Why I Go Outside (it’s not what you think)

Okay, so you would think I go outside because I love exercise and testing my physical abilities, right?  NOPE, not even close.

Carrying 20lbs of camera gear isn't fun.
Carrying 20lbs of camera gear isn’t fun.
Eww. Sweaty and gross from hiking up to a lookout above the Fjord-du-Saguenay in Quebec. But look at that view! It was worth it.
Eww. Sweaty and gross from hiking up to a lookout above the Fjord-du-Saguenay in Quebec. But look at that view! It was worth it.
Sharing stories over lunch
Standing out in the rain ALL DAY in cold temperatures getting my Level 1 Moving Water Canoe certification. It wasn’t fun, but I did it.

I go outside to connect with nature. I go outside to clear my head, to observe the natural world around me and to disappear from the mundane aspects of everyday life. Somehow when I’m out in nature nothing else matters. If I’m hiking it’s about getting to the end of the trail. If I’m on a canoe trip, it’s about getting to the next portage and then to a campsite. That’s it. What’s fun about carrying 50lbs of food in a barrel on your back on a 2 kilometre portage? Nothing. Why do I do it? To get into the wilderness and enjoy a more deep connection with nature. I’m interested in the experiences and stories created by outdoor adventures.

The further into the backcountry I can get, the better. I have seen and heard so many incredible happenings in the wilderness. That reason alone is why I push myself physically. I never consider it exercise. It’s the effort that it takes and the reward of seeing a stunning landscape, hearing a pack of wolves howl, or the vibe of being where I am. I constantly need more and more. I find it addictive.

I dig cookouts, fires and generally just being outside
I dig cookouts, fires and generally just being outside
Paddled and portaged 7 days to get this view
Paddled and portaged 7 days to get this view
Deep in the Killarney wilderness to witness this sunset
Deep in the Killarney wilderness to witness this sunset

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I hate exercise and I’m not afraid to admit it. If my husband and I have plans to do an 8km hike, I’m not super stoked about it. I go because I know that when I’m actually on the trail and out in nature I enjoy it. I’m not sure that through my blog posts I have shown the less enthusiastic side about being outside. I have mostly tried to put a positive spin on it to encourage and inspire others to go out too. But, I am making a deal with myself to be more honest in my writing and adventures going forward.

In saying all of that, my husband is different. He likes the physicality of being outside. He likes to test his mental and physical capacity and take himself out of his comfort zone. Naturally that means that I end up pushing myself further too. Hiking a difficult trail, or doing a 14km loop is definitely satisfying  once it’s completed. I’m not sure that I could have paddled in a canoe race doing 220km in 34 hours and 51 minutes. He and his paddling partner placed 3rd in the Coureur Des Bois Algonquin Outfitters Muskoka River X paddling race. I’ve never seen someone push themselves to that limit!

Competing in the Algonquin Outfitters Muskoka River X paddling race
Competing in the Algonquin Outfitters Muskoka River X paddling race. 220 kms in 34 hours and 51 minutes.

When we’re out together, he’s generally pushing us to the next portage, or across a lake. I like to stop and be present in my surroundings. Observe. I tell him that he needs to stop and smell the roses more often and to be more aware and present. I like to stop and take photographs, and take it all in, he generally doesn’t love to stop or slow down all the time. It’s the truth. We enjoy the outdoors in different ways.

I do believe that the more people get outside, the more they connect with nature and the more they will respect it. But, there’s also a reality to it. Yes go outside, but hey there are a lot of biting insects that suck and can take you to your wit’s end. Yes go outside, but you know if it rains and you’re not prepared you’ll be miserable. Yes go outside, but you don’t know how to be alone on a trail, or in a forest and it can be scary. Yes go outside, but it’s scorching hot out and you will sweat just standing around. So being outside isn’t all rainbows and sunshine.

Jerks (black flies)
Jerks (black flies)
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An emergency in the backcountry of Algonquin had us panicked and paddling and portaging back out 4.5 hours from the lake we had just set camp up on. Scary.

There’s another reason why I go outside. Photography. My camera inspires me to go out and adventure. I love taking nature, landscape and wildlife photos. LOVE IT. I go out with my camera and make photographs of how I see nature and I connect with it through my lens. So, if I’m focusing (no pun intended) more on making photographs than the physical part of being outside, it’s more enjoyable. Or if I’m putting together a blog post, I’m thinking of how to create a story and what photographs I could make to tell the story. Sometimes my connection could be a short 30 minute wander, an hour walk, a 6km hike or an 8-day canoe trip.

