Adventure Journal

Monday, 28 December 2009

Year's End Hike 2009

Year's End Hike
By Wolfmaan

It's been a delightful autumn for hiking. Cool temperatures and lack of snow made for great trail conditions. Mostly firm packed dirt with little mud and little rain.

Shortly after the Winter Solstice, luck ran out. Although I day-hiked for four days straight during the Christmas Holidays, Monday December 28th was by far today would be most enjoyable.

Morning came on December 28th to find the ground covered in a new blanket of shimmering white snow. The temperature was cold at -3C and blowing a gale across the peninsula.

My friend Chuck arrived early in his black sunfire, which stood out sharply against the glimmering background of white which surrounded my country home. After exchanging greetings as it had been some time since our last adventure. Chuck and I piled into his warm car and hit the road.

Our plan was to hike to a series of old mines in Queenston, Ontario about a 20 minute drive from my home. Sadly upon arrival the area had a sign up that someone, obviously disturbed, had been deliberately poisoning dogs in the area. Another area had to be chosen for Luka, my 3yr old Siberian Huskies safety.

Chuck and I settled on Rockway Falls, a large waterfall in the Pelham region of Ontario Canada about an hours drive from Queenston.

Not surprisingly, upon our arrival the parking lot of the Rockway Community Center had no tyre tracks in the parking lot on the glistening white snow. The nearby waterfall could be heard thundering as it was a quiet day.

Gearing up with my hob-nailed hiking boots, gaiters, base layer, outer shell, ski-mask, goggles, gloves, and backpack took some time. Winter hiking is always challenging as it requires a significant amount of equipment to keep warm and safe. Luka, ran around and played impatiently as I geared up. The snow was ankle deep and the cold wind cut through my base layers until I managed to get on my outer shell.

Locking the car and heading out onto the trails, Chuck and I came near the edge of the thundering waterfall. Looking over the edge of the large gorge carved over thousands of years by the waterfall was mystifying. The haze from the waterfall slowly rose out of the flowing chocolate milk coloured water, and covered the area in ice. The ice formations around the base of the falls made the water look like it was pouring over giant crystals with light shimmering off them.

Walking along the fenceline through hibernating trees and vines, stiff from the cold and missing their leaves was challenging. The frozen leafless branches and vines were stiff and took some effort to push through. The path was narrow with a chain link fence on one side, and a steep drop off into the gorge on the other.

Using my hiking poles, often referred to as “sissy sticks” I plodded my way through the snow feeling ahead of me for crevices covered in snow which could lead to a fall. The area, when not covered in snow is very rocky. After the last ice age glaciers receded in the area. All the soil and sand was ripped off the rocks, leaving them to stand lifeless and hope to collect soil and seed over the millennia.

Reaching the edge of a rocky section, a steep climb down to another steep hill lay before me. I had to convince Luka to jump over a couple of small crevices. This convincing included a short chase as Luka decided to abandon the hike for a short period of time and attempt to return to the safety of the car.

From the large rocky ledge, some of the Niagara Region was visible. Before me lay a large expanse of trees slowly dropping off tier by tier into the valley below. The sleeping brown trees, crowned with a layer of fresh snow made them beautiful to behold. In the distance large rectangular shaped farms could be seen leading out to a hazy Lake Ontario far off in the distance.

Descending a steep snow covered hill, partially on my bottom, and partially on foot led to a large treed plateau with a path to the fast flowing river below. Chuck suggested exploring some of the eastern sections of the park to which neither of us had been. I agreed and set out with Luka to blaze new tracks into the faint trail in the snow. Tall trees towered overhead and dropped snow onto me like a child playing a game.

The barely visible trail came to an open area where a beige rubbish bin was sitting upright near a tree. Nearby a small, light blue rectangle could be seen. “A Bruce Trail Side Trail” I announced to Chuck. Approaching the blue rectangle, a small sign stated that I had come upon a 1.9km loop and warned not to cross the river at high flow. This time of year, there was a significant flow in the river from run-off.

Following the trail through a series of pointless ups and downs (better known as “PUD”) the trail came to the riverside. “I guess this is what they were talking about” Chuck said as I looked across the river to see a blue blaze on the other side of the river. There was no way to cross the river safely at this point. “We can take our shoes and socks off, hike up our pants and make the crossing if you really want to” I said to Chuck. “Not likely” he replied.

In the distance I spotted a man crossing the river in tall rubber boots with his black dog. Chuck and I approached the man who said would be difficult to cross the river without waterproof boots. It was possible to follow some paths along the riverside. The mans dog was quite happy to see Luka and ran around being playful.

The riverside trail led to an old, dilapidated dam which may have been able to be crossed. A large 2m long section of the dam was missing, preventing a safe crossing.

While examining the area, an athletic woman in skin tight black pants came running up with her young son and said that there are more snow-covered trails running beside the river and off into the woods. I thanked the woman and she ran off with her son. I advised Luka to come with us, as she had started to run off with the woman into the distance.

A small hill following the river had a tree on it which caught my attention. At the base of the tree laid a good sized honeycomb. It must have fallen from the tree in autumn. It was very unusual and a striking orange colour.

Continuing through the tall trees and a bit more PUD the trail seemed to hook again towards the river. “Looks like the remnants of an old farm silo” Chuck said as he pointed to a large circle of rocks. “There's a fire pit inside” I said.

Chuck asked me to search his backpack and dig out some firestarters he had packed. The firestarter was a small brown brick. The brick was made out of sawdust, twigs, and glue then soaked in kerosene to make them ignite. They are available at most outdoor stores.

No longer being within the park boundary, Chuck collected some twigs and sticks and I set-up to make a fire. I cleared some snow out of the fire pit and set up the twigs into a tee-pee style. I took some toilet paper from my pack and balled it up and stuffed it into the tee-pee with the firestarter.

A single match later, the small fire came to life!

“Fire is like any living thing” I explained. “you have to love it, nurture it. You have to feed it and pay attention to it for it to thrive” I leaned over the small tee-pee and blew gently on the flames to get them to start to ignite the sticks.

“Snap!” “Pop!” I heard, and smiled. The sound of the fire taking hold.

Chuck brought a few more sticks which he broke into small lengths and settled in to relax and enjoy our small fire in the large ring of rocks. Chuck and I both ate an energy bar while enjoying the primitive act of sitting around a fire in the winter. I activated the SPOT unit and completed my journal.

The small fire, only a few centimetres in diameter snapped and hissed with a gentle orange flame emanating from it. A small area of warmth in this vast and seemingly baron, snow blanketed area.

Two young men came by with a backpack and bag of wood. I asked them if they were from the area, and they replied “Yes, I own this property and am happy to see someone using my fire ring!” Chuck suggested that if he had brought some marshmallows to our fire, it would have made for a much better experience. The two men smiled and went off into the distance.

After a while relaxing and enjoying the small fire, all the twigs and sticks had burned down. Chuck and I collected snow and dumped it over the fire to ensure that it was out completely. I took a stick and mixed the snow and ash around to ensure there was no smoke, then added more snow.

Bending over to listen for any hissing or see any smoke, Chuck snapped a photo of me and said it looked like I was doing the “Vulcan Mind Meld” with the fire ring. I laughed and put on my kit to head out for the journey back to the car, parked 5km away.

The journey away from the fire ring was uneventful. The PUD seemed to be steeper on the way back to the car than I had remembered.

While stopping for a rest, a few people passed us by. “See, that's why people often get hurt and die out here” I pointed out to Chuck. One couple was grossly under-dressed in just thin, cotton pants and thin jackets. The woman had running shoes on. They looked uncomfortable and cold. The other couple with them was elderly, both looked miserable and under-dressed. None had a backpack, water, or any supplies whatsoever. The elderly lady was limping and the wet-spots on her pants indicated she had fallen into the snow at least once. I hoped they would make it safely back to their car. “We're behind them and will help out if they get in trouble” Chuck replied.

