Mudd and Moss

I have itchy ankles, shoulders and ears from a black fly infested weekend.
Sunday evening I returned from my extended family's annual camping gathering. The date changes from year to year but because most of us fill our summers with events and trips, we aim to gather in early June or September when schedules are more free. The problem, however, is the weather's volatility in those months. This time it was cold and wet, so the bugs were the worst I have ever seen. When we began this tradition 15 years ago, June was sure to be a good time to be outdoors, but I think our camping trips are proof that climate change is real.
But regardless of weather and bug bites, we always have fun. This year we were at our usual stomping ground in Algonquin Park. In the past we have camped in many locations including Mattawa, Marten River and my counsin's backyard in Owen Sound. Two years ago we all went to Bathurst, New Brunswick as our cousins out there chose the destination. And nine years ago we all went down to Fort Lauderdale, Florida to include our American relatives in the mix and crash another cousin's wedding.
The combination of people changes from year to year but there are some that never miss. Sometimes people bring friends, and sometimes unexpected guests show up - this year we had distant cousins with us, including one whom I had never met. These annual reunions are an opportunity to catch up, rather than trying to fit these conversations in at weddings or funerals.This is our chance every year to celebrate milestone birthdays and anniversaries, make announcements (there have been several baby announcements on these trips) introduce new additions and catch up on life. In 2005 the family threw me 'bon voyage' party over the camping weekend, and the following year they had a 'welcome home' party.
We have several traditions that fit in to our weekends and one thing I always like to do is hike a new trail. Luckily this year I had my rubber boots because the one we chose was a messy two kilometres of mud. Everything was still wet from days of rain so the mosquitoes were on the rampage. Here are some photos I took between swats of the lovely colour palette from our hike on the Hemlock Bluff trail:

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