Adventure Journal

Friday, 27 June 2008

A Week At Elora Gorge 200806-23 to 200806-27

Monday, June 23 – 2008 to Friday, June 27 – 2008
09:00 – 22:00
Start: 09:00
Roads: Dry / Clear
Visibility: 24km
Temp: +25C
Area: Elora, Ontario
Vehicle: Black Toyota Matrix
Weather: Mostly Cloudy
Trail Conditions: Damp from rain
Hikers: Wolf, Tori, Brian
Plan: Spend a Week Camping in Elora
GPS: 43 40.50N by 80 26.97W

200806-23: We woke up early around 07:00hrs and Brian arrived around 08:00hrs and we loaded his Toyota Matrix more full than it had ever been, full of tents, sleeping bags, food, and other camp gear we'd need over the week. We left the dogs at home with me mum so we could have a week without them. We arrived at the campsite around 10:00 and set-up our tents and then head into Elora to buy a few food supplies. With my back still very sore from the injuries of last week at camp, We went on a bit of a slow hike around the gorge and got some great photographs. After the short hike we went back to camp and Tori massaged my back for a while, and we made a nice campfire, sat around and talked the night away. We headed to bed around 23:00hrs

200806-24: We got up around 09:00hrs and headed into Elora for Brian to get some supplies for himself, then went back to the campsite and decided to go on the tube ride. It was a blast going through the rapids barefoot with just a shorts, a lifejacket and innertube! We had a wild time, followed by some easy floating to the end. The scenery in the gorge was phenomenal. There were a few rough spots in the gorge, and both Brian and I fell out of our tubes at one point but none of us got any serious injuries, but it sure didn't help my sore back. After the tube ride we returned the tubes to the rental place and went back to camp and relaxed for the rest of the evening and exchanged stories and ate marshmallows and hot dogs cooked over the campfire. We went to bed around 22:30hrs

200806-25: We woke up and relaxed for a bit and went to head out to renew our campsite for the rest of the week. Unfortunately Brian's car had picked up a nail or something and had a flat tyre on the rear drivers side. We limped into town and got it repaired at a local shop, then Brian went into town to buy some more supplies for himself and Tori and I explored some of the little shops in the area who were all barefoot friendly. We bought a few small things like a dragonfly necklace for me at a store called "Jammed Lovely". We also visited a very cool Japanese Tea Shop. After our visit to town we had a quick lunch and then went out for a hike around the gorge itself. We'd been on the hike before, but with my back still troubling me, we took our time to poke around and relax and grab some great photographs. We also met a very cool tattooed couple. The girl had full bangs and blue streaks in her hair, but the rest of her head was shaved! After our long hike we headed back to the campsite to have dinner of roasted hot dogs and marshmallows as well as some freeze-dried camp food. We relaxed by the fire and headed to bed around 23:00hrs.

200806-26: We woke up around 09:30hrs and decided since it had been 4 days, we really need to seek our some showers. A quick drive to the shower facilities made us realise that even at $27.00 per night, the showers were PAY showers! We decided to not shower here and try to go out and find some hiking trails. We ended up finding Ontario's last covered bridge just outside of Elora, as well as a few parks, but no real trails to enjoy. We went back to camp and sat around enjoying the solitude as we were the only ones in the area at the time. I had a chance to rest my back and read Tom Browns Guide to Living With The Earth – a book on bringing spirituality to survivalism, and listen to my iPod. As night came upon us we had a fire and had freeze-dried food for supper then headed to bed around 23:00hrs

200806-27: We decided as there was not much in the way of hiking in this area, we'd pack up and head home. We packed up all our gear, cleaned up the campsite as well as cleaned some of the rubbish left there by previous visitors which included a damaged barbecue unit which we put into the dumpster. We took one last check of the camp to ensure we had not forgotten anything and left camp around 10:00hrs and arrived home in a little more than an hour and a half with Brian at the helm.

It would have been a much more enjoyable week had my back not been still troubling me since camp, at some points I could not properly stand. The hard ground under the tent was a big help in straightening it out. It would have also been a much better trip had there been some hiking trails more readily available to us. The first thing we did after unpacking all our gear from Brians car was go and shower.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

An End To Working At Summer Camp - 200806-19

Thursday, June 19 - 2008

During routine exercises and prep-work, practicing CPR techniques and back-board strapping at the camp, somehow I must have pulled some muscles in my back and could hardly move.

Unfortunately during the swim section of the next exercise I couldn't do the 1km swim due to my pulled muscles.

