By: Brendan Cull •

I’m getting ready for a hike with friends. After a sustaining breakfast of porridge and tea, I pack my day bag with a hearty lunch, a sketchbook and my camera gear. It’s grey this morning and I’m moving slowly. The walk to my buddy’s house will wake me up and the car ride will be passed with spirited conversation and good music, anticipation growing as we near the park. I haven’t explored this area before and I can’t wait to put foot to trail.

Hopping out of the car upon arrival, I can smell a familiar scent of moss and pine. We’ve travelled to the lower edge of the Canadian Shield, a familiar geography, but I’ve never been to its southern tip before. Small lakes, carved out by glaciers thousands of years ago, speckle the Boreal forest. Ferns, mushrooms, wintergreen and mosses populate the forest floor while tall hardwoods and white pines sway and creak above our heads. The forest roars with a blustery north-western wind.

Into the park office for information and a map, and to pay for parking. Then onto the trails where woodpeckers hop from trunk to trunk plunking away at the rough bark. Frogs sit at the water’s edge and paddle among the fallen leaves in dark reflective pools. The wet low areas teem with fungi of every shape and colour. This is a place for reinvigorating the spirit after hours spent poring over readings during the week. Lately, I’ve been reaching for my favourite mug and the kettle to keep warm. The icy north wind enlivens the senses while the sun, poking out between massive clouds, keeps us comfortable. The trees are just starting to show the effects of fresh autumnal air and reduced daylight, chlorophyll giving way to the red, yellow and brown pigments. We’re absolutely spoiled in this part of the world. Sights for leaf peepers and nature enthusiasts abound.

After hours on the trails, we’re worn out. We’ll be sleeping in the car on the way back home – always a sign of a great day outside.