Winter of 2021-22: I did not do much, but it was still full of adventures

My fingers were hurting so bad that I thought I would lose them. I could not pull the hand warmers out of my pocket. Such was the ordeal.

Since the fresh snow from the previous day was about knee deep, I selfishly prodded K2 to turn to hiking on a narrow icy trail that had been made by cross-country skiers. When, due to the icy surface and narrowness of the trail, I slipped and fell over onto the snow bank, I decided to put on my ice cleats. I always carry them at the end of K2’s leash in winters. It may have taken me a few minutes to put them on my hiking boots. Still, that resulted in my hands and fingers hurting so much that for a first few seconds I could not even put them back in the mittens.

Then I noticed that a cut on my knuckles from the day before opened up with a streak of blood. Ignoring the wound, I made frantic attempts to reach into the inner pocket of my jacket to pull out the hand warmers. As my fingers touched the parts of my jacket, I groaned due to the excruciating pain. With handwarmers put into my winter mittens and hands warmed enough after a few minutes, I pulled an adhesive bandage out of the medical pouch to apply to the wound.

K2 and I were hiking on a snow-ice trail at -17C with wind chill in the flood control ravines near my home.

Enjoyed the faces of local winter

Although there was one particular day during the last winter (2020-21) when I was out at Scottsdale Farm in the Halton District that I thought that even hell would freeze over (read about that adventure here), generally, this winter was more challenging than the last. It was due to extreme variances in temperatures on consecutive days that would result in snow, melting snow, flooding, freezing snow, and icy conditions.

I went out with K2 every morning and late evening; however, the real fun was on weekends when my furry friend and I enjoyed hikes over snow, snowmelt, ice, and muck in the local ravines, local forested parks, and a conservation area.

Here are some shots showing the weather conditions we hiked in:

Here are some shots showing the conditions of the ground we hiked on:

During these winters I took several shots of wildlife while hiking in local ravines, local forested parks, and a conservation area. Please read about K2 and my wildlife report here.

Stepped into horse riding

I like horseback riding. In order to improve my skills, I enrolled in a local stable by the name of Meadowlark Stables. The riding style is Hunters Class. I think this would come in handy when I go for a day-long horseback riding adventure near my home and visit some Canadian national parks in late spring, summer and early fall and cover some areas on horseback.

outdoors for the entire day

Col Samuel Smith Park spreads over an area of 194.6 acres (78.8 ha) and is located in Etobicoke district of Toronto just before where Humber River falls into Lake Ontario. About 5 km from this park toward east, there are two parks over Humber River – Humber Bay Park West and Humber Bay Park East. These three parks are popular with visitors interested in hiking, dog walking, and wildlife photography. The last-mentioned hobby gets rewarded due to the fact that Lake Ontario attracts many wintering waterfowl here.

On a very cold day on February 27, I went to Col Samuel Smith and Humber Bay Park West for wildlife photography. I spent 6 hours in these parks. I was able to hike and do a lot of wildlife photography of my favorites long-tailed ducks, scaups, buffleheads, trumpeter swans, black ducks, etc. 

One can determine how cold it was from the following shots. Also, there was a storm brewing over the city of Toronto in the far distance, but approaching the Park.

fitness matters

Like many other people, I spend 8 hours in the office/work environment five days a week. Thanks to my HR, I am able to do several short exercises during the work hours, twice a day. Here is a video of my favorite exercise:

Some other exercises include: Shoulder rolls, the cross-hands chair stretch, the progressive stretch, face pressure points, seated cat cow, seated better back, seated lower hip, eye strain prevention, etc.

Recovery matters – dont end up in an emergency ward please

Yes, one can get dehydrated even in winters.

During a long hike in February, water in my disposable bottles froze and I had to complete my hike without any fluids intake. When I reached home, I almost collapsed due to dehydration, asthma, and an extremely high blood pressure. I was admitted in the emergency unit of Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga.

I could hear moans, groans, wails, and cries from patients and our loved ones could not be with us at a time when we needed them the most due to COVID – 19 protocol still in place.

