*** This text is part of a series of blog posts that I have written on my Rideau Trail hike. To read the other blog posts of that series, click here***
In my last story, I described how excited I was to finally be able to leave the city behind me to go into a little wilder territory. I had no idea how much that would be the case.
Since I had a cold (my wet shoes from the previous week probably did not help), I decided to do less kilometres and to focus on hiking the portion of the trail that goes through Stony Swamp. I started the hike back to where I left off last time and after following a bike path near Bells Corner, I arrived at a place where the Rideau Trail leaves the bike path rather abruptly to get into the tall grass and the forest. I was entering Stony Swamp.
Stony Swamp is part of the Ottawa Greenbelt. In fact, it is probably the most important protected area in the nation’s capital. It is home to many plant and animal species, some of which are pretty rare. And, as the name suggests, Stony Swamp is a rocky swamp that dates back to the Precambrian era.
Stony Swamp has several kilometres of trails, but my first kilometre on the Rideau Trail did not seem to follow any of them. The narrow path zigzagged as it pleases into the forest and I confess that if there had been no orange triangles to show me the way, I would have been rather lost. Especially that puddles on the trail (yes, here too) were making the hike much more difficult.
But here, no traffic noises. Even if the city was not very far, I could only hear the wind, the birds and … mosquitoes. And there was no one else than me. In an hour of walking, I met a snake and two deer (including one that crossed the path elegantly a few metres in front of me), but not a single human being.
The Rideau Trail eventually took me back to an official Stony Swamp trail. But again, nobody. And there too, a lot of water. I was pretty agile for the first few kilometres, jumping over the flooded areas without too much problem. But the many mosquitoes added a difficulty factor. It was impossible to stay at the same spot for too long without having the impression of being eaten alive (no, I had not thought to bring mosquito repellent with me). And the puddles became wider and wider on the trail. To such an extent that for the second time in a few kilometres on the Rideau Trail, I found myself with completely soaked shoes.
After crossing the rocky part of Stony Swamp, I finally arrived at a wooden boardwalk. And I realized that the reason I had not seen anyone up to this point in Stony Swamp was that most people had the presence of mind to turn back after noticing the amount of water who was waiting for them on the trail at the end of the wooden boardwalk.
But I already had wet shoes, so the puddles of water no longer scared me. I was even at the point where the mosquitoes did not bother me anymore (almost). I therefore continued my hike. I crossed Old Richmond Street to enter another section of Stony Swamp. There was no one there either. I walked until I reached a sign stating that I had reached the 30-kilometre mark on the Rideau Trail. Yeah!
Just then, I saw something moving in the tall grass near the wooden boardwalk I was on. I first thought that the plump animal that wandered within a yard of me was a beaver. Until it raised its cute head lined with quills to stare at me. It was my first time seeing a porcupine so closely.
I then decided that all the deer, snake, porcupine and mosquitoes had given me enough entertainment for my short hike on the Rideau Trail. I returned to my car with the intention of resuming my hike where I left it another day. But before, I’ll take the time to heal my cold. And to buy a good mosquito repellent!
Next: Richmond and the country roads
My journey on the Rideau Trail: