Take the City Nature Challenge

Photo by Michael Haynes

Guest blog by Mary Kennedy with the City Nature Challenge.

Do you love hiking and learning about nature?  This is your chance to join Nova Scotia’s vibrant iNaturalist community and help one of our province’s cities win the 2021 global City Nature Challenge! Local organizers of the three City Nature Challenge (CNC) events in Nova Scotia are inviting everyone to participate from April 30th through May 3rd.  The CNC is part of a friendly international competition designed to connect people to nature while taking an inventory of wildlife species around the globe.  HRM, CBRM, and The Annapolis Valley (Kings/Annapolis Counties) are three of more than 325 cities from more than 40 countries registered to participate in this year’s event, which encourages use of the free iNaturalist app to track wildlife species and inventory biodiversity.  

“We live in a big country and scientists can’t be everywhere,” said James Pagé, Species at Risk and Biodiversity Specialist with CWF. “During the CNC and year-round, individuals can be the scientists by contributing valuable observations for biodiversity research and conservation. Using smartphones and digital cameras as tools, iNaturalist helps us connect with nature while helping to conserve it.”

Photo by Michael Haynes

Locally we are encouraging people of all ages to get outdoors, explore, observe nature, share observations using iNaturalist, and to have fun! This is a great opportunity to explore new trails or hike old favourites either as solo adventures or as bubble activities. The objective of the challenge is to see which area will have the highest number of observations, the most species, and the most participants!  

In preparation for the CNC event choose an area to hike, then go online to iNaturalist.ca and EXPLORE this area – what plants/animals have others posted recently? Choose a few species and add these to your ‘must find’ list and then go on a quest to see if you can observe these species during your hike. Perhaps choose to hike a few different short trails, or one longer one, that goes through different habitats – field, wetland, open water, and forest for example, to get more different species.  Maybe take your friends and family along, as part of the challenge is to get more participants involved.  Use the CNC as an opportunity to get to know a few trails more intimately.

Photo by Michael Haynes

For those hikers who wish to ‘make miles’, consider taking a few photos at the start of the hike and then stop every kilometer or so and record a few more observations. It is possible to keep a decent pace along most of the trail, but during the CNC allow time at certain spots for slowing down and observing nature!

Don’t forget to take photos of any ticks that you might encounter as these are definitely wildlife. Keep your eyes open for tracks, scat, and other signs of wildlife and you guessed it – snap a few pics and upload to iNaturalist when you return home.

For more information on how to use iNat click here.

For more information on the Canadian entries in this year’s CNC click here.

Learn more about the Hiker Challenge here.

Why do you hike?

Guest blog by William “Whistler” Monk, who lives in Granville Ferry, Nova Scotia. He is a lover of nature, long distance hiking and a book author. He has written two books: Whistler’s Walk: The Appalachian Trail in 142 Days and Whistler’s Way: A Thru-Hikers Adventure on the Pacific Crest Trail.

A question for the ages, “Why do you hike”? If you lined up one hundred hikers you would likely get one hundred varied responses. As a long-distance hiker who has successfully thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail (AT) and the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), I asked myself that very question. Where does that desire come from to walk away and abandon the comfortable life that I know and love so much? Why would anyone think it was a good idea to pack meagre supplies in a backpack, throw it on their back, and walk away from life as they know it for a day, a week or in my case, five to six months? 

Thru-hiking the 2,189 miles of the AT in 2017 served as an awakening. It changed me, and I discovered something—I discovered that I liked people. Sounds a bit crazy but it’s true. I found what makes people good, kind, and compassionate. I found that I enjoy hiking with today’s youth, and that they enjoy hiking with me. I found that on the trail, we are all truly equal. We each have the same goal—or purpose—with a definitive target in our sights. We know where we come from, and we know where we must go in order to discover the enlightenment we each seek as we complete the task (hike) at hand. 

