Nothing clears the mind quite like the realisation that you have a dwindling number of hours in which to cram everything you will need for two weeks into what once seemed to be a gigantic backpack.
I bet there’s still room for a bottle of wine or three
The OE class’ year-end expedition is finally upon us, you see, and despite beginning preparations (ostensibly…) in September, it is abundantly clear that the last 24 hours before setting off is when the real work gets done.
Packing for any trip can be an illuminating experience. Sifting through your worldly belongings prior to departure, I submit, can be quite existential. In essence, you are finally forced to actually decide things (“ok, Mr. Chocolate Bar and Madam Toilet Paper: this bag’s only big enough for one of you…”). Gone is the time when you can idly plan and think in optimistic generalities; packing time is crunch time, and one must be ruthless in order to succeed.
But the ultimate question for philosophizing travellers, those who ponder every pound and consider every kilogram, is perhaps best summed up by the most basic of concerns, one that has dogged every restless nomad throughout the centuries…
“How many underwear do I bring?”
Too many and you will be mocked by your fellow travellers for being what my proudly-non-outdoorsy sister calls a “glamper,” too few and, well… I think everyone’s mother has warned them about that. Perhaps a bit cruelly, life has dictated that the precise situations in which one would have a paucity of underpants (namely, on an expedition of some sort) are exactly the times when one would be most likely to both soil them during some sort of traumatic event, and then subsequently be found by strangers who would no doubt judge you for your lack of basic hygiene.
The unfortunate irony about a blog focused on adventures and travel is that the more these things occur, the less time I have to write about them! So, since it has been a busy month for adventuring (resulting in a quiet month for writing) here is a brief selection of some of the things I have been up to:
A common question I’m asked is “why did you leave Canada for Scotland to study outdoor education?” Fair enough. Canada certainly has a well-deserved reputation for natural beauty and wild spaces. Not to mention it’s big.
Oh hi there, United Kingdom, I didn’t notice you there. Yeah that’s cool, you can just chill in Hudson’s Bay.
This question, though, exposes some interesting assumptions we tend to make regarding the outdoors and wilderness. Before coming to Scotland, I didn’t realise how important my own concept of ‘wilderness’ was to my enjoyment of the outdoors. I very much took for granted the fact that there were relatively wild spaces nearby (even in Southern Ontario) and that to the north, there was essentially very little else but wilderness. Continue reading →
What’s the best way to spend a weekend after a long, tiring week? For Mitch and I, the answer this Saturday was getting up at 5:50am to catch a train to the Lake District for a little hillwalking.
After a McDonald’s Breakfast of Champions, and an unexpected 2km slog uphill to our hostel, we were soon happily ascending the path to Red Tarn, a stunning lake situated at the base of Helvellyn, England’s third highest peak. After seeing the silhouettes of climbers along the Striding Edge leading to the top of the 950 metre mountain, we decided that a little bit of scrambling was definitely in order. Continue reading →
One of the requirements of the MSc. in Outdoor Education program at the University of Edinburgh is a four-week work placement. The experiences of my teacher friends would indicate that practicums tend towards borderline exploitive work conditions whereby the fresh teachers college student is pounced upon by the harried classroom instructor and given all manner of tedious tasks, all without pay. Luckily, with the exception of the lack of pay, my placement so far has been quite different.