Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Returning to The Great Trail....some thoughts

And so we are back!  Time flies so quickly…especially when you are stuck indoors.

While I know I am fortunate to be able to work full time while not trekking, sitting at a desk writing and doing math for hours on end hurts my body (and crushes my spirit) in ways that only time in nature and hiking restores!

My back and my neck in particular ache after weeks and now months of sitting at the kitchen table or at a desk spending far too long sedentary hunched over a computer.  One of the realities of us as people is that we are tied to the natural world because we are physical creatures.   As such we are not built to spend long periods of time sedentary, sitting, and naval gazing without connecting with nature.  The endless time spent at desks and in offices (at home or away)behind windows and closed doors aren’t natural to me.  I am not sure they come naturally to most people.

Don’t get me wrong I know I am very fortunate, especially given the pandemic and my choices in life, to be able to continue working which enables us to keep funding our trek.  I am fortunate to be able to have an desk job that doesn’t risk my life or crush my body.  I am lucky to be able to venture through life letting my mind and my body inform one another at different times each year.  But all and all I would rather live in the moment.  I prefer to have my labour, as it does when I am hiking and camping, keep me aware of my surroundings and keep me focused on the immediate.  

Thinking, reflecting, are writing are wonderful, but I doubt that the world would be lesser if I (like others) was not regularly putting my opinions and experiences out into social media.  

I was asked a wonderful set of questions this past week – do you think that you are ruining other people’s drive to get outdoors and experience nature by putting so much out onto social media?  Do you think that people now won’t have the motivation to go outdoors because you are feeding it all to them?  Do you think your blog and pictures are taking people out of the moment because now they spend more time thinking about your trek and your adventures and daydreaming rather than being in the here and now outside?

All good questions - and to be honest I have struggled with finding an answer.  We are often reminded of the irony of posting on social media while advocating that people get outdoors.  However,  I can only hope that something good comes from this venture and  that through it people become inspired to explore and discover the world around them.  I hope that because of our positive experiences people seek to spend more time in the outdoors, and that our #hike4birds fosters mindfulness in families, homes, schools and communities across the nation.   Perhaps because of this trek some will go to a new park or trail that they didn’t previously know about.  Perhaps because of our posts some will notice and hear local birds again and take the time to hang up a feeder.  Perhaps because of this undertaking people will again see that the world and Canadians are inherently kind and supportive.  But honestly I don’t know what influence this entire endeavor has or will have…..  

I keep going, and keep writing, posting, and encouraging because for all of the faults of social media and electronic communication it nonetheless offers us a chance to connect. As a tool, the online world helps connect the individual to society reminding each of us that we are not alone – an important thing to remember after a year of isolation.  It connects the self to the wider world reminding us of our shared humanity, experiences, and responsibility to one another.  Through pictures it can help connect the individual to the natural world.  And of course social media connects us to others so that we can share with one another our differing perspectives on issues and matters that are important to all of us. After all it is only by staying connected and through communication that we hold onto our common ground.

That is the hope, but there are so many unknowns, ifs, perhaps and uncertainties…..

And so we continue to post and to share. 

I know that while I worked regularly in an office, at a desk, and in front of a screen everyday for a decade that I felt as though I had no purpose.  I was a nameless cog in a wider machine who undertook useful research and tasks, but who was ultimately a replaceable cog nonetheless.

When I set out back into nature I wanted to find meaning for myself, to live purposefully again and to do something with and for others.  My hope was to inspire a re-connection to nature in the nation’s youth and to inspire people to discovery and explore Canada once again.  

I have always felt that despite the odds – changes has always come from the actions of a few dedicated individuals, and that small actions can indeed make a difference.  So I continue to try to make a small difference in my own small way.   

Setting off each year is always a challenge - perhaps the only thing tougher than getting going is getting going a second and then a third time.  We are all creatures of habit and despite looking forward to hiking again, our habit for the last few months has been leisure and comfort.  (It is easy to love laundry and showers).  Indeed after all the time sitting, working and revising our photos we have both regained all the lost weight (plus some more) from the past year’s trek. As a result we both now look more like Winnie the Pooh than the sleek trekkers that most might imagine.  However, time in the outdoors will fix that too!

To knowingly once again embark for what could be six, or eight or ten months onto the trails of Canada amid rain, snow, sleet, dust storms and extreme heat while living in the same tent every day can seem at times like a daunting prospect.  And while we are assuredly more experienced with each passing year, the fact is that each region in Canada is so different that our past time on the trail seems to give us little advantage or insight into what is coming next.  We have to take it day by day.   The unknown is both scary and exciting with the uncertainties being offset by the possibilities!  

And so, as we begin to enter our old routines again, so too do the old challenges emerge.  Each year begins as a race against and preparing for our usual dance with the seasons. Leave too early and you get caught in the slush, snow and wet of early spring.  Leave too late and much of the year will be caught amid the blasting heat of the summer.  The usual doubts and questions begin to plague us. Can we still do this?  Will we stay healthy enough to get through the year?  What type of people will we meet?   Will we still see birds and wildlife?  Are we going to be able to take good enough pictures?  Can we still capture the landscapes and Canadian Experience? Is anyone actually following along? Are we changing anything, inspiring anyone, or just adding to the noise online?

As usual the answer to these questions is the same – we’ll see…

For now all we can do is continue on, one step at a time.




1 comment:

  1. Can we still do this? YES
    Will we stay healthy enough to get through the year? YES
    What type of people will we meet? INSPIRING
    Will we still see birds and wildlife? YES
    Are we going to be able to take good enough pictures? YES
    Can we still capture the landscapes and Canadian Experience? YES
    Is anyone actually following along? YES
    Are we changing anything, inspiring anyone, or just adding to the noise online? YES, YES, NO.


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