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Thursday, 25 November 2010

Bruce Trail - One Year Later

SMALL-Profile Photo

A full year has passed since I completed my epic four month journey up the Bruce Trail from Niagara to Tobermory.

Read more here...

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Kigo Edge

I am happy to be chosen as a product tester for a new shoe company. Kigo footwear, Founded in 2006 by Jan Kuramoto has created a new outdoor activity shoe which falls under the “light shoe” category (also known as minimalist footwear)

The shoes were designed as a “backup shoe” or “camp shoe” and are easily compressed and foldable to fit into a backpack. They are also a great all around activity shoe. Kigo footwear is eco-friendly. The upper sole is created using recycled milk jugs. The glues are made from cornstarch instead of animal products. They are suitable for vegans!

Arriving in a plain white envelope with no tags or fancy packaging, I was impressed. There was nothing to throw away but a shipping envelope. This is a definite plus to Kigo.

My first correspondence with Kigo was encouraging and friendly. The e-mails I sent were responded to quickly and the company made a **perfect** size conversion when I said that I take a size 41 WIDE.

The grey Kigo edge looked and felt like a set of deck shoes, or wetsuit shoes used when scuba diving. They felt like neoprene. The underside had a fingerprint design which was quite sticky. “This is great for bouldering and rocks” I thought to myself. The shoes looked very narrow and I was concerned they would not be comfortable for my wide, constantly bare feet.

Most companies choose me as a product tester because I take my equipment to some of the most harsh conditions the planet has to offer. The environments I visit are rarely gentle on equipment. Especially shoes. As a barefooter I wear shoes in only the most harsh environments such as mud, snow, and in the cold weather.

Slipping on the Kigo Edge for the first time I was surprised how comfortable they were. The narrow looking shoes felt very good on my feet. The removable insole had a little bit of cushioning, but you could still feel the ground below.

As a Scout Leader I took my Kigo Edge shoes on a backpacking trip to Kelso, Ontario for a weekend and was very pleased with the results.

Kigo Edge were quite sticky on large rocks while hiking, they kept me warm in the cool weather. I was surprised they held up very well through the cold, wet rain and mud. They also had great grip on wet grass.

The next weekend I took Kigo edge to Algonquin Park – and it snowed. The Kigo Edge shoes worked fantastic in the snow and slush.

100km of the toughest snow, mud, and even rocks had no effect on the Kigo Edge. They took everything I gave them.

Would I recommend Kigo Edge's to minimalist hikers, campers, boaters and runners? Absolutely!

Just be careful with the sizing as I normally take a 41 and took a 43 Kigo Edge.

I did not post photos of my Kigo Edge shoes because at the moment they are completely covered in mud

Kigo Edge

  • North American Owned & Designed
  • Versatile
  • Compact
  • Light Weight
  • Warm in the snow
  • Great colour
  • Environmentally friendly construction

  • Narrow looking

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Stories from The Bruce Trail

This is the first installment of a short story series known as "Memoirs of the Bruce Trail" This first story accounts one of the worst nights camping on the trail.

Click here to read the story

Bruce Trail Marker - Dundas Valley

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Headwaters Gathering - Autumn 2010

Headwaters Gathering
Headwaters Gathering

Almost everywhere I go, and amongst all my friends I have always been the “extreme outdoors” person. I am normally the most adventurous, most spiritual, and usually most knowledgeable in the outdoors (some people even label me as an “expert”). I am almost always the most “hardcore barefooter”. The sad part is most of the people I know who share my passion for the outdoors live in far off places, and I rarely get to converse with them except using the internet.

In the beginning of October, 2010 I was invited to a gathering just outside of Orangeville, Ontario known as “Headwaters Gathering”. The gathering is described on their website as “A network and community from southern Ontario and beyond. We come together to share skills that keep us rooted in the natural rhythms of nature and giving back to the land that supports us”. I have met some of the presenters previously and decided it would be a great weekend out.

The location was a little tricky to find, but there were some signs on the side of the road which said “Headwaters” which helped things significantly.

A long driveway took me up a hill to a small home and what looked like a pack of dogs standing around. A small sign directed me to parking in a large, grass field. There were quite a few people there.

Exiting the car with my husky Luka, I was immediately greeted by a few bystanders. I walked over to the large barn and examined the surroundings. Luka went over to make some new friends with the dogs which were running around enjoying themselves.

Perched on the top of the Niagara Escarpment, this rural property overlooked the entire valley below and an outline of Toronto could be seen far in the distance. It was tranquil, with no outside sounds. The crackling of the fire could be head behind me.

