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Duo offer ‘adventurous hikes’ via practical book showing off Halton, Hamilton and Niagara trails

'Escarpment Trails and Treks' is a basic starting point for those interested in taking on two-hour nature walks. Global News

Two women devoted to adventurous hikes say their new book is the result of what they characterize as a “deficit” in hands-on practical guides identifying walking paths across southern Ontario.

Chris Parr, 70, and Sharon Tkacz, 65, say Escarpment Trails and Treks is a basic starting point for those interested in taking on two-hour nature walks around some two dozen trails they’ve discovered in the Halton, Hamilton and Niagara regions.

“The information we give on each particular hike is more about maybe some geographic information, historical information about the area and former uses,” Tkacz told 900 CHML’s Good Morning Hamilton.

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“We wanted something that was practical, that we could know where to start, where to park, where we wanted to do our hikes.”

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Officially launched April 22 via a book signing at The Handmade House in Dundas, the pair say suggestions from local hiking groups also make up the recommended journeys experienced as part of safe activities amid the pandemic.

“We decided to do some more adventurous hikes together because we were sort of our own little safe bubble outside,” Parr said, “and started looking for suggestions for where to hike and get instructions where we could find places.”

The guide gives concise step-by-step instructions via two-page profiles and points out historical as well as geological interests in an expedition ending with a final destination.

Equipment recommendations are included in the journal as well as detail around the terrain hikers might encounter.

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“If someone is new … (they) start with ones that are flatter and (it) would be a little easier to take the time on those,” said Tkacz, a Burlington resident.

“It doesn’t take long to get used to this and get a little bit more ready for some of the more hilly or challenging hikes.”

Parr, who lives in Dundas, says sights include waterfalls, natural cliffs, streams and numerous historical ruins, like old gristmills and woollen mills.

“We also found that we were there are certain trails that have deer and wonderful sightings of heron, woodpeckers and (other) wonderful birds,” she said.

Both Parr and Tkacz agree the trips have supported their mental health and cognitive function, beneficial effects suggested by a McMaster University study explaining the benefits of spatial navigation.

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“When we have to negotiate an uneven trail … synapses in your brain, helps you with your cognition and your awareness of your surroundings and your planning behaviour,” Parr says.

Escarpment Trails and Treks can be ordered on Amazon and Indigo and is available in several local bookstores.

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