Blue Mind

The Benefits of Being Near, In, or On Water

There’s something about a body of water that pulls us in. We are drawn to lakes, rivers, and oceans – especially in these warm, sunny months, eager for a paddle or SUP atop glassy waters or to plunge in and cool off after a rewarding hike. Our natural waterways provide us with recreation and adventure, but they also give us so much more that: inspiration and creativity, along with a sense of peace and calm.

Marine biologist and author Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, dubbed the term “blue mind”, describing it as, “the mildly meditative state characterized by calm, peacefulness, unity, and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment.”

“We are beginning to learn that our brains are hardwired to react positively to water,” writes Dr. Nichols in his book, aptly titled Blue Mind. “Being near it can calm and connect us, increase innovation and insight, and even heal what’s broken.”

Simply being by water – whether an open ocean, a sprawling lake, a trickling stream, or even a bath at home – has therapeutic properties. According to neuroscientists and psychologists, the ocean and other natural waterways provide vast cognitive, emotional, physical, psychological, social, and spiritual values. Water is a source of happiness, relaxation, play, nostalgia, and wonder. It has also been said to help manage anxiety, trauma, stress, sleep and attention disorders (to name a few.)

We understand that chronic stress and anxiety can cause or intensify a range of physical and mental afflictions; being near, in, or on water can be an effective means of reducing stress and anxiety levels – meaning, time in nature by water might be just what the doctor ordered. 

Aside from the cognitive and physical benefits, being near water has been proven to saturate the senses. “Here, the auditory, visual, and somatic processing is simplified,” writes Dr. Nichols.

Focus on the sensory experience the next time you’re near a water source. Take in the sights, observing the shifting swells and noting the difference of hues from moody indigos to vibrant ceruleans. Inhale the scent of the sea breeze, rich with brine and seaweed. Listen to the sound of a stream that trickles quietly and gently or the rush of a fast-flowing river. Feel the shockingly cold chill of a glacier-fed lake as you dip your toes. Taste the saltwater on your lips after a deep dive into the ocean. Tuning into the senses of the experience can presence you to the moment.

Blue mind is something that can benefit everyone, so much so that it has become synonymous with well-being. And so, as Dr. Nichols says, “I wish you water.”

Literary Escapism for Adventurous Bibliophiles

A Recommended Reading List from the BLBCA Team

Whether you are an adventurous bibliophile or a bibliophilic adventurist, we know there is something wonderful about sticking your nose in a great piece of outdoor literature. This has never been truer than these days while we are all staying close to home but yearning for the sweet escape that books can provide.

Our BLBCA team has rounded up our favourite titles so you can add to your to-be-read list, so you can get lost in the wild of a tantalizing tale.

In The Path of an Avalanche by Vivian Bowers

Adventurers from all over the world come to Canada’s Selkirks, a mecca for ski touring that offers unlimited mountain terrain and lots of snow. On a clear, cold morning in January 1998, six experienced back-country skiers set out across one of its heavily loaded slopes and were caught in a Class 3 avalanche, burying all of them in its path. Vivien Bowers takes us through the tragic series of events, focusing on one of the young women who perished in the slide, and the avalanche’s aftermath. Bowers illuminates a natural phenomenon that has threatened human endeavours throughout the world. Interwoven with the narrative is the science behind the event, including avalanche triggers and the complex process of avalanche prediction. Her book also raises unsettling questions about acceptable risk, about human fallibility, about living fully and dying young-and about what might entice a group of knowledgeable, experienced skiers to place themselves in the path of an avalanche.

Switchbacks: True Stories from the Canadian Rockies by Sid Marty

In Switchbacks, Sid Marty draws on his own memories and those of friends and former colleagues in relating a series of true mountain tales. Along the way, Marty tries to answer the kind of questions that all of us must face some day. Do we really have to “grow up” and abandon adventure as well as youthful ideals? Can the mountains draw old friends back together, when politics and lifestyles have set them apart? Sid Marty writes gracefully of the land he loves and lampoons a few bureaucrats whose policies sometimes threaten its integrity. His portraits of the people – and creatures – that make their lives in the mountains are affectionate and respectful. But, above all, this is a collection of engaging, surprising, funny, and superbly told true stories by a gifted writer.

