Weekend adventures

“We all find time to do what we really want to do.” – William Feather

Hiking season is here and even though unseasonably cool, damp weather and ridiculously low snow levels seems to be keeping many people off the trails, we found pockets of perfection in the Kananaskis Country foothills and creek bottoms this past weekend.

Wildflowers are blooming on Sibbald's Deer Ridge Trail

Jura Creek is an excellent 1/2-day hike in low water levels!


Hiking stimulates the writer’s mind

If I said I hiked to the summit of Tokyapebi ipa today, you might be puzzled. If I said Yates Mountain, you might still look at me strangely. If I said Barrier Lake Lookout in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, you’d probably be able to find it on a map. It crossed my mind today that clarity is key in communication.

Barrier Lookout Summit

Stoney names are familiar to Stoney tribe members west of Calgary; not so well-known outside this close-knit group. While historians and ranchers in western Alberta might know of Emily Yates and the Diamond Cross ranch she ran (now the site of the YMCA’s Camp Chief Hector) below today’s summit, most hikers commonly refer to this hike as Prairie View and Barrier Lookout. Know your audience and write accordingly, I thought to myself.

I also realised that I would like to let other hikers know that Prairie View trail from Barrier Dam (7.7 km, 500 m elevation gain) was almost dry in the lower sections, while mud and snow patches are still prevalent in the upper. The short 0.6 km (125 m elevation gain) section up to the lookout saw 0.5 m snow drifts. Packing gaiters and boot crampons are a good idea. Need to blog, tweet and share.

Snow lingering in high country.

Now you’d think with all this climbing up the trail, trekking through snow, and thinking about posts and tweets, that’d be enough. Not so! Queries were drafted, snippets of articles were re-evaluated, and future blogpost ideas were stored. Seems this writer’s mind is fuelled by foot power.

What motivates you to compose in your head?

What books are you reading?

As a writer, it’s only natural that I love to read, but when I sat down today and looked at carefully selected handful of literary treasures pulled from the city library shelves, I had to laugh.

One writer's reading selections.

The Kenya book was an obvious selection as I trolled the travels shelves. In the midst of planning our first trip to the African continent, I’m gathering up knowledge like a thirsty sponge.

Louise Purwin Zobel’s Travel Writer’s Handbook has remained one of the most useful travel writing books in my collection. The 2012 edition, with Jacqueline Harmon Butler, literally jumped off the writing shelf into my arms.

Judith Barrington’s Writing Memoir was nearby and it caught my eye, along with a similar tome by Natalie Golberg. A huge fan of Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones, I happily added Old Friend from Far Away to the growing stack.

Like a kid with a bagful of goodies leaving the candy store, I wondered which one I should devour first. Choosing Writing Memoir – which had the cachet of being new and different – I plumped up the over-sized down pillows on the couch, thankful for leaky, grey skies keeping me indoors, cracked it open, and winced. In just a few pages, I knew it wasn’t for me.

With disappointment like a bitter taste in my mouth, I tentatively picked up Goldberg’s book on writing memoir – and immediately began thumbing through with increasing speed. Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir. Practice should have been the key – it’s chock-full of writing sprints, short 10-minute exercises to stimulate writing muscles and build up the stamina and expertise required for bigger projects. I’m going to make it a goal to try one each morning.

I’ll get to Zobel’s newest edition tomorrow, and the Kenya book can wait to fill my knowledge reservoir, but for now I’m going to sit back and try one of Goldberg’s exercises. P. 154 “What’s been on your mind? What have you carried and gnawed over? Go. Ten minutes.”

Think I’m going to be focusing on travel and writing! What’s on your mind and your bookshelf?