Faith Can Move Mountains... But Dynamite Works Better

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Call Of The Wild

Well, this was originally written over a week and a half ago, but me being me, I inadvertantly clicked on a message before finishing it, and there went the blog.

And while I've been writing of late about classic movies I've disliked (and there's more to come) and while I could write today about a certain individual who doesn't know how to take a bloody hint and leave me alone.... I think I'll just finish what I started.

I took a chance to get some hiking in on a couple of occasions while back in Muskoka. The great Algonquin Park is right on the back doorstep there, so of course I'd take the opportunity. Algonquin has a number of hiking and backpacking trails in the main corridor and other areas of the park. I've taken all of the hiking trails at least once, and each of them touch on various elements of the Park. One of my favourite places in the world? Centennial Ridges trail, a ten kilometre loop that's rated as difficult. I've never found it so, but I can agree with the Park giving it that rating. The last set of ridges looks out over Whitefish Lake below, and it's just beyond gorgeous.

Anyway, on the first occasion, it was trails such as Spruce Bog, Lookout Trail, and Peck Lake that I visited. Spruce Bog follows a boardwalk and easygoing trail around a bog and the surrounding woodlands. It's so easygoing that you can get a wheelchair on it and comfortably go around the whole trail. Peck Lake winds around the lake edge for two kilometres, and is a nice, peaceful trail to take. The Lookout trail takes you up to a clifftop for a grand view of the surroundings. Nice place to take an in-law you don't like.

On the second trip in, I paid visits to two trails. Two Rivers follows a two kilometre path up to a clifftop overlooking the vicinity of Lake of Two Rivers. It's one of those trails I take at least once a year. The other trail was Bat Lake. It's been more then a year since I was on it, but well worth the trip. A five kilometre loop trail, it follows a rocky stream through a ravine, heads up through a grand grove of Hemlock that's aptly named Cathedral Grove, and winds up passing through a bog before paying a visit to Bat Lake itself. The lake's relatively small, but special: it's naturally acidic. Even in that condition, life still exists, and does quite well for itself.

A nice surprise for me on this trail: in the ravine, I came across blocks of ice. This was on the last day of April. They had fallen off the rock wall above (taking a couple pieces of rock down with them), and were still present, even with the warmth. The largest piece was the size of a couch, and still hard. I'd imagine it's still there, even as I write. The smaller pieces? Probably gone, now that a week and a half is gone. It certainly surprised me, but then it's at the bottom of a ravine, and you don't get a lot of sun down there anyway.

Of course, passing through the Park at this time of year guarantees seeing moose, and they did not disappoint. They were about, near the roadways, in marshes. People stop to take pictures, and the moose tolerates the attention. They're magnificent animals to see. And oddly dignified.

One last matter: in the last days of being home, there were wolves around the area. There's a healthy number of packs in Algonquin, the remnants of the Eastern Red Wolf being the species in question. They move in and out of the Park, and during August, on Thursday nights, wolf howls are held (assuming wolves are located by naturalists the night before). Hundreds of cars are involved in these wolf howls. People come to an outdoor theatre in the Park, where a naturalist talks about wolves and shows pictures on screen. Then everyone heads out for the location where the wolves will likely still be about. When all's quiet, a naturalist starts howling. Most times, the wolves are still around, and they howl back. It's a magical sound, and as I said, we heard them howling at night, no more then a kilometre from home. I think the howl of wolves are among the most beautiful sounds you can ever hear.

And people have demonized these animals for hundreds of years. Go figure.

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