A young gentleman introduced himself and led me on a brief tour of the area, and showed me where the campsite was for the gathering. I chose a spot and set-up my tent.

Returning to the gathering spot, I was met by some fantastic and friendly people. Luka had the time of her life socialising with all her new doggie friends, and exploring the area.

I attended seminars from topics ranging from creating a fire without a match, to learning how birds broadcast forest news, even a mushroom hike showing me what are the best mushrooms to eat. The entire weekend was a learning and growing experience.

There were many people there who were living their lives close to nature, and completely “off-grid” or without any modern conveniences. They lived solely off the land in teepees, mud homes, and lean-tos. Some made their clothes out of buckskin from animals they killed themselves. There were many barefooters there who believed that by going barefoot, you are connecting with nature. Others believed that home schooling their children was advantageous to the conventional school system.

Saturday evening brought forth an amasing feast. The pot-luck which was attended by most of the participants included such things as chick pea salads, rice and bear fat, and organic shish kabobs. There were fresh cut green beans, fresh wild salmon, and even a bag of straight pretzels. I haven't eaten that well in many moons.

The evening brought a swap with things like knife sharpening services, and craft projects to singing. It was a spectacular way to spend an evening with everyone. Sadly, I was only able to stay for two of the three days.

There was no prejudice, name-calling, competitiveness, or any other unwanted behaviour. Everyone came together as a community to learn, grow, and network.

The kinship with the people of Headwaters I felt could only be explained as a gathering of the community. A community which is wide and varied, but plays an important part to a new consciousness rising in society. A consciousness of Earth-minded people living with a deep rooted spirituality, devoted to the glory of nature.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Web Page New Look

A friend of mine once said, "there are few things that make you think of adventure like a sextant". As a result, I have given my website a new, softer look and of course included a sextant and map as the background.

I am always interested in comments of my readers, please let me know how you like the new look.


Thursday, 8 July 2010

Creating a Primitive Bowl

As part of an upcoming primitive living course I am teaching, I created this bowl using only the most basic of tools. These included a deadfall log, fire, a cat tail, water, and of course a hunting knife. If you enjoy this story, please consider "digging" it.

The article can be found here.

Primitive Bowl

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Rock Chapel Falls

I visited a small hidden waterfall known as Rock Chapel Falls just outside of Hamilton Ontario during the Canadian July 1st weekend. It was Canada's 143rd birthday.

The story and photoset can be found here.

Rock Chapel Falls, 2010

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Goodbye Fedora Linux

Goodbye Fedora Linux

For the past five years, I have been a die-hard Linux Fedora fan. I have sung its praises to the highest mountains. Fedora has the ability to do anything “Windoze” (intentionally misspelt) could do, only better.

Fedora Linux does not get viruses, it does not need defraging, and best of all, it's completely free. Software was also free. No pirating, No blue screens of death, just pure computing bliss. Linux did not even see the fancy copyrighting on CD's and ripped them to my personal library with ease.

I didn't mind having to play around and get mp3's to play. I loved the freedom of having most of the software I ever wanted at my fingertips. Most software.

Fedora was my best friend. I could run command lines like nothing else after just a few months. It was significantly faster than “Windoze” as well. It used less resources and makes even older machines run faster than they ever did brand new.

That is, of course until you needed something extra to work. Try to make your iPod work with Fedora Linux and you have a days work ahead of you. Visiting forums, running command lines, and ripping out your hair trying to get it to work.

Recently, I decided to take my writing career more seriously and wanted to be able to write in the peace of the outdoors. I wanted to be able to muse over past adventures and mishaps in the peace and quiet of the woods. I wanted to be able to use my computer anywhere and upload new stories, photos and chat with friends on Yahoo Messenger.

The simple answer to this, of course was an Internet stick. This small USB device allows you to access the internet wherever you can use a mobile phone. The bandwidth in Canada is very limited, but it would work well for the little bit I would use it.

Visiting a local mobile carrier, I proudly announced that I run Fedora Linux on my laptop and needed an Internet stick which would work with it.

The clerk looked at me like I had two heads. He had not heard of Linux and had no idea what Internet stick he had which would work with it. Some research on the internet revealed the Novatech U998 would be a good match. I signed the contract and hit the road expecting to enjoy my new found freedom.

I spent seven days attempting to get the Internet Stick to work correctly with Fedora Linux. I checked all the online forums. I made phone calls to my local computer stores. They did not support Linux. Nothing seemed to work.

A decision had to be made. Do I return the Internet Stick before I am bound by a two year contract, or continue to fight the uphill battle with Fedora Linux?

A third option came to me. I could Install the copy of Windows 7 which came with my new laptop.

