Thanks to our friends on CTV Morning Live Ottawa for having us on to talk about fall hiking in Ottawa/Gatineau Park.

We cover gear to bring and where to hike from beginner to advanced. Watch video below, and check out our TOP 5 GATINEAU PARK HIKES.

Mary Anne Ivison

Mary Anne loves hiking, mossy rocks and her gig as a radio personality. She is in pursuit of becoming an ADK 46er and touching every mountain on planet Earth.

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Congratulations! This is your first step to becoming a HikeAddict. We love hiking, and the whole point of this blog is to share our love and passion for hiking with you. However, actually getting outside and actually doing it can be a bit intimidating. Here’s our “A Beginner’s Guide To Hiking” to help you get outside, connect with nature, and get some exercise in the process.

Where do I go?

I find this a big barrier for some people, where the heck do you start? It doesn’t have to be complicated, but you should have an idea where you’re going. Thank God for MAPS! Oh, and bring a buddy.

Here are some of our favourite beginner hikes in the Ottawa area:

Mer-Bleue Bog

Pine Grove Trail

Stony Swamp
Old Quarry Trail

Pink Lake Trail

Here’s also a list of our favourite hikes in Gatineau Park if you want to be a bit more adventurous: CLICK HERE!

What do I wear and what do I bring?

If you’re just starting out to see if hiking’s your “thing”, you don’t have to invest in $300 boots and merino wool (yet). Test out the trails with clothes you would wear to the gym – with a few extras.

Hiking Beginner Gear:

– Good, sturdy shoes or hiking boots
– Athletic socks
– Gym clothing or whatever you’re comfortable in (I would suggest long pants to help against bug bites/nature critters)
– Sunglasses
– Hat

When it comes to clothing be sure to check the weather before you go – a raincoat is something I usually carry!

Small Backpack to Hold The Following:

– Water (at least a litre, drink the whole thing!)
– Snack (nuts are great)
– Hand sanitizer
– Kleenex
– Bug spray or a natural repellent
– After-bite
– Sunscreen (apply before you go)
– Bandaids or small first aid kit
– Map (or your GPS on your phone)

Goodluck on your first adventure, and if you need anything don’t hesitate to email us at HikeAddicts@gmail.com!

Mary Anne

Mary Anne Ivison

Mary Anne loves hiking, mossy rocks and her gig as a radio personality. She is in pursuit of becoming an ADK 46er and touching every mountain on planet Earth.

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So there’s absolutely nothing fab about socks, no matter how I work my way through this. But my hope here is that I write this post and maybe someday someone is researching hiking socks, Googles “Best socks for hiking” and stumbles across our blog. One can hope, right?


These are the socks I swear by and brought with me to hike Mount Kilimanjaro. Of course it’s a personal preference but if you’re looking for kick-a$$ socks that will keep your feet warm, dry and comfy then read on!


5) Wigwam Merino Light Hiker Socks

Not only is Wigwam fun to say, they make great socks too! Ok, that deserves an eye roll. I like how these are a little tighter around the arch of your foot and have cushioning around the heel and forefoot. Can we all just take a second to read the top review for these socks titled “The Beatles of Socks” where they’re compared to “a million of the world’s cutest puppies licking your feet”?

‘Nuff said.

4) Smartwool Hiking Women’s Crew Socks

There’s nothing fancy about the Smartwool socks but they do the trick. I have a few pairs of them and over the years they’ve become a staple in my hiking wardrobe.


3) DARN TOUGH Light Hiker Micro Crew Sock

I only have one pair of these babies and they’re the pair that I grab as soon as they’re out of the wash. These were the first pair of hiking socks I bought when I was at SAIL; Up until then I was hiking in athletic ankle socks. How, I’ll never really know. Such a rookie move.

What I love about these socks are that they’re super light weight but are somehow (with the magic of Merino Wool) still incredibly warm.


