So I finally stopped talking about breaking in my gear and actually got out there and began to determine where I'm most prone to get 'hot spots' on my feet, (precursors to blisters) and how tight I can cinch my pack's waist buckles without hearkening back to the corset days.
Mornings here are beautiful in the Okanagan Valley, and I enjoy them no matter what the weather. On this particular morning I could see from my bedroom window that the sun was just peeking over the mountains and warming up the snowy hills as I was preparing to walk the Grey Canal Trail just a few minutes down the road.
Practically in my backyard, this trail (shared by many locals and their canine friends) has always been a refuge for me; it's where I've cried, rejoiced, vented, and prayed during every season, in every sort of weather, at every time of day. It's a great place to run or dawdle along, spend time alone or with others. Some of my most meaningful times with God, conversations with friends, photographs of the landscape or of others, and effective physical activity has taken place along this trail, so it seemed only fitting that part of my trip preparation take place there as well. It is also a place where I gain mental clarity and really enjoy the fact that its pastoral setting brings me back to the reality that I truly am a country girl at heart. The soft sound of dirt beneath my feet, the smell of manure carried by the breeze from nearby farms, the views of the Okanagan's agrarian countryside, the occasional runaway black lab that comes barrelling at me along the narrow trail, and the cheerful, down to earth nature of the local folk who also call the Grey Canal their own all stir my heart in a way causes me to deeply cherish my rural upbringing. This communal backyard of sorts is a delightful treasure close to the hearts of those who live in Vernon's BX area, and along the trail's heights are vistas unmatched by any other lookout in the region. At once a visitor can take in three different lakes, an unhindered view of the whole city, and a broad scope of the northern section of the valley from Coldstream to Spallumsheen, and from Silver Star to Ellison and Kalamalka Provincial Parks.
The day I shot the pictures featured above I could see all of these things. This morning I could not as the fog had socked the trail right in, giving my familar path a strangely eerie feel. I enjoyed my time thoroughly, however, and enjoyed the pleasantries of passerbys who had also chosen to venture out into the mist. One couple, when taking note of my pack (which continues to grow each time I increase the weight) wondered if I was planning to get lost somewhere up in the foggy hills! Others must have just thought I was nuts but didn't fail to greet me with a friendly hello.
I will miss my times on the Grey Canal while I'm traveling, and already can't wait to walk her trails again with new knowledge and insight to ponder, new tears to cry, new prayers to pray, and new conversations to have. That said, I'm realising that this entire entry became WAY more sappy than I originally intended, which means I'm ending it right about now!