2017 – 10 Pictures; Few Words; From My Universe(One Year Later)

Well, 2018 is just about upon us and I thought I’d have a look back to 2017 and what if any predictions or aspirations I might have had for myself and “justabitfurther” for 2018. Apparently, whatever they might have been, I didn’t write about them. I did say I would blog a retrospective piece about 2017 – didn’t happen. Oh well.

But, here’s what I wrote last year around this time.

 

Well, my friends, 2017 has come and gone.

Like the 1000’s of years before it, 2017……..well it just came and went. Looking back, it took a mere 365 days from start to finish. Amazing.

Yup, I even managed to stay up until about 12:10 to ring-in 2018. That’s even more amazing.

One must realize, staying up was and is a major victory for both Lynn and I(more so for Lynn I think, although I don’t know why). My usual workday has me getting up anywhere between 3:30 and 4:00am.

It’s crazy; it’s weird’ it’s not normal…….. I know.

So, believe me …………… in the catalogue of victory’s ……………….last night was a major one.

Seeing as it’s been too damn cold to spend a ton of time wandering around in the freezing temperatures the past week or so and combined with just about every outdoor celebration in most communities in our area were cancelled, we just stayed in and……..

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…….. managed to complete the following in no particular order.

I rolled out of bed this morning after about 4.5 hours of fitful shut-eye, with a resolution to have 2018 be something magnificent in terms of our outdoor adventures…………taking everything to the next level so to speak.

Come on now……….don’t say you don’t……….cause we all do……….we all wish and try to plan for the “next level.” Goals and dreams to aspire too; working diligently each day with a super-power like focus to make them come true. Some of you actually write them down, which I hear is a critical step.

All of this is exceedingly strange because I don’t remember making any un-keepable or even reachable New Years’ resolutions, goals or dreams.

I do have a vague recollection of thinking I should open a health food restaurant and gym on January 2 and then after about two weeks turn it into a bar after everyone’s resolution to fitness, exercise and clean living gets tossed into the wastebasket on their way to the pub for a night of “wings and beer.”

Thus, with no plans and have set the bar so low for 2018, I did feel that perhaps trying to capture 2017 in pictures might just do the trick.

You know, not too many words; just scroll my WordPress media file; select 10 and done.

Ten pictures in my mind seem to be the perfect amount. Instagram has or had last night the #2017bestnine.

In my universe, besting Instagram’s #2017bestnine with #justabitfuthers2017bestten ……. seems like the kick-start that 2018 needs.

Here you go……. our best ten pictures or memories(from my universe) from 2017 in no particular order.

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I am working on or will be working on a retrospection for 2017 and do hope to get it posted in the next couple of weeks.

I trust your 2017 was super, filled with great adventures, wonderful times and leaving you with even better memories.

Our prayer is YOUR 2018 is exponentially better.

A Tea Party – Thunder Cove Beach and the “Tea Cup”

The “Tea Cup” rock formation located in the Thunder Cove Beach area along the north shore of Prince Edward Island near Darnley and Cabot Beach Provincial Park is a natural shaped sea stack. Like all sea stack formations, the rock around the bottom of “Tea Cup” has eroded more quickly than the “Tea Cup” itself, leaving the sandstone sea stack alone in the water.Screen Shot 2018-07-08 at 5.45.29 AM

Last October when we visited the Island for a couple of days, we ventured out to Thunder Cove Beach to see what the Tea Cup was all about. High winds combined with high water levels made getting around the point to the Tea Cup difficult, to say the least.

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Last October

What I remembered from last October was jumping gingerly over rocks between wave crests to check out some neat eroded parts of the sandstone cliffs.

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Last October
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Last October

This year, those rocks seen in the above pictures at the base of the openings in the rock face are completely covered by sand. In fact, there are hardly any of those rocks visible at all.th cove

I commented to Lynn that I had a hard time recognizing much from just 8 months prior.  It’s amazing how much sand had blown up onto the beach covering the rocks and other openings that formed part of the landscape such a short time prior.

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But, back to this year. We visited Thunder Cover Beach on the same day we adventured out to Indian Head Lighthouse in Summerside. You can read about that here.

After spending most of the afternoon with friends in Summerside, we made the short trip north to Thunder Cove Beach, with the intention of hiking across the beach and around the point to the “Tea Cup” and with any amount of luck snapping off a few pictures of the formation with a magnificent PEI sunset as the backdrop.

Arriving around 6:30pm we collected our stuff and headed out from the car and along beach proper. From where we parked our car, it would be about a 600-metre hike along the smooth and peaceful beach at Thunder Cove to reach the rock formations.

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There are no formal parking area or beach facilities in terms of washrooms at Thunder Cove. Most people park along Thunder Cove Road and access the beach through a path and opening down the slope to the water. All the property in this area is privately owned and dotted with “No Trespassing” signs. The only other way I know of accessing the “Tea Cup” is from the Twin Shores Campground further west. I’m sure there are other ways to get here, but this is the way explained to us last year. So, be respectful of people’s property when in this area.

On the beach and heading to the first point in the picture. The “Tea Cup” is more or less around that point.

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After coming around the point, there is an opening in the cliffs and then the “Tea Cup.”

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Lynn with her camera at the ready.

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A bit closer shot. I wonder how long it might be before the bottom part gets eroded away by the ocean and the “Tea Cup” topples over?

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The next picture I found in a tourism article of “The Most Stunning Rock Formations in Canada.” Looks like the “Tea Cup” has gone through some changes over the years. I believe this picture might have been taken around 2004.

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A pano shot with some ominous weather in the distance.

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While there, we hiked a bit further down the beach and climbed up to check out the Malpeque Outer Range Lighthouse. Apparently, the lighthouse is still active but is in need of some repair and upkeep.

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Only the shadow knows for sure.

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A short video from the base of the “Tea Cup.”

