Life lessons from the bush

Lost. The beautiful green forest quickly became terrifying. Trees in every direction and no obvious way out.

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Head lake Algonquin Park. Photo by: Maegan MacKimmie

I have camped as long as I can remember. And not campground camping with a tent pitched beside a car. Real backcountry camping.

Camping taught many lessons from trip planning, to hanging a bear bag, to reading a map and more. But one experience forever stands-out in my memory.

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I have been camping as long as I can remember. Used with permission of: Debbie Leishman.

I was 12 and we took an older friend along to the Algonquin Park interior. She suggested we bushwhack and I agreed against my better judgement because I looked up to her. I had been taught not to wander and keep a landmark in view.

We became disoriented and lost in the woods. It quickly turned into one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. Eventually we stumbled across a trail. Panic set in as I realized it was a backpacking trail and could take days to walk out. She again convinced me to wander into the woods.

I thought about the stupidity of my decisions.Β  About how I knew better. This was a early introduction to the consequences of peer pressure.

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Used with permission of: Debbie Leishman

As the sun lowered in the sky, the short walk turned into hours. We stumbled across an old logging road and I suddenly got my bearings.Β  We were far out, but I had a direction. With a deep breath I took charge of the situation. It was time to stop blindly following.

We arrived to my family preparing to contact the park rangers. We probably would have been fine, but not everyone’s story ends well.Β  At 12 it was a horrifying experience. I vowed to never be talked into a poor decision again. A life lesson.

What have you learned in the wilderness?

8 Comments on “Life lessons from the bush

  1. Great Story, Love reading your stories. You have such a gift. Keep up the good work. Always ready to read more of your Wonderful stories….

  2. Great post. I can’t imagine I would have been able to take charge at 12 like you did. You did amazing! But indeed, an incredible life lesson.

    Because I have done the majority of my overnighters solo on usually the Bruce Trail, I make it a point to always stay on the trail (as much as I would love to go “exploring” some places). Also to tell my wife exactly where I will be, and not alter it. Only started carrying a cell phone these past 3 years. πŸ™‚

    ~Carl~

    • Thanks Carl! It was certainly an interesting experience. And one that I would never like to repeat! It has stuck with me all these years.

      I don’t think I would be brave enough to try solo camping yet, but it must be incredible!

      • The bit I know of you Maegan, I think you would fare well solo, and do just fine. Sadly with the world we live in, your biggest threat would be human. But even reading this post, I think you would have really good sound judgement and decision making skills. Except for maybe the Peninsula, the Bruce Trail has roads usually within 2 or 3 kilometres. (has that remote feeling, but in reality it isn’t). Have backpacked Algonquin twice myself several years ago(Western Uplands), but both times with others. πŸ™‚

  3. Perhaps having an experience like that at a relatively young age tempered you for adventures ahead.

  4. Thanks for the blog follow, nice to meet a fellow outdoorswoman from Toronto!

    I can totally relate…after all, I did wander off the trail on my solo backpacking trip to Algonquin just a couple of weeks ago πŸ˜› I can’t say I’ve run into any huge issues backpacking so far (fingers crossed!). My biggest mistake was relying on technology: not having a watch with me and relying on my cell phone. And I always go through my itinerary with my boyfriend before I go out to the bush alone.

    I highly recommend a solo backpacking trip in the bush! There’s really nothing that compares to the peace and tranquillity of being out there without the distractions of everyday life.

    • And nice to meet you too! I have been thinking about trying a solo trip one of these days, maybe this summer will be the time I try. I could try something short and go from there. I look forward to reading more of your posts!

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