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Recently,I got trained as a Walkabout Leader with NS Heart & Stroke Foundation, and found out about the many benefits of walking as well additional information on the 10,000 steps a day program. Once you registered on their website, you have the opportunity to track your progress and steps. All you need is a pedometer.

One of nice features of the walkabout program is that it allows you to participate in other activities ie. cycling, hiking, canoeing, snowshoeing, cross country skiing etc.   and provides a conversion table to help you convert into steps. Claire MacLean, our instructor indicates that some walkers have gone on to walk 1-5 million steps a year. By joining a walking club you have the opportunity to meet other people and learn more about the great routes you have around your neighborhood.  I was fortunate to meet and walk with  Emily Forrest, who walked the coastline of Nova Scotia , over 3000 km in 88 days.

So take a look at this program, it may inspire you to greater things and keep you life active and healthy.

Loon, St. Ann's Harbour

Something told me that day to take my DSLR camera with my zoom lens and teleconverter (1.5x) ,which made my zoom go to 405 mm. Off I went for my walk. It was a grey, overcast day not to cold at least I thought, so I took my hiking gloves. About 30 minutes later I switch to winter gloves, there was definitely wind chill factor in the air (-14).

Loon drying its wings

I heard a loon so I focused the camera to see if I could find it.  I did..It was out quite far in the harbour but my zoom brought it in. I stayed for 25-30 minutes watching it.  It was amazing experience…the loon caught a fish and ate it. Later it came in closer to shore…then it got up and dry its wings…. Then I saw a grey jay, squirrel and a seal on my walk.  An exceptional day for photography and nature. Now I want a bigger zoom.

Squirrel

Sun reflecting off the ice

As new year begins, many hikers take time to reflect on the past year,2011 and what it was for them. Hikers remember the trails they hiked, the people they have meet, those incredible photos taken and those special memories.

It is now time to plan and prepare for the 2012 season… 1) One of the first things I like to do is review my equipment & its condition, do a complete  inventory and see what is needed to purchase for this year. Looks like it will be a new pair of boots and daypack,  2)  Develop a fitness plan for the winter and spring as well set kilometre goals for 2012.  I know that to stay in shape I need to do so many kilometres each year but I am careful not to become a fitness hiker where I miss those special moments with nature & photos. I have set a lofty goal of 1000 kms in 2012, 3) Improve my photography & creative skills  with the camera and take more 5 stars pictures.

Ice in the brook

And finally, 4) Develop a wish list of a new trails and challenges to explore. These include a) the hike a 100 km  for the Hikers Distance Award at the Hike the Highlands festival,  b) Complete the Cape Breton Highlands 3 Peaks Challenge ( hike 3 mountains in one day on Saturday, July 21, 2012,  c) hike Snowdon Mountain, Wales, the last of the UK 3 Peaks Challenge mountains to hike, d) East Coast Trail in Newfoundland and Labrador, and e) Cape Chignecto.  Other challenges on my list include Ride for Diabetes in June at Little Bras d”Or, , Cycling the Confederation Trail (300 km) in PEI and doing the Not Since Moses 10k/5k Walk & Run event.

Wow it certainly plans to be a busy year….Have you started planning your schedule for hiking in 2012 ?  I wish all hikers happiness, good health and lots of hiking in 2012.

Wast Water Lake, Wasdale Head

As we enter Gosforth, Nether Wasdale and then Wasdale Head, I could tell this area was majestic.  The narrow roads, country homes, green grass,  Wast Water Lake and mountains made this a very special place. We decided to check out the start of Scafell Pike hike and get our bearings and the lay of the land. The next day we hiked the mountain. There is an outdoor store next to Wasdale Head Inn in case you need any supplies ie. map, gloves, toque etc.

The Summit - Cold, windy and foggy

The weather had improved from the day before so we were hoping to have a view at the top. The route we took was from 2nd parking lot, over the bridge , Lingmell Gill, Brown Tongue, Hollow Stones and then up to Scafell Pike. The research and planning for the hike was dead on and there were no surprises.  We added an extra layer for the top along with toque & gloves.  Glad we did, it was quite cold & very windy at the summit. A cloud came in during the last section of the hike so we had no view.