That ominous weather starting to roll in with rain off in the distance. Didn’t seem to stop Lynn though.

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I guess we spent a couple of hours here, taking shots of the “Tea Cup” and the cliffs and beaches within the vicinity. It is a great spot to visit and I would imagine that on a summer’s day, this would be a very busy spot, to say the least.

I’m glad we made the effort to come back. Not our typical adventure, but it is a popular attraction within the Island nonetheless. I was surprised in some aspect how something as simple as wind, sand and water can erode rocks and change the landscape in a relatively short span of time.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get that fantastic shot of the “Tea Cup” with a blazing sunset backdrop that PEI is famous for. Rain decided to show up and put a slow and drizzly end to our evening at Thunder Cove Beach. Seeing it was close to 9:00 pm, and with an hour and a half drive back to Montague ahead of us and a full day planned for Thursday we reluctantly trudged back to our car. It was wonderful to think back that this was the only rain we got on our entire time spent on the Island.

If you’re visiting the Island, be sure to put a trip to Thunder Cove Beach and the “Tea Cup” on your list. A beautiful spot to come and check out for sure.

Thanks for reading.

 

Indian Head Lighthouse – Summerside

The Indian Head Lighthouse located at the entrance to the harbour in Summerside, PEI was one of the two main items on our agenda when we visited during our second, albeit whirlwind visit in October 2017. However, stormy seas and some misinformation regarding tides made it impossible or exceedingly difficult to adventure out to either of these spots.

As such, we vowed to make getting to these two Island landmarks a priority when we visited this June.

Indian Head Lighthouse – Wednesday, June 20

As these following two pictures illustrate, the ocean was a bit of a nasty temptress on our October attempt.

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Indian Head Lighthouse was built in 1881. What makes this lighthouse design unique is the lighthouse keepers residence was actually built into and part of the lighthouse structure itself. Not a separate dwelling as we see in most cases. The octangular base of the structure was the keepers’ home. Above the octagonal keeper’s residence is a two-storey tower topped by a red iron lantern. A railing encloses the lantern on the observation deck.

Although not normally found today, this unique style of the lighthouse, with the octagonal keeper’s dwelling on the ground floor, and a tower above, was once a common practice in areas where it was difficult to construct a separate dwelling house, such as on rocks.

Indian Head Lighthouse can be reached more or less three ways. Walking along the ocean floor at low tide on the harbourside of the breakwater or by scrambling across the one-kilometre rocky pier. Or thirdly, by kayaking out across from Summerside.

This picture I had found when doing research on reaching the lighthouse that suggested going at low tide was a suitable and achievable objective.

lighthouseSo, from the tide table below for Wednesday, June 20, the first low tide would occur at 11:12 am. We planned to start out towards the lighthouse around 10:45 am, noting the ocean should be mostly out by that point making an easy 1-kilometre trek to the lighthouse itself. Or so we thought.

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Now, there are a number of factors however that affect tides heights including the time of year and the relative location of the earth to the moon. When we arrived on Wednesday morning, we found although it was just about low tide, the ocean wasn’t as low on the harbourside as the picture portrayed above.

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Low tide on the harbour-side to the right of the break-wall

Seeing as defeat isn’t part of our vocabulary, we made the decision to scramble across the one-kilometre length of the rocky break-wall.

Getting started and as you can see, Lynn was having a challenging time getting excited and motivated!

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Hopefully, Lynn’s pictures captured the overall magnitude of the boulder sizes. These weren’t small chunks, although they existed. Most of them were a metre or more in height which at times resulted in an easy walk for 20 seconds, usually followed by a hands and knees approach, perhaps then with a 10-metre stroll along the ocean floor and then usually back to the hands and knees approach.

The one-kilometre trek out to the lighthouse took us over an hour to make. Lynn suggested that much of the time issue was due to her having to be extra careful due to her camera slung around her neck.

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Me starting out across

About half-way. The last few hundred metres seemed to take forever to complete. It was like the lighthouse kept moving further away from us, just to make the rock scrambling just slightly more “enjoyable” than it already was.

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And finally, Indian Head Lighthouse. The octangular portion sitting on the concrete base was the keeper’s residence, while the light proper sits on top of the two-story tower. Although the lighthouse is still functional, it is fully automated. It is however in a slight state of disrepair. From looking at the outside of the structure, it is in dire need of some upkeep.

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If ya gotta rest, ya gotta rest!

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As we were approaching the lighthouse, the rocky point it is situated on is apparently the top sunning spot for the local cormorant sea-bird population. As we got closer, they decided to “fly the coop” and settled just off in the water.

A few more shots of the lighthouse.

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A slightly stylized one

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After 30 minutes or so, we decided to start the trek back. The tide had started to come back and the wind was starting to pick up a bit as it usually does in this area as the day progresses. We weren’t terribly enthusiastic about the possibility of strong winds blowing most of the Northumberland Strait up and over the rocks on our return trek. That exact thing did happen later in the afternoon we observed while eating ice cream along the Summerside harbour waterfront.

In order to pick up our time heading back, Lynn decided to pack her camera in my knapsack, thus freeing her hands and not having to worry about her camera jostling around.

The tide has mostly moved back in along the left side of the break-wall.

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When we trekked out across the break-wall earlier, we knew there was one spot in about 20-metres in length that was considerably lower as compared to the rest of it. Going out, it didn’t pose any real concerns other then gingerly hopping across the stones.

Kind of had a feeling this might be an issue on the return though. On the way out, you could walk across this section by just being careful and you wouldn’t get your boots wet. Not so much on the return trip.

So, up to our knees in water, we went. And let me say, it wasn’t exactly warm water.

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And you think your feet are wet now?

With wet feet and great memories made, we arrived back at our car around 1:00pm. A round trip of about two-half to three hours more or less.

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You bet it was!

