How to experience the world while isolated at home

April 21, 2020 How to
Latest posts by Alicja (see all)

Staying connected to the outdoors in strange times

These are trying times for all of us. Especially for those of us who prioritize our time outdoors, not being able to access wild spaces is difficult. We gain our energy from our outdoor pursuits, connect with nature, ourselves and our friends. Not having that as an outlet, we still have that crave to explore, and a thirst for adventure. Nature is good for the brain.

In Alberta, our favourite parks are closed to visitors, Alberta Parks closed the Spray Lakes road and our local backcountry ski terrain, Kananaskis Country, and Parks Canada closed all parking lots effectively discouraging access to outdoor recreation. Parks doesn’t want people pursing outdoor activities, especially higher risk ones such as backcountry skiing.

It’s a state of mind

While cooped up at home, let’s stick with working out and doing yoga at home, running, and exploring local mountains, hills, trails, lakes and rivers to stay healthy and fit, but make sure to let our minds wander. Wanderlust is a state of mind. Revel in the excitement of planning and researching. Recall the anticipation of planning a great adventure; throw yourself into maps and route plans. Remember in the midst of winter how we inspire ourselves with thoughts of summer climbing, hiking or kayaking adventures? Dive in.

1. Plan your summer adventure list

Take a moment to survey all the places you want to visit, routes you want to experience, rivers you want to paddle and trails you want to run in a completely different season. It’s inspiring to think about a time when the snow melts from the mountains, rivers open up and we can spend time outdoors in a t-shirt! Focus on it.

All I want to do is paddle a remote river!

2. Plan next winter’s dream list

Since this winter a lot of our ski plans are cancelled, start putting your goals together for next season. Write down your wish list, which places would you like to ski, avalanche courses you’d like to take, ski clinics you’d like to sign up for. Perhaps you want to ski somewhere exotic (like Iceland or Svalbard) or plan a big traverse.

Winter dreams.

Planning a long traverse requires months of planning in advance. It’s a great use of time to do that now, while we have extra time, and fresh ideas in our heads from things we didn’t get to do the rest of this season.

3. Get inspired

There are many ways to get inspired. Remember when you’re on that epic traverse and you look over at distant mountains excitedly and plan how you’re going to plan an exploratory trip? This is inspiration we felt while we were hiking the Canmore – Exshaw loop. So inspired by our discovery of the beauty of remote Stenton Lake, we mused how we would return and stay an extra few nights, and explore other summits in the area.

By the way, a more obscure, untravelled trip like that is a great thing to focus on. The absence of crowds and the local nature of the area (close to home) allow us to avoid travelling long distances.

To get inspired, dive into old photos from past trips, and chat with your trip partners.

4. Buy maps

Look at maps or buy maps. Lots of maps. On a past paddling trip to Haida Gwaii, we became inspired by different areas we could explore in the park. We met people who shared their adventures and places they stayed and recommended. Using their recommendations, we started looking at more maps and exploring areas for future trips. Looking at maps and thinking in your head what you’d like to explore will give some hope and allow you to dream about future adventures.

This is also a good time to learn how to read maps properly and use navigation tools, if you don’t already know how to use them.

5. Entertain your mind

Entertain your mind with tales of adventure. Read adventure books, and watch adventure movies. Did you know the Banff Mountain Film Festival has gone online? Because they had to cancel their 2019 movie world tour that they do after the film festival every year, they put a lot of the movies online. Watch them and be inspired.

Also, dive into some adventure literature. My current recommendations are Adam Shoalts novel, “Alone Against the North,” (2015), about exploring a remote river that drains into Hudson Bay. I’m patiently waiting for his next book to come out, “Beyond the Trees”!