There’s a reason I’ve dreamed of moving away to a tropical island my whole life. Well, maybe there are plenty of reasons, but the most prevalent has always been Winter. The cold, the snow, the storms, shoveling, slush, shitty driving conditions. All of it. I hate it. I’ve spent my entire life hibernating during the winter. I go outside only for necessity. To go to work – ugh, groceries, maybe a theater trip or ten, but otherwise, I’m waiting for spring. And not like “I hate winter, but skiing is OK”, or “Winter’s alright, I do enjoy making a snowman.” Not this guy. Maybe we’re lucky to be here in Canada, but if I never had to see another winter again, I’d be a happy camper. Winter reminds me of a demon you can’t see, with that Exorcist-type voice whispering “Are we having fun yet!” as it vomits a snowstorm all over your face. (The power of Christ compels you!)
But now, my first Joe Wilderness Winter season. Winter isn’t bringing me down this year. I’ve made progress towards accepting it and getting my lazy ass out of the house. I had fully planned on trying to do a mountain or two to get some winter hiking experience, but that has not been in the cards just yet. A few trips to the Adirondacks in late November/early December gave me obstacle after obstacle, which I’ll write about in a different post. But, not to be deterred, it was time to get outside in the snow and see what this supposed Wonderland could offer.
I’ve wanted to dedicate some significant time to photography at many different points in my life. But, sitting on a couch watching movies never really afforded me much photographic opportunities. Truly, I’m almost 37 years old and have never actually learned how to use a digital camera. A pathetic fact that I’ve set about fixing. Now that I’m spending more of my days outdoors, I’m slowly learning. Most of my photos before this Gray’s Creek trip have been taken on my phone. Time to start using a proper camera. My dad is close to retirement and he loves him his camera. The whole Secord clan has always been in to taking lots of photos. The albums spread across our huge family are innumerable. So why not learn from the guy I admire most?

“Pop, I love you unconditional and thanks for loving me…” -Royce Da 5’9″

Pop and I decided to hit up Gray’s Creek, since it was cold as balls outside and it was close to home. We packed light, brought along some coffee and hot chili, with hopes of getting some great nature shots. And then we got there and we saw nothing. Nothing – like we had stolen fizzy lifting drinks and were being punished. There was one chickadee flying around making noise. It was not interested in being photographed. There was that one squirrel who ran in front of our trail real fast, probably trying to get his little squirrel nuts somewhere warm.
After post-holing our way across a huge empty soccer field, populated only by a sad looking snowman, we ate some lunch and drank our coffee. Our hands were freezing, my beard was iced over and we were not getting too many real photos. We were surrounded by some great trails and trees, but it just wasn’t our day for pictures. No interesting birds, no four-legged critters, just us crunching our way through some pretty deep snow. Time to call it quits after only about 90 minutes. This was just the beginning of 2019 and my first trail with my Pop as my partner. Spending time together was a bright spot in my first Joe Wilderness winter. Plenty of more photo ops to come, plenty of more trails to trek. I’m warming up to winter (see what I did there?) and I’m starting to really enjoy having a camera by my side rather than a smartphone. And yet, I still yearn for a tropical island. Our family trip to Cuba will itch that scratch in just a few short days. Woo!
Click here for Chapter 6

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