Sunny spells, sunny spells…

I’ve been trying a new mantra, and with the power of positive thought, it’s going to work. Of course, it’ll have to be brief.D4225C4B-854F-4C3F-B956-43FB7509EA98

After a few days this week where the rain was heavy, we’ve been promised sunny spells for the coming weekend. I’ve quite enjoyed the rain, and the fog rolling in late afternoons after the deluge. Very atmospheric, apart from when I left my rain jacket in the car yesterday, and I got absolutely soaked in the thirty seconds it took to dash out and get my jacket because I didn’t want to get wet. Won’t be making that mistake again. It’s hard to look credible advising students that yes, they absolutely must have their rain coats on before heading out, because it is sensible to do so, when you’re dripping rainwater on the floor…

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“I always remember my coat!”

Sunny spells, sunny spells. As usual, I haven’t much enjoyed following the news. We’ve family in the US and UK, and the combined leadership deficits displayed by government in each place has left us quite despondent. All that noise and self serving nonsense. It’s exhausting to read about, and must be so much worse to experience. Throw in the recent dreadful antics on display from the nationalist visitor to France, and all I can say is what a relief it has been to get outdoors and take a few – many – deep breaths. Sunny spells, sunny spells.

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A sunny Indignant Cove

It was mostly dry and fairly warm last weekend, so we wandered out and about, including a pleasant couple of hours at Indignant Cove soaking up some sun. Sunshine and shirtsleeves in November? Very welcome, and we’re making the most of these days with sunny spells, because the rains are coming…but please, not before Monday! Actually, I’ll take time outside, including with heavy rain, because even if you’ve forgotten your coat, or you catch a chill (however that works) it’s still a sunnier prospect than catching the latest headlines.

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Casting a sunny spell

Sunny spells, sunny spells, even in the rain.

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Rain, later…

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend, full of sunny spells, sunny spells!

Making tracks

I’m not a hunter, never have been and it isn’t likely I’ll start hunting now – although I’ll admit it is a useful set of skills to have, come the apocalypse. (Would we be able to tell if there’s an apocalypse? I suppose the news would be a tad cheerier…)IMG_0600

Food security has been something that keeps cropping up – perhaps a growing cause for concern reflecting uncertain times? Zombies aside, I’ll stick with doing what most of us do, and track down my food in stores, hoping that the bulk of it has been produced ethically. We are currently living in an area that has, should the lights go out for the final time, reasonable food security, at least for those in the know…

The recent wilderness trip I accompanied did have a hunting component. Participants are encouraged to produce and provide for themselves and their community, learning and applying skills taught by elders and mentors, and ensuring they know how to survive and even flourish on their traditional lands.IMG_0579

I was excited and nervous about the hunting. Personally, I’d rather not be around guns, and young people with guns, even when they are being monitored closely by trained experts. However, I could see the importance of teaching and learning these skills, and the youth involved were excited to learn.

So let me get the gory part out of the way first – the only animal shot and killed on this trip was a duck. It was shot on the boat ride out to the camp. The duck supplemented a rice and vegetable dish later in the weekend. The decision was made that one duck was enough – there were plenty of other ducks in range throughout the journey, but the lead hunter emphasised this was about eating, not sport.

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Something to eat? Where?!

Students learned how to prepare it for cooking and eating. They were very respectful and thankful to the duck, and a prayer was made reflecting this. Almost everyone had a small piece of roasted duck, myself included, and the young man who made the shot was thoughtful about what he’d done. He didn’t want to kill it, but understood that to eat meat, a creature had to die. He certainly wasn’t boastful about shooting the duck.fullsizeoutput_15ab

On the morning spent hunting, we saw deer tracks, many bear tracks, and plenty of grouse tracks, but nothing else. No actual animals were sighted, but students learned how to spot likely areas for future hunts, and where to set up in these areas. Our lead hunter did draw a bead on a seal as we headed back, and I have to admit to being relieved when he said the distance was too great to be certain of a clean shot. The size and scale of the animal shouldn’t make any difference to how I felt, but seeing a duck shot and prepared was probably easier to experience than if it had been a seal.

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Tracking a scent

If the trip had been for trophy hunting, there’s no way I’d have gone along, and, as indicated above, I was (silently) rooting for the animals. That said, the whole process was fascinating and thought provoking. I’ll never be a hunter, but I can see the importance of hunting in traditional communities.