2) Women’s Merino Wool GX Hiking Socks

These were an online find only a week or so before my trip to Tanzania and MAN, am I ever happy to have found them. They come in a beautiful rainbow of colours (FUN!) and also happen to be a cheap yet awesome sock. I wore these for probably 80% of my time on Killy.

Even though these are my second fave sock, there’s not much to say about them other than the fact that they’re super comfy, kept my feet warm (or cool in hotter temps) and didn’t break the bank. Two big ol’ thumbs up.


1) Icebreaker Lifestyle Ultralight Women’s Crew Socks

Oh, Icebreaker, you did it again. My collection is starting to look like I’m a walking ad for the company. If you don’t own anything by Icebreaker and you’re an outdoorsy person you need to drop every right this second and buy some NOW. This is an order.

These lightweight, super soft, non-itchy, anti-blister socks are the bomb.com and well worth the slightly higher price-tag.


Happy trails!

– Vicky

Vicky Castledine

Vicky is a Content Marketing Manager from Monday to Friday and a trail runner/ book lover/ dog hugger/ wilderness explorer after 5 PM and on weekends.

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It’s Mental Health Week and thought it was the perfect opportunity to open up about the effects hiking has had on my mental well-being.

I can confidently say since adding hiking to my regular routine several years ago, I’m an overall happier and relaxed person. I’ve been lucky enough to have never struggled with a serious mental illness. However we all go through moments of anxiety and/or depression and each have our own methods of coping.

From the darker moments to the best moments of my life, hiking has been incredibly therapeutic for my mental and spiritual state.

It’s several things – it’s the disconnecting for those few hours a week. It’s breathing in fresh air and the smell of crisp leaves. It’s the sheer concentration of just putting one foot in front of the other. It’s the strong human connection felt among my fellow hikers without distraction of life or devices. It’s those raw euphoric moments that consume every part of you, and all you can think is “I cannot believe I’m here. I cannot believe this is real. I cannot believe I did this.”

We SEE examples of those moments all the time – on memes, Facebook, Instagram. It’s those pictures of gorgeous scenery with words like “There’s no wifi in the forest but you’ll find a better connection” typed across in a fancy font. But those are real places, ready to be seen, ready to be discovered, ready to experienced by you.

I’ve been lucky enough to have had my fair share of those “euphoric moments” – in the Rockies, Adirondacks, Gatineau Park, and most recently on Mount Kilimanjaro.

However those moments can be outweighed by the painful and tough “I think I’m actually dying” moments. In fact, the euphoric/“I think I’m actually dying” ratio was a solid 30/70 on that stupid mountain (this blog explains those moments).

But thanks to those tough lung-crushing moments, over the last few weeks since being home I’ve noticed my perspective has shifted on several aspects of life…

1) My threshold for being uncomfortable or in pain is much higher during physical exercise. The inner dialogue has changed from “you can’t do this” to “get over yourself you literally hiked a mountain 3 weeks ago”.

2) I feel more confident about my body and it’s abilities than ever before.

3) I have less time for bullshit.

4) I don’t like being around negative people, and I notice a lot sooner when I’m the one being negative.

5) I have a fire in my belly to build a community of like-minded people who want to spend time outdoors.

So I’ll see you on the trail soon, right?

Lots of hiking love,
Mary Anne

Mary Anne Ivison

Mary Anne loves hiking, mossy rocks and her gig as a radio personality. She is in pursuit of becoming an ADK 46er and touching every mountain on planet Earth.

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Yesterday was a big day for us HikeAddicts; We did our first team hike with Dream Mountains! Mary Anne has been meeting and training with this group since the Summer but since I’m a late comer, this was my first time meeting the team and going on a hike with them.

We took on Wolf Trail, a favorite for both of us, and completed it in about 2.5 hours, which was a lot quicker than I had expected with it being WINTER and all. This was my first dead of winter hike and got to break in  my crampons that I got for Christmas- WOOHOO (it’s the little things, friends).

