Sunday, 23 December 2012
Day 137 – Camping Stories
I was privileged enough when I was young to go to summer camp. For the most part they were great adventures with many intriguing experiences. One such camp was a horse riding camp, where we learned to ride horses which was all new to me at the time.
The horses seemed intimidating as they were quite large and strong animals, and there were many stories going around of how people had been injured. One day I recall seeing one of the campers lying face up on the ground. One of the horses with a reputation of being wild had ripped off a fence post and it struck him knocking him out.
One day we had planned to take the horses for an overnight trail ride. Somewhere along the trail my horse got spooked for some reason and took off running through the trees. I did not know what to do as branches were flying and scraping across my face, in that one instant, I had to decide whether to hang on or jump off. I decided to just bend my head down and ride it out and fortunately to my relief, the horse came to a halt after only 60 feet or so.
I enjoyed all aspects of the camping experience, walking trails, cabin bunking, sleeping in a tent, learning to build fires, archery and canoeing. Through these experiences I developed a passion for nature and being in the wilderness.
As I got older, I began camping with friends. I then learned of a large national park – Algonquin Park - a few hours away from where I live , so some friends and I planned to take a canoe trip there. There are many stories to tell, but I will try to keep it short. Suffice to say it was an awesome experience.
I desperately wanted to go back. So a few years later, I decided to take a 5 day solo canoe trip, portaging deep into the middle of Algonquin Park. I saw it as kind of a test for myself, facing my fears and admittedly, in a small way seeking to gain some image for myself. But mostly, I wanted to experience the solitude – being alone with myself in nature was something very mystical to me. I loved the idea of being in nature, seeking an escape from city life and all the associated stresses and problems.
There were many challenges, beautiful rivers and landscapes as well as a number of awe inspiring experiences on this first solo voyage. My flashlight batteries died on the very first night, which needless to say was somewhat concerning, as darkness is pitch black with no moon.
Bears were a big fear as well, as I had heard the stories of people being attacked and killed in the past. I recall having a nap in the middle of the afternoon, suddenly waking up upon hearing a very loud noise outside my tent. I jumped outside my tent in panic only to realize there was nothing there. Funny how the mind can play tricks on you when you have fear of something happening.
In the next post I will share the other fascinating stories of events that happened on this journey. The story of the inquisitive mouse, the suddenly appearing moose, and the event that caused me to say ‘wow’ a hundred times…