Where The Clouds Can Go by Conrad Kain

Of all the mountain guides who came to Canada in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Conrad Kain is probably the most respected and well known. He brought glamour and imagination into the sport of mountaineering as few guides have done before him. Recalling his personality and amusing stories one should not forget that his approach to mountains was first and foremost an aesthetic one; he saw a peak first as something beautiful—the technical problem was always secondary — and nothing counted beside that vision.

Touching the Void: The True Story of One Man’s Miraculous Survival by Joe Simpson

Touching the Void is the heart-stopping account of Joe Simpson’s terrifying adventure in the Peruvian Andes. He and his climbing partner, Simon, reached the summit of the remote Siula Grande in June 1985. A few days later, Simon staggered into Base Camp, exhausted and frost-bitten, with news that that Joe was dead. What happened to Joe, and how the pair dealt with the psychological traumas that resulted when Simon was forced into the appalling decision to cut the rope, makes not only an epic of survival but a compelling testament of friendship..

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

A bank of clouds was assembling on the not-so-distant horizon, but journalist-mountaineer Jon Krakauer, standing on the summit of Mt. Everest, saw nothing that “suggested that a murderous storm was bearing down.” He was wrong. The storm, which claimed five lives and left countless more–including Krakauer’s–in guilt-ridden disarray, would also provide the impetus for Into Thin Air, Krakauer’s epic account of the May 1996 disaster.

The White Spider by Heinrich Harrer

The White Spider dramatically recreates not only the harrowing, successful ascent made by Harrer and his comrades in 1938, but also the previous, tragic attempts at a wall of rock that was recently enshrined in mountaineer Jon Krakauer’s first work, Eiger Dreams. For a generation of American climbers, The White Spider has been a formative book–yet it has long been out-of-print in America. This edition awaits discovery by Harrer’s new legion of readers.

From The Ashes: My Story of Being Métis, Homeless, and Finding My Way by Jesse Thistle

In this extraordinary and inspiring debut memoir, Jesse Thistle—once a high school dropout and now a rising Indigenous scholar—chronicles his life on the streets and how he overcame trauma and addiction to discover the truth about who he is. From the Ashes is a remarkable memoir about hope and resilience, and a revelatory look into the life of a Métis-Cree man who refused to give up.

The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben

In The Hidden Life of Trees, Peter Wohlleben shares his deep love of woods and forests and explains the amazing processes of life, death, and regeneration he has observed in the woodland and the amazing scientific processes behind the wonders of which we are blissfully unaware. Drawing on ground-breaking new discoveries, Wohlleben presents the science behind the secret and previously unknown life of trees and their communication abilities; he describes how these discoveries have informed his own practices in the forest around him. As he says, a happy forest is a healthy forest, and he believes that eco-friendly practices not only are economically sustainable but also benefit the health of our planet and the mental and physical health of all who live on Earth.

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer

As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer has been trained to ask questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces the notion that plants and animals are our oldest teachers. In Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer brings these lenses of knowledge together to show that the awakening of a wider ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. For only when we can hear the languages of other beings are we capable of understanding the generosity of the earth and learning to give our own gifts in return.

North of Normal: A Memoir of My Wilderness Childhood, My Unusual Family, and How I Survived Both

Cea Sunrise Person’s compelling memoir of a childhood spent with her dysfunctional counter-culture family in the Canadian wilderness—a searing story of physical, emotional, and psychological survival. In the late 1960s, riding the crest of the counterculture movement, Cea’s family left a comfortable existence in California to live off the land in the Canadian wilderness. But unlike most commune dwellers of the time, the Persons were not trying to build a new society—they wanted to escape civilization altogether. North of Normal is Cea’s funny, shocking, heartbreaking, and triumphant tale of self-discovery and acceptance, adversity, and strength that will leave no reader unmoved.

