Thoughts From The Wilderness – Thanksgiving 2019(Canadian Style)

This is Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada

The time of trees changing colours, rural fall fairs, hikes in the woods, turkey dinner(s), pumpkin pie, over-eating and time spent with family and friends.

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However, like the name of the holiday suggests, it is “Thanksgiving.” In as much as it is a weekend filled with over-eating and getting together with family, it is also often simply seen as a long-weekend.

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Nevertheless, the name does suggest “what are we thankful for?”

Yesterday(Saturday), Lynn and I went to the rural fall fair(159th edition) in the village we raised our family in.

It was an afternoon of running into people we hadn’t seen in a very long time. Wandering through the local arena admiring the craft displays of handmade quilts(truly works of art), baking competitions(loaves of bread, buns, cookies, cakes), rows and rows of crafts, art, writing, vegetables and just about anything else you could name as part of the elementary school competition.

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Outside in the agricultural grounds had the livestock competitions, farm machinery displays, the midway and of course, the truck and tractor pulling event.

It brought back a ton of memories of our daughter Sara during those years. Entering things into every category possible in the school competition. As well, seeing the logo she designed for the local high school she attended. They had some sort of booth at the fair.

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As much as it was a wonderful afternoon, in another way it left me somewhat sad.

It was sad from the perspective, that Lynn and I had to drive back to an empty house.

No Sara at home to celebrate with, as she lives on the other side of Canada in Halifax.

No family dinner to either prepare for or to attend.

Lynn still has family, but it seems for one reason or other things were put off until next weekend.

I don’t have any family left. So, I do miss the family get-togethers.

Today(Sunday) is the big family day. Slow roasted turkey dinners, pumpkin pie and time spent with family. Traditionally, it is the first time kids return home from heading off to university or college in the fall.

I’m thankful for sure, but can’t help feeling a twinge of nostalgia and sadness all at the same time.

Thankful for the almost twenty years we spent in that little village. As Lynn said yesterday, it was the perfect spot to raise our daughter. And you know it was.

I often tell people that your kid could start in kindergarten and be essentially with the same kids in the same class, all through elementary school and certainly with most of them in the same classes during the high school years. Those are friendships forged in early, but that which lasts a lifetime.

But, I miss it though.

Miss being able to walk to church; to walk to Foodland; walk to “downtown.” I miss going into the local restaurant and simply finding an empty seat at a table, regardless of who else was sitting there. Hell, you knew everybody.

I miss it.

Hopefully, today we’ll be able to connect with Sara over the phone.

Last night they(Sara and Sarah(roommate)) had a musician play a “house concert” at their apartment as part of his cross Canada tour.Screen Shot 2019-10-13 at 6.04.17 AM

Next week, the two of them are off to California to see someone in concert(I have no idea who – I only know bands from the previous millennium) and as well a bit of vacation time in San Diego, Los Angeles and San Fransico.

So, this weekend regardless of it is “Thanksgiving” in your neck of the planet or not, be simply “thankful.”

Be thankful for:

  • family
  • friends
  • health
  • fall colours
  • just be thankful

Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving from Canada!thanks

 

 

Thoughts From The Wilderness – “Advice From A Trail”

Well, the “old vacation week” seems to be clicking along nicely. Great weather and not having to set the alarm clock for work appears to be doing the trick.

We spent the first Sunday afternoon hiking along the shores of Georgian Bay in the Town of Parry Sound north of us. Arriving back at the “old homestead” in the early evening, I felt a grand wave of satisfaction and thankfulness for those moments spent in nature.

Generally, I’m not a huge fan of the posters “Advice from a ……”, but in this case, it seems entirely appropriate.

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Of all the great universities and halls of higher thought and education, nature surely as a place of learning, discovery and enlightenment has to be ranked right up there with the Oxford’s, Yale’s and Dalhousie’s of the world.

We all desperately believe in my heart that when our children head off to college or university, their eyes and minds will be wide open to all the possibilities set before them. Heading down those hallowed hallways of the world’s most distinguished institutions of higher learning, ready, willing and eager to change not only themselves but the world as well.

Similarly, if our eyes, ears, and minds are open when we head on out into nature, the same endless possibilities of change and growth are present along a trail, as they would be at Cambridge University in England or McGill University in Montreal.

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A closed mind is a terrible thing.

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On the other hand, a mind that is open, fertile and ready to learn, experience, change and growth based on the experiences within the environment it finds itself is a great thing.

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So, with this in mind.

Advice From A Trail

Walk into beauty

Beauty is simply all around us.

All we need to do open our eyes and more importantly, our minds to look for it. Beauty is more often than not found in the simplest of objects. Sun shines through the branches of a tree; a small babbling brook that tumbles gently down through a forest; the sun setting over the horizon.

In your life, beauty is right in front of you.

Simply open your eyes and mind to observe the beauty that surrounds you.

A mind that is closed and narrow fails to see the wonder and value that envelopes them.

