Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Relaxing Walk While Competing

Thanks for the pic Jamie Roach

Through past experiences that led to other columns I often have come to realize how I am aging.  One sport that I recently thought I'd like to try again is golf.  As a kid I spent my summers at one of three locations; the ball field, a good fishing hole, or on the golf course.  Once I had to start paying intermediate membership rates however, my golfing heavily decreased.   The majority of golf I play now is on the computer that I use to write my columns.  On the online World Golf Tour, I play as a pro with a 6 handicap but hardly burn a calorie through 18 holes.  Even with the online opportunity I still only play maybe 3 rounds a month, after all my lap top is for writing not playing.

A little over a week ago I was able to take part in a one day golf social as part of the local Chamber of Commerce tournament.  I was a bit nervous heading into the day as I was scared I would not be able to reach my own expectations or those of my own teammates.  The tournament was a four ball scramble which means we take the best ball for each shot with some exceptions.  My biggest fear was that we wouldn't want to ever play my ball.  Luckily my golf game was not as rusty as I thought it might be.

I struggled through the first two holes but my drive on the third hole was long enough that we used it for our first shot on the hole.  My next shot was terrible however as I shanked a five wood.  Golf is frustrating that way but when you hit a sweet shot you are hooked once again.  It is an up and down relationship for a player like me and it is that roller coaster and the challenge of keeping my emotions in check that has always got my competitive juices flowing.

Despite my online WGT ranking, I'm no where near a pro so I can't give anyone tips on golf.  I can say that it is a game that everyone should try because you don't have to be good to enjoy the walk.  In the Sussex area we are blessed with many courses and each has its selling features and no doubt everyone can find a course they enjoy, even if it is just for the walk.  Walking is the greatest exercise and after carrying your clubs and walking 18 holes you'll believe it.  After my first 18 holes of 2012 I know I sure could feel it.  My right wrist ached, my back was as tight as a drum, and I was exhausted, and we had taken a cart. 

If I recall, I always played better when I walked than when I played out of a golf cart.  The reason for this was that I could stay more relaxed when I walked.  I could let my mind wander away from golf for a bit and take the competition out of it.  The biggest competition in golf for me was myself and when I relax I play better.  I encourage everyone to get out on your favorite course and relax.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Fishing For a Future

This is an older column that I had published in the Kings County Record.  I thought it would be good to share it here.  The "Hooked on Conservation" workshops were a huge success with over 60kids taking part.  I felt proud of the job all the partners did to make these happen.
For a young boy there are very few adventures that top going fishing.  As a kid it isn't just about fishing it is about exploring new horizons, discovering new ground, and learning about various ecological cycles and habitats, even if, at the time, you don't realize.  There are many documents that demonstrate how kids who are active outside live a healthier and fuller life.  They no doubt also grow up with a greater appreciation of our natural world and place a greater value on keeping it natural and pristine.

As someone who works hard to protect and restore the natural ecosystems of the Kennebecasis River having people value the watershed is important.  One way to improve a person's perception of their surroundings is through helping them connect with it.  To form the way a young child perceives the watershed is a great place to start and will have a lasting and growing impact.  An upcoming event hosted by the Kennebecasis Watershed Restoration Committee (KWRC) hopes to increase the value young kids place on the health of their local rivers and streams.

"Hooked on Conservation" is a workshop that focuses on kids ages 8-14 who want to try fishing.  The hope is that the KWRC can educate the youth on methods of fishing that help maintain the fish populations while also increasing the child's understanding of fish habitats and habits.  The KWRC will host an event in Sussex, one in Apohaqui, and are planning one in Hampton.  Already a number of kids have registered and will learn some great techniques on how to catch the big one, not to mention how to find them.

While the day long workshops will teach kids how to fish, the best thing the kids will get is to actually spend an afternoon on the water fishing.  More than that they will dig their own worms, bait their own hooks, and release the fish they catch with their friends.  This is a memory maker for any kid.  In the future those who attend will value the Kennebecasis watershed more than they might have if they didn't attend the workshop. 

If they continue to fish beyond the workshop they will likely utilize more "fish friendly" techniques.  Catch and release fishing is just one of the techniques the KWRC will promote.  Using a barbless hook, minimal fish handling methods, along with other practices will aid in creating a more sustainable recreational fishery on the Kennebecasis River.  Cooking and cleaning trout will also be demonstrated as part of the workshop and the kids, although possibly a bit grossed out by this, will still take it in and remember it.  Another aspect of the workshop will be to encourage the kids to maintain and submit fishing journals that will help the KWRC monitor fish populations and health and provide government officials with better information to develop future management plans.  Through this workshop kids of today will learn so that kids of tomorrow can continue to make memories.

