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Bearbells by Leslie Noonan

Bearbells by Leslie Noonan

July 12/24 by Leslie Noonan

The weather was hot and muggy, with clear skies and not a cloud in sight. I had expected to be devoured by mosquitoes up north, but was pleasantly surprised by how little there were once I doused myself in DEET. I have always wondered why bug spray keeps the bugs away but isn’t harmful for us people, but decided that perhaps that was a question I didn’t want the answer to. I had ventured an easy hour’s drive north to Killbear Provincial Park, a small park that offers big scenery.

This park is not just for camping, but provides some great hiking trails, from the very short 0.8 km Lighthouse Trail to the longer Blind Bay trail that covers 5.47 km of moderate trekking along sandy beaches and granite shores. For those looking for an easy route, the recreation trail is a flat route that travels next to the main road and is favored in the winter for cross country skiing. Another popular trail is the Harold Point trail that passes by an iconic tree that is considered the most photographed tree in Ontario, a white pine that has been sculpted by the relentless winds. I headed out to the approximately 4 km Lookout Point loop trail for the view over the rocky shoreline of Georgian Bay. The trail begins through a wetland crossed by a well maintained boardwalk, which is even with the murky water at a few small sections. Small green frogs jump from water plants and iridescent dragonflies zip through the reeds while the air is heavy with moisture. Soon the boardwalk moves out of the marsh and enters a mixed forest of beech, maple and oak, with an abundance of colorful mushrooms poking out from rotted logs and leaf detritus.

The boardwalk disappears and trail becomes more rugged, though still suitable for most hikers. The elevation change is a manageable 60 meters as the trail winds its way uphill over rocky Canadian Shield and exposed roots, until the forest disappears and is replaced by junipers and high bush blue berries ready for picking. Of course, bears also love those little berries, so it’s best to be alert for any nearby rustling. There is cooling breeze out here on the small peninsula overlooking the blue waters of Georgian Bay and the rugged coastline. This is a great spot to cool off and enjoy a moment of quiet before continuing back on the slightly more challenging north portion of trail.

There are those times when being in nature causes your breath to catch and marvel at the beauty around us. I was within twenty feet of the parking lot when I noted a moving patch of color just off the boardwalk that resolved itself into the small and graceful form of a young deer. I spoke gentle murmurs and was amazed as she moved steadily towards me, stepping out onto the boardwalk less than five feet away before slowly moving back into the bush with the occasional stop to nibble on maple leaves. It was one of those moments that stay with you for a life time.

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