Backyard Nature Activities: Whiffs

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 May for workshops hopefully scheduled in late June and in the fall, if possible.

Whiffs

Synopsis: Participants have a party and make whiff sundaes with natural scents crushed on top. They name their whiffs and share the scents of the season by smelling, not tasting 

Set-up & Props: Choose a place with good materials for scents – fir, wintergreen, dead ferns, etc. – and know what you can use for a neat example. You need a small cup or dish for each person. An ice cream scoop for the leader is optional.

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

Activity 

1. Invitation to Party: “How about a break for a party? Maybe some of you have heard of an ice cream party where you make your own ice cream sundaes? Well this is sort of like that only you make your own earth scoop flavours instead of using regular ice cream. Let me show you.”

2. Explain Whiffs: “We call these flavours whiffs because they are different from regular ice cream. You don’t eat these flavours, instead you smell them, and you can come up with some great sniffs. Let me show you.” 

3. Demonstrate Making of Whiff Sundae: Pull out scooper and a cup. Scoop up ingredients into a cup and then add some crushed natural materials that make for an interesting smell – leaves, evergreen needles, mint leaves, etc. (pick nice and strong smells).  Smell your sundae, “wow, that’s good, I think I will call it “earthy ripple” (make up your own name). Does anyone want a great whiff” – share it around.

4. Create with Care: See if everyone can come up with a neat and different flavour. Call it something new. “Let’s be careful not to destroy living things in the process, you only need a little flavouring if you crush it up and let the scents out.”

5. Distribute Props/Make Sundaes: Distribute cups. “Once you have your whiffs put together, come on back here for the party.”

6. Initiate Party: Start the sharing and the party as most people are finishing up their whiffs. Share your whiff sundae with others and encourage sharing all around the group, including the names of the flavours.

7. Propose a Toast: Comment “What a lovely party and great sundaes, they bring out the best smells of the season! I would like to offer a toast – to the beauty and wonder of spring.”

Early Childhood Adaptation: Emphasize not picking living plants, and to not eat anything. 

Backyard Nature Activities: Rainbow Gems

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 May for workshops hopefully scheduled in late June and in the fall, if possible.

Rainbow Gems

Synopsis: Participants find and collect colours in nature by matching diversely coloured gems with the same colour in nature.

Set Up and Props: A white handkerchief or cloth and a collection of diversely coloured glass gems (like those from a dollar store for planters) or create rainbow chips: cut postage stamp-sized pieces from different coloured sheets of construction paper (including blue, green, red, orange, yellow, purple, pink and brown). Have them in a nice cloth sack or paper bag.  Any area works. 

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

Activity

1. Interrupt to Find Rainbow Gem Colour: Suddenly interrupt and notice a special natural colour on ground and pull out your sack of rainbow gems, open them on the white cloth, and be very pleased to find the gem that matches that colour— because it is hard to find a gem colour! Hold the gem and item next to each other (a coloured leaf often works well).

2. Tell Gem Story: Realize others are looking at you funny. Ask if they have gem collections. When they look puzzled, explain how you started yours (make up your own story) or use this one…

“One hot summer afternoon an old gnome was happily dozing on some grass overlooking a big vista. A small thunderstorm passed in the distance, and on the edge of it, there was a beautiful rainbow extending from the cloud almost back to his feet. Now he was not sure exactly what happened next, but the rainbow seemed to dissolve in the sunshine and little drops of colour splashed everywhere. And the gnome swears that most all of the colour drops dissolved into and became part of the colours in nature. But a few of them seemed to solidify and become gem drops. So the gnome ran around and collected the solid gem drops and that was the start of the gem tradition among gnomes. Pretty soon every gnome was carrying a sack of gem drops and using them as a tool to help people discover all the wonderful colours in nature. I received my sack from a pair of woodland gnomes and they challenged me to find every colour in it. So I am always looking out for the gem colours.”

3. Challenge Them to Find Colours: “Would you all help me? Take 2 or 3 gems and between here and the next spot, and see if you can find the perfect colour in nature that matches each of your gems. Find the colour in something small and dead so you can bring it back here and put it on this display cloth. If it is something too big to bring back, then simply share your colour match discovery with someone else. Don’t pick anything living.

4. Colour Search: Role model by finding your own colours, and help participants and be enthusiastic as everyone searches. 

5. Create Rainbow Colour Display: At the gathering spot, have the group display their gems and the associated colour objects on the white cloth in a rainbow of colour… the reds start, then the oranges, yellows, greens, blues, & the purples end the rainbow. First place the gem with each natural colour, then remove the gems. Then pick up natural items as a bunch in cloth and have them decide which plant they would like to help by putting the natural materials under it to decompose.

