I’ve always loved camping and when I think about why, everything leads back to the woods. I love the sounds of the forest with trees creaking, branches blowing in the wind, animals skittering about, and birds gently singing their songs.
In recent years, I’ve started exploring the woods more – no longer is it enough to simply pitch a tent in a clearing and spend the night within the woods, I want to be immersed in them by day and sleep surrounded by their sounds at night. Winter sometimes works to make this more challenging by covering trails in deep snow, but in addition to the challenges, this season also brings with it a whole lot of beauty.
Bundled up against winter’s chilly breath and armed with the right gear, the woods can be appreciated for what they are; a picturesque wonderland blanketed in sparkling snow and worth a little extra effort to explore. That’s exactly what I reminded myself as I pulled my scarf a little tighter at the trailhead at Silent Lake Provincial Park.
It was a cold day, but as I stepped into my bindings and picked up my ski poles, excitement for my trek ahead started to warm me from the inside out. Given the park’s name, I was anticipating a silent cross-country ski, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed, but it’s amazing how much noise can live in the silence if you just take the time to listen for it.
It was silent from the noises that fill my every day – the sounds of the city were certainly nowhere to be heard, and the sounds that surrounded me had a much more calming effect. I listened simply to my skis gliding over the snow, my heavy breath filling the air in front of me, branches creaking from the weight of snow and ice, and critters scurrying up trees and under bushes. As I settled into a rhythm along the rugged trail; weaving past hardwoods, cedar swamps, groves of White Birch, and beech stands; I thought about everything and I thought about nothing.
It’s days like these that help keep me grounded, that recharge my spirit and give my mind a break.
As I tucked into a cabin onsite for the night, I was pleased to have not only the floor between me and the frozen ground, but also a cozy bed for my tired body, and a propane fireplace to warm up next to. Knowing the woods surrounded me and the stars peacefully sparkled outside my window, I was able to drift into an easy sleep and dream only of how the next day would be spent further exploring the trails of the park.