Algonquin Park – Mizzy Lake Trail

The lure of Algonquin Park and all it has to offer garners a tight vice-like hold that many have experienced over the years. There are many right now who are likely experiencing a “slight tightness” this very moment.

Whether ardent outdoor enthusiasts or those out for a sunny afternoon drive in the Park along Highway 60, Algonquin Park draws all into its influence so it can display a vast array of wonderment for all our senses to experience.

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Source: Google Images

And yes, Lynn and I fall deeply into the group that Algonquin Park group.

The Mizzy Lake Trail, the longest of the interpretative trails in the park has been on our bucket list of trails to hike. In addition, fall colours in this area of the province are either at peak conditions or just slightly past peak.

Fall colours, plus the Mizzy Lake Trail seemed like the perfect combination for the Tuesday of vacation week.

With a weather forecast of near-perfect conditions of sunny skies and temperatures hovering around 16 degrees Celsius, we departed the “old homestead” at 7:00am for the two and a half hour trip north.

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For anyone who knows’s Lynn well, you would also be acutely aware that mornings and Lynn do not fit necessarily well together in the same sentence.

Nevertheless, she managed to rally herself; get ready and as I said we were off and on the road at 7:00am.

With a quick stop in Huntsville for a touch of fuel, we arrived at the Mizzy Lake trailhead just before 9:30am.

I mentioned in a post from last year, Algonquin Park at the leaf change time of the fall, draws people from all over the world who come to view primarily the vast landscapes of reds, oranges of the changing Red and Sugar Maples.

I was shocked to some extent at the volume of cars and tour buses that were either at the West Gate to purchase permits for the day, or already transversing Highway 60 to view and snap pictures this early around 9:00am.

We have a seasonal Ontario Parks pass we purchased in April that is valid until the end of November, so pass-by the queue at the West Gate, we did!

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The Mizzy Lake Trail is an 11 km loop trail. There is an optional two-kilometre side trail to view “bear nests”  found in Beech trees. Unfortunately, when we came upon the side-trail, there was a sign posted by park staff indicating that at this time, there wasn’t any activity to be viewed as a result of black bears in the Beech trees eating beech nuts.

The main trail hits up nine ponds and offers one of the best opportunities for seeing wildlife.

The trail is rated as moderate in difficulty which is probably a fair assessment.

While there are moderate changes in elevation along the 11-kilometre length, they are not as steep or as plentiful as can be found on several of the other interpretative trails within Algonquin.

Mizzy Lake Trail has many flat sections, including an abandoned railway bed(between 2 to 2.5 kilometres in length)found between guide posts 3 to 5, as well as several wooden boardwalks that go over wet and boggy locations.

The element that could move the trail to moderate to slightly more than moderate are the tree roots sticking up along the trail that you need to be constantly aware of and constantly stepping over.

Without any more talk, some pictures from the day.

The first stop along the way was a pretty impressive beaver pond resulting from a pretty impressive beaver dam.

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Pond
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Dam

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A spruce grouse sat happily in a tree without seemingly a care in the world.

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Not so much more text, but pictures from along the trail.

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Our lunch spot for the day.

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A couple of pictures of many of the boardwalks found along the length of the trail.

 

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We spent about six hours out on the Mizzy Lake Trail. Not being in any great rush, we simply poked along, with Lynn taking pictures whenever the creative mood hit. Which was quite often!

The trail can certainly be hiked faster. Subtracting the time spent taking pictures and stopping for a lunch break, our time might have been between 5 and 5.5 hours.

After arriving back at oor car at the trailhead, we drove along Highway 60 admiring the fall colours and stopped at the Visitors Centre for 30 minutes for so.

A few more pictures from the afternoon.

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My favourite picture of the day.

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It was pushing 6:30pm or so when we reluctantly decided to climb back into the car for the trek back home.

Our day ended up being almost exactly 14 hours from the time we left at 7:00am to unlocking our backdoor at 9:00pm.

This was one of those trips that were just about all one could ask for.

A great trail to hike; fall colours galore to look at; warm temperatures; all combined by NOT having to deal with the insane amount of visitors that Algonquin Park experiences on the weekends in the prime fall times. As a side note, we went on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving weekend. On the Sunday of the Thanksgiving weekend, the traffic at mid-day was backed up 8 kilometres west of the West Gate office.

Any time spent in Algonquin Park from where I sit is always time well spent. Time invested in soothing your soul; refilling your emotional and mental-well being tank and all the while creating memories is priceless.

We hope to make two more trips at least before our seasonal pass expires at the end of November.

We hope that you have taken the time, or are taking the time to invest in yourself this fall season in whatever manner fits you and your situation.

Remember…

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

 

 

Thoughts From The Wilderness – Thanksgiving 2019(Canadian Style)

This is Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada

The time of trees changing colours, rural fall fairs, hikes in the woods, turkey dinner(s), pumpkin pie, over-eating and time spent with family and friends.

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However, like the name of the holiday suggests, it is “Thanksgiving.” In as much as it is a weekend filled with over-eating and getting together with family, it is also often simply seen as a long-weekend.

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Nevertheless, the name does suggest “what are we thankful for?”

Yesterday(Saturday), Lynn and I went to the rural fall fair(159th edition) in the village we raised our family in.

