Thoughts From The Wilderness – Getting Back To Nature

It’s funny and bit ironic, that words uttered over a hundred years ago have just as much relevance now, as they did back then. In fact, they may be even more relevant and timely in today’s society.

DSC_0117All across Ontario and I would also suspect elsewhere as well, there has been a tremendous amount of research and documentation that captures the overwhelming data of the massive increases of folks heading back to the great outdoors.

Hogwash you say. Just try to book a campsite at a popular provincial park in Ontario or a National Park somewhere across Canada in the summer and if you haven’t booked it early, you’re often out of luck.

22Why are people getting heading on out to parks, wilderness areas, hiking trails, campgrounds, canoe trips in greater numbers than ever before?

The answers would be as varied and numerous as the people who are asked that question. Social media and exposure is one answer for sure. But, that one is best left for another day.

This post is by no means heading off in some wild direction to try and answer that question. There aren’t enough megabytes, computer memory and/or internet capability to even scratch the surface of that topic.

It does seem though, like this quote may sum it up in many ways. At least it tries to answer the “why” question in some measure.

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity, and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.”

Canadians spend more time indoors now than any other point in history – ninety percent of each day. And each day we spend nearly seventy percent of our waking time sitting on our ass.

HUMANS ARE HARD-WIRED TO BE CONNECTED TO NATURE

Many experts agree that humans are designed to be in nature. Over 99% of human history was spent living closely with other animals and plants, and we have a desire to seek connections with the natural world. The well-being we feel in nature has been hard-wired into our genes through evolution. This concept is known as biophilia.

Given the long history that humans have been immersed in nature and the relatively short time that we have removed ourselves from nature, is it no wonder that we are suffering health problems? We are working against our basic design when we spend too much time inside.

 — Healthy Parks Healthy People

indoorsHealthy Parks Healthy People is a worldwide movement(founded in Australia in 2000) to engage and educate people on the benefits(physically, mentally and emotionally) of time spent outdoors.

I often wonder, how as a society did we ever get to this place in time where we need to be told and given instruction as to why time spent outdoors is a good thing?

Ontario Parks has a wealth of information on the fundamental link between human health and healthy ecosystems.

There is an old saying that, “there is nothing new under the sun.”

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity, and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.”

That quote is taken from the book “Our National Parks” written by John Muir way back in 1901.

It rang true in 1901 and it certainly rings true in 2020.

Perhaps John Muir’s quote is all that really needs to be said and simply answers the “why?”

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  — 

Thoughts From The Wilderness – All Terrain Vehicle

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Not that anyone out in the blogosphere or any of our dear readers may care much, but Lynn and I are in the midst of getting a new car. Our 2013 Chevrolet Cruze, which is currently balancing life around the 331,000 kilometres or 206,000-mile mark, is reaching or has reached the end of its days.

Nevertheless, this car has been the best ride Lynn and I have had in over 30 years of being together. Since signing on the dotted line back in 2013 for the Cruze, we’ve never had a breakdown or a major repair during that time. In fact, the most expensive repair was having the brakes done two years ago, costing around $600.00.

Alas, our old Cruze needs a new motor fan to blow heat for the climate control system; it also should have new tires unless I plan on sliding off the road given the winter driving conditions here in the frozen colony. We’re needing an oil change, which can run between $75 to $90 dollars as the Cruze uses synthetic oil.

Therefore, not wanting to invest any more money in a car with 331,000 kilometres on it, we’re pretty sure we’re simply rolling the dice with it and “snake eyes”(something major) will occur.

A new car it is then.

But, not an All-Terrain Vehicle, as the title suggests.

What!

Had you fooled! You thought the post was about getting a new car?

Sorry to disappoint you all.

The All-Terrain Vehicle I’m talking about here is the hiking boots that get us to wondrous places in the great outdoors.

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The reality is, we don’t need the fancy and expensive all-terrain vehicle to get out into the wilderness.

