Walk along the shoreline of any of Muskoka’s idyllic lakes in the autumn, deciduous leaves bursting in an array of burnt colours, and you find yourself reaping unspoiled rewards only nature can provide. To do so mindfully, with a sense of surrounding in each of your steps, and you can turn a simple hike into a reflective practice.
Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist, says, “walking meditation is practicing meditation while walking. It can bring you joy and peace while you practice it. Take short steps in complete relaxation; go slowly with a smile on your lips, with your heart open to an experience of peace.” These thoughts resonate while walking on the pine-needle strewn trails of what was once Lady Eaton’s Bridle Path, hugging the waterside of Lake Rosseau. The esteemed Eaton family owned more than 50 acres of land here, which has, since 1967, been host to the independent school, Rosseau Lake College. In preparation of its upcoming 50th anniversary, the school has begun the process of restoring Lady’s Eaton’s Bridle Path; most recently a group of student volunteers helped to clear the stone steps that once led to her palatial cottage manor and garden. The manor no longer exists, but the newly renovated gardens give us a glimpse of her early 20th century tranquil lifestyle.
Hiking Muskoka’s trails in the fall, discovering igneous rock formations reflecting in the misty waters, glimpsing stolen moments of wildlife— this is not just an excuse for exercise. It is a chance to connect with the past, to being present in every step, heading towards a future full of gratitude for natural delights such as this to start the day.
Eric Daigle is the senior English teacher and Academic Lead at Rosseau Lake College.