Forillon National Park: exploring the parks out of the back of your car. Meet Nicholas.

Forillon National Park: Nicholas Madden, explorer

Perhaps you think you need a truck camper to explore all of Canada’s National Parks? I would like you to meet Nicholas Madden who is living out of his small car as he adventures through all of the Parks. We were puzzling out which version of the Mont-Saint-Alban trail the perpetually-psyched-for-a-hike dogs could tolerate with their short legs, when he joined us at the display map. He was tall, young and laden down with all kinds of camera paraphernalia. This caught my eye. It is rare to see someone younger than forty carry imaging equipment in an era of smart phones. Nowadays phones can take better photos than your average human with a fancy camera and a trunk full of camera paraphernalia. He looked directly at us and asked if we had done the climb before. No, I replied and then asked him what he was doing with so much imaging equipment which was admirably arranged all over his knapsack and himself. I silently rebuked myself for being so bold and possibly scaring away a young adult. They are scarcer than bears in these Parks crawling with seniors and Boomers. A spacious smile and then he spoke his story.

Nicholas Madden is 23 years old. He is travelling to as many Parks as he can get to in 2017. He has a degree in Environmental Studies. He was feeling a little burnt-out from constantly being at school and decided to take a year to see the environment close-up and personal. He is living out of his car as he travels across Canada. He is friendly, knowledgeable, adventurous and smart. He will meet his Dad in Alaska where the two of them will embark on a North-South odyssey of epic proportions exploring United States National Park. I totally get why Dad is going, beyond the bonding, fun and adventuring. I would have ten heart attacks a day imagining my child travelling solo, sleeping in the back of a car as he checks out American wild places. I found myself experiencing a total body relax-response the minute he said his Dad was accompanying him.

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Nicholas Madden

Nicholas is vlogging his journey which is why he needs to take so much recording equipment. He takes pictures, sound recordings and video recordings of the environment he loves so much. We talked for a while about the necessity of recording these shared natural spaces before climate change and human greed impact them. Because Carl and I can never stop being parents (damn!) we encouraged him to continue his environmental studies. I told him what I say to our son Matt who is working on a Ph.D. in biology at Concordia. In an era of assault on the environment and popular animosity toward science and data collection, devoting one’s life to science and scientific method is a slow but critically important act of resistance. Not many can do it, so the ones who can should.

Check out Nicholas’ vlog and Facebook site. When I asked if he had a name or title for his site he simply said “Google me.”

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