Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Story Behind my Renowned Hiking Stick

I do a lot of hiking and love it. In fact, I think I'm addicted to the thrill of finding new trails to explore. Despite my love of hiking, surprisingly, I'm not a gear hoarder. I have the basics - comfortable hiking boots, comfortable clothes, a few rain items, some first aid and emergency items for long hikes, a trusty backpack and my coyote stick. Yes you read that right. My coyote stick. It's a walking stick that doubles as a weapon should a pack of hungry coyotes surround me. No I don't go around beating coyotes with sticks. I love all animals. I would only ever hurt an animal if it were to defend my life.
Now, to you, this stick might simply sound like a regular old walking stick. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is no ordinary walking stick. This walking stick has a history, a story. So since my coyote stick is such a big part of my hikes that I write about on this blog, I thought I would officially introduce it to my readers and tell the world the story about how it came to be.

I can't remember exactly when I acquired my renowned walking stick but I think it's safe to guess it was around 2010 because it was after I moved back to Cape Breton from Newfoundland. It was given to me by my father and it was given to my father by beavers. Yes, that's right. Beavers. Well, they didn't actually give the stick to my father; he took it from them. There were several sticks involved in the infamous beaver damn stick heist but no beavers were harmed and no beaver dams were damaged during this heist. I doubt the beavers even noticed a few missing sticks out of the thousands strewn over their property.
Me and my cherished Coyote Stick getting ready to head out for a weekend of Camping
I assume you are at least vaguely familiar with beavers and their extraordinary carpentry skills. To put it into perspective for you, the world's largest beaver dam (which was only discovered fairly recently in Northern Alberta) is 850 meters long and can be seen from space. My dad was fishing in the Framboise area of Cape Breton when he stumbled across a much smaller (but still fairly big) beaver dam that was under construction. To us humans, we think of a beaver dam as just a pile of sticks haphazardly piled together to stop water flowage. To beavers, dams are more than just homes, they're fortresses. There were hundreds of perfectly sanded down sticks sitting near the bank of the river the day my dad stumbled upon that beaver dam. The beavers "sand" these sticks with their teeth, not sand paper. (Thought I should clarify that just in case.) Dad picked up one of these freshly-sanded sticks and instantly thought "what a good walking stick this would make". Not often does one stumble across hundreds of perfectly-made walking sticks in the middle of nowhere that look and feel better than most of the ones you find in stores...and cheaper too! So he grabbed one for me as well. All that was needed before the stick was ready to be used was a coat of varnish to spruce it up and a few decorative touches to personalize it. With these final touches complete, dad presented the walking stick to me. It comes with me on every hike and also protects me against coyotes while walking up my long, rural driveway and protects me in my car in the unlikely event of an attempted carjacking or robbery. I have no doubt this stick would do some major damage if it ever had to come to that!

A number of years later, my coyote stick is still going strong and I consider it to be one of my most prized possessions. Other people are intrigued by it too. I've had a number of folks stop me on the trails to comment on what a nice walking stick I have and to enquire as to where they can buy one. Just recently, I overheard a little boy ask his father "did you see that cool walking stick that girl had" as I hiked passed them. I tell people the truth when they ask me where I bought it. I tell them it was made by beavers. And they look at me like I have ten heads. I joke around with dad that he should start a beaver sweat shop and sell the sticks for profit. Judging by the number of people interested in my walking stick, he'd be rich in no time!

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