Early Childhood Adaptation: Use something larger than the flat marbles (which are choking hazards and looks like candy). Use the rainbow chips idea above or larger glass stones, polished stones, paint colour strips, crayons, etc. Demo very clearly; use examples.

Backyard Nature Activities: A Dozen Touches

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 May for workshops hopefully scheduled in late June and in the fall, if possible.

A Dozen Touches / Touch Box

Synopsis: Participants work in pairs to find small natural objects that they put in a “touch box” with each compartment labeled with an adjective describing a touch word. They then trade their box with another pair and while blindfolded or with their eyes closed, they have to guess what the word is based on their touching it. 

Set-up & Props: Tape or glue a strip of paper over the top of an egg carton and print “Touch Box” on it. Decorate the box and label with crayons, markers or coloured pencils. Write the following touch words in the bottom of the compartments of the carton: wet, dry, rough, smooth, soft, hard, round, flat, dull, sharp, fuzzy, prickly. Put a different word in each compartment. Have a blindfold for every two participants. Any area is suitable. 

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

Activity 

1. Intro Touch Box Challenge: Has anyone ever collected a box of touches? I have, I am an expert at it. I challenge you to see how good you are. Here is a box for a ‘dozen touches’… You thought it was an egg carton but it’s not! Here is the challenge. There is a touch word written in each compartment of the box. I want you to work in pairs and find a small natural object that has the feel described for each word. Put that object in the right compartment. When you return with your box full, we are going to have a guessing game. 

2. Pairs Find Touches: Help pairs as they search for touches to fill their box. Separate the pairs from each other. 

3. Split Pairs, Trade Boxes & Guess Touch Words: When the pairs return with the boxes full, have one person from a pair share their box with a person in another pair. In turn that person’s partner shares their box with the first person’s partner. In each case, give the guesser a blindfold, and then (s)he tries to guess the words in each compartment by the feel of the object. The person with the box helps the guesser and tells him or her if (s)he has the correct answer. 

Early Childhood Adaptation: Young children cannot read the labels, so call textures out verbally. Use a simple tray (e.g. aluminum pie plate) instead of egg carton; give one to each child to put their collection in. “Get your fingers warmed up, wiggle them and do some stretching moves.” Remind them not to pick living things. Have the entire group look for the same “touch” (ie. rough, smooth, hard, squishy, etc). When finished make a “gift for a tree or plant” by dumping the tray at its base. Discuss what plants and trees need to grow, decompose, etc. Or, make a Touch Box by cutting a hole in the side of a shoebox for a hand to fit in. Someone puts something to touch in the box, and someone else puts their hand in and tries to guess. 

NS Hiking Summit Postponed to 2021

Due to the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Hiking Summit has been postponed to 2021 and will tentatively take place in Chéticamp from June 4 to 6, 2021. We will confirm these dates in September 2020 and provide additional information at that time. Anyone who registered and paid online for the 2020 Summit will be reimbursed. Learn more here.

Winter hikes peak interest in snowshoeing

One way to honour your New Year’s resolution to be more active is to get outside. You might assume that in winter your only option is to go to the gym. But Hike NS invites you to explore our many trails this winter. If the snow is too deep, all you need is snowshoes.

Quotes

“Recent statistics from ParticipACTION show that adults are not active enough,” says Janet Barlow, Hike NS Executive Director. “An easy way to get active is to go for a walk. It’s really as simple as that. Don’t let the cold or snow stop you. Dress properly, go with friends or family or try a guided hike.”

Event Details

Date: January 10 to March 14, 2020
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 35 host organizations partnered up to offer the guided hike series from January to March.
  • There are 60 guided hikes scheduled province-wide. Most 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. Hikes are free or low-cost and some require pre-registration. 
  • The series includes hikes of various lengths and difficulty levels. 
  • For some of the guided hikes, snowshoes are provided.
  • Wondering where to find snowshoes? Not to worry, since you can easily find snowshoes to borrow, rent or buy using Hike NS’s online guide, with over 90 listings. There are over 65 venues listed where you can borrow them for free.
  • 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
info@hikenovascotia.ca
www.hikenovascotia.ca

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Hiker Gift Ideas 2019

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

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Books:

Donations:hardcover_standing_1_grande-AforAdv

Gift cards and certificates:

Hiking gear:

  • First aid kit
  • Compass
  • Snowshoes
  • Trekking poles
  • Walking stick
  • Hiking socks
  • Back pack
  • Headlamp
  • Hiking boots
  • Thermos

Hiking for the Holidays Online Auction: Nov. 16-30

Support the Hike NS Hiking for the Holidays Online Auction. Shop once and give twice: once to your loved ones and once to Hike NS. Do your holiday shopping online with us and spend more time hiking, less time shopping. From big gifts to stocking stuffers, we’ve got presents that hikers will love. Special thanks to The Trail Shop and Goose Lane Editions for donating most of the items in the auction. Bidding opens Nov. 16 and ends on Nov. 30. View items at www.32auctions.com/hikens2019

Fall Colours Featured in Hike Series

Ask most hikers and they’ll likely agree that autumn is the best hiking season. Brisk air, no flies and those beautiful fall colours are drawing more and more people out onto our trails. That is what Hike Nova Scotia anticipates for its annual Fall Guided Hike Series taking place from September to November. 

