Weeks 50, 51, 52: Return Road Trip. November 17- December 3, 2013.

This final post on My Walden Pond is dedicated to the memory of my mother, Beth Young:  1949-2013.

US road trip

The route

Somewhere along Montana highway 200

Somewhere along Montana highway 200

Montana

Just east of Missoula, MT

 

Idaho

Crossing Lost Trail Pass into Idaho

Nevada

Rolling through Wells, NV

Nevada

Camping in Red Rock Canyon, NV

Arizona

Hiking Wilson Canyon in Sedona, AZ

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Week 49: Home. November 1, 2013.

backyardIt’s been a while since I’ve camped in my own backyard.  Since February 10, to be precise (see week 22.)  Much has changed since then, and I find myself grateful to be home after many weeks away.  What better way to celebrate that feeling than by pitching the Hubba on the soft patch of moss by the cedars at the southern edge of my yard?

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Week 48: Lac Renaud, Gatineau Park. October 20, 2013.

IMG_0129Although not immediately obvious from the Gatineau Park website, there are a few campsites open in this no man’s land between the end of the summer camping season and the start of winter camping on November 15.  Interested campers must park at Breton Beach and hike a few kilometres up the parkway to the little cluster of campsites near Lac Renaud.

I elected to go “minimalist” this time around, packing a sandwich for supper and a thermos of coffee for the morning rather than kit involved in producing my usual pasta/pesto/oatmeal/espresso menu.  I was the only camper out, and it rather felt as though I had the park to myself, but for the odd deer and occasional gaggles of Canada geese.  I was lulled to sleep by the salvos of chest thumping from invisible nearby grouse– could it really be that they are mating in October?

Only four more nights of camping to go now until the 52-week project goal is reached.    Feelings definitely mixed.

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Week 47: Bow Valley Campground. October 7, 2013.

Ted and the Tarp

Ted and the Tarp

What I lacked in imagination by going back to the Bow Valley Campground (yet again), I made up for in a backwoods survival thrill that was created by forgetting my sleeping bag at home.  I realized what I had done after I had unpacked the car and pitched my tent, just as a faint drizzle began to descend on my campsite.  Ugh.

The forecast called for overnight temperatures of about 5 degrees in the Kananaskis that night.   I figured that at a minimum, I could probably evade hypothermia by dressing in all my clothes and wrapping myself in a tarp to conserve any radiant body heat.  Ted tucked down comfortably between my ankles and immediately fell asleep, but every time I moved, the tarp crackled and a new jet of icy air entered my makeshift cocoon.

At about midnight, I did a quick mental calculation of the misery involved in enduring the rest of the night under current conditions vs. the misery involved in packing up and heading 80km back to the house.  The choice was easy.  I packed up and was tucked in a warm bed back at my parents’ house by 1am.  Never has a quilt felt so deliciously cozy.

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Week 46: Point Backcountry Campsite, Kananaksis. October 2, 2013.

Sunset over Upper kananaskis Lake

Sunset over Upper Kananaskis Lake

After one false start (see week 39), I actually got out to the backcountry in Kananaskis this time.  And it proved to be an adventure second only to the grizzly-ridden tundra of the Denali National Park in Alaska (week 3.)

We were an expedition party of 3:  me, Ted and my father, who somehow got roped into resuming his camping career after a fifty-year hiatus.   We started out from a parking lot between the Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes just after 5pm, heaving our packs onto our backs, and heading onto a trail that skirted the northern edge of Upper Kananaskis Lake.  After climbing gently for about 1km through the trees, Ted stopped dead in the middle of the trail and refused to move forward.  When I finally got him moving again, we rounded the corner and came almost nose to nose with a juvenile moose just off the trail.  Perhaps Ted is actually good for more than just warming the bottom of my sleeping bag.

Although not far, our hike took us over beautiful and varied terrain.  Mountains encircled the smooth grey lake to our left, and the few deciduous birch were changing their leaves from green to yellow.  We crossed a rock-fall with ancient twisted trees that called to mind a Peter Jackson film set and finally dipped onto a snow covered path leading the last few yards to the backcountry sites.  And it was in that snow that we saw prints.  Big prints.  Prints with claws.  Bear prints.

But we camped uneventfully overlooking the lake, undisturbed by any actual bears.  The next morning we awoke to 5 cm of fresh snow on our tents and made our way gingerly back over the rockfall to the loamy trail by the lake.  Mindful of the bear prints, I called out “Hello bear!” every few minutes to warn any neighbourhood bruins of our approach.  But apparently I should have been shouting “Hello moose!” because we came across another moose at almost the same spot on the return trip.  This second moose was a big bull, no messing around.  I was not suckered in by his dreamy expression or his placid munching, either– I remembered only too well that the park rangers in the Denali National Park rated moose more dangerous than grizzlies.  We crept past him, giving him as wide a berth as possible.

And for whatever reason, on that pristine snowy morning in the Rockies, it was not my day to be killed by an angry moose.  Or bear.

 

 

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Week 45: Bow Valley Campground, Kananaskis. September 29, 2013.

Bow Valley TedAs the weeks tick by, I find that camping is becoming less about the push of keeping up with the weekly challenge and more about the pull of time in nature.  Whether you want to call this a habit or the beginnings of an addiction, I find my equilibrium increasingly dependent on meditative time outside.  Perhaps my real life is the one lived in the green,  interspersed here and there by interludes in the swirling mind-bending ephemera of our human ecosystem.

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Weeks 42, 43, 44: Cross Country Road Trip. September 19-26, 2013.

The route

The route

Beach on Lake Superior

Beach on Lake Superior

Sun rises over French Lake in Quetico Park

Sun rises over French Lake in Quetico Park, ON

Lichen on the Canadian Shield

Lichen on the Canadian Shield

Poplars in the sun at Riding Mountain National Park, MB

Poplars in the sun at Riding Mountain National Park, MB

Waves crashing on the beach at Lake Superior Provincial Park

Waves crashing on the beach at Lake Superior Provincial Park, ON

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