My family and I undertook several adventures in Mont Tremblant National Park (Quebec), provincial parks (Ontario), and in local conservation areas in response to Explore magazine’s Live the Adventure Club summer challenge of 2021.
In the shot below, the family members are looking pensively at the next adventure – Parc du national Mont Tremblant. This is a view of the north from Mont Tremblant Village, showing Laurentian mountains and Lake Supérieur (Quebec). Tremblant’s North Side also gives an easy access to the Parc national du Mont-Tremblant. Covering 1510 sq. km, the park represents 20% of Québec’s protected areas. That was going to be our abode for the next 7 days.
It may be noted that there were limitations imposed by the COVID-19 protocols and my own infection with the virus in May 2021 that made me lose weight by 5 kg.
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1. Summer fitness
My family visited Parc national du Mont-Tremblant (Quebec’s provincial park) in the first two weeks of August 2021. On August 02, my son and I hiked on a 8.2 km long trail of almost 75 degree gradient, leading to La Corniche Observation Deck and to La Roche Observation Deck that offered superb views of the Lac Monroe valley and the Mont Tremblant highlands. The hike to the observation decks on the two mountaintops took its toll on my knees. We took 4 hours to complete the hike.
Admittedly, I needed Cherry BO2MB Energy drink at La Corniche Observation Deck before starting for the La Roche Observation Deck, which was at a still higher elevation.
Then on the next day, that is, August 03, I decided to hike all by myself on 3 trails one after the other, about 10 km in all. The three trails were Sentier Le Lac-aux-Atocas (around Chat Lake), Sentier de Le Lac-Des-Femmes (Femmes Lake), and finally on the Boucle-Des-Chutes-Croches to get back to the parking lot at the Discovery Centre.
I covered the entire distance in 2 hours as I was hiking at top speed, even jogging on several easier sections. That was the day, I missed K2, our dog the most. There were few people on the trails and if somebody had been close by, he/she would have heard me talking to an imaginary dog saying “Bon Chien” often.
I hiked daily with K2, our Hungarian Kuvasz, every evening or night if it was very warm and then again in the morning. However, for this challenge, I made it a point to cover 5 km on few evenings/nights and then cover the same distance next morning at almost twice the speed. This also helped me to be prepared for office by 8:30 am. The summer challenge hikes in the morning did become a tad exhausting for both K2 and me though, although my buddy took the worst of it due to his thick double fur.
2. slow matters
It was only when I hiked at a slow pace on one of the above mentioned trails (slightly over 5 km in 3 hours) that I was able to observe common red soldier beetles on wild carrot flowers. The soldier beetles hatch from larva when the weather turns warmer and seek out bright flowers. They are valuable pollinators for any flower or herbaceous garden as they continuously flit from flower to flower (picture # 2 below)
In addition to hiking, I was canoeing in the company of my children throughout this summer. Canoeing offers a slow approach to observing nature, especially water-based fauna and flora.
In early July, at Island Lake Conservation Area near Orangeville, Ontario, we rented out a canoe and paddled slowly against a strong wind to reach a section in the park that has been declared a sanctuary for protection of wildlife. This turned out to be safe for the wildlife as well, because we could neither get off the canoe due to the ‘wildness’ of the shore nor did we want to.
In August, at Lake Munroe on Parc national du Mont Tremblant, Quebec, we rented out a canoe with a mission to paddle the canoe along the shores of the Lake and, in the process, observe several islands that are categorized as sanctuaries for the migratory loons.
During the Summer 2021, other members of my family joined me in several hiking trips in various provincial parks, conservation areas and at Parc national du Mont-Tremblant in Quebec. One such hiking trip was at Silver Creek Conservation Area on Robert Side Trail connecting to the Bruce Trail (3.4 km). This trail was of intermediate difficulty, especially for the 5 year old in our entourage, which we completed in 110 minutes.
As you can easily see how the youngest member of the entourage made us go slow for his mini-adventures of checking out a lake, leading the group, watering the plants with his water gun, and taking his own shots of flowers.
3. food safe
I have hiked with K2 in the areas where black bears and coyotes flourish, but have run into only one bear when I was hiking with K2 back in 2013 and a few coyotes. Also, there have been several instances where the hikers and campers reported seeing bears and coyotes in the vicinity all the time, but my family and I never had any encounter. According to a park ranger, this was because of the presence of a big 110 pound white dog by our side.
I have hung my bear bag with energy bars, drinks, sandwiches, etc., at several Ontario national and provincial parks till few years ago and I know the technique. However, for the last few years, due to a young lad in the family, we are settling for car or RV camping in the national and provincial parks. This allows us to keep our food locked in the car (or RV), put our tents for sleeping and resting and to explore the parks without worrying for protecting the food from various critters. Car (RV) allows to store junk food, candies, as well as regular food items, including eggs, marinated meat, rice, lentils, energy food that I have received in LTA gear box, etc.
