Among the many unforeseen impacts of COVID-19, people returning to nature in amazing numbers have been at the top of the welcome list.
When indoor entertainment venues closed and international travel became taboo more than two years ago, people looked out the window and reminded themselves that recreational activities don’t have to start and end on screens.
Bicycle sales picked up speed. Campsite reservations skyrocketed. Canoe trips had to be booked months in advance. Golf courses and tennis courts filled up. So are walking and hiking trails.
We will all be reminded of all of this as summer enters its third pandemic season, which begins with the May long weekend
And for the first time since the outbreak of COVID, the Trent-Severn Waterway is open on time over the long weekend.
TSW isn’t Peterborough’s, but it feels like it. It stretches almost 400 kilometers from Lake Ontario to Georgian Bay through a variety of communities that welcome tourists and use it as their own backyard recreation area.
But Peterborough is the largest of these communities. And it’s the gateway to the Kawartha Lakes, the most scenic stretch of the waterway. And it’s home to the Lift Lock, a unique historical artifact and feat of engineering that’s the most well-known attraction on the route.
Paddlers and boaters don’t really need the lock system. However, the annual opening is a reminder that the water is out there, waiting to be explored.
Moor at Monaghan Road in Peterborough and head south, there’s open water all the way to Hastings. Cruise north from Lakefield Marina to the open water and scenic shoreline of Lakes Katchewanooka, Clear and Stoney, with only a single lock at scenic Burleigh Falls. Bridgenorth is the gateway that opens up Lakes Chemong, Buckhorn and Pigeon.
No boater? Most of the same area can be enjoyed from the seat of a bicycle.
The PeterboRoutes cycling map has eight different fairly short, not too hilly routes that stay close to the town and immediate area. Beginners can practice on these before embarking on the Peterborough and Kawarthas routes, well-marked rural excursions on country lanes and trails ranging from 45 to 100 kilometers in length.
Camping, whether it’s driving and pitching a tent or paddling to a nearby wilderness area, has become so popular over the past two summers that finding a spot has been difficult. That’s less true now, especially when you’re away during the week.
The pandemic is abating again. Everyone is hoping that the predictions of a new wave in the fall will turn out to be wrong; There’s no reason to hope that interest in outdoor recreation will persist—people can make it happen.
Late spring and early summer as soon as you get out and look around has a little fall feel. The palette may be all green, but it ranges from light almost yellow to deepening forest, shifting through the scale as the leaves pop out and then mature.
The health benefits of being in nature – “forest bathing” has become a popular term – are well documented. The pandemic has pushed many novices into this healing environment for the first time, reminding others what they were missing.
It would be a shame to turn back now. Summer is here. Go outside, stay safe and enjoy the view.