With that burning question waiting for a logical answer, it really only brings forward more questions looking for answers. Sometimes we end up with answers to the questions that haven’t yet been asked. What I have learned is that sometimes you get answers as you get closer to nature, closer to the earth, closer to the sky and closer to other humans. Life off the “trail” tends to distance us from nature, earth, sky and one another. When I hiked the PCT in 2019 I hiked by myself for a majority of the time. That was okay though, because it gave me the opportunity to “be with me”. 

But I also had the opportunity to hike with others I’d met on the trail. One of the hikers I met was a guy from Germany who went by the trail name, ‘First One’. ‘First One’ and I happened to hike up to Crater Lake together which had us both acting like giddy school boys. You see, Crater Lake is the deepest lake (592 meters) in the United States. Its unusually deep blue waters are due to its depth and clarity and indescribable to anyone that might ask for a description. In other words, you have to see it for yourself to believe it. While we were enjoying this “other worldly” sight, ‘First One’ shared a German saying that goes something like this… “Luck and happiness are doubled if shared”. I love hiking by myself. I love that I can spend time by myself and thus learn more about myself. But sometimes the enjoyment of an experience is multiplied when shared with others. 

So, why do you hike? 

Crater Lake, Oregon
Whistler on the left and First One on the right

Winter Hiking Courses & Webinars

Registration is open for Hike Nova Scotia’s slate of winter 2021 courses and webinars.

In-person courses include Field Leader – Winter modules (prerequisite is the Field Leader – Hiking course).

Webinars include Intro to Snowshoeing, Happy Hiker Feet How-to, Intro to Hiking and Come Walk With Us (about an epic journey across Canada).

Dates, locations and costs vary, depending upon the course or webinar. COVID-19 public health guidelines will be followed for in-person courses.

Partners include the NS Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage, the Outdoor Council of Canada, The Trail Shop, Arthritis & Injury Care Bracing & Orthotics and Come Walk With Us. Learn more and register at www.hikenovascotia.ca.

Social Media

Share on Facebook  
Share on Twitter 
Share on Instagram 

Contact

Hike Nova Scotia
(902) 932-6902
Email 
www.hikenovascotia.ca 

Winter hikes fend off cabin fever

Pandemic or not, fighting boredom and inactivity has always been a challenge in winter. Hike Nova Scotia says that one way to fend off cabin fever is to hike or snowshoe.

“We can glue ourselves to screens this winter or we can get off the couch and do something good for our bodies, minds and souls,” says Janet Barlow, Hike NS Executive Director. “Getting out for a hike or a snowshoe is something most folks can do close to home on a local trail.”

Event Details

Date: January 16 to March 27, 2021

Location: Province-wide

The full schedule with registration details and directions is found at www.hikenovascotia.ca. Hikes are listed by date and region. Hikes include the following areas:

  • Cape Breton
  • Highland (Guysborough County, Antigonish County, Pictou County)
  • Fundy (Municipality of East Hants, Cumberland County, Colchester County)
  • Annapolis Valley (Municipalities of Hants West and Clare, Counties of Digby, Annapolis and Kings)
  • South Shore (Counties of Yarmouth, Shelburne, Queens, Lunenburg and District of Argyle)
  • Halifax (Halifax Regional Municipality)

Fast Facts

  • Hike NS and 15 host organizations partnered to offer the guided hike series from January to March.
  • There are over 35 guided hikes scheduled province-wide. Many are snowshoeing events or just regular hikes if there’s no snow.
  • Hikes are led by local folks and participants qualify to win trail prizes. 
  • All of these free or low-cost hike or snowshoe events require pre-registration and will follow public health protocols, including social distancing. 
  • The series includes hikes of various lengths and difficulty levels. 
  • For some of the guided hikes, snowshoes are provided.
  • For those new to snowshoeing, there’s an Intro to Snowshoeing webinar coming up on January 26. Register at www.hikenovascotia.ca
  • If you need snowshoes, easily find some to borrow, rent or buy using Hike NS’s online guide, with over 65 listings. There are over 40 venues where you can borrow them for free. Learn more at www.hikenovascotia.ca.
  • Hike NS thanks its local partners for organizing the hikes on the ground as well as The Trail Shop, Goose Lane Editions and the NS Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage for their support.
  • Hike NS encourages and promotes a growing hiking culture throughout the province, striving to be the voice for those who hike, walk and snowshoe.