Lynn and I would head back out to scramble across those rocks again in a heartbeat. Upon getting back to the shore, we kind of did a mental “high-five” towards each other. When we first arrived, we had two options. We could have wimped out given the tide wasn’t low enough or “pull up our socks” and head out across the rocks.

We pulled up our socks and chose the spirit of adventure and the rocks.

It was a good choice.

I would encourage you, that if you’re in the Summerside area, get a map or ask someone and take a trip out to have a look at the lighthouse. You might not be able to physically walk up to it, but on the other hand, if the Spirit of Adventure shines in you…well you just never know.

Thanks for reading and look soon for the rest of that day’s adventure as we headed north to the Darnley area of the Island to hit up Thunder Cove Beach and the “Tea Cup.”

 

 

 

Weaver Creek, Inglis and Hogg’s Falls – A Mother’s Day Adventure

The first question one might start to ponder about is, “why am I writing about a Mother’s Day adventure in the first place?” A very good and reasonable enquiry from you the reader. No, the adventure didn’t occur on the traditional Mother’s Day Sunday and to answer the second question should it come up, our daughter wasn’t there in person to partake in what has become Lynn and Sara’s traditional Mother’s Day excursion.

Since our daughter had been essentially living away from home since her second year of college, while working part-time at an upscale restaurant, Mother’s Day has been always a busy time to try to get the day off. Given Sara’s work situation, she and Lynn would take the next available day and both of them would out for the day, which usually involved lunch and tripping throughout Wellington County and the Grand River Valley areas of Ontario seeking photo opportunities.

This year, however, with Sara permanently living in Halifax I stepped into the void and filled to the position of “surrogate daughter” for the day. After a few texts between myself and Sara, we devised a plan that saw her calling Lynn on Mother’s Day, as well sending me some money to take Lynn out for an adventurous day photographing waterfalls and lunch in the Owen Sound and Grey County areas.

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With the day of adventure upon us, and leaving home between 9 and 9:30 in the morning it was about a 2 hour trip to Weaver Creek Falls in Owen Sound which was the first stop of our “Mother’s Day Adventure(MDA).”

Weaver Creek Falls is located in the south end of Harrison Park, a City of Owen Sound run facility. If you’re ever visiting Owen Sound, it is worth your time to come and explore Harrison Park. It has a wonderful playground for children, a waterfowl display and enclosure, a small campground, a swimming pool, the Bruce Trail, a restaurant and of course access to Weaver Creek Falls.

You can give this link a quick click to learn more about Harrison Park.

Access to the falls starts at the south end of the park, near the swimming pool. It is a short hike on a flat and very accessible hard packed trail with a wooden boardwalk. From the start to the falls themselves, it might be a couple of hundred metres. Technically, the actual falls are on private property. From the Grey County Waterfall Brochure – …“Note: The boardwalk leading to the falls is in Harrison Park, but Weaver Creek Falls itself is on private property. Please be respectful when visiting.”

A few pictures from Weavers Creek Falls.181

A couple of feather visitors who decided to join up on the adventure. Well, at least for this part.21720214317

Katie viewing the proceedings thinking that it must be time to head back to the car for a well-deserved drink of water and a tiny snack.

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After spending about an hour along the Weaver Creek Falls trail, and as part of our MDA, we decided to head over to “Elsie’s Diner”, located in the north-west part of Owen Sound on Highway 6.

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It’s a “50’s” style dinner that takes you back into a different era for sure. The food is comprised of burgers, sandwiches, wraps and such, and you do tend to get a large plate of whatever you order. We had been there once before last year.

Seeing as we had Katie with us and it was getting pretty warm out, we ordered takeout and headed back to Harrison Park for a picnic lunch.

After finishing our burgers, Lynn had spied some flowering trees along the street that leads into Harrison Park. So, heading out, naturally of course, we needed to stop to take a picture or two.65

After leaving Weaver Creek Falls, we thought let’s just go more or less around the corner to Inglis Falls located on the southern edge of Owen Sound. Inglis Falls forms part of the Grey Sauble Conservation Authority holdings.

We’ve visited Inglis Falls on numerous occasions over the past couple of years. For those so inclined, 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. Round trip totals around 5 to 6-kilometres. We did that particular route back in 2016.

We didn’t spend much time here on the MDA, seeing as we’ve been there several times in the past. A few shots though.7161415

The falls are very impressive, to say the least. When we hiked there from Harrison Park back in 2016, we found an opening in the escarpment face that with some tight scrambling allowed us to get to the bottom of the valley and bushwhack up to the base of the falls. Unfortunately, I can’t find any of our pictures from that adventure.

The always required “group shot.” Katie does not like waterfalls nor the sound they make. Let’s say she was not impressed with our choice of photo location.23

After leaving Inglis Falls, it was our intention to head back home. We started home south on Highway 10, passing through the communities of Chatsworth and Flesherton. After turning east on County Rd 4 in Flesherton, I mentioned to Lynn it might be fun to head along the East Back Line and Lower Valley Road to come out near the Beaver Valley Ski Club.

Seeing as we would be passing by Hogg’s Falls, we thought “okay, maybe one last photo opportunity.” Stop number three on the MDA.

However, we did find this Canadian version of a “Tardis” located near the village of Markdale.

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Hogg’s Falls is located on Lower Valley Road, about 3 or 4 kilometres from the Village of Flesherton. The falls themselves are on the Boyne River and the Bruce Trail passes the right beside them. There is a small parking lot that could hold about 10 cars and is located a short 5-minute walk from the top of the falls.Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 8.08.30 AM

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Hogg’s Falls from the base

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A couple of short video clips from the base and the top of the falls.

And another from the top.

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A couple of shots upstream from the falls near the parking lot.

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After leaving Hogg’s Falls around 5pm, we casually made our way home, pulling into the driveway around 6:30 or so.