Quotes

“It really is a gorgeous time of year to be on the trails,” says Janet Barlow, Hike NS Executive Director. “From easy to more challenging hikes and from woodland to coastal trails, there’s something for everyone in Nova Scotia.”

Event Details

Date: September 13 to November 17, 2019

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 25 host organizations partnered up to offer the guided hike series from September to November.
  • There are over 50 guided hikes scheduled province-wide.
  • Hikes are led by local folks and participants qualify to win trail prizes. Hikes are free or low-cost and some require pre-registration. 
  • The series includes hikes of various lengths and difficulty levels. 
  • Feeling like you’d like to upgrade your outdoorsy skills for the fall hiking season? Hike NS has you covered with a slate of courses and workshops that teach nature activities to use with kids, how to be a hike leader and navigation.
  • 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
info@hikenovascotia.ca 
www.hikenovascotia.ca 

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Trailing Spirit Check-In

Back on November 2, 2018, we featured a guest blog by Trailing Spirit blogger Stephanie Dean-Moore. We thought it was time to get an update on how her hiking project is progressing.

A year ago I embarked on an ambitious hiking project. I had been feeling restless and realized in August 2018 that I was staring at middle age and living a rich life that had become rather routine, predictable, a tad dull and too comfortable. I sensed that it was time to shake things up.

The project was a formidable challenge for me – I had never been alone in the woods and hadn’t done any significant exercise for many years. I bought a hiking guide and as is my habit, enthusiastically, and blindly, leaped in. With zero experience on the trail and no idea what I was taking on, I aimed to hike all 60 treks outlined in Michael Haynes’ Hiking Trails of Mainland Nova Scotia in a year. Sure.

The project was inspired by my disquiet and by my cousin Jeff, who had just a few weeks earlier died from ALS. Jeff’s desire to move and live infused my steps as I trekked through the year. As I spent hours in the woods and along the coasts, reflecting on the nature of life and living, I kept returning to the importance of embracing what we have while we have it. The project forced me to slow down and listen: to the world around me, to my body and to myself. As with grief, the journey has been unpredictable and challenging. I have had to struggle through uncertainty and doubt, challenge my concepts of success and failure, and look honestly at who I am, not who I perceive myself to be. It has been a glorious year… and a difficult one, often framed by beauty and comedy.

After a year on the trails, I am very glad to report that I have not even come close to completing the 60 hikes in this project. I can see the half-way mark just up ahead and I am confidently striding towards it, but decided along the way to slow down and embrace the path, not just the finish line. The extra time and space have permitted me to incorporate new challenges of my own, such as doing a solo hike overnight, and to save hikes for the future. Am still shocked that along the way winter became my favourite season to be outside. Wow.

While not usually a fan of social media, I have been documenting each hike on my blog, Trailingspirit.com. This has become a wonderful opportunity for me to seriously examine and process the experiences I have had on the trail; it is an honest look at the challenges and revelations I have faced on this journey. I frequently get lost, things rarely go as planned, and mayhem often ensues when I am hiking. I also have learned to be still and connect to myself and the natural world, to feel proud and grateful when a hike has been completed and a heavy pack removed, and to enjoy the sound of crunching through snow, my tracks the only human ones ahead. And a year in, I am still amazed that each hike brings with it new joys, wisdom and ways of seeing.

The project continues, its parameters having changed – it will keep going until it is done. I am excited to enter another year, knowing that there is much to see and learn on the trails ahead. Thank you Nova Scotia, for your natural beauty and teams of volunteers that keep the trails alive. I am so very grateful for your labours and your support, as you have made this life-altering adventure possible.

Happy hiking!

By Stephanie Dean-Moore, Trailing Spirit

Hike NS Summit Award 2019: Garnet McLaughlin

Photo: Garnet McLaughlin celebrates his Summit Award with his family: wife Alexia, daughter Madeline, son Seth and daughter Avary.

May 2019

Hike Nova Scotia is pleased to present Garnet McLaughlin with the Hike NS Summit Award. This award recognizes outstanding leadership and commitment to the growth and development of hiking in Nova Scotia.

