Evergreen Brick Works to Crothers Woods
A hundred steps and a hundred turns we walked this sunny Sunday. In all fairness, it was much needed after a delicious brunch at Cafe Belong at Evergreen Brick Works. Our story of the day came from Augusto. In a bazaar close to the cafe, among all the stores of fancy jewelry, dresses and food stores serving steamed momos, hot chocolates, noodles and more, was stall-owner with a smile as bright as the day. This stall, Brave Soles, sold wallets and purses of beautiful designs made from recycled leather. As we soon discovered, Augusto stood admiring his creations perhaps because each had a unique story of its own. Among them was a blue wallet. It was made from Airplane seat covers! How many stories had this little piece been witness to in its lifetime! The excitement of a lover flying to meet her partner after a long separation, a family chatting about the beautiful vacation they were headed to, an old man reminiscing the many highs and lows of life. As I held that little piece in my hand, I almost wished it could talk. Close by lay a black purse, made from the tyre-tube of a bicycle - one that once helped a young girl learn her first ride in the protected arms of her father, or perhaps one that a young lad rode miles on a countryside journey in a most distant land. People gathered and heard about these wonderful tales while wondering which set of stories to make a part of their own.
My journey so far had already been a calm and enlightening one - one that made me think of all the tiny tales with their own cauldron of beautiful emotions that chance around us every day. All that I needed to witness these wonderful tales was a heart of adventure and a deep breath keen to stay still and feel the universe around me.
Crossing through the chatter-filled bazaar we reached the hikers trail. a bride & groom with their troops had gathered for a photoshoot, a family had come to spend an evening exploring the wilderness and then there was us, in search of hidden treasures in the form of stories amidst nature’s beauty.
While walking along the regular paved trail, you may miss an unpaved, narrow, hidden climb. Take it and you’ll brave through outreaching shrubs on both sides until you begin to hear the gentle sound of a stream. The paved path would be far beneath you on the other side by now, but you likely wouldn’t notice. We didn’t. For, if looked at closely and with a mystical eye, one can observe the depiction of the seven chakras formed by the seven mini pond-like formations in the stream - each one clear and letting the water flow smoothly through them. Looking at this tranquil site, a two minute meditation session isn’t as far-fetched as it may sound.. By our side at that moment was a beautiful butterfly with grand orange wings and a thick beautiful back frame line, sitting just as calm and basking in the sunlight.
There are several opportunities at a diversion on this trek until you arrive at a bridge. Immediately beyond it, just like any truly worthy experience in life, we were faced with the challenge of a tricky off-path climb.. Mr. Fly stood right behind me through the climb, making sure I made it all the way to the top. Afterall, behind every successful person is their special someone! And it was worth it, for the other end of the short climb puts this trail in its true perspective. It is at the highest point with an unobstructed view of acres of greenery, water sitting calmly and birds flying, that one also sees the distant skyline of downtown Toronto. And at that moment, you realize how you have effectively stolen minutes of solitude and nature escape even as the busy life of megacity goes on all around you.
If you’d rather avoid the unpaved climb, you can also reach this spot from the other side. Just follow the unpaved trail past the highest point that the paved trail leads you to. We could see that gently meandering paved path at a distance below. As we began our descent to it, however, little did we know that we’d never reach it. On our way down, we came to an open area with another curious unobstructed diversion. This one was a very short steep drop to weed-laden railway tracks! A chance encounter with another hiker - a kind man with his friendly dog who had come out for some exercise - revealed that it had been abandoned. As if to underline the storied theme of the day, it reminded us of the time when trains would have taken passengers across this serenity, filled with stories and conversations of their own.
We descended down to the tracks and began walking north, opposite to the Evergreen brick Works where we had begun our trek. As we walked on the track for another half hour, shrubs gave way to bushes and trees, one of which had an eerie cobweb-covered travel bag hanging in one of its branches. How many more years would pass before it revealed what secret it held inside? Eventually, we entered Crothers Woods! We hiked through the woods, walking across a tiny bridge made of a few logs of wood, and at one point, we even decided to wet our limbs and sip on water flowing between two trees in half-a-meter wide stream. The hike concluded with a wooden stairway that opened up to what was the main entrance to Crothers Woods.
Bikers and walkers, all trace these steps every summer day. And yet, the two sets of trails are together hiked upon by few. We did it by accident. What held our hearts strong were the occasional passers-by, greeting a simple “hello” in true Canadian fashion. They reminded us that among the citizens rushing through the offices of this megacity, there will always be those on the other extreme, welcoming you, should you too ever lose your way into beauty.