Stay on your path

Straying off the path or trail in the wilderness can have dire consequences. All of us have a path set before us to follow throughout our lives. Find your path, whatever that path may be and start the step by step hike down it.

Our journey through life, much like hiking all 1,200km of “The Great Divide Trail” through the Rocky Mountains in Alberta and British Columbia in Canada is a marathon, not a sprint.

You have a purpose, reason or passion that is ignited in your soul that defines your particular path in life.

Find out the reasons for your path and journey. Start by taking that first step; then another; and then another.

Find inspiration around every turn

The tag line, we use with “justabitfurther” for quite a while now is:

“get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself.”

The inspiration that we may find or seek for ourselves throughout our lives often shows up in the most unexpected places – like around every turn.

And it is often the smallest and seemingly most insignificant things, usually taken for granted, that we can find the greatest inspiration in.

The sun setting below the horizon and reflecting off the still waters of a northern lake on a warm summer evening. An unexpected bird, like a red cardinal sitting and singing in the branches of a tree located close to your living room window.

In life, as in nature, when our mind is open and ready, inspiration will be around every corner just waiting for us to grab hold of it and charge headlong into a future of endless possibilities.

An open mind provides fertile soil and environment for inspiration to take root, grow and flourish.

As we round that next corner, be ready for something extraordinary to inspire us into something wonderful.

Tread lightly

One critical element when spending time in nature in any realm, whether your local park or a wilderness or semi-wilderness location, is to leave it just as you found.

This is encompassed in the principles of LNT(Leave No Trace).

When hiking out on a trail, one goal of many out there would be at the end of the day, to have left behind, as little of an impact as possible.

Tread lightly.

The same concept or principle can be applied in our daily life.

More often than not, two distinct and completely opposite personality types end up in the same place with the same results.

One type might get there through being a bully, leaving a wake of destruction, broken promises and lives along the way.

The other personality type gets there by treading lightly through life, building relationships with others; holds no grudges and that by helping and standing with others they are helping themselves.

Simply ask yourself, “who would you like to work for”. The bully who practices a “scorched earth approach” or the “tread lightly person?”

To me the answer is obvious.

Pack life with good memories

When you’re hiking on a trail, whether it be a day hike or a multi-day backcountry trip, you need the correct equipment. You need to pack the “right stuff” for the type of trip you’re doing.

Having the correct equipment with you in a way helps to add to the overall enjoyment and memories created on the adventure.

Notice that the advice was “good memories”, not just simply memories.

At some basic level, the interpretation of our memories of events, life, people and such, is either good or bad. I suspect, however, that many of those memories might be considered neutral.

But, today we’re looking at packing life with “good memories” and those “good memories” being the ones we intentionally created.

Can’t “good memories” just happen?

Sure they can. In fact, they can happen quite often. Unfortunately, more often than not they don’t happen like that.

Why?

Days roll into each other; months rush by quicker than we think and before we realize it, yet another year or years have vanished from our life.

Good memories” are the ones that have an emotional impact on us. They enrich our lives; they bond us with other people.

How then? – Three Steps

Create – be intentional(think the weekend away as an example)

Celebrate – “party up” milestones when they occur(graduations, birthdays, anything!!)

Connect – do the above with those you love

You only have one hike along the trail we call life. Make sure at the end of it all, it was packed with the right equipment – good memories.

Every day has its ups and downs

When Lynn and I are out hiking, it seems that 99.9% of the trails we hike at some juncture along the way, go uphill for reasons that continue to baffle us. Often that “baffling uphill” is a steep and heart-pumping challenge.

After cresting the top, I always hope with any amount of luck, that shortly the heart-pumping uphill will be followed by a nice “not so heart-pumping” downhill.

Like hiking, life throws us ups and downs.

Some challenges will be relatively minor in nature, not heart-pumping at all. Other times, the ups and downs that get thrust across our path, will make “heart-pumping” seem like a walk in the park.

It goes without saying, the ups and downs that each of us experience in life are nothing new. This isn’t something the universe burped up two weeks ago to toss in your way.

So, expect them to happen.

Every morning when you roll out of bed and get pouring that first coffee, know that at some point during your following waking hours, life will toss a few ups and downs your way.

You can handle it.

You have to this point. Haven’t you?

Watch your step!

One of the cardinal rules in hiking is this.

If you don’t watch where your feet are going, sooner or later and usually sooner you’ll find yourself flat on your face. Something will catch one foot and then it’s a trip and stumble, followed by scraped knees and elbows and a hugely bruised ego.

When hiking on a trail in the bush, you need to pick your feet up and not shuffle and scuff along.

Generally speaking, life is exactly the same.

If your tendency is to tromp along through life, not watching where you step; not paying attention to either the direction you’re headed or where your “feet” are, there is a darn good chance at some you’ll trip and stumble.

Not just once, but perhaps on a frequency that is far more often than you might like.

