For me, the forest has always been a magical place. Not a scary locale of many fairy-tales and horror films, but rather a trove of endless wonders. As a child I spent many summer days wandering through the woods behind my grandparents’ house, listening to the trees whisper to each other, their branches touching tenderly up above, their roots in a tight embrace breaking through the ground under my feet. What thoughts ran through their trunks, I wondered. What dreams nestled in their canopies?
The May long weekend is often the time of many firsts. The first paddling adventure of the season. The first backcountry trip. The first call of the loon. The first mosquito bite, or a dozen. The first sunburn.
Recently, I’ve been guilty of allowing myself to fall into the same home-work cycle, at times feeling like an android host in Westworld, going through the same narrative loop and desperately wishing for the writers to introduce a new twist to my story. Weekend microadventures slowly gave way to other engagements and fickle spring weather. The month of April got compressed into a blur, and no matter how much I tried to grab at its edges to stretch it out just a little bit, it kept slipping away leaving me craving greenery and silence. So when a work event came up in Hamilton, I used the opportunity to stay behind and do some hiking.
A forest on a spring morning is a well-orchestrated polyphony. Robins and red-winged blackbirds pour their joy out trying to outsing each other for the role of a lead soloist. Woodpeckers keep the rhythm with their insistent staccato. Cuckoo birds join this celebratory chorus with a melodic refrain. Nothing is jarring; not a single note out of place. Even the shrill caws of grackles don’t produce dissonance but rather serve as interludes between other parts.
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.
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.