Fall 2022: Hiking through parks steeped in history, remembering a friend, keeping trails clean and living the adventure

I undertook several adventures in various provincial parks of Ontario, in local conservation areas, and even in the United Kingdom that would qualify for Explore magazine’s Live the Adventure Club Fall challenge of 2022.

I won the challenge in ‘Standard’ category’.

All photography was done using Pentax K-5iis and Pentax KP with Pentax lenses 55-300 mm PLM and 18-135 mm with partial or full straight out of camera images (that is, no post-processing).

1. hiking through parks Steeped in history

HMS Nancy’s battle against American schooners in 1814

On December 03, 2022, my family and I drove to Wasaga Beach Provincial Park in Southern Ontario, about 150 km north of my home, to hike end to end on the beach and visit the Nancy Island Historic Site.

Nancy Island Historic Site has served as a historic site since 1928.  It showcases a major event during the War of 1812 when HMS Nancy battled against three American schooners on August 14th of 1814.  The island houses the charred hull and artefacts of the HMS Nancy from this pivotal moment in Canadian history.  The borders of Canada today are a direct result of the valiant struggles of the Nancy and her crew back then.

However, my both attempts of end to end hike of Wasaga Provincial Park and visit to Nancy Island Historic Site were thwarted by adverse weather conditions of a high gale force of 57-60 km/h and rain storm. The Historic Site was also closed for this very reason.

The first picture below shows the gloomy and dreary weather conditions on the day and the second picture is from the net that shows how the historic site would look in perfect weather conditions.

Hiking in historical New Forest National Park, UK

I started my hike at 9 am from Brockenhurst, UK under a steady downpour in search of elusive wild red deer at the New Forest National Park.

On the way, I met several wild horses and cows, but no deer. Dejected, I decided to return, and, at 6:30 pm., to my pleasant surprise, I saw a red deer stag coming out of nowhere and quickly disappearing in the thicket. He was followed by a number of dos.

This was at New Forest National Park on September 29, 2022.

New Forest was created by William the Conqueror around 1079 for the pursuit of the ‘beasts of the chase’ – red, roe and fallow deer and wild pig. Steeped in history, it was converted into a national park on March 01, 2005, thus becoming the newest national park of the UK. It is located in Hampshire county is is a prime destination for residents of Southampton.

Hiking near Grand Bend that has its own history

We visited Pinery Provincial Park and the nearby town of Grand Bend on October 23, 2022 for hiking and picnicking on the beaches.

Grand Bend is a quaint touristy little town situated on the traditional territory of the Attawandaron and Ojibwe/Chippewa First Nations. It was ceded to the crown as part of a parcel called the Huron Tract in Treaty 29 that was signed on July 10, 1827. 

The following pictures show our activities at this town having a connection with the past.

2. Sweat Equity – mainitaining the trails

My first priority for maintaining the trails is my own neighbourhood.

When I am hiking on a number of trails, I keep an eye on trash and dumping of hazardous waste in the ravines and conservation areas. Yes, it may seem unbelievable, but I have seen hazardous matter dumped alongside hidden creeks deep in the forests. If I see any, I take pictures and inform my Ward Councilor via email to have it removed. Please see some pictures that I took during my Fall season hikes on those trails. In this case, I found a herd of deer browsing near trash that posed serious threat to the health of our precious wildlife.

I am also a member of Bruce Trail Conservancy and my contributions have been acknowledged from time to time. Please see the pictures below. These shots are from my office room. Needless to mention, I am known as a hiker and a dog and a wildlife lover in my office.

3. Camp desserts

My family, relatives and I are not desserts people. However, when we go out together, we always have BBQs, hot beverages, and home-made desserts on the table at lunch time. When I am alone, the only edibles that come close to a dessert are my juicy dates sandwiched in croissants.

Here are two shots from a December 26, 2022 hike that Ammar, Rayyan and I did at Orono Crown Lands and at Stephen Gulch Conservation Area. We warmed up our traditional ‘Gajar ka halwa’ (Carrots dessert) in our favorite camping and hiking utensils received from Live the Adventure Club and ate it before hitting the trail again. Sipping tea was the final activity before concluding our arduous hike.

4. Nostalgia – cherishing memories of k2

From December of 2011 to May of 2022, I hiked in the company of my furry friend K2, a Hungarian Kuvasz. He passed on May 12, 2022 due to a freak accident at almost finish phase of a short hike. During those 11 years, we hiked in national parks, provincial parks, conservation areas, urban neighbourhoods, you name it.

In November 2016, we hiked through Hendrie Valley Wildlife Sanctuary near Burlington, Ontario and then through Rattray Marsh Wildlife Conservation Area in Mississauga. Suffering from nostalgia, I hiked through the two parks again in this season. Needless to mention, I had tears in my eyes every now and then.