The best part of the morning was getting to meet the people I’ve been in contact with for weeks now and realizing just how dang small Ottawa is. Almost every single person I met knew someone I know. All it takes is “Oh, you play touch football too? Do you know ___?” or “You ski at Mont Ste. Marie? What’s your last name? I know your Grandad!” (anyone in my family can relate to that second one; my Grandad is the most popular guy on the planet).

(Mary Anne took this on our way up)

The actual hike was a chilly yet refreshing one. The first 15 minutes in the parking lot were definitely the most challenging since we were all just standing around shivering but once we got started the blood began to move and I think we were all okay and dressed warmly enough. When I checked the thermostat in my car it was -9 degrees (Celsius, of course) but that didn’t factor the windchill so the best way to describe it would be face numbing with a touch of slow-motion texting fingers. All Canadians know what I mean by that… Except maybe Vancouverites, you guys will never know. 😐

Luckily, there’s not much texting to be done in the middle of a hike.

It was sunny and bright which kept our moods and confidence skyrocketing. Kilimanjaro will be a cinch… Right? JK JK.

We took a break at the half way point for a snack where I learnt that “PACKS OFF” meant you have no choice- you take your friggin’ pack off. I didn’t bring snacks, thinking it’d be a quick and easy hike but my new friend, Bob, shared his homemade dehydrated strawberries with me. Aw man, now I need to buy a dehydrating machine.
(Photo cred: Harry Binks)

(HikeAddicts, baby!)

We began our descent after about 15 minutes of chatting/ taking pictures and I noticed the way down was a lot quieter as I think we were all getting a little more chilly with the lack of incline workout warmth. It went by super quickly though and before I knew we were high-fiving Kristi (one of our team leaders) in the parking lot.

(Snagged this shot on our way down)

Overall, the hike was wonderful and I’m counting down the days until the next one!






Vicky Castledine

Vicky is a Content Marketing Manager from Monday to Friday and a trail runner/ book lover/ dog hugger/ wilderness explorer after 5 PM and on weekends.

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Going for a solo nature walk? Driving? Hanging by the fire with a glass of wine and need some musical ambience? Here’s a quick list of some of my all time favorite songs to chill to as well as a few new goodies that I’ve recently discovered.

Hold You In My Arms- Ray Lamontagne
(Ray’s voice is what I imagine drinking scotch is like for people who actually enjoy scotch.)

All My Days- Alexi Murdoch
Breathe- Alexi Murdoch
(I love me some Alexi Murdoch.)

Library Magic- The Head and The Heart
(Shoutout to my BFF, Meisha, who introduced me to now one of my fave bands at Osheaga in 2013.)

The Trapeze Swinger- Iron And Wine
(For whatever reason I ALWAYS listen to this song when I travel. Plane, train, whatever it is; this is my jam.)

Perth- Bon Iver
(I was late on the game with Bon Iver but got SUPER into their latest album, 22 A Million, this past Summer. Perth is from their self titled album.)

On The Nights You Stay Home- Donovan Woods
(This one gives me feelings of nostalgia. Not sure why.)

Lentil- Sia
Breathe Me- Sia
(I couldn’t make a playlist without my all. Time. Favorite. Artist. Breathe Me always makes me cry and seeing her sing it live in October turned me into a complete basket case. It is, however, an insanely relaxing song. Same with Lentil.)

You Will Become- Glen Hansard
(Swell Season, anyone? Another one of my all time fave voices on the planet. I could honestly do a never-ending blog post on this man alone.)

High By The Beach- Lana Del Rey
(Can’t go wrong with a little LDR. Shout-out to my soul-sister/skeleton twin, California!)

Helicopter- Deerhunter
(A newer find for me. Super relaxing song.)

Coffin Nails- MF Doom
(Super weird/cool band I just discovered this past Summer through a YouTuber I follow.)

Home- Gabrielle Aplin
(I used to listen to this when I was travelling and feeling homesick to apparently torture myself- What’s wrong with me?! Still a beautiful song.)

If you’re a Spotify user, you can find this playlist under my account!

That’s all for now, folks!

