Do you remember the good old days of summer? The season may not officially start until late June, but most Canadians consider Victoria Day weekend to be the unofficial kick-off to summer. The mercury begins its climb, and slowly but surely we shed layers of clothing, basking in that enticing feeling of the sun beaming on bare arms and legs.
But this year looks a little different. Instead of doing, we’re dreaming.
With all this extra time comes a new opportunity to build an adventure bucket list of epic proportions, so that when the time is right, you can jump into summer. And for us, that means a look back at summers past for inspiration.
As soon as the parks and campgrounds open, eager adventurers are practically waiting at the gates with their gear, ready to get their tent up and a fire going. On the easier end of the camping scale, you can show up to your own roofed accommodations along the Rideau Canal, or a rustic cabin at Silent Lake Provincial Park. Or you can choose the backcountry route at Bon Echo Provincial Park, Haliburton Highlands Water Trails, or North Frontenac Park Lands, where you’ll be hours away from the nearest soul, with only the stars as company. The world of camping is more accessible than ever, and if you haven’t tried it, you’ll never know the peaceful feeling of drifting to sleep to the sounds of the season.
Traverse the Trails
Pick a trail or two to put on your summer bucket list and roam however you see fit. Hike them, bike them, run them if that’s your jam, just get out there and wander! Get lost in nature at Shaw Woods, High Lonesome Nature Reserve, or The Gut Conservation Area. Hike up a steep incline to find a rewarding lookout spot at the top of a towering cliff, like the breathtaking Eagle’s Nest Lookout or Crests of Kennisis trail. Plan to pedal as far as your legs will take you through the Forest Lea or the BORCA Trails, leaving just enough juice in the tank to get you back home. In the grand scheme of things, summer is short, so plan to explore as often as you can.
Soak it Up
In between paddling, hiking, biking, and jumping from one adventure to the next, it’s important to pause and soak it all up. You never know what tomorrow brings, so take a moment to appreciate the great outdoors and how easy they are to enjoy in Ontario’s Highlands. Seek out the best spot to soak up a summer sunset, listen to the call of the loon, get caught in the downpour, or cozy up by the fire with someone you love. Quench your thirst for exploring and always keep wandering.
Follow in the footsteps of those who travelled this land well before us, and partake in some good old-fashioned human-powered water transportation. Arrange to rent a canoe or kayak if you don’t have your own, and take to a still lake or a meandering river to explore in the quintessentially Canadian way. Do you remember the feeling of letting your senses guide you? The sound of your paddle dipping into the water cutting through the silence? Don’t forget to pencil in a paddle on your bucket list!
There’s something freeing about ditching your inhibitions and just diving in. Lakes, streams, and rivers practically beckon as they gleam in the sunshine of a humid summer day. And it wouldn’t be summer if you didn’t give in to their siren call, ditch the phone in your pocket, and jump in! Who cares if your clothes get wet, you’ll be dry in no time.