We often forget despite our advances as a species, our concrete and steel cities, our iPhones, Computers, Video games and another day to day technologies that once upon a time we the people of this planet lived in and with nature. When I was a child the Disney movie lion king came out. One line stuck with me.
“When we die, our bodies become the grass, and the antelope eat the grass. And so we are all connected in the great Circle of Life.” Disneys Lion King – Mufasa
Despite our attempts to deny it, through religion, or science, we like everything else living on this planet are of nature. We can deny it all we want but it doesn’t change reality. Our 21st-century morals and beliefs can change to be “modern” yet the planet will still act and operate the same no matter what we do because just like it, we are of nature and of the universe and are subject to the same rules as everything else.
Prior to this trip, I had come to the realization that I actually didn’t have that much camping gear. A friend and student of mine had recently got the prepping bug into me in addition to me wanting to start to hunt I decided to go full army mode and get everything I could possibly need. Not just for the camp but also for a change of pace in my life. As I was not entirely sure what to expect in the camp, however, I ensured I had enough food for myself and the various things I might need. I planned to take only what I could carry in my own bag.
It turns out I was the only person who came with this mentality. I was a little surprised to find out that most people had a full cooler per person and far too many things for such a short trip. Or in the case of same, almost nothing in the way of camping preparedness. I guess I was the only one prepared for a true backpacking trip. As usual, it seems my own nature makes me stick out like a sore thumb.
Prior to heading out to the boats, I made the conscious decision to leave any time keeping devices and phones in the truck. How could the land before time have any meaning if I still have the ability to measure it? It was surprisingly easy for me, but not so easy for everyone else who still brought their phones despite the fact there would be no data or wifi.
The issue of too much gear was not a real problem. We still managed to find space for all of it in the canoes. Which as camp my way is still in its pilot phases were borrowed from most of Terrance’s lake neighbours. Anything that could not safely be put in the canoes with their matching owners was piled on two one of two Tin dinghies, one with a small 7hp motor This included Terrance’s half working BBQ and myself, the real extra baggage. Terrance had told me that on previous pilot camps they had even fewer canoes (we had 4, plus two dinghies for 13 people) and had to carefully pile up all the gear and some people into the not so sea worth dinghies. Lake worthy maybe, but not sea. Good thing we were on a nice calm lake, where nothing could ever possibly go wrong.
With a life Jacket for everyone, a partner and a canoe. With the exception of my self, as my partner was the BBQ. At least we were being towed by that little engine that could. Camp Fires would have been so much easier, and far more in line with a land before time, but at this time much of the area was on a Fire Ban due to forest fires and dry conditions. Like a rag tag band of gold panning pioneers, we set off onto the lake to start this mysterious adventure.
More than one group comment on the fact I didn’t have to paddle with comments like, “I thought you were supposed to be a soldier.” To which I simply replied, “Exactly, Strategy. Work smart, not hard.” to which I usually followed with a paddling motion in the air. This easy start and doubt by others would of course later be confronted on the calm lake that wouldn’t be.
We with the monstrous engine sped ahead to our camping site for the next few days. It would be an idyllic place, right at the mouth of a glacial fed river with two rocky deltas on each side and a forest leading up the mountain behind. The rocks and pebbles ranged in size from small smooth stones perfect for skipping across the water’s surface to softball sized ones who clearly had not been weathered by the elements yet. The image of this is something you might see out of a tourist brochure promoting Beautiful British Columbia. Looking up the river into the forest it reminded me of one of my favourite horror movies and psychological thrillers the descent. This image gave me a sense of awe, curiosity and a little fear. It made me glad I had a survival hatchet and hunting knives just in case.
It reminded me once again that I love the outdoors, something to which I discovered in the military yet is something that I have spent little time exploring in my own backyard. Yet here I was, in the outdoors, with a group of strangers getting back to nature.
This day would be one of assessment and adjustment as we got used to the environment and to each other. Apparently, we were to be split into two groups. One would stay at camp and one at a time get a free massage from our volunteer massage therapist. The other my group would go off on a walking meditation and that partake in a trauma therapy session with the two men we met at the bar earlier who would not tell us who they were. Turns out they were from Angel Hands Wellness centre in Vancouver.
Back to the canoes, we went on the still calm lake as we made our way to a second beach around the corner. This was the site of a previous camp as Terrance mentioned that last time the water levels were too high to camp where we were now. It was more woodsy with tall trees on all sides stretching back from the beachside.
Terrance then lead us up a trail where we stopped at an old homesteader cabin. Also, like something you might find in some psychological thriller. It was clear that this cabin had been left and forgotten in time and yet at one point someone had clearly made some improvements. The original log cabin walls could be seen in the upper parts of the walls or rotting away on the inside. It had been shored up, who knows when with a proper foundation and cement walls but these two were now crumbling from neglect. There was still what appeared to be the original wood-burning stove that would only need some wood to work. In the opposite corner, another more modern stove from what I can only guess was the 50’s that was not in working condition. The roof made of old wood planks was still being supported securely even if it is now in no shape to stop the rain. A place like this makes the mind wonder about the solitude of living in the middle of nowhere, secluded. How many people had chosen this cabin as their home? were they permanent residents or just passers-by. For the time being, we will not know.
Terrance stopped us outside and told us to take our shoes off. Now we would begin a walking meditation to the waterfall that supplied the water to our campsite river. Through our bare feet and with, slow, deliberate steps, we were to take our time and contemplate as we one at a time made our way to the end of the path.
I went first, though for me going as slow as Terrance demonstrated was a challenge as going slow is something I have always had problems with. I eat fast, I work fast, I talk fast and I think fast. Coming back to nature was a way for me to attempt to slow down. The Barefoot thing was not an issue as so far though I had my Vibram 5 finger toe shoes had mostly opted to be barefoot for most of the trip so far. It just felt right to me to be barefoot as I attempt to slow down and try to get back to how things might have been for us as a species in the past.
One step, two step, three step. Breath. Slowly for me at least, I was made it to the waterfall. Whoever had made the improvements to the cabin down the trail had also opted to make a rock and cement wall at the one edge of the cliff. Clearly, this was not only a great place for us but for them as well. The waterfall itself must have been 20 or 30 meters tall as it fell into a basin of water feeding the river perhaps 15 meters wide. The rock formations dipped away from the wall into the pool on one side and might prove a challenge for anyone who got too close. Another scene out of a nature brochure, or a horror movie. I could only imagine seeing some cannibalistic native standing at the top peering down only to be gone the next time I looked. This, of course, did not happen, but it has been so long for me since I was back in nature that such scenes only appear in movies for those who opt to be in the city most of the time.
Back to the beach. Sitting down on logs or the ground Mihael of Angel hands gave a talk about trauma and what it means in the modern world. Detlaff his partner in crime turned out to be the president of the Canadian hypnosis society. Under normal circumstances, I would be very sceptical of both practitioners but here in this environment, I thought I would give them a chance. They told us about the therapy session we would one at a time be going through. Detlaff would put you in a light trance while Mihael would use shiatsu techniques to assess your body and relieve pain or stress.
First, we watched as Terrance was put in the trance and asked a variety of questions about his life and past traumas. The concept of colours and auras were also discussed. I wondered if watching it first might actually “prime” our responses to the treatment as I had really no idea what to expect. But it is certainly a possibility.
Eventually, it was my turn. and 3, 2, 1. Gone!
I was actually mildly surprised at how difficult it was to open my eyes. I am fairly sure if I really wanted to I could have but I didn’t want to disrupt the process, none the less they did feel heavier. As they walked through the series of questions, I was asked to imagine different traumas, points in my life, or people in my life as well as to do various things with the images in my head. At no point was I being controlled I was still fully conscious. For me though, I am not sure how effective the process was. I tend to have a very strong mind with regards to such things and I am not easily manipulated. It was difficult for me to even imagine some of the tasks they gave me for me my mind was more blank as I tried to assess what they were doing while also trying to imagine the things they said. It was certainly an interesting experience and is something I may be open to again.
The conclusion from Mihael was that happiness is a difficult thing for me. Or at least my interpretation of his words. I think many in my life might agree with this statement though it’s hard for me to figure out if it’s simply his years of experience as a therapist interpreting my words during the therapy session or if he intuitively felt it. Either way, his words were thought-provoking as I contemplated my existence.
Is happiness hard for me? I am not really sure. Perhaps I am so driven and goal-oriented I never stop to smell the roses or live in the moment. Perhaps my version of happiness is simply different than others. Perhaps my clinical depression makes it hard for me to maintain happiness. At this point in my life, I am not really sure, but I will only ever keep moving forward one way or another.
Back to camp. By now the others had all finished their massage therapy and apparently, it was great. It was certainly something I was looking forward to.
Something that had also been brought to camp was fishing rods and a tackle box. Fishing was something I had only ever done as a child. And as I found out it really is an exercise in patience. I found a fishing rod that I liked and figured out how to cast it. But I did not really do much more than that, but I certainly wanted to try more as I like so much on this trip.
The rest of the time was mostly eating and talking and relaxing. I had anticipated losing weight on this trip but with the amount of food that was brought it didn’t end up happening. Not that I complained much, I mean I do like food and having little to do with my time, what better way to pass it than eating, talking and contemplating.
At least today I felt relaxed, being back to nature felt good.
With that, I leave you with one of my favourite artists Matisyahu and his song: on nature
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