Our Pukaskwa Family Adventure

We are an adventure loving family. We’ve tripped here, we’ve tripped there, we’ve tripped just about everywhere. But never have we been to a place quite like Pukaskwa National Park. While we’ve always been outdoorsy, the kids are old enough now at 8 and 10 to allow the family to challenge ourselves with some more advanced fare. On May 26th we launch our year of great Ontario Outdoor adventures by making the long drive north from our home in Toronto to Ontario’s most remote national park to take on the Coastal Hiking Trail.

Hiking with the kids is nothing new to my husband and myself, but this particular trail is gonna be a doozy. Its sixty rugged kilometers stretch along the north-eastern coast of Ontario’s inland sea, Lake Superior. The terrain is rough and remains relatively untouched and the weather can be strong-willed. Those who choose to make the journey here do so for the beauty, the experience and let’s face it, the bragging rights. Trekking this trail is certainly more difficult than a simple walk in the park.

By all accounts our boys will be the youngest hikers to ever complete the trail end-to-end. We did not plan it this way. That revelation was an eyebrow raising hint at the complexity of the feat before us; a not so subtle cue to come well prepared. And we will not be taking any aspect of readiness for granted. With the trip just a few days away I’m confident that we are well practiced and that we are equipped for almost every potential predicament. As parents we are role models and what better lessons are there to impart to our children than to dream big, train hard, come prepared and follow through.

Sure we do trips like this for the fun and adventure, but there is another side to getting into the backcountry with your kids. Not every classroom has walls. Spending time in a wilderness classroom teaches more than survival skills, it teaches life skills. Spending time in the outdoors with your family is valuable for fostering a meaningful connection to each other. Each member is able to rely on the others and kids feel empowered when they know that we trust and believe in them. Tripping allows kids to push their limits and discover physical and mental strength. They learn to problem solve and to trust their instincts. And they find that there is an abundance of ways to occupy their time without all of the gadgets they’ve left at home. They use their imaginations.

Taking your kids on a big adventure takes a ton of planning, preparation and sacrifice. It’s all worth it though to demonstrate that the most rewarding experiences are earned through hard work and perseverance, the best memories are the ones created with family and friends and the best rewards are the ones that reveal a deeper understanding of ourselves, the world and our place in it. Pukaskwa is going to be our greatest challenge to date, but with all of us doing our part it is sure to be our greatest success.

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7 responses to this post.

  1. Our daughter is nine and we’re finding the same thing. It’s wonderful to be able to get out and do those activities we did before kids with the same vigour now.

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  2. The outdoor classroom is without a doubt the most rewarding educational experience that you can give your children! They gain a mental, emotional and physical strength from being in the outdoors that they will never gain anywhere else…and let’s face it, whom better to learn from than your parents. You will have the adventure of a lifetime. We live in Hamilton & made the journey to Pukaskwa about seven years ago when our oldest son was 8 months old at the time. We didn’t take on the Coastal Trail at that time but instead stayed in the Haittie Cove campground and headed out on day hikes with our little camper instead. It was by far the most memorable trip we have taken in our 17 years together. It was a month long trip filled with more memories than I ever thought possible. You will enjoy every moment! 🙂

    Reply

    • Thank you so much for sharing! That sounds like a wonderful experience and I’m so impressed that you did it when your son was so young. We will be staying in Hattie Cove for a couple of nights as well. I can’t believe that we leave tomorrow… I have butterflies in my stomach!

      Reply

  3. Happy hiking to you and your family!

    Reply

  4. Posted by mrhaak on May 28, 2012 at 9:18 AM

    Have a great trip! Sounds fun. Wish we were out this week too… we’ve been taking our kids backcountry paddling since they were 3 years old (now 9, twins) and we can’t think of a better way to spend time as a family. We usually get out a few times a year so maybe we’ll run into you on one of the many lakes or trails in the area. Cheers!

    Reply

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