I have taught the ways of the wilderness for well over thirty years and have authored a novel which dives deep into the shadows which follow you as you traverse wilderness trails. It is my hope to reach as many people as possible to tell everyone that the wilderness is not a place to be wary of. It is the only place where a person can dig deep into their soul and find that which is hidden to them by modern day society.
~ R.G. Wright / Hawks Shadow

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

A Ruffed Grouse interrupts firewood cutting.

This ruffed grouse landed on my snowmobile while I was cutting up a downed tree for firewood. 

I shut the saw off and placed it in the snow, then I slowly sat down to address the little hitchhiker. 

I spoke to her quietly asking questions which obviously would never be answered. She flew onto the snow and waddled up to my foot where she poked and prodded my footwear. 

When I moved, she moved. When I walked away from her she ran after me. 

She disappeared  as fast as she appeared. I turned to pick up my saw and when I looked back, my new buddy was gone. 

I touched her head once while in her presence and she made a soft gentle sound indicating that she too was enjoying our time together.  

It was a great day. I did not get the amount of wood cut that I had intended, but these encounters are rare and there was no way I was going to dismiss it for a few extra loads of wood. The wood could wait for another day. 




Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Sounds from a beaver lodge.

Beavers live in a tight knit family group. When the kits are born, they suckle from mom for a month or more before she weans them off her milk and introduces them to a diet of plants. 

They are very vocal, chattering and talking to each other all the time, day and night.  

I love sitting on the lodge just to listen to the chatter of the little ones and to interact with mom as she fixes the "roof" of the shelter. 

One day, I decided to record the little beaver people. I placed a microphone into the vent hole of the lodge and hoped I would capture the conversation.  

The sounds you hear in this short video are those of the little ones within the lodge. No bigger than the palm of your hand - they make up for it with the power of their calls. 

Hope you enjoy their voices. 




Sunday, December 22, 2019

Beaver Mom Collecting Food For Winter


Her name is Betty, she moved into the pond in front of my home a couple of years ago and has become a close friend of mine. 

We sit on the bank together as she oils her coat and cleans her fur. She talks constantly and I do my best to pretend that I know her language. 

In this short video, she is gathering winter food for her raft which will keep her family fed through the ice filled months. 

She has taught me volumes about the ways of the pond and beaver folk. 

I share this moment in time with you so that you may see how we as humans can be accepted by the wild ones if we choose to lose our  egos. 



Something is watching me!

 
In my book, "A Long Paddle Home," the protagonist is haunted by his past and by a mysterious creature which follows his every move. 

In order to write the sentences within the story, I had to feel them first. 

With that goal in mind, I took a journey through Algonquin Park to the very place where a huge revelation within the story happens. The old Pine River Logging site on the Tim River. 

As I paddled toward the portage from Queer lake to the Tim River, the mist enshrouded shoreline allowed my imagination to run free. 

It was there within the mist that I was finally able to see the entity which wanders through the pages of "A Long Paddle Home." 

Shivers ran through me as I realized that this creature could actually exist.  

All indigenous cultures have a name for it. 

I call it - Agawaatesin. 

 

Saturday, December 21, 2019

An excerpt from the novel, "A Long Paddle Home."



After a long day of paddling, I settled in for the night and spent several hours ruminating on some ideas I had for my book "A Long Paddle Home."

As the fire pushed the dampness from my clothes, the steam mingled with the smoke and rose into the darkening sky. 

I envisioned Lisa - a character within the story, sitting by a similar fire and wondered how she would feel as the darkness slowly stole my sight.  

I found her voice and transcribed it into the book. 

This is a short excerpt from the novel. 

You can find it at Blue Heron Books in Uxbridge, Ontario, Masters Book Store in Haliburton, Ontario, and on-line at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Indigo. 



I found Yoda.


People have inquired as to where I found inspiration to write the novel "A Long Paddle Home." 

I often reply by simply saying the ideas within the story just appeared as I was writing. 

That is not the whole answer. 

I have wandered the forests for as long as I my memory serves. I have read thousands of messages written within the fabric of the landscape. 

From the silence of a mist enshrouded coniferous forest, to the banshee like wail of the wind as it bends trees to impossible angles during a thunder storm, I have witnessed nature as she weaves her stories into a mosaic which is too vast to comprehend. 

On day while laying on the ground inspecting an ant colony, the feeling of being watched forced me to  look to my right, sitting quietly on a leaf was the little fellow you see in the photo. 

I called him Yoda. 

The ideas for the story came from many such encounters. I have learned that to really feel the forest, one must slow down, lay down and look around. 

You are being watched. 

Once you are able to remove yourself from your own internal dialog, you will be able to absorb the lessons which the land chooses to teach you. 

I believe that little tree frog helped me to find the creature witch roams through the pages of "A Long Paddle Home."  


Sunday, December 15, 2019

Horse flies suck!



I spotted this young buck one morning as I was wandering around the pond in front of my house. 