It was an afternoon of running into people we hadn’t seen in a very long time. Wandering through the local arena admiring the craft displays of handmade quilts(truly works of art), baking competitions(loaves of bread, buns, cookies, cakes), rows and rows of crafts, art, writing, vegetables and just about anything else you could name as part of the elementary school competition.

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Outside in the agricultural grounds had the livestock competitions, farm machinery displays, the midway and of course, the truck and tractor pulling event.

It brought back a ton of memories of our daughter Sara during those years. Entering things into every category possible in the school competition. As well, seeing the logo she designed for the local high school she attended. They had some sort of booth at the fair.

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As much as it was a wonderful afternoon, in another way it left me somewhat sad.

It was sad from the perspective, that Lynn and I had to drive back to an empty house.

No Sara at home to celebrate with, as she lives on the other side of Canada in Halifax.

No family dinner to either prepare for or to attend.

Lynn still has family, but it seems for one reason or other things were put off until next weekend.

I don’t have any family left. So, I do miss the family get-togethers.

Today(Sunday) is the big family day. Slow roasted turkey dinners, pumpkin pie and time spent with family. Traditionally, it is the first time kids return home from heading off to university or college in the fall.

I’m thankful for sure, but can’t help feeling a twinge of nostalgia and sadness all at the same time.

Thankful for the almost twenty years we spent in that little village. As Lynn said yesterday, it was the perfect spot to raise our daughter. And you know it was.

I often tell people that your kid could start in kindergarten and be essentially with the same kids in the same class, all through elementary school and certainly with most of them in the same classes during the high school years. Those are friendships forged in early, but that which lasts a lifetime.

But, I miss it though.

Miss being able to walk to church; to walk to Foodland; walk to “downtown.” I miss going into the local restaurant and simply finding an empty seat at a table, regardless of who else was sitting there. Hell, you knew everybody.

I miss it.

Hopefully, today we’ll be able to connect with Sara over the phone.

Last night they(Sara and Sarah(roommate)) had a musician play a “house concert” at their apartment as part of his cross Canada tour.Screen Shot 2019-10-13 at 6.04.17 AM

Next week, the two of them are off to California to see someone in concert(I have no idea who – I only know bands from the previous millennium) and as well a bit of vacation time in San Diego, Los Angeles and San Fransico.

So, this weekend regardless of it is “Thanksgiving” in your neck of the planet or not, be simply “thankful.”

Be thankful for:

  • family
  • friends
  • health
  • fall colours
  • just be thankful

Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving from Canada!thanks

 

 

Thoughts From The Wilderness – “Advice From A Trail”

Well, the “old vacation week” seems to be clicking along nicely. Great weather and not having to set the alarm clock for work appears to be doing the trick.

We spent the first Sunday afternoon hiking along the shores of Georgian Bay in the Town of Parry Sound north of us. Arriving back at the “old homestead” in the early evening, I felt a grand wave of satisfaction and thankfulness for those moments spent in nature.

Generally, I’m not a huge fan of the posters “Advice from a ……”, but in this case, it seems entirely appropriate.

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Of all the great universities and halls of higher thought and education, nature surely as a place of learning, discovery and enlightenment has to be ranked right up there with the Oxford’s, Yale’s and Dalhousie’s of the world.

We all desperately believe in my heart that when our children head off to college or university, their eyes and minds will be wide open to all the possibilities set before them. Heading down those hallowed hallways of the world’s most distinguished institutions of higher learning, ready, willing and eager to change not only themselves but the world as well.

Similarly, if our eyes, ears, and minds are open when we head on out into nature, the same endless possibilities of change and growth are present along a trail, as they would be at Cambridge University in England or McGill University in Montreal.

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A closed mind is a terrible thing.

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On the other hand, a mind that is open, fertile and ready to learn, experience, change and growth based on the experiences within the environment it finds itself is a great thing.

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So, with this in mind.

Advice From A Trail

Walk into beauty

Beauty is simply all around us.

All we need to do open our eyes and more importantly, our minds to look for it. Beauty is more often than not found in the simplest of objects. Sun shines through the branches of a tree; a small babbling brook that tumbles gently down through a forest; the sun setting over the horizon.

In your life, beauty is right in front of you.

Simply open your eyes and mind to observe the beauty that surrounds you.

A mind that is closed and narrow fails to see the wonder and value that envelopes them.

Stay on your path

Straying off the path or trail in the wilderness can have dire consequences. All of us have a path set before us to follow throughout our lives. Find your path, whatever that path may be and start the step by step hike down it.

Our journey through life, much like hiking all 1,200km of “The Great Divide Trail” through the Rocky Mountains in Alberta and British Columbia in Canada is a marathon, not a sprint.

You have a purpose, reason or passion that is ignited in your soul that defines your particular path in life.

Find out the reasons for your path and journey. Start by taking that first step; then another; and then another.

Find inspiration around every turn

The tag line, we use with “justabitfurther” for quite a while now is:

“get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself.”

The inspiration that we may find or seek for ourselves throughout our lives often shows up in the most unexpected places – like around every turn.

And it is often the smallest and seemingly most insignificant things, usually taken for granted, that we can find the greatest inspiration in.

The sun setting below the horizon and reflecting off the still waters of a northern lake on a warm summer evening. An unexpected bird, like a red cardinal sitting and singing in the branches of a tree located close to your living room window.

In life, as in nature, when our mind is open and ready, inspiration will be around every corner just waiting for us to grab hold of it and charge headlong into a future of endless possibilities.

