I undertook several adventures in various provincial parks of Ontario and in local conservation areas and ravine trails in response to Explore magazine’s Live the Adventure Club Spring challenge of 2022. On 11th July 2022, I was declared a Runner- up in the competition.
As usual, K2 accompanied me to a nice start during the season till the tragedy struck.
Brantwood Mount Godwin Austen ‘K2’ (February 13, 2011 – May 12, 2022) – our companion, guard dog, and a hiking buddy, who traveled with us to many national, provincial, and conservation parks passed away. It seems like a part of us left with him.
Here is a shot of K2 during a hike that I did for documenting old trees in my neighbourhood in early May 2022:
1. Needing a break
I have used my favorite camping cookware kettle for making tea on almost all outings and I keep it in my backpack at all times. I made tea with the new Collapsible Camping Kettle at a spot that was K2’s favorite. He used to get down into the creek and play in water trying to catch fish or listen to squirrels scolding us (second shot below) while I used to concentrate on doing wildlife photography.
2. Tent time
I put up my tent in Grundy Lake Provincial Park and slept in it despite presence of a black bear on the camp grounds. I saw the bear one early morning, but it seemed to be a friendly neighbourhood kind who moved away as soon as it saw me.
We made this park our base camp to explore 3 provincial parks in the region (Killbear and Killarney were the other two) and then to finish off by visiting Bronte Creek Provincial Park.
I had planned this trip back in February to take K2 along as he loved new places. He would have been with us, although hanging around the camp site and beaches.
I sat up my camping site perfectly with camping spice and condiment set, but they were nowhere to be found the very next day.
The mystery was solved when Zakariya decided to play a game of water-gunning the opponents at George Lake Beach of Killarney Provincial Park, which meant me taking the brunt of his gunmanship. I noticed that he was using my spice and condiment tubes meant for storing sauces, ketchup, mustard, etc., admittedly, after doing a perfect cleaning job. Since my admonishing was not working, I gave up and resorted to playing several rounds of a duel using makeshift water guns.
The set did come out handy, although in a way nobody had foreseen.
3. Staying Energized
Age is catching up with me rather quickly haha. When Rayyan and I are hiking, my son has age on his side and I have energy drinks and bars on my. I keep energized during my hikes eating energy bars and drinking energy drinks. During the June 2022 excursions in 4 provincial parks in 5 days, I consumed the bars that came with LTA Club Gearbox during the past few seasons and the ones I had to reorder. They seemed to do the job perfectly.
4. Going Green
K2 was my partner from March 22 to May 5, when the spring foliage was emerging. Here are some shots of the new foliage:
5. Showing my Spring
The spring in the ravine trails and conservation park in my area is all about leaves and flowers. I took a conventional selfie using a tripod (first shot) at a spot by the creek that was K2’s favorite (second shot).
6. Keeping the Pace
From March 22 to May 05, I hiked on several neighbourhood trails in the company of K2. I made plans to visit Grundy Lake Provincial Park to hike on its 4 trails. Rayyan, my son decided to join us for the adventure.
K2 would have taken up the hiking challenge till last year. However, this time he would have hung around with family members at the beaches and picnic areas. With the departure of K2 to the eternal sniffing grounds, grief stricken, I initially wanted to cancel the trip. Relatives and friends encouraged me to continue with the plan, some suggesting that K2 would have wanted me to do it. Therefore, Rayyan and I went ahead with the plan to honour K2.
We visited 4 different provincial parks in June and hiked on 12 trails in 5 days. Cold, winds, and rain made almost all hikes quite challenging.
We hiked on 3 moderately difficult trails at Grundy Lake Provincial Park. Read here for details of our visit to this Park.
Next, we hiked on 2 moderately difficult hikes at Killbear Provincial Park. Read here for details.
We continued our hiking on 2 moderately difficult hikes at Killarney Provincial Park. Read here for details.
We concluded by hiking on 5 trails, 1 of which was moderately difficult, at Bronte Creek Provincial Park.
7. am I A tree hugger?
Well I am not a typical tree hugger, but because of the Spring 2022 challenge I looked for the oldest tree in and near my neighbourhood of Mississauga, Ontario.
I believe the huge coniferous Colorado Blue Spruce (picture # 1) in our Conservation Area is an old beauty. Since I have seen this tree for last 18 years, I am convinced that it may be upward of 30 years old. Please compare the size with people standing close to it. The three others (deciduous trees), I could have identified after they got their leaves. However, with the passing away of K2, I did not have the heart to hike on the same trails.
8. wildlife watching
Well, we do not have large carnivores like grizzlies living near us, but we do have some fascinating smaller carnivores like coyotes, American mink, red-tailed hawks, horned owls, etc. Here are some shots of the wildlife found in my area during spring season.
For a more comprehensive list of wildlife found in my neighbourhood, please read this blog.
Here are few shots of wildlife I saw during the June trip to 4 provincial parks of Ontario:
9. gearing up
This may not be a modification per se, but during my hikes, I have used the camping cookware kettle for a variety of reasons – preparing tea, warming water for facewash and for shaving, pouring water to wash clinging mud over my shoes, gaiters, rain pants, and to wash Zakariya’s feet to rid them of sand, etc.
Major modification of gear:
One of the major issues for hikers who carry camera gear is to find a backpack that can serve two purposes: (1) carry all necessary camera gear and (2) carry paraphernalia required for at least a day-long hiking trip. For me, in summer, this would include food items, enough water, energy drinks and bars, Avventura outdoors bamboo insulated bottle, clothing for adverse weather conditions, such as rain jacket and rain pants, extra pair of socks and undergarments, medical aid pack, emergency survival bivvy, water gaiters, Drymesack towel, inflatable pillow that also works as a butt rest, camping cookware kettle, etc. Almost all these items have come through LTA Club.
I have used three camera backpacks made for hikers (first 2 shots below) and have found that they do not provide for a comfortable solution to carrying the necessary items. Therefore, I have resorted to modifying a general hiking back (a Gregory Zulu 65L, 3rd shot below) to carry all the above mentioned stuff. The bag looks big and ungainly on me, but remains comfortable and serves the purpose very well.
Photography in winters has many challenges in that your fingers can go numb if you expose them for too long trying to experiment with a shot. For preventing this, I wear an inner winter liner gloves on my hands for handling camera settings and then I wear a winter mittens over them that have hand warmers thrown in as an additional precautionary measure.
10. Exploring with explore
During my recent trip to 4 provincial parks, my son took my pictures with explore magazine in my hand. Of course, people noted it and on two occasions asked for the reason. I think I gave them a good explanation.
All images in this blog are SOOC (straight out of the camera) and were taken using various Pentax cameras and lenses without any post-processing.