Monday, July 9, 2012

FFP 2012: The Beaches

Looking over the Fundy Coast from Martin Head shows how many beaches could exist here.
This is my last look at my spring 2012 hike across the Fundy Footpath with 3 generations of the Whalen clan who I introduced in the first hike entry - The Hikers.  It was a great trip and one that will be remembered for many years.  The parks, the tidal flats, and the waterfalls, are all notable on a global scale.  For me though, the best thing about the Fundy Footpath is it's beaches.

The beaches are full of a variety of tidal life.
When most people think about beaches they think about warm glistening water and long ribbons of white sand but, typical of the FFP, in this wilderness the beaches are even rugged.  The tides are the highest in world and so the beach changes dramatically every six hours.  With the constant flow of the Bay of Fundy the water never gets that warm and even during a hot day in July it takes thick skin to be able to swim.  If you could stand the water temperature, in order to get to the water you typically have to navigate over large boulders to get there.

Just about every time the FFP crosses a river it comes to the mouth of the Bay to do so.  Each time, the hiker is rewarded with the sound of crashing waves on rocky beaches.  Wolfe Brook and Telegraph Brook each have a steeply sloped, boulder covered beach, where wave watching is an awesome experience, especially on windy days.  At high tide along these beaches you are hemmed in close to the shore and it is hard to find a spot where ocean spray can't find you, but during low tide, you can explore the rock faces and smooth boulders.  Regardless of where the tide is on its cycle, both of these small, unconventional beaches offer something to see and explore.  If your into collecting stones, skipping stones, or as one acquaintance of mine does, balancing them, these beaches (as most FFP beaches) are a stone lovers dream.  If you like scrambling and playing on boulders these beaches are great during low tide as you can find crevices, caves, are passages that are fun to play around.  I like all of this stuff but what I truly love is finding that low lying boulder that has the right slant and smoothness that I can comfortably lean back into it and use it as a chair to watch the waves crash in.

Wolfe Brook has lots of rock and boulders to explore.
The beach at Martin Head is one of the most iconic locations on the FFP.  It is a long beach that resembles the more typical image of a beach, especially at high tide.  The long isthmus that forms the "Head" is very gravelly with well rounded and weathered rocks.  The Quiddy River delta is a mud sliders paradise and is full of thick, slippery, mud.  For those who like to build sand castles, there is lots of sand too.  There is no poor time of year to explore this beach but on long weekends through the summer it can be busy with off-road vehicles who like to use the beach as a camping area.  Why wouldn't they?  It's a beautiful spot to watch the tides and soak up the sun.  With the history of this place exposed at a number of locations it is easy to get lost here.  Your mind drifts over not just the scenes in front of you but also through those you can imagine from years gone by.
Martin Head  can be viewed from a variety of angles, none of which are bad.

A beach similar to Martin Head would be Long Beach.  As it's name implies this is a long beach.  Small airplanes have been known to land here.  There is history here as well, although not as obvious as Martin Head, it can be seen if you know where to look.  At high tide this beach is a long ribbon along the shore where in places it is impassable while at low tide there is an unimaginably wide beach over 2km in length.  The highlights here change after every storm as new drift wood floats in and old rocks are covered over.  It is worth exploring over and over again.

Seeley Beach seems to enhance everything, including fog banks.  How cool is that?
The last beach is probably my favorite.  I try to camp here whenever I can and I have never had a bad night.  Even when the weather is poor, it is like the old saying a bad day at Seeley Beach is better than a great day at work.  On a rainy day the sun seems to glisten off the millions of rocks and make it sparkle like the jewel it is.  The topography of  the beach extends it out into the Bay more than other beaches so you can look north up the Bay over all the ground you have or will hike over if you're hiking the FFP.  If you place your tent right and conditions are perfect, you can watch the best sunrise in the morning while you can count the Nova Scotia lighthouses in the evenings.  I watched lighting one minute here, double rainbows, and storms move up the Bay.  

As I finish this entry up I think about other aspects of the FFP and I've decided that I'll add an entry of photos with captions at a later date.  I hope that these entries have peaked your curiosity and you'll get out there and experience some of the locations I have wrote about on your own.  Happy trails.