That’s it. Four months after starting the Canada 150 Challenge of the Rideau Trail, I can now say “Mission accomplished”! It was not always easy, I ruined a pair of shoes, but, despite everything, I greatly enjoyed all these hours on the Rideau Trail.
I had only 25 kilometres left to complete my challenge, 25 kilometres that I hiked in two weekends. One of these days of hiking has probably been the most enjoyable so far; the other was probably one of the hardest.
The last time, I stopped my hike in Port Elmsley, and that’s where I resumed it. I had about 17 kilometres to do before arriving in Perth, where I had parked my car. And I could not seriously have asked for a better day for this hike. It was sunny and rather hot for an October day. The colorful leaves waltzed gently in the wind and the landscape seemed magical under this fall sky.
The trail was rather pleasant. After following Route 43 for a few miles, it made me jump over a fence to continue on private lands. These lands consisted of small woodlands and fields, punctuated here and there with fences that I had to climb over with stiles. I did not meet anyone during these few hours of walking, but the old carcasses of a car and a tractor reminded me that I was not so far from civilization.
At a certain point, the trail meets the Tay River, a tributary of the Rideau Canal. From there, the trail quietly follows the river to Perth. Although pretty, this portion of the trail was almost monotonous, if not for the snake that made me jump by sliding nonchalantly in front of me (and since that encounter with a snake on a trail in Taiwan, I’m really not fond of snakes).
Then I arrived in Perth. After the tranquility of the woods, the streets of this small town seemed rather lively. I think they were several people that also decided to enjoy this beautiful autumn day. I passed by Perth’s famous giant cheese, crossed the main street and followed the trail through Stewart Park. A kilometre later, I arrived at my car, exhausted, but really satisfied with my hike.
I returned to Perth a week later to hike the last kilometres of my challenge. It’s crazy the difference a week can make. This time, no blue sky or warm temperature. Even the colourful leaves seemed to have almost all gone. After the Indian summer of the previous week, November now seemed to have arrive.
And it was raining. A true autumn storm, with wind gusts and icy rain. Technically, I should have decided to do my hike another day. But I only had six kilometres left to hike, and as I was looking forward to finishing my challenge, I decided to brave the rain.
From Perth, the trail heads south to Otty Lake. It is going through private lands again. I walked along fields of corn and crossed some woodlands and clearings. It probably would have been a nice hike if there had been no rain.
But there was rain. A lot. My shoes quickly became wet. I realized that my raincoat was not that waterproof. My hands were frozen, but since I was soaking-wet, I had no way to warm them up.
I think I did this hike in a record time. I was looking forward to finishing it, so no time to take a break to appreciate the beauty of the surroundings. As soon as I hit the 150-kilometre mark (somewhere on a gravel road southwest of Perth), I turned around and almost ran back to my car.
So it’s mission accomplished for my Canada 150 challenge on the Rideau Trail. All these kilometres on this trail were for me an opportunity to rediscover my region and appreciate its beauty. I discovered some gems, like Stony Swamp or the Marlborough Forest, that I would really like to explore more.
And next spring, I would like to add a few kilometres to my log. The Rideau Trail continues to Kingston and I intend to go to the end one day.
My journey on the Rideau Trail:
- Km 1 to Km 5 – Year goal: 150 kilometers on the Rideau Trail
- Km 5 to Km 25 – Along the Ottawa River
- Km 25 to Km 35 – In the wilderness of Stony Swamp
- Km 35 to Km 50 – On the country roads
- Km 50 to Km 80 – Marlborough Forest and its horseflies
- Km 80 to Km 100 – Hello Rideau Canal
- Km 100 to Km 125 – A fall hike in Smiths Falls