The snow covered hills with towering trees led to the giant hill which I descended a few hours earlier. Chuck decided to take a short cut and took another hill. I followed my earlier tracks with Luka and slowly ascended the steep, snow covered hill. The hob-nails on my boots made for a sure grip and prevented slipping. The hiking poles helped stay upright while ascending the hill.

Reaching the top of the hill, I assisted Luka in climbing a steep rocky section and scrambled up myself. Shortly after I heard a loud whistle in the distance. Chuck was signalling he had successfully made it to the top on his detour.

I waited atop the ridge. The snow now blowing harshly in the cold. The wind cut through my layers easily and it was getting nasty looking. I moved slowly along the trail to a fork in the trail where I heard a second whistle. I returned the whistle again. Luka went running off as she had spotted Chuck sitting at the base of a tree. Chuck stood up and followed me to the parking lot and to his car. There were two pick-up trucks now in the parking lot. One of which was still occupied. A good choice to stay warm and dry in the weather, I thought.

Arriving at the car, I stripped off most of my gear and stowed it in the boot. Chuck helped Luka into the car and headed for home for the day.

It was a great and unusual thing to have a fire on a day hike. The act of sitting around a fire in the woods seems to invoke a primal part of our psyche lost aeons ago. As 2009 comes to a close, it leaves behind 1,000km of hiking I did throughout the year. Hopefully 2010 will have some great trips and stories to come.

Photos from the trip can be found here.

Wolfmaan relaxing by the fire

Sunday, 27 September 2009

The Canadian Government Stole From Me...

The Canadian Government Stole From Me

When I am out in the world, I try to be a good Canadian Citizen. I defend the politics of the country, and tell people I meet we do have freedom here.

As a Canadian I have done my best to ignore the nay-sayers and people who say the government is oppressive and caters to the whiney-loosers. I even defend Canada when people tell me that all they read about is how the squeaky wheels get all the grease.

By far I'm not a political activist. I'm an Adventurer who works hard to be proud of his country.

Today, I'm ashamed of my government.

Some people may not know that I'm a World War 2 collector. Growing up in a military family I was taught to believe that the people who fought in World War 2 gave their lives so we could enjoy freedom and be protected from oppressive arbitrary governments and live our lives with respect and dignity. War relics keep that history alive and make sure we never forget all those people who died for the freedom of the future.

A recent court decision brought about by the “Honourable” Justice Sachs on September 17, 2009 shows that Canada is not a land of freedom, but in some ways a land of oppression no better than the world our forefathers fought so hard against.

About a decade ago I purchased a series of World War II relics which, due to their controversial nature have to be licensed, locked, and stored in a specific manner. As a law abiding citizen I follow the law to the letter. I always have.

Out of no-where I get a letter from the government stating they made an error in some paperwork and as a result of an error they made, I am no longer able to keep these pieces of history and must turn them in for destruction without compensation.

No compensation, for an error made by the government, and costing me, a law-abiding citizen thousands of dollars to acquire these pieces of history.

Like many militaria collectors, I fought hard with my lawyer Edward L. Berlew (LLB) a decade long battle to tell the government “Leave my property alone!” and to show them that a bunch of WWII collectables which have been doing nothing but keeping the past alive and collecting dust in a locker somewhere, are no harm to the public, or anyone else. It didn't matter in the end.

After buying pieces of our past and history a decade ago, I now have to “dispose of or export” pieces of history.

It doesn't matter if you believe collecting pieces of World War 2 history is a waste of time, or you believe that certain pieces of history shouldn't be owned by citizens – the bottom line is that the Canadian Government is wilfully forcing us to give up our property.

This court decision was made quietly without any media attention, so there will be no public outcry about our rights being infringed.

Decisions by the Canadian court such as this bring shame to Canada and make it seem as though our parents and grandparents gave their lives up for nothing!

Shame on you Canada! Shame on you for stealing from your people, and showing the world you are no better than the governments our people died to fight against.

Lest We Forget.

"First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist; Then they took our guns, and I did not speak out—because I didn't like guns; Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew; Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me." - Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)


ADDENDUM: Copies of this blog have been forwarded to the Prime Minister of Canada and other Members of Parliment in the Canadian Government

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Decew Falls Tunnel Exploration 200809-30

Decew Falls Tunnel Exploration
August 30, 2009

This weekend, I was supposed to be hiking the Bruce Trail in Collingwood, Ontario but the weather report stated lots of rain so I decided to call it off.

I searched the internet for any details of this area which has fascinated me for many years but I dared not enter because I wasn't cave certified previously. The best information I could find about the Decew Falls mine was that it was an old mine from the 1800's and ran about 1,200 metres long and came to an abrupt end. Speaking with my step father-in-law he stated that the tunnel was used by the Decew Power company to discharge water from the turbines back in the 1800's and may lead into the current sewage treatment plant nearby. Either way it sounded like a great adventure!

A Weekend Warrior friend of mine arrived around noon and we headed out to Decew Falls, in the Southern End of St. Catharines. We parked in the parking lot and I packed away my helmet and Petzl torch and we made the journey to a section of the park which has some ropes attached to it for easy access to the gorge floor where a small stream runs alongside a hiking path to the base of the falls.

Taking my Siberian Husky Luka to the bottom of the gorge was easier than expected. We made our way down to the hiking trail which had quite a few people on it as it was a nice weekend, although a good chance of rain.

We arrived at the entrance to the tunnel to find an unexpected visitor was sunning himself on the rocks near the falls – a good sized Eastern Fox Snake. My friend kept Luka away from the snake and I grabbed a few photos.

Approaching the entrance to the old tunnel we were enveloped in the mist of the waterfall which gave an exotic feel to this location. I put on my helmet and Petzl LED torch, my friend decided to forgo any head protection.

The water was surprisingly warm and very clear as I walked barefoot through the entrance to the old shaft which was closed off by a steel door which had long been forced open. There was a set of cart tracks which seemed to run the length of the tunnel. I was a little concerned about broken glass laying in the silt of the tunnel, and kept to walking on the steel cart tracks and moved along slowly.

Being enveloped by darkness, sounds of the Decew Falls quickly faded away leaving us to hear only our footsteps through the water and Luka running around in the tunnel.

The tunnel walls felt cool to the touch and slimy, and we could smell a musty mildew-like smell which is common in areas like this.

Heading deeper into the old tunnel we could see something reflecting in our torches up ahead. The tunnel got wider at one point, then narrowed again. The walls in some areas were covered in rust coloured slime with water slowly dripping off them to form stalactites on the ceiling. I turned to my friend and said “Lick it... LICK IT! You know you want to!” to which we both laughed.

The water and railroad tracks came to an end, buried under some hard mud and we made our way past some old scrap metal left in the tunnel to the end of the tunnel.

The end of the tunnel was blocked by a large black powder-coated pipe which protruded into the tunnel surrounded by large wooden timbers on all sides. Blocking our path was a convex steel plate, keeping whatever was behind it secured. The bottom of the steel pipe had an old valve, long rotted out and rusted from disuse. The tunnel was at most 500 metres long, nowhere near the 1,200 metres I had read about on the internet.

Luka enjoyed her huskysploration of the tunnel, and my friend and I took some photos and then slowly made our way through the slimy water, and musty smelling air back to daylight at the end of the tunnel.

There was a bit of rubbish in the tunnel from aluminium pop cans, and plastic water bottles but thankfully all the glass we saw was intact and posed no danger to Luka and my bare feet.

Arriving back at the entrance to the cave, we were met by a young gentleman and several children who were quite fascinated by the cave, but had no torches or equipment to explore it as we had.

Making the trip back up the gorge walls to the paths above, we stopped in at the Decew Falls museum and spoke with the volunteers there. They had little knowledge or information about the tunnel we just explored. They did, however comment on how well behaved Luka was and said they loved her blue eyes.

