Your winter preparedness guide

If you’re reading this, you’re likely a not-very-furry mammal with a core body temperature around 37ºC.

Your body works very hard to maintain this temperature. If it drops even a few degrees, moving, thinking, and other basic tasks become difficult. You will need to warm up quickly, or you may find yourself in a dangerous situation.

To prevent cold-related emergencies, it’s important to plan your winter adventures with care.

Here’s what you need to know to stay safe in cold weather:

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How to have a safe winter hike

During the snowy season, parks can feel like our own personal winter wonderlands. Meandering through snow-covered trails and frozen forests can make an awesome day in the outdoors.

Here’s how to have a fun and safe time on your frosty foray:

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First Day Hike destinations

New Year’s Day is coming up fast — have you picked out a park for your First Day Hike on January 1, 2022?

This 8-park list rounds up some hot spots for your first foray into 2022:

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6 essential items to pack for your winter hike

Trail guide and cellphone and water in bottles,
Flashlight just in case your hike is a dawdle,
High energy snacks secured with drawstrings,
These are a few of our essential things… (can’t you just hear Maria von Trapp’s voice?)

A walk through a pine tree forest in crunchy snow can be dreamy, however your snowy paradise can go south quickly if you’re missing important items.

Being prepared with a few essentials in your bag will help keep you safe on your adventure. Here are six items that should always be in your day pack on a winter hike:

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5 ways to stay active in the cold

Brrr! Temperatures are dropping, and winter’s icy grip is almost upon us.

We bet you’re feeling just about ready to tuck into a nice, long winter’s hibernation. Not so fast! Outdoor activity is important for our mental and physical health all year long. Getting outside is good for you even when the weather is not ideal.

Ontario Parks has 31 parks open in the winter. Each park offers plenty of ways for you to get active in the chilly months.

Here are some great ways to stay healthy, and enjoy winter!

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The ultimate Pinery challenge

In today’s post, Sarah Fencott, a naturalist at Pinery Provincial Park is sharing her journey to completing the ultimate Pinery challenge. The goal? To complete all ten trails at Pinery, including lookouts and extensions. 

Last year, my goal was to hike every trail before the end of the summer. I completed my goal with three days left in my contract.

This year, my goal was to hike all of the trails in one week. This worked out well, as we needed to do an infrastructure survey of the park trails anyway! By hiking three trails per day I had completed my goal within my first week back at work.

With my initial goal so easily achieved, I set my sights on a new challenge that would be harder than anything I had done in the park before: the Tour de Pinery.

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Waldeinsamkeit: solitude in the forest

Picture this: you’re alone, deep into a forested trail. Your only companions are the birds fluttering from branch to branch around you. As you walk, you follow a corridor made of pillars of ancient trees, and smell the earthy aroma of moss and damp leaves.

How do you feel? It’s hard to describe, but the words which immediately come to mind are calm, peaceful, and contemplative. You feel a deep-rooted connection to the world around you, and you are reminded of the importance of our natural environment.

There’s a word for that feeling: waldeinsamkeit.

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Uncovering the “birdiest” trail at Pinery

Today’s post comes from Habitat Stewardship Technician Justin Johnson from Pinery Provincial Park. Justin has a M.Sc. in biology with a focus on bird acoustics. 

Birders are an interesting breed of people. Sometimes everything they do seems to subvert the norms of society.

Sleeping in? Rather not. Too much coffee? No such thing. $4500 binoculars? Yeah, I’ve seen it.

Birders’ bread and butter is local natural spaces and their trails. They can be very particular about which trails they walk. Seasoned birders often only use trails they perceive as “birdy,” neglecting those off their sacred path.

But how do we really know which trails are the “birdiest?”

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