Vicky Castledine

Vicky is a Content Marketing Manager from Monday to Friday and a trail runner/ book lover/ dog hugger/ wilderness explorer after 5 PM and on weekends.

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I’m the kind of person who can easily get overwhelmed by my racing brain. It’s how I’ve always been and I’ve come to terms that it’s okay because as I’ve grown, I’ve taught myself different ways to be able to take a step back, quiet my mind and calm the F down… Or attempt to balance my chakras (shout-out to those of you who read my post last week!).

Crystals are one of my go-to’s.

Three years ago I found myself looking online for another outlet to help with my struggles with anxiety. Music and reading have always been a huge escape for me but for whatever reason they just weren’t doing the trick this time. I don’t know about you, but whenever I’m stressed or overthinking it’s hard for me to focus on a book without reading the same page 27 times and it’s super easy to tune out music and not even hear it anymore.

So I stumbled upon crystals and how each variety has different healing properties. To be honest, I think my first thought was: “Okaaaay, (eye roll) sounds like a bunch of hippy-dippy BS” but after digging a little deeper and reading into it more, I quickly became enthralled and started looking for places in Ottawa that carried crystals; purely out of curiosity.

That’s when I found The Crystal Dawn, a store on Dalhousie Street that carried not only crystals but lots of informational books on them too- JACKPOT.

The Crystal Dawn is exactly what you’d imagine it to be. Upon walking in the front door, you’re welcomed by the sweet scent of incense, a warm smile from the person behind the cash and an overall feeling of relaxation. This place was my jam. I bee-lined for the bookshelf and found a book called ‘The Crystal Bible’ by Judy Hall, which is exactly what it sounds like. It could also easily be called ‘Crystals for Dummies’ because it’s written in a style assuming the reader knows absolutely NOTHING about them. Naturally, I bought it and it’s sitting beside me right now for reference points.

Alright, enough babbling… Here’s a list of my personal top 3 with a quick explanation of what they’re meant for and how I use them in my life. If you’re interested in a more in depth, detailed description of each crystal, I highly recommend picking up ‘The Crystal Bible’ or ‘Crystal Healing’ by the same author; both are great!

Clear Quartz
Colour: Clear to a little smoky

Clear quartz crystals are the most common types of crystal in the world, making them very easy to find in stores. They can bring clarity, energy and power into our lives and are a great tool in meditation.

Personally, I use them in meditation to assist in grounding and I own lots of jewellery (most of which was gifted to me because I have a wicked family and friend group who know about my love for crystals).

Fun fact: Because of it’s known ability to strengthen auras, clear quartz is also thought to stimulate the entire immune system. Who needs Cold FX?

img_9414(Here’s my clear quartz that I use almost daily)

Smoky Quartz
Colour: Smoky grey with shades of black or brown

Smoky quartz is yet another grounding gemstone that promotes strength and stability with properties that are thought to be connected with Mother Earth. This crystal pretty much acts like an anchor so naturally I’m obsessed.

Fun fact: There are some varieties that are used to communicate with GHOSTS! WHAT?! Cool, right?

img_9399(One of my all time favorite pieces given to me by my Momma)

Colour: Purple to lavender

Amethyst is a natural tranquilizer that blocks negative environment energies. It has strong healing and cleansing powers and enhances spiritual awareness. When used in meditation, it turns thoughts away from the mundane into tranquility and deeper understanding.

I have amethyst crystals EVERYWHERE. From my keychain, (found a beauty on a trip last year to Tobermory) to my jewellery to my apartment where they’re randomly scattered around… This purple gem surrounds my life. For me, they’re used as a reminder to chill out. They’re also super pretty and happen to be my favourite colour so that’s just a fun little bonus.

Fun fact: Amethyst fades in sunlight so if you want to keep it a bright purple, keep away from windows!


(My Tobermory find. This baby never leaves my side when I’m out and about.)

Happy trails and namaste,


Vicky Castledine

Vicky is a Content Marketing Manager from Monday to Friday and a trail runner/ book lover/ dog hugger/ wilderness explorer after 5 PM and on weekends.

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