28 April, 2017

My Happy Place is a Journey

Do you have a favourite spot that brings you a sense of joy, zen or serenity? There are so many places across this fine country and especially along the Trans Canada Trail where one can take in a beautiful view, get close to wildlife, exercise or simply take some time to enjoy the day. And, that got me thinking about my “go to” trail, or as I like to call it, my happy place. The pathway I’m referring to runs through A.E. Wilson Park and continues to Wascana Creek and Park. It’s a well-used and well-loved trail located in the north end of Regina, enjoyable at any time of year.

Just thinking about my happy place along the Trail makes me – well, it just makes me happy. I don’t think there’s a clearer way to put it. Whether I’m out on foot or bike, with my kids or on a solo venture, I always feel a sense of gratitude that The Great Trail passes through my home town, making it so easy to be active and in touch with nature.

It’s because of things like accessibility, a variety of pathways, wildlife and great places to view sunsets that I return time and again to the place that makes my heart sing.

Another reason this trail speaks to me is because of its connectedness – I’m not just referring to the physical trail itself, rather the sense of community found along it.

Spot on for birding

In the early spring my favourite thing is to dust off my binoculars, and then slowly make my way through the heavily treed pathway to spot migrating visitors who call Regina home for the summer. A.E. Wilson Park definitely tops my list for inner city birding.

A huge diversity of birds can be found from brown thrashers, northern flickers, Baltimore orioles, cedar waxwings and vireos to loons, Clark’s grebes, gadwalls, mallards, northern shovelers, mergansers, merlins, black-bellied plovers and many more! It’s truly a great part of the Trail to wander and birdwatch at the same time.

You guessed it, birding makes for my happiest moments on the Trail! That realization got me thinking: What does happiness on the Trail look like to others?

8 favourite places on The Great Trail

All it took was a quick informal question to my Facebook friends. Recommendations poured in after mere minutes of asking about favourite places along The Great Trail. Whether the places are compelling reflective or amaze with their scenic beauty and tranquility, these happy places are found from coast to coast.

So, in no particular order, here are some Trail sections you may want to visit, explore and take some time for wellness. Whether that comes in the form of sitting quietly, via yoga mat or meditation session, or even over a quiet lunch (or birding!), one thing is for sure, these parts of the Trail are much loved.

  1. “Believe it or not, the part of the Trail that runs along the base of Parliament Hill, along the Ottawa River, is amazingly tranquil. All just steps from the hustle of downtown Ottawa!”
  2. “It goes past my parent’s cabin in Wardner, BC. It’s a cool section of the Trail constructed on a former logging railway line, and the trees grow and shroud around the Trail like a tunnel in some parts.”
  3. “It goes through a suburban neighbourhood of Burnaby, where it offers some beautiful views of the Burrard Inlet.”
  4. “The Skytrail section outside of Outlook overlooking the South Saskatchewan River is pretty spectacular.”
  5. “The section of the Niagara River Recreational Trail between Niagara-on-the-Lake and Queenston is a beauty.”
  6. “There’s a section between Thornton and Cookstown that I like because it’s multi-use and you occasionally see horses; and I’ve seen beaver activity along the way. It’s not the most remote — but there’s a real mix of animals, wildlife.”
  7. The Confederation Trail in PEI is lovely.”
  8. “There’s a section of trail between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, which is breathtaking.”

*Please note there is no intentional omission of any sections of the Trail or provinces or territories for that matter – these are simply word of mouth recommendations.

Jenn Smith Nelson is a freelance writer and photographer. Catch up with her via her blog www.travelandhappiness.com.

My latest backyard friend, a beautiful great horned owl has been up in my tree all day! Amazing!

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