Recently, I read an article about a newly published study that suggests not all people find escape into nature soothing and restorative. On the contrary, they crave a bustling city scene when they need to relax. The idea that traffic and crowds can be anything but stress-inducing is foreign to me, but who am I to judge. One thing I know for sure is that I am not one of those people. I definitely need nature to de-stress and unwind.
Case in point. A couple of weeks ago, we had a conference at work, and things were pretty busy to say the least. Most of my days started at 7 a.m. and ended sometime around 10, and were spent within the confines of a hotel milling in crowds hundreds of people strong. Plus as a person responsible for social media, I practically lived in the virtual world of Twitter. As exciting, thought-provoking and stimulating the whole event was, by Friday I was longing for some piece and quiet. Grounding was what I needed, not only metaphorically, but also quite literally: I was yearning to sleep on the ground. So a camping trip it was.
The weekend turned out a bit cooler than expected but it didn’t derail our plans or prevent us from enjoying the trip. In fact, it ended up being a perfect de-stressing experience with all the necessary ingredients. The recipe is below.
Start with a great location
We decided to go to Silent Lake Provincial Park, and we couldn’t have picked a better place. Located just south of Bancroft in traditional Algonquin territory, it boasts an aptly named Silent Lake, perfect for paddling and swimming (not that we could do much of either), green solitude of the thick woods, and over 40 kilometres of hiking and mountain biking trails. One of the reasons I like the park is its walk-in sites, which don’t require as much planning and preparation as a backcountry trip, but still allow to get away from crowds and traffic on park roads.
Steep in the cool forest air and solitude
When you first step out of the car upon arrival into the park, you get engulfed in the strong smell of pine mixed with a whiff of last year’s leaves and serenity. Then comes the bird song closely followed by mosquito bites. I don’t care for mosquitoes but accept them as part of the package. Certainly a small price to pay for falling asleep to the call of the loon.
Season with a generous amount of “small things”
With packed schedules and oversized to-do-lists, it’s easy to miss a caterpillar making its way up a tree trunk, raindrops stuck in a web or flowers under our feet. “Stop and smell the roses” may sound like a cliche but there is no better way to put things in perspective and remind ourselves how intensely beautiful the world around us is. And there was no shortage of reminders at Silent Lake.
Sleep can sometimes be a valuable commodity in our everyday lives. Definitely that was the case for me a couple of weeks ago. So camping at Silent Lake, away from city lights and noises, provided an opportunity not only to catch up on our sleep, but also store some up for the future. I don’t know if it was the forest air, the lullabies of the loons or the patter of the rain, but we slept until noon on Saturday, including our son who’s usually up by six.
Add some movement (with ample breaks)
There is no shortage of movement opportunities at Silent Lake. Our goal for the weekend was to hike the Lakeshore Trail. Needless to say, that after having slept in so late and then taking forever to eat our breakfast, there was no time for a 14-kilometre trek. So instead, we hiked down to the geocache we couldn’t find in the winter. The trail looked very different from the last time we walked it back in March. With the snow gone, we had no problem locating the geocache but unfortunately it was practically empty. “Muggled,” pronounced our son who calls all non-geocaching folks “muggles” just like non-magical people in Harry Potter.
Bake it all over a campfire
In my home country, there is a saying that one can look indefinitely at flowing water, burning fire and getting paid. I don’t particularly care about the last one but would definitely agree with the first two. With slightly cooler weather, we spent a fair amount of time around the campfire. Add some coffee (or hot chocolate) and card games for an enhanced experience.
Finally, sprinkle generously with sunset magic and enjoy!