Talking about journal making…..

 

I always have a journal or a notebook with me wherever I go, whether it’s on a month long hike in the Yukon or a days walk around BC.

It helps me relax and muse on the places I went to or the feelings I had at the time. And sometimes my notes trigger off new ideas or new places to visit as well.

Recently, I was about to buy some handmade journals which contained photographs, writing, names, logos etc taken from magazines. I make journals like these all the time (you may have seen photos of the one I made here in my previous post).

But what I was told by a friend made me stop buying the journals, He said that nobody can use material which does not belong or was not created by himself in his own work, and then go on to sell it.

If the work you create using this material is for your own private use only, then apparently it’s fine. Well, thank god for that, I thought, as I plainly make journals like that, but only for myself!

Can any reader here please confirm what I heard is true or not? Are all those 1000s of sellers on Etsy  taking part in copyright infringements by using scraps of photos etc from magazines, books, newspapers etc?

 

What the great outdoors can give us…

Have you ever noticed how strange your own hometown seems when you’ve just come back after spending days away on a hike in the wilderness?

Certainly, in my opinion, I need to be away for at least a week or more for that feeling to arise; otherwise going away for just a weekend or so doesn’t cut it.

Getting back to what we call civilization…sidewalks, square concrete blocks we call homes, lights, signs, weird haircuts, cars, clothes like strait jackets and cosmetics. Is this all that civilization can give us?

Comparing Nature’s wild places, forests, beaches and beasts makes us all feel so small, even if we come from cities that are full of tall, ultra modern skyscrapers. Could it be the reason why mankind is so keen to destroy, to chop down, to tame those great treasures Mother Nature has given us, because they make us feel so small? I don’t know.

Little do we realise, that if it wasn’t for the escape these wild places, these primordial wildernesses, untainted by man, the serenity of that eagle, or the freedom of the sea, we would long ago have disappeared from this planet…either that or become permanent residents in the madhouses of the world.

Like me, you may have walked amongst huge Sitka spruces, or redwoods or hemlock trees and marvelled at their ages, those massive organisms that seem to have the same essence that’s present in every human being and animal, but that we have long ago abandoned for air conditioning, electric windows or an iPhone.

I often find that once I’ve accumulated enough funds in my pocket to take care of my bills and other expenses, and am left with enough to plan another walk, another escape, that’s all the excuse I need.

I’d rather escape with those few dollars in my pocket, and go sit amongst the forests that are close to me, the rainforests or coasts of the Pacific Northwest, and sit or walk and lick my wounds that civilization gives us as a result of living within it’s confines.

I realised long ago that there is something wrong with the way we live, working like madmen to earn enough to keep the bills at bay, then drinking, partying, chasing after women like demonic possessed people, in order to try and wash away the stress caused by living.

Every morning we arise to the insult of our clocks, swallow a few mouthfuls of breakfast, and speed off to whomever we have signed up to sell our souls, in order that we may stave off the inevitable bills.

Wouldn’t it be so much better, if we could arise when our bodies were good and rested, wash leisurely, sit down to a serene peaceful breakfast, then either read quietly, or go take a silent walk among a beach or park, and only then, sit down and type a few sides of paper that will pay just enough to keep us going.

I laugh sometimes at the simple truth an old Chinese man told me. He said, “we are all locked into the 99 cycle…..a man who has 99 cents wants $99, a man who has $99 wants $999, a man who has $999 wants $9999….”! So true.

Do we have to rush to work, and then rush back home, shell-shocked, worn, tired and beaten, as if driven mad like some whipped beast from hell, shackled to an onslaught of drudgery and repetition, a yoke which all mankind has come to accept as entirely necessary.

Or why do we need to rush to our fridges when we get home, only to guzzle down as many beers as necessary that will anesthetize our souls, anesthetize the stress and anger within us, like the constant whining chant of tormented or harangued poltergeists.

Why do we arise each morning, go through the same rituals again and again, rush outside our cages we call homes, the spit at the sky and head back to the treadmills.

Wouldn’t it be better to to be able to instead listen to jazz or Beethoven, and live life at our own pace, not at the pace we are expected to live.

Yes, I do realise that these words are probably coming from an idealistic part of my head, some unknown Nirvana untouched and untamed by civilization, but I believe there is some truth in it.