How might we minimize then, our chances of the “proverbial trip and stumble” in life?

  • have a focus on the direction you’re headed
  • watch your step
  • plan your next foot placement(what happens next week; next year)

So, there you go.

A bit of advice on getting through life from nature.

There is plenty that we can learn about our “self” by simply spending time in nature.

When we go and approach the time we spend there with our minds wide open to what nature and has for us, you’ll be amazed at what happens.

Remember…

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Beaver Valley – Thanksgiving Fall Colour Road Trip

It is that time of year out here in the hinterlands of the colony called Canada. Fall leaf change colours and Thanksgiving.

In fact, the Thanksgiving long weekend is just a few days away.

Turkey slow roasting on the oven, pumpkin pie and a walk with family along a trail out in the woods is just about the norm here.

A blast from the past of October 2018.

So, if you haven’t figured it out as of yet, we enjoy getting out. And we definitely enjoy the Beaver Valley area of Ontario.

The area within the yellow oval generally defines the outline of the Beaver Valley.

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As I’ve mentioned before, it seems Mother Nature has had a bit of a “hate on” for us when we’ve been out leaf-peeping over the past week or so. Naturally, today wasn’t any different.

Leaving our house around 11:30 it wasn’t raining, nor was the sun shining brilliantly high in the noonday sky. For us, however, no rain means a win for our side!

To add to the excitement, a photographer friend of Lynn’s loaned her a couple of lenses to give a go at. Putting all the variables together of tolerable weather; plus fall colours; plus testing new lenses, everything seemed to be adding up for a road-tripping afternoon.

Our first stop is known as the Beaver Valley lookout on Grey County Road 13. The lookout, located in a small parking lot provides a stellar view east across the Beaver Valley towards the Beaver Valley Ski Club.

Old Mother Nature would appear is very fond of games. Mind games to be exact. Just as we were approaching the parking lot at the lookout, little droplets started to appear on the windshield of our car. Then more appeared. Then a deluge of droplets appeared.

Rain and lots of it.

Without boring you into a self-induced coma detailing the weather patterns of our afternoon, let’s just say the rain was off and on and at times the sun popped out from behind the clouds. In addition, the temperature dropped slightly, but just enough to create at times haze and fog throughout the valley.

Between it all, we took pictures at the aforementioned Beaver Valley Lookout, as well as from the top of the Beaver Valley Ski Club, the John Muir(Epping Lookout) and a variety of other spots along the way.

Perhaps it’s best to let Lynn’s pictures speak for themselves.

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Top of Beaver Valley Ski Club
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Beaver Valley Lookout

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From the Lookout exit looking north up the valley

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Katie and me in the background

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Old Baldy in the background. A popular rock climbing location in Ontario
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We helped this little fella to make sure he/she was off the road.
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Fall colours and a barn proudly showing the Canadian flag. If there was only a Mountie standing in the foreground.

We were just at the beginning of a very steep and pretty much one-lane gravel road that twists and turns up the east side of the valley. Lynn took a video on my phone of the trip up. I should try to post it.

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Coming down Scenic Caves Road from the top of Blue Mountain Ski resort in Collingwood.

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With all my complaining about the weather aside, it did turn out to be a really good afternoon. At times the sun did come out, even if it was just for a brief appearance.

As Lynn hadn’t done much shooting in the past with a wide-angle lens, I wasn’t sure how things would work out.

I think things worked out just fine.

I hope that your weekend, whether it was a long weekend or just a normal “two-dayer” was relaxing and time well spent.

Where we live in Ontario, the fall season is one of the best times to get out and experience all that nature has to offer. Even a drive out on the country to stroll through a village and have lunch at a quaint restaurant is far better than sitting at home watching football on a Sunday afternoon.

It’s even better if you can include a couple of trails along the way as well.

Remember: get outdoors; discover yourself; find inspiration

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Thoughts From The Wilderness – “Why Don’t Woodpecker Get Headaches”

I suspect this is a question few of us have had rattling around in the cavernous six inches(15 cm for our metric friends) between our ears.

Why don’t woodpeckers get headaches?

woodpecker

Realistically, I know that there is some sort of anatomical and science-based answer as to “the why.” 

Nevertheless, forget all science and ornithology hoo-ha for the moment.

The short answer to the question is simply this.

The universe; mother nature; or a power greater than us has decreed, “you are a woodpecker and this is your destiny to peck away at trees.”

Furthermore, at some point in the far distant past, woodpeckers had the “proverbial light come on” and realized they had been given all the tools to do the job correctly – “with no headaches.”

It is their destiny; their meaning in life; placed on this earth – to peck.

We need to be like a woodpecker.

We need to figure out ….

  • what our destiny is;
  • our meaning;
  • what is the thing we were meant to do here;
  • why we were placed on this earth

When we know the answers to those things, then we need to get “pecking” towards them.

At this point, we’ll have all the “required tools” to do the job correctly with no “headaches.”

Why?