Throughout the day, Lynn would fire off a text or a text and picture letting Sara know what we were doing and helping to make sure that she felt part of the adventure if in spirit only. It was unfortunate that Sara couldn’t be with Lynn this year, but according to Lynn when she spoke with Sara later that night, it was a good day nonetheless.

As I write this, we are just a few short weeks away from pulling out of our driveway early on a Sunday morning to head to Nova Scotia to visit Sara and then back to PEI for a variety of adventures, including fishing on a commercial lobster boat.

Over the past number of years, we’ve visited most, if not all of the waterfalls located throughout Grey County. All are reasonably accessible and make for great day trips, and as well many can be combined if you only have a day to visit. This is an excellent resource from Grey County Tourism on the waterfalls located throughout the area.

If you get the chance, why not head over to Grey County and the Owen Sound area for the day or even a couple of days. There are plenty of outdoor adventures and activities just waiting for your discovery.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

McCrae Lake Conservation Reserve – McCrae Lake Trail

Having patterned my life to a large extent by the principle that “the yard work which surrounds you will still be there tomorrow” – the last of my weekend days off dawned sunny, warm and inviting. Not so much inviting in terms of there is wood and brush to cut and gardens to tend, but more of the “there must a trail or two in our neck of the woods to explore” kind of invitation!

Waking up as I usually do at 5:00 am(even on my days off – don’t ask), I was pleasantly surprised to find this on the kitchen counter.

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I must admit I’m pretty lucky!

I had a couple of ideas of equally great spots that we could head off to and explore.

Over the past couple of years, we have explored large sections of the Bruce Trail in the Beaver Valley and Grey County area but missed smaller parts along the way. My plan was to start to fill in some of those missing bits. I was thinking that we head on over to Metcalfe Rock in the Kolapore Uplands and hike east from that point. Getting to the Kolapore Uplands and Metcalfe Rock is about 1.5 hours or a bit less from our house.

My second and equally sweet option was to head up and hike the McCrae Like Trail in the McCrae Lake Conservation Reserve, which is located about 30 minutes from our place in north Simcoe County.

As our dog, Katie is getting up there in years and not wanting to leave her for extended periods of time and seeing as we hadn’t lined up our favourite dog sitter for the day, we opted to for the McCrae Lake option which is more or less just up the road from us.

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The McCrae Lake Trail is approximately 2.6 kilometres from the parking lot off the Highway 400 SB on-ramp to the cliffs referred to as the “Eagles Nest.” The trail continues further west towards Georgian Bay for about another 4 kilometres ending at the small waterfalls that separate McCrae Lake from Georgian Bay.

Arriving at the parking lot just after 10am, I was surprised that there would be that many cars parked on a Wednesday morning. Guess I’m not the only person with an “irregular weekend” schedule. From the few people, we did see, most if not all were portaging over to McDonald Lake and over the rapids to McCrae Lake for a bit of backcountry camping.2

The start of the trail from the parking lot and Lynn with her gear and ready to go.

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3The trail heads up a slight incline at the beginning before levelling out for a bit. For the most part, the trail is well-marked with yellow blazes located on trees or painted on rock outcroppings.45 It descends into and crosses a small wet area before climbing a small hill on the other side. In just a few metres the trail intersects with a trunk snowmobile trail that traverses through this area. It’s more or less 500 metres from the parking lot the intersection with the snowmobile trail.

Looking left or south at the snowmobile trail intersection.6Looking to the right or north at the same location. If you were to turn right here and follow the snowmobile trail, you would end up at the McCrae Lake Bridge and Rapids, a popular day hike destination.

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Bridge and rapids from our adventure in the winter.pic 14pic 8pic 11 Unfortunately, as with most outings, thoughtlessness and carelessness in terms of garbage is still the norm. Oh well, our family is now 10 cents richer.8 Hiking a bit further we came across this small pond adjacent to the trail. Although you could hear at times the heavy transport traffic zooming up and down Highway 400 located a kilometre or so in the distance, sitting there and completely letting your mind disconnect was exceedingly soothing. After all of my years’ teaching, I developed the ability to tune out the extraneous noise in the classroom and to only focus on those sounds that were important. That ability came in handy today.

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A serene location for sure.

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A few more pictures.

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A short video clip from this location.

Although the black flies were certainly out in force, they weren’t biting. I’ve read from a variety of other posters and bloggers that at this point(May 15) the “little devils” are out but not really biting yet. However, rest assured black flies will eventually do what black flies do best……bite and be exceedingly bothersome. And if you’re lucky, it will all be just in time for the May long weekend!!

 

After a bit of a water break and Lynn taking a bunch of photo’s along the shore, we headed back along the trail towards Eagles Nest and the cliffs overlooking McCrae Lake. By this time we both had noticed it was getting considerably warmer than even we anticipated. I think the screen capture from my phone definitively answers that question.

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After a few more steps along the trail, we came upon this lovely beaver pond, complete with a couple of engineering marvels.

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It amazes me how solid and structurally sound beaver dams can be. This one was about 2.5 to 3 feet in height.

With the warm temperatures and the sun shining brilliantly in the noon sky, seems everyone was out basking in the warmth of the noontime rays.

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One or two more pics that Lynn expertly and exquisitely captured that illustrate the beauty of the area,

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Leaving the beaver pond, we continued on a short way to the cliffs overlooking the expanse of McCrae Lake.

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As you can see the view from the top was worth the effort. Blue skies, sun and wispy clouds made for a pretty spectacular vantage point.

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From what I’ve been able to read, this area is a great destination for rock climbing enthusiasts as evidenced by the bolts and anchors secured into the rock face.  49

And here as a top anchor.

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A short video clip from around the top of the cliffs.

A required ‘selfie” from the top.

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After spending 45 minutes to an hour at the top, we started to head back towards our car at the parking lot, following the trail along the same route we headed out on.

A few pictures of the return trip back to the parking area.