I was quickly notified by the camp director that if we are injured and will take more than 2 days to recover, we are dismissed from our responsibilities at the camp.

The camp director and waterfront director felt that it was in my best interest to go home for the season and come back next year as a result of my hurt back muscles. Tori decided she didn't want to be here by herself and she would also go home.

That really sucks, but I'll get to spend the summer scuba diving and hiking when my back gets itself back into shape.

With a heavy heart, Tori and I will be leaving the peace and solitude of the camp, and taking the Via Rail back to the Niagara Region shortly, never to see our beloved camp again this year.

The camp stated they will pay me two weeks full wages plus train fare home as a courtesy since this was circumstances beyond anyone's control.

What makes it worse than having to leave the camp, is that I was fortunate enough to be granted a 3 month L.O. A. (leave of absence) from my job and they were so happy that Tori and I had the opportunity to go out and make a difference in the world. Work and both Tori and my family were so supportive of this opportunity and were all rooting for us to be a success.

Although it's hardly anyones fault what happened - it's still frustrating, and angering to be unable to fulfill my duties to the children of the camp, as well as have to return home after little more than a week.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Crotch Lake Excursion 200806-14

Saturday, June 14 - 2008
07:30 – 22:00
Start: 09:00
Roads: Dry / Clear
Visibility: 24km
Temp: +20C
Area: Crotch Lake, Ontario
Vehicle: Old Blue Camp Van
Weather: Overcast, Light rain
Trail Conditions: Damp from rain
Hikers: Wolf & camp waterfront staff
Plan: Get to site 19 on Crotch Lake.
GPS: 44 55.76N by 76 47.23W

We awoke early and had some fun before heading to the office for breakfast with the rest of the waterfront staff. We got a great nights sleep in the air conditioned cabins. After 09:00 breakfast we piled all of our gear in the van and made the 1hr trip to crotch lake. I spent the time getting to know some of the girls who I was going to spend the summer with, Adrienne, Alex, Bronwin, Cricket, Max and Jo who was driving us all there.

We arrived and unloaded the canoes and set sail. 3 Canoes and Jo in her Kayak.

We explored a good percentage of the campsites and a few island campsites. We stopped at Stormy Point to eat. I'm really not used to these healthy foods, and my body is still adapting.

It was strange to see motorboats on the lake, instead of canoes only. Crotch Lake allows motorboats on it.

Around 15:00hrs we arrived on a small island campsite – 19, and all went for a swim. I realised very quickly that I am not very good at swimming without mask, fins and snorkel as I am so accustomed to. Everyone swam to a small rocky island, and I joined them. I had a great time relaxing on that island but was exhausted by the time I made my way back to shore.

We sat around at camp for a while as well as used the sat phone to ring camp. I used my GPS unit to get a reading of the campsite at 44 55.76N by 76 47.25W. We sat around and relaxed in the pristine wilderness and as the night progressed I learned of the large responsibilities I would incur. I must admit I felt overwhelmed at stories of having to change children's diapers (here we call them Attends) and puree foods and insert and change feeding tubes and tracheal tubes. I sort of missed Tori a little as I was surrounded by young, attractive women bogged down by my new responsibilities and being so far from home for 3 months.

A lot of the girls here complain about the no bare feet rule, although very few follow it. As the night progressed and the camp games such as "black magic" finished up we made real smores with marshmallows, chocolate chips and graham crackers. The mosquitoes around 22:00 became so bad we could hear them humming and roaring around us. I went to bed in a tent with Jo and Cricket, put in a set of ear plugs and fell asleep right away.

Friday, 13 June 2008

First day at Summer Camp! 200806-13

Friday, June 13 - 2008
07:30 – 22:00
Start: 09:00
Roads: Dry / Clear
Visibility: 24km
Temp: +20C
Area: Perth, Ontario
Vehicle: Silver Toyota
Weather: Clear and Sunny
Trail Conditions: Dry
Hikers: Wolf & Tori
Plan: Get ourselves to Summer Camp
GPS: 44 52.00N 76 07.92W

07:70 Wake up and clean the fishtank and fluval filter before leaving for camp. Tori's dad arrived around 08:30 and we hit the road around 09:00hrs. We arrived at the camp at 16:00hrs in Perth and met the Waterfron Director and director of the camp. We got a tour of the camp, it was large, spacious aith skylights, automatic doors and air conditioning. To our surprise Tori and I will be staying together in the same cabin. This place is very modern and right now, very peaceful. There are only about 10 people here. I am the only guy. We had supper – pizza and salad, then sat around and joked for a while, and all sort of split up around 18:00hrs. I went to lay on the dock and get a GPS reading of the camp which was 44 52.00N by 76 07.92W. I filled out my journal and did a gear check for our camping trip tomorrow. We headed to bed around 22:00hrs to get a good sleep for our first official day working at camp for the summer.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Gone For Summer 2008...