An open mind provides fertile soil and environment for inspiration to take root, grow and flourish.

As we round that next corner, be ready for something extraordinary to inspire us into something wonderful.

Tread lightly

One critical element when spending time in nature in any realm, whether your local park or a wilderness or semi-wilderness location, is to leave it just as you found.

This is encompassed in the principles of LNT(Leave No Trace).

When hiking out on a trail, one goal of many out there would be at the end of the day, to have left behind, as little of an impact as possible.

Tread lightly.

The same concept or principle can be applied in our daily life.

More often than not, two distinct and completely opposite personality types end up in the same place with the same results.

One type might get there through being a bully, leaving a wake of destruction, broken promises and lives along the way.

The other personality type gets there by treading lightly through life, building relationships with others; holds no grudges and that by helping and standing with others they are helping themselves.

Simply ask yourself, “who would you like to work for”. The bully who practices a “scorched earth approach” or the “tread lightly person?”

To me the answer is obvious.

Pack life with good memories

When you’re hiking on a trail, whether it be a day hike or a multi-day backcountry trip, you need the correct equipment. You need to pack the “right stuff” for the type of trip you’re doing.

Having the correct equipment with you in a way helps to add to the overall enjoyment and memories created on the adventure.

Notice that the advice was “good memories”, not just simply memories.

At some basic level, the interpretation of our memories of events, life, people and such, is either good or bad. I suspect, however, that many of those memories might be considered neutral.

But, today we’re looking at packing life with “good memories” and those “good memories” being the ones we intentionally created.

Can’t “good memories” just happen?

Sure they can. In fact, they can happen quite often. Unfortunately, more often than not they don’t happen like that.

Why?

Days roll into each other; months rush by quicker than we think and before we realize it, yet another year or years have vanished from our life.

Good memories” are the ones that have an emotional impact on us. They enrich our lives; they bond us with other people.

How then? – Three Steps

Create – be intentional(think the weekend away as an example)

Celebrate – “party up” milestones when they occur(graduations, birthdays, anything!!)

Connect – do the above with those you love

You only have one hike along the trail we call life. Make sure at the end of it all, it was packed with the right equipment – good memories.

Every day has its ups and downs

When Lynn and I are out hiking, it seems that 99.9% of the trails we hike at some juncture along the way, go uphill for reasons that continue to baffle us. Often that “baffling uphill” is a steep and heart-pumping challenge.

After cresting the top, I always hope with any amount of luck, that shortly the heart-pumping uphill will be followed by a nice “not so heart-pumping” downhill.

Like hiking, life throws us ups and downs.

Some challenges will be relatively minor in nature, not heart-pumping at all. Other times, the ups and downs that get thrust across our path, will make “heart-pumping” seem like a walk in the park.

It goes without saying, the ups and downs that each of us experience in life are nothing new. This isn’t something the universe burped up two weeks ago to toss in your way.

So, expect them to happen.

Every morning when you roll out of bed and get pouring that first coffee, know that at some point during your following waking hours, life will toss a few ups and downs your way.

You can handle it.

You have to this point. Haven’t you?

Watch your step!

One of the cardinal rules in hiking is this.

If you don’t watch where your feet are going, sooner or later and usually sooner you’ll find yourself flat on your face. Something will catch one foot and then it’s a trip and stumble, followed by scraped knees and elbows and a hugely bruised ego.

When hiking on a trail in the bush, you need to pick your feet up and not shuffle and scuff along.

Generally speaking, life is exactly the same.

If your tendency is to tromp along through life, not watching where you step; not paying attention to either the direction you’re headed or where your “feet” are, there is a darn good chance at some you’ll trip and stumble.

Not just once, but perhaps on a frequency that is far more often than you might like.

How might we minimize then, our chances of the “proverbial trip and stumble” in life?

  • have a focus on the direction you’re headed
  • watch your step
  • plan your next foot placement(what happens next week; next year)

So, there you go.

A bit of advice on getting through life from nature.

There is plenty that we can learn about our “self” by simply spending time in nature.

When we go and approach the time we spend there with our minds wide open to what nature and has for us, you’ll be amazed at what happens.

Remember…

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Beaver Valley – Thanksgiving Fall Colour Road Trip

It is that time of year out here in the hinterlands of the colony called Canada. Fall leaf change colours and Thanksgiving.

In fact, the Thanksgiving long weekend is just a few days away.

Turkey slow roasting on the oven, pumpkin pie and a walk with family along a trail out in the woods is just about the norm here.

A blast from the past of October 2018.

So, if you haven’t figured it out as of yet, we enjoy getting out. And we definitely enjoy the Beaver Valley area of Ontario.

The area within the yellow oval generally defines the outline of the Beaver Valley.

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As I’ve mentioned before, it seems Mother Nature has had a bit of a “hate on” for us when we’ve been out leaf-peeping over the past week or so. Naturally, today wasn’t any different.

Leaving our house around 11:30 it wasn’t raining, nor was the sun shining brilliantly high in the noonday sky. For us, however, no rain means a win for our side!

To add to the excitement, a photographer friend of Lynn’s loaned her a couple of lenses to give a go at. Putting all the variables together of tolerable weather; plus fall colours; plus testing new lenses, everything seemed to be adding up for a road-tripping afternoon.

Our first stop is known as the Beaver Valley lookout on Grey County Road 13. The lookout, located in a small parking lot provides a stellar view east across the Beaver Valley towards the Beaver Valley Ski Club.