Full photos of the adventure can be found here

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Nexus Cave Adventure 200908-23

Nexus Cave Adventure
August 22nd and 23rd, 2009

Caves have always held a certain mystique for me. The dark, foreboding, hidden underworld of unseen depths and danger have always called out to me.

Living in Southern Ontario Canada, there isn't much opportunity for caving in our area except for some small, short “belly crawl” caves and the odd old mine.

On June 20, 2008 a new conservation area known as Eramosa Karst was officially opened in Hamilton Ontario, boasting a new series of cave networks. One of which, the Nexus Cave is the 10th largest cave in Ontario! I sent a few e-mails through facebook to see if fellow adventurer Sadie and an urbexer I knew were interested in going to the caves near the end of August and doing some exploration of them.

The weekend started off again with poor weather. As most of the summer of 2009 – rain, rain and more rain. I decided on Saturday to make a quick trip to the Nexus Cave with fellow adventurer and best mate Chuck and see if the caves were flooded. Thankfully, despite the constant storms, the caves had almost no water running through them and the exploration could take place on August 23rd as planned.

A beautiful morning dawned on Sunday, and I awoke excited to take a trek into some new territory. Checking my morning e-mail I learned that one set of urbex adventurers couldn't make it and had to cancel. Sadie said she was thinking of cancelling as well because she had a rough night. A quick phone call with a bit of convincing and Sadie reluctantly agreed to go with us. I packed up all my gear, LED torches, medical pack, coveralls and switched to the yellow lenses in my ESS v12 goggles and we were on our way. Taking the big GMC Suburban, we picked up Chuck and Sadie and headed to Hamilton to the Eramosa Karst conservation area.

Arriving around 11:15hrs we relaxed for a bit, changed into our caving gear and Sadie took some photographs and mended some of her equipment. We waited until 11:30 incase the urbex team decided to join us.

We arrived at the Nexus Window after a short 1km hike, which was a little challenging on our bare feet as the paths were groomed, hard packed stone. The Nexus window was a small crack in the ground at the base of the tree. Peering into the crack, it was about 2m deep full of mosquitoes and had a little bit of water running through it. Hardly the place one would think of as a cave entrance.

We removed our packs and Chuck decided he was going to stay topside for this adventure as our spotter. In the event anything went wrong he was equipped with a whistle, mobile phone and SPOT Satellite messenger unit capable of activating EMS.

Descending into the small crack in the ground, the smooth cool rocks felt strange underfoot. Caving exposes one to a truly different world. The air has a cool, damp feeling to it and smells very earth-like. The cave entrance is small, and looks very foreboding to enter. You have to lay on your belly, as your torch shines into the distance you can see shiny rocks that look like a giant sponge. Smooth, jagged, and full of holes, followed by blackness.

I was the first one to head into the caves wearing my camouflage coveralls, goggles to protect my eyes and a Petzl LED headlamp. I picked some of the glass out of the shallow water, and wriggled my way into the cave system, bidding sunlight goodbye and welcoming the darkness.

The darkness beckons as I slowly crawled through the cave on my stomach, feeling the cold water slowly seep through my coveralls and touch my skin. The path in front of me is illuminated by my primary light source, and the walls glisten gold. Millions of years ago when the water carved the softer stone away from these caves, deposits of minerals like gold and pyrite (fools gold) got left behind making the entire cave light up like road markings in a car's headlight. I looked behind me to see both Sadie and Tori – amased at the sight around them, slowly crawling through.

We stopped in a section of cave where it opened up to about the size of the inside of a small car. We crouched together and looked around in wonderment of this place. The cool water and mud flowed over our bare feet and we could feel the minerals on the rocks with our hands. We took some photos and slowly navigated on, doing our best to avoid the large brown spiders in the area.

The torches we had illuminated our immediate area, and off in the distance total darkness. Strange formations of rock lay out before us which have never seen sunlight in tens of thousands of years – if ever. Like being inside a maze of rock, we contorted ourselves in all different directions to move through this cave system, being careful not to collect any bruises or bang our unprotected heads more than necessary.

Coming around a bend, I could hear water running in the distance, Looking around me I could see roots hanging down from the trees above which have penetrated the cave in search of life-giving water. In some small pockets there were little green shoots trying to grow leaves. More proof that nature never gives up and will try to bring life to the most baron of places.

Moving forward in the cave, I came to a large drop with a little waterfall in the cave. I sat down in the waterfall and made sure that there was a way to climb back out, and slowly inched my way into the area below. My bare feet gripping tight the rock walls better than the rubber of any shoe. Sadie was next in line and made her way down the waterfall with little assistance. As Sadie was seeking footholds, I noticed the waterfall had stopped flowing and I told Sadie jokingly she was “plugging up the hole.” She moved forward and a rush of water which had collected behind her made a puking sound as it rushed past and onto the cave floor below. We all laughed at the sound. Tori came last and had to be carried down because of her short stature.

When we looked around us, we were in a large round room the size of a bedroom in a house. A trickle of a waterfall ran over the one edge and off into the distance. Above us spanned huge pieces of rock worn smooth from a raging river in the caves past. We couldn't reach the top of this area if we jumped up – it was huge. Small “shelves” of smooth rock protruded everywhere and hid articles which had been swept down by the waterfall including antique bottles and modern articles like ziploc bags and articles of clothing.

When I bring new people into caves, I love to show them how dark caves really are. As we were in a very large room in the cave, which had solid footing, I asked both Sadie and Tori to turn off their torches, as I turned off mine. The cave returned to its primal darkness. After a minute or two of letting your eyes attempt to adjust and the colour images on your eyes fade, it becomes apparent how dark caves are.

Looking around, with no source of light there is nothing. It's as close as a sighted person can get to experiencing blindness. Holding your hand in front of your face, and touching your nose, nothing is visible. Under these controlled circumstances it's quite a thrill to experience this. Under uncontrolled circumstances such as torch failure it can mean certain death.

When we turned on our torches again and looked around, the cave continued on in the bottom corner of the room. I got down on my belly and crawled through the cave until it started to get very tight. Rocks protruding out on each side made passing very difficult. Tori – who is extremely small volunteered to go forward to see if the adventure was worth continuing. She slipped over the rocks and off into the darkness to report that ahead of us lay a sump – a section of cave which was mostly filled with water and was still relatively tight. We decided not to go further this trip and Tori slowly backed her way through the darkness back to me and navigated the narrow passageway back to the large room in the cave.

We took some more photos and gripped the cool, wet rocks and made our way back to the upper section of the cave. We slowly worked our way crawling on hands and knees back towards our entrance point. Looking ahead I could see Sadie had managed to get herself a little wedged on one section of the cave and was trying to wriggle herself free. I laughed and commented that if she remained stuck I would start to kick her in the buttocks until she got free.

Crawling through the caves, I saw a little bit of light in the distance, and saw Tori followed by Sadie stand upright and head back to the world of the living above. I crawled further until I saw they were at the Nexus Window and I inched my way into it and sat upright for the first time in quite a while.

Chuck had descended into the Nexus Window to assist us in getting out of the cave safely. As I climbed through the area into the sunlight, the warm, fresh air filled my lungs and sunlight brushed my face with warmth. Although the caves were an amazing place it felt so good to be back on the surface again. It's almost like your body rejoices in the warmth and sunlight and makes you feel as if you haven't felt it in a year.

The ground feels so soft underfoot, and the air so fresh and clean in the forest. Removing our caving gear we were approached by a couple of hikers who did not realise there was a cave system here and were quite impressed with some of the photos. As we were leaving the area it started to first spit rain, then turned into quite a downpour as we made our way over the stone packed trails towards the truck.

Rounding a bend on the trail, the parking lot and then our truck came into view. Off in the distance huge, dark clouds could be seen. Some very dark and so thick they looked like they were touching the ground. We checked the fluids in the truck and headed out to a pub, the Judge and Jester to relax and recount our latest adventure.

