On top of the Lion’s Head
As a communications intern at the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), I write a lot of stories about our conservation technicians and interns, who spend most of their time out in the field, soaking up the scenery of some of Canada’s rarest ecosystems. As I spend most of my days in the Toronto office, I couldn’t help but feel a little envious.
A while ago, NCC partnered with Parkbus ActiveDays to facilitate an accessible bus service for a Conservation Volunteers event. I was extremely lucky and was asked to write about this initiative for the NCC website. While interviewing the staff involved, I found myself nodding at every word behind the Parkbus mission: to get urbanites — from students to office workers — connected with nature outside of the city.
So, on a whim, I dragged my friend Natalie along and hopped on a Parkbus ActiveDays bus heading to the Bruce Peninsula for a hike at the end of July, ready to experience the lives of those I only wrote about on NCC’s blog, Land Lines. I also thought this trip would be a great chance for Natalie and me to catch up. After all, we hadn’t seen each since we were roommates during our first year at the University of Toronto.
Although the sun was blazing in downtown Toronto at 8:30 a.m., the weather quickly changed as we left the city behind. The sky looked to be on the verge of rain. Frankly, to a newbie hiker like me, hiking in the rain with thunder in the background was daunting. Fortunately, by the time we reached our destination, it appeared that we brought the city’s sunny weather with us.
The Bruce Peninsula is not just one contiguous national park; it is split into several locations on the peninsula. As we were only doing a day trip, we stayed within the boundaries of the Lion’s Head Provincial Nature Reserve, which is located at the southeastern corner of the peninsula.
We stepped off the bus in the quaint town of Lion’s Head, which is located right beside the nature reserve that shares the same name. Even though we were only doing a day trip here, walking by the little bed and breakfasts made me wonder what it would be like to stay here overnight and wake up to a view of the peninsula from my window.
Since Parkbus caters to hikers of all levels, the staff decided to split our group into two: hikers who wanted to be challenged and hikers who were looking for a more relaxing experience. Even though I’m new to hiking, Natalie felt adventurous and convinced me to challenge myself with the more difficult trek. We didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into, but we were excited for the challenge.
With an experienced Parkbus staff leading our group, we were reminded to always look for coloured strips — or blazes — on nearby trees. Blue strips indicated a side trail, while white strips identified a main trail. To keep track of everyone’s whereabouts, our entire group decided to “howl” in case anyone wandered off on their own.
Click on the images in the slideshow below to read more about my adventures.
Giant's Cauldron, Bruce Peninsula, ON (Photo by Hai Lin Wang/NCC staff)
Lion's Head main trail (Photo by Hai Lin Wang/NCC staff)
Lion's Head lookout, Bruce Peninsula, ON (Photo by Hai Lin Wang/NCC staff)
McKay's Harbour, Bruce Peninsula, ON (Photo by Hai Lin Wang/NCC staff)
Lion's Head boundary, Bruce Peninsula, ON (Photo by Hai Lin Wang/NCC staff)
When we finally made our way back to Lion’s Head, I checked my phone’s tracking app. The numbers surprised me. I had walked over 21,000 steps and climbed 37 floors in the five hours I was at Lion’s Head Provincial Nature Reserve. Even though it seemed like a physically gruelling hike, I did not feel tired at all. It was all because I gave myself time to recharge out of the office and made connections with so many energetic, like-minded people along the way.
The Conservation Internship Program is funded in part by the Government of Canada's Summer Work Experience program.