Tag Archives: Boreal Trails

“Line Up”

“Line Up”

“To those devoid of imagination a blank place on the map is a useless waste; to others, the most valuable part.” 
― Aldo Leopold

This part of the world looks like nothingness on a map. While there is a town close by, it really is a wilderness area. A land of steep, nearly unnavigable hillsides, dense forest, and swampy wetlands. To me, it’s paradise, a place to unwind and just enjoy an unblemished space in this world.

It’s also a place to look around and let the imagination run. I see beauty everywhere, in the curve of the path, the marvelous variety and diversity of life, and endless patterns.

In this image I saw lines. I saw the way the trees, maple, yellow birch, and hemlock lined up. I also noticed the one darker, narrow tree that runs vertically up the photo. It is literally, a line upwards, yet I could not get the composition and lighting right without including it, so here it is, as I saw it.

This ‘place’, is one of an endless series of ‘places’, each slightly different, which make up the Boreal forest in this area. I see the entire forest before me, but my eye breaks it up into components. Each part, though an element of the whole, is a so unique. I could go back to this expanse of forest and go back to this exact spot with little effort. Even now, as I write, I can place myself along the trail, to this exact spot and the moment in which the photo was made. Except now, my fingers are warmer than on that chilly November day, enjoying the “Boreal Trails”.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD@75mm

1/4 sec, f/10.0, ISO 400

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“Birches, Beech, and Balsam”

“Birch, Beech, and Balsam”

“Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed … We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in.” 
― Wallace Stegner

Here’s a familiar sight along the “Boreal Trails”, an interspersing of the dominant species of trees, namely:  Birch, Beech, and Balsam. All three are seen in this image with a few maples, oak, and poplar, in the background.

Beech is easy to identify by its bark, which resembles a gray elephant hide. At this time of year, its about the only tree still hanging on to its leaves, which have turned a beautiful coppery orange. Birch, of course is known for it’s white, papery bark, though there are several species in this area: paper birch, which is seen here, and yellow birch, which has more of a silvery, tattered bark. Finally, there is the deep green balsam, an evergreen that grows as a shrub along trails but can grow into quite a large tree, over time.

The balsams tend to enjoy the ample light available along the trails and pathways and form thick clusters between the hardwoods that grow alongside them. They offer cover for larger ground birds, like ruffed grouse, which is quite common here. Often you can hear the grouse ‘cooing’ along the trails but can’t see them in the thick green balsams whose branches nearly touch the ground.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD@112mm

1/4 sec, f/16.0, ISO 400

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“Hilltop Hemlocks”

“Hilltop Hemlocks”

“We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.” 
― Henry David Thoreau

At the crest of a hill, the trail drops sharply in front of me. In this region of wilderness, near Bancroft, Ontario, there are very few flat places. The landscape is dominated by steep, folded hills. The valleys are the realm of spring fed creeks and beaver ponds.

The walking in the high ridges is a bit easier, as the dominant hemlocks are fairly well spaced, yet it only takes one which has fallen to make for a long detour. There are few straight paths between the hills and valleys of the “Boreal Trails” and the only markers along the way are the trees themselves.

When I was younger, I used to have a fear of getting lost in the forest. My father, an avid outdoorsman, never balked at heading into the densest bush. I’m not sure when things changed for me, but I have acquired that same sense of direction that he had. But, I always have a compass with me, no matter how familiar the forest may be, as I have found myself turned around a few times.

In this forest, I tend towards the high ground, following the parallel ridges north and south. Trekking in the valleys, strewn with debris of slash and boulders, and choked with balsams, is tough walking.

Besides, the view from the ridges is much more appealing than the darkness of a tangled spruce bog.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD@70mm
1/4 sec, f/11.0, ISO 400

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“Birches at the Bend”

“Birches at the Bend”

“A cold wind was blowing from the north, and it made the trees rustle like living things.” 
― George R.R. Martin

Welcome to “Boreal Trails”. I thought I’d start the series off with this image of a clump of birches at the bend in a trail. Figuratively, a turn in the seasons.

You will notice, as this series continues, a few splashes of colour against a duller green background. Gone now are the warm days of Indian Summer its bright colours. The Boreal forest is dominated by hemlock, spruce, cedar, and, pine. Small groves of maple and oak exist as well, but it’s a green cold forest at this time of year, with traces of snow in the air, falling from leaden skies.

As you can see in this image, the birches bring light to the gloom and a few hearty beech trees, add splashes of colour to the muted canvas and will continue to do so for some time, as the final bearers of colour.

It sounds a bit somber, but there is incredible beauty here. A beauty I intend to share over the next several days.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD@75mm
1/4 sec, f/11.0, ISO 400

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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or my website (images are available for purchase)
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