We welcome our first guest blogger Natalie Panek (you can follow Natalie's adventures on Twitter by following her at @nmpanek) who gives us a true sense of the adventures we can experience across Canada.
The diverse landscapes across Canada are a gateway to ultimate adventures; an explorers dream with adventure knocking at every corner. Exploring the Canadian outdoors year-round and in the shoulders seasons is a rite of passage. It is a tribute to the beauty of pure and remote wilderness with scenery that tells infinite stories and provides infinite memories to pass on.
Sensing every moment – like the smell of warm air as the first sun rays of the day peak over the horizon – weaves us into the stories of this wilderness. The awe-inspiring vistas in some extraordinary Canadian places such as the West Coast Trail, Yoho National Park, or Algonquin Provincial Park rival the mental challenge of the pursuit itself, where motivation lies in the anticipation of the view at the end of the journey.
Regardless of the season but particularly spring, there is something enchanting in waking up in a tent as the sun glistens across an ice-covered lake; waking up in the cold, crisp air with every breath leaving a trail of condensation. Sitting on the rocky shores at dawn, watching the ice cracks change shape while captivated by leaves that trapped in turquoise melting waters since the last season. There is excitement and anticipation of an upcoming year of exploration. Simply a reminder of how easy it is to appreciate nature if you fully immerse yourself in it.
Canadian summers are a time for endless days followed by long nights of stargazing. Some of my favourite memories are waking up early during camping trips and parking myself in front of the calmest lake waters or perched on a rock listening to rumbling rivers; taking a moment to enjoy the freedom of being home in the outdoors. Then watching as the most amazing sunrises begin as a subtly in the sky. The sun is an unassuming object that soon begins to glow with a vibrant brilliancy, slowly illuminating the Earth below in anticipation for day ahead.
An unobstructed night sky is a spectacular sight, especially on nights where the backdrop for the twinkling gems feels darker than it should. The sky is reminiscent of an old drive-in movie, where the screen is a hazy black sky allowing us to watch the universe pass by in awe. Every now and again a shooting star passes through your field of view with an identifiable brightness and speed that only lasts an instant. Better yet is a glimpse of the International Space Station as it passes by or an Iridium flare. Some of the best night skies should be viewed in the middle of nowhere when the sky can wrap around your surroundings with a view of an endless horizon. We are lucky to have so many Dark Sky Preserves across Canada including Bruce Peninsula National Park and Jasper National Park. These areas are not affected by artificial lighting and active measures promote the reduction of light pollution.
Fall across Canada is a mosaic of colours, woven together into the most spectacular fabric depicting the annual cycle of life. The contrasting colours are absolutely unforgettable. Visiting Algonquin Park in the fall is an all-time favourite and is spectacular, as the sugar and red maples change into dramatic hues. The key is to enter the backcountry, leaving the busy corridor behind to explore fall in solitude. Waking up before sunlight and hiking to a destination that provides a different perspective can be an unbelievable experience – perhaps with the opportunity to see a moonset and sunrise in the same morning as the fog rolls over a painted landscape of rich yellows, oranges, and reds.
Winter often provides breathtaking beauty in the quietest of settings. Alberta is, and will always be, one of my favourite places to get outdoors. Especially in winter. Breaking trail through fresh powder or the stillness of so many backcountry locations like Peter Lougheed Provincial Park or Kootenay National Park make it an ideal escape for an adventure. No matter which way you turn, snow delicately dusting evergreen trees or crystallized water droplets effortlessly dangling from branches are a rewarding view. Bruce Peninsula National Park is also spectacular in late fall or winter – falling asleep as the waves crash along the rocky shore and waking up to turbulent dark skies that contrast the emerald waters and white waves breaking along the rocks.
The solitude of the Canadian backcountry serves as a reminder of the instantaneity of time by recognizing the preciousness of each moment we have to enjoy the places we love. Canada, coast-to-coast, is an empowering destination. These landscapes are where I and so many others feel like we belong; providing a gateway not only to adventure, but to a national treasure waiting for us to come and play.