The elusive bridge

This trail visit was rather a spur of the moment hike. The hubby and I had a Geocache Challenge on the weekend for Habitat for Humanity. I figured that I should probably test (okay have my first attempt) at actually finding a geocache. So I loaded my kids into the van with my mum as well and we were off to find a geocache. For those unfamiliar with what a geocache is, it is usually a little Tupperware container that is hidden at a specific coordinate that you have to find. For the first attempt we ended up being able to track down the right area but after looking online it seemed as though that the specific geocache was no longer there, bummer.
Wanting to find at least one geocache before the challenge the next day I figured there had to be one hidden away nearby. That is when I remembered that the Thames Conservation Area was close by. I haven’t been there before so thought it was the perfect opportunity to explore what it had to offer. When we got there I was pretty blown away by the size of the parking area. It is huge! There is definitely more than enough room for trailers and boats to park.
To be honest I never explored this area before as I always felt it was a sketchy place for some reason. I’m not too sure why, perhaps because I didn’t hear about it often so I just assumed it wasn’t anything great. My first impression wasn’t exactly fixing my feelings of the overall sketchiness as I watched my 3 year old start picking up stones to get ready to throw into the water, only to realize there were broken beer bottles all over the parking lot and right where he was picking up rocks. After my sudden shock I quickly put him in the wagon with strict instructions to both of the boys of no getting out as it wasn’t safe. 
Not a bridge…
There were some geocaches in the area including a clue about a bridge. We thought we saw a bridge nearby so did a quick walk. We were wrong; it was actually a boat launching area. Huge! It looks rather new or at least well kept with a little bit of a dock as well where two older gentlemen were relaxing and fishing. I was pretty ready to leave this shady looking place so turned around to go back to the van. There was a lot of green space- so perfect for those who want to play games or whatnot, but I didn’t see any trail to actually walk. As we were heading back to the van my little guys were not impressed our walk was already over. They are starting to really enjoy our new hiking lifestyle. Wanting to be the good mum that I strive to be I walked a bit closer to the water to take some pictures and let some stones get thrown into it. Happily to our right, we saw a group of trees with a trail leading into it. I don’t know who was happier myself or the boys!
Entering the trail was almost like entering a whole new world. It reminded me slightly of the Fairfield Museum Trail but actually able to walk through it. These were the thin dirt trails that are made only by repetitive walking, so I wouldn’t recommend strollers but our heavy duty wagon took it like a champ. There were many different ways you could walk around following the different trails even though they all led to the same spot in the end. Some took you under giant trees that formed an archway over the trail, while others brought you to the side of the river.
It was very shaded thanks to the huge trees that surrounded us. I can’t think of anywhere else where I have seen so many gigantic trees. The plants that were on both sides of the trails were also nearing our height. I may have gotten in trouble by my mum who is quite a bit shorter than me when I asked her if she felt like she was a hobbit from Lord of the Rings.
We did see the bridge that we were aiming for in order to find the geocache but sadly as we got to the end of the trail we realized the trail was not attached to the same trail as the bridge was on. That is why this is only Part 1. The one year old has taken up photography so once he sees me with the camera out he is crying until he can be carried by me and can take his own pictures as we walk (you might catch his artist’s contribution of fingertip smudges on these photos) He is not exactly a tiny baby so I was ready to sit him back down in his car seat when we got to the car. Besides, by the time we got back to the car the boys were past lunch time and used up all of my bribes, sorry, all the snacks I brought to buy some time. I am looking forward to exploring the other parts of the Thames Grove Conservation Area now that I know it isn’t as sketchy as I originally thought, and rather quite beautiful (and middle-earth like) once you are on the trails.
I would like to add that even though I was unable to find any geocaches during my practice time, we did end up finding 23/27 of them during the challenge and got second place. I think I have a new passion forming and the boys are excited to not only go for hikes now, but going treasure hunting as well! If you haven’t heard of geocaching before I strongly recommend looking it up and giving it a try.

Happy Trails!

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