After many, many days of cold and rain and general miserableness, our weather made a huge comeback today with cloudless, brilliant blue skies and a temperature that didn’t make me want to turn tail and crawl back into bed. Charlie and I were both glad to get out for a good stretch, and we ended up doing more than 5 kilometers (3 miles) on the trails up at MacKenzie King Estate in Gatineau Park.
Though with all those hills we had to climb, I’m sure I should be allowed to double that figure… 😉
I love to wander through the Gatineau hills, and in my opinion, this is the very best time of year to do so. A perfectly gorgeous day (sun shining, cool enough to be brisk and warm enough that I didn’t risk frostbite when taking photos), a scant handful of people met along the trail, utter quiet (apart from Charlie rooting through the leaves), and an unimpeded view of the sheer tenacity of nature.
The Gatineau hills are the remains of what used to be mountains as craggy and soaring as the present-day Himalayas, now worn down by time and the elements to mere nubs of their former glory. While providing the highest elevation in the area, the hills really aren’t that spectacular from a distance. Get into them, however, and you cannot help but feel their solidity, their timelessness, their sheer dogged persistence in the face of millions of years of erosion. It’s a tenacity that finds an echo in the trees growing now from the solid granite and quartzite, the layers of moss and lichens that cling, the stream that etches its way down a hillside.
Stand quietly in surroundings such as these and you begin to feel the heartbeat of Earth herself. And to realize how very fleeting you are.
A short walk today. Despite the fact I’m fighting off a cold, I’m determined to squeeze out every moment I can from autumn this year…especially with that distinct chill in the air that’s suddenly present. I swear I can smell snow coming. Sigh.
Still, today was beautiful again, and with rain predicted for the next few days (a great deal of it on Sunday…urgh), this may well be the last of the glorious colours to which we’ve been treated. Already some of the trees have but a few leaves left on them, clinging stubbornly to the remains of the season. Kind of like I am, lol. There’s still plenty of green to be had as well, but when those trees turn, it’s without the pomp and ceremony of the maples, oak, ash, and aspen. So really, impending cold or no, I had to get out there for at least a little while. Right? 🙂
I hadn’t planned on a walk today…well, at least not a hike. But as I sat sipping my first cup of coffee this morning, the day outside my window became impossible to resist. I am so glad that I’m the type of person who gives in to impulses! 🙂
Wanting a change from the vista along the river (as lovely as it is), I headed up into Gatineau Park. It was only 10 a.m. when Charlie and I left the house, so I figured I would beat most of the Fall Rhapsody traffic. Was I some wrong. The plan had been to do a short walk near the park information centre, but when I pulled into the parking lot at 10:15, it was packed, with the field next to it open for overflow. I was so not into bumper-to-bumper walkers on the trail…
Doubling back, we parked at a nearby picnic site with a trail across the road from it that I had been wanting to do for years. Charlie is much more amenable to unplanned walks than my husband, and was quite happy to check out the new territory. The new and breathtaking territory. A hardwood forest in autumn is spectacular. We had a hard frost last night, and the leaves fell like rain — a shower of burnt orange, crimson, and rich, vibrant yellow, scattering across the forest floor and almost obscuring the path in places. Slabs of granite rose like monoliths, standing in silent testimony to the ancient, violent upheaval that raised the hills and the Laurentian Mountains beyond.
My utter enchantment with the day and the surroundings made for a burst of energy and enthusiasm and I walked much, much further than I’d intended. So far, in fact, that by the time I decided to turn and head back for the vehicle, my legs had turned wobbly from the climbing. I think that means I need to do this again. Soon. 🙂