Articles tagged with: nature

Kayaking Desolation Sound

For a profoundly satisfying experience, venture deep into nature and immerse yourself in her solitude. ~Curt Remington

The above words came to me while writing a speech about our trip to Desolation Sound. In this blog, my goal is to share our trip with you and to encourage you to venture into nature for your own profound experience.

Kayaking into Desolation Sound

Kayaking into Desolation Sound

Our kayaking adventure actually started with a very scenic drive and two ferries, bringing us to the northern end of British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast. In fact, we spent our first night in the historic Lund Hotel, across the street from a marker for the northernmost end of Highway 101, the longest highway in the world. The other end is 9312 miles south, in Castro Chile. Lund may be the end of the road, it is also the “gateway to Desolation Sound,” and a rest stop for boaters headed up the Inside Passage.

Lund Hotel in Lund, British Columbia

Lund Hotel in Lund, British Columbia

Leaving Civilization Behind

For us, Lund is where we left civilization behind, first thing the next morning. We stuffed containers filled with gear, food, and water into our kayak hatches, donned drysuits, sprayskirts and pfds, then paddled out past docks and boats. Lund is open to Georgia Strait and is fairly exposed to a westerly wind, and we definitely had a westerly wind that morning. The bow of my heavily loaded kayak occasionally plowed deep into a wave, sending a good deal of water up the deck and into my midsection, making me glad I had a drysuit.

My real concern was Mary. She is not a fan of big waves and wind, and she had been worried about what kind of conditions we might run into. This didn’t seem like a good way to start. I nervously kept an eye on her as she kept paddling onward, wide eyed and looking tense but handling her kayak well. She’s a much more competent kayaker than she gives herself credit for. After a few miles of hard work, we reached shelter behind the first of the Copeland Islands. What a difference!

Through the Copeland Islands, we hugged the shoreline, minimizing wind and getting an up-close view of the rocky shoreline, the evergreen forests, and the fascinating scenery below the water’s surface, where schools of minnows darted and jellyfish slowly swam in pulsating contractions.

By the time we reached the north end of the Copeland Islands, the wind had dropped significantly, and we’d only seen a few boats speed by. We started paddling more direct routes, crossing large expanses of open water as we made our way around Sarah Point, stopping for lunch at Feather Cove, and continued the last nine miles to the Curme Islands. Our direct route shaved off miles but also put us a considerable distance from the nearest shoreline. By the time we reached the Curme Islands, we’d covered about 15 miles, more than enough paddling for Mary in one day. I was so anxious to explore, that I set out and kayaked more, once we got camp set up, while Mary took a much-needed nap on the deck.

Curme Islands

As to our camp, we arrived on a Thursday, expecting serious competition for one of the nine campsites (deck platforms) on West Curme Island. Instead, the only other people on the island were one other couple and a very quiet and private single woman, in her own campsite. After the first night, the other couple left, leaving just three of us on the island. Eventually, the very solitary woman warmed up to us, at least a bit. I would bet she didn’t appreciate that we’d picked the campsite next to hers. We had chosen it based on the view, expecting the other campsites to fill up too. If we’d known it would just be the three of us, we would’ve gladly camped farther away from her. Oh well. We were quiet. She was quiet, and there was roughly 100 feet of trees and bushes between us. We really didn’t notice each other much.

One of the Curme Islands, across from our camp

One of the Curme Islands, across from our camp

By the way, the Curme Islands are beautiful. I have no idea why George Vancouver named the area Desolation Sound, unless he arrived at the most depressing point of a long winter. We had beautiful weather, stunning scenery, and apparently we’d arrived (late June) just before the crowds showed up.

Exploring Desolation Sound

On our trips, we often rush from place to place, trying to see as much as possible. In the Curme Islands, we stayed in one place for a few days and really started to relax, meditating and connecting with the beauty around us. We sat and watched the changing light on distant mountains and islands. We walked and kayaked around the nearby islands, encountering some of the wildlife, like eagles, seals, hummingbirds, red mergansers and seals.  The water clarity was so good that we focused more on undersea life, including shiners, minnows, starfish, more jellyfish, crabs and lots of oysters. We had passed an area where humpback whales had been breaching, but they didn’t cooperate for us. When I did spot creatures underwater, I just set my waterproof camera on video and held it under my kayak, aimed in the right direction. While on the island, Mary took the camera and sat along the shore, watching and filming crabs and fish scurrying about in the shallows.

