Thoughts From The Wilderness – Paddle Your Own Canoe

Although posted this a couple of months ago, I’m often reminded that as individuals we are not “islands isolated in a sea of humanity.” In fact, the more life speeds and flashes by us, the concept of “two people paddling the canoe” seems more of a necessity than not.

We are interconnected with family, friends and the rest of the human race through billions of relationships. Some are big, many are not. Regardless, in a sea of heavy swells, “paddling your own canoe” can be a tough slug at best. Deadly at worst.

“Two people paddling the canoe” works better on a number of levels. We are meant to be in community. Don’t let others tell you different.

I do get the feeling what you’re about to read has a glittering opportunity to ring true in its meaning for many. And with some luck, it also has a brilliant chance to aggrieve and rile the “cliche-laden lifestyle” of just as many as well.

All in a thousand words or so. Pretty impressive!

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Source: Google Images

Recently in my blog feed, I came across the quote “paddle your own canoe” which was being used in one of many “quote of the day writing challenges.”

The quote itself is quite old to my understanding and comes from a poem written back in the 1850’s.

Nevertheless, the concept and phrase of “paddle your own canoe” as we’ve come to know it today can have a variety of interpretations:

  • to be the master of your own destiny
  • self-reliance and independence
  • not needing help from anyone
  • steer one’s own ship
  • act independently and decide your own fate
  • love many and trust fewer

I’m sure there are likely a host of other meanings of the phrase as well.

Realistically “paddle your own canoe”, which is a well-worn and overused cliche, does have a certain ring of truth to it. In our present environment of self-help guru’s and shelves upon shelves of books at your local “Chapters” store, all extolling the virtues of taking control of your own destiny, “paddle your own canoe” certainly carries a lot of weight and so it should it, but perhaps only to some limited extent.

And if nothing else, the concept of “paddle your own canoe” has thickly and richly lined the pocketbooks of many of the world’s primo “self-help and motivational guiding lighters.” 

But, I digress and likely shouldn’t head down that particular trail into the “barren lands of psycho-speak.”

We do, however, need to make our own decisions in life; chart our course(whatever that course may look like) and live with those decisions.

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Source: Google Images

But……

“Paddle your own canoe” does smack of the “I can do it all on my own” mentality. The “grab life by the balls; charge ahead at all costs; I’m a one-person army; I’ll head off into the storms of life by myself; I don’t need anyone else” mindset.

If looking at “paddle your own canoe” from its literal meaning of solo canoeing, there is great merit in getting into a canoe by yourself and paddling off into a calm and still watered misty morning in the wilds of northern Ontario.

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Source: Google Images

Although the benefits of “paddle your own canoe” on a wilderness canoe trip may differ between individuals, some of the more common themes might be:

  • go when you want to go; you don’t need to make it work with someone else’s schedule
  • you can make the trip as difficult or as easy as you want it to be
  • don’t have to match the trip to the fitness level of the weakest member
  • solitude; both in the wilderness and solitude of being by yourself
  • can make changes mid-trip and be flexible as to the destination
  • building self-confidence in yourself
  • to prove something to yourself

All of those are exceedingly positive and great reasons that someone may have to undertake a solo canoe trip.

However, as in life, there are as many negatives associated with solo canoe tripping as well:

  • if an injury occurs – no one to help you; you are on your own
  • it can be a lonely time
  • boredom can set in
  • much harder and more energy required to paddle solo
  • in windy weather, paddling solo is much more difficult and potentially dangerous
  • you have to do all camp chores
  • you carry the entire load over a portage

But, we’re talking about life and not necessarily a lesson on backcountry canoe tripping.

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Source: Google Images

There is much benefit in being your own person and charting your own course, but in life, we are not an island isolated in a sea of humanity. Our lives are meant to be lived in a community with others, wholely working together. Whether it be in a work or business environment or in the context of a family unit.

If you’re going through a difficult stretch, is it not a comfort to know you have those who love, supporting and encouraging you each challenging step along the way? I think so.

You see, “paddling your own canoe” doesn’t necessarily suggest that. It has a certain isolated tone to it.

