My Love Affair with Canada – Part II

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To me, every spectacular facet of nature lies in the tiny details that always seem to take your breath away. So for any of you who have explored some of Canada’s outdoors, perhaps you’ll agree with some of the reasons why I adore it so much.

Gazing upon a mountain range in the Rockies from the opposite side of a ridge indulges us in their vast size and the rough yet slow processes leading to their creation. But looking at the same rocky outcrop through a set of binoculars reveals the infinite detail in every rock face and the story that each crack and rock in the mountain holds. There is a delicate beauty in each and every vast formation. Canada’s spectacular mountain ranges weave through British Columbia and Alberta and continue on into the Laurentian’s and the Torngat’s in Labrador.

There is something to be said for hiking a mountain before dawn on a fall morning. Waking up in the cold darkness where every breath leaves a trail of condensation, with only a headlamp guiding you along a small game trail. And as time progresses you are unaware of your surroundings and the path you are taking until the sun begins to peak above the mountain tops. Every breath smells Dewey and full of life. The point when you reach the top, just in time to catch the sunrise, is a reminder of how easy it is to appreciate nature if you fully immerse yourself in it.

And waking up to the sunrise as waves crash twenty or so feet from your tent, with the scent of the ocean permeating every inch of your being is an ultimate experience on the West coast. Spending days at a time on the coast of Vancouver Island hiking through lush rainforest intertwined with rocky, coastal shores reinforces how privileged we are to have such access to a pristine and untouched area.

Canadian sunsets are spectacular, where oftentimes a brilliant ruby-red backdrop caresses the sky like velvet and hangs delicately over an endless horizon. The most amazing sunsets begin as a subtly in the sky. The sun is an unassuming object that soon begins to glow with a vibrant brilliancy, illuminating its medium below with rich hues of yellows, reds, and purples. The diversity of Canada’s wilderness ensures that a sunset anywhere and anytime, will always be unique. As the sun dips below the horizon, there is anticipation for something as equally breathtaking: millions of stars dancing across a perfect black background.

If you have ever been in Ontario’s wilderness and taken a canoe out on a lake in the middle of the night, you’ll agree that 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 unknowingly pass by in awe. Every now and again a shooting start passes through your field of view with an identifiable brightness and speed that only lasts an instant. You feel privileged for having been able to catch a glimpse of the encroaching flare of light.  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.

Scenery in the fall, especially in the Eastern provinces and the Maritimes is like a mosaic of colors, woven together into the most spectacular fabric, depicting the annual cycle of life. Green trees throughout the summer, slowing changing to yellows and reds, glow with an unreal vibrancy. The changing colors are striking, especially with the onset of more drastic temperature changes in the fall as fog or frost coat the ground. The contrasting colors are absolutely unforgettable as the leaves fall and colors fade away, in preparation for the first sign of snowfall.

Winter may be the most stunning season of all. Evergreens are dusted with fresh snow, some areas covered so heavily that a tiny breath of wind is enough to blow the snow off causing branches to bounce and dance with playfulness. Mountains are capped with layers of snow and layers of mist hovering above the peaks in brilliant hues of blue and white. The moon often hangs delicately in the sky and my immediate reaction is to run outdoors and breathe in as much of the crisp cold air as my lungs will allow.

Spending time outdoors in Canada’s remote locations in winter often provides breathtaking beauty in an eerily quiet setting. Human presence in many of the parks is likely non-existent, save for a few hiking or snowshoe tracks by the brave few that seek solitude in the crisp air. The mirror-like character of lakes or rivers yet to freeze over contrasts the stark and vivid evergreen trees lining the waters edges, with crystallized droplets effortlessly dangling from the branches.

And that’s how it began; a never-ending love affair with some of the most gorgeous and unspoiled wilderness in the world. Lucky for me, nature welcomes me with open arms and I will spend a lifetime embracing it.

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