The Rewind: The Whitebark Pine – Save The Ents

Welcome to our new series, “The Rewind”, where we’ll be sharing some of our older, most-loved community content–because great stories deserve a second telling! To kick it off, we’ve combed through the archives to reshare the incredible story of the endangered whitebark pine, written by Tannis Dakin of Sorcerer Lodge. We hope you enjoy!

Some trees just deserve respect. We all know them. They lodge themselves in our memories like markers of special times and places. These old giant moss covered characters have been standing watch for hundreds of years providing shelter, food and protection for so many generations and types of animals and plants that it’s difficult to really grasp their impact on our psyche and our world. It’s big.

#myBCbackcountry Through Your Lens Photo and Story Contest Winners

Congratulations to the Prize Winners

Thank you to everyone who participated in our 2021 photo and story contest, #myBCbackcountry Through Your Lens. Our BLBCA team and guest judge, Jamie Out, loved viewing all of your amazing photographs and reading through your stories about how you recreate responsibly in the backcountry. 

We’re thrilled to share the winning entries in both the photo and story categories below. Congratulations to the prize winners!

First Place Photo Winner: Payam M.

Payam M.

Second Place Photo Winner: Mark E.

Mark E.

First Place Story Winner: Ben M.

When recreating in the backcountry I understand that I am not on my land, I am on the land of the indigenous locals and the land of the wildlife who lives here. With this in mind I always aim to pack out more than I pack in. It’s so easy to attach a bag to your belt or backpack whilst recreating in a wilderness area. I am truly appreciative of nature, the air, the feelings, the sounds and emotions. These things make me eternally thankful to call BC my home. I am also a nature photographer and one my main purposes of my images is to attract people towards nature so that when they fall in love with it, they will then want to help conserve it. – Ben M.

Earth Day 2021

How the BLBCA Celebrates Earth Day, Every Day

Earth Day is nearly here, along with conversations focused on climate change and global warming, aiming to raise awareness and inspire action toward the protection of the environment and need for conservation. 

As leaders in sustainability initiatives, we take responsible tourism seriously, so you can enjoy unspoiled wilderness in the years to come. 

Here are three ways in which the BLBCA aims to protect the environment and focus on the need for conservation. 

Human-Powered Adventures

In our opinion, the most rewarding backcountry adventures are the human-powered ones. In both the summer and winter months, some BLBCA member lodges are accessible by hiking, ski touring, or snowshoeing. Once guests arrive onsite, all activities are non-mechanized, falling in line with a commitment to leave as small a footprint as possible and allowing guests to immerse themselves in the wonders of BC’s backcountry wilderness. However you recreate at a BLBCA lodge – whether mountain biking, paddling, or hiking on remote backcountry trails in the summer or skiing and snowboarding in untracked powder in the winter – you’ll be doing so in a way which reduces the impact on local wildlife and the wilderness habitat they occupy.

Keep the Backcountry Wild

Backcountry lovers are drawn to the unspoiled natural environment, devoid of the telltale signs of human impact. Being in the wilderness and immersed in nature can feel like being transported to another place – until we see remnants of use: discarded garbage, evidence of off-trail travel, or leftover fire pits. Keeping the backcountry wild requires proactivity and responsibility: planning ahead and preparing, respecting the environment, minimizing your impact, and wildlife awareness. For more on how we recreate responsibly in the backcountry with essential tips for the backcountry community, check out our recent blog post here.

Promoting Conservation Through Education

Knowledge is power and a key initiative of the BLBCA is to inform and educate the public around the sensitivities of the backcountry. Our member lodges play an integral role in the conservation of the local environment and education of guests. When you visit a backcountry lodge, you will get a glimpse of the value of wild places in our changing world. You may also gain some insight into how remarkably fragile they are. Backcountry lodge owners embrace a shared responsibility to ensure healthy ecosystems and help protect at-risk species, while also participating in scientific studies and providing information and documentation of changes.

Are you interested in supporting the BLBCA and its initiatives in the backcountry?