Over the past 20 years, Garnet has logged countless hours in the development of trails, inspiring people to take action throughout Nova Scotia to create more outdoor adventures in the development of trails and pathways.

Garnet would rather be designing and building trails but he understands community, the importance of volunteer organizations and the importance of developing strong foundations and organizations for the long term.

Often it is not about time but the commitment to find the time to chair, be a board member, show up and attend meetings, create strategic plans, write and submit grant applications and lobby when and where necessary for the protection and development of trails that does and will create long term hiking opportunities.

By profession Garnet is a trail builder and started building trails in Economy at Thomas’ Cove in the mid-nineties. He has a background in integrated resource management and understands the biodiversity of the forest and the value of protecting the resource.

In the mid-nineties Garnet returned to Nova Scotia to run a youth crew building wilderness trails in the newly designated Economy River Wilderness Area. His passion for trail building, design and mentoring is based on a strong work ethic and more importantly an ethic to give back to the community. He worked on Kenomee Canyon, Devils Bend, Escarpment trail and upgraded Thomas Cove trails which is over 30 km of trail.

As a trails coordinator for Musquodoboit Trailway Association he finished up this wilderness trail system including the North and south Granite Ridge trails along with Admiral Lake loop, Bayers Lake and Gibraltar.

Over his 20-year career Garnet has been involved with different trail planning projects across the Maritimes including Neil’s Harbour in Cape Breton, Dollar Lake Provincial Lake, Mica Hill in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Gros Morne National Park, Birch Cove Blue Mountain Lake, Gully Lake and Nova Scotia Nature Trust trails.

He’s done it all. He has prepared assessments, reconstruction and rehabilitation of Cape Chignecto Provincial Park while working with both his staff and staff of the park. He has hosted trail building/restoration workshops across the province with volunteer groups, schools, municipalities and provincial governments at various sites.

He was an active volunteer board member for the NS Trails Federation for almost 10 years and worked on the Great Trail (or Trans Canada Trail) in Nova Scotia.

He took part in strategic discussions on the Atlantic Canada Trails Destination process to improve the hiking experiences that would appeal to international markets.

He started his own family base company, Cobequid Consulting after the devastating effects from Hurricane Juan in 2003 to repair the damage along so many of Nova Scotia’s trails.

He leant his expertise to the design and construction of the Crowbar Lake Trails (Waverly-Salmon River Long Lake Wilderness Area), living in the woods at the time and canoeing to the job site every day.

He worked with the community to create the Kenomee Trail Society serving as volunteer president and has been involved in many capacities with the society since 2001 when he was also balancing his volunteer role as fire chief of the Economy Fire Brigade. He is back as Chair again in 2019 volunteering for Kenomee.

In 2007 Garnet was involved in the creation of Cobequid Eco-Trails Society (CE-TS), focusing on the development and promotion of non-motorized trails, with an emphasis on environmental appreciation and stewardship. Garnet was their first Chair. This community based group designed and developed the Gully Lake Trail system creating over 30 kms of hiking trails within the Gully Lake Wilderness Area.

At the time it was one of the newest wilderness trail system in the province. Garnet was president, volunteer builder and trail builder throughout the process working with many dedicated volunteers which lead to hiking pathways such as Rogart Mountain Trail, Earltown Lake and Portage Trail to name only a few.

He has worked with the Cape to Cape Trail group that is part of the vision of a 400 km hiking trail through five counties which will include many of the trails he has helped shape throughout Colchester and Cumberland counties.

Garnet has been on the Hike Nova Scotia board since 2009 and is the immediate past president of Hike NS serving for 5 years. Garnet has been instrumental in providing strategic leadership that allowed the association to grow and expand.

He has led many hiking and snowshoeing events including  in Kenomee, Gully Lake, Beaver Mountain, Keppoch and Trenton Park trails to name only a few and his understanding of nature makes him a natural for sharing forest knowledge.

He has presented at many recreation conferences and seminars to share key messages around protecting our forests, setting aside land for biodiversity and promoting active lifestyles through the creation of quality sustainable hiking trails.

At the NS Trails Conference held at Cornwallis several years ago, he worked to design and create a legacy that would enhance the Mickey Hill Provincial Park so that delegates could learn trail building techniques on the ground and in doing so created a new section of hiking trail.

Garnet is a family man that wants to pass on his love for the outdoors and the importance of connecting with nature to both his family and others and it is for this and many other reasons mentioned that Hike NS wishes to acknowledge Garnet’s outstanding leadership and commitment in the development of hiking opportunities in Nova Scotia.

Thank you for your dedication, passion and for your expertise in inspiring communities around Economy, across Colchester County and Cumberland and, indeed, across Nova Scotia.

Hike NS is pleased to present Garnet McLaughlin the 2019 Summit Award.

Congratulations Garnet!