On day four, we paddled along Bold Head, into Tenedos Bay, lined with steep cliffs. At the end of the bay, we hiked up to Unwin Lake for a freshwater dip, rinsing a few days’ worth of salt off. We also restocked our fresh water, ending up with more than we needed.

With much more to explore, I set out alone that evening and paddled up a narrow channel between Bold Head and Otter Island, east of the Curme Islands. As I emerged from the channel, I looked beyond more islands to the east, up at the Canadian Coastal Mountains. The vastness and rugged beauty, with many inlets and passages to explore, beckoned me.  We simply didn’t have time on this trip, and I knew Mary was probably watching for me anxiously. I turned my kayak back towards the Curme Islands and took gentle paddle strokes as I skirted Otter Island, watching for fish in the shallows.

Connecting with Nature

Our time in nature was truly rejuvenating, reminding me of a quote in my book, Simple Meditation.

In nature, we’re more aware of and are connected to our surroundings in an expansive way. Our senses open up to the damp smell of the forest, the cool breeze on our skin, the layer of pine needles beneath our feet and the orange and pink clouds of the sunset. Spending time in the outdoors connects you with the more primal you, the one that understands without analyzing. By making this connection, you can return to your usual environment more at peace and aware.

Copeland Islands

After a few days in the Curme Islands, it was time to leave. We broke camp early and started back towards Lund, however we decided to camp in the Copelands, breaking up the return paddle. Mary had no interest in another 15 mile day, and we both looked forward to a more relaxed pace. On North Copeland Island we pitched our tent on a south facing deck with spectacular island views and views of the distant mountains of Vancouver Island, to the west. Of the ten campsites, only one other was occupied, giving us a great deal of solitude. We felt incredibly blessed to have so much beauty to ourselves. After dinner, we hiked to the north end of the island to watch the changing water, as the tide filled channels and the stunning sunset painted the sky in shades of blue, turning to golds and shades of orange.

Sunset in the Copeland Islands, BC

Sunset in the Copeland Islands, BC

Time to Go Home

On our drive home, we camped at Porpoise Bay Provincial Park, feeling reluctant to end our vacation.  During the drive, I contemplated the many kayak destinations along the British Columbia coast. Desolation Sound is on the sheltered side of Vancouver Island, providing for calmer conditions, warmer water, and sunnier weather than the exposed west side of Vancouver Island. I definitely planned to return to Desolation Sound, to explore more of those areas we didn’t have time for. On our next BC kayak trip, I’d like to visit the wide open Pacific, like we did on our Oregon Coast trip.

We found our time in nature to be profoundly satisfying. If you plan to do some venturing too, the BC coast and Desolation Sound is a wonderful place to do it.

Rafting the Main Salmon River

Our Aire Super Puma Raft

Six Spectacular Days with a Primitive Tribe

Rafting the Main Salmon River held a prominent place on my bucket list for years. It turns out, I had it there for good reason. This past summer, my wife, Mary, and I finally made that trip and spent six sunny days surrounded by beautiful scenery, thrilling rapids, and learning the special customs of a unique and friendly tribe.

Our Aire Super Puma Raft

Our Aire Super Puma Raft

Trip Details

On this run, the clear waters of the Main Salmon River, plunge deep into Idaho’s 2.4 million acre River of No Return Wilderness, “the largest contiguous federally managed wilderness in the United States outside of Alaska.” This area contains parts of three mountain ranges, a 6,000-foot-deep canyon, almost no roads or stores, and far more wildlife than people, including bears, mountain lions, wolves, and rattlesnakes. The 80 miles of river we covered holds countless rapids, vast white sand beaches, and canyons lined with steep granite cliffs.

As to logistics, I was a bit flabbergasted when I learned it would cost $475 to have our truck shuttled to the takeout, 80 miles downriver. Then I mapped the driving route and found that because of the vast wilderness area, it was a nine hour, 409 mile drive, with many miles on exceptionally rugged and remote roads. I decided maybe the $475 was quite a bargain.

Way of Life on the River

With that background info out of the way, we can get onto the part about life on the river with a primitive tribe. I better clarify things a bit here, because the tribe wasn’t really that primitive. In fact, they looked a lot like normal people. They just had some interesting, primitive customs that we had to adapt to. Our group consisted of 15 people in seven rafts. Many of these were serious outdoors people that had rafted together for 25 or so years. Three of them had spent their careers working for the US Forest Service.  Their interesting customs included:

  • They pooped in ammo cans and peed in the river. Actually, the forest service requires people to do this, otherwise this tribe might not have followed this custom. These requirements force tribal members to become pretty uninhibited about their bodily functions, often continuing a conversation while nonchalantly urinating into the river.
  • Most tribal members slept on the beach, tent-less, amongst the spiders and snakes. We did notice that after a rattlesnake encounter, two of the tribe members started sleeping in a tent, like Mary and I.
  • Upon finding a rattlesnake that made threatening gestures in the poop can vicinity, tribe members eliminated the rattlesnake. For safety’s sake, this actually made a lot of sense. I may have even taken part in this.

    Tribal Members on a Big Beach

    Tribal Members on a Big Beach

  • Once at a campsite for the day, male tribe members spent a lot of time sitting in, arranging, and adjusting their rafts and gear, while the female tribe members drank intoxicating beverages and focused much of  their time on food preparation. This sort of behavior seems common to many tribes, although many primitive tribal males might focus on carving weapons rather than fiddling with rafting gear. Something that surprised me about this particular tribe was the quality and the elaborateness of meals and intoxicating beverages they prepared. It seemed to me as if the tribe had developed such a strong bond that they strived to honor each other with outstanding meals, including appetizers, side dishes, desserts, and a drink of the day. My wife and I found ourselves enjoying this custom immensely and will try to better honor tribe members during the next trip, with more elaborate gourmet food and unusual drink.
  • On the river, tribal members watched out for one another, waiting at the bottom of a rapids, ready to assist if another member needed help. Then, they generously complimented each other on river-running prowess, after avoiding the majority of boulders in a particularly challenging set of rapids. When tribal members smashed their boats into boulders, others politely pretended not to notice. I appreciated that.
  • Cooking and cleaning was accomplished without electronic appliances or devices. This also applied to communication. Rather than using texting, email, or even phone calls, people actually spoke to one another, telling jokes and breaking into spontaneous laughter.
  • On certain nights, tribal members would have celebrations and ceremonies that included dressing up, dancing, birthdays, and river stories around the campfire. They did use an electronic device (iPod and speakers), rather than traditional drums, on the dance night.

What Set this Trip Apart

Bighorn Sheep

Bighorn Sheep

On a Lower Salmon River trip we took, Mary, our daughter, Heather, and I had only each other, and Mary and I do most of our wilderness trips alone. On our Main Salmon River trip, the tribe is what really stood out. We had been a bit apprehensive about joining a group of people we didn’t know, but they turned out to be a very nice and welcoming bunch of people, with some fun customs.

One of the retired rangers told me that they had been more than a bit apprehensive about letting a raft join their group, without actually knowing the skill level of the people that would be running the rapids. I absolutely understand that, because it could be life-threatening having unskilled people on a remote wilderness whitewater trip. He assured me that after the first set of rapids, the group knew we were perfectly competent to run the river. That was nice to hear.

As we fell into the rhythm of sunny days on the river, we became tanner and more relaxed, increasingly feeling like part of the tribe. We also grew in our river-running confidence and competence. Reading rapids on the fly, and sliding effortlessly past boulders became second nature.  I had initially thought that six days sounded like a long trip, but the days streamed by and were over before I knew it. On the way home, I started thinking about our next rafting destination.

Mary & Curt



Canadian Rockies: Great Vacation Destination

What characteristics make for a wonderful vacation destination? I suppose the answer might vary depending on the person, but the Canadian Rockies has a lot to please just about anyone.

My wife Mary and I spent nine glorious days camped there this summer, and I think it was the best choice for us. We’d planned to visit Italy, but we came up short on frequent flyer miles. Our next thought was to hike a 74 mile section of the Pacific Crest Trail. A drought brought forest fires and water shortages to Washington’s high country, so two weeks before departure we switched our plans to Banff and Jasper National Parks, along with Mt Robson Provincial Park.

Not knowing better, we scheduled our trip to start during Canada’s busiest camping weekend, Civic Holiday or “August long weekend.” We figured it out when we couldn’t find a camping reservation anywhere near Banff. Lucky for us, our time freed up and we departed a couple of days early, just in time to grab one of the last first come first serve campsites at Castle Mountain Campground. Those that weren’t so lucky got to pitch their tents a few feet from each other on the edge of a big gravel parking lot (overflow camping).

Moraine Lake, Banff National Park

Moraine Lake, Banff National Park

Mountain Thrills and Dangers

For thrill-seekers, the Rockies have mountains to conquer, rock faces to climb, and whitewater rivers to raft. Even backpacking in the mountains holds a number of dangers. There are cliffs to fall off, storms that can move in quickly, potential for getting hypothermia, getting lost, and of course, there are bears. We camp regularly in the North Cascades, which has lots of black bears but few grizzlies. The Rockies have a lot more grizzly bears, and grizzlies can be big, mean and ornery. In fact, Banff and Jasper National Parks have frequent trail closures, an electric fence around the Lake Louise campground, and lots of bear boxes for food storage. I kept bear spray close by and heard from a fellow backpacker at Mt Robson that he actually used his. If you’re going to Banff and want to see bears, try the Lake Louise Gondola.Grizzly bear warning sign

We never got around to riding the Gondola, but we did see a couple of bears. They left us alone and seemed far more interested in doing their own thing. The biggest danger we actually faced was our long drive across British Columbia on Highway 1, the major east-west truck route across Canada. We’d left in early afternoon, and I was road weary and still driving past dark, on a section of Highway 1, that winds through mountains with only two lanes. This meant temporary blindness as semi headlights came at me at a combined speed of over 220 kilometers per hour. To make matters even more exciting, we came across plenty of warning signs for deer, elk, moose, and bighorn sheep.

We were very relieved to reach the Husky Travel Centre truck stop in Golden, BC, where we found semis, and a few smaller rigs, parked for the night in every available spot for blocks in both directions. Eventually, we found an opening, crawled into the back of our pickup, and slept until 6 am.

Canadian Rockies: International Destination

I think we heard just about every language and encountered nice people from all over the world. If you’d like to practice your language skills, this could be a good place to do so.

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Our Luxurious Accomodations

French seemed to be almost as common as English. I realize French is the other official language of Canada, but I thought most French speakers were in Quebec. At Lake Louise, we encountered a teenage daughter yelling at her dad about a picture of her he apparently had threatened to post on Facebook. She started her tirade in English then switched over to French, when things really got heated. I chuckled and was glad my youngest of three daughters is now 20 and past that stage.

We also heard a good deal of what I suspect was Chinese (Mandarin), especially while camped in the Lake Louise campground. Our campsite sat in very close proximity to the neighboring site, which held two large tents and lots of young Asian children. The weather continued to drizzle, so we didn’t bother setting up any gear. We just sat in our truck and listened to our neighbors chattering, joking in Mandarin and laughing loudly until long after we’d climbed in the back to go to sleep. I actually thought it was great that they were having so much fun, and exhaustion put me to sleep quickly.

Toyota Tundra

Home Away from Home

The next morning, the neighboring kids started in again early, until their parents noticed us climbing out of the back of our truck. Up to that point, since we had no tent, they must’ve assumed it was just an empty truck sitting next to their campsite. When we wished them good morning, they just smiled nervously and waved. Until we left that morning, they kept shushing their kids.

World Class Hiking and Scenery

People come from all over the world to see some of the best scenery in the world. We love to hike, and there is some fantastic hiking in the Canadian Rockies. I have to admit though that there is an awful lot of spectacular scenery that can be enjoyed without getting far from your car.

Curt at Lake Louise

Curt at Lake Louise

Our first day in Banff, we had clear blue skies, so we decided to cover lots of ground and shoot lots of pictures. We visited Lake Louise then travelled up the Icefields Parkway to Bow Lake, Peyto Lake and finished off the day with a stop at Moraine Lake. That’s a lot of alpine lakes in one day, but each is unique, with a different shade of water, varying from deep blue to milky turquoise.

On our second day in Banff, we got up early and headed back to Lake Louise for a 10 mile hike that brought us high into the mountains above the lake with stops at two teahouses. The Lake Agnes teahouse is a solid log and stone structure sitting at the edge of the lake’s outflow, with a babbling creek on one side and a cascading waterfall dropping off behind it.

Lake Agnes Tea House

Lake Agnes Tea House

At the second teahouse, Plain of the Six Glaciers, we spent $30 (including tip) on two pieces of blueberry pie and a “mocha coffee,” which tasted like a mixture of instant cocoa and coffee. The price almost seemed worth it when we considered employees had to haul ingredients in by backpack and prepare everything without electricity. Besides, the glacial view was fantastic.

During the trip, we hiked a variety of trails and covered more than 60 miles with elevation gains of over 10,000 feet, a good deal of hiking for a sight-seeing trip. We chose our hikes carefully, with exceptional scenery as the highest priority. I do like to take good pictures. The most scenic hikes are also the most popular, so there can be a lot of people on these trails. To escape the crowds, we got up early (5:30 to 6:30 am) and hit the trail hours before the less serious hikers. Less serious hikers also don’t tend to hike more than a few miles, so you lose much of the crowds by choosing longer hikes.

Johnstone Canyon, Banff National Park

Johnstone Canyon

Our Hikes

  • Lake Agnes, Big Beehive Mountain, Plain of the Six Glaciers and Lake Louise Lakeshore (combined together)
  • Johnston Canyon – This unique trail winds up a canyon past waterfalls and pools, with catwalks over much of the creek. The trail is only 3.4 miles round-trip to the upper falls, and it is one of the most popular day hikes in Banff.
  • Lake Minnewanka – The entire lakeside trail is 18 miles long. We only did a small section of this, since we came to a place that requires hiking in a group of four, due to grizzly bears, or face a $5000 fine. Coincidentally, another hiker told us a grizzly bear was on the trail just ahead of where we turned around. The lake and trail looked quite scenic, but there’s boat noise and you may need to have a group of at least four.
  • Bourgeau Lake and Harvey Pass – We felt out of shape as a group of young Banff employees and a number of serious hikers passed us by on this steep, very scenic trail.
  • Bow Summit Lookout – There is a network of trails here, in the vicinity of Peyto Lake. I’m not sure we we’re on the right one, because where we ended up doesn’t look anything like the guidebook photo. Looking down on Peyto Lake is stunning!
  • Parker Ridge – The trail climbs to a high, extremely windy ridge with excellent views of Saskatchewan Glacier.
  • Moraine Lakeshore – As far as I’m concerned, this short hike ranks amongst the most scenic I’ve ever seen.
  • Mt Robson and the Berg Lake Trail – This trail is reported to be one of the most popular backpacking trips in the Canadian Rockies, and I now know why. We’ll be back to do this one again sometime.

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

Banff Springs Hotel

Banff Springs Hotel

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Banff Springs Hotel

We decided to take a break from hiking and drive our truck, which also served as our home, into Banff to see how the other half vacationed. At $600/night, the Banff Springs Hotel was a bit beyond our budget, but it was well worth wandering around in. It was built in 1887, in the Scottish Baronial style, and looks more like a castle than a hotel. The interior has an old elegance that definitely reminded me of The Shining or Titanic. Extensive patio areas to the rear provide wonderful places to enjoy the mountain views. In fact, a wedding was taking place there.

Mt Robson

Rangers cabin in Valley of 1000 Waterfalls

Rangers cabin in Valley of 1000 Waterfalls

Our backpacking trip to Berg Lake, in Mt Robson National Park, brought us deep into a very beautiful and rugged wilderness area. We departed early, in a light rain, and the rain kept up all day. This turned out to be a great opportunity to learn of the shortcomings in our gear, which managed to get very wet. We now have new hardshell jackets, gloves, and a tarp. At Berg Lake, we reached a crowded day use building with a woodstove and lots of wet gear hanging from the rafters, nails, and anywhere else you could put wet clothes. We leisurely cooked dinner while our gear dried.

