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Nature, Unplugged

  • Published on May 30 2013 |
  • by CPAWS |
  • This article is tagged as: parks, nature

I don’t consider myself an urbanite, but I do live in the city and don’t have as many opportunities to get away from all the hustle and bustle as I’d like. There’s always an email that needs a response, a phone call to make, a meeting to be at. Every time I try to explain to my grandmother what I do for a living, I don’t get very far before she defaults to the understanding that I must work outdoors if I say I’m working for an organization that protects nature. When I actually pause to think about how much time I spend in front of a computer, I guess I can see why she doesn’t grasp the “saving nature from behind a desk” concept.

Maybe that’s why I love camping so much (and parks, of course – the very best places to camp, in my humble opinion). It’s like stepping into a parallel universe where things happen at their own pace. There are no deadlines to meet, no projects to finish, and the best part? No cell reception or internet to remind you that your city life and all of the people in it are eagerly awaiting your return. When you’re camping, it’s just you, your tent, hopefully a campfire, and all of the awesomeness of nature to keep you occupied for however long you’re able to get away.

I spent the May long weekend camping, like many people, and oh, what I wouldn’t give to have extended that weekend by even just a few more days. Beautiful park, decent weather (no rain until Sunday night, but it was a polite sprinkling more than anything), a more or less empty campground on a beautiful lake in the mountains, delicious food, and really great company. What more could a girl ask for?

Both nights, we had campfires with wood we had chopped ourselves – I say “we” but really, I had absolutely nothing to do with the chopping other than to observe it taking place. The clothes that I wore, even now having been through the wash a few times, still carry with them a slight smoky aroma from sitting ever so slightly too close to the fire to keep warm. No s’mores to accompany the campfires though, as neither of us had the presence of mind to pick up marshmallows or any of the fixings – insert sad face [here].

Possibly my favourite part of the trip was taking on a not-so-short 18 km hiking trail that wove its way through the hills around the lake. Maybe it’s because I had never really done a hike much longer than 5 km that I had it in my head it would be a piece of cake and finished in no time. Well, it wasn’t finished in no time – took us nearly 5 hours to do the full loop! Yeesh. But also – amazing.

The trail took us through some pretty nifty little spots, often heading in what we were convinced was the wrong direction, presented a few challenges here and there (namely, when it disappeared completely into the water several times and reappeared on the other side of the bay like we were meant to swim across – what?!) and had some wonderful nature-y surprises for us. We even scooped ourselves up some extra-delicious water from a bubbling little creek making its way down the hillside into the lake.

The woods were fairly quiet but the trail was teeming with frogs (possibly toads – I’m not the best at species identification) and at one point, we heard the hoot of an owl in the distance. Being the terrible species identifier that I am, I had no idea what kind of owl it was, but I looked up the call when we got back and successfully pinned it down as a Barred Owl – for the curious folks out there, this is what it sounded like.

All in all, it was a fantastic weekend. When we got back to the city and my phone started buzzing up a storm from all of the missed text messages, emails, and notifications of the previous three days, I couldn’t help but smile and feel good about having taken some time away. We all need it, really. A little bit of R&R, some time to unwind, a break from our busy lives.

I wanted to share this happy little story about spending time camping in a park as a reminder to everyone, including myself, that there are so many good, happy things about parks. It’s so easy for us to push aside these positive park anecdotes to focus on the pressing issues and threats (funding cuts is the big one that comes to mind) that I worry we’re starting to lose sight of the good things, and the benefits that parks provide.

Parks are places where lasting memories are made, where great conversations are had, where adventures abound. Some of my very favourite moments have happened in parks, and they just wouldn’t have been the same in any other setting. I’ll say it loud, and I’ll say it proud: I love parks.

Join me in the park lovin' y'all! If you’re in a sharing kind of mood, tell me all about your favourite park moments on our Facebook page or share them with in the comment section below. I’ll read them all, I promise!

And if you’re in a movement-building kind of mood, add your voice to our I Love Parks campaign. It’s as simple as signing the pledge, and well worth the thirty seconds it takes to sign on. Check it out at – you can even win some sweet prizes from our partners at Mountain Equipment Co-op.

I’ll be back later this summer with more camping stories – ta-ta for now, park lovers!