After two extraordinary weeks in Taiwan, I had to come back to Canada, get back to work and get used to the cooler weather (even if fall is particularly warm this year!). But no time to be depressed about the end of my trip, because I immediately got back to my year challenge, which is hiking more than 150 kilometres on the Rideau Trail.
Before leaving for Taiwan, I was at my hundredth kilometre north of Merrickville. This is where I resumed my hike on my return and in three days, I traveled about twenty kilometres in the area of Smiths Falls.
After the hundredth kilometre, the Rideau Trail follows a gravel path that eventually becomes a dirt road going into the forest. There were still water puddles, and I still got my shoes wet, but the mosquitoes had (almost) disappeared and here and there I could see a slight change of colour in the trees and vegetation of the forest. It is impossible to deny that summer is almost over.
After the forest, the Rideau Trail follows a series of country roads towards Smiths Falls. Halfway on one of these roads, I stopped my hike and came back a few weeks later.
This time, fall was really here. The trees spread their foliage of a thousand shades, Canada geese cheerfully cry in the sky en route to the south, and the weather was definitely cooler. But it was a beautiful fall day, a perfect day to be on the Rideau Trail, which was now approaching Smiths Falls.
I have been to Smiths Falls a few times before. In fact, my parents used to take us there every year when we were young to visit the Hershey chocolate factory. For me, as a child, the opportunity to visit a factory that smelled of chocolate and to fill up on treats from the chocolate store was the pinnacle of the perfect day. But I think my last visit to Smith Falls was almost 20 years ago. And I knew that the factory stopped producing Hershey chocolate years ago.
So I was a little excited when I arrived in Smiths Falls. And the Rideau Trail, after zigzagging through a neighborhood, brought me in front of the factory. I never thought I would feel that nostalgic.
Today, instead of producing chocolate, the Smiths Falls factory is used instead to produce therapeutic marijuana. Let’s just say that the surroundings around the factory do not really smell like chocolate anymore …
Then the Rideau Trail went through a small woodland where I found again the Rideau Canal. Like Merrickville, Smiths Falls has a series of locks. Although the village existed before the canal was built (there was in fact a mill on the Rideau River that had to be demolished when the canal was built), it flourished with the arrival of the Rideau Canal. Interpretation signs (in English and French) along the trail explain some of Smiths Falls history.
Smiths Falls is one of the few places along the canal where there is an automated lock (all others are still manually activated). Due to the increase in traffic, a new bridge had to be built over the canal and the lock was relocated. The old lock has been preserved, but today it is used as a water garden.
It was at these locks that I stopped my hike for the day to better resume it one week later. After following the canal for a few metres, the Rideau Trail turns north and then leaves Smiths Falls.
I was starting to look forward to going into the woods again (I had been walking on country roads for more than 20 kilometres) and the Rideau Trail finally gave me what I wanted. At the end of Poonamalie Road was a fenced field. A stile allowed me to jump over the fence to continue my hike. This is where the Rideau Trail goes through private lands. Hikers are welcome as long as they stay on the trail.
I finally got four kilometres into forest, clearings and fields. Here and there, there were fences that I climbed thanks to the stiles. It was another beautiful autumn day, the hike was not very complicated, and the Rideau Trail offered me pretty colourful landscapes.
I stopped my hike before arriving in Port Elmsley. That’s where I’ll pick it up next time. I now have less than 25 kilometres to do before reaching my annual goal. I’m almost there!
My journey on the Rideau Trail: