The Conjuring Rock

© Heather Mills

It’s golden hour. We have spent the day swimming off the rocks and hiking through the pristine forest. As the sun dips down toward the horizon it illuminates the cliffs opposite our camp, turning them into a golden fairytale of rippling rock. You can almost see their faces carved into the cliffs, faces of the ancient indigenous peoples who, for the past 5000 years, have journeyed across this land to reach this sacred place. Their histories are written in rock. A chief with a feathered headdress; the sharp angular bone structure of a weather worn face; young warriors on vision quests; old shamans with deeply lined faces; they all came here, to the conjuring rock, and they all are here still.

© Heather Mills

The slanting rays of the sun create stark shadows, light against dark, causing the pillar of rock to step away from the cliffs—even more 3D now than it had been during the day. It rises up impossibly slender. Triumphant, it stands over the others who had come crashing down years ago. They now create a mountain of skree at its feet.

© Heather Mills

I’m sitting on the exposed, smooth wood of a barkless fallen tree. All around me puzzle pieces of red hued bark climb to skies where needles rustle softly in the breeze. Rank upon rank of old pine march regally up the cliff. Columns of solemn storm clouds shift across the sky. The warm, close afternoon air stills… flies buzz… a bird sings… wind breathes in the distance. The forest wraps itself around this tiny lake like arms in a hug. The heat from my campfire wraps around me. After 3 weeks of portaging through this land we have arrived here, at this perfectly peaceful final day of rest.

© Heather Mills

I’ve always wondered what the world would have looked like when it was first created, when the trees were as old as they could be and the forest floor was undisturbed by logging or invasive species. Hiking through the sacred Spirit Forest around Chee-Skon Lake in Temagami this afternoon I realized that I had finally found a place that gave me just a taste of that. This is an old growth, unlogged, completely untouched, pristine place. And you can feel it. It is incredible to be able to look around and think, “This is all just as it should be.”

My thighs are tighter, my pants looser, my body tireder, but my soul is restored.

Just as it should be.


© Heather Mills,

Heather loves everything related to the outdoors. Even as a baby she was happiest when lying on a blanket, looking up at the leaves. A BC native, she makes up for living in Toronto by gardening, biking around the city and taking daily walks in various nearby parks. She is still happiest outside on a long summer canoe trip swimming, living close to the land and soaking in the sun. You can find more of her work on her blog:


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