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Posts Tagged ‘walking’

There’s nothing like the sound of boards under your feet while taking a stroll.  Your footsteps make enough noise to add a rhythm to your excursion while not being so loud as to interfere with being able to hear the subtle sounds of nature.  And, most importantly, you don’t have to worry about getting sand or small gravel in your shoes.

There are many boardwalks and wooden bridges in Nova Scotia, meandering through wetlands, creating paths to beaches through sand dunes and along the shoreline.  Weathered boardwalks offer smooth walking surfaces in soft grey colors.  They unobstrusively blend into their surroundings better than pavement or even gravel, and their ramps offer closer access to wild areas for folks in wheelchairs and parents pushing strollers.

At Rainbow Haven beach, the raised boardwalks provide shelter and convenient hiding places for foxes wishing to keep a low profile.  Coffee drinkers too, as evidenced by the paper Tim’s cup balanced on the rafters.

A thin layer of frost can make the boardwalk slippery in colder weather.  Though it’s sparkly in the sunshine, the combination of fine salt spray and freezing temperatures create a surface that can be surprisingly slick.


The boardwalk in Eastern Passage is popular with folks of all ages seeking exercise in a natural setting.  It can get quite crowded on warm summer afternoons and evenings.

At Rainbow Haven park, a crow rests at dawn on the lookout at the end of the widest walkway.  

This boardwalk is sure to see thousands of feet trample its boards this summer on their way to and from the beach.

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There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot.
~ Aldo Leopold

Hiking along trails into the Nova Scotia wilderness has become a popular pastime in recent years.  For many, it offers an opportunity to see wild things in their natural surroundings.

Last year, when a young female hiker was killed by a coyote in Cape Breton, many Nova Scotians called for a bounty on coyotes.  The call was reiterated last week, when a young woman was again attacked by a coyote near Lunenburg. 

The Department of Natural Resources in the province does not believe that bounties on coyotes work.  One was unsuccessfully employed here in the 1980s.

As a precaution while hiking in the wilderness, the Department of Natural Resources recommends:

  • making noise
  • not walking alone
  • carrying a hiking stick

Following their recommendations seems more reasonable than putting forth the idea of getting rid of all coyotes in the province for the sake of a couple of bad ones.

A couple of homemade hiking sticks

Last fall, many family members laughed at me when I created a couple of hiking sticks for use along the Salt Marsh Trail where I’d seen a coyote last year.  They doubted if a stick would be useful in an attack and probably thought such sticks were best carried by the likes of wizards such as Gandalf and other old men.

On my first walk along the trail with my stick, another hiker asked me in passing if that was my coyote stick.  Maybe my idea wasn’t so far fetched after all. 

Though I used the stick several times, it was a nuisance to remember to bring it along.  I eventually began leaving it at home, especially on days when I was hoping to take photographs.  You need to find a place to rest your stick if you hold your camera with two hands as I frequently do. 

However, in light of this more recent attack, I’m wondering once again if carrying a big stick would be a good idea.

Recently, while reading ‘The Places in Between’ about Rory Stewart’s journey on foot across Afghanistan, I was surprised to come across the idea of walking sticks being used to fend off wildlife…

I had carried the ideal walking stick through Pakistan. It was five feet long and made of polished bamboo with an iron top and bottom; I had walked with it for nine months but had not brought it into Afghanistan. It was called a dang, and Jats, a farming caste from the Punjab, used to carry them, partly for self-protection, until the middle of the twentieth century.  Many people in both the Pakistani and Indian Punjab still had their grandfathers’ sticks in their houses… One man told me that his great-grandfather had killed the last lion in the Punjab with his dang; striking the ground on every fourth step gave a rhythm to my movement…

As I walked out an old man with a bushy white beard looked at the stick.

“You’re carrying it for the wolves, I presume,” he said.

“And the humans.”

~ Rory Stewart, The Places in Between

Perhaps we westerners could stand to learn a thing or two from folks in the East about the advantages of walking with a big stick. 

FAQs about Eastern Coyotes in Nova Scotia

Coyote Problems in Nova Scotia

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Whether experienced outdoors or seen through a window, fog’s softening effect brings a sense of cosiness to Nova Scotia in springtime.  Fog may be dense, accompanied by drizzle or thinning to a mist.  It may arrive in the morning and dissipate by noon, or still be seen rolling down the street in wafts of whiteness at midday.  

Foggy days with reduced visibility force us to look inward.  When the path that  lies ahead and the one that lies behind us are both blurred, it makes sense to rely on our intuition for direction.  

It also helps to listen carefully.  Fog consists of tiny water droplets, which allow sound to travel more quickly.  If we would slow down and listen to what is being whispered to us in the fog, we’d gain better insight into the path before us.

The fog is rolling over the hill
Winding twining rock and rill.
Softer and kinder than the light
Takes what’s sharp and wraps it white.

I will walk down by the foggy sea
Where the rocks are weeping silently.
That love that was once so bright and bold
Has turned itself to cold.

And so I love a foggy night
I walk and walk to my heart’s delight.
The fog’s cool kiss upon my face
All sorrow will erase.

The fog is rolling over the bay
It drifts my heart so far away.
Softer and kinder than the light
Takes what’s sharp and wraps it white.

~ Rose Vaughan, Song of the Fog

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Snow covers the landscape, coating everything with blue in the early morning light.  Blue can be beautiful, but it also can also make a frigid day seem even cooler.  

With the warm, rich colours of fall a distant memory and spring still many long weeks away, it’s at this time of year that many people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Less sunlight and exercise cause many to feel the winter blues.  Tiredness and lethargy make some wish they would have gone into hibernation back in the fall.  Others get downright depressed.  Children become restless too and it becomes more difficult for both young and old to focus on the task at hand. 

For people of all ages, perhaps the simplest solution to the winter blues is to go outdoors in the open air and get some exercise.  Whether you go for a short walk to the end of the driveway or a stroll around the neighborhood, breathing in the fresh air and feeling outdoor light on your face is a step in the right direction. If there are trees nearby, you’ll also benefit from the extra oxygen they expell.

If you really want to lighten your spirits, and especially those of children, you could try a winter picnic.  You don’t need to pack much.  A couple of sandwiches, cookies and something warm to drink in a thermos will do.  Bring along some seeds for any chickadees you might see flittering in the trees.

You need not stay out in the cold for long.  Being out in the natural light surrounded by trees is sure to put you in a different frame of mind.  The warmth of the indoors will seem even more enjoyable afterwards.

Now I see the secret to making the best person:  it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.
~ Walt Whitman

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We’re entering the darkest week of the year in Nova Scotia, when each day is less than nine hours in length.  This morning, the sun rose at 7:45, almost two hours after I set out for a walk along the Salt Marsh Trail. 

I often walk in the dark with the intention of seeing the sun rise while out in the middle of nature.  If you’ve never risen early and braved the elements outside in the pre-dawn light, you’re missing a wonderful experience.  It’s one that engages all the senses. 

Too often, we really only on our eyesight.  We only trust what we can see directly in front of us, and fail to engage our other senses when confronted with the unknown.

Walks in the darkness make us perk our ears more.  The scent of trees in the mist and the sounds of waking birds and rushing tide waters all add to our perception of place and time. 

Even on moonless nights, white objects stand out in the darkness.  I wondered what creature attacked this seagull when I came across these feathers on my walk yesterday morning.  A coyote?  Not knowing what’s lurking in the darkness is part of life’s adventure.  The challenge of facing our fears, whether real or imagined, shouldn’t prevent us from moving forward along the trail.

On this morning’s walk, the light drizzle soon changed to pouring rain.  The droplets were caught by the flash of the camera and capture a bit of the magic that is felt at this special time of day when most are still asleep and warm in their beds. 

The quotation below is from Canadian portrait photographer, Yousuf Karsh. Although digital photographs no longer require darkness for their development phase, his words still hold true.

Character, like a photograph, develops in darkness.
~ Yousuf Karsh

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High winds and stormy waves have thrown heaps of marsh grass across the salt marsh trail.  They’ll freeze into ragged mounds that will make passage here more difficult through the winter months.  But grass isn’t the only thing that the storm blew in…

Who would have thought one could find so many different types of sports balls in one morning’s walk?

The trap and skeet club might be missing a rack…

Does the discovery of this vacuum cleaner attachment mean that there’s also a vacuum cleaner out in the marsh somewhere?

The sudden presence of this enormous waste bin is a testament to the power of the winds and waves.  I wonder if someone should call Waste Management and let them know?

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