Adventure Journal

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...”