Loons Need Long Runways
Not many people in this world know that a loon is one of the few birds with solid bones, which makes them heavier than most birds of similar size. Still fewer would know what to do when a loon can’t take off from a lake that’s just beginning to freeze over entirely.
Enter Mark Hennessy, loon-runway-builder.
Or perhaps ice-breaker for loons should be his title. Clearly, this particular loon had decided to sleep in too late. Mark was in his favorite wilderness area in the world, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota and knew that this loon would never get airborne if it didn’t have a long, ice-free, water runway for takeoff.
So he did what any veteran of canoeing and outdoor travel in the wilderness would do, he got in his canoe and proceeded to clear out a path in the ice with his paddle. And sure enough that loon was able to use that temporary runway for a successful takeoff and headed straight for Florida and the Gulf of Mexico.
And as observers of loon behavior know, that loon was most likely to fly right back at that very same lake – even that very same section of that lake, next year. Hopefully, with an alarm set for a few days before ice-in.
The Need for Adventure
Mark Hennessy doesn’t have to think about why he likes to go outside. “Adventure.”
He doesn’t hesitate. Mark not only likes outdoor adventure, he needs it. He seeks it out nearly every day for his physical, emotional and spiritual health. Certainly, his annual winter camping trip with friends in the remotest regions of northern Minnesota would qualify as adventure.
“Winter” + “Camping” Does Not Equal Crazy
When I remind him that people don’t usually put the words ‘winter’ and ‘camping’ together in the same sentence he admits that people do think he’s crazy.
But this is the kind of crazy that I love. It’s the kind of crazy that inspires and it’s the kind of crazy we all should be looking into doing more. A LOT more.
A Qualified Wonder Guide
Mark is, without a doubt, the most “extreme” outdoor adventurer I’ve had the pleasure to talk with as my Wonder Guide to date. By extreme I mean experienced and traveled. He’s hiked, canoed, paddled and otherwise been outside in North America his entire life.
Bring Your Camera
Mark reminds me that one way to truly take a breath in the great outdoors is to bring your camera. Like me, Mark can be very focused on the goal at hand or the completion of a task. By having that camera with you, he says, your forced to take an important break and be truly present in your environment.
His exceptional landscape photography can be found here: https://www.markhennessyphotography.com/
My conversation with Mark is full of especially useful reminders for getting outside more easily, more often and more confidently. Mark reminds us that ‘transformational moments’ are just around the bend and that a little effort can lead to a life of wonder and meaning in the great outdoors.
For the 3 x 3 Main Street Challenge we start in St. Augustine, Florida at the Tropical Smoothie Café on Seagrove Main Street and travel to Anastasia State Park, the 12 Mile Swamp Conservation Area and the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.
In the There’s No Planet B segment we discuss the reasons why planning to build Copper-Sulfide mines on the doorstep of the BWCAW is a really bad idea. https://www.friends-bwca.org/sulfide-mining