Old Mother Nature would appear is very fond of games. Mind games to be exact. Just as we were approaching the parking lot at the lookout, little droplets started to appear on the windshield of our car. Then more appeared. Then a deluge of droplets appeared.

Rain and lots of it.

Without boring you into a self-induced coma detailing the weather patterns of our afternoon, let’s just say the rain was off and on and at times the sun popped out from behind the clouds. In addition, the temperature dropped slightly, but just enough to create at times haze and fog throughout the valley.

Between it all, we took pictures at the aforementioned Beaver Valley Lookout, as well as from the top of the Beaver Valley Ski Club, the John Muir(Epping Lookout) and a variety of other spots along the way.

Perhaps it’s best to let Lynn’s pictures speak for themselves.

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Top of Beaver Valley Ski Club
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Beaver Valley Lookout

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From the Lookout exit looking north up the valley

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Katie and me in the background

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Old Baldy in the background. A popular rock climbing location in Ontario
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We helped this little fella to make sure he/she was off the road.
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Fall colours and a barn proudly showing the Canadian flag. If there was only a Mountie standing in the foreground.

We were just at the beginning of a very steep and pretty much one-lane gravel road that twists and turns up the east side of the valley. Lynn took a video on my phone of the trip up. I should try to post it.

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Coming down Scenic Caves Road from the top of Blue Mountain Ski resort in Collingwood.

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With all my complaining about the weather aside, it did turn out to be a really good afternoon. At times the sun did come out, even if it was just for a brief appearance.

As Lynn hadn’t done much shooting in the past with a wide-angle lens, I wasn’t sure how things would work out.

I think things worked out just fine.

I hope that your weekend, whether it was a long weekend or just a normal “two-dayer” was relaxing and time well spent.

Where we live in Ontario, the fall season is one of the best times to get out and experience all that nature has to offer. Even a drive out on the country to stroll through a village and have lunch at a quaint restaurant is far better than sitting at home watching football on a Sunday afternoon.

It’s even better if you can include a couple of trails along the way as well.

Remember: get outdoors; discover yourself; find inspiration

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Thoughts From The Wilderness – “Why Don’t Woodpecker Get Headaches”

I suspect this is a question few of us have had rattling around in the cavernous six inches(15 cm for our metric friends) between our ears.

Why don’t woodpeckers get headaches?

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Realistically, I know that there is some sort of anatomical and science-based answer as to “the why.” 

Nevertheless, forget all science and ornithology hoo-ha for the moment.

The short answer to the question is simply this.

The universe; mother nature; or a power greater than us has decreed, “you are a woodpecker and this is your destiny to peck away at trees.”

Furthermore, at some point in the far distant past, woodpeckers had the “proverbial light come on” and realized they had been given all the tools to do the job correctly – “with no headaches.”

It is their destiny; their meaning in life; placed on this earth – to peck.

We need to be like a woodpecker.

We need to figure out ….

  • what our destiny is;
  • our meaning;
  • what is the thing we were meant to do here;
  • why we were placed on this earth

When we know the answers to those things, then we need to get “pecking” towards them.

At this point, we’ll have all the “required tools” to do the job correctly with no “headaches.”

Why?

Because that is the reason why we are to be here.

Woodpeckers are meant to peck.

What are you meant to do?

Thoughts From The Wilderness – Three Ways To Being Aware

For those tuning in thinking, this is yet another, albeit important post on being safe when you’re out about by yourself…..well sorry to disappoint.

Instead of safety and protection out in the big-bad world or precaution when outdoors and as important as those subjects are, this more focused on being “aware” or perhaps a wiser phrase might be “engaged” when spending time in nature.

However, before delving into the subject matter before us with any gusto, one question to ponder is, “why do I/we head out into the wilderness or even local parks for that matter?”

Even if only thinking about it for a second, there will be a multitude of weighty answers to that question, and all of them, if the question was answered truthfully, will be correct.

engageNevertheless, if one of the answers is to disengage from the stresses of life, then the other side of the equation suggests you’re disengaging from one thing in order to engage in and with this “new environment.”

Engagement runs parallel to being aware of your surroundings.

Not lost or unaware, but aware or engaged.

And as well, engagement with nature is not being in some zen-like trance wandering aimlessly around in the nether reaches of the northern Ontario boreal forest.

Although, if this is how you approach your time spent in the wilderness, well then more power to you. And good luck with that.get-lost-in-nature-and-you-will-find-yourself-quite-13154824

On a recent hiking adventure in Algonquin Park, while hiking along through a low lying bog area, I looked down off the path into the murky water and spied this snapping turtle as captured in this picture by Lynn.

Although, if talking precautions in the outdoors was the subject of today, an entirely appropriate safety message based on the picture might be “don’t dangle your fingers in the water to catch Mr./Mrs. Snapping Turtle’s attention. You may pull your hand out of the water with one less digit.”

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Looking at it, he/she is well camouflaged and just parked on the bottom of the stream. In fact, the snapping turtle looks like a flat rock on the stream bed, covered in algae and silt.

When I pointed the turtle out to Lynn, she immediately inquired, “how did you see that?”

For the life of me, I can’t remember what my response was, even if I had one. This all happened in early July, making more than three months ago. There is even the off-chance I may have made up some wild and glorious verbal diarrhea of an answer, which isn’t beyond the realm of possibility. When in doubt, make something up and mix some truth in with it. A strategy many politicians of all political stripes follow with great enthusiasm.