Because that is the reason why we are to be here.

Woodpeckers are meant to peck.

What are you meant to do?

Thoughts From The Wilderness – Three Ways To Being Aware

For those tuning in thinking, this is yet another, albeit important post on being safe when you’re out about by yourself…..well sorry to disappoint.

Instead of safety and protection out in the big-bad world or precaution when outdoors and as important as those subjects are, this more focused on being “aware” or perhaps a wiser phrase might be “engaged” when spending time in nature.

However, before delving into the subject matter before us with any gusto, one question to ponder is, “why do I/we head out into the wilderness or even local parks for that matter?”

Even if only thinking about it for a second, there will be a multitude of weighty answers to that question, and all of them, if the question was answered truthfully, will be correct.

engageNevertheless, if one of the answers is to disengage from the stresses of life, then the other side of the equation suggests you’re disengaging from one thing in order to engage in and with this “new environment.”

Engagement runs parallel to being aware of your surroundings.

Not lost or unaware, but aware or engaged.

And as well, engagement with nature is not being in some zen-like trance wandering aimlessly around in the nether reaches of the northern Ontario boreal forest.

Although, if this is how you approach your time spent in the wilderness, well then more power to you. And good luck with that.get-lost-in-nature-and-you-will-find-yourself-quite-13154824

On a recent hiking adventure in Algonquin Park, while hiking along through a low lying bog area, I looked down off the path into the murky water and spied this snapping turtle as captured in this picture by Lynn.

Although, if talking precautions in the outdoors was the subject of today, an entirely appropriate safety message based on the picture might be “don’t dangle your fingers in the water to catch Mr./Mrs. Snapping Turtle’s attention. You may pull your hand out of the water with one less digit.”

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Looking at it, he/she is well camouflaged and just parked on the bottom of the stream. In fact, the snapping turtle looks like a flat rock on the stream bed, covered in algae and silt.

When I pointed the turtle out to Lynn, she immediately inquired, “how did you see that?”

For the life of me, I can’t remember what my response was, even if I had one. This all happened in early July, making more than three months ago. There is even the off-chance I may have made up some wild and glorious verbal diarrhea of an answer, which isn’t beyond the realm of possibility. When in doubt, make something up and mix some truth in with it. A strategy many politicians of all political stripes follow with great enthusiasm.

The reason why Mr./Mrs. Snapping Turtle and yours truly connected on at least a visual level was, “I was engaged” while out there. Engaged, even when slogging along with my main squeeze through a swampy and boggy area of Algonquin Park at the height of the blood-sucking and the “mind questioning – why am I out here? and mental wellness squashing”……northern Ontario bug season.

Engaged…what?

Remember, we all head out into nature for reasons that only one can truly answer for themself.

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My reasons can’t necessarily be your reasons for getting out. Nor can the reasons posted on a weekly basis from YouTuber “Buddy The Outdoors Person”, be your reasons or passion as well.

Your reasons will be your truth.

Now, before I explode on the reality, mission or “brand” perpetuated by “Buddy The Outdoors Person”(I just made the name up), here are three tips I follow to help be engaged with nature, either solo or with Lynn. As a side note, the outdoors is always better and I mean always a better time and experience when shared with someone.

Fair warning – these tips are in no way “the end all to be all “- but, nevertheless.

Being Engaged In Nature – Three Tips

Anticipate

Any time I head out, I always step out the door; fire up the car and leave the “old homestead” with a great level of anticipation.

Even before arriving at the destination and in fact during the planning or thinking about where we might be going, I have a grand level of anticipation.

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Source: Google Images

Anticipation for what?

Anticipate – that there will be something magnificent to be seen or experienced.

That the universe or “old Mother Nature” or even a power greater than us will lift up the wilderness stage curtain and reveal what we consider to be “what a great find” moment.

Right now, you may be thinking the same thing as me “what the fu@k” does that mean… and I even wrote it!! How messed up is that?

Alrighty then, before heading down some philosophical rabbit hole and spending way too much time, energy, brain cells and early morning coffee trying to answer the aforementioned “what the fu@k” does that mean.

Let’s try this.

How many of us when we’re out in the wilderness and miles from anywhere or even if we’re strolling through a local conservation area, like to see wildlife?

Of course, we all do!

I follow several “Algonquin Park” related groups on Facebook. Having followed these groups for some time now, one consistent question that gets asked is, “where are the best places in Algonquin to see…moose, bear, large animals etc.”

One can assume, these people are heading to Algonquin with the grand anticipation of seeing, for example, a moose along the side of Highway 60 in the springtime, grazing happily without a care in the world.

The anticipation of seeing a moose.

However, what happens if all the moose in Algonquin have a scheduled day off when you go?

You spend all day and not one friggin moose made an appearance. It seems like an outing like that could be considered and often is considered by many to have been a waste of a day in Algonquin.

It’s because the anticipation is wrongly focused.

