Anybody who spends time outdoors will tell you that they get something special from the experience. That something special is unique to every single person. It could be physical or mental health benefits, family bonding time, personal rejuvenation, creative inspiration.... the list is endless. No matter what it is, we all get something positive out of getting outside. One thing that I've noticed in the outdoors community, is that thing we get from being outside often translates into something we want to give back or to pay forward to others so that they can get something special from getting outside, too.
I know many of you reading this already give back or pay it forward to your community in some way. I also know that sometimes people want to make a difference but may not know how or what to contribute.There are a lot of other ways you can give, especially if you don't have a bit of extra dollars available. With all the craziness of the holidays starting, and Giving Tuesday just around the corner, I thought I'd give you a few examples of how we try to return a little bit of what we have received from being an outdoor family.
|A camping trip is a great place to get unplugged. There's nothing like devouring a good book in a beautiful spot outside. |
Photo by Gayle Labuz
Our paddles and camping gear have been cleaned and officially put away until next year. So now, our outdoor adventures focus more on local trails. We're really fortunate to live close to lots of beautiful trails, steeped in local history. We of often head to one of the Guelph Hiking Trail Club-maintained trails to enjoy an hour or two outside, close to home. We're also fortunate that these trails have a lot of geocaches hidden along the path!
This weekend, we returned to a section of the Radial Line Trail. We've hiked here once before, but decided to return to find some new geocaches that had been placed along the trail this summer. (Spoiler alert: We found them!)
The thing that is so cool about geocaching is that it takes you to spots you would otherwise never know existed. Spots like this stone foundation, tucked into the trees and covered in moss, just off the trail. If we were not looking for a geocache, we would have wandered right past this moss-covered foundation without ever realising they were there.
Old ruins like these always stimulate my imagination. My curiosity lights-up and for the rest of the hike I wonder.... Who lived in the house? Why was it abandoned and left for ruin? How old is it? What was life like for these people, tucked back from the road and very far away from town?
Small hints exist, like the apple trees that still shed apples in early fall. But other than the moss-covered foundation, little else remains of the people that once lived there.
Maybe I'll do some research to see what I can find about this property. But until then, I'll continue to wonder and my imagination will continue to ignite as the forest continues to reclaim the land.
As far as trips go, our weekend at Wolf Lake was one of those trips that I will never forget and will never be replicated. It was a weekend of many firsts for the Sometimes Eventful family. And it was a weekend where I saw first-hand how an online group translates into a wonderful real-life community.
When casual comments about a group trip first started back in the summer, I tossed our names into the conversation and said my family would be “in”. To be honest, I didn’t think at that time that it would really happen. But when I received a message making the trip invitation official, I jumped into the canoe, so-to-speak, with both feet. Where would we go? What kind of trip is this going to be? Who else is coming for the ride?
We quickly determined that this would be a family-focused trip, involving a diverse range of skill level and children ranging from Kindergarten to High School-age. And the really interesting part? Some of us had never, ever met in person. Sure, we are all outdoor enthusiasts who share a common interest and philosophy towards getting outside. But our familiar meeting point was in the virtual world of blogs, social media and the #WeGetOutside Twitter chat I host each week. The Sometimes Eventful family had never gone on a trip with any of these people.
What were we getting ourselves into?
I have wanted to visit the Temagami region for over 20 years. I first learned about the area when it became a hot topic in the mainstream media, with reports of the old-growth pines being in danger from logging and mining. I wasn't a big camper back then, and I thought that Temagami was very, very far away. But I did think to myself that one day I would like to see those 300 year-old trees.
Over the years, Temagami and its trees moved to a back corner in my brain. Not forgotten, really. But not thought about, either. Then, with the advent of social media and my jump into the Ontario outdoors blogging world, I started to see posts about the place on Facebook and Twitter. Temagami moved its way back to the front of my mind. I found out about Wolf Lake. Once again, I thought about how much I would like to see those very, very old trees.
This past weekend, it happened. It was a very short stay, but one that had an impact. We'll be going back and it won't take 20 yrs for a return visit.
The weather was windy and cool for much of the trip. You could say the lake was moody as I looked across the water of this sacred place to ancient pines that have seen the seasons change for centuries. This place I've wanted to see for more than half my life.