Well that was interesting – last night, Saturday January 28th, we took in the Mill Creek Adventure Walk
I’m guessing the warm weather caused a lot more people to take in this event, than the organizers could have expected. We got to the area around 8 PM and found it very busy. The first challenge was finding a place to park. After ten minutes driving around the residential streets to the west of Mill Creek Ravine, I gave up hope of finding anyplace close and parked about 4 blocks from the access road to the Mill Creek Pool parking. I’m not sure if it was the darkness or the crowds (or just my own fault for not paying enough attention to the information on the web) but it was not clear where we should be going. We made an unnecessary trip down the hill to the pool before realizing more people were going up the hill than were coming down. We went back up, turned north and were on track as indicated by the movement of the crowds and the colorful lights hanging from the trees along the path.
There were crowds though. I had expected a rather peaceful walk among nature but rather I felt more like I was walking the crowded midway at Capital Ex. Fortunately it was a warmish night so there wasn’t a need to warm up beside the fires because the crowds made it difficult to get close to them. The crowds also made for huge line-ups for hot chocolate – I presume that is what the line-up was for but I couldn’t actually see what was at the front of the line.
There is no doubt that this event created a magical experience down in the Mill Creek Ravine. There were a number of colorful characters in costumes, lanterns of different shapes and colors along the trail and kaleidoscope of colored light on the ground in places. The characters, animals such as a raven and skunk were part of a story around which the event was based although we found it difficult to really put the narrative together. As mentioned there were numerous wood fires for warming, which would have been especially welcome if the evening temperatures had been more seasonal. Nonetheless, they did add a nice atmosphere to the event. Did I mention the ice slide for the kids, the video screen and the facade of a snow castle?
The portion of the trail that went down beside the frozen creek was more like what I expected – it was less crowded but still busy enough that you spent half your time watching that you didn’t bump into somebody and the other half watching where you were stepping (and I did almost fall a couple of times when I didn’t notice icy patches on the otherwise snowy trail). This attention to safety did mean it was difficult to take in the ambiance of the trail but fortunately at teh north end of the trail was a large open flat section to take it all in.
Next time I attend this event my plan will be to go later (like at 10PM) unless the temperatures are in the -20C, which should make for smaller crowds (and hopefully some hot chocolate for me).
Hopefully this event will continue in years to come but in the mean time I am looking forward to the third part of the Winter Light Society‘s 2012 festival, the Common Ground on February 10th and 11th in Giovanni Caboto Park.