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.
I am way behind on my writing. It’s been two weeks since our Easter camping trip and I am only just getting to it. But before I begin, I have a confession to make: I am not a very religious person, more of a questioning agnostic, but I love Easter. Its message of rebirth and transformation lifts my spirits and brings hope. And nowhere is this message more pertinent than in nature so that’s where we choose to spend our Easter holidays. This year I welcomed Easter morning watching the yellow Easter egg of the sun roll out of Lake Erie and right into my heart, sparkling a fire akin to religious devotion, a feeling I haven’t experienced in any of the churches except for Nature’s cathedral.
Getting outside in any season comes with lots of rewards but spring offers a special kind of magic. In the spring, the forest looks like a giant colouring book and every day nature fills it in with more colours. Sure spring adventures can be a messy affair, quite literally. But if you focus too much on the mud under your feet, you risk missing the fascinating transformation happening around. And as we return to the woods every Saturday, I savour the colours splattered around where nothing but grey contours were seen the week before. All to the glorious bird song reverberating through the trees.
It’s hard to believe 2016 is drawing to a close. And it was quite a year when it comes to outdoor adventures, both close and far. With a three-week road trip all the way to Los Angeles, lots of camping with family and friends, my first solo trip and endless microadventures, it is next to impossible to narrow down ten best. But I’ll still try.
Our younger son likes to share stories, solve math problems and study new scientific concepts while hiking. So during last weekend’s backpacking trip his dad was teaching him about factorials and permutations. Don’t ask me to explain what those are because I wasn’t really listening. I was working on a scientific formula of my own, one that would explain why backpacking works so well as a de-stressor. My theory is that there is only a certain amount of baggage our bodies can handle. So the more weight you pile up on your back and the longer you lug it around, the faster you shed the other kind of weight, the one that is made up of schedules, deadlines, to-do lists and digital noise. Add a few dozen bug bites and there is little else you can think about.
I am way behind on my trip reports. There is a bunch of photos still sitting on my memory card that I haven’t had time to download onto the computer, let alone process and write about. But, I guess, it’s a good problem to have: I’d rather have too many trips to write about than not enough.
Our most recent microadventures took us to Dundas Valley Conservation Area. This 1,200 ha park is part of the Hamilton Conservation Authority and is less than an hour away from Toronto. In the past three weeks we’ve been to the park twice, and it wasn’t our last trip there. The park is pretty big, though, so there is a lot to do and keep us busy for many visits to come.
Spring is finally here! To me, it means two things: more camping and gardening. So we spent the first day of spring planting and planning our next week’s trip to Algonquin. Our garden is not really a garden, just an assortment of containers and planters on the balcony, and I know it will create problems down the line once we start spending more time away and will need to find someone to water the plants. Yet every year I can’t resist a temptation to grow something from a seed. It is fascinating to watch a tiny speck turn into a full-grown plant. When I think about what I want to do when I get older, there is a part of me that dreams of a cabin away from people with a big garden. And then there is another part that just wants to hit the trail and never come back. To borrow a phrase from Erin McKittrick, author of Small Feet, Big Land Adventure, Home, and Family on the Edge of Alaska, I am a rooted wanderer.
It is the season to tally up accomplishments over the past year and make plans for the next one. Our New Year resolutions are usually summed up with “camp as much possible, visit as many new places as possible, try as many new things as possible.” Putting together a list of 2015 best camping moments is a slightly more difficult task since there were so many of them. Nonetheless, here is my attempt to narrow the list to our 10 favourite camping memories of 2015 (in no particular order).