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  • Eryl McCaffrey

Getting Lost in Algonquin


Photography: Claire Cole clairecolephotography.wordpress.com


Algonquin has the ability to completely dissolve time, stress and worry. As my best friend Claire put it, ‘the only time is when it’s dark or light out.’ We were packing up camp and heading out for the day when there was light out and setting up camp as the sun set. We were portaging with our belongings or canoeing along the beautiful lakes and rivers in between. For those 5 days there was no time, only freedom and determined action.

I came back from this trip feeling a mix of things: reinvigorated, but exhausted, at peace, but at odds with adjusting to “real life,” and most importantly, more connected with nature and the environment than ever before. I was also floored by my ability to handle all the physical and mental challenges that come up when you’re portaging and canoeing like we were, with the weather not on our side at times. Above is a picture of Claire and I slugging big 80-pounder backpacks. These could swallow you up, I’m not kidding! We navigated the trails with these heavy sacks, while our other friends carried the canoes–thanks guys!


A slightly lighter sack for a break 🙂 Photography: Claire Cole clairecolephotography.wordpress.com


While I was carrying that backpack and trying my best not to slip and fall onto a rock,I started to coach myself the way I often do when I practice hot yoga–drop the struggle, don’t fight it, try easy. By that I mean, I stopped focusing on how heavy the pack was, and any other physical discomforts and starting breathing more deeply and focusing on how strong and capable I was of doing this. I see more and more now how the lessons I learn on my mat translate to my life outside the yoga studio. When you’re sweating buckets in a room full of equally-steamy people and your thighs are screaming at you to abandon a pose, you have to find that strength to pull through. Time and time again, I see how just switching my perspective and getting my attention off my pain body and into ease makes my entire experience much more liberating and enjoyable. How do you get into ease? Breathe, focus on the aspects of what you’re doing that you enjoy, be grateful for what you already have and go with the flow–don’t fight it.


Dancer’s Pose\ Natarjasana by a High Falls waterfall. Photography: Claire Cole clairecolephotography.wordpress.com


Getting away from busy days and back to the basics–that was the theme of this trip for me. Our days were full of things to do, but simple. We’d wake up, start a fire and make breakfast, before packing up and heading out into our canoes to portage and paddle our way to our next campsite. We’d often make a delicious dinner when we arrived at our next spot, after setting up our tents and gathering dry wood. Sitting around the fire, sipping some vino, chatting and roasting marshmallows– life can be so good when it’s simple like this. Plus, being in nature is so soothing for the soul and mind. It lifts depression, anxiety and stress. Absorbing a safe amount of sunlight also does wonders for your immune system and mood.

Until now I thought camping meant driving your car out to some campsite shared by families, teens and park rangers. My idea of camping has forever been changed. This was survival-based and so much fun. We couldn’t just hop in our car to get the heck out of dodge if we wanted to, we had to prepare for the worst, enjoy the best and go with the rest. We had to face what was before us and be confident in our measures. I loved the challenge, but I loved being completely surrounded by nature even more. Nature has this way of bringing clarity to situations. There are no distractions, but the gently chirping birds in the distance or the sound of the lake washing up against the shore. It was in these still and simple moments I realized what my next steps need to be if I want to move forward. It became all so clear and easy: I love teaching yoga and it fires up my life, so I need to teach more. I also love writing, so I should stick to that, too. Simple, somewhat obvious realizations, they may seem, but I needed to reach them on my own.


Photography: Claire Cole clairecolephotography.wordpress.com


Next time you feel the urge to head out into the great outdoors consider taking it a step further and going backcountry camping. Getting away from the busy city or your busy life can allow you to gain perspective, clarity and gratitude. Besides, your inner child surely needs some attention and you know what they like? S’mores, getting muddy and campfires! Get outside, go play and reset your mind, body and soul.

Namaste.

**All the photographs in this blog post were taken by talented Photographer Claire Cole. Please check out her blog at clairecolephotography.wordpress.com 

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