Thursday Tidbits

Posted on October 8, 2020 under Thursday Tidbits with one comment


“We’re just another animal.” S.R.

Like most people my age, I have a lot of miles on my feet. I might have a few more than most having run marathons for a number of years. When my body begged me to stop running, I took up walking and like so many other things in my life, when I find something that I’m passionate about, I’m “all in”. In the spring of 2019, I walked across Spain (713km) completing the Camino, easily one of the highlights of my life. Last summer, I walked around the scenic Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. While this latest jaunt was a mere 300km, the degree of difficulty was quite high, as were the four mountains I had to climb along the way! I guess you could say that I have become a marathon walker in my golden years.

These are well travelled paths. I have walked along many trails over the years, from the Galloping Goose in Victoria to my old favourite, The Landing in Antigonish. I have meandered through many beautiful parks in Hyderabad and New Delhi, India, the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, Stanley Park in Vancouver and Beacon Hill Park in Victoria. All of these and many more have captivated my imagination. Nature is always the backdrop and the reason for going.

Lately, I have done more hiking than I have ever done before. It started in the spring when I returned home at the beginning of the pandemic and spent the better part of four months with my son. Six days a week, we completed a hike, usually followed by a cold beverage and a great meal. Good work if you can get it, as the saying goes.

I arrived in the north last November when winter was in full swing. While I did some walking, the weather and my busy teaching schedule kept me away from the land but this year, I arrived at the beginning of August and have had the time to get out and explore the tundra and the mountains. Every weekend, I have gone for a hike and occasionally a long walk thrown in for good measure.

Now, most of the parks that I have visited and trails that I have walked are the creation of man. I suspect millions of people have walked over the exact same terrain in Central Park in New York. Sadly, I am not one of them. Not yet but a full exploration of New York is on my “uncompleted” list. Or is it? Do I really want to go to another big city to be pushed and jostled on the subway? Do I want to breathe polluted air and put up with the hassles of travel to and from the Big Apple? Travel has become a chore and in the middle of a pandemic, not my description of fun.

Have a I had it with big cities and global travel? I hope not but at my age, the simpler pleasures of life are taking root. Staying home and reading, playing tunes at a gathering of friends, preparing a good meal, enjoying the company of friends and, of course, spending time in the great outdoors all hold great appeal.

Last weekend, me and two colleagues went for a hike on the land. The land up here is rugged and rocky, interspersed with tundra. At first blush, it can look rather bland until you start to create your own trail. You see, there are no marked paths up here. When you go exploring the land, it is quite possible that you are the first person in millions of years whoever trod this particular piece of terrain. It can leave one awestruck when you think about it. You trundle over rocks and then get a reprieve as you step onto the spongy softness of the spectacular tundra.

My walking partners and I were talking about the wildlife we had seen on our hikes. It was during this discussion that Serge made a very interesting observation about our place on the land, on this day, at this moment. “We’re just another animal.” I thought about this for a long time.

The vastness of the north, the raw beauty, and the total serenity are what captivates many who come here. It’s not for everyone. The winters are long and can be harsh. But like many of the hikes that I’ve been on up here, patience is rewarded as the north reveals itself in subtle and often spectacular ways. To stand by an inukshuk several kilometers from the village, on a dark night, without neon lights to spoil the view, with a billion stars all around and gazing at the Northern Lights, is a moving, spiritual, mystical experience.

The next time I see a caribou or silver fox on one of my hikes, I must stop and thank them for allowing me to share the land with them.

I am just a two-legged animal.

Have a great Thanksgiving weekend. Despite these challenging times, we still have much to be grateful for if we are healthy and have good friends.

P.S. If I meet a polar bear on one of my hikes, I will thank him oh so briefly before making a hasty retreat!




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