The reason why Mr./Mrs. Snapping Turtle and yours truly connected on at least a visual level was, “I was engaged” while out there. Engaged, even when slogging along with my main squeeze through a swampy and boggy area of Algonquin Park at the height of the blood-sucking and the “mind questioning – why am I out here? and mental wellness squashing”……northern Ontario bug season.

Engaged…what?

Remember, we all head out into nature for reasons that only one can truly answer for themself.

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My reasons can’t necessarily be your reasons for getting out. Nor can the reasons posted on a weekly basis from YouTuber “Buddy The Outdoors Person”, be your reasons or passion as well.

Your reasons will be your truth.

Now, before I explode on the reality, mission or “brand” perpetuated by “Buddy The Outdoors Person”(I just made the name up), here are three tips I follow to help be engaged with nature, either solo or with Lynn. As a side note, the outdoors is always better and I mean always a better time and experience when shared with someone.

Fair warning – these tips are in no way “the end all to be all “- but, nevertheless.

Being Engaged In Nature – Three Tips

Anticipate

Any time I head out, I always step out the door; fire up the car and leave the “old homestead” with a great level of anticipation.

Even before arriving at the destination and in fact during the planning or thinking about where we might be going, I have a grand level of anticipation.

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Source: Google Images

Anticipation for what?

Anticipate – that there will be something magnificent to be seen or experienced.

That the universe or “old Mother Nature” or even a power greater than us will lift up the wilderness stage curtain and reveal what we consider to be “what a great find” moment.

Right now, you may be thinking the same thing as me “what the fu@k” does that mean… and I even wrote it!! How messed up is that?

Alrighty then, before heading down some philosophical rabbit hole and spending way too much time, energy, brain cells and early morning coffee trying to answer the aforementioned “what the fu@k” does that mean.

Let’s try this.

How many of us when we’re out in the wilderness and miles from anywhere or even if we’re strolling through a local conservation area, like to see wildlife?

Of course, we all do!

I follow several “Algonquin Park” related groups on Facebook. Having followed these groups for some time now, one consistent question that gets asked is, “where are the best places in Algonquin to see…moose, bear, large animals etc.”

One can assume, these people are heading to Algonquin with the grand anticipation of seeing, for example, a moose along the side of Highway 60 in the springtime, grazing happily without a care in the world.

The anticipation of seeing a moose.

However, what happens if all the moose in Algonquin have a scheduled day off when you go?

You spend all day and not one friggin moose made an appearance. It seems like an outing like that could be considered and often is considered by many to have been a waste of a day in Algonquin.

It’s because the anticipation is wrongly focused.

The anticipation, in the “moose example”, is so narrowly centred, that only an Algonquin moose trying to hitch a ride with you and then regaling you with “tales and stories” from the bush all the while drinking a “double-double from Tim Hortons and chewing away at a Nutella smothered Beaver Tail” would be considered a “what a great find.”

Leaving the “old homestead” with the anticipation of “there will be something magnificent to be seen or experienced” provides a pretty wide canvas for the universe to surprise us. It might be a moose along Highway 60(that is always a bonus) or in our case a snapping turtle wallowing in the mud at the bottom of a stream as you trudge through some bug-infested low boggy area.

The idea here is it could be anything.

Think of this as waiting to unwrap a Christmas present from a very special person in your life. You know the present it will be great….you just don’t know how big, small or great it will be.

To anticipate “there will be something magnificent to be seen or experienced” is one catalyst or a great tip to help ensure you are engaged when out in nature.

Be in the moment

I’m not sure I know “what the fu@k” it even means.

Although, it is a well-used and perhaps now a worn-out phrase that gets tossed around without a whole lot of thought behind it’s meaning.

Which is perfect for this post.

With complete and utter disregard for any true meaning, the phrase may have, refer back to near the beginning of the post.

The assumption was that, if you’re heading out the door into nature to disengage from the stresses of life, then by default you’re disengaging from that in order to engage in this “new environment.”

Therefore, you’re being in the moment.

You can’t engage with the natural environment(be in the moment) without trying to consciously disengage from the stresses of life.

“Being in the moment or be in the moment” is a decision.

And “being there” is achieved and goes hand in hand with “anticipation.”

And I get it.

I get that “being in the moment”; that phrase has almost no meaning attached to it or is more of a “self-help” elixir that is mixed in large doses; prescribed feverishly by the “self-helper” establishment and consumed by the masses who are searching for some nebulous level of self-awareness enlightenment.

I get that.

Nevertheless,” being in the moment or be in the moment” is a decision.

And it’s hard to “be in the moment” and forget the cancer treatments a loved one is going through.; it’s hard to “be in the moment” when the world as you know and experience it seems to be crashing down around your ears.

But, if you close the door to your house that day, with the anticipation “there will be something magnificent to be seen or experienced” you’re well on your way to disengage from the stresses of life and to “be in the moment” with nature.

“Being in the moment or be in the moment” is a decision.

Unplug

Need I say more??

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Source: Google Images

Yes, we are a society sadly addicted to our little electronic devices.

And yes, I’ve heard every reason in the world why we MUST have those said electronic devices with us when in nature.

After 40 plus years or canoe tripping; hiking and other adventures, unfortunately, I’ve heard it all.