The complete photo album of this visit can be found here.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Another visit to 16 mile creek island

A Visit To 16 Mile Island
Sunday, August 16, 2009

Since it's been almost a year since we've weighed anchor and visited the desolate 16 mile island which lay about 1km southeast of Charles Daley Park, my best mate Chuck and I decided to pay the island a visit today in our 5m Coleman Ram-X canoe.

We hitched the truck and trailer together and made for Charles Daley park around 14:00hrs and were greeted by hundreds of people crowding the beaches of Lake Ontario. We found a parking spot and removed the canoe from the trailer and put all our gear in it to carry to the waters edge.

Today the water was a different colour than the usual pea soup green. It was tea brown. We inched the canoe into the water and loaded Luka and Morgana in the canoe. Chuck slowly climbed into the canoe and perched himself on the forward seat and prepared for my arrival. I slowly pushed the canoe into deeper water and as I was about to step in – calamity.

The dogs started moving around the canoe as I started to step in, causing it to sway port and starboard with great violence. Both Chuck and the dogs overcompensated for the sway, and coupled with my vein attempts to steady the boat – Chuck was ejected from the canoe, still in his sitting position, oar in hand into the water, landing on his back, legs still retracted. As the murky water poured into the canoe like tea from a kettle, the dogs swam to the safety of shore and abandoned us to our own devices in the waist deep water.

Chuck righted himself and I held fast the canoe,feeling through the large rocks with my bare feet to keep steady as we brought her to the shallows. as we brought her to the shallows. Chuck suggested we bail her out as she'd be too heavy to heave onto land. Chuck produced two bailing buckets. One 500ml waterbottle and a 1L waterbottle which we cut the bottoms off and proceeded to attempt, quite futilely, to bail the 1,000L of water out of the large canoe 1.5L at a time. Eventually we decided to haul her ashore and tip her to empty the water.

Our second attempt was greeted with great success and we all boarded the canoe without incident. Although we gathered quite an amused crowd, we declined assistance amidst the laughter heard from women ashore.

We set sail under the QEW highway and made the short portage into open water where we continued southward into the wind and worked hard to keep her steady as we paddled. We came upon a young couple fishing who said the catch of the day was a hearty helping of catfish.

Arriving at the familiar island in the middle of 16 mile creek located at N 43.1655 by W 90 33.13, I didn't forget the vendetta against this island. A little more than a year ago, I was on the island and broke my left baby toe on an iron post which was sticking up just a few centimetres from the ground. I brought with a hammer to settle the score, and drive the iron stake deep into the heart of the island, never to bother anyone again. I still have difficulty wearing closed shoes because of that broken toe.

Chuck and I relaxed on the island and re-lived past adventures while we had a soup lunch, and the dogs played off-leash as there was little danger here with the iron spike out of our way.

After an hour or two of relaxing under the tall oak trees, we weighed anchor and headed back around the island with the wind at our stern and arrived quickly at the QEW with little effort.

Chuck staying with the boat, I headed back to the park so we did not have to portage the heavy 39kg canoe. Arriving at the truck I was surrounded by young, teenage Latino girls enjoying the bright and sunny day in string bikinis. I took my time to ensure that all the fluids in the truck – oil, radiator, brake, etc. were topped up and checked the trailer connections positive before I left the area to pick up Chuck and the boat.

We hauled the boat out of the water and onto the trailer and headed for home a little wetter than we had planed. However we lived to tell the tale...

Bruce Trail Hike - Nottawasaga Bluffs

Bruce Trail Hike
Nottawasaga Bluffs Conservation Area

Km 16 to 25

The day started early on Saturday, August 15th as we departed Niagara-on-the-lake under clear blue skies. We arrived in the Blue Mountains section of the Bruce Trail where I left off last weekend at km 16 which was a beat-up old logging road called Nottawasaga 12 / 13 Sideroad. The trail headed North for 800m to the Nottawasaga Bluffs conservation area. I noticed on the map that this region had a rare occurrence on the Bruce Trail – it had the ability to be hiked in a loop.

Taking the opportunity to hike with someone else, me mum joined us as we parked at the Nottawasaga Bluffs Conservation area and set out on the trail.

We went up some small hills to enter a beautiful cedar forest. There were a lot of bugs here, but we pressed on to open fields of baby's breath which were an amasing sight to see. Hectares and hectares of rolling hills covered in white baby's breath flowers as far as the eye could see. As we passed through the tall wildflowers we then entered some pine forests which smelled so beautiful this time of year, not unlike an air freshener for a car.

Passing through the forests we came to some beautiful cliffs or “bluffs” which had great craggy areas which were a pleasure to explore. Giant crevices filled with moss covered rocks were spectacular. The temperature on the bottom of the crags was quite cool bordering on cold. The smooth cold rocks felt nice under my bare feet.

We stopped for lunch at a rare Bruce Trail campsite where there was a young couple preparing to camp for the night and explore the area. They had a very large tent which must have been quite heavy.

Continuing along the Bruce Trail, it's always fascinating to have more feedback than the average hiker. Hiking barefoot, I get to feel the texture of the ground and feel how it changes temperature in the sunny areas as well as the shady areas. Over 600km barefoot on the Bruce Trail without injury! How's that for evidence that going barefoot isn't bad for you. The most amasing part is how the trail changes from kilometre to kilometre. Heading through dense forest gives way to open overgrown fields of tall grasses, then into different types of forests such as thin hardwood, then into pine and cedar. This has always been a great part of hiking the trail.

The CadPat military issue backpack is so much more pleasurable to hike in than my expedition pack. It's light weight and size makes for a quicker pace on the trails. Arriving a very beat-up section of Kings Highway 124 we made the short westbound hike back to the car. It was an enjoyable hike for both me mum and Luka.

En-route home we stopped in a shop and found an old WWI propaganda poster that said "Keep Calm and Carry On" I bought the poster as that's truly how I live my life. I think that will be my new motto.

Wolfmaan hiking the Bruce Trail barefoot at Nottawasaga Bluffs

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Blue Mountains Hike 200908-08

Blue Mountains Hike 200908-08

I made the 3hr drive to the beginning of the Blue Mountains Bruce Trail section which starts in Lavender, Ontario. A small town consisting of a few houses and a church (which has also been converted into a house) It's been almost a month since I left off here on July 15th, 2009. Not much has changed. It's still fairly cold and fairly wet out with a chance of rain.

Starting at the end of an unopened road allowance the trail went through a lot of low-lying swampy areas which felt cold on my bare feet. Morgana, Luka, and I went through quite a bit of tall grassy areas where the grass was almost as tall as I was. There were lots of tall thistles which caught on my clothes as we trekked along in the cool, windy trails of the area.

There were several road sections which were loose gravel. Thankfully after almost 600km of barefoot hiking this summer alone, the loose gravel was no match for my tough leather feet.

We stopped for lunch and could hear thunder rolling towards us in the distance. The air had a beautiful fallen leaf smell coupled with the cool air and made it feel like autumn. I had a bowl of Mr. Noodles. Luka and Morgana shared a bag of beef jerky.

Passing through Noisy River Provincial Park we were pleased to find one of the rare, uncharted sleep huts on the Bruce Trail. Unfortunately these are mostly uncharted and sadly few and far between. The Bruce Trail needs hundreds more of these!!!

We passed through over several sets of wooden stiles and through more open fields with tall grasses and thistles as well as a few forested areas. The Bruce Trail maps of the area stated that our hike was to be 15km long today. The maps lied. By the time we reached the car, we had gone 20km in total and it had started to pour rain on us. The plan was to get 40km in over two days, but with the constant rain we decided to head home.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Gift From a Co-Worker

On Monday, August 3rd, 2009 A co-worker Nikki took the time to create this etching in pen to immortalize Luka and my Bruce Trail expedition in 2009. As I appreciated her thoughtfulness, I thought I'd post it on my blog.