I felt torn. Like breaking up with your spouse. I needed something new and useable, but the old had been there for thick and thin for over five years.

Freedom overriding nostalgia, I decided to install Windows 7 on my laptop computer.

I was surprised how fast and easy the installation went. After installation was complete, I promptly “activated” my Windows 7 and was very surprised.

Without spending an afternoon searching internet forums, Windows 7 connected to my wireless home network. The USB internet stick worked flawlessly. I was even able to install all of my favourite cross-platform Linux programs. GIMP (like photoshop), OpenOffice (like Microsoft Office), and even Pidgin (like Yahoo Messenger) all worked flawlessly with Windows 7.

Sadly I have to expect viruses, product keys, messy hard drives, and dozens of other shortcomings which made me leave Windows in the first place. But in the end freedom won out.

Freedom to create, talk, and publish articles and content from virtually anywhere.

Fedora Linux Logo

I will miss you Fedora Linux.
AUTHORS NOTE: November 2010 brought the release of Fedora 13 Laughlin. I have since re-installed Fedora 13 on my HP laptop and the wifi networking is phenomenal. I certainly won't miss Windows 7!

Monday, 7 June 2010

Hikers Haven - Oakville Ontario

There are two kinds of stores that seem to manage to always take my money. Military Surplus stores and Outdoor Outfitters. Like a bug to a lamp, I find them irresistible. I will often go out of my way to visit one, no matter where they are located. The sad part is, I have never been able to make it away from one of these stores without spending at least $100.00.

On Sunday, June 6th, 2010 I was returning home to Niagara-on-the-Lake, from Toronto Ontario. I passed a large grey store with bright yellow letters just off of Trafalgar Road on the Queen Elizabeth Highway. Although I had passed the store many times before, today I was drawn in, and stopped to visit.

The store was a little tricky to find as it lay off a side road which faced the Queen Elizabeth Highway. Out front were a myriad of tents, kayaks, Muskoka Chairs, and other outdoor equipment. Various signs were posted in the window promoting high-end outdoor equipment such as Mountain Hard Wear, Brunton, and Keen outdoor footwear. It looked exciting.

The front door had posters and notes about outdoor hikes, clubs, and other social activities which were to take place in the outdoors. It made the store look like it cared about the community and supported it any way it could.

Entering through the front doors, you come face to face with the employees and check-out counter. The friendly staff immediately greeted me. They asked me if I was looking for anything in particular, and gave a glance at my bare feet.

I smiled and said I was just browsing, and proceeded to make my way through the shop. The store was packed. At first glance it looked hap-hazard. Closer inspection reveals that the store was full of just about everything you need for the outdoors. A box of bandannas which ranged in colour from blazed orange to Jolly Rodger (Yarr!) sat beside a box of spare parts for backpacks containing clips, pull strings, and just about everything else that would break on a pack.

Heading deeper into the equipment jungle there were all types of lamps from the highest quality manufacturers like Sure-Fire and Petzl. There was a large water bottle wall which stocked every size, make, and shape of water bottle imaginable. The friendly staff said that all their selections were BPA free. Beside that a good sized section of equipment for the rock climbing enthusiast. Harnesses, uncomfortable looking shoes, carbiners, and chalk bags galore.

There was a large quantity of high end sleeping bags, sleep mats, tents, poles, and every other piece of equipment you could ever want. Not all stores carry the higher end manufacturers like Mountain Hard Wear and Ex-Officio. Hikers Haven does.

An unusual feature the store offered was an “international travel” section going under the guise of “Europe Bound”. Here I was excited to find power inverters, theft proof purses for women made of kevlar, and a range of other products designed for travellers. There were even special attachments for your backpack to attach it to a pole outside and visit a store without being a “bull in a China shop” when backpacking through urban areas.

For pet lovers, Hikers Haven carries a large selection of dog gear. Backpacks, Collapsible bowls, and even canine life jackets.

I entered the outdoor shoe section to be sized up by one of the polite and knowledgeable employees who suggested I try on a pair of their newest “barefoot shoes” known as Vibram five fingers. Hikers Haven carried a large amount of outdoor shoes from popular brand names like Asolo, Keen, Teva, and Vibram.

A large section of the shop is dedicated to outdoor clothing. Huge racks containing clothing from a wide variety of manufacturers such as Mountain Hard Wear, Misty Mountain (official outfitter of Scouts Canada) and Ex-Officio. There were few things you couldn't purchase here.

There was an archway which led to a newer section of the building which housed every kind of canoe, kayak, and human-powered watercraft you could need. The staff in this section were also very helpful and knowledgeable.