All we need is boots and our feet, plus the desire for overall wellness.

More likely than not, whether it is an all-terrain vehicle worth tens of thousands of dollars or simply a hundred dollar pair of hiking boots, we’ll all end up in the same location in the outdoors in the end anyway.

Furthermore, you won’t have made the tremendous the dollar investment; no need to worry about the inevitable expensive breakdown and then the upcoming expensive repair; nor will you be sucking in noxious gas fumes charging around in your ATV>

It goes without saying, that a hike in the woods will do far more for your physical, mental and emotional health and well-being than any four-wheel-drive off-road vehicle ever could accomplish.

Science, medicine and alike have produced a ton of research over the past number of years that document the benefits of the outdoors that go way beyond the physical. A bit more on why the use of the “two-legged all-terrain vehicle” is best – Healthy Parks Healthy People

A few pictures that more than emphasize where our “all-terrain vehicle” has taken us over the past few years.

 

Remember….

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—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Bracebridge Resource Management Centre

Yet, another Tuesday dawned with sunshine and warm temperatures, all of it wrapped up in an invitation to head somewhere and soak it all in.

Now, not wanting to decline Mother Nature’s enticing invite, we decided to head north, to the Bracebridge Resource Management Centre(BRMC) on Highway 11, slightly north of the Town of Bracebridge.

Without stating the obvious, it has been a long and cold winter in our little part of the universe this year. So, anytime the sun decides to shine and rise the outside temperature ever so much, you have to take advantage.

It’s these early spring days when the rays of the sun blast out of the heavens, which can penetrate into even the darkest and dreariest recesses of our soul. It is precisely then, that our innermost psyche screams at us; commands us to get out outdoors and set the thawing and renewing of our minds, soul and spirit into action.

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I believe the BRMC property is owned by the Ministry of Natural Resources, the operation and maintenance of the facility is a joint effort between volunteers, The Town of Bracebridge and the Province of Ontario.

Nevertheless, it offers over 16 kilometres of hiking, groomed cross-country skiing and snowshoe trails and the best part of it all – free of charge.

Leaving the homestead around 10:30am, we took a slightly and far more scenic route to the BRMC, arriving close to noontime.

After collecting our gear and “suiting up,” we give a quick once over the trail map and figured a loop along the outside perimeter adjacent to the Muskoka River might be the best prescription for the day.

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Should make note that, although there are several hills scattered throughout the trail system, none would be what I would consider extensive, long or steep. For the most part, the trails, at least the 7 kilometres we hiked were gently rolling and many flat stretches.

With a plan in mind, off we headed along Trail 1 and looking to see what sights there would be at the small rapids on the Muskoka River known as Duck Chutes.

Getting underway!

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The “Duck Chutes” rapids in the distance on the Muskoka River.

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A few more pictures from here.

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Lynn crawling through the underbrush to get the best shot.

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A short video clip from the “Duck Chutes.”

After leaving Duck Chutes, we continued along Trail No. 1 as it wove its way throughout the mixed hardwood forest until it intersected with Trail No. 2. This was the most interesting find. If you didn’t get a map at the beginning there was another opportunity. As well, there was a guest book to sign, although the pages were only a bit damp. A cute find nonetheless.

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From this stage on along Trail 2, it moves through the BRMC next to the Muskoka River. Interesting to note that at this point in the winter/early spring, the river was not frozen and was flowing freely. It made for a very peaceful and relaxing trek as the sounds of the river and birds chirping merrily in the forest were exceedingly soothing.

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Although not captured so much in this picture, that was a very steep slope covered in a thick blanket of snow and ice. I loved how the water froze around the trunk of the tree.

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Lynn had recently purchased a glass sphere or prism to create different shots when out on adventures. I think the results she gets, adds just another layer or exciting element to what we do. The shots might not be for everyone, but for myself, Lynn has the ability to capture those small, intimate moments or things along the way that hold great and deep meaning to us.

