After the stress of last weekend it has been nice to get back to normal in the Okanagan. Normalcy includes relaxing on our deck with some local wine, an activity I indulged in yesterday, and enjoying the dwindling days of summer by walking around town or going for a hike. I have been aching to get out and move lately and boy do my hips need it! Monday I return my quadrillionth attempt at getting into shape before Christmas holidays. I decided to start a little early by going for a nice hike into the hills above my Kettle Valley neighbourhood. Only a 10 minute drive up Chute Lake Road is the Johns Family Nature Conservancy. The land is ideal for sprawling views of the Okanagan Lake, popular with rock climbers, and has plenty of nature and animals to observe. It might be wise to bring bear repellant as we did find bear droppings on the path.
The hike is as hard or as easy as you’d like to make it. On this particular day my boyfriend and I decided to challenge ourselves and make it to the top of this small mountain that overlooks our neighbourhood. What we ended up finding was someone’s amazing determination to make it a little easier for people to enjoy the gorgeous Okanagan Valley.
I struggled but I made it to the top of a smaller mountain (more like rocky hill) that offered sweeping views of Okaganan Lake, Kelowna and West Kelowna. The views never get stale but what made them breathtaking again was the amount of Inukshuks that lead us to the top of the mountain. We started to follow the rocky statues that grew in size as we climbed higher. Not only were there convenient Inukshuks leading the way but someone had went through the trouble of stacking rocks to form a few sets of stairs – no small feat and was appreciated for this novice hiker.
What are Inukshuks you might be asking? Inukshuks are stone figures often used by the Inuit and other cultures belonging to the circumpolar areas of the world. They can be used for navigation, which is what we ended up using them for that day, or to communicate where to hunt, fish, location of villages etc. In high school I was in a course where we could write down our positive qualities upon each rock and stack them to form a personal Inukshuk that represents the strongest versions of ourselves to remind ourselves what we are made of when we aren’t really feeling that way.
In this first week of school I have been reflecting about the lack of writing I have done after graduating with a creative writing and art history degree. Ideas come but nothing that really excites me to the point where I sit down and write it. This morning an idea came to me that I find worth pursuing (finally) and the self doubt that plagues the writer’s conscience (at least mine) wasn’t strong enough to prevent me from writing an outline, let alone tossing it in the proverbial trash I have stored just beyond my abdullah oblongata. Seeing the Inukshuks today reminded me of how we knock ourselves down before the world and fate has a chance to give its opinion. Some of these physical Innukshuks were knocked down by others or the wind but the person who practiced enough patience to construct the stairs and towering structures will surely be back to build them again. He or she practices a self discipline that I wish was part of my list of words I wrote on the stones in high school. But there are some stones we already contain within our collection and then there are those we find along the way. In writing my first novel I hope to find some missing stone pieces to my Inukshuk, ones to make it stronger.