January 20, 2018: Canadian War Museum to Remic Rapids Sculptures, 3.0 km
Almost one full year ago, I posted my first post on the Rideau Trail. We had rounded the corner (or so we thought) on a tough second ankle reconstruction and were excited to start the new year with adventure. A month later, we discovered the surgery didn’t work and my other half was back to heavy pain killers and hobbling with a cane. This past September, he went in for his final surgery; he had his ankle fused. He’s been working his way back to his new normal through a number of roadblocks over the past four months but when 2018 hit, we were determined to get our lives back and put the misery of pain and injury behind us.
And so, we hit the Rideau Trail again. We really didn’t know how Bob’s ankle would do so we just planned to walk until he started getting sore and tired. The plan was to simply turn around and walk back to the car since we didn’t anticipate we would get too far on this his first foray into physical activity with an ankle filled with five metal screws.
We parked at the War Museum, where we finished our 2.5 km hike of the Rideau Trail last year. We were lucky that we didn’t have to walk the first 2.5 km – from the locks to the museum – because it is still closed to the public after flooding last spring damaged extensive parts of the path behind the parliament buildings.
It was a beautiful day of 5°C, a spectacular day to be outside. It was overcast and the trail wasn’t in great condition due to the temperature but we didn’t care. Bob wore snowshoes and used poles in order to afford him the utmost of balance and security on his new ankle. I simply wore my microspikes. I could easily have bare-booted it but the spikes make walking over snow and ice so much easier. This path is beautifully groomed and welcomes all types of activities – skiing, snowshoeing, bareboots and fat bikes. It follows the river and the scenery is gorgeous.
We felt the temperature warm us as the sun peaked out of the clouds. It wasn’t long before we were unzipping our outer layers and taking our gloves off. It was rejuvenating for the soul, having lived through weeks of extreme cold, high winds, and freezing rain. When we hit Lemieux Island, Bob said he could keep going so we aimed for Remic Rapids.
We ended our first “hike” of 2018 at the John Felice Ceprano’s rock sculptures – 3 km from the War Museum – before turning around to make our way back.
Here are some shots from the day.
September 24th, 2018: Remic Rapids Sculptures to Mud Lake, 6.7 km
It took 8 months and a tornado to get us back on the Rideau Trail. At this rate, we should be hiking into Kingston when we’re 347 years old.
To be fair, we spent a lot of time travelling elsewhere – Iceland, Amsterdam, and I took a trip with a girlfriend to Nashville. We also had a busy summer working on the cabin and once holidays were over, it was back to the grind. But the tornado that swept through Ottawa on September 21st gave us an unexpected day off and we decided to make the most of it.
We started where we left off, at the Remic Rapids sculptures and noticed some new additions to the area. There were pieces of natural art all around the area – branches painted blue, figures carved out of tree stumps, some strangely alien sculptures standing on spindly legs in the shallow water and Ceprano’s stone figures stood silent and stoic in the low water.
It was a beautiful day and our first official Rideau Trail walk in a season other than winter. We have walked this trail countless times before as we lived in this area of the city for three years. It is always beautiful and every time I walk it, I think about how lucky we are to live in a city that celebrates its natural features.
The NCC paths that the Rideau Trail travels along, are also well used by many others – moms and strollers, older folks out for a walk, runners and families on bikes and lots of dogs and their hoomans. But there is another species that uses them that you should be very aware of. MAMILs.
MAMILs are Middle-Aged Men In Lycra and they terrorize the NCC bike paths. Even though it is the law to have a bell on your bike and to use it lest you give the person you’re passing a heart attack, and that the speed limit for bikes is a leisurely 20km/h, MAMILs scoff at both, easily topping speeds of 30km/h and whizzing by so closely that the draft spins you around, without any hint of a warning other than the quiet hum of their tires as it approaches at an ungodly speed. So if you value your life, please walk on “your” side of the path, lest you be run down. At least in winter, you don’t need to worry about them.
The path that leads you through the city of Ottawa is a smoothly paved path that is easy to walk along. One could easily walk a 5 km/h pace in running shoes. You could wear any type of footwear, to be honest, depending on how comfortable they are for you to wear – even boots with heels or flip flops if you can handle walking in those.
In this section that follows the Ottawa River, there are a number of smaller paths that veer off the main paved path. Anytime you see one, you should take it. Sometiems the just lead back to the main path. But sometimes they are hidden entrances to the shoreline, where you can sit quietly on a rock and enjoy the peaceful scenery. It’s kinda magical.
Sometimes the trail just follows the older paths that are no longer suitable for bikes and strollers.
And even though you are still in the central part of the city, you’ll cross a beach, pass some high rises, wildflowers, and fairly regular benches, some with views better than others.
Eventually after an hour and a half of walking or so, we came to Mud Lake Conservation Area. Mud Lake is a really interesting area because you may very well live in Ottawa but never know it existed. It’s only accessible by NCC bicycle path, and the closest place to park is through a maze of tiny, curving neighbourhood roads. Even off the path, it’s very discreet. A simple sign really at the beginning of the trail, a rusted bike rack and a bear-proof garbage can.
But just beyond that gate is 60 hectares of ecologically unique swamp habitat alongside the Ottawa River. It is fragile so dogs are not allowed.
Our next hike will take us through Map 18, from Mud Lake, across Carling, through the Greenbelt. Again, these are trails that I have biked many times but now I will be walking them as part of the Rideau Trail.