Remember those childhood riddles about an animal that carries its home on its back? About a week ago the answer was me making my way along the Highlands Trail in Algonquin. Not only because I was lugging my home, a.k.a. tent, on my back, but also because I was so slow.
We huff and puff as we make our way down a muddy, rocky path to Mahzenazing Lake at Point Grondine Park. Mosquitoes and all sorts of flies take advantage of our constraints: it’s hard to swat bugs when your arms are full of paddles and dry sacks or if you are carrying a canoe on your back. These feel like the longest 1,200 metres in our lives. The blue of the lake peeking through the trees is the most welcome sight.
But let me backtrack a little.
It’s an overcast day, the steeliness of the sky reflected in the lake. Our canoe is bobbing up and down on the waves. We try to paddle as close as possible to the rocks along the shore to get a closer look at the pictographs. Red ochre outlines. People in a canoe. A bird in flight. Antlers. Thousand-year-old stories recorded on the land. It starts to rain and we set out to find a campsite before Quetico’ s moodiness engulfs us.
Camping is always good for my body and soul. Occasionally, though, along comes a trip so perfect and emotionally satisfying it feels like a dream. Our most recent trip to Algonquin was one of those. Minus the bugs. But then bugs are part of the camping package this time of the year.
It’s been a particularly wet spring. The last two months have felt like one unending rainfall with an occasional sunny break. I started wondering if that is what it feels like to live in Vancouver or Great Britain. The rain has caused lots of trouble but it’s been good for some things. Lush vegetation is one of them. And waterfalls, of course. So no wonder we spent our May microadventures chasing waterfalls around Hamilton.
May long weekend is an important milestone here in Canada. Many consider it the unofficial start of summer and/or the opening of the camping season. It certainly was for us until we started camping year round and May 2-4 lost its special status. So we had to rethink its purpose and for the past two years May long weekend has become the opening of the backcountry season.
Last Friday, I realized it’s been a while since our last microadventure. Climate March, rainy weather, our son moving back home for his summer break – and the next thing we know three weeks have gone by without a nature outing. Add to that extremely busy times at work – and I was starting to feel the lack of Vitamin N. As another weekend rolled in, I was looking forward to getting outside and hopefully catching a glimpse of trilliums. My search for the best trillium-viewing spot rendered a place called the Happy Valley Forest. Seemed like a perfect spot to get a boost of happiness.