Thursday, July 23, 2015

Twelve Steps Into Your Own Backyard

When your social media feeds become jammed with photos showing a series of fantastic camp-sites (at least half of which are surely staged - no-one willingly sleeps on a talus slope), soaring ridge lines, dazzling waterfalls, glowing sunsets, and the beautiful people are all trying to take a photo that will "trend well on Instagram," it's easy to think that adventure can only be found in distant lands equipped with fabulously expensive equipment. The image might play well for generating followers, but, adventure as Patrick Watson says is "twelve steps into your backyard."

Milking out one last run in the fading light,
Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park

All that adventure really requires is access to the natural world - the more expansive the better, but even a small park can offer adventure - some imagination and a desire to explore. You don't need a car, a GPS, a fancy hydration pack, or a handful of sugar filled gels, all you need is the desire to see and do something new to you. 

 Sunset, Spring Mountains, Oregon

I have hiked, climbed, skied and paddled in many countries, but, some of my best adventures have been the ones when I literally walked "twelve steps into (my) backyard, Through the tall green grass and into the world." 

 Sea kayaking Palau

One sunny spring day when we were living in Nelson, we decided to climb Copper Mountain from our house without using any infernal combustion engines. We rode mountain bikes 12 km and 1200 metres up Copper Mountain Forest Service Road until we hit the snow left over from the winter. Stashing the bikes in the trees, we continued on foot to the pass between Red and Copper Mountains, and took the south ridge to the summit where we enjoyed eye-popping views of the surrounding mountain ranges. 

 Bonnington Range, Nelson, BC

One year in July, when we were both nursing climbing injuries and could not go mountaineering, we loaded our bikes on the front of the Slocan Valley community bus, and rode up the valley from our house in Nelson to Slocan City, where we climbed a half dozen sport routes under a glowing sun on Slocan Bluff. We had lunch in a park at the south end of Slocan Lake, and cycled the Slocan Valley Rail Trail south down the Slocan Valley following the meandering bank of the Slocan River through river willows and past beaver ponds all the way to our house in Nelson. 

Quiet pools along the Slocan Valley Rail Trail,
Slocan, BC 

Our Tasmanian house-sit, situated in the rolling farm-land by Native Hut Rivulet, has provided endless hours of adventure. I've followed animal tracks through gorgeous eucalpyt forest in the fading light to watch the sunset over Mount Wellington from Howards Hill. In the early morning, before dawn, I've walked out through the open fields with kookaburras laughing at me as I hiked uphill to watch the fog rolling through the valleys across farm-houses with one light shining in the darkness. Echidnas and wallabies have watched me as I pass by on beaten in animal tracks, and rainbows stretch over water holes. 

 Rainbow over waterhole,
Campania, Tasmania

I discovered a 50 metre long sandstone bluff in a grove of native gum trees and I've scrubbed the lichen off to create a private bouldering wall. Wallabies lie sleeping in the bush nearby as I spend an hour working different boulder problems before meandering along animal tracks through fern gullies back to the house. Five hundred metres above the valley, on Coal River Sugarloaf, I've wandered lost in a foggy gum forest on a drizzling grey day, and descended the south ridge down to the valley on a sunny day with brightly coloured parrots flying through the trees. 

 Looking down on Campania from Coal River Sugarloaf

Each time I've walked out the door and into the world, I've had a new adventure. Some days I go out early, some days late, some times in the bright noon-day sun, and others in gusting winds and blowing rain. I've shivered and sweated, seen sunrises and sunsets, watched kangaroos boxing, and echidnas digging for insects. Cockatoos have shrieked at me from the tree tops, and kookaburras laughed. Each minute, each hour has been a gift, and it's all required nothing more than a pair of old sneakers, a raincoat, a wooly hat and the desire to explore. "Ain't it feel right, Ain't it feel nice, In your own backyard."

 Dead gum at sunset,
Campania, Tasmania

No comments:

Post a Comment