Hiking at Princess Point

I have always loved Hamilton for its proximity to such a large number of natural spaces for hiking and hanging out. Most of these places are easily accessible by city buses or short bike rides. One of the first hiking areas I spent a lot of time exploring was the area around the wetland of Cootes Paradise because it's so close to McMaster. My residence was right next to a trail that led into this beautiful magical space with a network of trails leading to bridges, boardwalks and secret sit-spots along the shore. 

I have a soft spot for this particular forest because it is where I kept bumping into Rysio the first few times we met. When we were in university and both lived a lot closer to Cootes Paradise we'd both go walking there with friends who knew each other and we'd chat. Meeting there cemented our friendship and I'm so glad that we have a nice story about how we met. 

Some of my favourite things about hiking here (and other places too!): the smell of autumn, even when it's cloudy there seems to be so much light filtering through the trees, watching the forest change, the feeling that you are an adventurer who is exploring the unknown, stumbling upon little mushrooms and creatures, seeing other people having fun outside, playing little games, singing songs and taking a ton of photos. 

There are lots of neat animals and birds to see in Cootes: swans, white-tailed deer, fish, herons, rabbits, turtles, beavers and snakes. Of course there are a few fungi too. 

It was fun to walk here with a friend from up north because we compared this forest to our own vast boreal forest back home. Being the somewhat nostalgic person that I am, I always gravitate towards coniferous forests and all the other plants and animals that you find there. It's also very unusual for me to see so many people in the same patch of forest. The day we hiked at Princess Point we saw about 75 people! In the more rural parts of northern Ontario it's more likely that you won't see anyone at all, I think I prefer that kind of quiet solitude. This is probably an impossible thing to wish for in a forest next to a city of half a million people!  

I'm planning to check out Albion Falls next time I go for a hike. Where do you like to walk outside? 

White River Suspension Bridge - Pukaskwa National Park

I grew up with a ridiculously gorgeous national park a very short distance away from home. I have a lot of memories spending time in Pukaskwa: swimming in what seemed like gigantic waves, hiking in ethereal boreal forests pressing into a temperamental inland sea, camping, kayaking trips down the coast and the list goes on and on. Believe me, I realize how incredibly fortunate I was to have grown up near this protected environment.  

On my last visit home I had a lot of free time and gorgeous weather. I took both my time and blessing of good weather as a sign that I needed to do something new and exciting, something I had planned to do for years but never got around to doing. My parents and I hiked on the Pukaskwa Coastal Trail, from the visitor's centre to the White River suspension bridge and back. This challenging 16 kilometre undertaking is listed on the park's website as "not for the faint of heart" and I would also add not for the weak in spirit. The trail takes about 6 hours to complete and plenty of snacks and water. If you've packed a beer for the trip, you'll soon realize you have neither the will to carry it nor the body hydration to stomach it, this trail is for serious hikers only (or insane joggers out to twist their ankles, but that's another story).  
While the trail is challenging, the most important aspect is that it is gorgeous and the scenery and ecosystems you walk through are varied. There were tons of interesting things to look at, as usual I was particularly obsessed with finding and photographing every mushroom in my path. There are several lovely boardwalks that allow you to traverse rivers and some of the muddier areas but there aren't a ton of stairs to help you out on the steep climbs. I mention this because Pukaskwa has many beautiful hiking trails that are far easier and more accessible with stairs for some of the more challenging inclines. 

Once you arrive at the White River, which is not a misnomer, you have the opportunity to cross the newly constructed suspension bridge that hangs 23 metres above the raging river below. This becomes an excellent opportunity to test your fear of heights and your trust in civil engineers. Let's just say I'm grateful that I waited long enough to do the trail so that I didn't have to cross the old bridge that was made of ropes and wood and could have been in a movie where the hero runs across it just as the final strand of rope gives out. 

While the hike to the bridge and back isn't an easy one, it is entirely worth it. I would do it again in a heartbeat and I fully intend to spend a little more time exploring other parts of the Pukaskwa coastal hiking trail on my next summer visit. 

I'd also like to add that my mom (who is a marathon runner) did this trail when her knees were sore and she made it the whole way because she is such a trooper. She also informed me that the whole hike is "a lot harder than a marathon" mostly because of the tough climbing up and down but also because there are a lot fewer people standing around to cheer you on. I'm glad that she and my dad put aside their training (my mom's running training and my dad's ironman training) to spend a whole day hiking with me. I love them so much and I'm glad they passed their adventurous attitudes on to me. 

Life Lately

A little bit of what I've seen and what I've been up to for the last month or so:

Inventing the brownie-cookie mash-up, inspired by my favourite ice cream (Ben and Jerry's Half Baked) / Sending my love out into the world / Watching little fledgling robins learn to fly

Faux Inuksuk - Toronto waterfront / Waiting in luxurious airport lounges / Cheering on Ironmen

Taking photos of Rysio until he pleads me to stop / Painting and decorating for a wedding / A new necklace from White Elephant in Hamilton 

Rural Poland


A few days after the wedding, a large group of us travelled by car about two hours outside of Warsaw to a small town called Kazimierz Dolny. The road took us through countless villages and farmland and the conditions reminded me of the highways in northern Ontario when I was growing up. During the drive Ola, Rysio and their cousin taught me songs in Polish (which I sadly can't remember). 

My travelling companions explained that the town is historically known as an attraction for artists who come to stay in the riverside village to paint and sell their work. Once I arrived it was easy to see why, the town is picturesque, retaining many features of its life during the renaissance period. 

The parish church of St. Bartholomew and John the Baptist. 

The ruins of a castle built in the fourteenth century. 


After eating lunch in the market square with Rysio's family we wandered around the town. Many of us decided it would be a good idea to climb the trail up the large hill that sits beside the town. The climb was fairly easy and provided us with an excellent view of the parish church, the Vistula river and the farmland beyond. The Vistula is the longest river in Poland and it travels through most of the famous Polish cities, including Warsaw, Krakow and Gdansk. 



We stopped in a beautiful field on the way home to take pictures. It took a long time to get to the town and back to Warsaw but it was entirely worth it. One day I will go back and go into some of the shops and maybe the parish church, as I'm sure it is even more beautiful inside.

Warsaw Street Art

There was a lot of really impressive street art in Warsaw. 

One of my favourite things about public art is that it is available and accessible to everyone. Street art takes fine art and makes it available to anyone who wishes to seek it out; it isn't stuck behind velvet ropes, glass cases or admission fees. There are rarely plaques with information about the artist or the intention behind the art, making the viewing experience an exercise in interpretation for the viewer.  There are no definitive meanings and the viewer's interpretation can be influenced by the urban environment that surrounds the work. 


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