Fall 2021: What a season it was! Living the adventures to the fullest

I undertook several adventures in various provincial parks of Ontario and in local conservation areas in response to Explore magazine’s Live the Adventure Club Fall challenge of 2021. As usual my family members and K2 accompanied to many of these outings.

On January 11, 2021, I was declared a Runners-up in the ‘Standard’ category of the competition.

All photography was done using Pentax K-5iis and Pentax KP with Pentax lenses (300 mm lens for wildlife excursions) and 55-300 mm and 18-135 mm during hiking with K2) without any post-processing.

Just to start off, different phases of Fall season (October to December) are captured in the shots below (The last shot shows K2 under snowfall):

1. always adventure smart for search and rescue

Les Stroud, Canadian survival expert, in his book titled: “Survive!: Essential Skills and Tactics to Get You Out of Anywhere Alive”, suggests that if you are lost deep in the wild with no hope to be able to find your way out, put a tree on fire, so that there is a chance that the fire and smoke gets you the attention of fire fighters, if not of Search and Rescue teams.

Well, I would now settle for two things from this season’s gear box to do the same – (1) Survival trowel to collect dry leaves and sticks and (2) Collapsible Stick Stove to put them in and set on fire. This will be a much more controllable way of achieving the same results.

I also carry the following items to help search and rescue teams to find me:

  • Cell phone: This has not worked on several occasions when I was hiking in Quebec and Ontario national/provincial parks and cannot be a trustworthy gadget.
  • Whistle.
  • Waterproof matches: These came in handy during our visit to Algonquin Provincial Park this past October. I carry these to start a fire.
  • Survival Frog Tough Tesla Lighter (From LTA Summer 2021 gear box): As above.
  • Rolls of colourful flags: I used to carry them if in case I have to go off-trail, I would tie a few over a tree so that I could see them from a distant to return to the trail. I will start carrying them again. Tying them on a tree can also get me attention of Search and Rescue team(s).
  • Head lamp: To let rescue teams know where I am at night.
  • Solar lantern: As above, to indicate my location.

2. go for Sustainable adventure

I admit at the onset that I should be trying to use reusable and biodegradable items for hiking and camping.

However, let me draw comfort from the fact that my family carries, if need be, all our garbage back from any national, provincial, and conservation parks with us in our car to the nearest dumping station, no matter how stinky, rancid, and repugnant it is.

Furthermore, we will certainly not do what some people did in lonely sections of our parks or in our waters as seen below in the shots.

3. enjoy the thrill of fall camping or Agony of defeat

Unfortunately, our attempts to have a camp set up at Pog Lake Camping area of Algonquin Provincial Park in October 2021 met with a disappointing failure. It was raining and because of the peak season for fall colours, the Park and the camping area was over-crowded and noisy. We put up our tents, prepared and ate lunch in a hurry, had our tea, and leaving the tent and stuff behind, went for hikes on the trails one after the other.

Read about our adventures in Algonquin Provincial Park here.

At night, we decided to go to Haliburton and spend the night there in a motel to avoid camping under the rain and noise.  

4. foliage, especially the maple trees

There are several species of maple found in my neighbourhood.

My home itself has a Norway Maple (first shot in the foreground) planted by the Municipality, which is the worst maple to have. Norway Maples don’t turn red, but just reddish dark brown in the fall season; are not used by local birds for nesting; and kill local species of plants. The only reason why they are popular with the Municipalities across Ontario is that they can tolerate high level of heat from concrete and pavements.

Here are some shots of various species of Maple found in my neighbourhood.

5. citizen entomoligists – the insects

Although I have observed spiders and some other insects crawling over snow in December, January, and February, here are three species of insects/bugs/invertebrates near me that I observed till early October:

  • Water striders (nymphs)
  • An unidentified species of grasshopper
  • Cabbage white butterfly

As I mentioned here are the two shots showing a spider and an insect that I could not identify crawling on the ice of December and February, respectively, few years ago, both on the Davidson Trail that connects Mississauga with Brampton.

6. observe fall season wildlife

Here are 3 shots of wildlife that I took during October 2021. These are also found in my immediate neighbourhood.

  • Hooded mergansers: Pass through ponds near my home in Fall and spring
  • Mourning dove on the Culham Trail, Mississauga
  • Pied grebe: Pass through ponds near my home in Fall and spring

7. famous trails in my city

While my family hiked on a small section of TCT near Bracebridge, Ontario in October this year and my personal favorite is Ontario’s famous Bruce Trail, my City (Mississauga) has a less known Culham Trail that I hike on frequently.

David J Culham Trail is a 13.2 kilometer heavily trafficked out and back trail located in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada all along the Credit River and is good for hiking and cycling for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October. One can bring dogs on the trail, but must be kept on leash.

In August 2014, I did a through-hike with K2, the Hungarian Kuvasz, from Steels Avenue in Brampton to Dundas Steet in Mississauga along Credit River, over 20 km in total, including 13.2 km of Culham trail in the process.

You can read photo essay on my ‘maiden’ hike in the company of my best friend here.

To relive the moment and for this season’s challenge, I did three sections of Culham Trail again in October and November this year – (1) Meadowvale Conservation Area from where it starts, (2) from River Grove Community Centre to Church Street, Streetsville, and (3) from Highway 403 to Burnhamthorpe. Here are a few shots from those hikes.

On the basis of blogs and vlogs that I have gone through, I am 100% confident that I am the only person who has completed the through-hike.

8. be mindful (mental health)

I use hiking with my dog and nature photography to tend to my mental health. I don’t hike for the purpose of walking at a brisk pace for physical health reasons alone. I hike to observe nature – landscapes, flora, fauna, and even heavenly bodies. Therefore, company of K2 comes in handy as he keeps sniffing the grounds letting me concentrate on my passion.

I have noticed that being in nature reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. I feel better emotionally and physically.

Being on the trails for longer durations enables you to meet people of diverse backgrounds, who indirectly strengthen your belief that most people are good and they want the world to be a better place for all.

9. wildfire woes – extinguish your campFire

While I was unable to make a video because it began to rain cats and dogs at Pog Lake Camping Area in Algonquin Provincial Park, here is our, specifically my son’s (and more recently my nephew’s) technique of extinguishing campfire, of course, under my tutelage 🙂

  • Step 1: Wait until the fire gets lower in intensity
  • Step 2: Spread the burning embers with a trowel
  • Step 3: Pour some water on the fire
  • Step 4: Spread the remaining ash and embers with a trowel.
  • Step 5: Without touching the embers and ash make sure they are no longer hot
  • Step 6: Repeat the steps 2-5 until the embers/coals and ash are cold

10. Explore with explore

First shot below shows my nephew and I got snapped by my son with Explore Magazine’s Fall issue at Big Pines Trails at Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario on October 09, 2021. In the second shot, there is this 7 Summit Snacks just before I opened it and had a bite while hiking on Culham Trail in Mississauga.

Until our next blog, cheers! Be outdoorsy, embrace diversity, and support causes for the conservation of nature!

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