Hiking with dog in summer - How to reconnect with nature

K2 the Kuvasz, shaven for summer season, moves towards the Hollow Creek Falls near Hamilton, Ontario.
K2 the Kuvasz, shaven for summer season, moves towards the Hollow Creek Falls near Hamilton, Ontario. | Source
Borer's Falls.
Borer's Falls. | Source
Exhausted.
Exhausted. | Source
Connecting with nature.
Connecting with nature. | Source

We were totally drenched in perspiration during the hike in a sweltering 36C (with a humidex of 41 C) on the Bruce Trail to reach the Borer's Fall. The dense foliage all along was adding to the humidity. Hiking on Bruce Trail had been a pleasure normally, especially for the variation in foliage all across its path. However, on this particular day, it was a total nightmare.

A small departure from the Bruce Trail took us to the head of the Borer’s Fall that we were trying to discover. We sat down here for a rest, preferring drinking fluids over some amazing shots of the fall and its surroundings.

The heat had taken a heavy toll on our spirits. My wife and I looked at K2, our Kuvasz boy, to see how he was faring in the sweltering heat. Needless to mention, he was panting too.

Our entourage comprising of 5 humans (including three teenagers) and a great white dog was hiking on the Bruce Trail near Hamilton, exploring many waterfalls that the region boasts of.

As a family, we love long-distance hiking, and generally, our Kuvasz boy loves it even more. What we have discovered is that with K2 along, we are not exploring for the sake of exploration alone. He has made us connect with nature at a micro level.

I am describing here, in anecdotal terms, our summer season experience with nature at a close range. You can try to have similar connection with the nature and / or peoples and their cultures, history, architecture, etc. during your summer travels.

A waterfall with almost vertical valley walls downstream.
A waterfall with almost vertical valley walls downstream. | Source

Observe commonly ignored features of the land

Hiking the Bruce Trail near Hamilton presents many waterfalls. We explored 12 of them in sizzling temperatures that made K2 sit in water in the downstream side of the falls to escape from it all.

Waterfalls are a characteristic of a terrain, primarily ‘U’ shaped valleys, carved out by glaciers. Indeed the Niagara Escarpment, with so many waterfalls, formed by what is today known as the Michigan Sea about 450 million years ago, was covered by a gigantic glacier about 2 million years ago.

Contrast: An emerald green forest of Fathom Five National Marine Park provides a divide between two hues of blue.
Contrast: An emerald green forest of Fathom Five National Marine Park provides a divide between two hues of blue. | Source
Contrast
Contrast | Source

Mother Nature also offered contrasts in the landscape in which the waterfalls were located. Some waterfalls were located in rugged landscape characterized by huge rocks and boulders, while others were located against lush creek side forests.

Generally, the more rebellious the contrast, the more likable it gets.

We admired contrast provided by emerald green forests opening on a cobbled beach and then crystal clear waters of the Georgian Bay, by a thick forest opening on a marsh in Algonquin Provincial Park, by a narrow trail through a dense forest opening on to a ribbon waterfall, and rockpool on top of the Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina against the summit of the Grandmother Mountain in the background as in the picture on the right.

A startled deer
A startled deer | Source

Observe commonly ignored features of wildlife

While hiking, we discovered how we created a ripple effect in the denizens of the forests of Terra Cotta Conservation Area. Noticing our approach, a blue jay scolded us in its shrilling almost gull like call, which scared a group of red striped blackbirds and common grackles on the fringe of the forest cover away. That had an impact on a herd of deer grazing in the background and we saw them taking to heels. A flock of geese honked alarmingly over the lake even farther away.

Great Horned Owl.
Great Horned Owl. | Source
This blue jay was observing us on the Appalachian Trail at Prospect Rock, New York State.
This blue jay was observing us on the Appalachian Trail at Prospect Rock, New York State. | Source

We found that in order to get closer to birds, talking in low tones is better than whispering. The latter is taken as a threatening hissing sound of a predator.

Yet some of the animals will form a temporary alliance to scare a predator away.

