nov 19, 2009)

An Ancaster park closed because of safety concerns over deer hunting by members of Six Nations has reopened.

Iroquoia Heights Conservation Area reopened yesterday morning after the Hamilton Conservation Authority said it received assurances from a Six Nations Confederacy representative there'll be no more deer hunting in the Old Mohawk Road park.

"It is our understanding there is no hunting taking place," said Steve Miazga, chief administrative officer for the HCA, shortly after he had a phone conversation with lawyer Paul Williams. "He just said that is the current position of the Confederacy."

While the park has reopened, the HCA is still asking citizens to inform them immediately if they see any hunters in the park.

Miazga said the authority is also continuing to "dialogue" on the issue with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Six Nations -- both the traditional Confederacy and the elected band council. He is planning to meet with Williams.

Williams, a Waterloo-based lawyer, could not be reached for comment.

Miazga said closure signs at the park have been removed and notices will be sent to neighbours informing them it has reopened.

The park was closed Nov. 6 after residents complained to the HCA about native hunters killing deer in the park.

Some members of Six Nations say they have the right to hunt in the park under the Nanfan Treaty of 1701, which gave the Iroquois Confederacy perpetual hunting and fishing rights in southwestern Ontario.

The HCA says the hunting was unauthorized. The city's discharge of firearms bylaw prohibits people from firing a bow within 100 metres of a dwelling, a public park or a private park.

Those who violate the bylaw can be charged under the Provincial Offences Act.


http://www.thespec.com/News/Local/article/675597

Sunday, November 22, 2009

dam creeks


Beavers have made some changes to the ecology in Dundas Valley, with a new dam on North Spring Creek, near the junction of the John White and Sawmill trails in the Dundas Valley Conservation Area.
The expanding water is making new habitat here, so it will be interesting to see how the changes effect the area, and what else the little busy bodies get up to.
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Sunday, November 15, 2009

not bored


A beautiful fall day for waterfalls in Dundas: Borer's Falls [pictured above] in late afternoon, doing its thing. If someone could retrieve the blue tarp seen in the foreground, that would certainly help improve the view.
Most of the leaves are off the trees these days, so the views are extended: you can see the Skyway Bridge from the edge of the escarpment, even through the mists that clouded the view today.
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Thursday, November 12, 2009

trail troubles

The Bruce Trail will be effected by this temporary closure as the link between Hamilton and Dundas goes through Iroquoia Heights CA. [ed.]

Illegal hunt closes Mountain conservation area
Bow hunters found in urban area

Danielle Wong, The Hamilton Spectator, (Nov 12, 2009)

The Hamilton Conservation Authority has indefinitely closed the Iroquoia Heights Conservation Area after a number of deer were illegally killed by hunters armed with bows and arrows.

"(The area) was closed due to our concern for public safety," Hamilton Conservation Authority general manager Steve Miazga said yesterday. "It's not condoned by us at all."

Miazga said the Ancaster conservation park, east of Highway 403 and north of the Lincoln Alexander Parkway, was closed Friday after a Ministry of Natural Resources conservation officer confronted someone who had been illegally hunting in the area.

Miazga said the conservation officer reported the male hunter was from Six Nations and said he was conducting a "chronic waste disease control study on deer" that involved killing the animals.

"(The conservation officer) discussed the issue with a person on site last Friday and we did not get (any) indication of when that will end," Miazga said.

The authority contacted the Six Nations band council and Chief Bill Montour. Montour said he was not aware of the hunting in the area prior to receiving a letter from the authority.

"I'm not sure of what's happening at all," Mountour said.

He referred questions to Paul General, who oversees wildlife and ecological matters for the Six Nations. General could not be reached for comment.

Miazga said the conservation authority is also anxious to hear from General. The authority had no prior knowledge of a chronic wasting disease study, Miazga said.

Chronic wasting disease is a fatal nervous system disease that infects white-tailed deer, mule deer, black-tailed deer, moose and elk.

According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Ministry of Natural Resources websites, this disease has not been detected in deer in Ontario.

Miazga is aware of illegal hunting incidents Friday and Tuesday in the densely populated park, which is surrounded by houses. He did not know how many deer were killed.