I purchased the Vibram fivefingers (which I will most likely rarely wear) and a few other small items including a blaze orange bandanna for my Husky Luka and left the store.

The friendly, knowledgeable and helpful staff made shopping at Hikers Haven a pleasure. If you are in the area, I would recommend stopping by.

After my visit, I sent a thank-you note to Lisa R, the store manager letting her know how much I enjoyed the experience. She kindly responded and advised me she was happy to accommodate my needs and I was welcome to visit her store anytime.

Hikers Haven

Hikers Haven is located at

166 South Service Rd E
Oakville, Ontario

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Frontenac Provincial Park Trip

At the end of May, I was lucky enough to be able to visit a rare and precious gem of Ontairo - Frontenac Provincial Park. The park is has many different types of terrain to offer and has a lot of history including old homesteads and abandoned mines.

The story can be found here

Dragonfly at Frontenac Park

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Outdoors Oriented: New concrete flooring could cause falls

I live in a small are of Southern Ontario Canada. Sadly, there is only one outdoor shop in my area which has a limited selection of outdoor gear. I have been shopping there for over a decade. The shop opened in 1994.

On May 22nd I visited the new store which is located in a big box centre in West St. Catharines. I was there to make a big ticket purchase.

To my surprise the employee of the store stated “Do you have shoes in the car?”. I was barefoot. I advised him I have been shopping here for over a decade, and dresscode has never been an issue. He snapped back “New store, new rules. Please don't visit here barefoot again”.

I decided to not purchase a new high-end expedition pack from the shop, and bought some less expensive items instead.

Perplexed at the situation, I e-mailed the store Owner Jamie Brigham with my concern. Shortly after he responded to me with a rather surprising e-mail.

Jamie Brigham explained that his new floors are a form of concrete which is slippery and someone could easily slip and injure themselves, especially if barefoot. The letter went on to state that he had no problem loosing myself, my friends, or any of my support for his store over the slippery floors.

The biggest issue is not shopping elsewhere. I am happy to take my money to another store (Moutain Equipment Co-Op doesnt have a dress code). The issue is the store owner admits the flooring is slippery and unsafe.

While teaching an outdoor course, the subject of equipment outfitters came up and I shared the story of why I would never recommend Outdoors Oriented, due to their slippery flooring and letter I received from the store manager.

One of my students advised me of a more serious issue. If the floors are that slippery a barefoot person could get injured, what about the elderly? What about children? What about those in flip-flops or other treadless footwear? Anyone entering the store could be at risk of injury.

I would like to gently recommend making the extra drive to buy your outdoor equipment and gear at Mountain Equipment Co-Op in Burlington, Ontario. They have a better selection, more competitive prices as well as ethical sourcing. MEC was happy to furnish me with a letter that their floors are safe and I could dress any way I wish.

Outdoors Oriented: Slippery Floors may cause injury
Slippery Floors may cause injury

Sunday, 11 April 2010

No New Travels?

Some of my regular readers may have noticed that recently, I haven't post new travel stories.

The reason for this: I have started an eco-tourism company in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. The pet-friendly company will offer ecologically sound tours as well as a locally grown lunch for a cost of $60.00 to 100.00 per person including food and transportation to and from the tour site.

WolfTrek Brochure

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Last Friday Of March - 2010

The last Friday in March was spectacular. It started off with an audition to television show Dragons Den. As one of the few ecologically minded pitchers, I was featured in a local newspaper on the front page! The article can be found here.

Later in the day brought fourth my first barefoot hike of the 2010 season in the Niagara Gorge. I wrote a story about the experience. The story was “foot-centric” as it was written for a barefooters usergroup I am a member of. The story can be found here.

First barefoot hike of 2010

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Wolf Story

It's been over a month since I've published a new travel story. My newest story "First Encounter with Wild Wolves". is now published and available to read - please feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me if you enjoyed it.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Re-Designed Web Page

Greetings everyone!

Well Come to!

A cold Canadian Winter has taken hold in the Niagara Region. The wind howling and trying hard to penetrate into the warm house.

Winter is traditionally a slow time, as I don't venture out in the cold or travel during this time of the year.

Today is a fine time to re-design my web page and make it more user-friendly.

I'm putting together several courses, workshops and seminars which have already been picked up by Niagara College, and the Niagara-on-the-lake Library. Please visit the "Course & Workshops" Section for more details.

For the people who wish to read about my adventures, you will find them under the "Adventure Journal" button at the top of the site.

Please enjoy the site, I always enjoy comments and contacts from other adventurers.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Happy New Year 2010

As I waken to the dawn of a new day, dawning also is a new year, new decade, and new hope for the future...

Happy New Year from Wolfmaan