Recently I was recruited by an outdoor camp in Ontario Canada which needed an outdoor educator.

From mid-June to early September of 2008 I will be off to teach underprivileged and disabled children white water rafting, canoing, and other fun stuff.

If anyone needs to get in touch with me for an emergency, please get in touch with Brian on my friends list here on MySpace and he will get a message to myself or Wolfsgrrl

Have a great summer everyone, I'll miss you all!

This will be my last blog for quite some time.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Welland Canal Dive 132 - 200806-07

Saturday, June 07 - 2008
15:00 – 16:00
Dive Number 132
Start: 15:15
Roads: Dry / clear
Visibility: 24km
Temp: +30C
Water Temp: +18C
Area: Welland Canal Recreational Waterway – Train Bridge
Vehicle: Black Sunfire
Weather: Mostly Cloudy
Visibility: 2m
Divers: Wolf & Chuck
Maximum Depth: 10m
Plan: Exploration

We parked at the small parking lot near the Old Train Bridge and kitted up, entered the water and did a quick gear check. This time Wolf had fins, and Chuck had a dive float. We started our descent to 10m and headed southbound. There was a lot of rubbish all over including sign parts, beds, roto-tillers, and a new white Rexall trolly. The area go boring very quickly and we found a couple of mud puppies to play with and later we had some fun with some beer bottles we found.

We found a large upside down bucket but in turning it over, stirred up the visibility in the immediate area so bad we had to move along.

When we surfaced there were a few other divers topside sizing up the area. We packed our gear and headed out.

Strangely later in the evening I went to wash all my gear down with a product I use called Nikwax Tech wash. Tech Wash is a completely eco-friendly inert substance that is safe to use in delicate waterways, and even safe to ingest.

I loaded my DUI Drysuit into the bathtub with my BCD, and sprayed the Nikwax Tech Wash on them as I always do after every day of diving to keep them clean and dirt free.

To my surprise, when I sprayed the NikWax from the original NikWax atomiser bottle onto the BCD and drysuit, it fizzed and made a gas! I accidentally inhaled the gas and it made me cough and burned my eyes! I rang the poison control centre and they stated it's nearly impossible for Tech Wash to react as it is completely inert.

The next day I e-mailed NikWax which has it's head office located back home in England and they stated that Tech Wash is inert, and sent me the safety data sheet on the product, and then advised me after a couple of days their R&D department stated they have no idea what substance could have made the Tech Wash react. They also made a recommendation we refrain from diving in that water if something in it can make an inert substance react.

Lake Ontario Dive Number 131 200806-07

Saturday, June 07 - 2008
10:56 – 12:08
Dive Number 131
Start: 10:00
Roads: Dry / clear
Visibility: 24km
Temp: +32C
Water Temp: +15C
Area: Fort Mississauga Golf Course
Vehicle: Black Sunfire
Weather: Overcast
Visibility: 3m
Divers: Wolf & Chuck
Maximum Depth: 2m
Plan: Go Left

We arrived at the small parking lot near the Golf Course and kitted up. We did a brief gearcheck and made our way down to the waters edge which was a lot higher this year than normal. We finished our gear-up and began our dive. Wolf realised that for the first time in many years, he forgot his fins! We also had no dive float!

We decided to continue the dive and head away from the Fort, towards Port Dalhousie, and came across lots of rocks and kelp and large fish like Bass. We found a few steel rods and a railroad spike. The water was nice and cool at 15C. We had great visibility for this spot at 3m.

Using peak buoyancy, Wolf managed to swim using his hands and occasionally use bare rocks on the bottom to pull himself along the bottom as diving without fins was very difficult, but the water was shallow and easy to navigate.

We used up about 1/3 of our air supply and started heading back towards shore and both Chuck and I were surprised to be charged by a Longnose Gar. We hadn't seen a fish like this before! The fish was long and slender, beige colored with black spots. It was surprisingly aggressive and repeatedly charged at us. We figured we must have been close to a nesting area. We did not harm the fish, but had to gently push it away from us during its several assaults on us.

Chuck and I exited the water together, doffed our gear and went to a local restaurant to eat and prepare for another dive. This dive was kind of boring as the depth was shallow and there wasn't much to do here.