All 18,452 reasons why “I must have my cell phone; Ipad or other devices with me.”

So… take a picture…sure why not….capture the memory.

But, in order to engage with nature, unplug.

I wonder how Lynn and I survived in nature? In that time so long ago of …….pre-devices?

Addiction is bad………unplug.

 

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There you go.

It took some time to get here, but we somehow managed.

Three tips to help engage and be aware when you’re in nature.

  • anticipate – that something magnificent will be seen or experienced
  • be in the moment – make the decision
  • unplug – addiction is bad

 

Remember..

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Thoughts From The Wilderness – And The “Vacay” Begins

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It’s taken its sweet freaking time and seems like it simply shuffled along to get here – but my last week of vacation for the year started yesterday when I fired up my car around 4:05 pm and as they say, “Elvis has left the building.”

Okay, so I’m not Elvis. but I did leave the building and as luck would have it, no one was blocking or slowing me down as I left. Had there been, those folks would be spending the weekend scrubbing tire tracks off their left front cheek.

But, I digress.

Although Lynn and I are kind of fluid in our plans for the following ten days or so, we do have some hiking plans in place to one of our favourite locales – Algonquin Park. The fall is one of the best times to visit Algonquin if you can tolerate the crowds and I mean throngs of people who visit to experience the fall colours.

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The weekends are worse for sure. But, seeing as the reds and oranges of the maples have just peaked and in addition, we plan to visit during the week. Those two elements combined usually help in “crowd control.” ……..WTF????

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This year, Lynn and I(well….more me) set a goal to hike all the trails within Algonquin Park. At this stage, we’ve completed all except for three of them. Some of the hikes were in the depths of winter and snow-covered trails, while others were a bug-infested; blood-sucking tests of endurance and mental stability.

 

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This week we plan to at least hike two of them and then finish up the last one later in October or early November.

As usual, we’ll likely hit up our continued tackling of the Bruce Trail over in the Beaver Valley or up towards Owen Sound. In addition, a trip north along Highway 400 to Parry Sound for a fall jaunt along the North Shore Rugged Trail may be in the offing as well.

Nevertheless, after a couple of these sweet pints last night, where no planning for the week was accomplished…….

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….let the vacation begin, and ……….

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—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Thoughts From The Wilderness – Obey The Signs

Although from last October, the message is still a timeless one. Simply…….slow down and enjoy life.

You only have one life to live. From my understanding you only get chance at it.

Take time to slow down and relish those moments. There may not be a “yield sign” suggesting you slow down. It may be something much more subtle or perhaps a major events dealing with your health.

Regardless, carve out time for yourself; for your family; slow down with no clock or agenda and love those moments; cherish them.

From October 2018……

Last Sunday, Lynn and I spent five glorious hours hiking a rail-trail through a beautiful forest area close to where we live. As well, it was also the start of my week of holidays. Not that I’m bragging or anything.

To be honest I really wasn’t overjoyed in going. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy to go, but we had been on the trail many times in the past and I find it really isn’t challenging in terms of effort.

But, what we thought or more of what I thought might be an hour or so out there, turned out be five hours and 10 kilometres later, a soul refreshing afternoon. Scrambling down ravines to check out small tiny waterfalls and rapids; a side trip down a snowmobile trail and a slow and leisurely pace, for the most part, created and added up to an afternoon that was just needed when needed.

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Although the sign is meant as a reminder for snowmobiler’s in the winter, there is much wisdom in the advice and direction the sign provides.

However, and a big, however, is…..only if we apply it in our lives.

For most of us, our days can be a whirlwind of work, home, family, and all the responsibilities that go along with each of them. It all leaves little time during the course of the week for anything other than the above.

We need often, if not weekly or even daily to carve time out for ourselves. To get away from responsibility if only for an afternoon; a few hours; a few minutes.

A hike in the woods; a paddle on the still waters of a northern lake. It doesn’t matter. Reading a book while sipping away on a hot cup of tea on a wintery Sunday afternoon sounds good as well.

The key is slow down and enjoy it. Don’t make “your time”; that time in the woods, paddling on that pond or reading that book just something else to “clock watch” and another activity to check off your already long list of things to finish by Sunday night.

Doing that sort of defeats the purpose of ……..

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Try..

  • relish the time on the hike or whatever you’re doing
  • breathe in the air
  • close your eyes
  • be taken away
  • become one with where you are
  • put your watch away
  • be ready to go home when you’re ready
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Source: Google Images

We all know that life already careens along at lightspeed.

No reason for you to add to it.

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Source: Google Images

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

Bruce Trail – Silent Valley Nature Reserve and Crevice Springs Side Trail

I must readily admit, it has been a while. In fact, a long while since I’ve posted anything much along the lines of a trip report.

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Perhaps you’re expecting the next sentence to read, “and for that I’m sorry” but, in all honesty, I’m not really sorry at all.

Life does and will get in the way of doing what we may want to do at times. That’s just the way things tumble and roll. Life and wellness or lack thereof seemed to race out to the forefront since about the second week of July.

So…….

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As many of you may know or perhaps you are just finding out for the first time, I’ve been dealing with some mental wellness issues, primarily surrounding anxiety since returning from our trip out east back in July. That was a fun, yet whirlwind 3-day adventure to Halifax to the east coast of Canada in the second week of July to deliver a kitten our daughter had purchased back here in Ontario.

