One of my favorite places in the world is Pukaskwa, an obscure national park along the north shore of Lake Superior. My partner and I discovered it while driving across Canada years ago and have made the 12-hour drive from our home in Toronto to visit it several times since. The shoreline is rugged, the hikes are quiet, and the air smells like pine and cedar. The first thing I always notice when we emerge stiff and tired from the car when we arrive is how fresh the air is.
We returned again this summer with a friend, eager to share this pure, seemingly untouched landscape, but things were different. Skies were hazy, the air was thick, sunrises and sunsets were ominous. Raging forest fires across northern Ontario threatened the park and countless other natural wonders in the region. I reluctantly skipped our traditional full-day hike along the Coastal Hiking Trail to protect my lungs. We enjoyed fewer sunsets from our favorite spot, North Beach, because of the haze. I fear this will become the norm for the region as increasingly drier summers make forest fires more common.
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