Managed backcountry access, intact wilderness habitat, support of wildlife, particularly species at risk and responsible use of our backcountry; are these important to you? You can help us. Affiliate Membership is the perfect way to support our shared goals. Find out more and sign up here.

Responsible Recreation in the Backcountry

5 Tips for Your Safety and Well-Being – Along with the Environment’s

Those of us who have had the good fortune to enjoy adventures in the backcountry know what it’s like to take in the unspoiled environment and scenery. It’s important to recognize and understand the impact that our recreation can have on the backcountry environment and be mindful of how to recreate responsibly, so we can minimize the effects of our use. 

It’s on all of us to ensure that the backcountry remains as unspoiled as possible, and so we’ve rounded up five tips to help you recreate responsibly in the backcountry.

Prepare and Trip Plan

Aside from having and sharing your trip plan with a responsible family member or friend, it’s also integral to have the necessary equipment required for the type of trip you’re embarking upon: adequate clothing, food and water, and a first aid kit, along with rescue equipment, such as a shovel, beacon, and probe if you’re recreating in the winter. Safety trainings, such as First Aid and Avalanche Training, are invaluable and chances are the more time you spend in the backcountry, the more likely you will be required to implement what you’ve learned in these trainings in a real-life scenario. For more tips on preparing for your next outdoor activity, head over to AdventureSmart.

Pack It In, Pack It Out

Help keep the backcountry clean and litter-free, by bringing anything that you brought into the backcountry, back out with you as you go and dispose of all waste properly. And yes, that does include human waste – especially in the winter-time. We like to go one-step beyond that to collect garbage along the way, so we can leave the land better than we found it.

Minimize The Impact

Where you trek, camp, and light campfires is certainly something to be mindful of when recreating in the backcountry. Trek and set up camp on durable surfaces, like gravel, deep snow, trails, dry grass, bare soil. Build and maintain low impact campfires by managing the size of the fire and impact on the surrounding area. Be sure to check for fire bans in the area before setting out – you can check BC Wildfire Service for more information – and have an understanding of fire safety measures.

Respect Wildlife

If you’re heading into the backcountry, it’s likely you’ll encounter wildlife; perhaps wildlife viewing is even the reason you’re out there. Always give proper distance to animals in the area and don’t approach or follow. Ensure your food and garbage is stored properly and do not feed them. Finally, if you’re hiking with a dog, ensure that you have the dog under your control at all times, to avoid it chasing or harassing the wildlife.   

Leave Behind Whatever You Find

Nature is full of beauty and intrigue and it can be tempting to want to take a piece of it home with you, but it’s important to leave shells, rocks, flowers, plants, and other natural objects where you find them. When it comes to flora and fauna, avoid introducing or transporting non-native species, which can have a negative impact on the local environment.

How do you recreate responsibly in the backcountry?

Tell us in 100 words and/or share your photos with us be entered to win one of three backcountry getaways to a BLBCA lodge. Enter the #myBCbackcountry Through Your Lens Photo Contest now through April 19th.

BLBCA Photo Contest, Our Judge

Introducing Our Guest Photo Judge, Jamie Out

We’ve all had to sacrifice this past year: less travel, fewer visits with friends, perhaps more time spent indoors than we would have liked. One thing that has remained constant throughout this pandemic is the beautiful nature that surrounds us.  

For those of us that crave the outdoors, this year has been more of a respite than any before it. We know the healing properties of nature and the ways it can make our stress and worries disappear without challenge. Whether it’s a simple walk on a forested path, or a multi-day traverse through the mountains, we’ve adapted and pursued those things that are important to our health and well-being. 

I’ve been fortunate enough to get outside to photograph some incredible landscapes this year and have explored deeper in the areas closer to my home that may have gone unnoticed had I been travelling as I typically do.  

For those that don’t know me, my name is Jamie Out and I have been given the great honour of being a guest photography judge for the Backcountry Lodges of BC Association’s upcoming #myBCbackcountry Through Your Lens photo contest this year. I am a travel and adventure enthusiast and freelance photographer based in Salmon Arm, British Columbia. My primary focus is telling stories and capturing the spirit of adventure in beautiful landscapes. I am a Canon Canada Ambassador and have worked with many of the top International and Canadian brands in the outdoor industry. 

