Eskdale exertions

Exhausted after our extreme Eskdale exertions? Yup, it wasn’t easy going up hill and over dale in somewhat wet conditions, but we enjoyed every step, every minute of our Lakeland experience. Even the soggy socks after getting sucked into a deep bog…

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Up and over

A brief post this week, written in haste and hopeful that a pub internet connection will see this one get out. Still staying in pubs? You bet, and we’ve enjoyed every minute and every pint in hospitable hostelries. It’s going to be hard to tear ourselves away, but for the good of our waistlines, we will soon be heading back to Canada.

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Never rains here…

I’m letting the photographs tell the story this week, and I hope some notion of the very best hillwalking we’ve enjoyed comes through. Unless it is obviously a stream, most of the water in these pictures is actually flowing along the trail. We splish-splashed across, into, through and over, and it was all the same – completely exhilarating!4DE0D5D4-9B43-4187-B2D1-1610205C0461.jpeg

We were very fortunate on our two hiking days up there, getting a short sharp rain shower in the first hour of each morning, and then it remained dry. Always threatening another downpour, this only added to the dramatic landscape, and made us feel very content when we made it back down (mostly) dry.

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Lunch stop

We stayed at The Woolpack Inn, and if you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend this pub. Hearty breakfasts set you up, and good food and great beer do just the job when you return. From the front door, there are any number of trails to take, ranging from easy strolls to full on scree-scrambling and routes more akin to climbing than hiking.

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Splendid stout

What a wonderful place! Might stay here next time:A590A11B-1855-4622-A2B8-D46ABCC885C6Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend!

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Departure (and letting things go)

It’s good to let things go. If you read on, a word of warning – this might not be about what you think it could be about. Just saying…

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Departure point

A departure from my recent regular schedule as Mrs. PC and I head off for a visit to dear old Blighty. Life on the road and in the air is generally fun, and access to internet permitting, I’ll aim to have something to post each Friday. Most of our time over there will be spent in the wild and woolly west of the country, so lots of hill-walking, pubs, old buildings, pubs in old buildings, coastal scenery and pubs for rest and recuperation. And rain. The real reason to be there is catching up with family and friends, and that means a bit less hiking and a lot more pubs. Oh, ok, if we must.

Last week was rain free, and the weekend out in the forest was a cold, dry and sunny one. We had over thirty boys, youth and young men, active and eager to learn land based traditional practices away from the distractions of the modern world. These fine young people are shaping up to be the leaders, protectors and providers for their communities in future years, drawing on skills and teachings shared by present day elders. It was a delight to be there and see the growth in esteem and abilities.

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We had to stop archery on the beach – too dark to find the arrows!

These boys looked out for and after each other, showing great responsibility in the boats, setting up camp, sharing the cooking, or teaching and learning archery. It’s something of a cliche, but it’s true to say eyes and faces were shining all weekend long. Even when one of the boats broke down as we were heading back, and there was a possibility of being delayed and stranded on a small island! These guys took it in their stride – I don’t think they wanted to head back as soon as we had to…

There was much laughter, singing and drumming around the fire, and stories from previous outings and experiences were shared, with a strong thread of humour running through many of the tales told.

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Story time

I’ll leave you with one story shared by J. He’s a quiet young man, growing into his role as a leader, and becoming more comfortable with using his voice in a group situation. He is rarely in a rush to speak, but when he chooses to, he’s a wonderful deadpan storyteller. He told me the following:

“I was invited to a gathering by another nation. We went by boat to their island and stayed in their longhouse. The food was good, and there was plenty, so I filled up. I am lactose intolerant and hadn’t realized how much cheese I’d eaten until my belly started to tell me. I couldn’t ignore the rumbling and asked a neighbour for directions to the outhouse. It wasn’t far, but it was dark, and I couldn’t find it. My need grew so great that I had to let things go before I found the outhouse. Luckily, I seemed to be in a small clearing with leafy trees all around. I needed many leaves.

The next morning, I joined a group setting off to explore some of the nearby trails. We went around a corner, and there, in the middle of the trail was a large pile of poo and leaves. It wasn’t left by a bear. Everyone was horrified. Who would do such a thing when the outhouse was so close? I was horrified as well, but I did not say why.”