The anticipation, in the “moose example”, is so narrowly centred, that only an Algonquin moose trying to hitch a ride with you and then regaling you with “tales and stories” from the bush all the while drinking a “double-double from Tim Hortons and chewing away at a Nutella smothered Beaver Tail” would be considered a “what a great find.”

Leaving the “old homestead” with the anticipation of “there will be something magnificent to be seen or experienced” provides a pretty wide canvas for the universe to surprise us. It might be a moose along Highway 60(that is always a bonus) or in our case a snapping turtle wallowing in the mud at the bottom of a stream as you trudge through some bug-infested low boggy area.

The idea here is it could be anything.

Think of this as waiting to unwrap a Christmas present from a very special person in your life. You know the present it will be great….you just don’t know how big, small or great it will be.

To anticipate “there will be something magnificent to be seen or experienced” is one catalyst or a great tip to help ensure you are engaged when out in nature.

Be in the moment

I’m not sure I know “what the fu@k” it even means.

Although, it is a well-used and perhaps now a worn-out phrase that gets tossed around without a whole lot of thought behind it’s meaning.

Which is perfect for this post.

With complete and utter disregard for any true meaning, the phrase may have, refer back to near the beginning of the post.

The assumption was that, if you’re heading out the door into nature to disengage from the stresses of life, then by default you’re disengaging from that in order to engage in this “new environment.”

Therefore, you’re being in the moment.

You can’t engage with the natural environment(be in the moment) without trying to consciously disengage from the stresses of life.

“Being in the moment or be in the moment” is a decision.

And “being there” is achieved and goes hand in hand with “anticipation.”

And I get it.

I get that “being in the moment”; that phrase has almost no meaning attached to it or is more of a “self-help” elixir that is mixed in large doses; prescribed feverishly by the “self-helper” establishment and consumed by the masses who are searching for some nebulous level of self-awareness enlightenment.

I get that.

Nevertheless,” being in the moment or be in the moment” is a decision.

And it’s hard to “be in the moment” and forget the cancer treatments a loved one is going through.; it’s hard to “be in the moment” when the world as you know and experience it seems to be crashing down around your ears.

But, if you close the door to your house that day, with the anticipation “there will be something magnificent to be seen or experienced” you’re well on your way to disengage from the stresses of life and to “be in the moment” with nature.

“Being in the moment or be in the moment” is a decision.

Unplug

Need I say more??

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Source: Google Images

Yes, we are a society sadly addicted to our little electronic devices.

And yes, I’ve heard every reason in the world why we MUST have those said electronic devices with us when in nature.

After 40 plus years or canoe tripping; hiking and other adventures, unfortunately, I’ve heard it all.

All 18,452 reasons why “I must have my cell phone; Ipad or other devices with me.”

So… take a picture…sure why not….capture the memory.

But, in order to engage with nature, unplug.

I wonder how Lynn and I survived in nature? In that time so long ago of …….pre-devices?

Addiction is bad………unplug.

 

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There you go.

It took some time to get here, but we somehow managed.

Three tips to help engage and be aware when you’re in nature.

  • anticipate – that something magnificent will be seen or experienced
  • be in the moment – make the decision
  • unplug – addiction is bad

 

Remember..

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Thoughts From The Wilderness – And The “Vacay” Begins

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It’s taken its sweet freaking time and seems like it simply shuffled along to get here – but my last week of vacation for the year started yesterday when I fired up my car around 4:05 pm and as they say, “Elvis has left the building.”

Okay, so I’m not Elvis. but I did leave the building and as luck would have it, no one was blocking or slowing me down as I left. Had there been, those folks would be spending the weekend scrubbing tire tracks off their left front cheek.

But, I digress.

Although Lynn and I are kind of fluid in our plans for the following ten days or so, we do have some hiking plans in place to one of our favourite locales – Algonquin Park. The fall is one of the best times to visit Algonquin if you can tolerate the crowds and I mean throngs of people who visit to experience the fall colours.

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The weekends are worse for sure. But, seeing as the reds and oranges of the maples have just peaked and in addition, we plan to visit during the week. Those two elements combined usually help in “crowd control.” ……..WTF????

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This year, Lynn and I(well….more me) set a goal to hike all the trails within Algonquin Park. At this stage, we’ve completed all except for three of them. Some of the hikes were in the depths of winter and snow-covered trails, while others were a bug-infested; blood-sucking tests of endurance and mental stability.

 

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This week we plan to at least hike two of them and then finish up the last one later in October or early November.

As usual, we’ll likely hit up our continued tackling of the Bruce Trail over in the Beaver Valley or up towards Owen Sound. In addition, a trip north along Highway 400 to Parry Sound for a fall jaunt along the North Shore Rugged Trail may be in the offing as well.

Nevertheless, after a couple of these sweet pints last night, where no planning for the week was accomplished…….

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….let the vacation begin, and ……….