My hope is that through this past year you were able to overcome the challenges faced and got out into nature to capture some incredible images.  

We are looking for a broad range of outdoor images and have some incredible prizes to be won so stay tuned for the official contest launch on March 30th to learn more on how to participate, along with the great prizing available from the BLBCA’s member lodges.

A beautiful mountain sunrise, your friend skiing that deep fresh powder, or a quaint cabin under the stars, whatever shows #myBCbackcountry through your lens is what we are looking to see and share on our channels.  

Show us what excited you and helped get you through this past year of unknowns for your chance to win one of three mountain lodge getaways. 

Importance of Shopping Local

“Shop Local” Is No Longer Just a Slogan; It Represents Solidarity

As we approach the one-year mark of the global pandemic, it’s not a secret that the impact has been felt greatly across Canada – especially within the retail industry. Nowhere is that more apparent than the higher levels of economic damage encountered by small businesses affected by the crisis. According to Statistics Canada, nearly 60% of small businesses have experienced a decline in revenue of 20% or greater.

There are a number of ways to support your local businesses. Many have pivoted to offer e-commerce options so that you can shop from the comfort of your own home, having your purchases shipped directly to you – or some cases, even delivered right to your door from shop owners and staff. Curbside pick-up has also become a popular offering, with stores encouraging customers to place orders by phone or online, then pick up their goods with speed and ease – without needing to even step foot inside the store. 

Another note of consideration when shopping local, especially in terms of accommodation and take-out food, is to purchase directly from the business, rather than buying through a third-party website or application – which always take a cut of the sale. When you purchase direct from the source, all of the funds are staying within your own community, which is integral for the sustainability of your local economy.

You’ll notice in our recent BLBCA-BMFF Raffle, we supported as many local manufacturers as we could – including Arc’teryx and G3 Genuine Gear Guide – while also supporting a local retailer – True Outdoors – by purchasing these prizes directly from the owner. 

We know the big giants are likely to be around long after things have settled, but the chances of your local cafe, sporting goods, or hardware store being open are, unfortunately, much smaller. If you want to see your favourite local businesses continue to not only survive, but thrive, be intentional with your shopping.  The phrase “shop local” is no longer just a catchy marketing slogan in the consumer marketplace; it now represents solidarity with those in our community who we wish to support with action – and our dollars. 

Share Your Love for BC Contest

Destination BC Encourages Residents to Share Their Love

From the heart of our cities to the farthest reaches of our wilderness, there are so many places across BC that inspire connection, rejuvenation and transformation. Until it’s safe to travel again, our memories and photos can give us a renewed sense of appreciation for everything that surrounds us.

Destination BC is hosting a contest encouraging BC residents to share what they love most about BC. Share your love for BC and you could win $500 in gift cards and vouchers from Destination BC to spend at local businesses in your community, to help stay local and support local.

Ten lucky people across the province will win $500 in gift cards or vouchers to spend at local businesses in their community, to help share the love. And who knows? You might just find a few new places along the way to put on your wish list for later.

For the full contest details and to enter, visit ShareYourLoveForBC.com.

Why Stay at a BLBCA Backcountry Lodge?

5 Reasons to Try a Local Backcountry Lodge This Season

Winter trips to a lodge in the backcountry are rite of passage for those who want to experience the outdoors in a more intimate and connected manner. It’s the destination, but it’s also the journey. You’ll be hauling your gear and earning your turns, making the rewards – fresh powder, stunning alpine views, cozy and quaint lodgings – that much sweeter.

With 32 BLBCA member lodges to choose from, there is no shortage of idyllic hideaways for your next getaway. Our member lodges are nestled deep within the four major mountain ranges across British Columbia: The Rockies, Columbia Mountains, Cariboo Chilcotins, and Coast Range, meaning you can experience some of the most pristine, untouched mountains in North America.

