Tuesday, October 17, 2017 broke as a spectacular fall day in London, Ontario, Canada. Little did I know that my barefoot run would bring me close to Nirvana and God’s kingdom on earth! I headed from home with no expectations other than a goal of SAFELY reaching Western University along the Medway Creek trail system and returning home the same way.
With that in mind, I ventured onto the path and into a spectacular sunrise that literally stopped me in my barefoot running ‘tracks’! There was an almost eerie silence that I found ethereal in nature – nohumans, the odd chipmunk, no God-awful ear plugs pumping who knows what into my brain. Just me, God and Nature doing our thing!! Of course, there is a path of sorts that has been created over many years by walkers, joggers, cyclists and animals. Having said that, much of it is natural and a totally stimulating running environment for bare-footers. As I proceeded along the trail (not certain I was on the CORRECT one), I remember a neighbour telling me “keep the creek on your left side and you will get to the university”. Easier said than done, as I found out! There are sections where the ‘path’ takes you inland with many off-shoots that I found tempting BUT sensed they were NOT the correct paths. As I got deeper into the bush, there
before my eyes was the sign of humans ‘hands’ at work. The Thames Valley Conservation Authority has constructed beautiful bridges over creek tributaries and steps leading up the steepest sections of the trail (see photos above). This, as I have been told, has been done to make the system more user friendly for those of all ages. Of course, I was NOT about to use them during the run – it was me gliding through the creek and up the sides of the hills. A daunting challenge but exhilarating nonetheless!
Breathtaking beauty was all around me- from the steep cliffs to the radiant waters of the Medway Creek (with the sun reflecting off the surface at every turn).
One section of the trail was so narrow and over-grown that I figured “this is it. I’m lost now!”.As it turned out, I was simply led into another section of panoramic beauty along the creek bed. You can see the reflection of the trees and the build-up of fallen natural debris – creating a haven for snapping turtles, beaver and the like!
From there, I came across a series of low rapids that added to the natural beauty of the trails. The sound of the water was soothing yet a warning to stay a safe distance…just in case!!
Having negotiated my way over fallen trees and along brush-covered trail,
I finally emerged on the western edge of Western University (near Saugeen-Maitland residences, to be precise!). It was rather disappointing to encounter humans and the ‘human touch’ of pavement, concrete buildings and unnatural ‘noise’. The only thing to do was turn back into nature and get swallowed up in the serenity! This is precisely what I did with gusto.
The way back seemed totally different – more densely wooded, steeper drop-offs, less well-marked trails…I wrote this off to it being my first run through the area and a subtle brain freeze. I kept
reminding myself “now, keep the creek on your RIGHT side”. This again was a challenge but did keep me on course for home. As I reached the man-made stairwell, I will admit that the sheer number of steps and pitch of the terrain from the top down was impressive AND intimidating. I still ran down the side of the cliff! Would you expect anything different???
I finally reached my new ‘swimming pool’ – my reward for a run well done! I slipped on my Sockwas and gingerly entered the creek at the base of a rocky path. It was well worth the effort!I then took one last shot of the sun shining through the forest and spent a few moments locking in the feeling of runners’ Nirvana and the wonders of God’s way.Everyone should be so blessed…