Distance hiked: 16 km // 10 mi
Steps taken: 20, 813
Time on the trail: ~4.25 hours
Calories burned: 1, 421
Fuel consumed: 1 banana, 1 apple, 1 cheese string, 2 medium tortillas with PB + honey, 1 clif bar
Wildlife spotted: many red-winged blackbirds, 2 turtles, 7 mallard ducks, 1 otter (or other small swimming mammal?), 1 turkey vulture, 1 garter snake, family of Canadian geese, and TONS of caterpillars frantically crawling across the trail
This past Sunday saw my return to the Rideau Trail, as I hiked a 5-mile section from the intersection of the K&P Rail Trail and Sydenham Road to where the trail intersects with Unity Road. I was expecting this section to be much nicer than the first section of the Rideau that I hiked, and I was not disappointed. This section heads out of the city pretty quickly, travelling cross-country through farm fields and forest.
The first 5.5 km of the trail overlapped with the K&P Rail Trail, so this section was flat, wide, and easy. The trail ran parallel to the 401 highway for about 2 km, so it was a bit hard to feel truly immersed in nature. However, there is a wetland area in this section that was absolutely teeming with life (this was where I made most of my wildlife sightings, somewhat surprisingly). After 2 km, the trail heads through a tunnel right under the highway, and then moves away into the countryside.
After 5.5 km of rail trail walking, the Rideau Trail split off from the K&P Rail Trail, and headed onto a tract of private land. At this point, the trail became much more ‘trail’ like, with twists & turns, ups & downs, and roots & rocks. This was when the hike actually began to feel like a real hike. I had seen quite a few other people using the K&P trail, but this Rideau section was fairly deserted (I saw two people leaving the trail as I approached, and that was it), and it got a bit spooky at times as the trail ran through some darker forest sections. The nice thing about these sections was that they finally provided some shade, as the rail trail had been much more open and sunny. It was about 30 degrees Celsius out, so the trek quickly got hot and sweaty.
My 5 miles were up just as the trail emerged from the section of private land onto the side of Unity Road. The trail ran alongside an empty farm field for the final stretch, and I could see a solar farm across the road. I stopped here to sit in a shady patch (in the middle of the trail) and eat some lunch, before turning around to walk back to the car.
This style of out-and-back hiking wears thin fairly quickly. I would have loved to explore 10 continuous miles of the Rideau, instead of having to turn back and walk the same 5 miles a second time. This is one things I’m looking forward to about thru-hiking, and why I tend to prefer hiking loops if possible. It’s always nice to keep moving forward, rather than having to eventually go back.
Trail lesson of the day: Chocolate bars liquefy in 30 degree weather.