Stay-Tuned-Header

 

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Thoughts From The Wilderness – Obey The Signs

Although from last October, the message is still a timeless one. Simply…….slow down and enjoy life.

You only have one life to live. From my understanding you only get chance at it.

Take time to slow down and relish those moments. There may not be a “yield sign” suggesting you slow down. It may be something much more subtle or perhaps a major events dealing with your health.

Regardless, carve out time for yourself; for your family; slow down with no clock or agenda and love those moments; cherish them.

From October 2018……

Last Sunday, Lynn and I spent five glorious hours hiking a rail-trail through a beautiful forest area close to where we live. As well, it was also the start of my week of holidays. Not that I’m bragging or anything.

To be honest I really wasn’t overjoyed in going. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy to go, but we had been on the trail many times in the past and I find it really isn’t challenging in terms of effort.

But, what we thought or more of what I thought might be an hour or so out there, turned out be five hours and 10 kilometres later, a soul refreshing afternoon. Scrambling down ravines to check out small tiny waterfalls and rapids; a side trip down a snowmobile trail and a slow and leisurely pace, for the most part, created and added up to an afternoon that was just needed when needed.

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Although the sign is meant as a reminder for snowmobiler’s in the winter, there is much wisdom in the advice and direction the sign provides.

However, and a big, however, is…..only if we apply it in our lives.

For most of us, our days can be a whirlwind of work, home, family, and all the responsibilities that go along with each of them. It all leaves little time during the course of the week for anything other than the above.

We need often, if not weekly or even daily to carve time out for ourselves. To get away from responsibility if only for an afternoon; a few hours; a few minutes.

A hike in the woods; a paddle on the still waters of a northern lake. It doesn’t matter. Reading a book while sipping away on a hot cup of tea on a wintery Sunday afternoon sounds good as well.

The key is slow down and enjoy it. Don’t make “your time”; that time in the woods, paddling on that pond or reading that book just something else to “clock watch” and another activity to check off your already long list of things to finish by Sunday night.

Doing that sort of defeats the purpose of ……..

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Try..

  • relish the time on the hike or whatever you’re doing
  • breathe in the air
  • close your eyes
  • be taken away
  • become one with where you are
  • put your watch away
  • be ready to go home when you’re ready
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Source: Google Images

We all know that life already careens along at lightspeed.

No reason for you to add to it.

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Source: Google Images

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

Thoughts From the Wilderness – Change Can Be Beautiful

As the last days of September slip by for another year, fall is in full swing here in Canada. The mornings are cooler, often making us run back inside to grab a sweater before heading out the door. As with the coming of fall and the cooler temperatures are the changing of the leaves. The sugar maples have are turning brilliant shades of red and orange, soon to be followed by the yellows of the poplars and birches.

In Canada, as I’m sure in other spots around the globe, fall gives us one of the most dramatic, yet awe inspiring visual displays of change. It heralds the end of one season as the preamble to the cold and often harshness of a Canadian winter.

Change is not bad though. In fact, change can be a good thing; a great thing even!

Although, change often needs to happen, and change in itself can be frightful and scary at times.

When we see change on the horizon, more often than not, we evoke our primal “flight response” and head for the hills.

But, change can be beautiful.

Just go outside in the fall and marvel at what nature has on display.

From October 2018…….

A few days ago, I happened to see a sign on the side of the road that said, “Fall Is Nature’s Reminder That Change Is Beautiful.”

It’s a simple, yet profound statement if you think about it for a minute.

Sort of wish I had taken a picture of it. The three pictures I did include are but a small sample of the fall season Lynn has captured over the past two years.

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Not sure why change can be so difficult for us. Most of it stems I think from the sense that change is fraught with much unknown and without us “knowing all” or “having all our ducks lined up in a row” we often refrain from taking risks.

One aspect of life that is the same for all of us, is there are always risks associated with change.

We focus on the negatives associated with change, thus we tremble at the thought of embracing any good that might come out of it.

Change is not a bad word and change is not always bad.

Change Can Be Beautiful

The reality is, change can be the first step that brings something new and exceedingly positive into our lives. Yes, taking that first step can be a huge hurdle and challenge to overcome, but the results can be so very sweet.

New crops don’t appear in the fields until the old ones are harvested; winter doesn’t end until the season changes to spring; reds, oranges and yellows don’t come to the trees until the leaves change colour.

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Change can be beautiful.

For change to happen, stuff needs to get left behind. One thing ends, but something new begins. We leave part of our past to make a change for new and exciting.

If we think about it for a moment, trees and leaves changing colour are really the last moments of their season. One chapter of the tree’s life is ending, but that’s necessary for there to be a new season; a springtime later on.

When one part of our life ends, it can seem strange or uncomfortable. But, it doesn’t have to be. There is beauty in change; in learning a valuable lesson; opening a new chapter in our life. When the leaves turn colour and eventually fall to the ground, we know that within a very short period of time there will be new life and growth.

