“The mountains are calling and I must go.” John Muir
I’m not a religious man but, if I was, my church would be in the great outdoors. And, although the mountains often call out to me, I’m equally as amazed and moved in the grasslands or parkland forests.
As you’ll find by following this blog or knowing me well, the common theme for many of my passions began when I was a boy. So too, it was with my love of the outdoors. I grew up the 11th of 12 children and was placed squarely between two sisters, one whom had mental health issues for as long as I could remember, and the “baby” of the family. This meant I was often left to my own devices. I learned early on to be alone and how to occupy myself well. I’m thankful for that position in a large, busy, noisy family because it shaped me into the independent individual I am today.
Although I wasn’t raised in the country, our home was at the outskirts of town, placing us in close proximity to fields, streams and small aspen bluffs. Free-range parenting wasn’t a phrase in the late 60s and early 70s despite that commonplace practice of parenting. It wasn’t unusual for children to head outdoors after breakfast and spend the bulk of the day without adult supervision. I’m certain the mothers of the neighbourhood kept a casual eye on the activities on the streets and in their yards, and everyone knew each other, but from a child’s perspective, we were free to wander and play uninterrupted. Sometimes that would mean riding bikes as a neighbourhood gang or playing ball hockey. For me, it often meant wandering into the adjacent field to spy on gophers and frogs, or to collect flowers and “seeds” for my mother.
When I became a young man, that love took me hiking, camping, and cycle touring. Eventually, when I was newly divorced and unable to afford elaborate vacations with my small children, I discovered the joy of long distance backpacking. To this day, backpacking remains my favourite vacation. I’ve been fortunate to backpack all over western Canada, across Spain a couple of times, and a bit in the highlands of Nova Scotia. Soon, I’ll have the good fortune of crossing this beautiful country of Canada from east to west on foot.
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