I’ll leave it there, and start to make tracks towards a long weekend. Thanks for reading and, as always, please feel free to share a story or leave a comment.

Have a wonderful weekend!

PS All the photos posted here were taken last week on a cold and sunny Sunday morning on or near Combers beach.

The storm after the calm

October was a pretty benign month, weather-wise, and I was happy about that, particularly for the recent trip spent camping in a remote location. Since the end of that weekend, temperatures have fallen slightly, and rainfall has increased a great deal.

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Oh, October sun, I’m missing you!

Ah, the rain! We kept a close eye on the sky last weekend, timing a walk out with Scout to the least rainy portion of the day. A wander along the Wild Pacific Trail revealed churning water and some scenic stops under trees.E632E49C-1F86-49C9-9F39-CB13440B10B9

Back to that bright and sunny trip. When we moored the boat, students were keen to get ashore and light a campfire. Armed with knives, a fire steel, a lighter and some backup matches, they couldn’t wait to try out their skills. Great focus and teamwork when they were lighting the fire, sticking with the task when the wood didn’t immediately ignite. They shaved feather sticks and small pieces, piling them carefully and aiming to start with the tiniest and feed the flame as it grew. A couple of unintended extinguishes later, and they soon realized patience was the key to success.

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We will make fire!

Yes, they used a match, but they know it is important to have more than one way to start a fire, and they’ll try again with the fire steel another time. I’m looking forward to how they’ll get a fire going when we return later this month. It has been very wet, so fire starting out there will be a challenge. The group spent quite a bit of time collecting and splitting firewood, stacking it in a dry location, with enough stacked for the next visit. Preparation and planning!

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I can see November on the horizon!

Those not setting the fire got busy with putting up tents and squaring away supplies –  it is amazing how much gear can be packed into a small boat, and even more amazing how much food is needed to keep teenagers fed and functioning!

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One PC tent – very tidy

One section of the weekend was a hunting trip to try and supplement the goods brought out. Being vegetarian for the past three decades, I wasn’t too sure about hunting, but the trip wasn’t about my sensibilities. A part of being out on tribal lands was for the youngsters to learn how to be a provider beyond going to the store. I’ll write about the hunting in a future post…

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I see feathers, but no duck. Hmm…

Hatchets, axes, chainsaws and machetes were wielded with intent and to great effect, and not just for firewood. Old trails were cleared and improved, the goal being to make the camp easier to navigate for visiting elders.

Did I mention the bears? We didn’t see any the entire time we were there, but judging by the fresh bear scat all over, I hope the bears continued to enjoy the cleared trails after we left. Light-coloured birch branches and stones were used to mark the edges of the trails, and larger obstacles like fallen logs were removed, or had chunks cut out to minimize the climbing and scrambling. For parts of the trip, I was the oldest participant (that changed when a chainsaw carrying elder in his seventh decade arrived to assist) and the consensus was if the old Plaid-wearing guy can traverse the new trails without incident, then it’ll be fine for everyone else. I have my outdoor uses…

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Calm – ten steps from the tent

I’ll leave it there for this week, with a happy PlaidCamper warmed by the fire and exertions from trail-clearing (don’t worry, most of the heavy lifting was done by those far younger than me – they enjoy it!)

We are expecting a bit more rain for the next few days (weeks and months) but we’ll keep out on the trails, whatever the weather. Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

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“I think it is clearing – is that July on the horizon?”

Sea legs? Maybe…

Yes, maybe. I can’t claim to be much of a sailor. In fact, any vessel over the size of a kayak or canoe is way beyond my abilities, unless I’m driving onto a ferry – you might have read before about how I like to park at the front of an open car deck and pretend to be the captain. No? Oh. Let’s pretend I didn’t say that…

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Nahmint 5

Last weekend I got to spend quite some time on the water, in the sturdy Nahmint 5, and in a police launch. These were the two vessels used to transport excited youth, elders, mentors, and a slightly nervous PlaidCamper out to remote tribal lands, a camping spot that felt far from the modern world, and all the better for that.

