There’s no question that 2020 brought some negative moments to the lives of us outdoorsy folk. Covid, beyond the typical mayhem of illness to some and high anxiety to us all, brought havoc to the wilderness. Parks were overcrowded, campsites were left littered, and there was an overall decrease in trail etiquette.
However, 2020 did have some good points; at least for me. But I’ve always been that person who looks at their glass half full rather than half empty.
I completed two of the 38 outdoor shows I was scheduled to speak at across North America when the lockdown happened. That really sucked. But it forced me to be creative. I started recording them for everyone to see on my KCHappyCamper YouTube channel. The total reach was over 25,000 people!
During the initial lockdown, when I forced to be alone (with the dog) for twelve full weeks, I kept sane by doing online Happy Camper Whisky Fireside chats; 25 in total with approximately 48,000 views. I interviewed many legends in the outdoor community, including film makers Frank Wolf and Justine Curgenven, notable paddlers Becky Mason and Hap Wilson, Musicians Jerry Vandiver and David Hadfield, YouTube celebrities Joe Robinet and Jonathan Kelly, authors James Raffan and Roy MacGregor and UK canoeists Ray Goodwin and Colin Skeath… to name a few.
When the ice melted and snow disappeared, I completed seven day hikes in seven days along the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve; a large chunk of woods and water (2700 sq. km) in southeastern Ontario.
By mid-June we were all finally free to head out into the woods to pitch a tent and paddle a canoe. I explored several of Ontario’s provincial parks: Algonquin, Killarney, Lake Superior, Marten River, Kettle Lakes, White Lake, Sleeping Giant, Neys, Mississagi, Noganosh and Rondeau.
I also escaped the crowds by discovering several new Crown Land areas. In total, I slept in the woods 62 nights before the leaves started falling off the trees. After that, I taught at-risk students face-to-face (well, mask-to-mask) and, for the first time in my part-time teaching career, I never once had to argue with some school administrator about the dangers of having youth wandering the woods. They actually pleaded with me to keep the kids outdoors as much as possible rather than having them confined indoors and dealing with the hazards of Covid.
Thanks, Covid, and thanks to 2020.
Check out my 2020 overview video on my KCHappy Camper YouTube channel.