My thermostatic water bottles

To prevent dehydration in winters, I am now aware that I need to carry enough water, healthy energy drinks, and green and chamomile tea in thermostatic water bottles and that I have to take fluids throughout the day. While hiking, these bottles contribute major weight to my backpack and I am OK with it.

For asthma, as a prevention, I always carry an ample supply of inhalers at readily accessible places. This practice came in handy in August 2021, when I was hiking with my son to reach the summit of a peak in Parc national du Mont Tremblant (read about our adventure in the introductory paragraph of the blog here).

I Did not forget winter for trash collection

Previously, whenever I found trash I reported it to our local councilor, who always dispatched a team of municipal workers to get rid of it. I always revisited the site to confirm if the trash was removed.

This winter, when I saw discarded picnic stuff and other trash like those in the shot below, I collected it and disposed it off myself. I also collected doggie poop and poop bags left in the parks and on the trails and disposed them off properly.

However, I could not find a way to use the carabiner hook. I was missing something like this during my previous camping trips. I think I will use it for supporting my camera during my upcoming hikes in 5 provincial parks of Ontario in June 2022.

Watched Winter Olympics 2022

The love affair of my family and I with Winter Olympics began from Whistler in 2010. That was the first time that Canada led all nations with 14 gold, 7 silver, and 5 bronze medals. Who can forget this gold winning speed skating from Charles Hamlin?

We remained glued to our TV in the Sochi, Russia Winter Olympics of 2014, where Canada with 10 gold, 10 silver, and 5 bronze medals stood third behind Russia and Norway in the total medals table.

The excellent performance was repeated in 2018 at the PyeongChang, Korea Winter Olympics where Canada stood third behind Norway and Germany with 11 gold, 8 silver, and 10 bronze medals.

The winter Olympics in Beijing were special for us, because we reminisced our watching summer Olympics in that country in 2008. The inauguration and finishing ceremonies in China during both Olympics were out of this world showcasing the rise of another sports power in the world.

While we watched Canada slipped to 11th place in these Olympics with 4 gold, 8 silver, and 14 bronze medals, it was Charles Hamlin who stole the show for our family. With his gold in 5000M relay speed skating in these Olympics, he became a 6-time Olympic medalist having won 4 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze during the 2006, 2010, 2014, 2018 and 2022 Winter Olympics.

Baby, it was cold and I nearly had frostbitten hand and fingers

Chills go down my spine of even thinking about the ordeal I went through described in the introductory paragraph above.

Picture of the ski path that K2 and I were on and the ice cleat over my boot:

Covered in snow – recipe for frost bite

Why do we have hand and fingers pain in the first place?

When we are out in chilly weather, the blood flow in our hands and feet respond rapidly to the cold. This response decreases the blood flow to the hands and feet, redirecting that blood flow to our torso and central core. Our fingers and toes get cold to keep your trunk warm.

This cold response can have dangerous side effects for our hands, including decreased hand dexterity, grip strength, sensitivity and gross motor function. Continued exposure to cold can even lead to frostbite and necrosis. Tingling fingers and toes are a warning sign that we need to get inside to warm up.

Doing a summertime pursuit in this winter

During summer, fall, and late spring, I jog for small stretches intermittently several times, during my hike with K2, which is twice a day. My favorite venue is along the Credit River near my home. I decided to continue the practice in this winter even during snowfall. I felt healthier during and after the small stretches of jogging. Needless to mention though, it was sometimes mildly stressful due to the slippery conditions, poor visibility, and under the weight of all that winter clothing.

Jogging along frozen ponds and Credit River

This video is the closest to what I was doing throughout these winters:

On the flip side, I liked the passengers in passing by cars look at K2 and me admiringly as we jogged.

Explore with explore

Niagara Falls is our favorite destination. We visit it almost in every season. This winter was no exception. Here is a shot of the youngest explorer in our entourage with a shots against the American, Bridal, and Horseshoe falls, showing one of my favorite articles from the magazine.

Until our next blog, cheers! Be outdoorsy, embrace diversity, and support causes for the conservation of nature!

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