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I mentioned to Lynn that this looked like some sort of prehistoric lizard or something. In actuality, it’s just the base and trunk of a fallen tree. Good thing though.

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Trilliums were just starting to bloom.

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I had carried a grocery bag back from the cliffs picking up bits of trash along the way. Lynn took the bag at the parking lot and within 30 seconds had it full. Good for her, but a still sad commentary nonetheless about “taking out what you bring in.” I guess there will always be those careless and irresponsible ones that see the wilderness as their personal dumping grounds.

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Just after 4 hours from when we started out, we were back at our car. We totalled a distance of about 5 to 5.5 kilometres. Not lightning fast by any means, seeing as we stopped at every pond along the way and spent a good amount of time admiring the views from the cliffs.

I would highly recommend checking out the McCrae Lake Trail if you’re looking for a great day trip. Easy access off of Highway 400 and more than enough parking during the week. The parking area can get busy on the weekends with backcountry canoe trippers accessing McCrae Lake.

The section of the trail we covered out to the “Eagles Nest” area, I would consider easy to medium in terms of hiking difficulty. There were a few large trees that had fallen across the trail in several locations that required either going around or climbing over them. In addition, the trail crosses a number of small streams and low wet areas. Most have crude log bridge crossings, but none that posed any concerns or difficulty.

I think that we’ll head back in the next few weeks before we head out to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island in June. Following the trail to its final destination at the rapids were McCrae Lake joins Georgian Bay would make for a fine adventure.

Thanks for reading.

 

Hatchery Falls – The Return Trip

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The last few weeks have been a whirl-wind of life-related activities so to speak. With everything from photography related business stuff on Lynn’s side of the equation; to family commitments; ice storms/poor weather and just those day-to-day undertakings that take up time and way more valuable energy than required. So given all that, we haven’t had the opportunity to get out as much as we would like or as much as we need to. That doesn’t even take into consideration the hours that dreaded “9 to 5” work deal gobbles up out of the week.

Seems as well, I haven’t had the motivation or inspiration to tackle much from the “Thoughts From The Wilderness” posts either. I guess all of us at one point or another go through those creative dry spells.

Nevertheless, last Friday as temperatures rose to way above zero and looking like spring was finally making a long-awaited appearance, we decided to pack up the camera gear and head back to Hatchery Falls on the Skeleton River located near the hamlet of Bent River in the north Muskoka area of Ontario.

Screen Shot 2018-04-13 at 7.06.06 AMBeing slightly over an hour from our home in northern Simcoe County, it makes for an efficient and quick drive up Highway 400 and across Highway 141. There are countless advantages of living where we do. One that occupies a coveted spot near the top of the list is, it’s usually just a “reasonable jaunt” in any of the four cardinal directions to find an adventure to keep us occupied for a day.

However, if the “right adventure” gets dropped in our laps, we’re more than willing and usually very excited to tackle it or at least give it the “old college try” even if it requires us to make an “unreasonable jaunt.” Enter driving over 5000 kilometres in six days last fall, including a couple of days adventuring across PEI. It’s one of those “put in the effort – reap the reward” kind of approaches. For the most part, it almost always requires putting in long and every once in a while exceedingly exhausting days. Seems I’m NOT a sit on the beach kind of adventurer.

So, go figure – it does work for us though.

We have been to this sweet part of Muskoka three times so far this year, with the last trip only a couple of weeks before. You can read about that adventure here.

After getting our gear together and packing some water and a couple of Clif Bars we headed north towards Fish Hatchery Park.

It’s hard to believe that there has been this much change in snow cover in just under three short weeks.

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Snow up to your ????
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Not so much snow.

After heading east along Highway 12, north up Highway 400 and finally east along Highway 141, we arrived at Fish Hatchery Park about 11:00 am. We quickly collected our things and set off to photograph in greater detail Hatchery Falls, located less than a kilometre from where we parked our car.

I was amazed at the sheer difference just a couple of weeks made in terms of the overall look of the area. Two weeks prior everything was still covered in snow, much like it was at New Years when we first visited the area. Now, near the end of April and after only experiencing a few precious days of warm temperatures much of the snow in the open areas and a significant amount of the forest was melted.

With the sun shining and the light filtering down through the tree canopy, I knew that this was going to be a great outing. One of the things I love about early spring is the textures created by the sun weaving its way through a spruce and pine forest and reflecting off the snow that remains scattered on the ground. Days like this make it worth-while to be living and enjoying being outdoors.

The trail is well-marked with white blazes on trees as it passes through the park area.2

Still a fair bit of snow in the bush, but with the warmer weather that is being predicted it won’t be around for much longer.

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The trail was well packed down, but there were many sections that were ice-covered and very slick.

A short video of the snowy approach to the top of the falls.

I shot the short clip using my phone, so I apologize for the rather poor production value. Seems in getting our gear together, I forgot to pack the camera I’ve been shooting video with. Must be old age creeping up on me.

A couple of shots upstream of the top of the falls.

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Hatchery Falls. The angle of the video doesn’t present the magnitude and size of the falls very well. The published height of Hatchery Falls is seven metres with a three-metre crest.

A few still shots of the water cascading down the falls.

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We actually spent a fair bit of time at the base of the falls. It is a steep and tricky slope down from the top of the trail to this location. All of this was compounded by ice and frozen ground.

More shots from the area both up and downstream.

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After spending considerable time photographing and investigating around the base of the falls, we climb back out of the river gorge with the intention of slowly and leisurely making our way back to the car located about a kilometre away.

That is until I spied this up at the top of an adjacent slope.

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Although the perspective of the picture doesn’t capture it precisely, the ice formation on the cliff face is about 2.5 metres in height and at the top of a rather steep snow and ice covered slope.

This was something that must be explored. At least that was my sense!

Once we started to scramble up the snow and ice covered slope, this was the feature that caught our attention. An opening through the ice into a potential cave.

