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Lake Ontario by bike: Waterfront Trail

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Wow. I will take him up on that. Russians know how to travel and enjoy life. I joked, 'So you got fired and went to Siberia.'

We parted ways and I hiked up the valley wall to take a bridge and a short street hike to the Gatineau trail, past Lawrence and across Toronto's 'ribbon of health', the parkland courtesy of the power lines running across Toronto. It's apple season, and delicious, scabby but not wormy ones, abounded. I stocked up on Edens and stopped for a break to watch a cricket match between the Pickering Panthers and Markham sports club.

Unfortunately, a big gap before you get to Taylor Creek trail and the Lower Don trail, and I got a bit lost, but I still can't imagine using GPS on such a trip. It would spoil all the fun of discovery, testing my self-reliance, my ability to 'get there' with just a tattered map.

For anyone adventurous enough to follow my route, be sure to read your bike map (free at any bike store) to find the entrance to the Taylor Creek trail. I missed it and hiked down some rickety steps (a long way!) to a muddy path that clearly was a mistake. There was the trail, but on the other side of the meager Taylor Creek. Would there be a bridge somewhere? Would I have to wade across with my bike?

I propped up my bike and scouted ahead around the bend and another bend. Yeah! A bridge. So I carried my bike along the 6 inch path up and down over roots to safety.

It turns out that was my last snag, and the Don trail, now spruced up and widened for the busy traffic, was clear sailing.

I use the term in all seriousness. Biking on an adventure like this is every bit as much fun, as in-tune with nature, as sociable, as healthy, as sailing, or better yet, flying. As I took the lift up to the bridge-walkway over the tracks in Pickering at 10am, I noticed how the 'high-flying' bridge was encased in a curved, lattice-work coat with a nice long slit down the middle. It struck me: that's so birds don't smash into the glass walkway. And nice for us humans too. Cool. My travelling soulmates.

And where do you think the walkway-bridge was going? Of course, to the 4-storey garage for commuters to leave their mini-tanks, snug and safe. No need to drive them at killer speed on the 40deathway. Now if only we could close Pickering nuclearpower station. The Greens and NDP wanted to. The Liberals and Conservatives prefer to keep the time bomb ticking.

Oh, I forgot the red-tailed hawk on the Lower Don trail. Perched in a tall, dead tree, lord of the air, cocking its head at me quizzically, then returning to its regal pose.

Addendum: Just 5 minutes from Pickering, as I started the trail, a fellow in an orange robe, a Buddhist monk, walked past me on a tiny bridge and we greeted one another. I thought nothing more of it, but then 5 minutes from home, at Osgoode Hall on University Avenue, I heard soothing chanting (across from the US Consulate?) and saw hundreds gathered, commemorating Ashura, the anniversary of the assassination of Hussein, the most revered Shia saint. I stopped and was treated to delicious traditional fare and a young Muslim, Sami, spoke with me, delighted at my interest, eager to share his faith.

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Eric writes for Al-Ahram Weekly and PressTV. He specializes in Russian and Eurasian affairs. His "Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games", "From Postmodernism to Postsecularism: Re-emerging Islamic Civilization" and "Canada (more...)

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