I stalked to a patch of weeds and filmed him as he contended with swarms of horse flies. 

I sat quietly and forced myself not to swat at the incessant flies. 

These moments are rare, concentrate on the subject and don't worry about the audience. Soak it in because it will never be reproduced.  



Sunday, December 8, 2019

Why do I wander?



Rain hits the canvas cover of my lodge and drips from the smoke vent. I sit staring at the fire as it devours the wood I have placed into its embrace. 

The warmth of the flames infiltrates my clothes and warms my cold skin. I stare at the smoke as it rises and escapes through the open flaps to mingle with the rain. 

I ponder a question which is asked of me often. It is normally asked with innocence and a true desire to understand the answer. 

The problem is, I do not have an answer. This short video may help to provide some insight.

What is the question? 
Why do you leave this comfortable lodge to wander far out into the wilderness where comfort is but a memory?  



Sunday, December 1, 2019

Map and compass essentials. Finding yourself when you are lost.









Map and compass work may seem dull and boring at first glance; however, having the skills to use them is a must when traveling through the wilderness. 

Lakes may seem small on a map, in real life, they can be large and intimidating to the unprepared tripper. 

Prior to embarking on a canoe trip, I spend time with a map and compass to set bearings and jot them down in my note book. 

I do this because I want detailed knowledge of the route and because I never know when I may find myself on a dark enshrouded lake where landmarks are non existent. 

My compass is always part of my kit, I never leave home without it. 


Sunday, November 24, 2019

I take a walk to read the lessons left by those that live in the forest.



It is late November, almost one week after the end of the seasonal deer hunt. 

I wander out into the forest to check for the tracks of animals which have survived the hunt.  

The forest is like a good book, it draws you in and makes you want to turn the next page. 

As I wander, the tracks I leave in my wake become part of the forest. 

Those same tracks become words to the animals reading them. 

I become part of their story as they become part of mine.  



We decide to push for base camp. Day eight in Algonquin Park

Liam and I awake to a grey sky and adventure beckoning. 

Striking camp on Lake La Muir we head out for Happy Isle Lake which was to be our destination for the day. 

Reading the sky, I decide to push us to Opeongo Lake.

I have been part of the woods for most of my life and reading the weather is something I do by instinct. I knew rain would be the norm for several days and the wind could present a problem on Opeongo Lake should it conspire to turn from the north-east to the south-west. 

The decision was sound; however, it was also difficult, as this would be the last day in Algonquin Park for the year. 

We covered approximately 34 km 




  

Wind and rain conspire to make us stay on Philips Lake, but we push on to Lake La Muir.

Our itinerary for the day is to move from Philips Lake to Lake La Muir which sits 22 kilometers from our present campsite. 

Warm and cozy in our sleeping bags, we are reluctant to pack up and leave Philips Lake due to the rain which is soaking into the wilderness and our gear. 

The call of adventure lures us into our canoe and we head off into the mist and rain to face the trails and trials of the day. 

Once again, my guides show me the reason why I love the song of the paddle. 




Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Crazy random talk about nothing as we sit on the shoreline of Radiant Lake.


After a great day of paddling, Liam and I chill out on the shore of Radiant Lake.

Liam decides to do an impromptu interview which I vowed I would not post. I do have some sense of self esteem; however, when you hit my age, who cares. 

A canoe trip brings out some crazy stuff in people - Fun times.

During a trip like this, you shed a lot of baggage which society burdens you with. Nothing centers you better than long paddle on a remote lake.   






Sunday, November 17, 2019

Physically drained, we push on to Philips Lake 16 km. away. Day six in Algonquin Park.

We strike camp before daylight and move down a dark river to the first portage of the day.

Upon reaching the take out for the 3,565 meter portage, we stow our gear on the bank of the river and fall asleep on the trail. 

As the darkness of the path relinquishes its hold and succumbs to the early dawn light, we shoulder our loads and face the ominous task of moving our gear over the long portage.

The path shortens with every step, yet our minds begin to fight our physical bodies and begin to fill us with doubt. 

I push back, knowing that the wilderness is just testing us and that if we blend and flow as I was taught long ago, we will find our breath and our strength. 

Today was a day of internal dialogue. The type which forces you to either hide or step up and face the challenge set before you.





My last dance with my canoe for the season.





Winter is closing in fast here in Algonquin Highlands. 

Snow covers my Swift Prospector Canoe as I look out over the beaver pond which is in front of my home. 

The pull of the paddle is strong and I have no ability to resist its song.  

I dust her off and we join hands and dance our last dance for the season. 

When spring begins to thaw the ice and if I am here to feel the warmth of the sun on my face. I will once again grab my paddle and place the yoke of the canoe over my shoulders. I will place her into the water and plunge my paddle deep. I need to hear her hull as she glides across the water before the ice silences her. 








Liam and I head out for the distant Radiant Lake. Algonquin Park, Day Five.


With a total distance of 10 Km. to travel, and only 1,710 meters of portaging, we were in for a grand day. 