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I zoomed in using the camera on my phone for the above shot. That opening in the ice was about two feet higher than me and located at the top of an extremely slick and steep ice slope.

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The above picture illustrates to some extent the steepness of the slope. If I was to lay along the slope with my feet against the tree in the foreground in the picture and stretch my arms out, I would just reach the opening in the icefall.

However, as things were melting the face of the icefall was unbelievably slick. But, all was not lost. I did manage to capture a picture of one of the most elusive animals found in the north Muskoka area.

The hibernating “pretium extrema” – photographer extreme in a cave opening.

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The “pretium extrema” waking up.

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A couple of shots from inside the cave opening.

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A few shots from along the base on the icefall.

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Anything to get in the right position to realize the shot – I guess?

3934We actually spent an hour or more scrambling along and over the base of the icefall without slipping and hurtling down the slope to the trail below. Much fun!

 

 

It was a great late morning and afternoon spent adventuring in this beautiful and fascinating area of north of Muskoka. A day with the sun shining; warm temperatures; dazzling scenary and landscapes and good company doesn’t get much better. Lynn and I both felt it was one of those “we need to get out” type of exploits.

And don’t each one of us needs those types of days? To get away and forget about the trials and tribulations that life throws at us. To remind ourselves that life is meant to be lived and experienced. The more and varied the experiences – the better.

Lynn and I are no fans at all of the whole “living to work” paradigm. Careers, jobs and such can be “here today – gone tomorrow.” Guess over the years we’ve become devotees of the “working to live” point of view. However you may choose to define it, life is meant to be lived. So, stop putting off getting outside and into nature. Get out there; there is a whole world to explore. Some of it is in your own backyard.!

This has been our fourth trip to this specific location since the beginning of 2018. A little bird keeps whispering in my ear there is another adventure on the horizon sooner than later. This one involves bushwhacking to a location in this general vicinity that I managed to discover and do some sleuthing on.

So stay tuned for that.

Remember, get outside this weekend or even today and explore something in your part of the world. Keep at it – “cause you never know what’s around the next bend.”

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

Hatchery Falls – Short and Sweet

Hatchery Falls on the Skeleton River located a kilometre or so north of Highway 141, has been on our “return -to” list since we visited Fish Hatchery Park at New Year’s.

You can read about that afternoon here.

DSC_0076-EditIronically, we hadn’t planned to get to Hatchery Falls on the Friday we were out. In fact, we really hadn’t planned much. Lynn had been to the Optometrist in the morning and was having some blurriness challenges after leaving the office. So, I suggested heading to Orillia to visit the bakery in the Mariposa Market. Research suggests rich calorie filled baked goods aids in sight and blury vision issues. Okay, so it doesn’t help, but it doesn’t hurt either. After getting $13 worth of massive donuts and muffins, I birthed a plan to head north to Bracebridge to check out a set of falls on the Muskoka River.

After consuming the biggest donut I’ve run across in some time, we headed north on Highway 11 from Orillia. When we arrived at the particular park in Bracebridge where the waterfall is located, we found it closed and the entrance locked.

Undaunted, I suggested to Lynn we should head further north to Fish Hatchery Park and hike along the trail to see if we could make it to the location of the falls. I was hoping it would be a relatively easy time, due to the fact we had our dog Katie who as a senior finds it challenging to hike any substantial distance or a hike with a lot of terrain changes. In addition, neither Lynn or I were really dressed properly to be hiking through the bush of north Muskoka.

But with a bright blue sky and temperatures hovering around or slightly above zero, we left Bracebridge and headed north again on Highway 11 exiting to Highway 141 near Utterson.

Some pictures from the afternoon.

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Fish Hatchery Park looking towards the trail.
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Non-dog tracks on the snow

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Skeleton River
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Skeleton River

DSC_0087Lynn had a hard time making sure her pictures were properly composed and in focus due to the fact she was still having issues with blurriness from the Optometrists visit a few hours before.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get many pictures of the falls themselves.

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A few more from along the trail.

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Lynn at the top of the falls.

From a destination we weren’t planning on getting to, but then actually visiting, turned out to be a wonderful afternoon. The trail was well packed even with the snow the area had received the day before.

Often, I find having no specific plans or plans that change mid-adventure can turn out to be a great day after all. I was really taken with this area when we hiked and checked it out at New Years. North Muskoka has a certain ruggedness and beauty to it that I find entrancing. Often we’ll head out in the car after I’m done work in the afternoon in order to unwind a bit and nine times out of ten we’re heading north on Highway 400 as it passes through the western edge of the Muskoka along into the District of Parry Sound.

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The exposed Canadian Shield; the lakes; the rivers and trees seen from the Highway have a magical way of erasing all the trouble, stress and cares of the moment.

Hatchery Falls are certainly impressive, and the plan now is to head back in the near future with more camera equipment and hike to the base of the falls to capture their beauty and majesty as they cascade down the Skeleton River.

If you’re in the area and want to check the falls out, Fish Hatchery Park is located on Fish Hatchery Road off Highway 141, just east of the hamlet of Bent River. From where we live in north Simcoe County its an easy drive of slightly more than an hour.

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There are another set of smaller falls/rapids about 1.5 kilometres from Fish Hatchery Park. Although accessible about 100 metres north of Highway 141, I’m thinking following the Skeleton River downstream the 1.5 kilometres sounds much more fun!

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Be sure to get out and check the sights and scenery in North Muskoka, including Fish Hatchery Park and Hatchery Falls.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

Thoughts From The Wilderness – Chains That Bind(Or Do They?)

There are things that seem obvious to most people when they look at them or at least they should appear obvious. “Thoughts From The Wilderness” is my perspective; my slant if you will; my feelings of how life, living, our struggles and our successes can be illustrated by looking at how nature and the great outdoors reveal those tiny mysteries of life to us. The best part of this whole deal is I’m extremely fortunate to have Lynn and her innate ability to capture those moments in time that allows “Thoughts From The Wilderness” to exist. Honestly, she brings to the table the superior ability to capture the seemingly insignificant details, which are the significant memories of our adventures. I am one lucky guy.