If you look closely you can see the etching of myself (including hat) and of course Luka and our bare footprints as we head uphill along the Bruce Trail.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Barefoot Running

Barefoot Running

As anyone who reads my blog knows, I enjoy any activity that I can do barefoot, and do outdoors.

For many years now I've struggled with running, but always had a horrible time with it - until recently. One of the various usegroups and blogs I follow is from a bloke called Barefoot Ted who introduced me to running barefoot.

There are literally dozens of published papers by leading scientists which show that barefoot running is significantly better for you than running shod. It's better for your knees, better for your joints, better for your back and your entire body.

Although I'd rather run than cycle to keep in shape between expeditions, I've needed to cycle due to bad shin splints when I run. Since watching dozens of barefoot running videos on YouTube and reading about barefoot running - I have decided to try running 2km per day barefoot. I've had great success with it. I learned “mid food landing” rather than the clumsy “heel strike landing” shod people have and so far have not experienced shin splints, sore knees or a sore back. I also find I can run longer and push more going barefoot.

I find barefoot running very stimulating and gives me a sense of freedom that is difficult to explain. It's truly a fantastic and spiritual experience to glide along the asphalt, connected to the earth and enjoying the experience.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

DayPack verses Load Bearing Vest (LBV)

DayPack verses Load Bearing Vest (LBV)

For some time, I have been wondering if a military Load Bearing Vest would be a better option for adventuring than a DayPack.

I happened to have a Load Bearing Vest from when I used to play paintball many m00ns ago. I decided to go for a hike with my usual hiking buddy Deciduous Rockwell and see how it went.

The LBV is loaded with pockets! In the various pockets of the vest I put in my 3L hydration pack, matches, MSR sweetwater water filter, power bars, TP & hand sanitiser, as well as a small first aid kit. Generally speaking the LBV was about ¾ full, and weighed in at the usual 7kilo loaded, which is a bit lighter than my normal internal frame CadPat day pack.

We started just before noon and headed into the most challenging terrain that we could find to give both the pack (and myself) a good workout. We went down the wooden stairs of the Niagara Gorge in Niagara Falls, Ontario Canada. The terrain was somewhat muddy and I didn't bring my hiking poles so I could get a feel of the balance of the pack. As always my bare feet were no match for the muddy, slimy rocks and I was steadfast through even the most challenging portions of the trail.

The first thing I noticed was how the pack didnt feel like it had any weight to it. Everything seemed to be properly distributed and no pulling. I also enjoyed the fact that I did not have to remove the LBV to access any of the pockets. Everything from matches, and camera to TP was right at my fingertips.

We climbed over some harsh terrain, rocks, boulders, and great hills on the Canadian side of the Niagara Gorge and both Decidous and I worked up quite a sweat as it was about 30C out with 60% humidity near the Niagara River. The LBV allowed me to scramble over the rocks and crevices without giving a second thought to the load shifting as the vest kept all the weight tight and close to my body.

When we stopped for some powerbars and to relax, Deciduous had to remove his pack to access it, but I kept mine on the entire time in comfort as we relaxed near the old helicopter rescue pad of the gorge. The LBV was light and airy and didnt' cause excess sweating for the relatively high temperature around us.

The only downside that I experienced was the large side pockets interfered a little bit with my hand movement during normal walking, You can't put your hands directly at your side with full pockets on the LBV. If I'd have had my hiking poles I wouldnt have noticed as my arms would have been bent at 90 degrees during the hike.

We arrived back to the car around 4hrs after we departed and the LBV held up well, didnt cause any excess back strain or discomfort and felt like I had no pack on at all.

I will be using the LBV more frequently for 4-8hr dayhikes and would recommend anyone giving one a try as they are compact, body hugging and lightweight for what you get. Price on average ranges from $40.00 to $100.00CAD and are available at most military surplus stores or of course eBay.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Wolfmaan's got a new pair of shoes!

Wolfmaan's got a new pair of shoes!

The other day I was so bored from not hiking the Bruce Trail, I decided it was time to make a new pair of shoes that were more compatible with myself and my lifestyle.

I went to my local leather shop and purchased some nice, stiff 1mm leather and some leather strapping. Using directions I got from Barefoot Ted I stiched, then dyed and sealed the leather leaving the rough side up for my foot.

The result was a spectacular pair of all black 2mm soled leather Huaraches which allow me to feel the ground I walk on, have maximum airflow which is great for people like myself who have a foot disability and experience sweating, itching, swelling, or peeling from wearing closed shoes or even sandals. I built these for work as I am unable to wear "normal" shoes and these conform with the dress code where I work.

Huaraches were designed hundreds of years ago by the indigenous people of Mexico and can be worn for almost any activity. Many people in America use them for running sandals and have great success with them.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Wolfmaan's barefoot Bruce Trail Expedition 2009 - Week 3

Saturday, June 20 - 2009

Adventurer's barefoot Bruce Trail Expedition, 2009

Barefoot adventurer Wolf Starchild, who goes by Wolfmaan started June 01st for a solo expedition up the Bruce Trail to be the first person to hike the entire 850km long footpath barefoot.

Plagued with problems due to lack of legal campsites and poor weather Wolfmaan has spent the the third week of the expedition at his home in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

“I really don't want to be forced to break the law to complete this expedition” Wolfmaan commented. Wolfmaan spent a good portion of the week faxing and ringing various park and conservation authorities to attempt to get permission to camp without a fire for one night. “Most of them didn't even ring me back or respond to my faxes” he stated. At one point he even contacted his local Member of Parliament (MP).

When asked if he had contacted the Bruce Trail Conservancy, the governing body of the Bruce Trail he stated “They were the first ones I rang.” Wolfmaan was then advised that it was a known issue, but the Conservancy provided no assistance.

Camping is available along the Bruce Trail at several conservation areas and parks along the route, however there is no consistency to the location of the sites. Some areas of the Bruce Trail offer camping once every 60km and others areas every 10km. Hiking an average of 20km per day, it's impossible for anyone to make it to some of the campsites.

Wolfmaan decided to seek legal counsel “I rang my lawyer and he was a huge help in advising me of my rights.” he stated. “The trip will go on steady until the beginning of August before I have to break it off and return to work at Sitel in St. Catharines”

To make matters worse, the week of rain has also caused delays.

Between faxing letters, sending e-mails and contacting his local Member of Parliment, Wolfmaan stated he used the week off to relax and let his companion – Luka, a 2yr old husky catch up on some much needed sleep.

The Bruce Trail is not designed as a thru-hike and was intended to be hiked in sections or as a series of day hikes. The Bruce Trail Conservancy makes no distinction between those who hike the trail as a thru-hike or a series of day hikes. The Bruce Trail Conservancy website states that the trail has been hiked in as little as 9 days by the Canadian Olympic Running Team and as long as 40 years by some individuals.

Rain or shine, Wolfmaan is going to hit the trails on Monday, June 22nd and continue his barefoot expedition.

Wolfmaan's barefoot Bruce Trail Expedition 2009 - Week 2

Saturday, June 13 - 2009

Adventurer's barefoot Bruce Trail Expedition, 2009

Barefoot adventurer Wolf Starchild, who goes by Wolfmaan left June 01st for a solo expedition up the Bruce Trail. An 850km long footpath from Queenston, Ontario to Tobermory, Ontario. The trail is broken up into nine individual clubs which maintain each section of the trail.

During the second week of the trip, Wolfmaan is passing through the Hamilton section of the Bruce Trail which ran along the escarpment and through Dundas to start to hook northward towards Tobermory at Mount Nemo Conservation area. In Dundas Valley, there was the first legal campsite available on the Merrick Side Trail to Through Hikers. During the night Wolfmaan spent at the Merrick Side Trail, the region experienced a strong thunder and lightening storm “At least my tent kept me dry, if not warm” he commented.

