A Thankful Hike

McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve: Cool Hollow Trail, overlooking Second Marsh

Yesterday we were to visit Petroglyphs Provincial Park, northeast of Peterborough, to see the ancient rock engravings and to hike. The timing is about perfect to see the autumn leaves before they all fall. However, the rain decided that we would postpone until today. This morning when we awoke we decided we weren’t really in the mood for the two-hour drive each way, especially having to drive back home in the heavy Thanksgiving Day traffic. In Canada, we celebrate Thanksgiving Day on the second Monday in October.

Instead we decided to go someplace nearby and where hunting is not allowed. Last weekend I was hiking and heard gunshots at least every ten minutes. Some of which were a little too close, making it difficult to relax. So after having breakfast, we headed out to McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve in Oshawa, figuring there would be no hunting in a relatively urban hike.

McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve: Cool Hollow Trail

McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve is one hundred and twenty-three hectares (308 acres) wedged between Second Marsh and Darlington Provincial Park. Between them they total 400 hectares (988 acres). Marshes aren’t really my favorite places to hike, but as I always say, “There is no such thing as a bad hike”. The day was thoroughly enjoyable.

Our 5 km hike over portions of the reserve’s extensive trail system brought us along the west side of Second Marsh down to Lake Ontario where we headed east along the Shoreline Trail. Before heading back along the shore and then up the west side of McLaughlin Bay, we watched duck hunters set up their decoys just off their blind in the reeds. I had forgotten that duck hunting is allowed in Darlington Provincial Park. It always seems strange, due the park’s close proximity to an urban centre, that hunting is permitted.  I must remind myself to always check to see if hunting is permitted when we head out.

McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve: Flank Trail, overlooking General Motors Canada head office

As we stood on the spit between the two bodies of water,  McLaughlin Bay and Lake Ontario, we could see the difference in the water colour; one body of water had a lot of movement because the other had not; one had many visible plants and life and the other not so much. The most fun was had fun skipping rocks over the calm water of Lake Ontario.

Walking along the rocky spit was a matter of having to find the right consistency of rock under foot to make the walking less of a chore. At times the larger rocks were easier to maneuver and at other times it was the smaller rocks. It all had to do with the firmness of their immediate surrounding  determining whether they splayed around your foot or held fast.

McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve: Shoreline Trail, overlooking McLaughlin Bay and Lake Ontario

This being Thanksgiving Day, I reflected on today’s activities and am:

  • Thankful for my health and the chance to get out and enjoy nature with my family today
  • Thankful to General Motors for the use of their land surrounding their Canadian head office
  • Thankful for the birds, animals and insects we saw today. Especially, how seeing them thrilled my daughter
  • Thankful that the dog excrement that I stepped in while at a “Dog’s are not allowed” reserve, finally washed off my boots by the end of the hike so that I didn’t track it into my car
  • It was on the side of the 401 highway that I was especially thankful that myself and my family were safe; thankful that my reflects were fast enough to react to the old woman who obliviously changed lanes and tried to occupy the exact spot we were in forcing our car off the road.McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve: Shoreline Trail, overlooking McLaughlin Bay towards Darlington Provincial Park

After all is said and done, it was a great Thanksgiving Day!