Here are five reasons why we think you should you stay at a backcountry lodge near you.

Remote and Secluded

You won’t be driving up to these lodges and battling for a parking spot with the masses. Each of our member lodges are tucked away in the mountains and as a result of their remoteness, lodge access is mechanized in the winter season (mostly by helicopter) or self-propelled. Get acquainted with the peace and quiet of nature in its purest form and #UnplugInBC.

Escape the Crowds

Backcountry lodges provide a smaller, more personal getaway experience than the average resort accommodation with the average number of guests that can be accommodated being just 12 guests per lodge. Talk about cozy! Plus, with lodges running at a reduced capacity during the pandemic, the experience just got even more intimate.

Untouched Powder

Take advantage of ski touring, splitboarding, and snowshoeing in phenomenal, untouched powder directly outside your door; without having to race out each morning to get your fresh tracks; the slopes aren’t crowded up here. It’s just you and your bubble in vast terrain, a blank canvas likely awaits your mark.

Hearty, Homecooked Cuisine

If you have chosen a catered package, you will return to enjoy a hearty, sumptuous meal, regardless of your culinary preferences. With fresh breakfasts, packed lunches, warm snacks and après-ski apps, and tasty 3-course dinners, you’ll be well fueled for all of your adventures.

Beautiful Landscapes

Deep in the peaceful backcountry, you’ll be surrounded by pure, white snow blanketing everything from lush forests to the soaring mountain peaks. Take in the unspoiled alpine views at sunset and soak in the beauty of the light that touches the landscape from the open sky, jutting peaks, and spacious meadows.

To experience the remote wilderness of BC’s backcountry and find a lodge in your local community this winter to wind down after a full day exploring – and support local businesses in the process – click here.

Nourishing Nature

Tuning Into the Natural World to Get Present

It’s the beginning of a new year, though perhaps with little reprieve, as much of the uncertainty of last year has carried over like a long lingering haze.

For many, the current global events have taken a toll on mental health, as we continue to follow provincial health authorities’ directives to reduce both travel and social interactions. As it turns out, an antidote to the stress and mental unrest is to spend at least two hours per week in nature. Research has shown that time spent connecting to nature can have a powerful impact on improving our mental health.

While restrictions are causing us to stay close to home, you don’t need to go far to get into nature. For the adventurers that yearn to explore this season, there are still ways to get outside and explore safely within your own community. Perhaps you’ll even develop a deeper appreciation for the environment that exists right outside your door.

The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a walk in your local community. To double the impact and truly tune into the natural world, try this simple exercise using your five senses to come to presence and connect with the magnificence of nature. All it takes is an open mind and a willingness to slow down and come to presence.

Begin with identifying five things you can see in your surroundings. Maybe you notice the deep blue shade of sky on a bluebird day and the soft pillows of fresh white snow atop drooping cedar branches. Or if you’re closer to the coast, perhaps you instead take in the plump raindrops that cling to the needles of a Douglas-fir.

Next, pinpoint four things you can hear. You might focus on the natural soundscapes that surround you, like the biophonic sound of birdsong overhead. Or the familiar groans and creaks of ancient trees as the wind passes through their outstretched branches.

Move on to locating three things you can touch. Take the time to trace your fingertips over the soft and fuzzy moss that blankets the trunk of an old tree, a stark contrast to the sensation of the wonderfully rough and rugged bark beneath your palm.

Then, discern two things you can smell, such as the earthy scent produced by rain falling on dry soil or the wintery scent of pine oils as you rub the bristly needles between your fingertips.

Finally, identify one thing you can taste. Maybe it’s the acidic aftertaste of your morning coffee or if you’re lucky, the tangy taste of a rose hip plucked straight from the bush.

This 5-4-3-2-1 grounding exercise is a powerful tool to calm an anxious mind. Plus, the practice of tuning in and acknowledging the natural setting around you may lead you to rediscovering the beauty in your own backyard.

Snow covered mountains with text overlay that reads: 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Technique describing exercise to use your senses to ground and centre yourself.