The first report came from Victor Pavlicic, an avid deer photographer who was walking through the park last Friday morning when he saw a pile of deer guts just south of the park's main trail near the middle of the site. "They had cut the belly open and pulled out everything," Pavlicic, 57, said, adding the ministry told him the remains were one to two days old.

Pavlicic called his wife, who called the conservation authority and then the ministry. A ministry officer arrived at about noon and spoke to a man by his truck. Later that day, as Pavlicic was leaving the area, he found a carbon arrow outfitted with three razor-sharp blades.

"It's crazy, them being in there shooting them," he said. "They're almost like pets. They come right up to you."

On Tuesday, the authority delivered letters to adjacent homes, advising residents to stay out of the park until the problem is resolved. The letter indicated the authority is "attempting to communicate with the involved parties."

Mustafa Ghouse, 21, whose family has lived on Old Mohawk Road across from the conservation park for the past 10 years, said he and his family often see deer roaming the neighbourhood. "I could see how hunters would want (to hunt here); there are so many of them."

In January, an aerial census over a 10-kilometre radius of the city conducted by the ministry and the authority found 102 deer in Iroquoia Heights, where there would be ideally 12 or fewer.

While there may be an overpopulation of deer in the area, it doesn't justify the hunting, Pavlicic's wife, Susan, said.

http://www.thespec.com/News/Local/article/671344

Monday, November 9, 2009

valley inn out

From our friends at transportation for liveable communities, a temporary trail closure report:

Work underway on the old bailey bridge at Valley Inn Road, part of the improvements to the cycling and pedestrian environment that are to follow the fairly recent closure of the road to motor vehicles. Above, at around 2pm and below a couple hours later from the same side of the bridge.

My cycling partner and I were able to cross the bridge today, but we had to go over the flexible fencing to do so. Check back here to find out more about the bridge work and any expected work that would block passage.

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Monday, November 2, 2009

i hate "timmies"


Two cups in one. Why can't take-away cups be made so they don't need to double cup? Why do so many Tim Horton cups get left in natural settings, as thought they were a a sleek car in pristine car commercial settings? When does our throw-away society get a grip on sustainability? When will I stop taking photos of abandoned Tim Horton's cups?
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Saturday, October 24, 2009

hydro work: trail disruption

The lower Spencer Creek Trail will see periods of construction activity at the hydro corridor, meaning some trail closures are likely during this time.

Despite posted signs warning the trail was closed (above), the trail was in fact open this weekend with no barriers.

Hikers in the area will be rewarded with a chance to watch the fall salmon run upstream. We saw a few today, in the creek just downstream of the Thorpe Street bridge (below).

Seems like everyone is struggling to get somewhere along the creek these days!

Monday, October 5, 2009

walking dead

The Hamilton Cemetery is set on Burlington Heights, overlooking Cootes Paradise to the west. It is a cemetery with a lot of history, including, other than grave markers, remnants of earthen works used by the British in the war of 1812 against the U.S.of A.

Quite by chance, passing through the cemetery, I happened to look down and noticed the little flags, which then drew my attention to the inscription on the headstone. I had vaguely heard the story of Colonel William Winer Cooke, who was a Canadian killed with the 7th U.S. Cavalry at the battle of Little Big Horn with that more famous fatality, General George Custer.

History is a funny thing, and depending on how you look at it, some players that were once heroes, may not be considered such today.

I have yet to go along for one of the organized local tours of the cemetery, but here is a link to the historical guide of such guided walks.




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Sunday, September 27, 2009

flyin' down the rail trail


The Hamilton to Brantford Rail Trail is at it's best as it passes through Dundas Valley. Take a side trail into the woods and down to the forest streams curving their way toward the Great Lake Ontario. See dog-walkers, joggers, walkers, cyclists, families, couples, soloists, plus a wide array of birds, and forest dwellers like deer, chipmunks, snakes, and if you are lucky, a red fox.
This healthy highway for non-motorized traffic is a wonderful gift to all, commuters, excercisers, and wanderers alike.
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Monday, September 14, 2009

bursting with life

Dundas Valley is just amazing for the abundance of wildflowers, flowers that are now getting ready to cast out their seeds for another generation of plants. Not being a naturalist, sitting on a bench beside the Hamilton to Brantford Rail Trail, I could catalogue several species of plants and species who depend on the plants, all thriving as the human parade passed by on foot and on bicycles.
I encourage you to get out and see this transition, and I think next time I will bring my plant field-guide along.
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Sunday, August 2, 2009

a literary walking stick


A literary meditation on sticks (walking sticks/staffs, like the writer suggests, feel good in hand, no?)