A few cows joined the descent of Scafell Pike

My nephew and I did the hike in 4.5 hours and that included all the photo stops along the way which were many. With Ben Nevis & Scafell Pike hiked, only one UK 3 Peaks mountain left – Snowdon to complete. Highly recommended the Strands Inn & Brewery for accommodations in Nether Wasdale as well for  their great food and pub.

Swimming at Fishing Cove, photo by Bob Harrison

Two of Nova Scotia’s best seacoast hiking trails were hiked yesterday by close to eighty hikers in the 2011 Hike the Highlands Festival. Sunny and warm conditions made the return trip hot in the afternoon with lots of water breaks and stops. Both hikes had swimmers enjoyed the ocean water to cool off.

Entering Pollett's Cove

Outstanding coastal scenery awaited the hikers entering Pollett’s Cove. A nice break on the beach made the experience even more meaningful. Cows and horses were grazing in the fields.

Fishing Cove, Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Looking Back at Fishing Cove, photo bt Bob Harrison

Forty-eight hikers enjoyed the hike into Fishing Cove led by veteran guide Derek Quann. Once a fishing village now enjoyed by day hikers and overnight hikers. The cove has freshwater coming down the valley as well saltwater from the ocean.

Today’s hikes include Franey, Cape St. Lawrence and Warren Lake. Cooler temperatures are expected today with some rain or showers ending near noon. It will be a welcome relief for hikers after 3 days of sun and hot temperatures from 26-30 degrees.

Hikers Mickey & Sharon enjoying the views on Skyline, photo by Phyllis MacLeod

It was a day when records fell and hikers were out in big numbers at Salmon Pools, Le Buttereau & le Chemin du Buttereau and Skyline hikes. The Skyline hike had the most hikers on any hike since the festival started 8 years ago with 75 plus. The total day of hikers was another record.

2nd pool, Salmon Pools trail

The weather cooperated again on Day 6 with sunny conditions for most of the day with some breezes on Skyline.  Many of the hikers did  two hikes today. Veteran and popular guide Daniel Aucoin started the day by helping hikers enjoyed nature on Salmon Pools trail. he was folled by park interpreter Donna Doucette who provided interesting stories & history of the Acadien families on Le Buttereau & Lechemin du Buttereau trails.

Moose on Skyline - photo by Phyllis MacLeod

The last hike of the day was on the Skyline trail led by guides Marieve Therriault and Lisa Dixon. The hikers did the back loop first (old trail)  and came back on the new trail.  Four moose were spotted. The day ended with a nice social evening at main theatre, Parks Canada Cheticamp Visitor Centre hosted by Les Amis du Plein Air.

Today’s hikes are Pollett’s Cove and Fishing Cove…. two of the longer hikes with outstanding views at the end of each hike.  This will be one hike day due to the length of each trail. Tonight presentation back at the hall is St. Paul’s Lighthouse.

Hiker Distance Award Program

Hikers continued their quest for the Hikers distance award (25, 50 or 100 km) during the 2011 Hike the Highlands Festival. Close to 80 hikers enjoyed Beulach Ban Falls/Aspy and Roberts Mountain hikes on another sunny day.

Beulach Ban Falls

Beulach Ban Falls /Aspy trail was a new hike this year and received good reviews from the hikers. Hikers were treated to the Beulach Ban Falls, Aspy River and North Mountain for views on this 9.2 km hike.

Roberts Mountain, Pleasant Bay

Minke whales were spotted before we started Roberts Mountain hike by our guide, Tina Roach and later when we returned. It was hot hiking up Roberts Mountain but the views were incredible at the summit. You could see Pleasant Bay harbour, Whale Interpretative Centre and MacIntosh Brook. CBC TV have a small tower up on top and below.   Many thanks to Tanya Thompson for giving us permission to hike on her land.

Today’s hikes  are Salmon Pools, Le Buttereau and Le chemin du Buttereau and Skyline. Another sunny day for the festival with a high of 26.