It’s the middle of the week and I am going hiking! I’ve been invited to join my retired friends on this outing because I am a newbie in the retiree club. I can now take advantage of this unfathomable freedom. What a feeling!
We are spending the day in Gananoque hiking at both Jones Creek and Landon Bay, two beautiful national parks along the Thousand Islands Parkway. It is a cold and cloudy April day, and although a few snowflakes have manifested themselves, I am undeterred. After all, it is Wednesday, and I am not at work! Will I ever get used to this?
As we walk through the woods, first on bark chips, then on a bed of pine needles, I have a lot of time to reflect. I think of how the Outdoor Club has evolved since I joined sixteen years ago. Although members have come and gone, some have been here longer than I have. This core group has grown with the club gaining valuable outdoor experience, lasting friendships, and undeniable health benefits. With this shift has come opportunities to expand our activities beyond mere weekends, thus giving not only seniors, but also shift-workers, and others, opportunities to take part in more outings. As more of our members are sauntering towards our golden ages and looking for ways to remain active, now is the time to adapt our schedule to meet these new demands.
The persistent drum-roll of a woodpecker on an overhead tree pulls me from my reverie and I turn my attention back to the present. We are approaching a long boardwalk onto the marsh, and as I walk behind my companions, it takes me a moment to realize that I am not crossing a bridge over the water but heading towards a dead-end. This is a look-out with a view of the creek. We take a moment to observe our surroundings and then retrace our steps to the trail to complete the rest of our walk.
The next hike in Landon Bay takes us on a big loop circling the entire park. There are some rock-strewn segments, and we must tread carefully. A boardwalk around a rock outcrop on the edge of the bay leads us upward via a switchback. At the top, we find ourselves at the heart of a shady haven of lush green moss contrasting sharply to the more somber stone. Our hike continues with stops along the way to study unusual trees such as the Shagbark Hickory, which looks pretty much as it names implies, and of course the Wishing Tree which, according to its sign is more than 170 years old. Unfortunately, its hold on life appears precarious and it may need to make a wish of its own to reach its bicentennial.
As far as days go, this one has been golden. It was a colourful launch into the next phase of my life, full of richness, the kind that fuels memories. Best of all is the realization that I am no longer forced to cram all my outdoor activities into weekends and vacations. I can banish the restlessness I feel when the mountains are calling on the wrong day of the week and learn to enjoy Monday mornings with a paddle in my hand or snowshoes on my feet. I hope that others in the club follow suit on their own journeys and join us for some mid-week activities.
For more information about the Cornwall Outdoor Club, visit our website at www.cornwalloutdoorclub.ca or follow us on Facebook
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