Nature – Bearbells
Bearbells by Leslie Noonan
Nov. 5, 2023 – Not every hike needs to be out in the backcountry, although that is where I prefer to be. However sometimes I just don’t have time to get out during the week like I would like to. This is when I take whatever opportunity I can, and sometimes that means a spur of the moment stop on my way to do other things.
Near the end of September I was driving along hwy 26 near Minesing, on my way to a doctors’ appointment in Creemore. I was craving a hike, but just could not carve out time to strap on my pack. I happened to note a trail crossing sign ahead, with a small parking lot next to a rail trail. Thank goodness there was no one behind me, as I attempted my best Dukes of Hazard move, slamming on my breaks and making a quick turnaround. Although the rubber remained on my tires and not on the road, my maneuvers were enough to make my seatbelt snug up and lock.
Once safely parked, I donned my hiking shoes and grabbed my gear that I always keep in my car, just for emergencies like this; and yes, the need to get out in nature is an emergency!! This trail turns out to be a part of the Simcoe County Loop Trail, which is popular with bikepackers and walkers. It encompasses 160 km of mostly rail trails from Barrie, to Orillia, Midland, Penetang, Elmvale and back to Barrie. I happened to be stopped at the Minesing station, just east of Minesing. There is some interesting information provided about the history of the area, as well as about the drumlin that Minesing sits on. From here, I could head south to the Minesing swamp or north towards Elmvale. North it is!
The trail is well maintained, and is an easy hike, walk or bike. I really liked the section that travelled straight through a farmer’s field, with drainage ditches and brown fields on either side. From here you enter more wooded areas, with some marshy spots. It was a grey day, and though I didn’t see any animals, or even hear a bird, I was content to be outside and on the move, and I was really on the move, as I only could squeeze out a very fast thirty minute hike. In all, I maybe only managed 3-4 kms on this easy trail before returning to my car. As it was, even driving a wee bit fast, I just managed to get to my appointment with literally a minute to spare.
That short time outside really made a difference. While it may not have been as long, or as remote as I would have liked, I immediately noticed the effect it did have. My mood was greatly improved, and I felt happy and relaxed. So get out when you can, even if it just around the block. Fresh air and being near trees and grass are known to improve mood. Leave the headphones at home and put your cellphone on silent and join the “new” movement of “silent walking”. Yep, this is a thing. Being outside without distractions is meditative and encourages mindfulness, as anyone who loves nature hikes can tell you. And best of all, this mood booster is totally free!