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Our departure point – hope it clears…

The day had dawned with quite a bit of cloud cover and a real chill in the air. Our destination is reputed to be one of the rainiest places in Canada, and it appeared as though we’d be experiencing some of that soon. Fortunately, the cloud and mist burned off by midday, and as we pulled away from Ucluelet and headed towards the Broken Islands, the day warmed up and everything was a glorious blue, punctuated by island jewels of green and grey, with the distant mountains of the main island reaching up above cloud cloaked shoulders.

What a ride, with smooth, smooth water all about. My nerves over being in a small craft on open water were soon as calm as the  almost mirror flat surface we moved across.

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Fuel

Honestly, I’d not been too sure about the boat ride, having felt rather green about the gills in a heavy swell a couple of years back, but last week was fine. Sea legs? My sea legs were behaving, and we enjoyed a magnificent hour or more, fuelled by strong coffee, bright sunshine, and excited chatter.

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Smooth

I’ll write about the days spent camping, and some of the adventures we experienced over a few posts in the coming weeks, but thought I’d start with this, the short voyage to reach our destination. And, because I’m a little boy, I couldn’t resist including the police launch used for the trip back. What fun it was, getting my non-existent locks wind-tossed and wet in the sea spray thrown up by a fast-moving boat – far better than me fast-moving to the side and throwing up…

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Can I go in this one? Can I? Can I? Please?!

I’ve never been in the back of a police car (being a law-abiding sort) but now I can say I’ve been hauled into the back of a police launch (my initial clamber in wasn’t so elegant…)

I’ll leave it there, happily pretending to be an almost salty sea dog, and continue the tale another time.

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The Nahmint in one of the rainiest places in Canada – we were so fortunate to be completely dry our entire trip

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Crimes and pie

Huh?! We took a very quick camping trip to Green Point a couple of weeks ago. We wanted to find out how Scout would fare in a tent – or how we would fare with her at close quarters in a tent, and if she’d be a happy camper…

Well, we needn’t have worried! Sticks and branches to chew? Check! Other dogs to grumble at? Check! Tasty tidbits that “fell” off our plates? Check! Scout didn’t wake up at the crack of dawn? Check! (Phew!)

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A happy camper

Two nights of camping, and a chance to try out a new tent. A new tent? Isn’t your old tent a recent addition? Yes, and it is/was a perfectly fine tent, but some #*@* broke into our storage locker and made off with bits and pieces of our camping gear, including the flysheet. Not sure when the crime took place, but I’m glad I was packing the day before, and not the day we set off, so had just enough time to stop and pick up a new tent. Just because somebody else made a poor choice, this wasn’t going to spoil our fun – but it did put an unwanted dent in our bank balance.

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Rain later?

Anyhow, we had a fine time, glass half full and all that. On the Saturday evening, Wayne from Tofino Photography  joined us for a gourmet meal of hotdogs, chips, and pumpkin pie. Gourmet?! Not so much, but food does taste better cooked outdoors, and I have to say, store bought pumpkin pie is one tough product. It was tossed about in the back of the Jeep for a couple of days, buried under loose gear and other edibles, yet maintained shape and flavour when we finally got round to eating it. Scout would have had several slices, but not if she wanted to share a tent with us overnight.

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Time to fill glasses

We had great weather on Saturday, and had hoped to have a dry spell all the way through to Sunday, but it wasn’t to be. We had to break camp in steady rain, but can report our new tent, bought in something of a rush and unresearched, was very much a dry on the inside tent. Mind you, our previous not so old tent was also a sterling dry on the inside tent. Alright, I’ll get over it, glass half full…

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But no rain earlier!

Now we know Scout is a happy camper, we will plan trips further afield to quieter and more remote spots. And when Wayne joins us next time, we’ll go a few steps better than “gourmet” hotdogs – the weekend above was Canadian Thanksgiving, and I think the sausages contained turkey, but apart from the unbreakable pie, we might have committed a culinary crime…

I’m heading out to an off the grid location for a few days, and will catch up with your blogs when I get back next week. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful weekend!B7C06A23-D7C7-487C-9015-5EBDC61A0225

A lake coffee break (LCB)

Taken early, on the way to a meeting yesterday morning.