As the World Tree stands, so stands its child, the sanctified stick. Shamans climb it. Maidens dance around it. Men use it for pointing. It points to thunder, to comets, to the migrating herds. Sometimes it points to you....

Stick is the magic penis. When waved, it sows sons and daughters. Stick is also lethal. It cracks a skull nicely.

Guns have been called "magic sticks," but guns are only half magical: they take life but can't create it.

If a stick is twirled under proper conditions, it makes fire. If rubbed against another stick, it makes fire. Once a stick is painted, however, it is assigned to other duties.

Sigmund Freud observed children rolling hoops with sticks. Freud made notes in his journal.

T.S. Eliot wrote:
Crossed staves in a field
Behaving as the wind behaves

In a deck of card, there are four suits: diamonds, spades, hearts, and sticks. The card stick was both the rod of the peasant and the wand of the magi. Whip the donkey. Stir the moon.

Like a sword, or a phallus, it feels quite good to hold a stick in your hands. If held correctly, with maximum consciousness (and that is difficult to do), the stick may suddenly flower.

There is a sense in which a painted stick is a stick in bloom. This stick points to the hidden face of God. Sometimes it points to you.

From "Skinny Legs and All" by Tom Robbins

Friday, July 24, 2009

in Dundas, walking takes many forms...


...according to species: here a Turtle Crossing sign on the 8okm/h Cootes Drive, a busy road for motor vehicles and turtles, with obvious trauma to the latter. Note to drivers: turtles don't tend to dash onto the road like the rabbits, so please drive with care and let the turtles live to lay their eggs. Some turtle species in this area are considered threatened so it is a matter of species survival.

In the photo you see the road, the sign, and the multi-use trail to the right. Walkers seem to pose little risk to turtles...
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Saturday, July 18, 2009

lilium superbum

Turk's Cap Lily: "the largest and most spectacular of our native lilies" alongside a trail in Grindstone marsh, Hendrie Valley.

I am proud of my old 2.0 Mega Pixel digital camera for this shot, and whatever forces of creation make such a beautiful life like this Lilium Superbum (in this case, maybe the Latin name isn't the best..)

And a note to a minority of trail walkers: a reminder to leave the plants where they are for others to enjoy!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

On the Bruce Trail - Hamilton to Dundas

Last fall, not long after I moved from Dundas to nearby Hamilton, I took a hike along the Bruce Trail from Dundurn Street in Hamilton to Governor's Road in Dundas. It was a sort of connecting pilgrimage that I felt I needed to do at the time, a way of saying, it's not that far, I can walk there. Well, that, and the inviting beauty of the trail that helps transmute the daily noise of living into a long, solitary, and highly enjoyable hike.
I did the same route today, this time a summer walk in glorious sunshine, and it took longer to reach my destination as I was able to linger without the threat of a chill. In all, I was walking for a little over five hours. Well, walking and snacking, taking photos, dipping my feet in a forest stream, stopping for lunch at Sherman Falls, etc., but alone, mostly walking, and trying to be present while letting the stresses of life fall to the wayside.
Not having anyone with me was just right today. Sometimes I just like to set my own pace, and not have to worry about talking or adjusting my response to another's needs. Being able to find your natural rhythm is by definition not a group activity.
The route takes me from Hamilton, through Ancaster, and into Dundas, with distinct natural habitats encountered along the way: deep forest streams, open fields, escarpment bluffs.
When I got to the end of my route through the woods, I went to a bus stop to wait for a ride back to Hamilton; after a few minutes a friend drove by, saw me, and pulled over to offer a ride. It was a great way to break the silence.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

walking with the portable Thoreau


"...the walking of which I speak has nothing in it akin to taking exercise...but is itself the enterprise and adventure of the day. If you would get exercise, go in search of the springs of life."

"Walking" by Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, May 17, 2009

c'mon tim hortons drinkers, don't trash the trails!