J was laughing when he told this story, and then he started to grimace. His belly was beginning to rumble right then.

“It’s ok! This is better than an outhouse!” he cried, grabbing a shovel and heading away from the fire, a man on a mission.

There are plans to build an outhouse one day, along with a longhouse to make the traditional camp more appealing and accessible to all who visit, but until then, it’s grab a shovel and dig.

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Heading home

I think J is right about how it is good to let things go. I’ll stop there, and you’re probably quite relieved about that.

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Inspiration Point!

A name like that deserves an exclamation point! Or two!8EE130C4-12E4-4E77-A9AA-CF4A6BBF7FEE

A very short post this week, as I’ve mismanaged my time and I’m now scrambling on Thursday evening to prepare for a wilderness weekend away with youth. Fortunately, I’m not the main planner for the coming weekend. I just have to remember some spare socks and a bottle of water. Well, perhaps a few items more – like the new lightweight solo tent I’ll be trying out, one that is rated for winter yet still weighs little more than a pair of socks. I’m excited about that. The tent, not the socks.

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Inspiration Point was where Scout insisted we go last weekend. After a morning of showers, we made the most of a weather window to hit the coastal path. Scout dragged me through brush and over rocks, around trees and across streams, and almost over a rainbow. We had a great hike, resting up on different overlooks and sunny spots around Inspiration Point. It was rather inspiring, warming ourselves in the sunshine, listening to the crash of waves below, watching the bald eagles and other bird life getting on with their lives.

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Yes, inspiring, exhilarating and hard to drag ourselves away. Not so hard for Scout because she was in full adventure mode, whereas I knew I was supposed to be sorting myself for the trip away, but was happily engaged in doing nothing in the sun as a displacement activity. It’s an effort to gear up, but a worthwhile effort.

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This weekend is meant to be below seasonal norms for temperatures, but bright and sunny. I’ll take that over a rainy forecast, and if it is dry, we’ll count ourselves lucky, as we’re heading out to a location reputed to be the second wettest for rain in Canada.79C1E966-AD1F-4563-8F8F-46853EC4B90B

Right, time to end this piece, and finish the gearing up that I never really started last weekend. Rain or shine, it’ll be fine, because I’ve already packed spare socks. Just about ready. Why, I’m almost prepared…

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Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Snow daze

Snow, so much snow!

I was a touch unsure how good the snow was going to be at Mt. Washington last week. I also thought it might be warm, relatively speaking, for skiing and snowboarding. Well, I was wrong about all of that.

There was so much snow, and the first day we got there, it was cold. Minus 3C, but with a windchill into the minus double digits. When our young people jumped out of the minivans, they were still dressed for the coast. Within thirty seconds, bags were being raided to find as much warm clothing as possible. I’m telling the truth when I say one person managed to put on 5 hoodies! Snow dazed!7A056C51-0664-47AD-B6D3-5AE2C7BB7037

It was such fun to be out in the snow with a group wanting to learn to ski and ride. They had boundless energy and enthusiasm – even after the lessons started, and they realized how challenging it can be at first. Two out of fifteen had had a previous lesson, and it showed. These two were carving steady S turns pretty quickly, and some of the others, newbies, weren’t too far behind.F81EB35F-1340-4296-ABFD-0C1707BBD5B2

I’m happy to report my return to snowboarding was a triumph, if measured by how many times I saved myself after catching an edge. No falls, but plenty of wobbles. Danger is my middle name. Or is it safety?F607A3F1-6958-4852-A8DF-BA74D332DA1A

The tube park was a big hit. Safe and speedy fun for creaky kids of all ages, the young ones had a blast, and I had a go or two, enduring gentle mocking for not wanting to be spun around as I was sent on my way.9C3F06AF-3A6A-427D-8011-455B9751614A

If you’re ever on Vancouver Island in the winter, and you’re missing some alpine action, I can highly recommend Mt. Washington. It’s a quiet hill, even when they said it was a busy day, compared to other places, and very well run, with friendly and helpful staff from the rental shop all the way to the lifts. As well as the downhill action, you can also choose to xc ski or snowshoe on what looked to be well maintained trails.

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I’ll be sitting back and resting up this weekend…

Since returning, on a high and in a snow daze, I’ve been asked by students over and over “when can we go again?” I think we’re working on that…

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

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!