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!

Some superb reading for you!

 

I’ve just finished reading a few books that I think you guys will like, especially as we are all like-minded folks here, into hiking, camping, wilderness etc.

I won’t bore you with the details of each book, just a title and author is enough to whet your appetites, I’m sure!

Here they are:

Cabin fever — Tom M Fate

Ranger confidential — Andrea Lankford

Grizzlies and white guys — Clayton Mack

Happy reading!

 

For your next trip to India, try these guys…

 

Planning any trip can be daunting. Planning a trip to the East, doubly so!

Even though english is widely spoken and understood, there are certain nuances and subtle ways of communicating that we in the west are not familiar with. So by all means, if you want the headache of arranging everything yourself, or prefer it that way, it can be done.

Myself, during all the trips I have made to India and the Far East, I have used only one firm, which I’m going to tell you about now.

Not only can they offer ready-made treks and trips, but if you want a specifically tailored one, they are more than happy to do that for you. I normally prefer to have a package set up, but with the option of walking away on my own and getting back to the organizers for the flight back home.

The company is Royal Rajasthan Tours, and despite the name, they cover more than just Rajasthan. I have asked them to arrange tours for myself and my hiking party in Ladakh, Nepal, Tibet and also as far as China and Japan.

Apart from me recommending them they must be doing something right, as www.traveladvisor.com have also recommended them.

Theirs is the only company I know where the Director sometimes travels with a tour! Apart from the rather novel idea, having the Director travelling with you instills a certain amount of peace of mind, showing customers that if the owner is also travelling with them, then he must be confident of their ability to deliver.

I’ve used them so many times, and recommended countless friends and colleagues of mine, that I know both the Directors by name. My initial contact has always been Jag Suman…he takes care of tours for customers from the USA/Canada and Europe, whilst Bhupendar Singh has the responsibility of running the tours themselves. Both guys are very friendly and can speak a number of languages aside of english.

If money is no problem, you can opt for the 5 star tours, which include a personal pick up from Delhi International airport by their very own classically dressed drivers and chaperones, by limousine, direct to your chosen 5 star hotel!

If you’re on a budget like me, that’s no problem either. They arrange everything.

Next time, give them a try.

 

Day I met a mysterious gentleman on my hike…..

An east Indian guy I met on one of my hikes said something very typically mystical when we got talking and sharing a cup of coffee…

He said it in his language, but I never got it first time, so he wrote it down for me in english parlance…..”Kis kadar khoob surat hai, tere deedar ki duniya…Meri nazron ki janat hai, zulfo rusaar ki duniya”

It sounded so magical, mystical and from another world, another existence even. And it’s really weird, but he had a kind of far-away look in his eyes, as if he was looking way into the future, not the present.

Of course, aside of what the words sounded like, I wanted to know what they meant. I asked him to tell me, but he looked at me and my partners, smiled and said someone will come to tell you what they mean soon….and with that, he thanked us for the coffee, and walked away!

We were left flummoxed! Who was he? Why did he seem so aloof to us? And most of all, what was he doing in the middle of nowhere, with no back-pack of other means of shelter, food or water with him? He was dressed in western clothing…pants, jacket, toque, etc but was carrying nothing else. Strange!

After a while, we voted to walk in the direction he went, so that we could give him some of our food, water etc to help him, but after walking 2 hours, we could find no trace of him at all.

A few days later when we had finished our hike, we got to the local town and reported to the police there about a guy who just appeared out of nowhere and walked away without trace too. They said nobody had been reported missing so although they’d take note, they would not be taking any action, which is fair enough I suppose.

And what of those words? I know you’ll think this is a bit cheesy, but I was sitting in my local library when a dude came and sat on the same table opposite me, said hello and asked about the book I was reading, about hiking of course!

I asked him if he was local and he said yes, he was doing some research at a university nearby into….get this…east indian languages! Remembering what that indian guy on the hike had said, I pulled out a ragged piece of paper and asked this dude if he knew what it was. He said yes of course…it was Urdu and then and there explained the meanings word by word! Here’s what he said:

Kis kadar khoob surat hai, tere deedar ki duniya…Meri nazron ki janat hai, zulfo rukhsaar ki duniya…

“Immeasurably beautiful is the world your eyes see..

My eyes search for paradise in your hair and countenance…”

I was still puzzled by this translation (this guy was Caucasian, so could he have got it all wrong I thought!), so I asked him to explain what it meant. And he explained that the words can have different meanings depending upon when, where, how and to whom they are said!

I told him where we met him and what we were doing at the time, hiking etc. So he said in that case, the words were uttered as an attempt to explain the beauty of Nature, of the Creator who created the wilderness we were in. That sounded right, and would explain the far-away look in the guy’s eyes we saw. Perhaps the guy was looking for some kind of Truth in the wilderness? I don’t know.

Synchronicity? Coincidence? Magic? You tell me!

Shows you get to experience all kinds of stuff out walking or hiking in the mountains!

I can understand that guy….

Just read a book called “Out there” (forgot the name of the writer!).

In it, the writer talks about the time when he had come back to civilisation after a prolonged stay in the Northern Territories of Canada, and how he couldn’t handle all the noise around him in his modern house!

He talks about difficulty falling asleep due to noise from his tabletop clock, the hum of the fridge downstairs, the noise of traffic outside his window and finally, he even is able to hear the hum from the electric cables buried inside the wall behind his bed!

I must say I sympathise with him. After having been in the wilderness, whenever I come back to town, I too hate all that noise. But, once I stand underneath that lovely hot shower, everything is forgiven!

 

Lochness monster? We have our own in BC….

Right by Bella Coola, around that area, is a river, quite far away, called the Kimsquit River.

Thats where our monster lives, or around them parts.

Once I was up there, just pottering around camping and canoeing. I’d spent the better part of a few weeks there and thoroughly enjoyed my time there, but now it was time to move on down home.

I got everything packed, but thought about my canoe..I just couldn’t justify carrying all that weight and the mere thought of it made me shiver!

Ah, to hell with it, I thought, I’d leave it right there covered up with tree fronds and stuff. I planned to come back again, so I’d pick it up then.

There was a small portage right along by the river bank, made by myself and used by animals as well, so I decided to hike down that way.

It wasn’t long before I decided to take a break, so I stopped, laid down my pack and sat down. The place was dead quiet….I didn’t like that, as normally there’d be birds and things chattering away, but not this time.

I idly looked over at the other side of the river bank, amongst some tree branches fallen and trapped there. I thought I saw something move, but the moment I looked harder, there was nothing.

I knew then that there definitely was something there, that explained why everything was so quiet…..mountain lion or grizzly, I thought.

I kept very still, breathing very shallowly. Then I saw it again….something in the water. It looked like a seal, but it had a weird head, a bit like a bird or a lizard. It could be a dead branch maybe, being moved by the current. But no, it seemed to move of it’s own accord.

It was almost black in colour, and moved its head from side to side. Then a little more of it came out the water and I could see the rest of it’s body, a very wide body. This was no seal! I’ve never ever been scared in the woods, but this time, I could feel myself trembling. Judging by the it’s size, if it ever came out the water and onto land, I’d be toast for sure.

I thought to unpack my rifle, a good powerful one, too, but the noise it would create would attract too much attention. In the ned, I saw a fist sized rock, picked it up and through it at the thing as hard as I could.

I think I must’ve hit it just below it’s neck in the water, as it looked over at me, opened it’s mouth, showing it’s small teeth, like those on a fish. Then it dived, dived fast and all I could see was ripples for a while, then nothing.

Well, I didn’t hang around there, I tell you! I was outta there like a shot and didn’t stop till about 5 hours afterwards, so scared I was.

What was it? I don’t know. But I mentioned it to my aboriginal friend one time, and he nodded his head, saying “Don’t go there again…big trouble”

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