Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Winter Hiking: Smokey Hollow in Waterdown

“It had nothing to do with gear or footwear or the backpacking fads or philosophies of any particular era or even with getting from point A to point B. 

It had to do with how it felt to be in the wild. With what it was like to walk for miles with no reason other than to witness the accumulation of trees and meadows, mountains and deserts, streams and rocks, rivers and grasses, sunrises and sunsets. The experience was powerful and fundamental. It seemed to me that it had always felt like this to be a human in the wild, and as long as the wild existed it would always feel this way.” 

- Cheryl Strayed, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Happy Hump Day everyone! It's middle of the week already!

Waking up this morning was a bit tough. Yesterday's hike through Smokey Hollow in Waterdown kicked my butt. After being sedentary most of of the fall and winter, going on a 2.5 hour hike after a major snowstorm is not a small task. If I thought I found all my muscles after last week's hike, I was wrong. I definitely have more I didn't know about.

Smokey Hollow Valley
It's beautiful out here

No matter how I'm feeling today, yesterday's adventure felt great.  I am completely hooked on winter hiking.

The trail I picked is not one of the easiest ones.  The hike begins with descent into the valley and for quite a while I was either climbing or going down but mostly going down (or sliding on my bum on couple of occasions).  The  return trip is a bit more laborious because the most of the climbing is reserved for the last leg of the hike, as one has to climb out of this valley, by which time exhaustion sets in a bit.  Challenging but fun nevertheless.

I had an objective for yesterday's hike. I wanted to find Chaga mushroom. Chaga mushroom grows mostly on birch tree, it grows in the middle of winter and it's considered a superfood. A tea made of Chaga mushroom is full of amazing nutrition.

Unfortunately I was out of luck. I only found one birch tree and there was no Chaga mushrooms to be found on it. Smoky Hollow is very poor in birch trees, at least up to the point that I got to yesterday. I never knew about it because I never looked for birch trees here.  All hope is not lost though, the trail is very long, maybe there are some further up.

The only birch tree I found

Overall the hike was amazing but tough mostly because of lack of good cardio on my part. The Sunday snowstorm has dumped a lot of snow and walking was challenging even on the flat terrain. There was a couple of people ahead of me and at first I simply followed in their tracks. When they sat down to rest I got ahead and had to make my own way through the snow. It was not easy but fun. Talk about uncharted territory.

There was no critters to photograph or film yesterday. None. They were all hiding somewhere.  That's quite a difference from the last hike. Only some distant bird calls from time to time tickled my ears and reminded me that not all wildlife is asleep. Otherwise it looked as an entire forest fell under hibernation spell. All nature frozen in time.

I made a short video of yesterday's hike.  2.5 hours compressed into just over 6 minutes.  I hope you like it.



  1. I really love these videos you make of your walks. I think that's a wonderful idea... :)

    1. Thank you Dee! I really enjoy making them... it's like taking the wilderness home with me. :)