City Day

It’s been one of those Sundays where I wanted to do something different – and I have not been downtown (except for shopping at Thrifty Foods) since I arrived back three weeks ago today.

Can you believe it’s been three weeks? There are times each day, especially in the mornings, when all of this feels utterly surreal. That I actually ever left and this isn’t just a continuation of my life. That I actually came back and I’m not going to wake up in the Koots tomorrow. Most of all, that almost five years (Oct. 5 will be 5) with Simon are over. I cherish my memories.

But here I am and it’s all real.

So, after lunch Abby and I headed downtown. We walked for almost two hours: the entire waterfront, pausing to take photos. In fact, we didn’t really walk – we ambled. And I understood that one of the things I love here is being close to the ocean.

And I had fun with the camera today – my gosh, a 30x zoom. That heron was very far away.

We’ve had to push back the Auger Point by two days – weather. And now the forecast has changed again to include showers on Friday.

Damn. Not pushing it back any farther. If we get a few showers, we’ll have to deal with it.

So I’m going to head to Maple Mountain tomorrow for the sake of my back. I need to keep moving it. It’s getting better – but slowly.

Just so long as it’s good enough for crawling into a tent at night by the time we get going…

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Highlights

You would think that the highlight of this day would be the semi-annual VPO sale. Because, yes – I was there when the doors opened and yes, I got almost everything I wanted/needed. I showed amazing restraint. There were lovely Icebreaker items I would have liked. I did not buy them. I bought only what was necessary. The most important item was a new sleeping mat. What I discovered with my old one – it turns out it was part of a bad batch. Lots of people had issues. Repairing, apparently did no good because the mats just leaked right through the pores. So Simon and I both got bad batch ones.

At any rate, I have a new one that is one of the lightest there is and packs up very small.

However, as I said, this was not the highlight. After VPO I headed up to Pomme to check out their organics. Mangoes were crazy cheap so I got two and headed for the checkout – and that’s where I gasped and said OUT LOUD: “OMG – you have Wild Mountain chocolate!”

Yes – Wild Mountain, the bar I thought I would never see again because I have only ever seen it in Rossland. And Pomme had the best one – the one with chocolate from Ecuador!

I bought a lot of it.

Yes – I do mean a lot.

There were other highlights. After lunch  (and half a bar of Wild Mountain chocolate – still swooning), I took Abby to Jack Point, another one of our favourite walks. I took the opportunity to test my camera in three settings: manual, landscape and Intelligent Auto Plus. I think I took at least a dozen or more photos – identical shots in three modes. When I got home, I put them through my editing software – almost no retouching at all on any of them. The fact is, I could not for the life of me tell the difference between any of the modes. Maybe an infinitesimal bit.

So – for hiking’s sake and not fiddling too much, I will leave my setting on Intelligent Auto Plus – it seems to have a tiny edge on the others. For Macro and moving water etc,, I will switch to manual – but this is good knowledge. Learning my camera – getting to feel comfortable with it.

And that’s it. For the rest of the day – more writing on the new manuscript I started and lots of putting my feet up. Allowing my back to heal and quite simply being lazy – door and windows open, sun and breeze pouring in – a happy puppy basking in sunshine (broiling herself). Yeah – it feels good.

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The River

This has been as relaxing a day as I could possibly have. I feel like I’ve been moving in slow motion – and I’ve liked every minute of it.

Part of that has been dictated by my back, which is getting better but still hurts, especially if I’ve been sitting for more than 5 minutes. That means getting out of the car is always interesting.

At any rate, enough about my back. Abby and I had a nice walk – two actually – both to the river. This afternoon we went to Nanaimo River Park and she had the best time, spending all sort of happy moments lying or sitting in the shallow water. She’s still wet and I don’t hear one word of complaint about it. She has also had an enormous bone to chew on: yup – happy dog.

I keep being amazed at how many people I’m connecting with: people I haven’t seen for so long and every meeting is all about happy and hugs. Feeling pretty darn blessed about that.

I’m also finding myself quite teary every now and then – and not in any sort of a bad way. In fact, this occurs generally when I see or hear or read something inspiring and joyful. I find myself easily moved – so fully of emotion that it spills out.

If I’m struggling with anything these days it’s a question of purpose. When I was younger, I never really probed into it very much: I was set on moving up in my career and then later, defining something bigger. Now, in this new place, I wonder. I have only vague ideas about purpose and reason for being and the future. By vague, I mean I see love and caring and connection and hopefully, inspiring – but nothing concrete. I obviously don’t see the “younger” goals – raising a family etc.

Perhaps my question is, “How do I make my mark in the world?”

Do I even need to think about that? Is it enough to just live the best life I can, looking for opportunities to make a contribution? Just live authentically and trust that if I approach life from a heart-centered place, the universe will provide?

I find myself leaning into this void – this place of trusting what comes next – perhaps trusting the power of the Law of Attraction.

Surrender.

That’s a good work for me right now.

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Mount Cokely

Today, Pat and I tackled Mount Cokely. The weather was perfect – warm, a cooling breeze, sunny: perfect. And we figured this would be good training for Jack Augerpoint. Cokely is 1500 plus metres up. We did it in a bit under 9 hours and we certainly weren’t going fast. And we sure as hell won’t be going fast up Augerpoint with big packs. So it was totally lovely.

My back was still a bit bad this morning but after a couple of hours of hiking, it was A-OK. Oddly though, now that I am home and sitting, it’s hurting again. But then haven’t I always said, “No matter the question, the answer is hiking.”

All I have to do is keep moving.

I have not been up the CPR trail in years of course. And wow! Changes. First, the clear-cutting near the beginning. Okay – we got out of that quickly and the trail was spared so that was okay. (as okay as a clear-cut can be) – and then we hit the blowdown. In the windstorm last December, a whole side of that steep mountainside was swept almost clean of trees. And not just little trees – these were massive old ones that came down like matchsticks.

Unbelievably, loggers had been up, sawed through stuff, cut steps in huge trees and restored the trail completely. It was a massive job.

But the trail is intact.

Of curse, the best part of the trail is the final bit up from the tarns: the scramble to the top and Arrowsmith, revealed in one swoop. It’s gorgeous!

A good day.

A great day.

And now a bit of a rest to get my back into 100% shape for four days crossing a few kilometres of Strathcona.

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Ouch

Yet another stellar harvest of blackberries – inundated with them. So many – so yummy. Yeah – lucky me.

But about the ouch. A couple of days ago I had a slight twinge in my back. No big deal. I hiked yesterday and didn’t feel it at all. I got up this morning: just fine. But somewhere along the way between breakfast and taking Abby for a walk, something happened. I have no idea what. I don’t recall lifting anything. I don’t recall twisting my body – nothing. Nada.

And I have spent the rest of the day in such pain, I have had to lie down with waves of nausea. Every time I stand up, the world spins. The pain is that damn bad. Lower back. Damn! It’s always the lower back.

I’m scheduled to do Mount Cokely tomorrow. It’s a biggie. Can I do it? I’m going to act as if I can: get ready, make a sandwich. See how it goes as the afternoon and evening progresses. Movement is good. As soon as I went out picking blackberries and walked and walked, it was better. I put my backpack on a few minutes ago. That was fine. Sitting is the killer. So – no long bouts of sitting.

Whew!

The great thing today: I took my car in for its oil change. Kal Tire checked it over minutely – even took the tires off (no charge) – inspected every detail. The car is in great shape. No issues. Hurrah!

That really is good news.

And that’s it. I’m going to do my best to take care of myself. Because what I find is that physical pain really drags me down. And I don’t want to hear those voices. You know the ones: “Oh, you’re old and feeble and incapable and wrinkled and who could love you anyway…”

Yeah those.

I’d rather be kind and compassionate with myself. If I won’t say it to someone I care about, I won’t say it to myself. Love yourself first. It’s like oxygen masks on an airplane: put yours on first; then help your child.

So I shall practice loving-kindness on myself. Practise makes perfect, right? Well – at least close to perfect.

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Mount Benson

This morning, Pat and I met up and tackled Mount Benson via the Climbers Route. And back down Tu’Tuxw’Tun – so all in all, the longest route. We were not out to break speed records as most people are who go straight up. In fact, we met no one going our way. Why? Well, at a fairly leisurely pace, it took us slightly more than 3 hours to get to the top. And yes, we talked a lot, took photos, stopped for a snack – and had a really nice time.

I enjoy Pat’s company – and that’s good because he’s my hiking partner next week for the Jack Augerpoint traverse so we’re going to have to put up with each other for four days.

I think it’s going to work out just fine.

I’d forgotten how steep this route is – both up and down – with a bit of scrambling here and there. And I loved it. It felt good, particularly given that my leg didn’t hurt (yay!) and my back, which was twinging this morning, behaved perfectly and is now A-OK.

Yes – a super hike but also heart-breaking to see the clear cuts behind the mountain. No – I did not take photos. I couldn’t even bear to look too much. This is the big problem here: private land and Timber West can do what it likes – and what it likes is massive deforestation.

Deep breath. Yes, I will do something about it. I will do it in my way (politically) and in a way that allows me to retain joy.

Meanwhile, Let me tell you about breakfast: Muesli with at least a pound of ripe, sweet blackberries. OMG! Heaven in a bowl. More of the same tomorrow. But then, I suspect I will have to pick more tomorrow. But hey! We have more: lots more – all growing back there and just begging to be picked. By me!

Oil change tomorrow.

Hiking on Thursday.

Feeling mellow, soft, in the flow.

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River Walk

It has been a pretty darn fine day, starting with a walk to the river with Lisa, Abby, Desmond and Lily and ending with a monster harvest of the biggest, juiciest, sweetest blackberries ever!

Reasons I adore Lisa: she’s smart, funny, genuine, open, intelligent, gorgeous inside and out and I doubly adore the fact that she loves to talk about ideas! Exciting.

So it was a good morning. I took the bandaids off, which meant it was time for Murphy’s Law: a good part of our walk was through salal and other scratchy things. And then, of course, I forgot to pick blackberries fully armoured. Happily, I was careful with my right leg. My left leg? Not so much. I now have matching scratches. Both sides perfectly balanced in the bloody scab department.

Yeah – a really super day. Abby is going to love staying with Lisa and her pups. Yeah – really love it – walking and wallowing in the river every day. What a tough life it’s going to be.

What I really loved about the blackberry walk today – the sun coming out after a couple of days of cloud and rain – it was the kind of warm sun that makes me slow down to a casual stroll – the kind that makes me want to lie down in the fields, close my eyes and listen to the bees buzzing around me.

I started writing yesterday – a new project. A “me” project. So far, it’s feeling pretty good.

Plans are firming up: tomorrow, Benson on the climbers route. Then next week, Jack Augerpoint Traverse. Then Flower Ridge. Maybe (probably) Albert Edward and Frink after that.

Looks like the multi-day pack will get some good use before the season is over.

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