Adventure Journal

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.