It is the time of the year when we look back at the great adventures of 2017 and start planning for the year ahead. With numerous camping trips, countless microadventures and a three-week road trip to Newfoundland, choosing the most memorable moments wasn’t easy. Every nature outing, no matter how short or close to home, is an opportunity to stop time, breathe deeper and marvel. Some trips, however, stick in your memory more than others. Here is my attempt at capturing ten best nature adventures of the year.
Best outdoor experience: Our trip to Newfoundland
Three weeks in a tent is an experience like no other. Add to that incredible views, fantastic hikes, thrilling wildlife sightings and welcoming people and you get the most memorable trip of the year. You can read more about it here.
Honorary mention: Great Lakes Water Walk
This year we joined hundreds of people in Toronto for its inaugural Indigenous-led water walk, and it was an experience like no other. Not only because we had to cover 20 kilometres on the hottest day of the year. The walk was an inspiration and a call to reimagine our relationship with Nibi – Water. You can read my reflections about the day and what water means to me here.
Best camping trip: Algonquin in June
Camping is always a thrill. Yet occasionally along comes a trip perfect in every way. Our weekend trip to Algonquin in June was just that, and even hordes of hungry mosquitoes and black flies couldn’t spoil it. Want to know what made it so great? Read about it here.
Best backcountry trip: Point Grondine Park
This beautiful park, owned and operated by Wikwemikong First Nation, has everything you need for an amazing backcountry paddling adventure: spectacular views, hours of uninterrupted paddling, and complete solitude. More pictures and a full trip report can be found here.
Best glamping trip: Family Day weekend in Killarney
Killarney is already at the top of my list of favourite parks in any season. Add to that a quaint cabin in the woods, great weather, mounds of snow, snowshoes and skis, and you’d be hard-pressed to come up with a better winter adventure. Don’t forget cute raccoons. See their pictures here.
Best discovery: Gatineau Park
We discovered the magic of Gatineau during our New Year’s celebration. It was love at first sight, or the first snowshoe in, because we arrived in the park late on December afternoon and had to get to our four-season tent after dark. After ringing in the New Year here, we had to come back and see this beautiful park in other seasons. To read full trip reports, click here and here.
Best hike: Gros Morne Mountain
Gros Morne Mountain trail offered a fair share of challenges and even more breathtaking views. It’s hard to put the experience into words but I tried. You can read about it here.
Best paddle: Thanksgiving weekend in Algonquin
While there was no shortage of great canoe trips this year, it was hard to beat gliding over mirror smooth waters of Algonquin surrounded by fiery woods. More about this trip here.
Best pedal: Easter at Point Pelee
With an unusually warm weather, carpets of spring flowers and music accompaniment of winged visitors, our bike ride through Canada’s southernmost park was unforgettable. You can read about our Easter trip to Point Pelee and the nearby Wheatley Provincial Park here.
Best wildlife encounter: Whales in St. Anthony
We had quite a few exciting wildlife encounters this year: caribou, raccoons, eagles, hawks, gannets, turtles, not to mention cute puffins and 11 moose. But it was hard to compete with whales mere feet away and hours of fun and joy that came with them. More picture here.
Best microadventure: Geocaching at Rockwood Conservation Area
We discovered many new places during our microadventures this year. Nottawasaga Bluffs Conservation Area with its stone maze was particularly notable. But the title of the best microadventure went to our glorious geocaching quest at Rockwood, which required canoeing, wading through water, crawling into caves, not to mention knowledge of science. More about it here.
Park of the year: Algonquin
Finally, the title of the park of 2017 was awarded to Algonquin. In addition to the above-mentioned June camping and a backcountry canoe adventure during Thanksgiving weekend, Algonquin hosted us in early December and it’s where I headed for my first solo backpacking trip. Throughout the year we watched its transformation: from the lush green of summer to colour explosion in October to the whispers of upcoming winter.
Now we are heading into the deep of winter to build more memories. We will be ringing in New Year in a new park with some new adventures. Thank you, everyone, for following along, and I hope you are all having a wonderful holiday season. Happy Adventure-filled New Year! I will see you again soon, either here in the virtual world or out there on the trails and waterways.
What were your favourite memories of the year? I’d love to hear from you.