Bringing the outside in – one overnight stay at Pinery at a time

How often do you hear people say: “I wish I could do more of x (in my case spend more time outdoors) but life gets in the way”? I am not a big fan of that expression – “life gets in the way.” It’s right there with “time to return to real life.” Both imply that time spent outside is nothing more than a frivolous pursuit or, at best, an escape from our productive and important lives filled with jobs, chores and responsibilities.

There are days when I daydream about ditching the so-called “real life” for a life of outdoor adventures. I know, however, that right now it is not realistic. So instead my goal is to incorporate outdoors into my everyday life as much as possible, whether by making sure I take a walk during my lunch break, skipping the bus and walking part of the way home, growing a container garden on my balcony and filling my apartment with plants, or making weekend getaways and microadventures a priority.

Old ausable Channel in Pinery in the fall

Some days are harder than the others, especially during a shoulder season: the weather is indecisive, the days are short, and work is never-ending.

I am not the only one. According to the Nature Conservancy of Canada report released in October, over 70 per cent of Canadians don’t spend enough time in nature. The often cited reasons are bugs, bad weather and busyness. Well, bugs I can live with. I just treat them as a necessary sacrifice of being outdoors. Bad weather can be fixed with appropriate clothing. I can identify with busyness, however, and unless I am intentional about spending time outdoors, there is always a risk that to-do lists will consume me.

Luckily for me, my job involves occasional travel throughout Ontario so with a bit of planning I can always squeeze in a good hike at a new location. And with some creative thinking – even an overnight in the woods.

A couple of weeks ago I was visiting some of our members along the Lake Huron coast. As I started to research hotels for an overnight stay, it occurred to me that Pinery Provincial Park was mere minutes away. I considered bringing the tent but I knew I wouldn’t have much time the next morning and instead of packing I preferred going on a hike. So I booked a yurt and voila: I had a mini camping trip in the middle of the week.

It was already dark when I pulled by the yurt. The park was eerily quiet. After the hustle and bustle of the summer, Pinery’s shoulder season calm never ceases to take me by surprise.

I heated my leeks and potato soup and plonked myself in front of the campfire. I could feel my whole body inhale and exhale with the forest.

a bowl of soup in front of the campfire

The next morning I was back by the campfire with my coffee and a cheese sandwich. I didn’t have much time but I was intent on absorbing as much of the smoky scent as possible. Once I was done with all the wood, I grabbed my camera, a bottle of water and set out on a walk.

campfire at Pinery

I walked through an empty campground and crossed the bridge over the Old Ausable Channel. The narrow strip of the river, devoid of paddlers, cut through the trees revealing a rose-tinted patch on the horizon.

Old Ausable Channel at Pinery in the fall

Old Ausable Channel in the fall

I turned onto the Cedar Trail. Our feet pounded this path many times before but as I was walking through the oak savanna that morning, I realized we’d never been there in the fall. Plenty of times we walked through the lush greenery of the summer and a few times through early winter’s fragile bareness but never under the canopy of yellows and bronze. I’ve always associated Pinery with the summer. In one of my posts, I actually said that’s where the summer lives. But on that morning, I saw it in a new light, quite literally, and fell in love with the park all over again.

oak leaves in the fall    oak leaves in the fall

oak leaves in the fall   oak leaves in the fall

And, when after numerous sets of stairs and boardwalks, Lake Huron came into view – that familiar yet always new sight – all air left my lungs. Because even after years of coming here, seeing that turquoise strip still takes my breath away.

Cedar Trail at Pinery in the fall   stairs along Cedar Trail at Pinery

boardwalk at Pinery

The lake was calm and smooth. I walked to the edge, tested the water. I felt the pull of the lake as if I could just dissolve into all that calmness.

beach at Pinery in the fall

beach at Pinery in the fall

When I finally peeled myself off a log – after what felt like hours but was no more than 15 minutes – everything around seemed different as if the smoothness of the water seeped inside me. And as I returned to my “real life,” I carried a part of the lake with me.

driftwood on the beach at Pinery

On a less poetic note, I discovered that Pinery now has four new yurts as does Macgregor Point where we have since stayed. So check back soon for my guide to roofed accommodations.

Read more about our yurt stays at Pinery:

Our glamping weekend at Pinery

Another great glamping trip at Pinery: birds, beach, still no snow

Easter weekend camping in Pinery Provincial Park

11 thoughts on “Bringing the outside in – one overnight stay at Pinery at a time

  1. Incorporating what you love and what replenishes you into your life is necessary I think. I too have made excuses for not doing things (namely going hiking or visiting some place new) because I was “too busy,” but the reward of those moments of reflection and decompression are always worth it. Your post is a necessary reminder of that!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re absolutely right. In the past few months we haven’t been getting outside as much and I’ve been feeling the effects. So I am trying to be more deliberate and prioritize our outdoor time. Not always easy but always worth it.


  2. Pingback: Page not found | Gone Camping

  3. Pingback: In the Tall Grass: Microadventuring in Windsor | Gone Camping

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