I think we need to look very closely how we are living. We need to take as much as Nature has given us in those wilderness areas that are still left, for, before long, those who call themselves civilised, modernized, educated….but who seem to be mostly caged up, un-free mobs of henchmen, will inevitably come to confront us freedom lovers one day, and walk us back to our cages where they are happy to keep us always.

That’s my rant for today!

Peace, people!

Once upon a time, in the land of BC…

 

Once in a while, you stumble across a gem of a hike and then, you wonder if you should tell your friends all about it, where it’s situated,etc, because once you’ve let the cat out the bag, there’s no going back! That super secret trail of yours is going to be open knowledge to everyone and his aunt! And that means crowds!

That’s what I was thinking when I completed a hike in my very own stomping ground, right here in British Columbia, Canada. Shall we tell all our friends and risk losing this paradise to the crowds every year?

I’m talking about many, many years ago and at that time, the trail was not common knowledge at all. It took me and my friends around 15 days to complete it, a distance of about 100 miles in all.

We took it real easy, so’s we could soak up all that heaven-sent scenery!

Fast-forward another 20 or so years, and that trail is now so popular, everyone and their aunt DO know about it!

It’s now called the Sunshine Trail. Read all about it here or better still, come up to BC and be our guest!

 

 

Unpredictability of wild animals in the wilderness

Of course we all love to walk and hike in the wilderness.

And quite rightly so; it’s easily one of the most popular pastimes around and harms nobody. It is very good for our health and well-being and also makes us aware of the priceless world we live in, and how we should learn to protect and preserve it as far as possible.

But there are dangers out there, and without making this sound over-dramatic, if we are not prepared, those dangers could, and have, taken lives away.

From uncharted waterways, to hidden cliffs and mountainsides, to wild animals.

Today, I want to talk about the dangers that exist with wild animals. So many lives are lost every year because of attacks from animals in the wilderness, that it shows just how important it is to be ready and prepared just in case.

Let’s use the case of Timothy Treadwell, who had been living with bears for 13 whole summers in Alaska, as an example. His experience of bears was second to none, although he was viewed with incredulity by wildlife experts because of his rather strange ways of behaving in front of the bears.

Timothy was a very enthusiastic and dedicated young man who fell in love with the wilds of Alaska and it’s bears during a trip. The following year, he decided to make another trip there, and it was during this 2nd trip that he worked out that he could obtain an income from this work, by filming and taking photographs of bears going about their lives.

Some people say he was overly friendly with the animals and that was what led to the attack that killed him and his girlfriend in the end. Some say that it was the trust he placed in bears, that was misplaced. Wild animals are wild animals, and only a fool will trust them with his or her life.

With Timothy and his girlfriend, it may have been a mixture of both; too much misplaced trust and confidence, plus the time of year.

It’s well known that just before the start of winter, bears get frustrated and anxious due to the dwindling food supplies, and in order to store enough energy in their bodies before hibernation, they must eat as much as they can.

Perhaps it’s likely that the bear which killed Timothy and his girlfriend had been stalking the pair near their camp, drawn by the smells of food and humans. And of course, Timothy mistakenly thinking that no bear would attack him of all people, probably paid no notice.

Here I have to give one example of an encounter I had once in the wild, with a bear. I was camping together with some friends and had just decided to take a solitary walk away from our tents after lunch. After about half an hour, I was slightly tired and also wanted to take a pee, so I went into some small bushes to do the business.

Afterwards, I found a small rock and thought I’d take a little rest there. I had only been there about 10 or 15 minutes, when I heard a rustling noise just behind where I had urinated. It was then that I realised a sobering thought — I had left my rifle at the camp!

The only weapon of any use I had with me was a bowie knife, which is probably as useful as a toothpick when trying to kill a bear. Anyway, I tried to remain as calm  and still as possible, only shouting and hollering as loud as I could, given how shaken I was. I prayed that it would turn out to be a deer or racoon or something. Soon as the animal heard the shouts, it showed itself, and it was indeed a bear, a black one, confirming my worst fears.

I was probably facing downwind, as the bear was sniffing the air trying to sus out who or what was there, and in doing so, it raised itself on it’s hind legs to get a better view. In all my life, I have never, ever been as frightened as I was on that day. I kept thinking of my friends and family, finding my half eaten remains. This went on for what I thought was a long time, but in my distressed state, it was probably only a few seconds. Slowly, I realised I could either just sit here and act like a 3 course meal on a table for the bear, or I could do something about it. But what?

Don’t ask me how, but at that time, something came over me just then, like an overwhelming rage, and thoughts of how dare this animal try and frighten me coursing through my head! So I stood up, saw some sizeable chunks of rock at my feet, picked them up and threw them with al my strength at the bear. With hindsight, the bear could have easily attacked there and then, and I would have been a dead man within seconds, for he was only 20 or so feet away. But for some odd reason, the bear looked surprised, as the rocks hit him several times on the chest and head.

Seeing this, he dropped on all fours, which I thought signalled an impending attack. But no, to my surprise, the bear sniffed the air a couple times more, turned around and walked away!

I had done it! I had saved myself! Not being very religious, I thanked god and his minions at having helped me in my hour of need. I was filled with adrenaline and stood my ground there for at least another 10  minutes, before coming to my senses and walking slowly back to our camp.

The others thought I had just come back from a walk and laughed and joked at me, until they saw my face close up; I must have been as white as a sheet! I slowly told them what happened and the everyone went deadly quiet!

So, cut a long one short, wild animals; you should never, ever trust them. They can turn at any time, even if you have worked with them for years and know them personally by face. The story of Timothy Treadwell should ring in your ears every time you go out on a hike.

I have a big Alsation at home. He’s my best friend, but I still treat him with respect. He is an animal, a big and very strong animal, and animals can and will turn anytime. Like the guy I saw on TV once who had worked with a particular bear since it was young. One day, he was just playing around with the bear, just like he normally did. The bear was up on his hind legs with his front legs on the zoo keeper’s shoulders. Without any warning, the bear clamped it’s mouth around the keeper’s neck. At first, the other keepers thought there was nothing wrong, as they played like that many times. But this time, the keeper started screaming, the bear did not let go, until another keeper entered the cage and hit it with a metal bar several times on the head. By that time, the first keeper was dead, his main artery having been severed by the animal’s teeth. There is a message here for all of us.

The other thing is being prepared when you are in the wilderness; always, always have a good weapon with you, and by that I mean a powerful rifle. Not a piddly little .45 pistol or suchlike; people have been found dead with pistols in their hands having fired half their shots! The only thing that will stop a large predator is a shotgun, so make a habit fo carrying one with you, even if you are going for a pee.

And the aim is not to get involved at close quarters with an enraged animal; in that scenario, you cannot win, period. If you think there is going to be an attack, do not hesitate to shoot, as once the animal is on you, you are 99.9% guaranteed dead.

That day I was lucky; what I did was foolish to the extreme. I definitely was lucky, you may not be, so please heed what I have written, or if this is not enough, you’re welcome to surf the web and you’ll see how many attacks are often fatal and the danger is real.

Walk in an old growth rainforest

Knight Inlet walk — Duration 2 to 4 hrs — Grade A (easy) — Guided or unguided

This is one of the easier walks that I have done.

It can be a relaxing walk amongst some of the very oldest rainforest in the area, in the Kwalate Valley, where the walk leads out across dramatic old trees and waterfalls.

You have an option here of either making your own way along the trail, or going with a guided tour, which starts at the Knight Inlet Lodge.

Being situated mostly in the valley, the walk is quite leisurely and will take you around rocky areas, fallen rocks, etc.

Stout , waterproof walking or hiking boots are still recommended however, as normal trainer shoes etc will not be very comfortable and offer no protection in case you happen to trip over an obstacle. Proper walking shoes are built to offer good protection to feet and ankles.

As the walk is in a rainforest, waterproof jackets with hoods should be worn, with a fleece layer underneath; you can always remove the jacket and place it in your rucksack if you feel too hot.

The walk will take approx 3 to 4 hours, and you should be back in time for a leisurely lunch at the Lodge!

Location

Knight Inlet Lodge is located in the wilderness area called, appropriately enough, Knight Inlet, which is about 50 miles by air along the Campbell River. You will experience the most exhilarating scenery in the Pacific Northwest including mountains, lakes and fo course the wild coast.

There is accommodation available at the Lodge if you require, and almost all of the 12 guest rooms have a twin, king or queen size bed as well. Each room can accommodate 4 people. Lounges with wood-burning stoves for comfort are also fitted.

How to get there

Flights to Campbell River from Vancouver cost approx $300 per person.