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What is with people who leave their take-out cups on the nature trails? If you can't afford to own a reusable mug, at least cart the cup to the next garbage container. This one was in Hendry Valley, near Grindstone Creek.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

forest of song

Walkers in the region are being rewarded with lots of migrating bird sightings, including a rare visit by five pelicans in Cootes Paradise.
For budding birders, more common bird sightings will be aided by this site:
http://www.learnbirdsongs.com/index.php
Put a little song in your step next time you are on the trails, there may be a little warbler in your next walk.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Two Wrongs

Lesson One: Keep your dogs on a leash
Lesson Two: Don't use violence to solve differences...

Mother’s Day dustup at Christie

, Hamilton Spectator


Hamilton police believe two errant dogs caused a punchup between two groups of men at Christie Conservation Area on Mother’s Day.

It started when one older man and his mid-20s son went fishing, with their two dogs, at the conservation area Sunday evening around 6:30.

The dogs were not on leashes and ran out in front of two cyclists, an older man with a younger companion.

Words were exchanged. The cyclists dismounted and the younger rider belted the older fisherman in the face.

The two got back on their bikes and the younger cyclist damaged the fishermen’s vehicle before they rode away.

The man who was punched was treated for minor injuries in hospital and released.

Police are looking for a white, 20-something male with short hair who wore a hoodie and sweatpants. His older companion is said to be about 50 years old, about five-foot-six inches tall, who has a beard and gray and white hair.





Sunday, April 5, 2009

springy conditions

On a marvelous Sunny Sunday, with the temperature hitting 11 degrees celsius, there were lots of people out hiking and riding in Dundas Valley today. Most of the trails, like the Hamilton-Brantford Rail Trail were in perfect condition for such users, but there were muddy spots in the gloomier parts of the forest beneath the hemlocks - as evidenced in the above photo, taken on the Spring Creek Trail.

The mud should pose no problem to hikers properly attired, but cyclists should consider dismounting and walking their bikes through such paths, in the interest of trail maintanence; at least that's what I did.
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Monday, March 30, 2009

walkable talk


SPECIAL TO THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR
Dreaming of a walkable world

, The Hamilton Spectator

StreetBeat appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday(Mar 30, 2009)

Hugh Dobson is on the line. He has a few words for me. Ten, to be exact:

"The world has too much transportation. Two feet are enough."

Dobson worked for many years at the Canada Centre for Inland Waters. He mapped, plotted, studied water quality.

He's retired now, lives in the Burlington core. His dander's up because the grocery store near his house was squeezed out by new condos. And the other food stores are beyond his walking range.

So Dobson's now doing some formulation. He has made a list of the places we need to go in this world -- work, grocery, bank, library, medical clinic, park -- and is now trying to weight them, according to how often you need to visit each place.

His formula is still a work in progress. But he wishes we could buck this big box trend, where the only place to shop, go to a movie or educate our kids is miles away.

I tell Dobson his call is most timely. I'm just about to make a call myself, to the Montreal home of Mary Soderstrom.

She has a new book called The Walkable City and will be in Hamilton Saturday, April 4. She'll be attending a panel discussion at 2 p.m. at the Art Gallery of Hamilton, part of this year's gritLIT festival.

Soderstrom knows a thing or two about Hamilton. A few years ago she wrote Green City, and showcased 11 centres around the world. There was much surprise that Hamilton made the list.

But she pointed out that by the 1930s, Hamilton had more parks per inhabitant than any other Canadian city.

But there have been missteps since then. We've been awfully accommodating to the car and it's no wonder that in her new book Hamilton doesn't get cited as walkable.

We reach her at the two-storey row house she and her husband bought in the '70s, in the area north-east of downtown.

On this day, she has already been out for a 75-minute walk, past parks, shops, the school where her kids used to go. Yes, they walked there.

The neighbourhood is called Mile End. The area's garment factories have gone north or offshore. Now the arts have moved in. For instance, software giant Ubisoft has its flagship studio here, with 1,800 programmers, designers, artists. So there is the opportunity for these people to walk to their work. New young families are moving in.

Density matters. "I've heard that you need about 10,000 people for a walkable shopping street," Soderstrom says, a place with a small grocer, clothing store, drugstore, restaurant or two.

Density scares some people. They think it's dangerous. Quite the contrary, Soderstrom says. "You get foot traffic, eyes on the street. We've been in this house 33 years and we've never been broken into."

