Walking the Labyrinth

A fellow pilgrim read my lament about the restlessness I have been feeling since returning home from my recent walk in Spain.  She contacted me about a labyrinth she constructed after her first Camino. I decided to seek it out today.

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I was stunned by the amount of work she must have put into creating this, and was grateful for the chance to walk it. Like many people, I find contemplative walking to be strong medicine. If I have a problem I am trying to sort through, or if I am stressed or out of sorts, a walk almost always helps.

While I don’t feel at liberty to share the location of this labyrinth, my friend’s work has inspired me to look for a spot close to my home where I could create a similar one, for use by anyone who could benefit from it. A new summer project.

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On the Trail of Sam McGee

It was a great day of hiking today along the Sam McGee Trail, just south of Carcross, Yukon. The trail was developed to allow for the use of a tramway, built by Sam McGee in 1905 to service a silver mine. Much of the cable and some of the ore buckets are still there.

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It’s a bit of a climb (9 km. of pretty much up) but worth it to see the view over Windy Arm and the surrounding area.

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I am watching you.
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Still some ice on the lake.

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We didn’t make it to the very top since there was still quite a bit of snow up high, but that gives us an excuse to return again later in the summer.

Puzzle Pieces

I went to the book launch last night of my beautiful friend and neighbour, Joanna Lilley. Her new book of poetry, called “If There Were Roads” is an examination of and nostalgia for place and home.

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Listening to Joanna read several of the poems last night, it made me think about how little bits of me are scattered throughout the world, like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. This I find both comforting and heart breaking at the same time. Does a traveller get to the stage where they are so fractured they can’t be put back together again? Or, when leaving a piece of one’s heart in every place they have been, does that old adage apply:  ‘the more you love, the more love you have to give’? Maybe it is a bit of both.

To all of us attending last night’s reading, Joanna provided postcards of Yukon, to be sent to friends and family who want to visit the place I currently inhabit. Who to choose?

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There’s only one way to settle this. Send me a note telling me why you want to visit Yukon. I will randomly select one of you and mail you this postcard, plus if you do end up visiting here, I will contribute $50 Canadian towards your transportation costs.

Joanna’s books are available at amazon.ca or if you are in Whitehorse, they can be purchased at Mac’s Fireweed Books.

The Last Time

I was out for an evening hike tonight and came to a pretty challenging hill. Some people love hills. Typically I am not one of those people. However tonight I decided to take a new approach, playing what I dubbed the ‘last time game’.

I imagined how I would feel if this were the last time I would ever have a chance to climb that hill. I thought about what it would be like if it were the last time I would see the spring buds bursting open; the last time I would see the wild crocuses; the last time I would feel the sand under my feet.

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All of a sudden everything became achingly beautiful and precious. It became a great honour to walk up that hill. In no time at all, I was at the top, feeling happy and grateful.

What a powerful tool it would be if I were to try to live my life like that, if only for a few minutes every day?

Camino Withdrawal

I am suffering from a bad case of Camino withdrawal. All I want to do is walk, and walk, and walk. All my life allows me to do at the moment is steal a couple of hours after work or on week-ends to feed my obsession.

How do others deal with this feeling of restlessness and dissatisfaction that comes after being on the road for a time?

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Touring the Copper Belt

Funny how a person can live in a place for years and not see what is right in front of his or her nose.

Tonight I tagged along on a local tour organized by the Yukon Chamber of Mines and the Yukon Geological Survey. Its focus was the Copper Belt…an area that runs from the north end of Whitehorse to some 30 kilometres to the south. At one time there were as many as 20 small mining operations in this region, and you can still see remnants of some of them today.

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First, a science lesson. Limestone was deposited in the Whitehorse area more than 200 million years ago. Then, 90 million years later, magma from the mantle inside the earth started bubbling up. It mixed with the limestone to make granite. Hot fluid seeped from the granite as it was forming. This liquid was full of dissolved metals. The metals reacted with the limestone and voila…copper (and some other metals too).

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See how the veins swirled as they were cooling? Beautiful art!

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One of these things is not like the others…the round grey and white stone in the centre of this photo is a glacial erratic, carried here by a surging or receding glacier.

Remember “Sam McGee from Tennessee”, made famous in Robert Service’s poem? Actually, Sam McGee was from Armprior, Ontario. He was on his way to the Dawson Goldfields in 1899. He did some poking about while on a stopover in the Whitehorse area and ended up staking a claim at what was to become the War Eagle Copper Mine (now the city dump). If you know where to look (and now I do) you can find the remains of his operation.

McGee wasn’t the first to discover copper in these parts. That honour goes to Jack McIntyre, who staked the Copper King claim in 1898. Think about that the next time you are having a brew at the Copper King Tavern, or are skiing any of the Mount McIntyre ski trails.

Thank you to the Chamber of Mines and the Yukon Geological Survey for a great evening!