The scariest thing Wolfmaan reported on the trail was to hear repeated gunshots in Hamilton. “I just kept walking and got out of there as fast as possible” he stated. As fast as possible with a 27 kilogram pack on his back. The best thing so far about the Hamilton section of the trail has been the friendly people he says he's met “One lady even offered to take me out to dinner instead of using my freeze-dried food up” Wolfmaan reports. “Another stated instead of camping in the rain, I could have slept on her couch” which he states he declined to take advantage of the campsite.

During the second barefoot week on the trail, Wolfmaan has completed over 170km of the entire trail which included the 80km Niagara Club section., and 90km of the Iroquois (Hamilton) section of the Bruce Trail.

Wolfmaan is the first person in the 40 year history of the Bruce Trail to have completed the Niagara Section barefoot, and will hold the world record as the first person ever to walk then entire Bruce Trail barefoot. “People often ask me if my feet hurt” he says. “I always tell them everything else does, but never my feet” he laughs.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Wolfmaan's barefoot Bruce Trail Expedition 2009

Wolfmaan's Bruce Trail Expedition 2009
Week 01

Barefoot adventurer Wolf Starchild, who goes by Wolfmaan left June 01st for a solo expedition up the Bruce Trail. An 850km long footpath from Queenston, Ontario to Tobermory, Ontario. The trail is broken up into nine individual clubs which maintain each section of the trail.

During the first 7 days on the trail, Wolfmaan has completed over 100km of the trail which included the 80km Niagara Club section. The weather was cool with no rain. He had friends and his wife join him for “short” 20km day hikes on the trail.

When asked what the biggest complaint was about the trail, Wolfmaan promptly said “there needs to be more overnight rest areas [or campsites] available for through hikers of the trail. When asked about going barefoot over the entire 100km he stated the most difficult sections were the loose gravel paths. Wolfmaan stated “They aren't that painful, but really slowed me down to a crawl”

Wolfmaan is the first person in the 40 year history of the Bruce Trail to have completed the Niagara Section barefoot. He is currently waiting for recognition from the Niagara Bruce Trail club.

To see the full slideshow click here

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Bare Feet Connect Hiker To The Earth

Bare feet connect hiker to the earth
Posted By Penny Coles

He calls himself Wolfmaan, and he has a dislike for shoes.

Niagara-on-the-Lake resident Wolf Starchild plans to hike the 850-kilometre Bruce Trail from Queenston to Tobermory - barefoot.

Barefoot adventurers are few and far between, he says, and although Starchild expects to meet a few hikers on route to his northern destination, he doesn’t expect to see any barefoot.

It’s not as painful as it sounds, he said—he has been going without shoes most of his life, from the early days of playing on his grandparents’ Hunter Road farm, where the Telega family grew peaches. School and work are the exceptions, although he wears sandles to his job at a St. Catharines call centre—and he has hiked in many different parts of the world, including up mountain ranges and across deserts, and has been a hike leader for Brock University’s Outdoor Club—without serious injury. You build up a tolerance, he says, even for thistles and prickle bushes.

He won’t be walking alone, and his companion will also be barefoot. Two-year-old Luka, a blue-eyed Siberian husky, will be along for company.

Starchild leaves Monday. He has been training for about two months—carrying his 40 to 60-pound pack of supplies, including his tent and 10 days’ worth of food, will be challenging, he says.

Luka will have her own backpack with her food and water.

Starchild says he has been trying to hike the Bruce Trail for years. His employer is giving him the two months off—he expects to hike 60 days and have friends meet him at the other end to bring him home—and he has over the past year been purchasing supplies so he would be ready to leave once the good weather arrived.

He hopes to prove wrong some of the myths of the dangers of walking barefoot, he says. He also hopes to dispel some of the prejudice people have about bare feet, he added.

But the real reason for walking shoeless is the connection it allows him to feel to the earth.

Sound a little ’60s hippie-ish? Not surprising.

Wolf Starchild is the name he was given at birth by his mother 33 years ago. She embraced the love-and-peace-subculture, as did her father, although he was a little old for the movement, Starchild says.

It’s in his genes, he says, and he enjoys carrying on the family tradition.

The hike will be a spiritual journey, he says, and an opportunity to take time from a busy life to commune with nature and do some soul-searching.

When he is done his solitary two months of walking eight to 10 hours a day, hopefully covering from 20 to 25 kilometres a day, he will know a little more about the Bruce Trail and the Niagara Escarpment, and a lot more about himself. He also expects he will be in the best physical condition of his life.

“I should be in excellent shape. I'm really looking forward to that.”
Article ID# 1587875

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Thanks to the Brunton Vapor AF Stove

Thanks to the Brunton Vapor AF Stove

About 8 years ago, Wolfmaan purchased a Brunton Optimus stove, it was quite expensive and we took it on only two 14 day trips in one year, and the stove caught fire into a huge fireball which blackened it badly.

We took it back to the store which sold it to us in St. Catharines, Ontario Canada and they gave me a free “rebuild” kit for the stove which we promptly installed including new seals and any parts that could have been burnt.

The next trip out it did the same thing, sputtered out after only 2 or 3 uses and engulfed itself in flames on a picnic table in Frontenac Provincial Park in Ontario Canada.

We decided out of frustration and safety to simply purchase a new stove from a different manufacturer. Over the years since 2000 we have heard several people stating that the particular stove caused problems and erupted into flames.

During my time working with Brock Outdoors, several of the other guides stated that Brunton has a no-questions-asked return policy. Box it up, and ship it back.

For my Bruce Trail Hike in June, I purchased a new MSR stove and decided that it was worth the few dollars shipping to send back the rusted, beat-up and seized stove to Brunton with a letter explaining the situation and see what happens.

Sure enough, after about a month, we receive a box from Brunton with a BRAND NEW* Vapor-AF stove!

I could not believe that Brunton made true on thier promise and replaced our old stove with a brand-spankin' new stove complete with fuel bottle!

Big thanks go out to Brunton for their superior customer service with the stove!

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Short Video about the Bruce Trail Expedition, 2009

Sunday, 17 May 2009

16km Of The Bruce Trail Completed

Sunday, May 17 - 2009

09:00 – 18:00
Start: 10:00
Roads: Dry / Clear
Visibility: 85km
Temp: +20C
Area: Bruce Trail
Km Start: 0
Km Finish: 16
Vehicle: Blue GMC Suburban / Black Sunfire
Weather: Windy, but sunny
Trail Conditions: Dry
Hikers: Wolfmaan, Tori, Chuck, Luka, Merlin, Morgana
Plan: Hike the Bruce Trail from KM 0 to KM 16

09:00 Chuck arrives & we take the truck to km 0 of the Bruce Trail, and put his Sunfire at Woodend, km 16 after stopping home to pick everyone up.

10:00 Hit the trails, Wolfmaan & Tori barefoot. We made our way through Woodend on a beautiful but useless circle around the small park and back to the parking lot, past the house and some scenic views. We passed a trio in the park who were quite indignant about Merlin and Morgana being loose and said “Dogs are supposed to be leashed in this park” as they passed by us quite smugly. The smooth compacted ground felt so soft and nice under our feet, with small exposed polished rock that was so nice and smooth. We headed away from Woodend southbound across some nice trail to come out near a house with a beautiful pond and dock. We headed east on Werner road and stopped for Tori to rest for a brief time.

We saw the new G4S security car 10 go by, a company I used to work for from 2002 to 2006. The small sharp stones on the road were a challenge for Tori and I but we kept going at a slow pace. We passed through a tunnel which was very wet known as the “screaming tunnel” and hooked left over more sharp rocks to head over the new Bruce Trail Bridge built recently over the Q.E.W. Highway in Niagara Falls. This was our first time over the brifge as the old trail went over Mountain Road several years ago.