DSC_0209The ball is sitting to top of a tree stump.

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Often getting the shot involves getting oneself into precarious positions. The above is a lovely shot through the trees of the Muskoka River. What the shot doesn’t show is the steep slope down to the water that Lynn was laying on.

This wasn’t so bad.

IMG_20190319_133510524When taking another shot, Lynn was facing completely downhill with me executing a “death grip” hold of the waistband of her snow pants so she wouldn’t slide into the drink.

Another shot of the Muskoka River. I mentioned to Lynn that in warmer weather this would make a dandy spot for a quiet paddle along its still waters in a canoe.

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Which way now? All kidding though, the trails are marked very well. It would take so doing and effort to get lost.

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There are a few uphill portions. Like I mentioned previously, the BRMC is not that hilly and the hills tend to be relatively short.

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Just proves once more, how much snow has fallen this year in the Muskoka area. Yikes. I stepped off the trail at one point and sank up to my waist, however my feet had not reached the forest floor. I’m over six feet tall. That gives some idea of the snow depth. Hopefully, the melt will be slow and steady. If not, there will be a significant amount of flooding and potential damage that has occurred in previous years.

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This is a superior capture by Lynn. There are five distinct layers of colour in this shot. Fantastic!

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There were several information boards scattered throughout the trails, highlighting some aspects within the BRMC. This particular one provides some information about this large boulder referred to as a “glacial erratic.”

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A sign hopefully that spring is slowly inching forward.

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Been a tough winter for hydro poles evidently.

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One last shot of the Muskoka River as we were nearing the end of our time at the BRMC.

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When you come to a fork in the road – take it.

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Proof again that there is and was a lot of snow.

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With any amount of luck, soon this little stream will be flowing mightily, or as mightily as it can with the spring snowmelt run-off.

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Good and proper forest management techniques ensure a healthy forest for animals that dwell in it and for those who come and visit just for a short time.

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We spent a wonderful four hours, give or take, leisurely covering about 7 kilometres of the 16-kilometre trail system.

With that, we left the Bracebridge Resource Management Centre around 4:30 pm and headed north to Huntsville to grab a well-deserved coffee. I should note that when leaving the BRMC, you can only turn right onto Highway 11.

After snagging a coffee, we simply took our time heading home. A slow and quiet drive, giving us that time to relive in our minds as well as verbally, the refreshing and renewed afternoon spent hiking.

I find much joy and solace spending time in the outdoors. Significant research has been completed on the benefits, both physical and emotional, of hiking and spending even small amounts of time in the outdoors.

Here are but a few of the reasons:(from Ontario Parks  – Healthy Parks/Healthy People)

  • a simple walk in the woods can alleviate mental fatigue
  • it can combat stress while improving mental well-being
  • contact with nature lowers blood pressure; strengthens the immune system; helps to prevent disease
  • time spent in nature causes better-coping skills, including self-awareness; self-concept and a positively affected mood
  • a 2-hour walk in the wood is enough to improve sleep quality and mitigate sleep problems
  • the smell of fresh pine has been shown to lower depression and anxiety

A few last pictures as the sun was dipping below the horizon.

Hard to believe, but this was done by Lynn out the side window of the car, along Highway 400 near Port Severn.

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If you’re ever in the area, be sure to check out the Bracebridge Resource Management Centre trail system.

It is easily accessible from Highway 11 northbound and is just a few minutes outside the Town of Bracebridge. There is parking for a fair number of cars(guessing it might be able to hold 10 to 15 vehicles) and there are portable toilets at the trailhead, with several vault toilets located at one or two main intersection points on the trails. My grading of the trails would be easy to moderate in terms of difficulty.

If you had in the spring or summer, be sure to wear a bug net/hat or use an adequate insect repellent. I suspect like most of the Muskoka’s, biting insects here would be as much an issue as at other spots.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by and visit.

 

 

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —