Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Respect the land

Why is it that some people can't simply enjoy something without destroying it. There are numerous walking and hiking trails, and parks near where I live and for some reason people need to litter, cut trees, make new trails, or burn things. Some of these trails are on private property and we are only allowed on there thanks to the generosity of the landowners. I thank them for their patience and stewardship, but I wouldn't blame them either if they decided to stop people from using their land for recreation.

I know that a fire is a great thing when outdoors, but please be smart when lighting a fire. Take a look at where you are. If you are on a wind blown, well drained, dry rock escarpment with no water then figure it best not to light a fire. When lighting a fire too, be sure that if a fire pit already exists to use it, if it is a mess, clean it up and then use it.

"Pack in, pack out." This simple mantra should be used by anyone venturing into the wilderness, no matter your mode of transportation. I try not only to pack out my waste, but if I see other waste I do my best to handle it as well. Those of you on four wheelers, this would be a great way to expend your fuel, a remote wilderness trail clean up. Don't burn the garbage either, unless that is the last option or you just can't carry it another five days. This tends to leave the fire pit in a mess for the next people who come along. Paper waste of course is good to burn as is cardboard, but cans, and plastics should definitely be carried out.

If we want to continue to use our woods then lets respect them and all that they have to offer.

My pic this week is one that I enjoy. I love tenting along the ocean and this place is heaven by the Bay. Enjoy.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Gas and Self Sufficiency

Here where I live the government has been talking a great deal about becoming self-sufficient. They have tossed around plenty of ideas on how to do that. Some of them very appealing but most I have come to find are not truly about becoming self-sufficient but rather about increasing our revenue. These are not the same. A week or so ago, I read in the local paper that it has been suggested that we need to triple our population by 2026 in order to become self-sufficient. WHAT? HELLO! If we triple our population we triple our needs and decrease the space in which to meet those needs. I think my government and I strongly disagree with the way self-sufficiency should be attained. I believe we need to quit looking at import and export markets but rather produce and buy locally. We are a resource rich area so there is no need for us to import energy, food, fuel, furniture, wood, and on and on. We need to start helping those within our area who need it before we start helping those from outside our area. We need to decrease the gap between low incomes and high incomes and this shared wealth will increase the tax base and thus provide us with the revenue to provide those services needed most, education and health care. But that is just me rambling this morning because I got upset at the gas pumps.

I thought ahead last night and filled my gas tank on our Ford Escort (A domestic car by the way.) and it was a good thing I did. I was shocked when I drove by the gas station today and read that the price had shot up 5cents since last night. 5CENTS! So much for gas price regulation halting price shock at the pumps as they said it would. Now I am ignorant when it comes to fuel prices, I have no idea how they are set, but really come on. You can't tell me that the gas I pumped last night cost 5cents less than that pumped by someone this morning? Someone is making a great deal of money. Can someone please explain how this system works to me?

Well that is my little rant this morning. I gotta head to the woods to clear my head. When I am there at least I feel self-sufficient. Hey maybe that is it? Maybe we should all go back to leading a simpler, more physical type of lifestyle where we walk everywhere not drive. This would increase public health, decreasing health costs, reduce pollution, reduce fuel and energy demands, and just make everything better....at least for me.

See you in the woods.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Water logged

"Man the water is cold!" That was my first reaction after I hauled myself out of the Trout Creek. A bit embarassed, very wet, cold, but smiling. I had just rolled my kayak while on a morning paddle down through Town and was loving every minute of it. I admit I had never before this been in a white water kayak, I had only ever done flat water kayaking. I was very nervous about even making this trip since I am still in therapy for a recently healed broken wrist but I could not pass up the chance to try something new.

The best part of this trip was that I was doing it through work and therefore getting paid to kayak down the Creek. Now in the summer time you would have a hard time kayaking down due to low water and you would likely portage more than paddle, but in the spring wow, it flows fast and furious. These spring conditions can make it a bit of a challenge, especially for an inexperienced paddler like me (insert snicker here.) We started just below a set of rapids and getting in the kayak was a challenge, but with no incident the trip got under way.

For the first hour we floated and paddled down stream with a relaxed rhythm. The sun getting higher in the sky and the air around us getting warmer. I took note of all the little things about the Creek as I was searching for a project site for work and evaluating past projects as well. Mallards continually moved off ahead of us and I would stop in an eddy from time to time to take pictures. As we moved into Town people would watch with a bit of awe and bewilderment as we passed by and we would give a friendly wave and say "Great day isn't it?"

Finally we reached a set of rapids that I was anticipating. These are newly formed rapids and there are quite a few trees layed into the Creek, making them even more difficult to navigate. I made it through the chute to a eddy where I pulled out. From there I had to go across the Creek to get around a downed tree and here is where I made my "rookie" mistake. I left the eddy paddling hard with my nose upstream a bit to get across, but in this instance you can't paddle on both sides you must paddle on the downstream side only. This keeps your nose pointed upstream and also moves you across the current....oops...I forgot and over I went.

I clambered out of the Creek, pumped out my kayak, portaged around the tree, and happily carried on my way for another hour and a half until we reached our destination. Oh and I guess I should say after another portage for trees, I fell in again trying to get into my kayak. Go ahead and laugh, I did.

Unfortunately my digital camera got waterlogged despite being double bagged in ziplock and I don't have any pics to show but I still will post a pic of the week. This pic is titled "I'm Gonna Get Wet" so I thought it appropriate. I took it along the Fundy Footpath at the mouth of Wolfe Brook, where the brook meets the Bay of Fundy. It was a great trip, and I did get a bit wet.

Stay tuned and I will see you in the woods or on the water

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Well it is finally here. Fishing season opens today. Yes! Unfortunately I am working today and will not be able to get out. That is not that big of a deal though because the waters are still high and the trout won't be taking a whole lot yet. Can't wait though to cast a line. There is nothing better than hearing that whizzzzz of a cast on a crisp quite morning, well wait....maybe the splashing of a lunker as it takes the bait and you set the hook is better. Then again the sound of a trout frying over an open fire sounds even better again, and it smells incredible to boot. Okay lets face it there is nothing better than a day out fishing, even when the weather is bad.

When you go fishing things can be going terrible but somehow you always end up enjoying yourself. I can remember forgetting the bait for a weekend trip we had planned and not having a shovel to dig more. We looked like a bunch of ravenous bears scrounging for bugs as we used anything we could to dig for worms. Why is it that this trip stays in my head even though it occurred many years ago? The trials and tribulations make it all that much more rewarding and thus memorable.

Fishing is a sport for all to enjoy. No matter your societal status, race, gender, or age, you can enjoy fishing. Some fish out of necessity while others fish purely for the joy of catching that huge trophy. I fish just to be out there in the woods. I love wandering up small streams, down boulder havens with wild currents. I love the game of hide and seek and trying to guess where a fish might actually be. "Are they under that overhang? or in the deep pool next to the bank? I wonder if that back eddy would serve as a resting area? Come out, come out, wherever you are. Even on days where I don't catch anything, I still enjoy being out there. I hope you all enjoy the fishing season. Fish by the rules though.

If your thinking about fishing in New Brunswick check out this site:

My pic this week is of one of my favorite fishing rivers. Of course I won't tell you where it is but I will say this: "The fish are always there and there are plenty of them."

Happy fishing everyone.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Spring, Family, Friends, and Fun

The last two days have finally given hope that spring may have finally reached us here in the Maritimes. I got my fingers crossed. Fishing season is just over a week away and the woods are calling me and my tent.

My wife's family had a get together this weekend and I spent a great deal of time entertaining the kids. The best part about that is they can be so easily entertained, oh and so too am I. We spent a half hour or more blowing big bubbles, little bubbles, and multiple bubbles, and of course you can't blow them without chasing them down. Once they grew bored of the bubbles it was onto flying a kite. I was a bit apprehensive at first because it was a Barbie kite, but I quickly got over my insecurities when the kids did. Do you know that 2-5 year olds have no such insecurities, wouldn't it be great if we were all like that.

The kite only got away on us once or twice. We always managed to catch it before it got to far. Thankfully it was not windy enough to blow it to fast or high that we could not get it. Each kid got a turn and then we secured the kite to the ground using a stick while we moved on to eat popsicles. Nothing beats a popsicle on a sunny day, even if it was only 7*C.

It was a wonderful Sunday, blessed by God, family, friends, and fun. Here is hoping the rest of the summer is as adventurous.

My pic this week is a true sign of spring. This freshet was photgraphed during a backpacking trip last spring along the Dobson Trail. I love running water, big or small, and this small freshet flowed powerfully down a deep ravine and was impressive the whole way.

See you in the woods.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Small Talk

Last night I had the privilege of presenting some of my photos and stories with the Kennebecasis Naturalist Society. This was my first public speaking engagement as Ben Whalen writer/adventurer and I have to say thanks to the KNS for the great opportunity. I learned a great deal about myself through preparing for that presentation. I truly am passionate about being outdoors and our part of NB. I much prefer presenting stuff about my life as opposed to what I present through my day to day work. My life stories of adventures and outdoor mishaps can be entertaining, at least to some.

So my pic this week is dedicated to those who attended last nights KNS meeting and embraced my stories and made me feel like I have accomplished something, and that I may even have more to offer in regards to outdoor pursuits. Many thanks to you all and I will see you at meetings to come.