And much as in the life cycle of a tree, things need to fall away and change in our own world for new growth to happen.

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To quote a well-worn phrase, “fall is a season of turning over a new leaf.”

The fall and leaf changes are a super example that change can be beautiful. Like most of the posts from “Thoughts From the Wilderness”, we can learn so much from nature and the outdoors. Many of the answers we desire are right there in front of us if we simply take the time and effort to look for them.

Change is one of the many things that really what makes nature a beautiful sight to behold.

The same can be for us.

Change can be beautiful.

autumn
Source: Google Images

In finishing, is something coming to a close in your life right now?; something you need to let go of?  Remember, the end of one chapter means the start of a new chapter. It certainly doesn’t mean the end of the book.

What the chapter is or how it evolves is up to you though.

Changes can be and usually are uncomfortable, but new growth and changes are inevitable.

But like the fall season, there is beauty in change.

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Source: Google Images

Thanks for reading.

Thoughts From the Wilderness – Finding Your Way in Life

Often as we cruise along in life, there are times when we may need to make a course correction. The correction may be minor in nature or it may be a major change in lines of a new career for example.

Regardless of the change magnitude, having those along with us who have our back so to speak and can help support us as we navigate through these times can and will be of the upmost importance.

But on a cautionary note, there will be plenty of folks who are willing to “give their two-cents” as what you should do or not do. Be wary though. Often they’re giving “advice” only in terms of hearing themselves speak.

From October 2018…..

My life is going in the wrong direction!

direction
Source: Google Images

Getting Direction

Finding our way or getting direction in which way to go in life or even in making a huge life decision can be challenging at best. Tackling all of this on our own presents a whole new set of issues and trials to deal with. Ever try playing a team sport all by yourself? If you’re the only person on the defensive side of the ball, it’s impossible I would think to keep the offensive team from scoring – A LOT!

That’s why they call it a team sport. A group of people supporting each other to create a positive result.

Getting Support

We all need people around us and those people need to be on our side.

Having a support network around you, even it if it just one person who has your back may be all you need to succeed.

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If you’ve taken a day or even just a few short hours to do some hiking on the Bruce Trail in Ontario, you would see a fair bunch of these along the way. In fact, most of the trail systems we’ve been on use some version of this to indicate the direction to head in.

Every so often you can get multiple indications of where you are and which way to go. Really?……….now, that looks confusing…….?

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Which way to go?

For the most part, the Bruce Trail is pretty easy to follow, although lately with fall and the leaves coming off the trees, the trail does tend to get covered and unrecognizable.

At those times the trail indicators sure do come in handy.

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Much like hiking along the Bruce Trail, don’t we all need indicators of some sort in our lives that help us to see or to tell us……………. “hey you’re headed in the right direction” or “man, the direction you’re heading right now is not good…….time for a change don’t ya think?”

Isn’t it the people in our lives that help us the most?

It might be our spouse; maybe it’s a real close lifelong friend; a brother or sister; maybe our parents who come along and help give us some direction or provide some clarity when we need it.

When we’re out along the Bruce Trail as an example and we see those symbols along the way, we can be pretty sure they’re correct and guiding us in the right direction.

Why?  Because they were placed by people who know that section of the trail intimately.

We all need people who can help us; give direction when needed, or just to encourage us by telling us we’re on the right road. But, those people need to know us; where we are and where we want to go. In other words, they need to know us really well. And I mean REALLY WELL.

My experience over far too many decades is that there are scores of people who want to give us direction; all too eager to try and help us, or stop us and get us pointed in another direction.

Here’s the rub though…………problem is……………I’ve kind of felt they don’t really know what they’re talking about and they certainly don’t have my best interests at heart.

Sounds cyclical, but it’s true.

But, if you have just a one or two people who you can really trust; that know you intimately and you truly know they have YOUR best interests at the forefront….then you’re on the right track.

Finding the right direction at any time whether it be in life or in the wilderness is a rewarding challenge that can involve a considerable amount of trial and error. To stack the odds in your favour, having supportive people around you certainly ups your chances for a positive outcome.

One Tip:

Remember, that talk is cheap.

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Source: Google Images

Correct Support

Focus and get support from people based on what they do, not on what they say. If they constantly go on about having your best interests at heart but are forever trying to force their opinions or their way of life on you or keep yapping on about why you can’t do what you want to do – really that is not being supportive.

That’s not what you need.

Surround yourself with people or even if it is just one person who will respect who you are, but still be there when you need them.

Just like those directional markers along the Bruce Trail, there are those times we need someone to help give us direction; to let us know we’re on the right path; maybe to help steer us to the better path.

In fact, I think you’d be in a pretty good spot, even if you had only one person.

Yup, we all just at least one person like that in our lives.

support
Source: Google Images

Thanks for reading.

Thoughts From The Wilderness – Three Tips Towards Some Calmness In The Midst Of Chaos

Often life can swirl into a seething cauldron of chaos and mayhem. Many times it all occurs within a split second, it seems.