As that Park ranger had indirectly said, our furry boy K2 acts as a second line of defense (see below). Since he comes from a livestock guardian dog breed, he has a natural tendency to ward off any intruders by acting as a deterrent, that is, by barking that booms over a mile radius and by mock charging, without getting into a physical confrontation. He happily guards the camp and our possessions both day and night, while we sleep or rest inside our tents. However, we never leave him alone.
4. good birdwatchers
By the strictest definition of the phrase, I am not a birdwatcher. I am a bird, or more generally, a casual wildlife photographer, point and shoot, posting straight out of camera (SOOC) images.
When I am hiking with my family members and/or K2, I always keep my camera and lens ready for a wildlife shot. Here are the shots of local three species that I took during this summer. Final shot is of wild Turkeys at Parc national du Mont Tremblant. Wild Turkeys are also found in the conservation area about 1/2 km from my home.
Regarding the article on page 13 of the summer issue of Explore magazine ‘Birders behaving badly’, I admit that I get jittery when I see little children in the parks running after the birds, especially gulls, mallards, and pigeons taking the brunt, and scaring them into flying away.
There is a dilemma for me here. I always have an urge to politely tell the children not to harass the birds, but then I always restrain myself as there could be some hurt feelings. I draw comfort from a paradoxical reasoning that the birds in the parks are habituated to humans and they are already familiar with the antics of the children. Therefore, there is no need to worry. If they were wild then the things would be different.
5. active mornings
As mentioned before, K2 and I are always active in the mornings.
I hiked for at least 5 km several times this summer starting at 6 am. Here are some shots from one of those early morning hikes.
6. searching for sanctuary
I have identified 5 areas close to my neighbourhood that I call wildlife sanctuaries. K2 and I, and sometimes other family members as well, often take refuge in one of these sanctuaries, which is a ravine system near my home. The ravine system is located within heavily populated neighbourhoods and a heavily traveled city road, with a series of creeks flowing through it. Here are few shots in the ravine that I took between June 22 and September 05.
The sanctuary is special because it provides a space for the wildlife in a densely populated urban area. It is also special for us because of the family time we share together. The busy beavers also provide entertainment for us.
I wrote a blog on my wildlife sanctuary, which can be read here:
7. campfire pro
While camping at Parc national du Mont-Tremblant in Quebec, we attempted 3 different techniques explained on page 16 of the Summer 2021 issue of the Explore Magazine (‘Your top campfire layouts’) before settling for our very own tried and tested variation of the Teepee technique.
8. shooting the moon
At Parc national du Mont-Tremblant (Quebec), we almost lost track of the lunar dates. To be on the safe side, I took shots on two consecutive days.
9. outdoorsy gourmet
We, families of 7 cousins, were hiking in Awenda Provincial Park in Ontario in early July and then in Earl Rowe Provincial Park later in the same month. At noon time on both occasions, we had super-delicious gourmet lunches, as every family put pre-delegated lunch items on the table. We had appetizers, 7 main food items, and 2 desserts. The following two shots say it all.
Of course, Avventura outdoors campsite kitchen kit and camping cookware with kettle came in handy on both occasions.
10. exploring with explore
I take Explore magazine on every long distance hike as I tend to read it during brief respites on the way. On longer duration travels, such as to the national parks of Quebec last summer or to Parc national du Mont-Tremblant in Quebec this summer, I also add a few books to my repertoire.
During a difficult 8.2 km loop hike that I did on the trails leading to La Corniche and La Roche Observation Decks (Parc national du Mont-Tremblant), my son took this picture of an exhausted me, against the sun, holding the Explore magazine’s summer issue at La Corniche lookout. The smile is hiding several emotional and physical bruises. Members of two families present there inquired about the shot and I was too glad to apprise.
Gear carried to parc national du mont tremblant
For the 7 days of backcountry camping, hiking, biking, and canoeing in SEPAC’s Parc national du Mont Tremblant (not the village), we carried the following items from LTA Club gear received over a period of time:
- Head lamp
- Wear and tear stick on
- First aid kit
- Energy drinks and bars
- Camping egg container
- Cooking utensils
- Classic camp mug
- Avventura Bamboo bottle
- Water bladder
- Plastic shirt wrap
- Drymesac multipurpose towel
- Avventura outdoors air mats (2 in #s)
- Self-inflating camp pillow
- Camping blanket
- Solar lantern
- Mosquito zapper lantern
- Compression sack
- Avventura camp axe
- Foldable camp saw
- Avventura multi-tool (kitchen)
- Avventura wide-angle flash light
- Shower system
- Water bucket
- Bed liners
- Snowflake multi-tool
- Accessory carabiners
- Survival Frog
- Tough Tesla Lighter
- Avventura Kitchen Stowaway foraging bag
- Cherry BO2MB Energy drink
- Avventura outdoors campsite kitchen kit
- Camping cookware with kettle
We also carried duct tape and cabin slippers. These were recommended by the Club members.