Back to Basics
"Few places in this world are more dangerous than home. Fear not, therefore, to try the mountain passes. They will kill care, save you from deadly apathy, set you free, and call forth every faculty into vigorous, enthusiastic action. Even the sick should try these so-called dangerous passes, because for every unfortunate they kill, they cure a thousand. "
- John Muir
This is one of my favourite quotes. I believe it to be true and I would testify that I have lived to experience it in so many ways. While we do not have mountain passes here in Ontario, we have the most stunning provincial parks filled with opportunity, adventure, and wild. Recently, Kyle and I took to the trail in search of a mixture of solitude, togetherness, and a little grit; we found exactly what we were looking for in Algonquin Park.
I have explored this exact route several times before albeit many years ago, once leading a group of youth in a leadership program and again on my first solo trip. This trail was therefore a fitting adventure with me in a new life chapter (wife, mom, ... adult) and Kyle in his first backcountry trip. Despite having traveled down this particular trail (Western Uplands) several times before, the trail seemed new to me. I suppose that nature can do that to you - take something you have experienced before and make it seemingly new over and over. I love this wild magic.
Backpacking is definitely my favourite type of camping. I enjoy the simplicity of having everything you need on your back. This method forces you to pare life down a little bit, to be mindful about your wants and needs, and to enjoy a life a little less complicated. My dirty clothes (I wore one pair of pants the entire trip), simple meals, and pillow-less sleeps did indeed, as John Muir says, 'set me free.' It opened up space for other things, different conversations, increase awareness, and a solid values check. I left this trip feeling sad yet fulfilled, connected, and strong. I suppose since I went into this adventure looking for a mixed-bag it was only fair that I came out with one.