Crossing the bridge we walked over more sharp stones which slowed us down, and then over a gully filled with nasty charcoal colored sludge, which Merlin had to walk through. We joked that he was now two-toned as as his entire bottom half was black and white. From there we headed along the highway with the road of traffic beside us until the trail hooked into some woodland and brought us more PUD (pointless up and down). We followed through that for a while to come to a road which we used to jump our trucks over at high speed, as it is a steep railroad bridge. Sadly the bridge has two concrete barriers over it stating that it is now closed. We went up the road and hooked back onto the Bruce Trail into some woods. This is where we stopped and turned around back on the hike we did on April 10th, 2009. The new trail here was covered in old horse poop, which felt very grainy to walk through, like walking on sawdust. We headed along the trail until we came to a farmers field and stopped to relax and make some lunch. Chuck had some sandwiches and Tori cooked us some Chicken and Noodles freeze-dried food. We gave the dogs their food, but they were more interested in the quiet solitude of the area, coupled with new smells and some wind.

After lunch we packed up and crossed into Firemans Park, then onto some side trails towards St. Davids, Ontario. Funnily enough we came across that trio who was complaining about our two Jack Russell Terriers being loose on the trail, but this time they were quite friendly. A good portion of the trail has been re-routed since our last visit several years ago, including exposing a large storm drain which looked interesting to explore some other time. The trail here was a soft beach like sand which was such a joy and pleasure to feel underfoot.

Heading slowly down Four Mile Creek Road in St. Davids, we tiptoed through the sharp stones towards the next entrance of the trail which is at a trailer park. I wasn't sore at all from the trip, except the stones on Four Mile Creek Road. Thankfully my leather-soled feet protected me from cuts.

Passing behind the trailer park we came to a set of stiles which is a form of ladder over a fence on the BT. We navigated through the stiles and headed up a set of stairs onward to km 0 of the trail. Around 16:00hrs I started to run out of energy. We navigated our way through some switchbacks as we slowly ascended the escarpment and came upon a chainlink fence which concealed some limestone kilns from the old Queenston Quarry. We headed down the cool feeling packed dirt “Donkey Path” towards the Queenston Mines, but some recent high winds knocked over trees and blocked the pathway to the mines. We decided to keep going to the truck.

18:00 After a long, enjoyable but slow journey we arrived at our truck and loaded everyone in.

The Garmin 650CSX GPS unit gave us a reading of 16.5km. A sizeable section of the Bruce Trail, and 16.5km less trail I have to do when I leave in early June, 2009 for an end-to-end hike. As usual I wore my green MEC rip-stop nylon pants & long sleeve shirt, Canadian Forces military backpack with hydration kit, ESS NVG Goggles, bush-hat and fingerless gloves. I decided to start using my hiking poles to ensure I got a bit more mileage on the trail. Luka wore her Ruff-Wear Pallisades pack with hydration bladder and carried some dog food for everyone.

The next day I changed my Facebook and Myspace to read “Wolfmaan hiked 16km on the Bruce Trail Sunday. So sore... can't move... too fat...”

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Short Bruce Trail Hike 200904-18

Here are some photos from a recent Bruce Trail Hike made into a slideshow.

I'm trying something new with the photos, please comment if you like what you see.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Hiker Attacked on Ontario Trail

Wolfmaan Note: This is scary stuff, especially with my big Bruce Trail hike coming up in just a few weeks...

Another attack on trail
It's too soon to know if there's any connection between a midday stabbing along a Twelve Mile Creek hiking trail Tuesday and a series of muggings nearby last fall, police say. A man was beaten and stabbed shortly after 11:30 a. m. as he walked on the Merritt Trail on the west side of the river near Martindale Road and Violet Street.

Witnesses who found the injured man along the trail said he reported being struck over the head and stabbed a couple of times in the lower body.

Niagara Regional Police said the man was attacked from behind by two men who hit him in the back and neck with a metal object.

He was then punched, kicked and stabbed with a knife, police said.

The victim was robbed of an undisclosed amount of money.

He was taken to St. Catharines General Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Hikers Frank and Ruth Hampson were in the midst of one of their regular trail-cleaning walks when they spotted the wounded man lying at the bottom of a steep embankment.

The couple noticed a wallet and a small satchel on the ground at the edge of the trail and then saw the man in the brush, close to the water's edge.

"I said, 'Are you OK?' And he said, 'No, I'm bleeding. I've
been stabbed'," Frank recounted, as firefighters and paramedics worked on the victim. The injured man called 911 himself with a cellphone, but asked the couple to stay on the trail until help arrived, Frank said.

St. Catharines firefighters and Niagara EMS paramedics used ropes and a basket stretcher to carry the victim up the embankment he had fallen down after the attack. Police scoured the area for suspects with a search dog, but came up cold.

Last fall, cyclists and hikers were targeted by muggers on another section of recreational trail along the same creek a couple of kilometres away.

At the time, police said they believed there were links between the three incidents in September, including one violent robbery and two attempted muggings.

All three involved several young males preying on victims using the trail, near the foot of the Burgoyne Bridge.
In one case, a cyclist managed to escape after being beaten with a baseball bat by three men only to be confronted by three more men a couple hundred metres away, including one armed with an axe.

No arrests were made in the incidents.

But police said more investigation is required to determine if there are any ties to the latest trail assault.
"It's probably something where people will draw conclusions, but it is still really early," NRP spokeswoman Jacquie Forgeron said. "They still have to get (the victim's) statement. There's still so much work

The attack left some neighbouring residents unsettled and worried about the safety of using the popular recreational trail.

"I wouldn't (hike) it by myself, ever," Ruth Hampson said.
Violet Street resident Francis Skrzeszewski said it's fairly common for young people to party along the trail at night, but it's also well used by families, cyclists and joggers.

"There's been some wackos down there before, but I've never seen anything like this," he said. Police are appealing for anyone with information about Tuesday's
assault to call 905- 688-4111, ext. 4272 or leave and anonymous tip through Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Viable way to repair Canadian Economy..

The Business Section Editor of the St. Petersburg Times asked readers
for their ideas on how they would fix the economy. Here's the winner.

Patriotic retirement

There's about 40 million people over 50 in the work force. Pay

them $ 3 million apiece severance with the following stipulations:

1) They leave their jobs. Forty million job openings -

Unemployment fixed.

2) They all buy NEW North American cars. Forty million cars ordered -

Auto Industry fixed.

3) They either buy a house or pay off their mortgage - Housing Crisis fixed

Total amount committed -$120 billion --

Considerably less than the "stimulus package".

Monday, 23 March 2009

Friday to Sunday, March 20 - 22 2009
08:00 – 22:00
Start: 09:00
Roads: Dry / Ice Patches
Visibility: 20km
Temp: -10C
Area: Tobermory, ON
Vehicle: Black Sunfire
Weather: Cold, overcast
Trail Conditions: Ice / Snow
Hikers: Wolfmaan, Deciduous Rockwell, Luka
Plan: Spend the Spring Solstice Hiking in the Bruce Peninsula
GPS: 45.2648, -81.6375

Friday, March 20th 2009
After an early morning run on the warm first day of Spring, Deciduous picked me up around 09:00 in his black Sunfire and we headed up the Highway 6 towards Tobermory with Luka and all hour medium (+5C to -10C) weather hiking kit. Along the way we found a World War II Sherman Tank like my Grandfather drove during the war. The Sherman “Easy Eight” was one of the workhorses of the allied forces during WWII and without it, Allied forces would have lost many battles. We stopped to take some photos and then noticed we had a sagging exhaust pipe on the Sunfire. A quick stop for lunch and repair from a local hardware store and we were ready for adventure again!

Just outside Tobermory we stopped by Miller Lake, where the “Miller Lake Baptist Camp” was located, I spent many summers at the camp when I was younger. To my surprise the camp was still there, and the washed-out yellow building still standing as they were almost 20 years ago when I made my last visit. We arrived in the small town of Tobermory. Called so by early Scottish Settlers because the rugged terrain reminded them of their homeland. Known as the "fresh water SCUBA diving capital of the world", because of the numerous shipwrecks that lie in the surrounding waters, especially in Fathom Five National Marine Park. Tobermory and the surrounding area are popular hiking and camping destinations. People come in the warm weather for the beaches, the diving, the unspoilt countryside and the relaxed pace of life. In winter, Tobermory is a ghost town with very few stores open. Almost all the boats were pulled out of the water, and no traffic noise could be heard.