Here’s a post about that tornado speed-like adventure to Halifax in July. Soft Kitty – Warm Kitty (Update)

Notwithstanding that, I had noted in several posts throughout the summer and into early September of what has been occurring in my life with regards to my own mental wellness. Feel free to search through and read about them if you feel like it, but I’m trying to march forward here and keep the focus at least at this juncture on a more positive note.

So, with that in mind, let’s leave all that there and move right along.

Back in early September(Saturday of the long weekend), Lynn and I headed up towards the Owen Sound area for a day of hiking and exploring the Bruce Trail as it traverses across the Niagara Escarpment in this area of south Georgian Bay.

After much research(well, not that much research), we settled upon the “Silent Valley Nature Reserve” and the “Crevice Springs Side Trail”.

Both locations are just a short jaunt from the City of Owen Sound.

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Silent Valley Nature Reserve

If one is looking for a hike that combines a little bit of everything you could want in an adventure, then the Silent Valley Nature Reserve has to be on that list.

  • flat sections
  • fossil site
  • crevices
  • caves
  • rocks
  • steep slopes
  • a pioneer homestead
  • a plane crash site with wreckage
  • ….to name a few things

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After leaving the old homestead and our ritual stop in Collingwood for the required snacks(okay – mostly junk food) for the day at…

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….we continued west towards Silent Valley.

The trailhead for the Silent Valley Nature Reserve is at the north end of Concession Road 2. There is parking for three or four cars, but be sure not to block the private driveway located here as well.

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The following is a screenshot with more detail of the various trails throughout the reserve.

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Source: Google Images

Heading north from our car and hiking several hundred metres on the road allowance, we came to a wonderful and very useful information board, detailing the history of the Silent Valley Nature Reserve.

Our general route for the day was north on the Silent Valley Side Trail; followed by a left turn to the Wilson Homestead Side Trail; a steep hike up the escarpment face and a right turn to connect with the main Bruce Trail; a right turn onto the Avalanche Pass Side Trail; re-connecting with the Silent Valley Side Trail and back to our car.

The total distance was approximately six kilometres

The Silent Valley Side Trail is generally flat, passing through a wonderful meadow before entering a mixed forest, but predominately cedar forest.

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After making the right turn onto the Wilson Homestead Side Trail, all four of the major historical elements are located relatively close together.

The first historical site was a fossil interpretation information board. It detailed the types of fossils that have been found on and in the rocks in this area. Unfortunately, and for some unknown reason, we didn’t take any pictures of this. Interesting nonetheless.

The next two elements focus on the Wilson Homestead.

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(1) – the dug well and dry stone masonry sides.

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(2) – the barn walls and discarded machine parts.

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The final historical location was an infamous 1970 plane crash site, found just south of the homestead location.

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A short video clip.

We continued the adventure on the Wilson Homestead Side Trail as it meandered through meadows and a mixed cedar forest until we started the arduous climb up the escarpment face to connect with the main Bruce Trail. An interesting fact, that just after connecting with the main trail, you will pass the deepest crevice in the Sydenham section of the Bruce Trail.

This one-kilometre section of the trail through this area is littered with deep crevices and such. Many of them are covered with leaf and forest debris, thus concealing what could very well end up being a quick fall into a situation you don’t want to find yourself in.

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After about a kilometre or thereabouts, we made a right turn to the Avalanche Pass Side Trail.

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Source: Google Images

This section of the trail makes a steep downclimb from the main Bruce Trail to the valley bottom. It is as the picture above indicates, the trail weaves through a steep talus slope of large rocks and boulders that have separated from the escarpment face and over the millennia tumbled and crashed to the slope bottom.

We only have one picture from our trek down the escarpment face along the Avalanche Pass Side Trail.

One of my trekking poles got caught in a deep crevice opening. As I was walking, it pulled out of my hand and slipped down into the crevice, apparently never to be seen again.

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The Avalanche Pass Side Trail, once it gets to the talus slope bottom, traverses through another meadow and forested area, before connecting again with the Silent Valley Side Trail and the return to where we parked our car at the end of Concession Rd. 2

DSC_0091-EditWhen I had been planning for us to head over to hike here, I thought it would be very busy or at least have people hiking through here, given it was the Saturday of the Labour Day long weekend and it’s relative closeness to Owen Sound.

Nope, that wasn’t the case at all.

For the three hours or so we were there we didn’t come across anyone else out enjoying the day. I did read after that even with the variety of hiking terrain and things to check out, that the Silent Valley Nature Reserve remains a bit of a hidden gem.

Regardless of whether it is a hidden gem or not, we thoroughly enjoyed it. It seemed every kilometre or so along the trail, either the terrain changed or there was a new site to see and explore further.

If you happen to be in the area or are looking for a bit of variety in hiking for a few hours, be sure to check out the “Silent Valley Nature Reserve.”

It was mid to late afternoon by the time we left Silent Valley. We then headed on over into Owen Sound for a bit of a tour through town and some refreshments.

After a quick stop at a local LCBO for some “adult beverages” to consume later that evening, we headed west along Highway 26 to the hamlet of Woodford and the Crevice Springs Side Trail.

Crevice Springs Side Trail

The Crevice Springs Side Trail forms a short loop off the main Bruce Trail, immediately south of Highway 26 in the tiny hamlet of Woodford located about 15 kilometres east of Owen Sound.