Photos

Find photos on Facebook  or Instagram or use some of the photos on this page.

Social Media

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Instagram

Contact

For more information on these events or Hike Nova Scotia contact:

Janet Barlow, Hike Nova Scotia
(902) 932-6902
info@hikenovascotia.ca
www.hikenovascotia.ca

RIMG1625-smallIMG_3087RIMG1617-small019

Hiker Gift Ideas 2020

If you’ve got a hiker or potential hiker on your gift list, we have lots of ideas for you! Consider giving:

Books:

Donations:hardcover_standing_1_grande-AforAdv

Gift cards and certificates:

Hiking gear:

  • Ice cleats/crampons
  • First aid kit
  • Compass
  • Snowshoes
  • Trekking poles
  • Walking stick
  • Hiking socks
  • Back pack
  • Headlamp
  • Hiking boots
  • Thermos
  • Water bottle
  • Pocket knife

Guided hikes fight pandemic stress

If concerns over how to get back to fall routines during a pandemic is causing you stress, relax. Hike Nova Scotia has you covered with a series of guided hikes to get you outside to decompress.

Quotes

“If ever there was a time to get out and enjoy the healing effects of nature, that time is now,” says Janet Barlow, Hike NS Executive Director. “With the pressure we’re all under after six months of living under pandemic restrictions, it’s important to breathe fresh air, get some physical activity and slow our minds down.” 

Barlow says hiking is just what we could use right now and autumn is one of the best times to do it. “There are few to no bugs, it’s starting to cool off a bit and the fall colours are a real tonic.”

Event Details

Location: Province-wide

Date: September 12 to November 7, 2020

Registration: Registration in advance is required for all hikes. The full schedule with registration details and directions is found at www.hikenovascotia.ca. Hikes are listed by date and region. Hikes are listed by month or region (Halifax, South Shore, Valley, Fundy, Highland and Cape Breton).

Fast Facts

  • Hike NS and 17 host organizations have partnered to offer the Fall Guided Hike Series from September to November. 
  • There are over 30 hikes scheduled province-wide. 
  • Hikes are led by local folks and participants qualify to win trail prizes. 
  • These free hikes require pre-registration and will follow public health protocols, including social distancing. 
  • The series includes hikes of various lengths and difficulty levels. 
  • Hike NS thanks its local partners for organizing the hikes on the ground as well as MEC, Goose Lane Editions and the NS Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage for their support.
  • Hike NS encourages and promotes a growing hiking culture throughout the province, striving to be the voice for those who hike, walk and snowshoe.

Photos

Find photos on Facebook  or Instagram or use some of the photos on this page.

Social Media

Share on Facebook  
Share on Twitter 
Share on Instagram 

Contact

For more information on these events or Hike Nova Scotia contact:

Janet Barlow, Hike Nova Scotia
(902) 932-6902
Email
www.hikenovascotia.ca 

Fall Hiking Courses & Webinars

Hike Nova Scotia’s fall schedule of courses and webinars across the province is now available. They focus on skills for novices all the way up to experienced hikers.

“We’re excited to be able to offer our in-person courses again, while respecting public health pandemic restrictions,” says Janet Barlow, Hike NS Executive Director. “But we’re also offering a suite of online webinars so that most people can learn, no matter where they are.”

In-person courses include: 

  • Field Leader – Hiking: Sept. 19-20 or Nov. 14-15
  • Navigation Maps & Compass: Sept. 26-27 or Oct. 24-25
  • Field Leader – Winter: date to be announced

Webinars include:

  • Intro to Hiking: Sept. 23, Oct. 20 or Nov. 18
  • Leave No Trace: Oct. 6
  • Tick Prevention: Sept. 15
  • Wildlife Encounters & Safety: date to be announced

Fast Facts

  • Dates, locations and costs vary, depending upon the course or webinar.
  • Learn more and register at www.hikenovascotia.ca
  • COVID-19 public health guidelines will be followed for in-person courses, which include indoor and outdoor sessions. 
  • Partners include the NS Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage, the Outdoor Council of Canada, Leave No Trace Canada, the District of Chester, AtlanTick Repellent Products and the NS Department of Lands and Forestry Natural Resources Education Centre.
  • Hike Nova Scotia encourages and promotes a growing hiking culture throughout our great province. We strive to be the voice for those who hike, walk and snowshoe. With every step we’re building a community of outdoor adventure enthusiasts.

