By Elizabeth Bate
Dean Wilson’s tour of the Highlands began with the simple idea of getting himself and his kids out of the house.
Wilson and his children AJ and Alyssa Lounds created what they called the Swim the Highlands challenge setting out from their cottage early and swimming in 28 Highlands area lakes in 14 hours on Aug. 4.
A lifelong cottager Wilson says he was familiar with Haliburton Gooderham and Minden but had never really travelled outside the areas surrounding his Koshlong Lake cottage.
“I never really knew beyond Haliburton and Minden” he said. “It was really my idea of something to do that was different.”
Wilson planned his route in what he describes as a figure eight hitting Haliburton for lunch and supper using the free My Haliburton Highlands tourism map provided by the municipality.
“What a wonderful job that map does of showing the lakes” he said. “Sometimes when you get there it’s a little harder to find than what the map says.”
Wilson said the group had a few false starts finding the public boat launches listed their agreed upon point for entering each lake but eventually was able to hit every intended spot. Where there were docks to jump off they “jumped a few times” before moving on to the next lake.
The group’s official photographer Alyssa recorded the event for posterity while the two boys hit the water. Wilson said Alyssa joined her brother and father for the last lake Koshlong.
Wilson and AJ weren’t discouraged by the temperature of the lakes saying that it was warm when they started out at 7:20 a.m. but that it appeared to get colder throughout the day; something he attributes to being “water-logged.”
Wilson said the adventurers drove roads they had never travelled before saw seven deer three baby ducks used 14 towels and of course made a pit stop for ice cream.
The tour’s stops in smaller previously unexplored places means more than just a great afternoon but can be a boost to local businesses too Wilson thought.
“You’re supporting some people by stopping in some different towns” he said.
The best part of the day was spending time together Wilson said.
“The best things about the day is doing something with your kids that isn’t video games” he said. “I hope I’m teaching the kids to get out and do something different.”
Wilson encourages others to complete the same challenge and hopes to make something similar an annual tradition for his family.
“I think what we’ll do next year is hit some of the lakes we missed.”