The weather was gorgeous with clear blue sky from horizon to horizon. 

With our canoe loaded and our paddles in hand, Liam and I leave our campsite on Kildeer Lake and head towards a Lake which is supposed to be Radiant. 




Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The Big Question. Why the heck are we doing this?

I have been asked this question many times throughout the years. 

I answer as best I can, trying to paint a picture with my words. 

My paddle pulls me through these scenes and my mind consumes the visions relayed to it via all of my senses. 

I am absorbed into the natural world and become lost in its embrace.  


Perhaps, this short video will help solidify my words. 




Monday, October 28, 2019

Our Swift Canoe takes a nap. Day four of Ten in Algonquin Park.


Liam and I catch a much needed break. 

We spend the day hanging out on a beautiful campsite situated on Kildeer Lake in Algonquin Park. 

Early in the morning, while Liam catches up on his beauty sleep, I paddle over to the old Canadian National Railway line which serviced this area of the park. 

Liam; well rested and full of his usual youth-full vigor, decides that this day of rest should entail the rigors of an exercise routine. 

I simply stand and video the process, completely at ease with my age and my desire to not compete. 

As the day progresses, we melt into the land and soak in the peace which surrounds us. 

Tomorrow, I will get to accompany Liam of Algonquin to Radiant Lake, which rests quietly north-west of our present position.  

For now, I think I will just watch the sun go down. 



Night time closes in us while we are still on the trail. Canoe Tripping in Algonquin Park.

Liam and I arrive at the junction of the Crow River and White Partridge Creek at approximately three pm. 

The journey to this juncture has tested us and has left us wondering if we should continue on. 

Our food is dehydrated. Water is required to re-hydrate it. I was far from comfortable taking the water from the relatively stagnant river. Regardless of how good our filter is, Giardia and other little bugs are just waiting for new hosts. 

As I wander up the small incline at the start of the next long portage, I encounter a campsite littered with glow sticks. My reaction is inevitable. 

That same reaction re-rejuvenates my diminished energy levels and we decide to move on. 

As I move through the long portage trail, the creature within my book "A Long Paddle Home" comes into my mind like a wraith and pushes me. 






Saturday, October 26, 2019

We push ourselves to near exhaustion. Day Three - Algonquin Park.

Liam and I wake up as the faint light of a new day infiltrates our tent. We pack up our gear, load the canoe and head out to see what the third day of our trip in Algonquin Park has in store for us.  

We have deep reservations about the planned route.
Low water levels have us questioning our ability to make it to our next campsite before nightfall. 

The day begins with a Bald Eagle as it flies out from the south shoreline, it circles us and then heads back the way it came. Omen - Maybe. 



Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Portaging thoughts while canoe tripping in Algonquin Park.


Stay tuned! 

Liam and I embark on the third leg of the trip. 

Tired from the night before, we plunge our paddles into the cold water's of Crow Bay. 


We head out for a day which will direct the course of the rest of our stay in Algonquin Park.  

As we wander, I begin to imagine what it would be like to walk with the ancient ones through this place of mystery and wonder.  

The writer in me begins to see the pages of a new book. 



Sunday, October 20, 2019

A Fretful Night on Crow Bay in Algonquin Park


Upon finally reaching a campsite on Crow Bay, Liam and I settled in for what was to be a restless night. 

The forest was quiet and pitch-dark as we climbed into our sleeping bags and looked over the route that was to be the next leg of our journey. 

This video shows the convolutions we went through to deal with the inevitable. 

We were supposed to stay on Crow Bay for two nights, reality changed our minds. 




Tuesday, October 15, 2019

We are in trouble! Day two in Algonquin Park



Liam and I embark on our second day of paddling. We had no idea of the trouble we were about to face. 

The low water level on the Crow River forced us to abandon the thought of actually canoeing. 


We had to embrace the reality that we were going to have to walk several kilometers before gaining paddle depth water. 


That is the beauty of a canoe trip; you never know what is around the next bend. 


Sunday, October 13, 2019

You have to check this view out! Crow Lake in Algonquin Park.



After setting up the camp on Big Crow Lake, Liam and I paddled over to the Ranger cabin to find the trail to the summit.

The trail to the look-out is located behind the outhouse, We took a different route to the top.

If you find yourself on Big Crow Lake in Algonquin Park - it is worth the climb to see the view. 

As I was sitting on the ancient rock outcrop, I could feel the power of the place and felt privileged that I was sitting where the ancient ones sat hundreds of years prior to my arrival on the planet. 



Saturday, October 12, 2019

140 KM trip through Algonquin Park. Day One. Two Guys with paddles.



My son and I embark on a journey through Algonquin Park.  

The route will take us on a round trip of approximately 140 Km. 

We are scheduled to be in the park for ten days. 

The trip will test us; physically and mentally.

Grab a paddle, sit back and enjoy, as the wilderness of Algonquin Park draws us into her embrace. 



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