Flipping the coin over though, having “two people paddling the canoe” has its own compelling worthiness. Both in the literal canoeing sense and as a way of life.

From a literal perspective, most of the themes I suggested for the solo traveller would also be present with a tandem effort. The biggest difference in “two people paddling the canoe” is that it eliminates many, if not most, of the potential negatives associated with a solo canoe trip.

In life, with “two people paddling the canoe” you can still set a course; still, chart a path to a destination you both want to arrive at. However, you get to do it with someone. Two people working in tandem will always make a burden less difficult. Sharing struggles and the triumphs of life and living with others and especially someone you love, to me is what life is all about.

In the past, I have gone on only one or two outdoor adventures without Lynn. The only reason I did so, was that Lynn’s back had been acting up during the spring a few years ago.

Did I enjoy going solo? I guess so, but not really.

In all honesty, we eventually went over the same routes at later dates. Why? Simple, so I could share with Lynn all the spectacular views, waterfalls and such I had seen months earlier.

The meaning contained within the phrase “paddle your own canoe” has merits for sure.

It is also good to remember that “paddle your own canoe” is simply a well-worn and often overused cliche. The Oxford dictionary defines cliche as, “a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought.”

My advice is simply this.

Give careful consideration and thought to the phrase “two people paddling the canoe.” It works better in the wilderness. And believe me, it works a whole lot better in life.

 

 

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Thoughts From The Wilderness – Checking What Gear You’re Actually In

One would think that going to Mr. Google and entering “gear” as a search query would provide at least one short, concise but yet descriptive definition about what “gears” are all about.

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Nope.

However, in order to spare us unwanted and unnecessary agony through spending the next six hours trying to summarize what “gears” do, we’ll just head on from here with the assumption that you have at least seen the gears on your bicycle or that your car has gears.

So, forget for the moment our bikes and cars and the internal operations of the transmission and drivetrain.

In our lives, however, what gear are you in? And secondly, do we need to shift gears.

Gear-shifting-tips-for-carFirst Check – Too Slow or Too Fast

As in our cars, the speed at which we may be careening down the highway of life is in direct relation to the gear we’re currently travelling in.

One question then to ask ourselves is, “how fast or slow is my life going?”

On one hand, there are many who feel that life is passing them by at an ever-increasing rate. Conversely, there are others who feel that their life is going so slow that it can be timed with a calendar.

There is still a third group that grows in size year by year, who are just on autopilot and cruising through life, not having any clue as to their speed or ultimately their destination.

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What Speed Then?

Every so often, it’s prudent to take a moment or two to check and confirm which gear our lives are in.

One important aspect to remember is that life is all about balance.

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Often life can be moving or feel as if it is moving as slow as a turtle crossing the road. Other times, it can be moving at the speed of light.

The fact is, each one of us goes through periods of both.

Nevertheless, regardless of the speed at which you’re travelling, it is a good idea to know first the speed and secondly the gear your life is in.

Gear Selection

As your life chugs down the highway of living, take some time to stop and ask yourself “what gear are you in?”

And as a word of warning, don’t be shocked if the gear you find yourself in is not the gear you assumed you were in.

  • Reverse  – you know your life is in reverse if each day is taking you further from your goals. Stop and try to identify things in your life that are causing you to move in the wrong direction. Perhaps they are bad or negative habits and behaviours. Regardless, if you’re not paying attention, you’ll keep backing up until you back into something.
  • 1st Gear – a great gear to start in, but you can’t drive far or very fast in first gear. It is the passion in your life that creates the energy and drive to move forward. At some point, you will need to shift to a higher gear.
  • 2nd Gear – is there something holding you back? Perhaps you are a bit timid. You need to get out of second gear. Work on deciding what you want to do; where you want to be. Make a bold decision. Create your own path.
  • 3rd Gear – things are moving, but are you keeping up. Are others passing you by? Does life still seem to be passing you by? Do you need to put more effort into where you are going?
  • 4th Gear– you’re doing great and keeping up on the journey, but are you driving with “cruise control” on. Even while driving in this gear, you can be coasting through life. Is the cruise control on? Take a look to ensure you are not simply floating from year to year.
  • 5th Gear – the reality is no can run at full speed all of the time. There are two opposite ends of the spectrum here. People who always run at “full speed” and on the other hand the ones “who never get there.” No one can run at full speed all the time. The “full speed” all the time group, eventually burns out. If you don’t slow down at times, life often finds a way of making you do it. With regards to the second group, they never reach their full potential, because they never truly gave it all they needed to.

Gear Up or Gear Down

Perhaps after reading this, you need to make a different gear selection or two.

Maybe things are going too slow, and you need to speed up a bit. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, so we need to get going faster to our ultimate destination.

Have things been going far too fast? Maybe it is time to slow down and savour life before life makes you slow down.

Does your life seem like it is in reverse? Are you getting further away from your dreams and goals? Now is the time to stop and shift into a gear that gets you moving forward again.

Today is the best day ever to check the gear you’re in and make any necessary adjustments to move you a little further towards all that you are meant to be.

Questions:

  • What gear is your life?

  • Do you need to make any adjustments?

 

Thanks for reading

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Thoughts From The Wilderness – “The Truth Is Out There”

Although originally posted two years ago in a now defunct “Play of The Week” theme, it is a helpful reminder that what is seen, is not always what is actually happening.

We all wear a mask to some extent to cover or hide our inner complexities, insecurities and issues we don’t what the world to see.

That we don’t want to see.

That smooth and silky exterior that is presented for the world to marvel at may simply be a slight change in shutter speed to hide the ferocity and uncontrollable torrent of issues a person’s existence may actually be.

What you actually see is likely not the truth.

The stark reality is we all wear a mask to some degree.

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The smoothness and milkiness of the water don’t correspond to the actuality of the environment. Like this picture, sometimes what we present to the world, in reality, isn’t what is truly happening in our lives.

This was a steep raging torrent of water that cascaded out of seemingly nothing at the base of a hill.

This picture was taken on the Bruce Trail located on the west side of the Beaver Valley, Ontario.

 

 

Thoughts From The Wilderness – “Only Half The Story”

How often do we only get “half the story?”

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Now, if you’re the parents of an adolescent teenager, getting only “half the story” is a concept I’m sure you’re exceedingly familiar with. If not, what parallel universe are you currently residing in??

Having been through “that stage,” I can only say and offer this a bit of encouragement.

It may get better as time moves on and the “young darlings” mature. On the other hand – not so much.

The “half the story” concept and teenagers tends to read and go something like this.

Teenagers – “Going to stay overnight at Mary’s”

You: “Okay – have fun. Will Mary’s parents be home?”

Teenagers – “Yup”

Next Day

You: How was the overnight at Mary’s? Anything exciting happen?”

Teenager: “No – not really”

Reality is…..

The “other half of the story” may have this ring to it.

  • Yes, Mary’s parent were home……
  • Until 5:00pm at which time they headed out to Mary’s aunt’s farm until the next day.
  • At 7:00pm, the kids from Mary’s and “the teenagers” class from the local high school started to show up for the party.
  • 11:00pm the police arrived due to a noise complaint from a neighbour

Parenting bliss is often described as “not knowing the other half of the story.”

So, perhaps parenting bliss isn’t that.

But more often than not, there is way more to the story then is presented in a paragraph or two of text.

Any Parenting 101 class/classes, need to have as a minimum these included as part of the curriculum:

  • “Reading Between The Lines”
  • “The Story They Give You Is Only Half Of It”
  • “Effective Questioning To Determine The Other Half Of The Story”

Unfortunately, even the most seasoned and effective Crown Prosecutors here in Canada concede defeat when questioning their own children along the lines of “did anything exciting happen?”

There is always “the other half of the story.”

Getting it from a teenager who is unwilling to give it up, is akin to trying to win the lottery.

Virtually impossible.

Alias, perhaps parenting bliss is “not knowing the other half of the story.”

The only wisdom in parenting I can impart is this.

There may be a day sometime in the distant or not too distant future, that your children will have to pick out the “retirement home” you’ll be heading to. Always best to build up the “brownie points” with them, long before that day arrives.

In other words, it’s best NOT to piss them off on a somewhat frequent basis, whether they are teenagers or even if they are in their mid-thirties, by trying to “figure out the other half of the story.” 

Remember, the “retirement home” day may come! Make it a good choice for yourself by building the “brownie points” NOW.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

…. and remember……..

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Thoughts From The Wilderness – It Is Always The Small Things

It is often the small and at times seemingly insignificant things that later on have the greatest impact or memories in our lives.

things-in-life-1Now, they say “bigger is better.” Which, when it comes to dessert, a bigger bowl of ice cream or a bigger slice of pie is certainly better. But, in life is “bigger is better” always better?

I have this unsettling feeling, that for many, the “bigger is better” syndrome is as addictive as any opioid found on the streets of our fair municipalities.

Unfortunately, we live in a world or even worse, we have created a world in which many are obsessed with the external bits in life as compared to the internal. That should hardly be an earth-shattering revelation to anyone.

The bigger house; the bigger check to pay for the bigger house; the bigger vacation; the bigger birthday celebration; the bigger Christmas blow-out. The list really is endless – the bigger this and the bigger that.

It is ever so easy to get caught up in the big life-changing moments that are affecting us and rationalize their impact on everything else that is happening around us.

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The reality, it is more often than not, the small things that have the greatest impact.

Why?

So, why do we remember the small things that happen to us or those things that we do, which seem to have the most impact on us?

Is it because they occur when we might least expect them to?

Most of us know or at least we should have a reasonable idea when Christmas occurs or when our birthdays roll around. And for the most part, there are certain expectations associated with both of them. Generally, some type of celebration and with any luck a big blow-out with presents, food and lots of fun.

Along with that, isn’t it true, that we live in a world which celebrates “big?”images

Acknowledgement and celebration seem to surround accomplishments that are considered significant and important. If that thing is true and this view permeates throughout society, it makes perfect sense that the small and insignificant things that happen all over the world and specifically in our lives get taken for granted. It doesn’t matter, whether we take them for granted or all the rest of humanity does.

Nevertheless, there is an unfortunate reality attached to the “big things.”

“Real life” doesn’t grind to a screeching halt, while we sit around on our bottoms waiting for a wheel-barrow full of self-serving accolades connected to “the big thing” we so graciously and humbly(in our own psyche), gifted to mankind to roll up the driveway. All the while, assuming that this momentous occasion will thus lead us to some nirvana-like existence of inner peace, joy and contentment.

Nope.

“Real life” and the universe chugs right along just fine, regardless of where we are or what we might be waiting for.

It is in “real life” that the small and often insignificant things happen which have the most dramatic impact on us and on others.

Truth

The truth is, when we’re so focussed and fixated on only the “big things”, we often miss the small things that occur when “real life” happens. Real life happens all around us twenty-four hours a day; seven days a week and fifty-two weeks a year. Each and every year we take a breath on this side of the grass.

The impact we have and the love that surrounds us is about much more than the big moments and celebrations – weddings, marriage proposals, engagement parties, birthdays, Valentine’s Day, anniversary celebrations, and the like.

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The majority of the time, love and its impact are in the small, insignificant, private moments between two people. Those moments that aren’t necessarily on display for all to see or invitations are given out to friends and family to attend.

People Remember the Small Things

Everyone knows what happened at Christmas and your birthday. They are those yearly big events that get celebrated with incredible gusto and pomp.

But what about all those small interactions that you encountered throughout the year?

Like when someone bought you coffee when you were down. Or when you reached out to a friend for a listening ear. When your best and closest friend took the time to go for a walk with you to work out a problem?

Which ones had the biggest impact?

The small cup of coffee, OR the fanfare of Christmas?

You better be thinking – the small cup of coffee.

How Then?

How do we begin to appreciate the small things that may have the biggest impact on our lives?

Where to begin?

As I sit here and mull this dilemma over, my brain keeps going to, ” is it possible in today’s world for people who don’t appreciate the small things to get to a place to appreciate the small things?”

The sad thing is, I can’t honestly answer that question.

My heart tells me, “sure they can!”

My mind says, “Nope!”

Is it, just this Sunday morning? Maybe, but my gut suggests it is “the nope answer.”

Perhaps it is more profound in the generation or two below me, that for many their world and existence has as its focus – themselves and them only.

Obviously, it isn’t fair to paint all with the same brush, but we have created a world in which “bigger is better; fantasy is the new reality.”

Is it the pursuit of some ever elusive dream of “bigger, better, shinier, faster?”

Have we all become duped through the unmitigated barrage of social media? Instagram shots of fantasy portrayed as the reality that can be yours?

Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer, and it hurts my head, even trying to put down reasons.

All I know, and what I think many of you know is simply this:

“it is the small and often insignificant things in life that at the end of the day will mean the most”

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Seems like a good place to end it.

 

 

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Thoughts From The Wilderness – The Well of Knowledge

The original title when I started was “The Wealth of Knowledge.”

But, after seeing this picture again, I got to thinking that knowledge or acquiring knowledge or wisdom can come from deep places and certainly from a tremendous amount of work, time and effort. In as much as these places could be deep, knowledge and getting it is often staring us right in the face.

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Back in September of 2018, Lynn and I adventured to a place called Webwood Falls, located on the Bruce Trail, south of Meaford, ON. On a small side-trail, there was a small abandoned garage and this pump, which I assume were originally part of the abandoned farm the side-trail passes through. Although the pump makes for a great photo opportunity, I didn’t think it would work at all.

But, much to my surprise after a few minutes of vigorously pumping the handle, I could hear water moving and churning deep down the well-pipe and low and behold, water started to flow.

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Source: Google Images

Knowledge and how we acquire it can arrive in our brains and be derived from an infinite number of places and ways. Often that process can be a challenge like grad school, or perhaps just from our day to day interactions.

I often think that knowledge, understanding, education or whatever words or phrases you want to insert here, is constantly there right in front of us; all the time; every day. Unfortunately, we as a species can be oblivious to that simple fact.

If our eyes are open and the mind is ready and fertile, the acquisition of knowledge, learning, education simply happens. The huge problem as I see it is often expressed in a few well known and often overused excuses. And they are nothing more than simple and poor excuses, even at the best of times. One of the most unfortunate aspects, is I hear these excuses or similar utterances from too often from the adults in my own questionable circle of friends, family and acquaintances.

  1. I’m too old to learn anything
  2. Too freaking lazy to get off my ass and even try to gain an ounce of knowledge on anything other than “how to continue to sit on my fat ass”
  3. I’m content where I am(the reality being that the world is passing you by at “warp speed – to quote Star Trek”)
  4. I have no time for knowledge…too busy with useless things I’ve convinced myself are important because Mr/Mrs. Facebook and other social media fanatics say they are
  5. …….and the list goes on and on……..

The world is a wonderful smorgasbord of experiences all lined up and ready for indulgence and consumption if we’re willing to queue up, fill our plates and savour even just one tiny and tasty morsel.

However, when we decide not to“belly up to the bar of knowledge”, we deprive ourselves of countless valuable nutrients. Often the absence of the “required daily intake of vitamins and nutrients” over an extended period of time, results in a slow and often painful, but entirely avoidable mental death. In as much as our physical body needs vitamins and nutrients to survive and grow, our mind, as well needs fuel to survive as well.

Whether we believe it or not,  our brains need to be fed. Fed with new experiences and opportunities, way beyond that which scrolling mindlessly on Facebook can provide.

A saying I think is attributable to myself is, “if we’re not moving forward, we’re not staying in the same place either; we’re actually moving and slipping backwards.”

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Knowledge doesn’t need to come or be acquired in a long forgotten and often terrifying classroom setting.

Nope.

All we need to do is be open and ready to “pump the handle of the well.” What we may see or think of as a well long gone dry, may actually be sitting over a deep reservoir of knowledge.

All we need to do is prime it; put in a bit of effort and then stand aside and watch as knowledge flows from its tap and surrounds us with new experiences; new opportunities; a new purpose.

As I said before, if our eyes are open and the mind is ready and fertile, the acquisition of knowledge, learning, education simply happens.

Just pump the handle a bit.

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Source: Google Images

What do you think?

Are your eyes wide open and ready?

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Thoughts From The Wilderness – You Are Valuable

Regardless of where you are right now or think you are at, you are most valuable. The value is there; right there in front of you and it is there for all to see.

The world right now needs you and all of the value you bring to it.

Living life, unfortunately, has never been easy. If you think it has, perhaps you may be simply fooling yourself or have had your head stuck in the sand like an ostrich or some unrealistic combination of both.

Life and all it entails is, for many, simply the sum of layer upon layer of negative and rough bouts of it throughout from the time they can remember and even before that.

Right at this very moment; RIGHT NOW we are the sum total of all the experiences both positive and negative we’ve had. The wicked element to this whole freaking deal is, the negative ones can have such a HUGE IMPACT on us. In fact, this negativity, which may not be a strong enough word, can overwhelm and diminish all of the positive and good elements in our lives. This impact can be so significant, it defines who and how we view ourselves today.

Each interaction; each negative word; negative consequence has a way of layering and hiding who we really are. All of those thin and often thick coatings eventually cover up the real us, to the point we don’t recognize who we are.

Don’t see that we even exist anymore.

On a recent trip to Algonquin Park, there were over three feet of snow covering much of this information sign. Now, I assume the sign wasn’t covered all in one massive dump of snow. My guess is it occurred over a series of snow falls. Some big; some smaller.

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Nevertheless, is the information and value of the sign hidden?

Yes, it may be hidden,

However, and a BIG HOWEVER, the information isn’t lost, nor has the sign lost its value.

The snow that covers it just needs to be removed.

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Even though you may feel……..

  • you have no value
  • that your purpose is lacking
  • your significance is gone
  • your importance is nothing in the world

You just need to remove and get rid of some of that snow which covers all of your value.

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You’re worth fighting for and your value(YES YOU) – the universe needs to see it.

—  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 noon time.

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 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. 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 aspect within the BRMC. This particular one provides some information about this large boulder referred to 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 snow melt 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  —

 

Thoughts From The Wilderness – Paddle Your Own Canoe

I do get the feeling what you’re about to read has a glittering opportunity to ring true in its meaning for many. And with some luck, it also has a brilliant chance to aggrieve and rile the “cliche-laden lifestyle” of just as many as well.

All in a thousand words or so. Pretty impressive!

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Source: Google Images

Recently in my blog feed, I came across the quote “paddle your own canoe” which was being used in one of many “quote of the day writing challenges.”

The quote itself is quite old to my understanding and comes from a poem written back in the 1850’s.

Nevertheless, the concept and phrase of “paddle your own canoe” as we’ve come to know it today can have a variety of interpretations:

  • to be the master of your own destiny
  • self-reliance and independence
  • not needing help from anyone
  • steer one’s own ship
  • act independently and decide your own fate
  • love many and trust fewer

I’m sure there are likely a host of other meanings of the phrase as well.

Realistically “paddle your own canoe”, which is a well-worn and overused cliche, does have a certain ring of truth to it. In our present environment of self-help guru’s and shelves upon shelves of books at your local “Chapters” store, all extolling the virtues of taking control of your own destiny, “paddle your own canoe” certainly carries a lot of weight and so it should it, but perhaps only to some limited extent.

And if nothing else, the concept of “paddle your own canoe” has thickly and richly lined the pocketbooks of many of the world’s primo “self-help and motivational guiding lighters.” 

But, I digress and likely shouldn’t head down that particular trail into the “barren lands of psycho-speak.”

We do, however, need to make our own decisions in life; chart our course(whatever that course may look like) and live with those decisions.

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Source: Google Images

But……

“Paddle your own canoe” does smack of the “I can do it all on my own” mentality. The “grab life by the balls; charge ahead at all costs; I’m a one-person army; I’ll head off into the storms of life by myself; I don’t need anyone else” mindset.

If looking at “paddle your own canoe” from its literal meaning of solo canoeing, there is great merit in getting into a canoe by yourself and paddling off into a calm and still watered misty morning in the wilds of northern Ontario.

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Source: Google Images

Although the benefits of “paddle your own canoe” on a wilderness canoe trip may differ between individuals, some of the more common themes might be:

  • go when you want to go; you don’t need to make it work with someone else’s schedule
  • you can make the trip as difficult or as easy as you want it to be
  • don’t have to match the trip to the fitness level of the weakest member
  • solitude; both in the wilderness and solitude of being by yourself
  • can make changes mid-trip and be flexible as to the destination
  • building self-confidence in yourself
  • to prove something to yourself

All of those are exceedingly positive and great reasons that someone may have to undertake a solo canoe trip.

However, as in life, there are as many negatives associated with solo canoe tripping as well:

  • if an injury occurs – no one to help you; you are on your own
  • it can be a lonely time
  • boredom can set in
  • much harder and more energy required to paddle solo
  • in windy weather, paddling solo is much more difficult and potentially dangerous
  • you have to do all camp chores
  • you carry the entire load over a portage

But, we’re talking about life and not necessarily a lesson on backcountry canoe tripping.

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Source: Google Images

There is much benefit in being your own person and charting your own course, but in life, we are not an island isolated in a sea of humanity. Our lives are meant to be lived in a community with others, wholely working together. Whether it be in a work or business environment or in the context of a family unit.

If you’re going through a difficult stretch, is it not a comfort to know you have those who love, supporting and encouraging you each challenging step along the way? I think so.

You see, “paddling your own canoe” doesn’t necessarily suggest that. It has a certain isolated tone to it.

Flipping the coin over though, having “two people paddling the canoe” has its own compelling worthiness. Both in the literal canoeing sense and as a way of life.

From a literal perspective, most of the themes I suggested for the solo traveller would also be present with a tandem effort. The biggest difference in “two people paddling the canoe” is that it eliminates many, if not most, of the potential negatives associated with a solo canoe trip.

In life, with “two people paddling the canoe” you can still set a course; still, chart a path to a destination you both want to arrive at. However, you get to do it with someone. Two people working in tandem will always make a burden less difficult. Sharing struggles and the triumphs of life and living with others and especially someone you love, to me is what life is all about.

In the past, I have gone on only one or two outdoor adventures without Lynn. The only reason I did so, was that Lynn’s back had been acting up during the spring a few years ago.

Did I enjoy going solo? I guess so, but not really.

In all honesty, we eventually went over the same routes at later dates. Why? Simple, so I could share with Lynn all the spectacular views, waterfalls and such I had seen months earlier.

The meaning contained within the phrase “paddle your own canoe” has merits for sure.

It is also good to remember that “paddle your own canoe” is simply a well-worn and often overused cliche. The Oxford dictionary defines cliche as, “a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought.”

My advice is simply this.

Give careful consideration and thought to the phrase “two people paddling the canoe.” It works better in the wilderness. And believe me, it works a whole lot better in life.

 

 

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Algonquin Park – March 2019(Part 1)

The forecast for the previous week had been sunshine and warm(er) temperatures for Tuesday, the 12th. When “the day” showed up, Mother Nature delivered in spades on her predictions.

Algonquin Park has been one of our “need to get to spots” for many years and needless to say for a variety of compelling reasons. For us, and I’m sure for many others, Algonquin Park is a magical place. A utopian world that resonates deep within the souls and psyche of all who visit. It draws us to the place that heals all ills and recharges the “batteries of our spirit” when our bodies and inner being seem drained and almost empty.

And so, Tuesday it was.

Loading the phone the night before with our favourite Prince Edward Island  podcasts and with coffee’s in hand and snacks in “The Ian”, off we charged out the door at 7:30am for the two and a half hour trip north to “place where the magic happens.”

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For those wondering what in hell “The Ian” is, this is “The Ian.”

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Katie resting her head and showing us her version of “whack a mole” with “The Ian”

The bag was given to us by our Charlottetown friend Ian when we connected with him back in 2017.

Now, it stands to reason, the most appropriate name for the bag other than “the cooler bag” would be obviously “The Ian.” It doesn’t take much reflection and thought to journey and arrive at the name, due in large part because Ian’s name is Ian.

And no, he was not insulted.

In fact, he thinks it’s exceedingly hilarious, all the while feeling honoured, albeit to a small degree to have his name gracing this timeless treasure and shameless advertising that connects our lives together even when separated by 1800 kilometres.

The day dawned slightly overcast from the “old homestead” and continued to be so as we headed across Highway 12 and north along Highway 11. However, as we inched closer to Algonquin and clicked off yet another kilometre, off in the distance the horizon kept revealing blue and bluer skies.

This was going to be a perfect day.

Arriving at the West Gate to the park around 9:45am, we were astounded to see how much SNOW there was on the ground. I knew that the Algonquin Highlands and the north Muskoka areas had received a significant amount of snow this winter, but this was something else.

It appeared they had even had a bit more fall overnight before we arrived.

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Here are my thoughts on all of this!

As I mentioned in the clip, our agenda(okay – we really didn’t have an agenda which is part of why we’re here) was to hike some of the winter accessible interpretative hiking trails. Our focus(again assuming we had a focus) was to get out on those we hadn’t been on for a while.

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So, with that in mind, we headed over to the Hemlock Bluff Trail.

This particular trail is a 3.5-kilometre loop that leads through a mixed forest to an impressive view of Jack Lake. Every interpretive trail in Algonquin discusses some element of the park, whether it is science, research, history or something else relevant to Algonquin. The Hemlock Bluff Trail guide booklet presents and discusses the results of research in Algonquin.

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And off we headed.

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Yes, LOTS OF SNOW!!

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A little balsam fir desperately trying to “keep its head” above the snow.

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As we moved along the trail through the forest it was a wonderful mixture of sunlight and warmth intermixed and sprinkling down through the trees creating a texture that soothed the mind, body and soul.

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Although there was upwards of three feet of accumulated snow on the ground, the trail was well packed down, making it very easy to hike along for the most part. It seemed that many who had hiked the trail in the past only went as far as the bottom of the steep slope that led to the top of the ridge which overlooked Jack Lake. Heading the hill and from that point onward the trail, although still well-packed down, had not seen as many feet as at the start.

Part of Jack Lake from the top of the trail.

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Jack Lake from the shoreline. Warm temperatures, and that beautiful blue sky. Looks like a would be a dandy spot to slowly paddle a canoe around the waters edge on a warm summers evening as the sun was slowly setting in the west.

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Watch where you step.

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After leaving the shoreline, the trail moves back up out of a small valley to start the trek back towards the parking area. No matter where one was in the forest there was snow, snow and more snow.

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Arriving back at the trail around 12:45pm, time for a couple of last pictures.

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Always one of “those” in the group.

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A great start to our day in Algonquin Park.

Lynn and I thought we may have been on this trail before, but if we were I’m sure it was pre-Sara, which means it would have been at least twenty-five or more years ago. No wonder nothing looked familiar.

Lynn wondered how long it has taken us to go the 3.5-kilometre loop. The trail guide suggests 2 hours in the summer to make it around its length. We managed to tackle it in one hour and forty-five minutes in winter conditions. As you can imagine, trucking along in the snow takes more effort and time as compared to say the summer or fall. So, when added to the time taken to stop to snap pictures and enjoy the serenity of the forest, we were exceedingly pleased with the effort we put out to finish in under the suggested time. Not that it really matters though.

Heading back to the car, one could feel the anxiety, tension and pressures of life, slowly slipping away, evaporated by the warm temperatures, sunshine and the special magic that Algonquin Park bestows on anyone who seeks the solitude.

The next part of our Algonquin adventure took us to the Mew Lake, the Highland Backpacking Trail and the Abandoned Railway Bike Trail. It is picture heavy, so we’ll break out trip into two separate posts.

Stayed tuned for Part 2, coming to you shortly.

 

 

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —