Anticipation, in Moderation

Remember how I said I’d planned to go camping last weekend? It was such a good plan!

The weather was forecasted to be sunny and gorgeous, so the plan was to get up early on Thursday, quickly hitch a ride to Tlell (about 35 km from Skidegate, where I live), and hike to the Pesuta shipwreck. From that beautiful spot, the plan, now taking on a rather epic tone, was going to be two days of solo camping artistic bliss, and not another soul for kilometres.

That was the plan. The plan didn’t happen. But I think what actually happened is a better story anyways.

I got up at the crack of 7am, on Friday morning. Then, I promptly hit snooze, rolled over, and slept until 11. At this point I comically guilt-tripped myself out of bed for being lazy, and got ready to leave. Captain Gold dropped by just as I was finishing breakfast. He came for his drums, which hang on the walls. It’s been extra humid lately (read: ridiculous sunshine), and he wanted to reseal the drums so that their paint wouldn’t crack, or peel.  I really love this one:

Haida drum, painted by Captain Gold
Haida drum, painted by Captain Gold (Richard S. Wilson)

By noon I was on the road with my fifty pound bag – I’d packed lightly, but I still had to bring canned food, and a few litres of drinking water to be safe. And my paints, you know, for the solo camping bliss.

So finally, I’m hiking down the highway to Tlell, thumb out and ready to hitch a ride.

And I hiked.

And I hiked.

And yet there was no hitching to be had.

All the cars were going in the other direction, with the exception of the occasional logging truck. I walked for sometime resembling an hour in the lovely sunshine, which Google told me had been about 5k. Not too shabby, given the backpack, but I’d never reach Tlell before twilight if I couldn’t find a ride. Just as I was reconsidering my life choices, a woman pulled over for me.
I’m only going up a little ways to the beach, but I’ll lift you there!” She leaned over and popped open the door, her adorable Dachshund quivering excitedly in the backseat. I gladly accepted, and the next few kilometres were filled with solid discussion about life, revolution, and the power of community. She herself started her life on this island in the 70s, arriving as a young girl with a big backpack and not much else. Once we reached her stretch of beach, I thanked her and we parted ways down the road. And I was hiking again.

And I hiked…

Guess what? Still no one heading to Tlell.

Contents of the backpack, more or less.
Toting all of this! I swapped out the tripod & palette for a sleeping bag, and added 3 litres of water.

 Another 2 or so kilometres of walking, and a small caravan of vehicles tore by. Despite my hopeful optimism, not a single one stopped. I looked around at the nice beach I was passing by – maybe I’ll just camp here, I thought, growing slightly concerned. That is, until one of the cars in the caravan pulled a u-turn and yelled out to me.
“I saw the heavy bag, and felt bad,” the driver laughed out his window, “you need a ride?!” This was Derek, from Masset. Derek is awesome. He drove me to the Misty Meadows campground, all the while filling me in on the kickass annual music festival that goes down just across the highway. In our chatting, it came up that he was of the Raven clan. You see, in Haida Gwaii, there are two primary Haida clans – the Ravens and the Eagles. Tradition says that Ravens must marry Eagles, and vice versa, to keep everything in tune and diplomatic between the two. I asked about his wife, and he smiled brightly, laughing again.
“She’s also a Raven,” he said, “but you know what we’ve always said? Birds of a feather – we flock together!”

After a quick tour of the campground, I thanked him and he left me to find the trailhead. I fancied a beach-hike, and found a trail that spun between the beach itself and the fringe of the forest. Not unsurprisingly, Misty Meadows quickly transformed the bright, cloudless sunshine into a foggy daydream. The tide was super low, which made for quite the spectacle.

Aaaaaaand I hiked.

After a short while, I stopped at “The Fradette’s” for a sip of water.

"The Fradette's" beach shack!
“The Fradette’s” beach shack!

I couldn’t get over how cute this little place was. I briefly considered just staying there, but realized there would be a lot more to see in venturing onward.

The fog was growing more intense, and I began to notice the condensation dripping off all of my gear. This was precisely the time my mind turned to gathering firewood – of which there was none. Well, nothing dry, anyways! Willfully ignorant, I continued on, eager to stick to this plan that I’d so carefully constructed. Really – I’d even purchased a map!

As I continued to walk along, the beach gifted me with so many sights. I can almost promise that this blog will quickly fill with photos of majestic eagles atop snags and trees. This one and I had a nice appreciation for each other, in the near-dead silence of the fog.

See fig. 1.1 - Majestic Eagle
Fig. 1.4 – Majestic Eagle

About an hour and a half into this hike, it settled in that it would be a dark and cold night without a fire, so I made the executive decision to head back to Misty Meadows campground and buy some from the office. I didn’t mind camping at the campsite. It wasn’t exactly my plan, but I could hike to the Pesuta tomorrow after an early start, replacing some of the water and food weight in my bag with dry firewood.

This beach totem observes your steps across his section of the beach.
This dude just observes, as you tread across his part of the beach.

When I got back to the campground, the office was closed, and there was no dry wood to be scavenged in the area. At this point I’m panicking a little, and I’m realizing that it’s mostly because my plan isn’t happening. I almost set up the tent – and spent the night in cold misery – because I’d prepared for that. Then the fight broke out in my head, between the should-haves and the must-dos, and I was terrified. I felt so unprepared for this. I packed all of this crap, and couldn’t even have even accounted for dry fuel.

It dawned on me how stubborn I was being with myself and the situation.  And, on a much grander scale, it pointed to my immediate concern of trying to constantly plan things, something I’m aware of and actively working on. What will I do if, how will I live when, where will I be later… these are questions that plague us as people, just trying to figure out where the hell we all belong in this complicated dynamic.

The Tai Chi expert who gave me a ride back to Skidegate that evening brought up a TEDx Talk, in which Rumeet Billan asks you to consider yourself in the now, in order to find the most passionate motivations for your future. So yeah, let the moment move you, and see where you move in the moment. Or something more poetic. Living in the moment doesn’t mean being an irresponsible jackass, but there is a delightful equilibrium between future, past and present, wherein we function beautifully. And I am just a girl learning how to balance.

I’m not sorry that this cliché just happened to you, because it definitely just happened to me, and I am learning so much because of it.
My unplanned escapade was wonderful. I met three amazing people, saw some beautiful things and got some killer exercise. And the rest of my weekend was spent hiding from the rain making delicious food, and watching the entire first season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, for which I have neither shame nor any complaints.

I guess I won’t make plans for this weekend – let’s just see what happens!


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