Parking for here is across Highway 26 on Woodford Cres. There is a widening of the shoulder of Woodford Cres., just after turning from Highway 26. The Bruce Trail guide also suggests you can park at the Woodford Community Hall which is right off the highway as well.

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It traverses through many crevices and rock openings before climbing from the bottom of yet another talus slope to rejoin the main Bruce Trail.

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Follow the blue blazes….

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Someone’s happy.

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All in all, hiking at these two locations made for a wonderful afternoon.

We really hadn’t done much hiking or adventuring since hiking a fair bit in Algonquin Park in late June and into the first week of July.

We both remarked, that although we love to hike and explore new areas, at times hiking for hours on end through what is a seemingly endless forest all looking the same can get a tad boring.

The Silent Valley Nature Reserve and the Crevice Springs Side Trail delivered a kaleidoscope of challenging terrain and historic locations to check out.

These are only two hikes of many in this area that are more than well worth checking out.

One suggestion would be hiking to Inglis Falls, located on the south boundary of Owen Sound. A great little excursion is to park and leave from Harrison Park and hike the Bruce Trail south to Inglis Falls and then return via the same route. It makes a round trip of somewhere between 5 to 6-kilometres.

We did that particular route back in 2016(before justabitfurther came into existence).

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Inglis Falls – May 2018

Another great hike is to head just outside of Owen Sound to Indian Falls. This is our most recent adventure there.

A third one to check out is Jones Falls, located on the west limits of Owen Sound. Take a look at our 2017 adventure to Jones Falls here.

Thanks for taking the time to “hike” along with us.

The changing of seasons into fall is in full swing in our area of the country. Nevertheless, regardless of where you may be hiding out or when you might be reading this little entry, be sure to take some time for yourself and get outside to recharge.

Time spent wandering around in a park close to your home will provide benefits beyond measure. So, put down whatever you’re doing right now; lace up your shoes or boots and head on outside.

You deserve it.

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Remember…

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Thoughts From the Wilderness – Change Can Be Beautiful

As the last days of September slip by for another year, fall is in full swing here in Canada. The mornings are cooler, often making us run back inside to grab a sweater before heading out the door. As with the coming of fall and the cooler temperatures are the changing of the leaves. The sugar maples have are turning brilliant shades of red and orange, soon to be followed by the yellows of the poplars and birches.

In Canada, as I’m sure in other spots around the globe, fall gives us one of the most dramatic, yet awe inspiring visual displays of change. It heralds the end of one season as the preamble to the cold and often harshness of a Canadian winter.

Change is not bad though. In fact, change can be a good thing; a great thing even!

Although, change often needs to happen, and change in itself can be frightful and scary at times.

When we see change on the horizon, more often than not, we evoke our primal “flight response” and head for the hills.

But, change can be beautiful.

Just go outside in the fall and marvel at what nature has on display.

From October 2018…….

A few days ago, I happened to see a sign on the side of the road that said, “Fall Is Nature’s Reminder That Change Is Beautiful.”

It’s a simple, yet profound statement if you think about it for a minute.

Sort of wish I had taken a picture of it. The three pictures I did include are but a small sample of the fall season Lynn has captured over the past two years.

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Not sure why change can be so difficult for us. Most of it stems I think from the sense that change is fraught with much unknown and without us “knowing all” or “having all our ducks lined up in a row” we often refrain from taking risks.

One aspect of life that is the same for all of us, is there are always risks associated with change.

We focus on the negatives associated with change, thus we tremble at the thought of embracing any good that might come out of it.

Change is not a bad word and change is not always bad.

Change Can Be Beautiful

The reality is, change can be the first step that brings something new and exceedingly positive into our lives. Yes, taking that first step can be a huge hurdle and challenge to overcome, but the results can be so very sweet.

New crops don’t appear in the fields until the old ones are harvested; winter doesn’t end until the season changes to spring; reds, oranges and yellows don’t come to the trees until the leaves change colour.

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Change can be beautiful.

For change to happen, stuff needs to get left behind. One thing ends, but something new begins. We leave part of our past to make a change for new and exciting.

If we think about it for a moment, trees and leaves changing colour are really the last moments of their season. One chapter of the tree’s life is ending, but that’s necessary for there to be a new season; a springtime later on.

When one part of our life ends, it can seem strange or uncomfortable. But, it doesn’t have to be. There is beauty in change; in learning a valuable lesson; opening a new chapter in our life. When the leaves turn colour and eventually fall to the ground, we know that within a very short period of time there will be new life and growth.

And much as in the life cycle of a tree, things need to fall away and change in our own world for new growth to happen.

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To quote a well-worn phrase, “fall is a season of turning over a new leaf.”

The fall and leaf changes are a super example that change can be beautiful. Like most of the posts from “Thoughts From the Wilderness”, we can learn so much from nature and the outdoors. Many of the answers we desire are right there in front of us if we simply take the time and effort to look for them.

Change is one of the many things that really what makes nature a beautiful sight to behold.

The same can be for us.

Change can be beautiful.

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Source: Google Images

In finishing, is something coming to a close in your life right now?; something you need to let go of?  Remember, the end of one chapter means the start of a new chapter. It certainly doesn’t mean the end of the book.

What the chapter is or how it evolves is up to you though.

Changes can be and usually are uncomfortable, but new growth and changes are inevitable.

But like the fall season, there is beauty in change.

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Source: Google Images

Thanks for reading.