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Hiking For Pleasure and Profit

Yeah, that's me pointing to yet another trail that we are about to hike. The 13-year-old leaning against the map is now a biolgist in the Galapagos Islands, and the even smaller boy with binoculars and field guide is our son, now a mechanic at Belleville Dodge Chrysler

It seems as long as I can remember I have been leading hikes….somewhere. The photo on the right is one that was taken when I first started leading hikes professionally, in 1984, and I had been leading informal hikes for 20 years before that! I have been dubbed by a colleague as the “pied piper of nature” as I am seldom seen without an enthusiastic troop of nature enthusiasts traipsing along behind me. In fact, on the rare occasion that I do hike by myself, I still instinctively glance over my shoulder as a force of habit, expecting to see a line of people threading along behind me. Today was different. I was with a good friend from the Pleasant Bay area who introduced me to a new area that I had never before visited – Proctor Conservation Area at Brighton. The only time I looked over my shoulder was to check out a chipmunk that had just delivered its alarm note behind me. I can’t believe I have not visited this area until now. Massive white cedars, white pines, ashes, beech, some exceeding 150 years of age, I’m sure. The trail follows Butler Creek for a ways, and then climbs a high hill beside a deep ravine before circling back to the parking lot. Everything in there is old, from the decaying trees that had reached their pinnacle in life and had toppled over, to wild grape vines, some as thick around as a person’s upper arm. An incredible area with so much to see and learn about, and right on Brighton’s doorstep. Friends often ask why I have never travelled much out of Ontario. Why should I when there is so much to see right here, and I keep discovering these beautiful, wild places with each passing year. I only discovered the famous Hell Holes north of Napanee a few years ago, scrambled up the 150 foot McMahon’s Bluff at Black River here in our very own county only last year, and made my first visit to Scotch Bonnet Island two years ago. And now I can cross Proctor House and Conservation Area off the list, although I will return again, perhaps as early as next week.

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About the Author: Terry Sprague became interested in nature at an early age. "Growing up on the family farm at Big Island, 12 miles north of Picton, on the shore of the beautiful Bay of Quinte, I was always interested in the natural world around me. During my elementary school days at the small one-room school I attended on Big Island, I received considerable encouragement from the late Marie Foster, my teacher in Grades 6 through 8. Her home was a short distance from where I lived and through the years she was responsible for developing my interest in birds. The late Phil Dodds, a former editor with the Picton Gazette, also a great nature enthusiast, suggested I undertake a nature column - a column I have submitted weekly since 1965. The column has since expanded to the Napanee Beaver and the Tweed News. Life has been good, and through the years I have enjoyed working with such nature related agencies as Glenora Fisheries Research as a resource technician, Sandbanks Provincial Park as a park interpreter and Quinte Conservation as a naturalist and outdoor events coordinator. As a nature interpreter, currently working from my home office, I now create and lead numerous interpretive events in the area and offer indoor audio/visual presentations to interested groups. Could one who is interested in nature have enjoyed a more exhilarating period in the work force?" Terry's website is

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  1. Lizanne says:

    Nice read. Thanks Terry for introducing me to the many beautiful areas throughout the region. I look forward to more walks, talks and Thanksgiving 2011.

    All the best,

  2. Terry says:

    Thank you for your comments, Paul. You are absolutely correct. It was indeed 1980. My stomach rolling a bit over the belt is the perfect timeclock! I had just sold the farm two years earlier and was now in an office goverment position. From an active lifestyle to sedentary!

  3. Paul Thompson says:

    Hi Terry I think the photo you included in your article was earlier than 1984 ,more like 1980 or earlier ,I was pretty skinny in that picture.

  4. Louisa says:

    I can recommend Proctor woods in all seasons. In springtime the intensity of the greens of the leaves and many wildflowers is almost overwhelming. In autumn the warm rust-brown of the beech and brilliant yellow of a particular stand of young sugar maples is just breathtaking. Right now would be perfect for those colours I think.

  5. Borys Holowacz says:

    As portrayed in the included photo, you have placed smiles on hiker’s faces for all these years since 1984. I have been a witness to this phenomenom for the past 6 or so years.

  6. Charles Turner says:

    Oct 11/2010. My wife, Angela, and I just hiked the Proctor CA trail yestarday. It was her 3rd time and my second. What a beautiful tranquil setting. For those with a bent towards the supernatural, it is the perfect setting for the imagination to run wild. Stark trees with dark vines intertwined lead to a haunting vista fit for a spooky movie.
    On October 9th we hiked in the Goodrich-Loomis CA. Located within 10-15 minutes north of Brighton, It offers a wide variety of trails with beautiful tree lined paths bursting into awesome open vistas. A must place to see.

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