Her husband walks to the office, about 35 minutes. They do have a car, but only log about 4,000 kilometres a year.

"I've said that when this car dies, I don't want to buy a new one. Besides, in the next block there are three cars parked at Communauto." That's a Montreal car-share operation, where subscribers have access to cars for an hour, a day.

Soderstrom says by North American standards, Montreal is walkable. But Europe is bliss.

She takes us strolling along bustling rue Mouffetard, a Paris street that's part of an old road that led to Rome.

And that street is central to what she'll be saying when she comes to Hamilton. "The walkable city should be as viable in the 21st century as it was in the 18th century. Get out there and walk."

* * *





Monday, March 23, 2009

walking as intrinsically human


"Walking is the great adventure, the first meditation, a practice of heartiness and soul primary to humankind. Walking is the exact balance of spirit and humility."

Gary Snyder from "The Practice of the Wild"

Sunday, March 15, 2009

mud not monoculture


Mud on the March trails, but think about the diversity of species and organisms working together in ecology, and contrast it to a lawn. Where will imagination be challenged? and insight be stoked? where will poetry reside?
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Friday, March 6, 2009

green with strategies

Dundas Valley can spur green economy, vision report states

50-year plan places natural gem at core of sustainable community

Richard Leitner, Dundas Star News Staff
Published on Mar 06, 2009

The Dundas Valley is being touted as a potential hub for environmentally sustainable communities that support local farmers and cash in on its natural treasures.

A 50-year draft vision plan prepared by the Hamilton Conservation Authority contemplates a future in which the valley and Cootes Paradise are globally recognized and the core of a green economy in neighbouring Dundas, Ancaster and Greensville.

To achieve this, the wide-ranging plan sets out 11 goals and 41 strategies, many focused on protecting the valley and neighbouring lands, including by encouraging sustainable tourism-related businesses, development of best stewardship practices and the retention of farmland for local food production. It calls for more resources for outdoor education, sustainable passive recreational opportunities and to ensure pedestrian, bicycle and transit friendly areas.

“To me, the angels are singing on this. I can’t give this praise enough,” said Jim Howlett, chair of the authority’s conservation areas advisory board, which heartily endorsed the plan last week.

“There’s so much left to save here. It’s like we have the cake and all the icing is still on. It hasn’t been taken away,” he said, lauding the goal to encourage a green economy and culture in neighbouring urban communities.

“I think that it shouldn’t just be the conservation authority taking on these kinds of visionary jobs. The study highlighted the need for more long-range, comprehensive types of planning approaches to protecting waterways and natural areas.”

Consulting firm

Sally Leppard, whose consulting firm drafted the plan with input from authority staff, volunteers and the public, said partnerships will be crucial to realizing the 50-year vision because the authority only owns 27 per cent of valley lands.

This includes supporting valley agriculture, she said, a goal which will help stave off development pressures and take advantage of the emerging trend toward locally grown and produced food.

“Our sense is there is a lot of support for this in the community,” she said, noting the public also made it clear it wants the small-town character of Dundas, Ancaster and Greensville preserved.

“Quite frankly, this community has done so much already to protect this area, and what we’re trying to do is just build on that foundation.”

Ms. Leppard said the plan has identified a number of gaps in the valley’s existing preservation strategies, including that many significant aboriginal sites have not been comprehensively documented and ancient trails are not visibly identified. She suggested a parallel Escarpment to Cootes Paradise study being conducted by the Royal Botanical Gardens presents an opportunity to work together to gain international recognition of the area’s ecological importance.

http://www.dundasstarnews.com/news/article/165624

Monday, March 2, 2009

into the west

Standing at the frozen edge of Coote's Paradise AKA the Dundas Marsh looking west from the Desjardins Canal, March 1, 2009. This almost primordial scene is only reduced in its potency by the endless rush of traffic from highway 403 just behind us. But you can't hear that, so enjoy the scene, all ice and sky.

From the city trails web page:

Desjardins Recreational Trail

The Desjardins Recreational Trail is a 1 kilometre long trail extending from Kay Drage Park access road, along the Chedoke Creek to Cootes Paradise, across the creek then on to the Desjardins Canal. Work on the southern portion of the trail was undertaken and funded by the City of Hamilton in 1996 and the trail construction was a component of the bank stabilization work on Chedoke Creek. The northern portion, funded through the Fish & Wildlife Habitat Restoration Project, was developed as a construction access road for the fishway located in the Desjardins Canal and now serves as a maintenance road/trail to the fishway.

