Mick doesn't believe in paths - he never has. So I do my best to keep up as he wades through water, poison ivy and masses of prickly undergrowth. Mick knows more than just about anyone would ever want to about the limestone regions of Ontario.
He is my brother, and we have many shared interests, but he seems to have all the caving genes. The caves are what attracts him to these limestone areas. Limestone has a natural tendency to fracture into large slabs, and over immeasurable time water finds its way through, enlarging these gaps and creating a maze of tunnels.
My brother has an unnatural interest in the dank, mysterious places that lie beneath the landscape's surface. He tells stories of squeezing through passages with just enough space for a nose above the water, of tight spaces that open into huge chambers, of frogs and spiders and bats.
It is his passionate enthusiasm and my desire to see the nesting grounds of the osprey, or fish eagle, that causes us to set out from Toronto early one morning. We make the journey east on the 401, then north on Highway 37. We're headed for one of Mick's favourite spots along the Moira River.
As we get closer, he points out grassy areas covered with scrubby juniper bushes. The fields look lumpy and pitted - poor for farming but rich with subterranean chambers and rivers. These are typical limestone areas.
We pull over near Roslin and set out. Mick's eyes are bright, his gestures animated as he describes the more than 11 kilometres of mapped passages and huge warren of uncharted tunnels that lie beneath our feet. I remind him that Tom Sawyer got lost in a cave when he was on that church picnic with his sweetheart Becky.
Mick insists that Tom didn't obey some of the most basic rules of caving. Always tell someone exactly where you're going, and go with a competent and experienced caver.
He suggests that if I'm an eager beaver, I can join a caving club. I remind him that I'm not. I eagerly scan the sky for ospreys.
Our trek takes us to a vast dry riverbed. Mick points to places where the water seems to rise magically from the rock and form a creek, only to disappear further on. I become obsessed with my desire to see the distinctive twiggy nests of the fish eagle. I stop paying attention to the placing of my feet and narrowly avoid severe damage to my ankle and camera.
Ending up in a prone position affords me the perfect opportunity and vantage point to observe, not more than a few inches from my face, a dense swarm of bugs. They seem to be imitating molecules at a rapid boil as their little cloud hangs above the still surface of a puddle on the dry limestone riverbed.
Then I see them - the dragonflies. I'm awestruck as I watch all manner of sparkly candy-foil coloured predators darting and swooping through the cloud of bugs. Some have green bodies and transparent wings. Some have blue bodies with black-and-white stripped wings, or green bodies with black wings and a perfect yellow dot at the tip.
On a leaf nearby, a cluster of blue- bodied, transparent-winged dragonflies seems to be engaging in group sex, but I don't know for sure. Perhaps they're eating each other, or shedding their skins, or giving birth? It's a magnificent bacchanalian scene.
I don't get to see any ospreys. As we head home, Mick feels itchy - we're both covered in scratches and bites, but it has been a wonderful day. My brother suggests that he'll bring caving helmets and flashlights for our next jaunt, and I agree that it would be a great idea.