The Day I Hit the Wall and Lost My Toenails

I was 12 years old when I hit the wall. I had been hiking all day, walking many miles into the woods to a collection of cabins where we’d spend three nights. I was with about 16 others, but we had broken into smaller groups, hiking with friends or those who hiked at the same pace.

While I was used to walking and hiking with a pack, this day, I had set a pace with a few older friends, and we had gotten lost. After two hours, we found our way and continued onto the camping site. A program leader and a few others started back to find us since we hadn’t arrived and it was getting late. We met up with them, and as we told stories about where we had ended up, I kept chugging along, adjusting my pack on my shoulders and anticipating a break because I was tired.

Then it happened. Without warning, I was lying in the bushes, collapsed and crying. I had no idea what had hit me. I struggled to rise, but the leader told me to stay down.

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My Favourite Place to Hike: Liscomb River

The Liscomb River has everything a nature-lover desires. It’s long and cuts deep into the wilderness, providing the perfect spot to canoe, fish, camp, hunt and explore. Or to escape the rat race and to breathe fresh air that will zap your energy after spending the day in it. Sometimes it’s a wide, meandering river. Other times, it’s rapids and waterfalls. Still other times, it’s a salmon pool or a lake.

I’ve been exploring the Liscomb River all my life. It’s where I caught my first fish with my first rod. While it’s beautiful any time of the year, the autumn colours paint a colourful landscape.

Below is the Liscomb River in pictures on October 7, 1990, with a few photos taken in other years for comparison.

Indiana Jones Bridge

Yes, here it is. The bridge we call the Indiana Jones bridge. You can see why if you’ve watched the film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

While this one is sturdier and shorter than the one in the movie, if you’re the slightest bit fearful of heights, you will not want to cross it.

This 1990s version has more substance than the one that preceded it. I’ve been across all of those that existed in my lifetime.

This photograph was taken down stream of the bridge.

Just past the bridge up stream is the falls. It’s only about 15 feet in height but after heavy spring rains, it is gushing water like a raging river.

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Water Bottle Used in “Northern Survival”

Shortly after the plane crash, Olive tells Johnathan ‘John’ Stone: “I have a refillable bottle that self-filters. I can drink from any water source.”

These self-filter water bottles can be life savers if lost or stranded in the wilderness where water quality is questionable. Because I hike, camp and boat far from civilization, I bought one of these water bottles a few years ago. I don’t use it as my water bottle; it’s there in case of emergency, when the only drinking water available is from the ground.

Olive explains how to use the water bottle a few chapters in after Johnathan asks her to refill his regular plastic water bottle.

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Sneak Peak of My Next Project

Northern SurvivalSurviving the plane crash was the easy part.

Olive Tweed planned her trip for two years. She’d vacation at Summer Beaver, gather the research material needed to write the next book and spend a few days hiking the vast wilderness. When she is called home unexpectedly and boards a chartered plane, she never dreamt it would crash, leaving her alone with a man who knew nothing about survival or the woods. If they don’t put aside their differences and work together, they’ll never escape alive.

Look for Northern Survival soon.

The Jodrey Trail and a Scene from Shadows in the Stone

Last summer, I hiked the Jodrey Trail, Blomidon Park, Nova Scotia. The entire hike provided breathtaking scenery, but there was one section that stood out above the rest for reasons others in the hiking group wouldn’t understand. While I’d never been on this trail before, I had explored it in my imagination.

Jodrey Hiking Trail Blomidon

Setting the scene

The vegetation was lush. Tall trees provided a thick canopy that trapped cool moisture and reflected the heat from the scorching temperatures of the hot July day. It also provided the perfect micro-environment for ferns and mosses to grow. Inhaling filled me with the wonderful aromas of the forest.

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Wandering without Complaints

Cape Split on a foggy day in June.

I’ve always been a wanderer. As a kid I’d follow the bigger kids or adults into the woods and along babbling brooks in search of adventure. Some times we walked a short distance on well-beaten paths; other times, we bush-wacked our way deep into the forest where we set up tents and spent the night.

The more time I spent in the woods, the more I wanted to be in them. The older I got, the more I went off alone. By the time I was 16, I was wandering for hours alone in the forest. By the time I was 19, there were days I’d be gone eight hours. Just me. Sometimes a dog. Most times not. I took nothing with me, not even water, a compass or matches. I never feared the woods; it made me stronger, more independent.

Like everything in life, not everyone goes on adventures or into the woods eagerly. Sometimes they are asked and feel obligated to tag along. Other times, they’re coerced, such as siblings and children, because they are forced to experience the outdoors or they couldn’t be left alone.

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Food for the Trail that Lasts a Long Time

Travelling Food

At the moment, my characters in Healing Stones (Castle Keepers Series: Book 4) are travelling through Yikker Wood. They left Inglenook about two weeks ago, and they won’t reach a settlement to buy supplies for another three days.

This means they must carry all their food in packs or saddle bags on their horses. They could hunt, and they may resort to that, and they’ve picked mushrooms along the way to add to their dwindling supplies.

Starting Out

For several days after they left Inglenook, they ate biscuits, bacon, eggs, bread and meat, but those perishable goods are gone after 14 days. This is the point where I scramble to find food for them to eat, so they won’t starve.

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