Mt Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, towers over the lake. Unfortunately, low clouds and fog blocked the view our first day. The next morning we woke to more low clouds, so we packed early and were on our way back out. A brief break in the clouds and a message from a spirit guide told us to stick around for a few hours, so we turned around and made our way further up the valley. The low clouds lifted and a little sun broke through, making for a stunning 14 mile hike out past Berg Lake, down through the Valley of a Thousand Waterfalls, alongside Kinney Lake and the Robson River.

Mt Robson, British Columbia

Mt Robson, British Columbia

What Makes a Great Vacation Destination?

Like I mentioned, it may depend on the person, but here are some of the things that people look for in a wonderful vacation destination:

  • Luxurious lodging and fine dining – Like we discovered at the Banff Springs Hotel and Chateau Lake Louise, you can find it here, but we were perfectly content in our truck.
  • Lakes and Beaches – There are beautiful lakes, but the water is cold.
  • Things to do – There is plenty to keep you busy, especially if you like to hike.
  • Opportunity to learn about another culture – You may have to be outgoing and make an effort to talk to some of these fascinating people from all over the world.
  • Spectacular mountain scenery – The Canadian Rockies are amongst the best in the world!

We had a great time in the Canadian Rockies, and I’ll bet you would too.

Tree Meditation

Tree Meditation

Meditation and Healing: Tree Meditation

by Curt Remington

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009


Not long after writing an article with a tree meditation, I spent a day backcountry skiing, between Nooksack Ridge and Mt Shuksan, in a drizzling rain. After a number of miles of gradual climbing, I found myself in a remote stand of fir trees, miles from anyone, fully enjoying the solitude. As I rested, I tuned into the patter of rain on my hood, the wind gently blowing through the trees and the damp, fresh smell of the woods.

Inspired to meditate, my plan was to try the tree meditation described in my article, “Meditation to Connect with Nature”. Before starting on that meditation, I got to thinking about the trees surrounding me. My first thought was that it would be awfully boring be to be stuck in one place, as a tree, in such a remote forest.

As the focal point for my meditation, I decided to imagine myself as one of the straight and strong fir trees that stood above me. This was similar to my earlier tree meditation, but with a different focus. Rather than imagining myself on a stump and running the energy of the tree, I simply imagined being a tree and all the details that go with it. From that perspective, I realized that a tree might look at life completely differently, perfectly content to stand firmly, deeply rooted to the Earth. Rocking gently with a light breeze. A tree wouldn’t be bored. It would always be in the now, just experiencing.

I also became aware that if you really paid attention, there is a lot to experience, even in a remote section of woods.  As a tree, you’d notice the changes in weather, with a rain soaking your branches on a day like this one. On some days you might relish the morning sun, as it warms your branches, steaming off the morning dew. On other days, strong winds might howl and cause you to sway and bend. Constantly outdoors, you’d never miss a spectacular sunset or a moonlit night.

TreeMeditation_clip_image006For company, there are countless neighboring trees swaying alongside, along with birds, squirrels and insects that make a home in your branches. Deer would come to nibble on your new growth, and an occasional bear may come to sharpen its claws.
Those claws are probably what brought me out of my meditation, momentarily forgetting that the bears were still peacefully hibernating.

I finished feeling refreshed and with a new perspective on trees. Even with a greater appreciation for their life, I still appreciated my own mobility, so I pushed off with my poles and skied down the hill, towards the dry comfort of my car.

While I wrung out my gloves and loaded my gear, I decided this experience was worthy of a new blog article. I hope you agree. You don’t have to be standing in the woods to try this form of meditation. In fact, you could try a variation, imagining life as a wolf, an eagle, or even a rock, a creek or whatever.

As you may have noticed, the picture of Nooksack Ridge was taken on a different, sunny day. It’s a few miles from where I was skiing, and it does have lots of trees. The picture at the top of my blog is Mt Shuksan, also just a few miles from my life as a tree experience.

Connect With Nature

ConnectWithNature

Meditation to Connect With Nature

by Curt Remington

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009


Many outdoor activities can also be a great form of meditation. What? you may think. Activity and meditating are opposites and certainly not related. Doesn’t meditating mean sitting still and blanking your mind? Maybe you don’t think that, but I used too. Actually, meditating means finding a single focus for your mind, to slow down all the other racing thoughts that may otherwise be there. That way you can attain relaxation and a deeper awareness. In other words, meditating makes you feel good. As I’m sure you’ve heard, there are lots of other health benefits too.

ConnectWithNature_clip_image002Okay, so what kind of outdoor activities could we consider a meditation? Falling into a rhythmic motion, and staying in the present, while you kayak, hike or climb can all be moving meditations, similar to walking a labyrinth. Sitting, or moving slowly through a forest, watching intently for wildlife can really make you feel a part of the habitat. I do this with my camera regularly.
Relaxing in a lounge chair, listening to ocean waves and letting go of other thoughts, is incredibly relaxing. There’s good reason people save for their beach vacations. Sitting on a mountaintop, looking out in awe at the scene before you is also a wonderful meditation. I realize that some of these activities aren’t very active, but it probably took some real activity to get to the mountaintop.
By practicing a few techniques, you can combine nature with meditation to make your time outdoors even better. On days that you can’t get out, visualization along with some of these same techniques, can help bring nature indoors and make your meditating even better. If you don’t already meditate, these techniques could be a great way to get started.


Natural Focal Points

As I mentioned earlier, meditating means finding a single focus for your mind, which allows your mind and body to relax, stay in the present and get more in touch with your surroundings. By paying close attention to your environment, you can find many things to focus on, like the examples below:

  • A beautiful scene – Mountains and beaches are great, but it could be a gently waving cornfield.
  • Water sounds, like a gurgling creek, rain or waves lapping at a boat or shore
    Wind through the trees and the fresh air that it carries
  • The dancing flames of a fire
  • Bird sounds and their activity – Maybe consider a feeder or bath outside your window
  • A rising or setting sun and its rapidly changing lighting
  • Clouds, as they move across the sky in ever-changing shapes

If you live in the middle of a large city, you may even find man-made focal points that work well for you, like the hum of machinery, looking over a cityscape or the sounds of a busy park. Unfortunately, some city noises just aren’t as soothing as the sounds you would find in a remote wilderness. If you find the sounds distracting, take note of them, then let them go and tune-in to something else.
For those of you that are indoors today, you can relax and enjoy a similar state by tuning into a CD of waves, a gurgling creek or birds. You could even gaze at the flame in your fireplace, imagining an outdoor campfire, or at a scenic photograph, putting yourself in that environment.


Tune Into Nature Exercise

To put this into practice. Find a park, garden, forest or whatever, and make your way to a comfortable place to sit. For the first time, a quiet place without lots of passerbys would be good. If you can’t do this now, feel free to print this page, put it in your pocket and come back to this exercise later.
As you make your way to your place in nature, pay close attention to your surroundings. Are there unusual sounds or smells? What is the lighting like? Is it warm or cold? What kind of breeze? Are there interesting people or animals around you? What about patterns or interesting details?
Have you reached your destination? Okay, sit down and relax. Did you find something on the way to tune into? Is there a beautiful scene? Whatever it is, take note of it, and use it to gently focus on. If it’s a sound, you can close your eyes if you want. If you find that you’re thinking again, don’t be hard on yourself, but remember to come back to your original focus. Get a sense that you are indeed connected to all that is around you: the ground, trees, air, animals and any people too. Feel this connection, without giving it much thought. Do this for as long as seems comfortable.
On your way home, try to retain your calm state and stay alert to your surroundings, watching for whatever might catch your attention. It’s a great world we live in, but much of the time we are just too busy to notice.

 


Tree Meditation

ConnectWithNature_clip_image004Tuning into nature has all the usual benefits of meditation and helps you connect with your surroundings. For even greater benefit, you can intentionally take in and run the quantum energy in your surroundings, releasing blocks to your health, emotional and spiritual well being. My articles on grounding and running your energies cover specific meditations for moving quantum energy. This “tree meditation” is a simpler exercise for obtaining some of those same benefits.
If you have the chance, you can do this exercise in a park, woods or at the side of a hiking trail. Otherwise, it works fine in a comfortable chair at home, using your imagination to visualize the serene outdoor surroundings.

 

  • Imagine a small creek, at the edge of a woods. You’re on a tree stump, sitting comfortably, listening to the creek and birds. The sun is on your face, warming and relaxing you.
  • As you listen, you feel more a part of the natural scene, as you become almost a part of the stump. You can feel the energy of the tree that was once there. Your body feels connected, as if you’ve replaced the tree. Any tension and negative emotions sinks from your body, down through the trunk and into a very deep root extending towards the center of the Earth.
  • Your feet and legs feel connected to the ground, and energy runs up through your feet, like the shallower roots that fed the tree.
  • Golden sunlight, and the energy of the air, soak and pour in through your head, the way a tree absorbs sun through its leaves. Your arms and body are warmed by this light, like the branches of the tree.
  • Feel the energy from the earth and the sky filling and moving through your body, rejuvenating and releasing blocks along the way. Any excess energy continues down through the stump and down the deep root where it’s released into the ground.
  • Relax, and let the energy of the sky and earth continue to run.
  • When you feel ready, take a few deep breaths and stretch, making your separation from the tree. As you get up, you will take some of this new energy with you, feeling more invigorated.

Summary

These techniques are a great way to start meditating or a great way to make your outdoor activities even better. When hiking or kayaking, my wife and I look forward to finding a secluded, scenic spot and practicing some of our meditation techniques, really taking in the energy of the place. I think you’ll find this to be a wonderful experience too.

Video of Bagley Lakes Trail, North Cascades, Washington


Sierra Trading Post

Transcendental or Spiritual Experiences

Experience Spiritual Moments Through Meditation and Nature

by Curt Remington

Meditation, and connecting with nature, can lead to wonderful  transcendental experiences, moments of awe when we briefly sense our connection to everything around us. The type of transcendental experiences I want to focus on here are those magical moments when the spiritual realm sends us a physical sign, to get a message across. In my experience, the more that you work to have the first kind of experience, the more you build spiritual connections and have the second kind of experience.

Maybe the message is as simple as a reminder that you have guardian angels or spirit guides looking out for you. That message reached me loud and clear during my encounter with a wolf in the middle of town.

Nissan GT-R

Nissan GT-R

The message might be that the Law of Attraction really works. That seemed to be the case, when I got my kayak. That may be the message I received last weekend too. On Friday night, I scanned Craigslist, watching for a bargain car for one of my daughters. The ad that caught my eye was for a Nissan GT-R. This definitely would not be a practical car for my daughter. The reason it caught my eye is that they’re quite rare and very fast. I’d only read about them and had never actually seen one. The GT-R makes the list of fastest accelerating production cars, at #6. It will do 0-60 in 2.8 seconds, with a top speed just shy of 200 mph. For cars on this list, it’s not terribly exotic looking, and it’s quite a bargain, at less than $100,000. It’s still way out of my price range and too fast to be practical, but it is fun to dream.

All right, back to transcendental experiences. Saturday morning, the day after contemplating a GT-R, my wife Mary, Riva (our dog) and I set out for the mountains to hike a loop trail in the North Cascades Mountains. By dropping Mary and Riva off at Artist Point and driving down to the national forest visitor center, I could save the last 1000 feet of grueling climbing to get back to our car. All I had to do was hitchhike a couple miles back to Artist Point.

Riva at Herman Pass w/Mt Shuksan in background

Riva at Herman Pass w/Mt Shuksan in background

The first three cars, each with a vacant passenger seat, drove right by my upraised thumb. The fourth car pulled over and believe-it-or-not, it was a beautiful Nissan GT-R. After the driver briefly explained how to open the door, I got a thrilling ride up one seriously scenic section of mountain road, with hairpin curves and stunning views. This experience may have been the work of my spirit guides or an incredibly fast example of the Law of Attraction in action. Either way, it served to remind me that we are eternal spiritual beings having a temporary physical experience. Meditating at Herman Pass, in the middle of our hike, was another spiritual experience.

If you’d like to have more of your own transcendental or spiritual experiences, I encourage you to meditate, get out and connect with nature, and communicate more with your guardian angels and spirit guides. My book, Simple Meditation, can help you with all three of these suggestions.