Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Micro Exploring on a Tight Schedule

Escaping the urban landscape to explore and recharge in the wilderness isn’t always possible because of time, money, transportation and family commitments. But when you got to go, when you really need to feel the crunch of fresh snow underfoot, or get close to trees and nature, a little creativity is all that it takes.

I found myself needing to get creative last fall, when I had no time to drive to an adventure, but absolutely needed to get away for a few hours. Like many Canadians, I’m fortunate to live in a city that has a large urban park. In my case it is Regina, Saskatchewan’s Wascana Centre. That park has bike trails and foot paths and a small lake. It is used by locals and tourists from spring through winter for a variety of activities. But it also has some wild places that encourage exploration, but require some effort to find. That is where I made my escape to!

There was a fresh snowfall, so I packed my pack, and put on all my gear, just as I would for a winter hike. When getting creative, verisimilitude is essential!

The adventure started with a three kilometre hike past gas stations, office buildings and restaurants to get to the urban “trailhead”. But once I got onto the road less travelled by, that made all the difference. I discovered wild, secret places that, as a runner and a cyclist in the park, I never previously even knew existed. 

On the snowy hike I saw hares and many species of birds and even a coyote. I also surrounded myself with trees and plants, now dormant for the coming winter, but still alive with colours and character against the otherwise flat, washed-out prairie landscape. 

The highlight of the 12-kilometre hike was taking a break in a secluded bird sanctuary area, where bikes and vehicles are not permitted and most people don’t usually access. I pulled out my Explore Magazine, Live the Adventure Club box micro stove, a coffee maker and some food. And there, in the middle of the wilderness, surrounded on all compass points by city, I had a perfect, pristine moment in nature. 

Sure I could have just put coffee in the thermos, but the act of making espresso outdoors was an unforgettable hiking Zen moment. This experience recharged and nourished me for the coming week. Since this first time exploring on a tight schedule, I have taken to creating more “micro explorations” on hikes, but also off road on my bike and on snowshoes. 

The outdoors is all around us, it just takes a slight shift in perspective to see it and enjoy.

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