Obstacles Ahead

As I was driving to my hike destination this week, a message from the City of Toronto played on the radio. The message was simple: Stay home.

But I wasn’t staying home, and I felt a deep twinge of shame. Toronto isn’t in complete lockdown (yet) so I’ve been selfishly walking quiet streets and trails for exercise and anxiety management … sticking to places I’m certain I’ll find some isolation.

And my planned hike this day was virtually guaranteed to be quiet.

Helen ‘accompanied’ me on this excursion, close to where we both live. I say ‘accompanied’ even though we drove in separate cars, and were respectful of each other’s 6 foot personal space as we walked along shouting to each other.

Our destination was a portion of the Waterfront Trail which runs along the base of the Scarborough Bluffs.

For all of its beauty, this section isn’t overrun with people at the best of times, but I suspect that the one kilometre trek down the escarpment to reach the waterfront discourages most casual traffic from making a second visit.

ok – maybe the signs were also a major deterrent.

Going down isn’t so much the problem, but the long, steep climb back up is a heart-pounder.

The Bluffs have been eroding dangerously for a while now, and treks along the top are strongly discouraged. However, it appears the base is also in danger – and not necessarily from high water levels as the posted signs suggest.

Helen and I have been regulars on this trail for a long while, but this was the first time we have ever encountered a collapse of the Bluffs which had avalanched onto the path.

With the current suspension of all non-essential services, it may be a long time before city crews can clean this up, but intrepid walkers had already beaten a path across the debris. We chose this spot to be our turnaround point.

On a day that alternated between soul-recharging sunshine and gloomy overcast, we enjoyed the beauty of the waterfront with minimal human sightings.

Evidence of humans

While the wind off the lake was a bit on the chilly side, the calming crash of waves against the shore was exactly the balm we needed. We chose a rock retaining wall to park ourselves for a short while to enjoy a couple of peanut butter cookies.

Normally we would be noshing on Morning Glory muffins, but the muffins have been another casualty of the empty store shelves.

After this walk however, peanut butter cookies might become our new norm.

Be well!


  1. We are now walking locally everyday. There’s some discussion here about whether it’s allowable to drive somewhere for a walk: it seems unclear. I can see the arguments about not introducing the virus into less populated areas, and also (and this is very clear here) not doing anything to put yourself at risk when services are stretched eg that might require mountain rescue or hospitalisation if you had an accident. So we don’t do it. I felt nervous enough going to my mum’s with supplies yesterday – it’s about a half hour drive. My defence is the “caring for a vulnerable person” exception, though I didn’t need it. This time. Strange days!


    • I have to admit, Anabel, on these recent walks I hadn’t considered the possibility of getting hurt and needing emergency help.

      Several years ago when Helen and I were doing our end-to-end hike of the Bruce Trail, we were very sensitive to the fact that we were often in isolated, dead zones without cell service. An injury could become a very serious problem, so we were ultra cautious. I think that mentality needs to be dusted off again.

      Thanks for the reality check.


  2. I have had similar feelings. As this situation has unfolded I’ve found myself on the local trails. When announcements from the various conservation authorities cane out stating that trails were closed I was disheartened and a bit angry that the spaces that are so open would be closed. I do understand, to some point, the logic behind this.
    Walking the streets is not the same for me as forest trails. I prefer solitude to crowds, so the trails have been my go-to for as long as I can remember. Fortunately, I have found a few exceptions that are accessible for now.

    Keep safe, keep well, this will end.


    • I was very dismayed when I got an email from the Bruce Trail Conservancy asking people to stop using the trails. Although the conservation areas can close their gates and parking lots, there are many, many great hiking places on the Bruce that are accessible and very isolated. From what I understand, locals have been complaining about non-locals coming into their community to access the trails and ‘putting them at risk’. Sigh. I just don’t know if I buy into this thinking.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t buy it. The Simcoe CA stated that they are not able to maintain trails, but in my experience, the trail crews are usually two people who can perform the work while separated. I think it’s more around liability. Lawyers are going to have a field day with this when the dust settles. For now, I have a place to go, where I can find peace and a place to refresh myself.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Whoa, that erosion is serious! The hike was beautiful to see through your viewfinder and recount.

    Three of my neighbors and I have been walking together and one and I are doing some photography together, but we are driving to the destination separately now too, and mindful of having 6 ft between us so our conversations are a bit on the loud side right now.

    When we’re walking to the gate or mailbox we take up the whole road as we’re so spread out. 😀 Outside of He-Man, the grocery store pick-up run and them that’s my world of contacts right now. I’m very grateful to have that!

    Peanut Butter cookies as a refortifying snack to get you back to the cars…yep, sounds just about right! 😋


  4. Walking for mental as well as physical health is so important right now and if you chose your spots, social distancing and often isolation is possible. Have had more waves and hellos called across as I walk Ivy than ever before – social cohesion but physical distance is how one official put it 😊


  5. It looks like a beautiful walk.

    I am envious; we’re being told to stay in our neighbourhoods and only drive for essential stuff (food and medicine basically). I live just far enough away from a beach to make walking infeasible 😦


  6. You mentioned cheap gas prices – couple that with the empty highways – I am itching to travel – which is so not like me – but a moot point – staying put, staying safe.

    Glad you and Helen and the PB cookies got out for the day.

    Be well, Joanne. ❤


    • It doesn’t seem quite fair, does it? Although the fact that no one is going anywhere is why gas prices are so low 😕

      We’re all just trying to stay healthy right now.

      You too, Maggie. Be well!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. PB cookies are always an acceptable treat. I haven’t been to a park since all this began, but walking up and down our suburban streets has suddenly turned into a pleasant experience. People have remembered how to say *hello* as we pass. This makes me feel less anxious.


  8. You and Helen are such rebels! 😀 My neighborhood is quite hilly so a walk is especially ‘invigorating.’ There are some runners and bikers, but we all spread our ‘airplane arms’, smile and move on. We are not on total isolation, either, here in Florida, but the streets are pretty empty. Gas is so darn cheap now, my husband is just itching to go somewhere so he can fill up the car while gas prices are down. It makes sense if you think about it for a bit….


  9. We too, have been sourcing areas to be able to get outside for some fresh air, while still maintaining the practical of physical distancing.

    Sadly, even our local conservation areas have now been closed so today we (hubby & l) bundled up & took to our bikes, finding untraveled roads to ride. The fresh air sure felt wonderful 🚴‍♀️. Hugs to you my friend💕


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