Dawn White - Client and guest blogger
There are few words to adequately describe winter 2020. The usual blur of shopping, holiday gatherings, school concerts, and family visits are gone. Instead, preparing for the holidays has been about online shopping, virtual events on Zoom, and masked trips to the grocery store. We spend our days strategizing how to stay positive as case numbers rise and a new, stricter lockdown looms.
We are truly blessed in the Algoma region to have plentiful conservation areas, provincial parks, and Crown land within an easy drive of the city. I attribute getting out in the bush to my being able to maintain good physical and mental health during the pandemic. As the holidays approached, I pondered how to ‘modify’ the usual night out with friends...as we all know, restaurants and visits to other people’s homes are off limits. I wondered what we could do outdoors, where it is safe and relatively easy to stay socially distanced.
lBlaq Bear Ecoadventures provided the perfect solution. A local outfitter providing guided exploration of the landscape and trails of the Algoma region, Blaq Bear offers a variety of packages and tours to help locals explore the outdoors in a safe and socially-distanced manner. The perfect holiday outing – four friends and a guided tour in the great outdoors. The tour we booked included a packed lunch from a local restaurant, for us it was from Scott Coffee Co. After months of eating at home and tiring of the same recipes, it was truly a treat to indulge in chicken salad wraps with pecans and maple syrup from Hogan’s Homestead. And the cookies were to die for!
The day consisted of exploring the Hiawatha Highlands. Only a ten-minute drive from the city limits, Hiawatha is a mecca of trails for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and fat biking in the winter. The trails for snowshoes are generally well-packed, as we haven’t got a lot of snow this year. I highly recommend the use of snowshoes, however, to keep your grip on the icy and hilly terrain. We lunched on top of a lookout close to the trails that make up the Crystal system, and were able to see the St. Mary’s River, the Water Tower, and Algoma Steel from our lunch spot. We learned about the different conservation reserves in the area and the unique biology of the forest through which we walked.
All-in-all, I can’t think of a more perfect outing during a pandemic. We were able to support local business and enjoy a fabulous day exploring the forests of the Hiawatha Highlands. Check out Blaq Bear for all sorts of adventures, including a unique hike- or ski-in cabin in the heart of the Algoma Highlands at Bone Lake. A truly unique adventure and another one of many worthwhile local destinations to explore.