Social Media

Share on Facebook  
Share on Twitter 
Share on Instagram 

Contact

Hike Nova Scotia
(902) 932-6902
Email 
www.hikenovascotia.ca 

Webinar teaches Leave No Trace Hiking

Being confined to our houses and neighbourhoods for a few months has spurred a renewed love of hiking. When allowed back onto trails in May, people flocked back in what might be record numbers. Few groups were happier than Hike Nova Scotia at the news, but it was also concerning.

Quotes

“Close behind the elation of being allowed back on the trails was a feeling of concern, a fear that we might love our trails to death after such a long absence,” says Janet Barlow, Executive Director of Hike NS. “Personally, I witnessed hoards of hikers at a popular trail in the Valley area on a beautiful weekend in May. There were reports of similar crowds on trails across the province. Thankfully they did a good job of social distancing.”

Event Details

Date: Tuesday, July 7, 2020 at 7 pm
Cost: $20 (free for Hike NS paid members), non-members receive a free one-year individual membership
Registration Deadline: July 6 (webinar spaces are limited)
Registration Link: Learn more and register at www.hikenovascotia.ca

Fast Facts

  • Hike NS felt there was no better time to launch education on Leave No Trace principles, hoping it might counteract the negative environmental impact of so many people enjoying our trails.
  • The webinar is geared for new and experienced hikers. It covers responsible use of our natural areas and techniques to protect our environment and the hiking experience for one another. 
  • It will include an in-depth look at the seven Principles of Leave No Trace and a question and answer session. 
  • The presenter is Jody Conrad, certified Leave No Trace Master Educator. 
  • Offered in partnership with the Municipality of the District of Chester, it is supported by the NS Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage. 
  • Hike NS encourages and promotes a growing hiking culture throughout the province, striving to be the voice for those who hike, walk and snowshoe.

Photos

Find photos on Facebook  or Instagram or use some of the photos on this page.

Social Media

Share on Facebook  
Share on Twitter 
Share on Instagram 

Contact

For more information on these events or Hike Nova Scotia contact:

Janet Barlow, Hike Nova Scotia
(902) 932-6902
Email 
www.hikenovascotia.ca 

Backyard Nature Activities: Unnature Trail

This activity is taught in Hike NS’s Re-Connecting with Nature workshop offered each year in locations throughout the province. This is a one-day, hands-on workshop for adults held mostly outdoors to improve your ability to lead and share an appreciation and understanding of nature with children and youth. We plan to have a schedule available in late June for workshops hopefully scheduled in the fall, if possible.

Unnature Trail

Synopsis: This game challenges participants to look closely at their surroundings, distinguishing human-made objects from a natural setting. This is the formal version but it can be done much more informally.

Set Up and Props: Look for a trail going through an area with trees of various sizes, leaf litter, rotting logs and other plants. Mark the beginning and end of a 20- to 30-meter section of the trail (make sure it is wide enough for two people to pass). Ahead of time, secretly place 16 to 20 human-made objects along one side of the trail. Some of these should stand out (e.g., brightly colored balloons or fluorescent pink cockroaches). Others should blend with surroundings (e.g., rubber bands or clothespins). Keep the number of objects you have planted a secret.

Source: Adapted from Sharing Nature®: Nature Awareness Activities for All Ages by Joseph Cornell.

Activity

1. Trail Walk: Have the kids walk the trail one at a time, trying to spot as many objects as they can. They are to remain quiet and not pick up the objects or point them out to others. Have them whisper in your ear how many objects they saw. 