Realistically though, this “seething cauldron” that we can find ourselves spinning wildly out of control in, is usually a slow build. A slow build in that either we know it is happening and choose to do nothing about it or in retrospect, we realize that it was building up ever so slowly over time.

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Source: Google Images

Regardless of how we end up there, the point is here we are in the vortex of our life’s tornado.

And when we’re in the insane midst of it, it can feel like there is no escape. Much like a bad dream, we have trouble waking up from. Our judgement becomes impaired; we feel this slow slide into the darker side of mental wellness; the walls of living keep pressing closer and closer, choking what little breath we have left out of us. It is not a fun feeling or a pleasant place to dwell in for any length of time.

Living in the midst of chaos for an extended period can take its toll on us and those around us.

It is both physically and mentally exhausting.

The sadness of the entire situation is that chaos and all that it entails can ultimately evolve into becoming our new reality; our new normal. We wake up(thankfully from the bad dream) to discover that this is what our life has become. Never a moment of peace; always putting out fires; always on edge.

Chaos and its minions can often take us to a place where either our mind, our body or both of them together scream NO MORE.

So, how do we create calmness in the midst of chaos? How do we either remove ourselves out of this swirling cauldron we’re spinning in? Or at least lessen the swirling mass from hurricane status to that of a tropical storm?

stormy water
Source: Google Images

Like in this picture that Lynn recently snapped when we stopped at the harbour on Georgian Bay in Meaford, ON, how do we get create calmness when chaos surrounds us?

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Three Tips Towards Creating Calmness

  •  Recognize

Often in the centre of the chaos surrounding us, all we can manage to do is simply at times keep our head above the churning seas. However, at the same time, we’re also keenly aware that we wish this period of our life was over and done with. That there would be a season of calmness to float around in.

So, the chaos being over can’t come soon enough.

When our lives are spinning out of control and I mean seriously out of control, if we can recognize that it is happening and be honest with ourselves that we’re not in a good place, it provides a platform at least to manage the “chaos” and “out of controllness” from completely knocking us on our butt.

If we don’t know what is happening to us, there is a good chance that someone does and points out the direction we may be heading. Always prudent to at least pay attention if someone is telling you you are on a collision course.

Regardless of whether we make the connection or someone points us down that path, try to recognize what is happening; be honest and truthful that we need to do something.

  • Be Intentional

Once we recognize and acknowledge the chaos for what it is and what it is doing to our own mental and physical wellness, be intentional with a plan.

It is one thing to say, “I need to get out of this chaos, if only for a day.” It is something altogether different when “we actually do get of the chaos for a day.”

Saying and doing are two entirely different things.

What we conclude to be intentional about implementing to get out of the chaos depends on us and the situation for the most part. It could be a complex and difficult solution and decision. Or on the other hand, it could be as simple as saying, “I’m forgetting everything and leaving for a weekend away.”

Often removing ourselves from the chaos for a day or weekend can have a huge impact and be of great benefit. Getting away for a weekend at a cabin or something similar and spending time in nature can help us to get clarity about what we may need to do. If nothing else, getting away from it it can provide a welcome respite from whatever is blowing around us.

Regardless of major or minor, saying you’re going to do something about it and actually doing something can be as different as night and day.

Be intentional – “don’t say you will…….just do”

  • Unplug

Regardless of whether life right now is in the midst of chaos and feels like Hurricane Dorian is catapulting your lawn furniture down the street or things are sailing along nice and smooth, unplugging from social media never is a bad thing.

As much as social media has its good points, on the other side of the scale it can be equally as bad or even worse.

Getting away from the craziness and chaos that surrounds us for a time, can involve getting away from that sucking downward vortex of Facebook posts and notifications; the constant checking of your Twitter feed and mindlessly scrolling through the latest fabricated images on Instagram. The constant reminders that your life could be better(if you were only like so and so in this image); that the world is only to “hell in a handbasket”; and the never-ending posts of your first cousin’s “perfect children.”  

Often it is too easy to get sucked back into the “mind-numbing and soul-crushing” reality of social media. I get it if you use FB messenger video chat to connect with your grandchildren. But, that’s not what this is about here.

It’s about getting away and out of the battle for a bit. And often unplugging from the fakeness and chaos that can abound on social media can play a huge part in calming the storm.

Creating calmness in the midst of chaos has likely plagued man since the dawn of time.

Solutions to creating calmness are never easy and often can be complex and require us to make major decisions.

On the other end of the spectrum, it can be as simply as a weekend away with your honey.

But, if we can:

  • recognize and be truthful about our situation;
  • be intentional in doing something;
  • unplug and give our mind and soul a break

We may find a solution that slows or stops the chaos. If all we achieve is a chance at peace and solitude to recharge the batteries in order to continue the fight. Perhaps that is a win for us as well.

Question?

What do you do to create calmness in the midst of chaos?

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Source: Google Images

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —