Thoughts From The Wilderness – so much love……means so much heartache – Remembering Katie

It’s hard to believe that it has been almost four months since we lost Katie to bladder cancer on February 23 of this year.

_dsc1262-version-2

Our plan after Katie’s passing was to do a kind of memorial/tribute blog post and as well, create a video of the highlights of her life with us. Unfortunately, like many well-thought ideas, time or lack thereof and life seemed to get in the way.

Notwithstanding that, Lynn actually started the process not long after losing Katie, by going through literally thousands of pictures and video clips of her that we had taken over the years. Lynn spent weeks going through them all; categorizing them into the years 2011 to 2019

Although it was a ton of work, it was well worth the effort because we now have an extensive video and picture library of Katie’s life with us.

Once Lynn finished all of that, I had her pick out the photos and video clips that were the most significant to us, in order to create the tribute video. Even that exercise resulted in several hundred pictures.  Culling the pics was not an easy task!

Nevertheless, all was apparently going well until I started to actually work on the video and blog post.

They say “time heals all wounds.” Not so much.

Apparently, not enough time had passed for me. I would get started and then the tears would flow uncontrollably.

The reality of why our memorial/tribute never came to life until this point, was simply because it still hurt it too much.

We knew we wanted to do it, but we needed the right incentive, other than simply saying we were going to do it.  And looking back, we needed some time to heal.

Lynn came up with the brilliant idea, that we should have the blog post and memory video of Katie done and ready to go “live” on June 15.

Why June 15?

June 15 would have been Katie’s 15th birthday.

Given all that, her birthday seems like a fitting time to “hit publish” and share our beloved Katie and all that she meant to us with you.

The following is our Memories of Katie video tribute. It does run just under 20 minutes, but it is full of pictures and video clips from all her years with us.  (If you continue reading, don’t forget to come back and watch the video.)

Remembering Katie….

Screen Shot 2019-06-09 at 6.48.25 AM

Lynn posted the above status on her Facebook feed the night before we took Katie to help her cross over the Rainbow Bridge. It makes the most appropriate title for this post because without heartache one can’t have love.

The two go hand in hand.

When we love unconditionally, deeply and passionately, whether it be a person or in this case, a pet, at some point, there has to be heartache. But, that’s not a bad thing. It just is.

The stark reality is, you can’t have one without the other.

There isn’t a day that slips by, that Lynn or I don’t think about her or wish she was still with us.

Nevertheless, we have sooo many wonderful memories of her. Although like life, in general, memories and times seem to flow and blend together, however, there are always those special memories that stand out for whatever reason.

For anyone who has ever had pets, you quickly realize that they become a huge part of the family; an integral part of the family. The unconditional love they give, and the love they receive from us, can make their passing so difficult.

IMG_1370

Over the past several days, Lynn wrote a pretty extensive write-up of Katie, more to just get many of the key parts of her time with us down on paper.

So, having said that, much of what Lynn wrote is what follows:

Katie came to us in March 2011 (6 1/2 years old)… she was a stubby-legged blob just waiting to bloom. 

The reason I say that is because she was 25lbs. When we first took her to our vet, she said, “ahhh – you know your dog is grossly obese?” yup, we knew… lol

Our first walks were gruelling, to say the least.  She barked at EVERY human and EVERY animal she saw… that was annoying! lol… but she eventually stopped doing that.

At first, she would walk five steps and sit down. Little did she know she had met her match in stubbornness!  Those first walks around the block were not quick. Over time though they paid off, as we got her down to less than 12lbs.  She lost over half her body weight!!

She not only changed physically during her years with us, but her demeanour also changed. 

DSC_0128-Edit

She was never the type of dog who would run up to a stranger wagging her tail and begging to be petted, but I could at least stop and talk to people on our walks after a while.  She was perfectly fine until someone looked directly at her and started talking… LOL… then she would bark.  haha!

She must have been watching the hours and hours of Cesar Milan videos with me (I had never had a dog before… so I wanted to learn!)… “no touch, no talk, no eye contact” (Cesar fans will understand that)  No, she warmed up to people on her own terms.  

She loved my friend Cherry though, which was great because she was our go-to person when we needed someone to come to the house and take care of her when we were away.

DSC_0027

She wasn’t the greatest with other dogs, particularly large dogs, but she did like our next door neighbour’s dog. It was fun watching her play, though it never lasted too long as our neighbour’s dog was a much younger pup with loads of energy… and sometimes Katie would just get tired and sit down and watch her friend run around in circles. HAHA.

DSC_1113-Edit

Katie went with us everywhere (unless we were going on a long hike, where those little legs just couldn’t keep up).  

IMG_7145

She always wanted to go with us and she had her little ways of letting us know just how annoyed she was when we left her behind.  

We knew she was particularly upset with us when she took the tea towel from the oven door.  There were different levels to her annoyance with having been left behind. She always took Glen’s slippers and brought them to her bed, but the tea towel was her way of showing her highest displeasure.  I got to the point where I could tell if she was going to be really ticked.. so I moved the towel where she couldn’t get it. LOL. 

DSC_0363

She always wanted to be with us.  She loved car rides.  I remember one time going through a drive-thru at McDonald’s with Sara… and Katie was just in top whining “give me a cookie” form.  She was so bad we couldn’t hear the person on the speaker.  Sara and I were cracking up… it was so funny!!!

And it was quite funny when she and Glen went to the dump, she figured it was a guy in a booth… so there should be food involved. LOL.  

One of the funniest things happened when we were driving out east.  There were coolers etc. packed in the back, along with a spot for Katie. We have a soft-sided cooler and it had gotten wedged in a way that she could almost get on top of it, but she couldn’t quite make it. 

IMG_20171015_094827335

I looked back and it was like a live version of the game “whack-a-mole”… it was beyond hilarious.  She was popping up and down trying to see to the front… I guess you had to be there, but truly it was hilarious.  

I got to know Katie so well, I knew what her different barks meant.  She had a bark for when our neighbour was coming or going, she had a bark for squirrels, she had a bark for when she wanted back inside. I also knew when we were on a walk when mother nature was calling her. Oh… she didn’t go willy nilly… she went when I told her she could go.  Learning to walk a dog properly is a strong bonding tool, as well as lets them know who’s in charge.  I established that right from the beginning.

When at home, she was a pooch who liked routine.  She and Glen her their routine in the morning (way before I got up), and she and I had our nighttime routines.  Those usually involved coming out for a midnight snack… lol.

Of the many things she loved to do, she loved rolling her treat ball!  DSC_0020We bought the ball as a way of giving her some of her food in the winter when we couldn’t get out for walks. After all, we worked so hard to get the weight off… we didn’t want to lose momentum over the winter.  We saved some food from her breakfast and dinner meals just to put in the ball.  It didn’t take her long to figure out what this round orange sphere was for. lol.  She sometimes would get the ball and drop it our at our feet, and if we didn’t put anything in it right away… she persisted!  She would pick it up and drop it at someone else’s feet.  Of course, she knew who the weak link was…. Glen!  He just couldn’t refuse her.  Everyone seems to think I spoiled her… but I was the strict one.  Oh, she gots lots of love… no doubt about it, but I didn’t give in to her every desire.  Admittedly it was hard sometimes… she was so darn cute!!!

I guess the fact that she had beds everywhere in the house may have appeared like she was spoiled. lol.  But believe it or not, they all served a different purpose!

One event that Katie I’m sure would have loved to have avoided was when we went camping in the interior of Algonquin.  We rented a lifejacket for her, which of course she hated lol.  IMG_20170803_141436298On our way to the campsite, we had to stop… as it just poured and in the distance, we saw lightning! (yikes!)  We paddled up to the shore and Katie and I went to find a bit of shelter by a cottage.  Poor Glen had to stay with the canoe so it wouldn’t float away.  It was a bad scene!

But the absolute worst was when we were coming back.  In the middle of the lake, paddling as quickly as we could… torrential downpour and we could hear thunder in the distance.

Poor Katie tried getting under my seat, which of course wouldn’t do anything… she was not a fan of getting wet and we all got soaked!!

We survived, but found out later that a tornado touched down very close to the spot we were at… and it happened just a short time after we got back and loaded our car to head home.  That was a very eventful trip.IMG_20170804_141251203It’s no wonder whenever it rained I had to force her outside to go to the bathroom. lolIMG_20150809_164537430

A few thoughts from myself…….

In life, we all react to situations differently and in our own ways; whether they be good or bad. It is much the same when a beloved pet leaves us. We react or mourn in ways that are unique to us as individuals._DSC0894

In a soothing, yet difficult walk, the process of compiling and working on a memorial or memory video of our Katie, plus this post has been a cathartic exercise. Healing, but not healing in the same breath. Always thinking and remembering her.

Part of the healing process for myself was this poem that I wrote shortly after Katie’s passing.

We Needed Each Other

She came to us quietly and reserved

Not knowing what was in store

Four legs and a stomach that dragged

She needed us; we needed her

 

 

A life before us; now a life with us

New purpose sparkled in her eyes

Stop and start that first walk went

She needed us; we needed her

 

Settling in like an old comfy sweater

A new beginning unfolded before her

Joy she brought; joy she received

She needed us; we needed her

 

The jingle of car keys raised her head

Could an adventure be on the horizon

Desire to be with us was ever there

She needed us; we needed her

 

The years ticked by hour by hour

Four beds in the house; which one to take

The sweet soft click of her nails on the floor

She needed us; we needed her

 

The years went by so very fast

Special moments stand out

Like stars blazing in the night sky

She needed us; we needed her

 

Cancer came knocking ever so quietly

Fours months more we had her

Each second was precious; each minute divine

She needed us; we needed her

 

Sickness ravaged her tiny body

Her time with us passed

It was unrelenting love from her

She needed us; we still miss her

 

Turning a page in the story, but not closing the book.

They say or someone far more astute than me said, “time heals all wounds.”

Hopefully, that is true.

At least for me, I hope it is.

Lynn and Katie spent most of their time together.  With the exceptions of when we, or she, was away… which wasn’t a lot.  I would say that out of all the years she was with us, there would be no more than about thirty days that the two of them weren’t together.

So, as one can well imagine, they grew to know each other very, very well.

Reflecting back, I think the two of them were destined to be together. I believe Lynn needed Katie, and Katie needed Lynn, to help her become all that she as a dog was meant to be

Lynn worked and spent so much time with Katie, that Katie’s personality changed from the time she first came to us. Because of Lynn, Katie grew more confident as a member of our family in who she was and where she fit into the whole scheme of things.

Katie was quirky, funny, feisty, loving, caring and serious, all wrapped up in a tiny 12-pound body.  She definitely in many respects marched to her own drummer.

She brought us so much joy!!

Final thoughts….

In all honesty, each moment with Katie was special… as they should be.

That’s one of the many reasons for a pet to become a member of your family. To create special moments that are etched deep in your memory; deep into your soul.

We desperately wanted Katie to have her remaining time with us as fulfilling as possible given her diagnosis.

As such, part of her routine prior to her diagnosis was to come with us on adventures that were within her capabilities.

However, in her last couple of months, she was weakened and tired easily. As well, she also got very chilled and cold quickly.

We devised what we termed “The Bag” in which I could carry her. We would gently get Katie settled in it and wrap her in a warm blanket and off we’d go. For the most part, she was content riding along in “the bag” and very happy to be able to get out with us.

 

Using “The Bag”, she made it out with us on three separate adventures:

  • “Blumination” – the outdoor Christmas light extravaganza at Blue Mountain Village just prior to Christmas
  • New Years Day “First Hike” along the Bruce Trail in the Beaver Valley
  • finally – a short trip to Indian Falls outside Owen Sound

There hasn’t been a day go by since she left us that Lynn or myself, don’t think of her and immediately have our emotions get ramped up a bit.

That’s okay though. because with so much love, comes so much heartache.

Thanks.

(if you haven’t watched the video, be sure to do so… it’s filled with lots of photos and some funny video clips).

Screen Shot 2019-06-11 at 5.06.18 PM

 

Darkness, poetry written by Glen McKenzie at Spilwords.com

My latest poem featured at Spillwords Press,

And a big thanks to Spillwords for providing the vehicle to share with others.

 

Spillwords.com presents: Darkness, poetry written by Glen McKenzie, a +50-year-old hiker; canoe tripper; outdoor enthusiast …

Source: Darkness, poetry written by Glen McKenzie at Spilwords.com

Thoughts From The Wilderness – Less Is More or How Choosing Items For A Backcountry Trip Can Lead Us To A Simpler Life.

Orginally posted back in February when there wasn’t much canoe triiping happening. Although there may have been a fair amount of planning trips for the upcoming season going on around kitchen tables throughout Canada.

Now however, the canoe tripping and backpacking season is well underway, the weight and amount of equipment one lugs along is a critical factor. Although everyone enjoys having those “creature comforts” along of the adventure, often those items need to stay at home or the weight and volume of stuff makes for obviously a heavier load to carry.

A good rule to follow when getting the stuff and equipment organized is:

  • pack the necessaties
  • what would be nice to take, but is not really necessary
  • get rid of the rest
  • focus on the first two points

The same principle can be appied to life and striving towards one the is more simple in nature. Nature can teach us many wonderful things, if we are willing to perk-up and take notice.

We think we need a lot of stuff to be content – but we don’t. Our source of happiness in life, comes from within. It is sourced internally.

If you want a simplier life, do something about getting there.

Stop moaning and complaining like a four-year old about “oh, I wish my life was simplier.” Get off your backside and do something that moe you in that direction.

“Less is more” is a great rule of thumb or strong suggestion recorded in a well-worn and read backcountry canoe or hiking manual on a dusty shelf in a basement or found in the often overlooked hidden corners in an outfitter’s store.

guide

Weight is one of the more important factors to consider when travelling and adventuring in the backcountry. Whether it be a canoe trip through the wilds of Algonquin Park or backpacking for multiple days along the Lake Superior Coastal Trail in northern Ontario. Weight is paramount.

IMG_20170802_123831216_HDR

Weight is critical!

Given that weight is very critical, choosing what items to pack or those things that get left can an arduous and difficult task. Thankfully, these days backpacking and canoe tripping equipment is very lightweight and packs up quite small. Nevertheless, each item weighs something and those “somethings” can eventually add up to 50, 60 or 70 pounds of weight.

Much of the process to lightweight packing, in essence, comes down to three elements:

  1. what is absolutely necessary to take?
  2. would be nice, but not critical
  3. get rid of the rest

As much as, preparing for an extended backpacking adventure or canoe trip spanning a week is an exercise of choosing equipment and planning, it is also this. A mindset that says, “I don’t need all kinds of stuff. All I need is just a few simple items. Happiness and contentment are not found within the trappings of wealth and things that will weigh me down. It’s found with fewer things; less clutter; a simple approach to life. Just the necessities.”

It is this deep-seated mindset or even conscious decision that leads us to a less cluttered and simpler approach to our times spent in the outdoors.

DSC_0553

Nature and the outdoors can teach us wonderful things and provides us with an abundance of wisdom that is universally transferrable to life. One of the most important lessons it gives us is making a commitment to a simpler life(remember weight is critical) is one of the surest ways to happiness and peace.

There are plenty of those throughout the world who make a fine living out of extolling the virtues that life, happiness and fulfillment are only achieved through the accumulation of stuff. When at the end of all days, they say the winners were the ones with the biggest pile of stuff.

Conversely, nature and the outdoors is teaching us that really you don’t need all this “stuff” to be content. Some shelter over your head, a few clothes to wear and food in your tummy and life is good. Isn’t that the base story of any backcountry trip report? You had shelter, clothes and you ate – the perfect trip!

IMG_20170803_070737969

The beauty of what Mother Nature is enlightening us on is that the foundation for happiness and serenity is sourced from within ourselves, not based on something external. It is an “art of wealth” that is eternally sustainable. Why?  The infrastructure or support for it is not based on the accumulation of tangible “stuff”, but the intangible – the stuff that is found within our soul; within us.

Nature is telling us if you want happiness do this:

  1. pack what is absolutely necessary to have
  2. look at what would be nice to have, but not critical
  3. get rid of the rest
  4. focus on Items 1 and 3

There is much to learn from a canoe trip or backpacking adventure. Most of us head outdoors to enjoy a simpler environment provided by time spent in nature. To escape the craziness that we’re surrounded by on a day-to-day basis.

Mother Nature is also telling us to quit this hypocritical stance. You say you want a simpler life, but you do nothing to get anywhere near close to achieving even an ounce of it. She is screaming at us to step back to see a bigger picture.

You want a simpler life? Yes or no?

She’s got a lesson to leave you with whose value will rise above the weight you choose to carry on your back.

Remember – weight is critical.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Gear Review – Ultra-Light Camping Hammock from PouchCouch Canada

**** Sponsored Post ****

With this year’s camping and outdoor season nicely underway, the thoughts of many outdoor enthusiasts often turn to what new additions or upgrades to make in their kit for the summer’s adventures.

Often, three considerations generally come to the forefront when looking to upgrade equipment:

  • less weight
  • smaller in size
  • minimize the cost of the purchase

9

Now, whether you camp in a more traditional organized campground, or are a backpacking enthusiast, or perhaps backcountry canoe tripping, adding an ultra-light camping hammock to your gear might just be your next best purchase.

Why?

The better question to ask is, “why not?”

Of the many possible answers, here are two of the more obvious ones.

  • Who wouldn’t want to spend a couple of relaxing hours nicely snuggled in a hammock relishing in a mid-day nap? Or lounging in a hammock reading a gripping book, while listening to the sounds of the forest or waves gently lapping up along the shoreline.
  • More and more ardent outdoor enthusiasts, especially backcountry campers are swapping out the traditional sleeping in a tent to now sleeping in a hammock system.

Regardless of where you might find yourself within those two points or any of the many other reasons for having a hammock, a PouchCouch Ultra-Light Camping Hammock will fulfill your needs for an afternoon nap or an overnight sleeping arrangement.

PouchCouch Canada Ultra-Light Camping Hammock

Lynn and I recently took an Ultra-Light Camping Hammock – PouchCouch Canada out for a “test drive” in the wilds of South Muskoka.

The PouchCouch Ultra-Light Camping Hammock comes with all the accessories necessary to get quickly setup and thus onto enjoying the hammock.

It comes with:

  • a self-contained and attached pouch to hold everything
  • a very roomy hammock
  • two ten foot lengths of 1/4 inch diameter nylon rope
  • two carabiners to connect the hammock to the rope system

Taking a look at the construction of the hammock, we found that it was triple stitched at all seams, with heavier triple stitching at the ends of the hammock where the connection to the roping/hanging system will be made.

3
Triple stitching along the seams
4
Heavier triple stitching at the ends

The PouchCouch Ultra-Light Camping Hammock is made from parachute nylon fabric which makes it very lightweight.

Well, how lightweight is lightweight you might ask?

DSC_0201
823 grams to be exact

With everything packed in the pouch, we put it on our kitchen scales. It weighed in at just over 800 grams or 1 pound 13 ounces.

So, it’s pretty darn light!

As well as being lightweight, the PouchCouch Ultra-Light Camping Hammock is also strong, breathable, portable(it does pack up small), fast drying and durable with proper use.

Information provided by PouchCouch:

  • holds up to 400 pounds comfortably
  • anti-fade cloth( 4 colour treatments to ensure no fading from rain, sweat or sun)
  • easily cleaned and dries quickly after being wet
  • hand washable
  • multi-functional (can be hung anywhere)

The Test Drive

One of the elements in discussions surrounding ultra-light camping hammocks is their purported ease and quickness in setting them up.

As such, Lynn and I wanted to see how fast we could set-up the PouchCouch Ultra-Light Camping Hammock from taking it out of the pouch to climbing in and relaxing.

So, without pre-tying any knots in the ropes at home, from the time we arrived at our site, pulled the hammock and accessories out of the pouch, tied knots in the ropes and hung the hammock, and Lynn climbed in for the first “test run” it was under ten minutes.

That time also included re-adjusting one of the ropes to go higher up on one tree trunk.

I used two different set-ups of knots to see how each would hold up. One thing to consider if you are hanging the hammock using ropes as compared to utilizing hammock straps is that the knots will tighten significantly over time when you are in the hammock.

In fact, using the wrong knot can result in the knot becoming so tight, it is often impossible to get them untied when taking the hammock down.

Nevertheless, for this “road test”,  I used a bowline knot on one end and a cow hitch knot on the other end of the hammock. Having said that, there are a variety of other different knots that would work equally well. A search online of ‘hammock knots” will give you more than enough information with videos and sketches to keep you occupied for an evening.

14
Double-ended bowline
16
Double-ended cow hitch

Pictures of the setup.

2
Ahhhh – the sounds of a slight breeze through the forest and water lapping up against the shore
10
I’m 6′ 2″  tall – lots of room in the hammock
7
Time spent reading a great book
11
Lynn enjoying the view
13
View from the inside
6
Sitting in the Pouch Couch Ultra-Light Camping Hammock is also a great option

8

5
Comfortable for sure

Summary

Go online right now and get one for yourself!

I must say, it worked very well and was exceedingly comfortable to be in. Whether stretched out along its length or using it more in a sitting position, the PouchCouch Ultra-Light Camping Hammock did all it needed to do.

There was no tearing or loosening of the stitches in either the ends of the hammock or along the seams joining the pieces of the parachute nylon material together.

As well, the ropes worked fine with no stretching under the pressure of having weight in the hammock.

In addition, packing the hammock up and stuffing it back into its stuff sack, took mere seconds to complete.

Additional Comments

A couple of things we learned from using the hammock.

We likely had the hammock stretched a bit too tight between the trees we used.

Ideally, a hammock hang should have a large curve to it. The tighter the hammock is pulled, the more the hammock will envelop you like a cocoon when you’re it. The flatness one would desire when in a properly hung hammock comes from laying at a slight angle of 30 degrees from the centreline of the hammock.

Next time we’ll find trees that are closer together to ensure the hammock hangs with more of a curve.

Conclusion

First of all, we need to give a big shout-out and thanks to PouchCouch Canada for graciously providing the Ultra-Light Camping Hammock to test drive.

The PouchCouch Ultra-Light Camping Hammock would, from all appearances, be a great buy for someone wanting to “dip their toes” into the ultra-light camping hammock market. Whether it be as an add-on when tent camping, or as the base component to get started in hammock camping, the Ultra-Light Camping Hammock fits the bill.

If heading into the realm of hammock camping, I would suggest the need to purchase a separate bug shelter/netting that surrounds the hammock, as well a tarp system to repel rain. There are plenty of reasonably priced options for bug netting and tarp systems that can found online.

Currently, the PouchCouch Ultra-Light Camping Hammocks are retailing on their website from $19.99 to $22.99, which includes all the hardware and ropes to get you going. A great buy for less than $25!!

A quick and painless click on this link PouchCouch Canada will take you directly to their website.

Lastly, stay tuned for an update on how the Ultra-Light Camping Hammock holds up under further use. We have an extended camping trip planned for late June and into early July and we’ll be bringing and using the hammock during that trip. Expect the update by the middle of July.

Again, thanks to PouchCouch Canada for providing the Ultra-Light Camping Hammock and the opportunity to test it out in the field.

Hope you found our review helpful!

Remember…

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

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!

how-to-choose-a-canoe-header
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.

Unknown
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.

1c66c4b5e14e6ecdc7f1d6913b23e4f9
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.

canoe
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 – Book Ends

IMG_20170613_210704292_HDR

Although originally published back in 2017, the post reminds me and as well as being a reminder to all of us that whatever unfolded today doesn’t mean that tomorrow will be a replay of the same events.

As the sun slips below the horizon at some point in the next 24 hours, we know that it will rise again in just a few short hours.

What happens after the dawning of a new day, is for the most part up to us. It is all up to us on how we react to whatever shows up.

I frequently need to remind myself “why get worked up over the anticipation that something bad or negative will happen tomorrow when you have no idea if it will or not.”

Often our attitude sets the agenda for what transpires or how we see what transpires in front of us. Even if the day is full of “candy floss and unicorns,” a poor attitude will make the day a huge disappointment or failure.

Hope is one of the ingredients that gives us the will to move forward. To anticipate that tomorrow will be and can be better than today. Because without hope, what do we have?

Hopelessness.

And that in my estimation is not a good alternative.

The setting sun on Prince Edward Island. This was taken on our first night on the island at the Brackley Beach area of PEI National Park. It was an impromptu stop after driving back from dinner and a long day of airport shuttles, waiting in airport lounges, plane rides, and connecting flights.

But, much like the sun was setting, we knew that it would also rise again in the morning. The setting sun at the end of one day is the perfect bookend or finish to await the dawn and start of a new day.

Which is kind of like living in a way?

One day can be brilliant, like this sunset. Makes the anticipation for what the next day will bring that much more exciting and wonderful. Sort of like waiting for Christmas morning to arrive.

Regardless of what the evening presents to us, the next day can always be better.

 

 

—  get outdoors; fins inspiration; discover yourself  —

 

Algonquin Park – Trails and No Bugs

In 2019 to this point, our trips north to Algonquin Park have been a winter wonderland of snow, ice, sun(at times), but nevertheless, time well spent and a good investment in easing the stress and strain of life.

We usually try to make a trip north on the May long weekend, or at least a day or two after that. This year, stomach flu and medical appointments seemed to creep into the mix, so our “Mayish long weekend” trip was delayed for a week.

No big deal, though. We figured the park would still be there, bugs and all.

Having recently placed all my faith in the “weather prognosticators”  from both Environment Canada and the Weather Network, the Sunday following the long weekend held a promise of warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine.

Leaving the “old homestead” at a relatively early time for Lynn, we headed north on Highway 400 and across Highway 141 to Highway 11 and then east on Highway 60 to Algonquin.

DSC_0001
I told Lynn to take a picture in that no one would believe she had been up for over an hour before getting in the car.

Screen Shot 2019-05-29 at 5.12.00 AM After stopping for gas and a short “pee” break in Huntsville, we arrived at the Park around 10:30am.

Our first destination was the Beaver Pond Hiking Trail.

Beaver Pond Hiking Trail

The Beaver Pond Trail is a two-kilometre interpretive trail that winds through the rugged Algonquin terrain giving excellent views of two beaver ponds and providing an introduction to Algonquin’s fascinating beaver pond ecology and the influence, presence and activities of these creatures.

A few shots from along the trail.

DSC_0004

DSC_0005

DSC_0022-Edit

DSC_0011
Massive beaver dam and Amikeus Lake
DSC_0015-Pano-Edit
Amikeus Lake
DSC_0012-2
Up, up and up

DSC_0025

5

Overall, the Beaver Pond Trail was a fun and enjoyable 2-kilometre hike. It is given a rating of “moderate difficulty” by the park. There are a couple of steep climbs along the route, but as well, there are several locations where stairs have been installed to help get up and down some of the steeper areas.

There is a great lookout location located near the end of the trail, that commands a sweet view across the beaver pond you would have crossed near the beginning of your hike.

If you’re in the Park for the day or on more of an extended visit, be sure to check the Braver Pond Trail out.

It’s located at kilometre 45, measured from the West Gate.

Our next stop of the day was located just to the west of the Beaver Pond Trail, that being the Lookout Trail.

Lookout Trail

Located at kilometre 40, the Lookout Trail is a 2.1-kilometre steep loop trail that rewards the hiker with a grand view of hundreds of square kilometres of Algonquin Park. In addition, the guidebook discusses the geology of the Park.

The actual trail itself, although steep has been well maintained and graded along its entire length. It makes for much easier going, other than the uphill climb to the lookout area.

On a positive note though, once you “gut it out” going uphill to the lookout, it is all downhill from that point.

A few pics.

4

Red trillium

DSC_0035

Trout Lily

DSC_0037

A short downhill breather before the last uphill part to the lookout and the superior views of Algonquin.

DSC_0040

DSC_0038

The rewards of going uphill…….

DSC_0046-Edit

DSC_0048-Edit

DSC_0050-Edit

DSC_0055-Edit-2

After spending a few minutes admiring the view from the top, we started the downhill trek back to the parking area and our car.

DSC_0060

You never know what you might find, if you just keep your eyes open.

DSC_0056-Edit-Edit

Although the climb along the trail to the top is steep, the trail itself has been graded over time and we visited it was well maintained. That does make the uphill going a bit better.

The trail is rated as “difficult” by the park, which I assume is due to the steep climb to reach the lookout area. This would be a great hike in October during the fall colour time for sure.

Nevertheless, it is worth the effort to get to the top. The views are magnificent and worth the energy. The scenic lookout at the top is exposed and on a cliff, so if you’re hiking with children, best to keep an eye on them.

We moved along at a fairly decent pace, taking 45 minutes from start to finish which included time stopping for Lynn to snap pictures.

The Lookout Trail for sure is must stop hike if you’re in the Park.

Next Stop

As Lynn had been injured earlier in the spring, as well as recovering from a slight flu bug, we decided to keep things on more of a “level or flat” hike and thus we headed on over to Mew Lake to hike through the airfield and down to the falls on the Highland Backpacking Trail.

After a pit-stop at the Lake of Two Rivers Store, we drove to the parking area for the Two Rivers Trail, crossed the road to hike through the Mew Lake Campground to the airfield and down to the falls on the backpacking trail.

DSC_0061
hahahaha – still fighting to stay!!

By this time, the sun was out shining brilliantly and actually making the Park warmer than it was at home.

The trail through the campground and along the waterfalls is flat, well marked and a perfect way to end our time in Algonquin. Not quite as snowy as when we visited here back in the winter.

From this trip….

DSC_0063-Edit

DSC_0068-Edit-Edit-Edit

DSC_0073-Edit

On the return back to the car.

DSC_0077-Edit-Edit

3

All in all, it was a perfect day out.

Great weather and the right location made the day do it was supposed to do.

We covered between 7.5 to 8 kilometres hiking, which I thought was really good for Lynn seeing as the upper leg/muscle issue had put her on the sidelines more or less since Easter.

She didn’t have any pain throughout the day and was fine the next day, so things are looking good.

The best part of all of it, although the black flies were out, they weren’t biting. And as anyone who has been in Algonquin Park in the spring, black flies and other biting insects can make for a miserable adventure.

But, not this time.

All the while on our way home, we started planning our next hiking trip north to the Park and as well a camping adventure when I’m on holiday in late June and early July.

Thanks for taking the time to visit and tag along with us.

 

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

 

Owen Sound – Indian Falls

Over the long weekend here in Ontario, we took the Sunday to head over to the Owen Sound area to check out Indian Falls, located just north and west of the community.

We had been here twice before. Once in the fall several years ago and once this past winter.

In the past, we always thought that it would be interesting to hike along the bottom of the ravine in which the Indian River flows to get to the falls from the bottom.

Screen Shot 2019-05-28 at 5.23.53 AM

Leaving mid-morning from the “old homestead” we arrived in the parking lot at the Indian Falls Conservation Area close to noon. Sort of forgetting it was the long weekend, I had made the assumption that it wouldn’t be that busy with people hiking out to see the falls.

Wrong!

It was plenty busy.

Nevertheless, we packed up Lynn’s camera equipment and trotted off down the trail.

When we were here back in 2017, the trail at the beginning followed the river bed over a rock-strewn trail to reach a short set of stairs and then continuing on towards the actual falls. In 2017, we found it, not that difficult as we had our dog Katie with us.

I’m assuming that high water levels over the past while have caused people to by-pass the rocky and now water covered trail and to create a new path along the slope of the river bank.

Now it as a challenging path slick with mud and difficult to navigate.

So, if you visit be prepared for a challenging go of it prior to reaching the stairs that traverse up the slope to the top of the ravine.

After watching several families with small children slip, trip and slide along this slick new path, Lynn and I scrambled along the river bottom to get to the base of Indian Falls.

IMG_20190519_132549741

We have had a fair amount of rain throughout the spring and combined with snowmelt that would still be moving along in watersheds and river systems, there was still a significant amount of water flowing over the falls. In the summer, that falls can be reduced to a mere trickle.

We made our way out into the middle of the river to set up on a flat rock.

IMG_20190519_133631643

DSC_0084-EditDSC_0084-Edit-Edit-Edit-Edit-EditWhile we were there, I kept hearing this chirping sound that seemed close to us. It was coming from this little fella.

DSC_0099-Edit-Edit-Edit

He had obviously become separated from his mom and siblings and was desperately swimming around and scrambling along the river bank calling and searching for them. For the time we were there, unfortunately, we didn’t see any other duck or ducklings that might have been his family.

Hope things turned out all right for him.

What started as a glorious and sunny afternoon, soon however turned into an afternoon of thunderstorms and rain.

And with the start of rain and cracks of thunder, we started to make the trek back to the car.

Not wanting to take the muddy and now even muddier and slicker route back, we found a scrambling route up through some rocks to the main trail at the top of the ravine. We followed the trail to the steps down to the bottom of the ravine.

At this point, we sort of looked at each other and decided, “we’re wet now, so let’s hop and jump along the “old river bottom path” and avoid that sketchy new path.”

By the time we had got back to the parking lot, the rain had stopped(sort of). As a side note, Lynn and I both wear a brand of quick dry outdoor clothing and using just our own body heat, our pants and shirts were dry in less than an hour.

As I knew that thunderstorms and bad weather would be with us for the rest of the day, we decided to head over to Harrison Park located on the south edge of Owen Sound.

Again, with it being the long weekend, Harrison Park was very busy with families enjoying the sights and sounds of the park.

A few pictures from there.

DSC_0120-Edit

DSC_0122-Edit

DSC_0128-Edit-Edit-Edit-2

DSC_0130

DSC_0135-Edit

As Lynn had been recovering from an abdominal and upper leg muscle injury, plus just getting over a touch of the flu we decided to go on the side of caution and call it a day.

Good thing too.

Not long after leaving Harrison Park, the heavens opened up once again with heavy rain and high winds.

Nevertheless, even though Mother Nature wasn’t cooperating the best, it still made for a wonderful day out.

Owen Sound and this area of Bruce and Grey counties is one spot to put on your “to do/must visit list” for the summer. Great hiking opportunities, shopping, restaurants and parks all provide the basis to make memories that will last a lifetime.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

—  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.

DSC_0074-Edit-Edit

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.

anyone-else-just-waking-up-and-completely-living-life-on-45925371

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.

work-life-balance-article

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.

DSC_0875

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.