2. Repeat Trail Walk: Tell each child the total number of objects, and have each walk the trail again, trying to find more. Total “looking” time can range from 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the age and attention span. 

3. Group Object Collection: After two rounds, go to one end of the trail and have the participants tell you where the objects are, picking them all up as you go. Discuss how camouflage and coloration helps animals hide in the woods. They can then go on a search for small camouflaged animals (insects, spiders, etc.) if they choose. 

Early Childhood Adaptation: “What would the gnomes do with garbage in the forest? They need help to collect it and put it where it belongs, in the recycling or the garbage!” Take along a clear bag and a blue bag. Make sure the children are not picking up anything that could cut them. Pre-plant small, med and large items to be found on the trail ahead of time. Plant 10 objects and get the children to make fist out of their hands. They raise a finger out of their fist for each object they find until they have all fingers extended.

Backyard Nature Activities: Leaf Slides

This activity is taught in Hike NS’s Re-Connecting with Nature workshop offered each year in locations throughout the province. This is a one-day, hands-on workshop for adults held mostly outdoors to improve your ability to lead and share an appreciation and understanding of nature with children and youth. We plan to have a schedule available in late June for workshops hopefully scheduled in the fall, if possible.

Leaf Slides

Synopsis: Everyone is invited to a slide show and selects a special leaf as a ticket for admission. At the natural theatre, the leader gives each person a slide frame. Each person puts the leaf into the frame. Everyone holds their leaf slide up to the light in a circle and then passes their slides around when the leader clicks.

Set-up and Props: You need one leaf slide per person. Take an approximately 40 by 20 cm light piece of cardboard and fold it in half to get a 20 by 20 cm slide (you could cut up an old filing folder). Label “Leaf Slide” across the top with the fold at the bottom. Then cut a 5 cm square viewing window through both layers of cardboard and the leaf is placed inside the cardboard like a sandwich, over the hole. Pick a nice clear spot to circle up for the slide show. Find a narrow spot between the trees to form the entryway into the theatre so they can go in single file with you “at the door”.

Source: Adapted from Earthwalks by Kirk Hoessle & Steve Van Matre, Institute for Earth Education, 1980.

Activity

1. Lead in: “Often when you go to parks and special places, they give you a slide show to start off. Well, I have one for you and we are going to be able to run the projector right out here in the middle of the woods. Instead of taking place in a dark room, we need a bright open area – like that one over there!” (S)he gestures toward a nearby clearing in the woods.

2. Introduce Leaf Ticket: “But don’t expect to get in without your ticket for admission. Get yourself a very special leaf you can find and meet me over there. Don’t pick up just any leaf and make sure everyone has a different one. I’ll check your tickets there.”

3. Inspect leaves at door: Move ahead to the clearing while they select leaves. As they arrive, put them in single file outside the theatre and give each leaf a quick inspection. Instruct them to keep their tickets as they enter the theatre and form a good circle. 

4. Demonstrate how to make a slide, then hand out frames: Join the circle and note that “you not only hold the tickets in your hands, you also hold the slides for the slide show. I’ve got something here that will help you make your slide.” Show the group a leaf slide frame and demonstrate its use. “This will complete your leaf slide. Simply place your leaf inside. You’ll then be able to experience the incredible beauty in leaves.” 

5. Demonstrate how to focus slide: Let them look at slides initially and then  “Now I’ll show you a different way to focus and view your leaf slide. Hold your slide up to the sky at arm’s length, close one eye, and bring the leaf right up to your eye. Then slowly move the slide back towards the sky until the leaf comes into focus. See what happens? You can see all the veins.”

6. Conduct Show: “Now it’s time for the slide show. That’s when we take a look at each other’s leaf slides. Let’s imagine that we form a circle of slides in a tray, just like the tray on top of an old-fashioned slide projector. When you hear the slide projector click, pass your slides around to the left. Use that same focusing technique to view each slide.” The leader clicks until the slides have gone all around and everyone has their own back.

Early Childhood Adaptation: Use a clothes pin to hold the leaf, rather than the paper frame.