Once K2 and I were hiking in Meadowvale Conservation Area and we heard blue jays and crows uttering their characteristic alarm calls. This was followed by an eerie and disturbing shrill of another bird. K2 looked in the direction of a group of trees and then I saw a flock of blue jays and crows, in a tactical alliance, harassing a Great Horned Owl perched on a tree branch. Ultimately, the owl had to fly away with blue jays and crows in the chase.

And of course, sometimes, wildlife will be as curious about you as you are about them.

Butterflies on a flower.
Butterflies on a flower. | Source

We observed butterflies alighting on white, yellow and red flowers and tasting the seeds through their legs.

On the other hand, moths always hovered underneath drooping violet flowers just like they do under a light bulb lit in the dark.

Humming birds are difficult to take pictures of because they constantly flutter in and out of the frame.

Orange Daylilies.
Orange Daylilies. | Source

Observe commonly overlooked features of flora

Mother Nature rewarded us with the sights of wildflowers blossoming in the summer. We observed those flowers taking up every niche of the landscape available from worked up soils to the small cracks among the otherwise impervious rocks.

Trees competing for reaching out to the sky for light.
Trees competing for reaching out to the sky for light. | Source
Trees out in the opening are sprawling out.
Trees out in the opening are sprawling out. | Source
Roots all over the top surface indicates thinness of soil.
Roots all over the top surface indicates thinness of soil. | Source

In the forests of Algonquin Provincial Park, the trees were competing for light, trying to get taller and taller and thinner and thinner. However, as soon as we entered a clearing, the first trees we saw in the open were thick and sprawling that K2 and us wanted to reach out to for taking protection of their shades from a scorching sun. By the way, this is nature’s norm – tall and thin trees in the forest, sprawling and thick
trees in the open.

Trees lack central nervous system, but they do achieve big things nevertheless. They do send messages to other trees in the neighbourhood through various chemical processes via their roots. If a commonly known disease hits one tree, it will broadcast the message to other trees in its neighbourhood. The other trees will take preventative measures soon.

However, if a disease is imported, they will not be able to develop any resistance quickly. This is what happened to American Chestnut trees at the hands of chestnut blight accidentally introduced to North America around 1900, probably on imported Japanese chestnut nursery stock. It is estimated that about 4 billion chestnut trees were destroyed within 40 years.

In the far corner of a field if we noticed a tree line or grass that was brighter green, we knew it was because of presence of water (river, creek or stream) on the patch. We would always head towards it to take a respite from heat.

Acidity: Waters of Georgian Bay are crystal clear because of carbonic acid in water.
Acidity: Waters of Georgian Bay are crystal clear because of carbonic acid in water. | Source
Curves: Rivers meander if left to nature.
Curves: Rivers meander if left to nature. | Source

Rivers, lake and water bodies

Hiking with K2 enabled us to find out differences among muddy swamps, marshes and bogs teeming with wildlife and microbes.

In contrast, we noticed that rock pools formed by the waves crashing on the coastal impervious rocks of northern Georgian Bay were crystal clear. This indicated that the rocks are acidic in which no living organism survived. If the base is acidic and water is crystal clear, it is OK to drink it.

However, acidic water running under sedimentary rocks may cause sinkholes too. That is why I always recommend hiking in twos or more attached with ropes in terrain of sedimentary rocks, specially limestone, and in karst country.

Contrast and Curves: Coastline of a lake at Algonquin Provincial Park.
Contrast and Curves: Coastline of a lake at Algonquin Provincial Park. | Source

We ran into rivers and creeks and found that none would flow straight. Does nature love curves rather than straight lines? I bet it does. Research has found that no river will flow naturally straight for a distance more than ten times its width. If it does then there is a human intervention in it. The same, I believe, applies to the coastlines.

Thunderstorm approaches over the Jimney Peak near Hancock in Berkshires, Massachusetts.
Thunderstorm approaches over the Jimney Peak near Hancock in Berkshires, Massachusetts. | Source
Thunderstorm appears over the ridge across the lake at Algonquin Provincial Park.
Thunderstorm appears over the ridge across the lake at Algonquin Provincial Park. | Source
Thunderstorm forming over the hills of Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.
Thunderstorm forming over the hills of Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. | Source

Summer vagaries of nature

But Mother Nature knows how to teach you a lesson too lest you take everything for granted in summer season.

We took the trail towards the mountain at Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Berkshires, Massachusetts. The trail crossed a small stream and then opened up to an area covered with tall grass, a bog on the other side, and the hill further beyond. We crossed the bog over a bridge and headed for the top of the mountain. Since we were taking our time in observing trees and wild flowers and identifying them, this short distance was covered in about 3 hours. From that point onward, K2 continually took time out from his sniffing, raised his head, and took deep breaths as if taking in the new air. He visibly looked concerned, but we ignored. Little did we know that he had smelled something that we had not.

Halfway to the hilltop, we noticed the thunder and lightning approaching the top of the ridge. It was one of those thunderstorms that can hit Algonquin without warning. That scared the living daylights out of us. So we decided to descend in a hurry.

We had taken almost 4 hours to reach that point. However, the return was completed in 30 minutes. We could feel the thundering clouds and lightning following us. The thunderstorm caught us by the time we were back in our vehicles. It rained cats and dogs, nay bulls and elephants. Within 5 minutes it was all over. We could actually see the tail of the thunderstorm as it moved away. It felt like a living and a very agitated ghost.

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20 comments

Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 2 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Thanks for reading the article and leaving a comment Eiddwen.

This article is a part of 4 that I am writing on each season as they come along. I am now left with one on spring hiking. I hope to be able to complete it by March, just in time for spring season hahaha.

You have great weekend too.


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 2 years ago from Wales

A wonderful hub yet again Suhail; I loved it and owing so much to Mother nature myself I felt as if I was by your side exploring your paradise. Voted up ,shared and wishing you a great weekend.

Eddy.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Thank you Mary. This is a very encouraging comment indeed and I am glad you were able to see the connection.

Best regards,


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York

This is an excellent hub Suhail! You've brought in so many great aspects between your descriptions and photos....truly a wonderful hub to read and see. Thank you for taking us on this lovely journey.

As you are looking forward to more hiking we are looking forward to more hubs.

Voted up, useful, awesome, interesting and pinned.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Hello moonlake,

Thank you for leaving a very encouraging comment. I am still working on my photography and have many lightyears to go lol. I will be having couple of dogs more and then I will actually be hiking on purpose deep in the bear territory. I am really looking forward to that.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Thank you MG Singh, but my day will be made when I am able to hike various parks of Singapore next year per my plan.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Hi Rajan,

Whereas I have always been a hiker and a trekker, I am trying to learn photography afresh to supplement my adventures. Thank you very much for reading my article and living a nice comment.


MG Singh profile image

MG Singh 3 years ago from Singapore

Very interesting post with lovely pictures


moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

Your pictures are beautiful. I really enjoyed your hub. Your dog is so pretty. You are right dogs see things we never notice. Just by smell alone they find things. Voted up and shared.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

Great enjoyable walk and lovely pictures, Sohail. Thanks for sharing this.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Thank you and my quest continues.


truthfornow profile image

truthfornow 3 years ago from New Orleans, LA

Nicely said. Your dog seemed to have brought you closer to nature and pointed out a lot of things you might have missed out on. The pictures are wonderful.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Thank you for reading KK G.

Surely, ever since I have got my boy, I have been exploring nature like crazy. K2 brought me out of my comfort zone. I am sure you can relate to this.


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 3 years ago from Sunny Florida

Wonderful pictures and great writing. I love to take our dogs on little adventurous walks. They notice so many things that we don't


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

You are most welcome Michelle.

Mark my words! Singapore will have our first Pleistocene Rewilding Park.


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore

Amazing how dogs can connect us to what's really important! Thanks for sharing, Suhail!


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

You are most welcome, Bill.

I am just putting into practice what I keep reading in non-fiction books on nature.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

Great pictures, Suhail, and I love how you pay attention to that which many people would ignore. A lovely trip and I thank you for taking me along on it.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

I did take a nasty fall from a boulder into the creek water while exploring a waterfall with K2. I was all by myself and could have hurt myself badly, but escaped unscathed. The next day, my body was aching like crazy.

Also, you may have now found that my interests touch your wildlife photography interest and that enables me to take some help from you in terms of your awesome pictures.


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

Wonderful work, Suhail, and it made a lot of sense. Terrain can be so different in so many places, one has to be prepared for nearly anything.

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