Deciduous was kind enough to pay for two nights stay at the Harborside Hotel, which allowed Luka to stay with us. There was a little white Jack Russell Terrier who was a little grayed showing her age, who greeted us upon arrival. We headed back to the car with our winter kit and Deciduous took us to a favorite hiking spot of his at the end of Little Cove Road. We spent about 3 hrs hiking the Bruce Trail which was beautiful here with amazing panoramic views of Georgian Bay. We activated the SPOT unit to send a message back home that we were all right. The windswept point of Little Cove was breathtakingly beautiful and desolate, with no people around, and no vehicle traffic, the solitude was welcome from our normal near-city hikes. Around 18:00hrs we retired from the panoramic vistas, and fresh unpolluted air and started to head back to the car and return to our hotel room for the evening watching Discovery Channel. We didn’t see a single person on the snow and ice covered trails.

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

Waking early to go for a 3km run, I ran from the ferry dock near the hotel and to the city center which took me past the only grocery store in this small town, past the North Carin of the Bruce trail and to the “Tugs” dive site. Not wanting to over extend myself, I walked back past the waking town. The town is so quiet that I didn’t pass a car along the way.

I walked back to the hotel in beautiful silence as there were no cars, and very few people anywhere, and most of the businesses closed for the Winter.

We left the hotel around 09:00 after a quick breakfast and headed to the trailhead of the Burnt Point loop located by the new Bruce Trail visitor center, about 1km from Highway 6. The Visitors center staff were friendly and we looked at some of the exhibits which profiled some of the history of the Bruce Trail and Bruce Peninsula, including some nautical items such as marker buoys which loomed over the parking lot due to their immense size.

To the far East of the Bruce Trail visitors center was a white rectangle (known as “blazes”) on a tree, denoting we were on the Bruce Trail, which led tot he Burnt Point sidetrail. The trail passed by a tall lookout which we took the opportunity to climb. After a few minutes of climbing, we looked out on the high platform, well above the tops of the trees. Lookouts had been placed around the top of the tower to point out various areas of interest such as lighthouses and islands in the distance.

The Burnt Point trail itself was ice and snow covered, making it moderately difficult to navigate, with a few areas of the earth showing through to display vibrant colors of burnt-orange leaves and moss, as well as rugged, windswept rocks peering through. I forgot my gators and used some vet-wrap to make puttees to cover the tops of my Vibram Fivefingers Surge boots and outer shell. At the first lookout located only 1km from the Bruce Trail visitors center, we stopped and activated the SPOT unit to send a message home that we were okay.

Continuing on through the trail, it weaved in and out of the old cedarwood forests and gave spectacular views of Georgian Bay and its islands. We stopped at the Eastern most point of the trail where we could see with our naked eyes, the flowerpots on nearby flowerpot island. The wind was quite fierce here and it felt much colder than it actually was. Georgian bay had a patch of ice that extended along the shoreline a few metres out to make it look like a beautiful sandy beach bordered by crystal clear waters, sadly too cold to swim in.

We made our way back through the 2-3km which included a bit of swamp that was all frozen over, and stopped for some freeze-dried Lasagna and allowed me to use my MSR wisperlite stove for the first time in the field, with very positive results. The stove performed flawlessly!

We cleaned up and hit the trails after our brief meal break and headed back to the car, it took us surprisingly 6 hours to hike a trail listed at only 4.0km Possibly due to bad weather, poor trail conditions or even improperly measured length. We spent the evening at our hotel relaxing and watching more Discovery Channel. (Mythbusters Rocks!)

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

Waking around 08:00 I went for a run around the still sleepy Tobermory. As I ran past the small shops, the cold, windy, fresh air filled my lungs. The quiet solitude is such a joy to be around. Sadly this will be my last run in the area on this trip.

We had a light breakfast supplied by the hotel, packed up and hit the road to try and see if there was some new places to hike. We stopped in Lions Head, but the wind was blowing a frigid gale, and the Bruce Trail here ran right along the rocky coastline. We decided to wait until it wasn’t -12C to hike this section. We also stopped briefly in Colopy’s bay and decided this may be a great area for a dive.

The cold weather drove us back to Niagara along Highway 6 and then the QEW highway until we returned home around 15:00hrs. Luka was happy to be home.

Even with the cold weather, Tobermory is a beautiful area deserving of a visit. Sadly as the temperature rises so does the population. This small town with less than 4,000 people will literally double in size as the temperature rises filing with hikers, campers, SCUBA divers, and other explorers. Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter, this is truly one of the most beautiful areas in Ontario Canada.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Northbound Bruce Trail Hike - 2009

Norbound Bruce Trail 2009

I have been an adventurer and explorer my entire life. From a young age I set sail from the comfort of my home seeking new places and meeting new people. These adventures have taken me across the globe and to some of the most desolate places on earth.

One area of Canada has always stood out to me is an 800km footpath which runs from Niagara Falls Ontario Canada to Tobermory Ontario Canada. The path was created in 1967 to help promote biodiversity and protect the last dying wilderness of the Niagara Escarpment from development.

Like a lot of people, I hold down a mediocre, going-nowhere dead-end job at a call center which pays some of my mundane expenses but lacks fulfillment and uses few of my talents.

On June 02, 2009 I will be leaving my job and embarking on an 800km journey. Starting off in Queenston, Ontario I will be casting-off and heading toward Tobermory with only my dog, Luka.

By the time you read this blog, trip planning will be well underway using the latest technology and cutting-edge products to keep me safe and in touch with my support network of friends and family who will re-supply me every 10 days along the trail.

Inspired by great adventurers like Todd Carmichael, Dot Butler and Tom Perry, I will set-off on my journey focused on completing the trail in 60 days. While this is by no means record breaking, it will set a new precedent in my life and allow me to use all my outdoor skills in my first long distance solo hike.

I'll be subjecting myself and my gear to some of the toughest, grueling conditions in the Canadian sub-arctic climate.

Traveling barefoot, the trip will be a triumph of mind as well as body. When completed I will be one of the few who have completed a single-trip northbound hike of Canada's oldest and longest hiking trail.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Barefoot climber tackles Mt. Fuji

(ANSA) - Tokyo, September 20 - An Italian mountaineer who has become famous for scaling peaks in his bare feet is to take on Japan's highest and holiest mountain, Mt. Fuji.

Antonio Peretti, 47, a charity-driven forest guard and part-time adventurer from the mountainous Veneto region, is to attempt his feat next month - on the heels of similar exploits that have earned him the nickname "the barefoot climber".

Peretti, who pits himself against nature under the adopted name of 'Tom Perry', is an amateur parachutist, hiker and biker who says he "discovered his true calling" when he flung off his boots and started running headlong down a local mountain one summer's day in 2002.

Over the next five years, Hobbit-like, he clambered over most of his native Dolomites as well as venturing farther afield to Mt. Blanc, Kilimanjaro, the Himalayan heights of Makalu, volcanos in Ecuador, Bolivia and Etna in Sicily - while it was erupting.

On his website,, Peretti says he feels "the Earth transfers its energy to me while barefoot.

"I am spiritually reborn, I become a conduit for positive and genuine values".

On each of his climbs Perry has raised money for environmental causes and peace groups worldwide.

This time he will be bringing ash from Etna to the top of Mt. Fuji in a sort of symbolic 'twinning' of the two famous peaks.

Perry will also carry up a plaque commemorating the exploits of Italy's late 'Human Condor' Angelo D'Arrigo, who died in a plane crash last year.

The Mt. Fuji ascent will be covered by Sky TV and journalists who have recorded Peretti's other exploits will put together an 'instant book' on the initiative.