A Winter Wonderland Walk: Snowshoeing Through Meech Creek Valley
Today, it was a beautiful winter morning in Ottawa, the snow had stopped falling, and the sky was a breathtaking cloudless blue. Despite the cold temperature (minus 17 C, which feels like minus 22, according to my weather app), I joined a group of friends for a snowshoe walk to the Herridge Shelter in Meech Creek Valley.
I love to see the winter landscape in all its beauty, and today's walk was no exception. The deep snow on the ground, the blue sky, and the snow-covered trees gave nature in this area a stunning appearance. Walking on snowshoes is a unique and peaceful experience that I thoroughly enjoyed.
I believe Ottawa is the perfect place for those who love the change of seasons. From the famous tulips in late spring to the hot and often humid summer, to the colorful foliage of autumn, and finally to the long and cold winter with plenty of snow, this city has it all. While springtime flowers bring me the most joy and hope, winter also has its beauty and charm. The fresh snow and the blue sky today created a magical wonderland that was indeed a sight to behold.
The tree branches were heavy with a blanket of snow, and I loved walking through the quiet landscape of fields, forests, and frozen lakes. As the sun and wind both grew stronger, snow sometimes fell from the trees, glistening in the bright blue sky. The silence of the landscape, only broken by the crunching of my snowshoes, was like something out of a fairy tale. I felt so grateful to be able to take in all of the beauty that winter offers.
I encountered a feeding station for birds along the way, but they flew away as I approached. However, I was lucky enough to spot an American Red Squirrel jumping down from a tree in search of food. These squirrels are easy to recognize with their reddish color and white belly. Due to their diet of evergreen tree seeds, there are many of them across Ontario's coniferous woods.
They may adapt their diet to include items like berries, bird eggs, acorns, hazelnuts, mushrooms, mice, and sunflower seeds from bird feeding stations like the one I passed; however, they are equally at home in deciduous forests, backyards, parks, and urban settings. I often enjoy watching them in the street while working at home. They even have a sweet tooth and have been observed tapping maple trees to consume the sap's sugar.
We all reunited at the end of the trail, the Herridge Shelter, an excellent spot for lunch during the winter. Thanks to the wood stove, the shelter was warm and inviting, and there were picnic tables inside. The Herridge Shelter serves as a reminder of the pioneering history in the area.
Between 1820 and 1880, British, American, and French-Canadian pioneers began settling in the Gatineau Hills, including the Irish immigrants Edward and Bridget Healey, who established a homestead around 1863. The nearby shelter was later built by the Cafferty family, another family of Irish immigrants. However, it was named after its last private owner, William Duncan Herridge, an Ottawa lawyer and son-in-law of Prime Minister R.B. Bennett.
After a relaxing lunch, where my friends were kind enough to bring coffee, tea, brownies, and muffins, we walked back the same route. The light had changed, giving new impressions of the postcard-perfect landscape. I will cherish this walk for a long time and am already looking forward to my next winter walk in Ottawa.
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