Connecting with nature
Connecting with nature
Connecting with nature
Connecting with nature
Connecting with nature
Connecting with nature
Connecting with nature
Connecting with nature
Connecting with nature
Connecting with nature
Connecting with nature
Connecting with nature
Connecting with nature
Connecting with nature

There’s no way I want to mix getting exercise with the therapy of walking through a forest. So, I don’t go for a wander to “get exercise” and I certainly don’t go for a hike to “get exercise.” It’s a cleansing of my mind and soul walking through a forest or being out in nature. There are so many incredible benefits to being outside. The Trek put together a list of 7 Scientifically-Backed Health Benefits of Being in Nature. Here they are (but visit their website for more details about each benefit):

  1. Source of Vitamin D
  2. Improved Eye Health
  3. Improved Sleep
  4. Breathe Clean/Fresh Air
  5. Grounding (earth to human contact)
  6. Exercise (see, it’s 6th on the list! It’s not the most important, IMO)
  7. Psychological Health and Mental Wellbeing

The last big reason why I go outside is to take Banjo’s quality of life into serious consideration. Her wellbeing is super important to us and she makes adventuring so much more fun! I especially love camping with Banj. She gets into a routine just like we do. She knows when we start packing up camp that it’s time to hop in the canoe to paddle to the next portage. When she’s ready for bed we let her into the tent and watch her curl up on her bed, but when it’s our bedtime, we find her curled up on my husband’s Thermarest and sleeping bag leaving a pile of sand. I mostly love watching her be happy.

Who could resist Banjo?
Out like a light
Out like a light
Always retrieving, that Banjo
Always retrieving, that Banjo. Cloudy Lake, Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park
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Watching the sunset on Misty Lake in Algonquin

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So many wonderful reasons to be outside and I am thankful for every one of them even if I do get some exercise! I just love being outside!

Thanks for reading and visiting my website!

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13 Comments Add yours

  1. I completely agree! I love that there’s an exercise benefit to hiking up and down a giant mountain, but I love the therapy aspect way more. Every time I’m feeling too stressed out, all I need to do is spend some time outdoors and I feel better. Your pictures are amazing and you’re totally inspiring me to do some canoeing this summer!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for the comment, Run Away With Me! I checked out your blog, pretty cool! I’d love to see a post on canoeing in Alaska!

      – Cobi

      Like

  2. Good post with some Awesome pictures Cobi! I feel the same way! Always looking forward to your next post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Christina! Nature is so awesome! Thanks for the comment and reading my blog. I appreciate it so much! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yup – agree totally. Best way to clear a “clogged mind” is to take a deep breath out an the trail someplace.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it’s amazing how nature can do that for us.. to help clear the mind, give perspective and just generally make us feel better.

      It’s something that can’t be taught, but felt.

      Like

      1. Ah – so true. Not an intellectual endeavour, but a pursuit of the soul

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Patricia says:

    Love to follow your adventures. Almost like being there. We have had very little snow in England . Your photos are beautiful. Love to Banjo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Patricia!

      Thank you so much for leaving me a comment! 🙂

      I love to write, so if I can bring people along on adventures through story and photographs, then I feel like I’ve hit the mark.

      Thank you for the comments on my photographs and Banjo. She’s a sweet companion!

      Lots of snow here! But it has been mild and dreary the last couple of weeks. I lived in the UK for 18 months in London but visited a friend a number of times in West Yorkshire. I always loved hiking those awesome hills!

      Like

  5. I do enjoy the physical exertion of enjoying the outdoors, but my husband and I are similar to you in that he always needs to push it just a bit farther! He wants to do that 3 or 4 km portage bc it gets him away from ppl, he wants to bushwhack our way through a rarely used lake system to get that “real wilderness feeling” I’m like “could we just paddle for even one day?” Lol! But I get new experiences because of him so it’s all good in the end 🙂 Thanks for the read!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for the comment, Heather! It’s good to have the push from someone else. I’m not sure I’d push myself as hard if it was just myself!

      Like

  6. I HATE exercising, in fact I’ve always joked about being allergic to exercise, turns out that’s not completely a joke. I learned this year that I have exercise induced asthma, so exercising literally puts my health in jeopardy. But, I hike anyway… not because I’m keen on having asthma attacks, but because I love being outdoors. I find my zen in nature and since I’ve started hiking regularly, my stress level is at an all time low. I manage my condition with an inhaler and by being more particular about the places I hike, specifically incline. There’s nothing that can compare to being out on the trail all alone with nothing but your thoughts to make the stresses of everyday life disappear.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Jennifer!

      Despite limitations, it’s good to get outside to just clear our minds. I commend you for pushing yourself even with asthma.

      There is so much zen in nature, that it all has to be worth it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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