The trail was officially opened on May 25, 1996 to coincide with the first anniversary of the Lake Ontario Waterfront Trail. The Waterfront Regeneration Trust provided funding assistance for trail construction. The trail links with the Hamilton Harbour Waterfront Trail, officially opened July 1, 2000.


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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

peer's road?


Digging around in Dundas' history, I found a reference to an old road from the east end of Dundas to the top of the hill:

A new road to Hamilton had been authorized in 1818, and Edward Peer was its builder, hence it was named Peer's Road. From the Dundas Mills yard it followed Dundas Street to Thorpe Street, south across the creek to the foot of the hill, diagonally up the hill to the east reaching the top at the rear of St. Augustine's Cemetery, south along the rear of the cemetery to Desjardins Avenue, across Binkley's Hollow with S shaped bends on the hills at each side, and joined the present Hamilton - Brantford road near the present subway under the T.H. & B. Railway tracks.

History of the Town of Dundas, Part 1 - Woodhouse

Last Saturday I scrambled up the side of the hill, looking for signs of the old road: I thought I found the bottom of the old road at the end of Thorpe Street, as neighbourhood dogs barked encouragement at me from their yards, but partway up the hill I lost track of the path. It was only when I got to the top at the graveyard that I could see what looked like a road right-of-way (pictured above, looking back down the hill). It was later still, when I got back home, that a former Dundas Councillor who lives in this part of town told me that part of the old roadway had collapsed with the hill years ago in a landslide, thereby explaining my difficulty tracing the route.

Exploring the history of Dundas, retracing routes that have all but been swallowed up in time, is something I might do on occasion. With this road, there is still the Binkley Hollow "S" bends to try and locate, and as I push through underbrush, I try to imagine how much the landscape, the sights and sounds, even the people, have changed over the decades, even centuries.

A constant seems to be the capacity for the earth to reclaim human-works, bringing them back into nature's realm, erasing scars with green shoots and spreading roots.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

talking traction


This is probably not news to seasoned winter hikers, but to me the power of traction on ice is a new gift: I was given a pair of yaktrax as a gift, and have used them with much success this cold and icy winter.

I wish I had something like this earlier, like the days when I worked for hydro, reading meters. These slip-on easily over my hiking boots which enables me to walk with confidence over icy sidewalks, and dig in on the slippery forest trails.

Mine come from the Mountain Equipment Co-Op, and the reviews on line suggest that they wear out fast, so it remains to be seen how long they will last. I only use mine when sidewalks are very icy, or if heading out to a trail. They pack small or can be attached to the outside of a backpack en route, so there is no real need to wear them for every walk.

The first time I used them on ice, I felt like I had some kind of superhuman power, able to help my kids (my 11-year-old insists on wearing her running shoes to school) from wiping out.

There are other models with different designs (and prices) so if you have any experience you would like to share, please post a comment or e-mail me.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

walking gifts


A Winter's Walk: by Bronwyn Kay

I was walking with my mom and dad in the snow and I was running ahead and I thought, walking is so wonderful. You can skip, you can run, you can walk, you go go any which way you want. You can talk and run, you can talk and skip, you can go as far as you want to go. You can walk in the woods. You can walk by the road. You can walk anywhere you want. You don't know how important your legs are until you don't have them. So you should walk and run with joy.

You don't need to be going anywhere: just walk and think how lucky you are to have legs. So go out now with joy. Don't think, "Oh, it's cold" or "Oh, it's so hot out today." Just think how lucky you are to HAVE legs! I hope that made an impact on you to go out and walk RIGHT NOW.

Thanks!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

walk to greet the sun

We walked out to Dundurn Park and waited for the sun on Burlington Heights. The new year started with a beautiful sunrise, on a cold, crisp, clear morning. It was especially nice since, due to the holiday, there was very little traffic on York Blvd to disrupt the tranquility of the moment.

The photo (above) shows Hamilton Harbour minutes before the sun crested the escarpment brow to the south east.

May the new year find you on the trails, healthy and happy!
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