make a donation

Celebrating Parks Day One Hike at a Time

July 21st is Canada’s annual Parks Day – a day to celebrate our beloved parks. Canada is blessed with amazing and wonderfully diverse parks across the country, many of which I’ve had the opportunity to explore. Some of my favourite park moments include hiking in Alberta’s Wilmore Wilderness Park, paddling the mighty Nahanni, taking a break from canoeing and relaxing on a sun-kissed rock in Algonquin, and swimming in Meech Lake in Gatineau Park, just to name a few.

Growing up in Alberta, my family took advantage of the proximity to the Rockies, and we spent a lot of time in Jasper National Park. It was and still is a very special place for me. Every time I visit Jasper, or anywhere in the Rockies, I am always in awe of its stunning beauty.

One of my most memorable trips to Jasper was a 4-day backpacking trip in the Maligne Valley, where my friend Rebecca and I went out in search of caribou. When we arrived at our first campsite, we were greeted very enthusiastically by a lone camper who was thrilled to have encountered another person. Turns out he was terrified, as only a couple of hours earlier, a grizzly bear had walked through camp! When we heard that, we were glad there was another person at the campsite with us. There was also another advantage to him being there – he had a fire roaring. We were tired and hungry after our first 15 km day and it was getting dark, so the warm fire was a welcoming site. We didn’t sleep too well that night, thinking every noise was the grizzly bear coming back. Needless to say, it didn’t and we carried on happily the next day.

We did a lot of hiking on that trip and the thing is, when Rebecca and I go hiking together, we take our time. We stopped a lot, mostly to take pictures – every step along the way revealed more of the breathtaking landscape of the park and we wanted to capture it all! But truth be told, we both dawdle quite a bit, which is probably the main thing that held us up. We also talk and laugh a lot when we’re together, and were probably a bit loud – certainly too loud to even hope to see any of the park’s elusive wildlife. We didn’t see any caribou on that trip – in fact, the only wildlife we saw was a Hoary marmot.

In the end, the trip wasn’t about seeing a caribou, or that it poured rain for 24 hours, or anything else for that matter. It was about spending time in a park we both loved, being surrounded by the mountains, waking up to the smell of the wind and the trees, and hiking in one of the most stunning places on earth.

Now that I have a little one in tow, my adventures have become more localized – at least until he gets a bit older! I enjoy taking him to our local neighbourhood park, hiking the trails near my house, and spending the day at the provincial park down the road. It doesn’t require a lot of effort to visit the park, and we go every chance we get. I want my son to grow up with an appreciation for nature, and it’s easy – especially when it’s fun!

No matter where you live in Canada, there’s bound to be a park nearby. If you haven’t already, make plans to visit a park this Saturday, and enjoy all the little treats it has to offer.

Do you already have plans for Parks Day? We’d love to know what you’re up to – let us know in the comment section below!