On a recent afternoon at Six Mile Lake Provincial Park Lynn snapped a pic of the canoe/kayak racks down at one of the beach areas.

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In most instances, I might blog and go on for 700 words or more about how the chains and locks on the canoe rack represent the chains and locks we forge throughout our lives. Those chains and locks that bind us and keep anchored into a place we may not want or choose to be.

That would be the obvious entry.

But, let’s not focus on the chains and locks in the photograph. What else is there in it? Well, we see, dirt, a bit of grass and leaves and the racks themselves.

Here’s the “light comes on moment” in the blog.

What does or could the rack represent beyond simply holding watercraft?

When I sit back and ponder the photo for a bit, I see the racks patiently waiting. Patiently waiting to hold the memories of another summer of fun and new adventures that await a family as they make their first foray into camping and canoeing.

Don’t they also represent that first step or opportunity to get just a tiny bit outside of someone’s comfort zone? How many people got that first addictive taste of backcountry canoe tripping by having someone help them slip a canoe off the rack at a provincial park, summer camp or at a canoe outfitters establishment for the first time?

Close your eyes for just a second and picture this. Parks staff help them lift the canoe off the rack and lug it down to the beach. They outfit the parents and child in PFD’s and them load them into the canoe; give them a few lessons on what to do; then a gentle push and off they paddle and fumble around in the sheltered bay on the beachfront at Six Mile Lake. It isn’t very pretty, but that hour or afternoon spent figuring out how to make the damn thing go straight or even get back to the beach was enough to ignite a flame for camping and ultimately backcountry canoe tripping that sees that family wilderness canoe tripping in places we yearn to get to ourselves.

But, one the other hand, maybe it was just a simple afternoon paddling around and nothing more came of it. Just creating memories of time spent together camping, laughing and being a family.

Yup, sometimes the obvious isn’t obvious at all. Perhaps the obvious isn’t really obvious depending on how we look at. What is the tint of the glasses we use to view the world around us?

If your glasses result in seeing all as negative, then I guess you were anticipating or worse, choosing the “chains that bind” blog entry. But, we can choose the opposite. I chose to see the positive; the fantastic positive memory creating element the picture can represent.

We pick and choose to see what we want to see and ultimately believe. I’m sure there are scores of you out there, who live and work in environments that are toxic and negative to the “nth degree.” Something occurs that we see as positive, most others choose to see the negative.

Much of life, living and the way we see and react to it is a choice. I wish people would try seeing the positive in something for once. Just try it once! I bet people would be shocked at the result. Wow, a positive and wonderful memory we just created.

Shocked; surprised and bewildered, but in a positive way.

What colour are your glasses?

Just a few random thoughts.

 

 

Good Friday Afternoon at Six Mile Lake Provincial Park

Confession time. You drive by a location a hundred times since at least 1990. In 2014, we move and this place is less than 30 minutes from our house. I’ve uttered to Lynn more than once, “Gee, one day we’ll have to check out Six Mile Lake Provincial Park.”

Well, we finally did and we’re glad we took the time and checked it out for a couple of hours on the afternoon of Good Friday.

Six Mile Lake Provincial Park is located less than 2 hours north of Toronto with convenient access to and from Highway 400 via the White Fall’s Road exit.

Screen Shot 2018-04-05 at 5.35.20 AMIt’s a very popular car camping destination offering six campground locations through the park in a variety of settings.

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This link will take you to the Ontario Parks website for Six Mile Lake.

The afternoon of Good Friday arrived sunny and cool. With a turkey cooking away in the oven filling the house with a delicious holiday aroma, we grabbed Katie and headed off to hike around the park for the afternoon.

We’ve been out on a number of adventures since New Years and with the mild temperatures we’ve experienced at times over the past three months, many of the backcountry trails we’ve hiked have been icy. I mean VERY ICY. In fact, ice covered.

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A day of freezing rain in Algonquin. Everything in the picture was covered in ice including the trail, the trees and the rocky slope.

Like most outdoor enthusiasts, we prefer being in the backcountry away from the hustle and bustle so to speak. Not that this is a huge issue for the most part, but we’ve had to kind of pick and choose the trails we think might not have been well used, hence not as packed down and slippery.

I guess the point is, although we all love and strive for the ultimate backcountry expedition each time out, in essence, it does it really matter in the big scheme of things? Just getting out, whether it be in the backcountry of North Muskoka or a hike through a local Provincial Park really shouldn’t really be a concern. Being outside, soaking up the sun, watching the squirrels race around and listening to the wind as it gently blows through the forest and not having to worry about life and its challenges for just a brief few hours was and is perfect. In fact, it’s always perfect. It’s a good day when you’re main thought and concern is, “Did I remember to buy cranberry sauce to go with the turkey in the oven?”

At this time of the year, the Park is closed, but you can leave your car on the edge of the road that runs adjacent to the park entrance and simply walk around the entrance gate. When we visited there were three or four other vehicles parked as well.

I assume that some Ontario Parks staff work there during the winter months as many of the roads within the park and the parking areas surrounding the park office, store and maintenance buildings were plowed.

Six Mile Lake and the Park itself is exceedingly picturesque and it certainly delivers that Muskoka feeling and setting. But, a couple of things if you’re considering visiting and camping.

First, the Park is adjacent to Highway 400. Considering it was a holiday afternoon with not much traffic and certainly not much transport truck traffic, it was still loud on occasion when transports were roaring up “The 400.” It might be somewhat more tolerable in the “Maples” section which is located farthest from the highway. So, traffic noise might be a concern if you’re wanting more of a quiet setting. But having said that, I did find that after a bit, I tended to “tune out” the noise from the highway in that it just became part of the background sound. It was like that for me, but it might not be the same for you. So, beware.

