This past weekend, a friend and I escaped Montreal and the NASCAR hordes descending upon it by fleeing to the mountains. Literally.
We camped out at a national park, hiking through pine forests,
Went wading in here after a 14 km hike – Rats Falls, Mont Tremblant National Park
kayaking along serene lakes,
Lac Provost – Mont Tremblant National Park
Fresh wild Lobster Mushrooms sautéed in a skillet over a campfire can be enjoyed for free if you find them fresh in the wild. You don’t have to pay $14 per kilo to enjoy them.
spending the night chatting by a campfire while roasting marshmallows and sticking pieces of Toblerone chocolate into bananas and melting that over the fire.
If you’ve never roasted marshmallows over an open fire, you’re easily missing one of the simplest pleasures in life.
We lucked out and found a spot which even had its own little private beach by the lake.
We would fall asleep hearing loons singing on the lake, seeing the stars and the Milky Way above us and counting how many shooting stars we could each spot. The sleeps were deep and filled with vivid dreams. Mornings meant a fresh dip in the lake and drinking my morning tea while sitting on the beach and watching the sun rise over the mountains.
We were greeted by rabbits, raccoons and could hear coyotes in the distance at night.
In truth, I loved it even if at night the temperature fell to 5 degree Centigrade in the middle of August. Standing alone and looking at the rounded hills, the endless forests, towering pine trees, the placid lakes and noisy streams I realized that THIS is the real world. All that other stuff of insurance policies, being part of a fake social scene, designer dresses and handbags, gym memberships, fraudulent elections, flat-screen TVs, celebrity reality TV shows and a forced and fake economic political and economic system are just that: fake and forced. Someone came up with these ideas somewhere along the line and have now imposed it on us, but when you go out into the wild, all that stuff is rendered meaningless and you’re finally allowed to just BE.
This is not an original thought. The father of civil disobedience, Henry David Thoreau
spent a year in a shack by Walden Pond to see if he could escape a life of “quiet desperation” as he called it.
Walden Pond, where Thoreau wrote his famous essays on civil disobedience which ended up influencing everyone from Gandhi to Martin Luther King Jr. I came here 2 years ago and the water is freezing cold.
In more dramatic terms, Christopher McCandless
went vagabonding through America and ended up dying in the wilds of Alaska (mostly because of his ineptitude) as shown in that excellent film “Into The Wild”
Christopher McCandless beside the abandoned bus which he later died in, in the wilds of Alaska
Native tribes see the living spirit behind the trees, the animals, the water, the fresh air and the earth and give it due respect, realizing that we are only able to live because of these very same elements and that we are to live in respect and cooperation with them.
The Ancients knew it too, that we can only live because of the grace and power of Nature and natural forces. It’s not a coincidence that those early civilizations took the elements and transformed them into gods and goddesses.
Zeus, Poseidon and Hades, the gods of the sky, oceans and the underworld respectively
from “Freedom in the Grace of the World”
“The beauty and tranquility of the old-growth forests, the vistas that stretch for miles over unbroken treetops, the waterfalls and rivers, the severance from the noise and electronic hallucinations of modern existence, becomes, if you stay out long enough, a balm to wounds. It is in solitude, contemplation and a connection with nature that we transcend the frenzied and desperate existence imposed upon us by the distortions of a commodity culture….Nature always extracts justice. Defy nature and it obliterates the human species. The more we divorce ourselves from nature, the more we permit the natural world to be exploited and polluted by corporations for profit, the more estranged we become from the essence of life. Corporate systems, which grow our food and ship it across country in trucks, which drill deep into the ocean to extract diminishing fossil fuels and send container ships to bring us piles of electronics and cloths from China, have created fragile, unsustainable man-made infrastructures that will collapse. Corporations have, at the same time, destroyed sustainable local communities. We do not know how to grow our own food. We do not know how to make our own clothes. We are helpless appendages of the corporate state. We are fooled by virtual mirages into mistaking the busy, corporate hives of human activity and the salacious images and gossip that clog our minds as real. The natural world, the real world, on which our life depends, is walled off from view as it is systematically slaughtered.
Year after year I returned to these forbidding peaks from conflicts in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. I brought with me the stench of death, the cries of the wounded, the bloated bodies on the side of the road, the fear, the paranoia, the alienation, the insomnia, the anger and the despair and threw it at these mountains. I strapped my pack on in the pounding rain at trailheads and drove myself, and later my son, up mountains. I rarely stopped. I go to the mountains to at once spend this fury and seek renewal, to be reminded of my tiny, insignificant place in the universe and to confront mystery.”
The mystical American poet, Wendell Berry wrote in “The Peace of Wild Things”:
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.