Backcountry Thoughts

Paul Andrews
Aug 12 · 2 min read
A narrow, rocky path through the wooded nature
A narrow, rocky path through the wooded nature

“Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.”- John Muir

I feel the essence that John Muir’s quote captures every time I step into nature. It’s the sense of stillness. It’s the labour of trekking through land or across water. It’s the creation of a new self. This past weekend was another opportunity to feel all of that.

Myself and three close friends hiked 90 minutes into Algonquin Park along the Highlands Trail. It was a short hike to a beautiful site on Provoking Lake. I’ve been doing the weekend, outdoors, drop-out and connect camping thing for some years now. Not a pro, but definitely seasoned. And this weekend was much like others. It was a trip coloured by what I’ve come to know as the usual: plenty of swimming, setting up, cooking, fire-stoking, and both quiet and shared contemplation.

However, this was not the usual for my friends. For the three of them this was the first time they packed a bag and hiked off-road without returning the same day. I’m grateful to have experienced it together with them. Grateful to see a connection formed between each of them and the land we inhabited.

Connection is a word that’s so widely used it might have lost its significance. Connect your phone to the charger. Connect with people online. Our modern idea of what it means to connect is just different from what we experienced over the weekend.

Nature as the centre of your experience is what it truly means to connect. Listening to the sounds of wind and water. Seeing the forest sway. Being with nature’s silence. It’s way of bringing you closer to the world, others, and yourself. I witnessed my friends experience connection for the first time and it was great, fulfilling even. I’m happy to have played some part in it all.

I’m grateful for what it taught me as well. I’ve known for a while now that I become recharged and even changed each time I step into the woods. The trees make me more rested and content. The stillness, more thoughtful. Surrounded by friends, more caring. And this weekend I was shown that again.

I believe I will be shown it over and over. That’s part of the point. It’s part of the reason why I continue to hike. Why I continue to disconnect and reconnect.

I wish everyone could be shown it too.

Paul Andrews

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