Secondly, Six Mile Lake is a big lake and dotted with hundreds of cottages. In fact, when you look out from the beach areas in the park, you’re looking at cottages. If you come with a canoe, or a small boat thinking you’ll have the lake to yourself, you might be in for a surprise.

Nevertheless, as I mentioned it is a strikingly beautiful spot with two well-maintained beach areas including one with a children’s playground.

There is a very extensive boat launching area with what appears to be reservable dockage slips on a first-come, first-served basis. A quick call to the park when they open in May would confirm how the dockage system works.

There is also a dog play/beach area, canoe; kayak and SUP rentals, as well as a fully equipped Parks Store. In addition, there is also a small Interpretive Centre and three small hiking trails.

A few pictures from the afternoon.

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Beach area looking out towards Six Mile Lake
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“Buoy oh buoy” – waiting for summer
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Patiently waiting for spring to come and for family and friends to enjoy an evening campfire. How something so simple can hold and create so many memories.
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Alien landing site? Perhaps not. Hope nothing or nobody went through.

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Katie checking out potential campsites.
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A great site(large and very level) with super access to the water. The area might be busy next to boat slips and is also on the main park road. But, I bet the site is booked all summer though.

Part of the reservable boat dockage slips.

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With a little help and encouragement, hopefully, we’ll be ice-free soon in this area. But, considering when I’m writing this(April 5), winter came back with a vengeance(April 4) in the Central Ontario area.

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Would look much better full of canoes and kayaks waiting to be rented on a warm summer afternoon.

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Six Mile Lake also has a number of “walk-in” sites. Although not located too far from the main park road, these sites do provide an additional measure of privacy or remoteness as compared to the sites in the remainder of the Park. Numbering about six or seven in total they are more or less situated together on a level area half-way up a short incline. In this picture, you can see the main roadway below. I’m about 30 feet or so from the tent pad area on Site 17 in the “Lakeview Heights” section. You park your car down just off the roadway below.

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This is the first time I’ve ever seen something like this. Located near one of the beach areas, what a great idea if you came for a day visit and used a charcoal bbq.

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All in all, we really enjoyed the afternoon we spent hiking and walking around Six Mile Lake Provincial Park. Despite its location close to the Highway and having to share the lake with cottages, the park is nonetheless located in a very quaint and scenic setting of South Muskoka.

Granite outcroppings of the Canadian Shield combined with a variety of pine and deciduous trees are about a nice as one can get. Having both non-electrical and electrical/serviced sites, Six Mile Lake Provincial would be a great spot to either pitch your tent or park the trailer for a weekend or longer.

Assuming you’re not stuck in traffic on Highway 400 coming out of the GTA on a Friday afternoon, a 2 hour or less trip is really a great feature. Take a half day off on a Friday; leave by noon and you’re set up on your site with a cool drink in your hand by 3 or 4pm.

Not bad.

So, now is the time friends to get planning for the summer camping trips whether they be a front-country excursion in a car to an organized campground or a backcountry canoe adventure with family and friends. Why not take some time and look at the Ontario Parks website for some great ideas on where to head out for a night, weekend or longer camping.

While you’re at it, make sure to check out all the information for Six Mile Lake Provincial Park. It has a lot to offer and would make for a great destination I’m sure.

Thanks for reading.

Thoughts From The Wilderness – Close

Every once in a blue moon, something pops up or you stumble upon an image that in reality has no effect on your life or even your ultimate destiny. But at the time you see it, it opens a curtain on the windows to the universe and explains much of our existence within the cosmos.

Last October, Lynn and I spent a few days on Prince Edward Island. Although just about every town and village on the Island is charming in their own right, we decided to drive again through one of the prettiest towns on the Island. That being North Rustico Harbour. When we first visited in June, North Rustico was the first spot we really spent any time in taking pictures and soaking up the ambience of the Island.

This time around, however, the town was much quieter than just a few short months before. In fact, most of the fishing boats were up on blocks around the harbour waiting for the fishing and tourist season to start again in the spring of 2018.

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As we were casually cruising through the waterfront area, the universe aligned for only a moment. I swear a beam of light shone down from the heavens, illuminating the object in front of me. A chill passed through my body. The perfect name – “Byte Me.”

Seeing such a breathtaking name and experiencing something almost biblical in nature, I immediately spun the car around and had Lynn snap a quick picture of it.

My rather energetic yet passionate response to Lynn was that if I/we were ever fortunate enough to own and Captain a boat, that’s what we would christen it “Byte Me.” I did go one and elaborate that they were remarkably close to getting the spelling correct. Just one letter away from it.

I don’t need to “spell it out”  in any grand detail what that one letter is. I’m sure most of you can guess and figure it out.

The reality is that I would never name a boat with my “corrected spelling.” That particular use of the phrase “Byte Me” has a rather negative connotation attached to it. At least it did when I typed it into Google; pressed enter and read what the “Urban Dictionary” defined it as.

After reading that, I wished I hadn’t gone to the trouble. It’s going to be weird and really awkward when fellow workers bother me with something ridiculous and well, just dumb. Looks like I’m going to need a new response. “Byte Me” I’m thinking just isn’t the best phrase anymore.

However, I do think that the owner and captain of this particular vessel got it just about right.

The funny thing is that the use of “Byte” in the boat name is incorrect. Byte, as defined in the dictionary, is “a unit of computer information or data-storage capacity that consists of a group of eight bits and that is used especially to represent an alphanumeric character.” 

Oh well, perhaps the use of “Byte Me” is correct after all.

I wonder how often a conversation like this happens?

“What’s the name of your boat?”

“Byte Me.”

“No need to be so rude!”

Regardless, what a super name for a commercial fishing boat.