Here are two shots of my hiking with K2 on the boardwalks of Rattray Marsh in 2016:

Here are two shots from my hike on the same boardwalks, albeit revamped recently, done in December 2022:

5. Overnight trip

wasaga beach & craigleith provincial parks

My plan to hike end to end at Wasaga Beach Provincial Park from Beach Area 6 to Beach Area 1 and then to Wasaga Nordic and Trail Centre of the park for hiking on its various trails on December 03, 2022 was thwarted by the inclement weather that had high gale force of 57-60 km/h followed by torrential rain.

So, after hiking on the beach for 1 hour, I had to abandon the plan and settle for quickly reaching the Nordic and Trail Centre where my family was waiting for me to explore various trails.

Here is how the beach looked under high gale conditions (shot # 1 below) and how the wind was whipping up sand and causing sand storm in the parking area behind the beach(shot # 2).

Deep inside the evergreen forest of Wasaga Nordic and Trail area, the effect of winds was somewhat mitigated, still we kept hearing smaller pine trees and branches falling down (picture # 2) to our chagrin.

Since I was not allowed to camp out in the open due to the storm, I stayed with my family at a hotel in Wasaga Beach Area and reached the park next morning where I was able to hike. Enjoy two shots of park’s rocky beach below.

New Forest National Park, UK

However, my real overnight trip was at New Forest National Park in the UK on September 30 and October 01, earlier in the Fall season. I hiked for 25 km on the first day out of Brockenhurst village. I stayed overnight at Thatched Roof Cottage.

The next day, I hiked for 15 km again at Boulderwood Deer Sanctuary, where I was fortunate to find the company of a very knowledgeable group of three wildlife lovers (in shot # 2 below).

6. Sharing is caring

I invited Ammar, my nephew, for a hike along Lake Ontario in various parks, west of Toronto on Saturday, December 10, 2022, which was a cold and a windy day.

Now, Ammar is an eager hiker and my companion in several hiking adventures. He comes for a hike at short notices, mostly under-prepared and then gets help from me in terms of gear and edibles. But when he comes, my son Rayyan also comes. So clearly he is my apprentice, as well as an influencer for my son. In the following pictures, he is using my gear – A backpack with winter hiking paraphernalia – over two hiking adventures in cold weather conditions.

I would like to take the credit of being able to share my camping gear received from Live the Adventure Club when our entourage finds some items have been left home by mistake. I hand over any duplicate gear received to youth among my relatives.

7. Fall panorama (post peak colours)

When the colours were peaking in Canada, I was in the UK, hiking in New Forest National Park, South Downs National Park, Richmond park in London, and in London downtown visiting its various attractions. I was able to capture shots showing Fall season in the New Forest National Park and in Richmond Park, which were not as exciting as I would normally have in southern Ontario.

Back in Canada though, I was able to take some shots at Pinery Provincial Park in late October, where the dull colour leaves were still clinging on to the trees much after the peak colour season had passed elsewhere in Ontario. This was attributable to a mild Fall season that we had in southern Ontario.

However, what caught my eyes was the golden hour of Fall season that most people miss.

8. Homegrown success

I contribute to the homegrown business in 3 ways:

  1. Being an MEC member and buying major gear from there, although MEC is no longer a cooperative (first shot);
  2. Buying my outdoor gear from a small store in Mississauga (second shot);
  3. Frequently renting out RVs from rental companies like Canadream (third shot);
  4. Taking my family out on hiking adventures regardless of seasons and weather conditions and staying in less known accommodations that provide good quality for money (fourth to sixth shots).

9. First frost/other indicators of winters

My neighbourhood is located in a densely populated city of Mississauga. Since we do not get any frost in my neighbourhood, I have other signs that show change from fall to winter.

The colours of male goldfinch change from gold to dull and they are constantly feeding on last bits of seeds before migrating south. The birds like northern cardinals and American Robins become more wary of humans and start lurking in the bush rather than the open grounds.

Most importantly, arctic birds like long-tailed ducks and buffleheads show up on Lake Ontario for wintering.

10. Explore with Explore

In my opinion, Explore magazine’s Falls issue was clearly the best I have read as it touches upon our national parks.

My son took these shots at Col Samuel Smith Park on December 10, 2022 as I held Explore magazine in my hands in an extreme windy and chilly conditions. We set the camera to monochrome as we wanted to reflect the late 19th and early part of the 20th century when the foundation for national parks movement was laid by the USA, followed soon by Canada, and then the rest of the world. The pole on our side has mileage signs for almost all major cities of the world.

The most used items from Live the adventure club during fall season 2022

The most used item was the binocular for sighting wildlife. Previously, I used to mistakenly try to find distant wildlife through my long focal length zoom lens. I almost always failed. This season, I used the binoculars (sent by the LTA Club) for the purpose and the experience was much better.

My most used item in the UK was Blistwool. I used an entire pack during my long hikes there. Thanks God, a new pack came with the summer 2022 gear. The following shot sums up the most used items, barring the thermoses, that I used in Fall 2022 from the gear boxes sent by LTAC from time to time.

final words

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

2 thoughts on “Fall 2022: Hiking through parks steeped in history, remembering a friend, keeping trails clean and living the adventure

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