Here is my little report from the wilds of British Columbia.
I took my tribe for a week of camping in E.C. Manning Park, BC (about 240km east of Vancouver). The area we were in is about 1200m above sea level so you get the wide variety in temperatures typical for a sub-alpine climate (really hot days and freeze your tush off evenings) Of course the scenery was consistently stunning;
As a human visitor you are outnumbered by about 10,000 to 1 by the ubiquitous Colombian Ground Squirrels that appear to have complete control of the park. These roving gangs of little hoodlums are everywhere and only get mildly indignant if you don't feed them;
While wandering half asleep to fetch some water from an outdoor tap early one morning I had the privilege of going about my business within sight of some peacefully grazing deer about 20 feet away. I'll take this over morning commuter traffic anytime;
What really hit me in the park was the devastation resulting from the Mountain Pine Beetle infestation. These destructive little blighters have destroyed huge tracks of mature pine trees throughout BC. Thanks to climate change, they are now surviving the milder winters and are having a grand old time reproducing and taking huge areas of the forest down . Unfortunately, by 2012 about 80% of BC's pine forests will have been impacted by this infestation.
If you look closely in these pictures you will notice a bunch of trees with either a red or grayish tinge to them, which means they are either dead or in the process of dying;
Interestingly, in the areas where there was a high concentration of dead trees there were already a number of young saplings growing in between them, reflecting the incredible adaptability of the natural environment.
In a dramatic and direct fashion it really reinforced to me that the destructive modernist assumptions that had us somehow "separate" from nature can no longer hold water. We are part of this world and cannot deny our impact on it anymore. Spending time in Manning Park made me want to challenge this even more, and has driven me to do what I can as well.
Of course the cutest species we encountered was this wild feral toddler we came across. She was so sweet that we decided to take her back home with us!
It was a wonderful opportunity to step off the hamster wheel of daily life and take the time to relearn how to be "in the moment" and simply enjoy being in the presence of abundant beauty. Also, I had a thermal bodum for making coffee in the mornings, so I was still able to function when the youngins got up with the 5:30 am sunrise!