I found myself on the road between Ucluelet and Port Alberni, heading to a committee meeting scheduled for a 10:00 start. The round trip is three hours on a good day, but those days are rare due to a large construction project on Kennedy Lake Hill.6CD30665-7293-49FF-8F20-A103D2AE1C39 The road is being made safer, widening it to prevent larger and taller vehicles on the cliff side moving across the dividing line and scaring oncoming traffic into a choice between a lakeside plunge or a head on collision. Currently, the road is often closed for a number of hours each day, and when it is open, it is single lane and flag controlled, potentially adding quite a delay to your journey.

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Coverage

All this is a long winded way of saying I’d left plenty of time to make my meeting, and the traffic gods were beaming down on me as I experienced the briefest of stoppages. This left me time to make a stop before Alberni at Sproat Lake, take a short wander under the trees and along the shore, sip my travel coffee (prepared in anticipation of a long flag stop!) and gather my thoughts, such as they were.

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Productive

I could tell you about the dozens of new education acronyms I’ve encountered but as yet have failed to decipher, or about some of the policy initiatives to be discussed, but I won’t. Was there cell coverage to check work messages? Nope! Instead, I’ll share that the parking lot was empty, as were the trails and shore. Rain was trying and failing to fall, with barely a patter to be heard on the turning leaves. The chattering squirrels and angry-sounding crows had the place to themselves, or they did once I finished my coffee and remembered I should be working, or at least on the way.

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Work stoppage

I made it to the meeting fashionably early, left with a head full of new and exciting information, and some more acronyms. I’m happy to report there were no chattering squirrels or angry crows on this committee, so that went well.

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The woods and the trees – an LCB stop

Best of all, I was back in time to join a homework zone and hear from a confident young man sharing his experience about becoming an outdoor leader to his peers. He was eloquent in his expression of how he wanted to further his outdoor leadership skills and continue to mentor younger students in wilderness and traditional activities.

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Stumped

The success he was sharing reminded me that a lengthy round trip, coffee stops (LCB) and all, is a worthwhile use of time. It is heartening to witness new policies being shaped by representatives from the communities searching for better ways to educate and engage their youth. As I wrote last week, and hope to write again and again, young people can and want to be engaged in their communities and in their natural surroundings. That’s pretty good news (and it’s real!)

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

 

Thanksgiving!

There is so much to be thankful for (and you might be thankful I’m keeping this one brief…)

I had an enjoyable evening earlier this week, foraging for chanterelles with a group of young people learning from an elder about traditional harvesting. Once one mushroom had been found, they all seemed pretty handy at knowing where to look, and there was no stopping them. Excited shouts cut through the trees, signalling each discovery. This was going to be easy…0B56EEE2-A7E6-4A94-AD0C-E715D21EC61D

On an overcast and muggy evening, the light was fading fast in the dusk, and mosquitos were beginning to find me with rather more success than I was having finding chanterelles. They are distinctive, but this OldPlaidCamper was not very adept at unearthing chanterelles, and almost every other type of mushroom I found was a poisonous variety.FE15B0D1-766E-47CE-832B-D50F59E19089

A trait being taught was persistence, so I stuck with it, hoping old eyes might fall upon elusive prey. After nearly 45 minutes of hot and humid searching, I did find two lovely chanterelles. Excellent – my status as an almost outdoorsman remained intact! As I was about to call it in, a young man I’d been guiding through the dense forest slipped on the mossy log he was climbing over and landed on his butt right next to my find. “Found some!” he cried, clambering to his feet with a wide smile.DC0D26ED-8975-4E33-9270-FB1EE452DA07

The forest was becoming very dark, and time was called on the search. Light from the channel shone through the trees and up the slope, so we (I) tripped down the hill towards the water and out onto the shore, escaping the worst of the biting insects.

The chanterelles were to be shared with the community, and you could see how happy the foragers were at making their contribution. As we made our way back along the shore, it became clear that every member of the party had found some chanterelles – well, almost everyone. I did get a couple of consolation pats on the back, and some words about maybe next time.170A9F91-8A78-4F57-AC16-9F75804E8129

So much to be thankful for, and I’m particularly thankful for the fine young people I’m working and learning with. Times are troubled in the wider world, but there are reasons to be hopeful about better times ahead, especially when you see young people expressing enthusiasm for their natural surroundings.

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend. If you are celebrating Canadian thanksgiving, I hope it’s a good one!