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

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

How to handle flying vampires.

Living outdoors is a perfect way to reconnect to the world around you. Every sense in your body is awakened as you immerse yourself in the subtle lessons the forest and trail offer your questing mind. 

Weather becomes a reality which can't be ignored by closing a door and reclining in a climate controlled environment. You are forced to deal with rain and temperature variations which in turn teach you lessons about your own resilience. 

Biting insects are a fact of the trail. They are an essential part of the ecosystem through which you paddle your canoe and portage your gear. As you set camp, they can swarm you in numbers too vast to count and can cause major physical discomfort, which in turn, can taint your love of the outdoors. 

There are ways to mitigate the havoc these pesky little creatures create. Setting your camp up in an area where wind can infiltrate is one such method. 

Some people are not too adversely affected by insects, others are a meal ticket and draw the little devils in like magnets. One thing is for certain, you must have a game plan in place in order to withstand the clouds of winged vampires; if you want to keep your sanity while traversing the trails. The only time when you will be bug free is when the temperature drops to single digits.

This video shows some methods which have served me very well over my many years in the forest. 

Every time I wander into the bush, I always remind myself that I too am part of the system. A few donations to the flying blood bank is well worth it. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

How to load your canoe.

A canoe is a light-weight boat capable of carrying loads ten times or more than the weight of the craft itself. 

Stability is the key. If you load your canoe improperly; the boat will not track well and you are putting yourself at risk of tipping. 

A properly loaded canoe will sit evenly in the water and will be easier to control in winds and waves. Always take into account the weight differential of the bow and stern paddlers.  

Less is always best when canoeing. Think carefully about the gear you wish to bring with you. Make sure that it is absolutely necessary. You will understand this statement when you have completed a long portage. 

© R.G. Wright

Have a great trip. 


Thursday, May 7, 2020

Winter fades away to spring.

Winter is fading as the sun returns to warm the land. The forest streams are trundling their way to nearby lakes and ponds. 

The wild ones that persevered through the cold months shake off the chill and meander around the woods loving the warmth. Migrating birds are returning and filling the silent woods with their songs. Frogs and turtles rise from their deep sleep and move to the surface of the ponds to say hello to a world they have not seen for several months. 

Spring peepers; small frogs with huge voices, call out into the night creating a chorus of sound which fills the hollows of the forest with deafening power. 

Soon the black-flies will come out from under the leaf litter and fill the air with their clouds of annoyance. Knowing that they in turn will feed the fish, makes their arrival easier to accept.  It is simply part of the cycle which makes the forest healthy and whole. 

Into this awakening world I move, as quietly as possible and without purpose. I want to soak in all the sights and sounds of the spring for I know, without question, spring will turn to summer and new sounds and sights will fill my mind and spring will fade into memory.    

Once again my paddle can dig into the cool water and my canoe can glide silently into the wilderness carrying me into the world which I call home. 


Monday, April 27, 2020

How to set up the king of all tents. The Tipi.

The tipi is one of the best portable lodges ever conceived. The design allows for a fire to be set within the shelter without the fear of asphyxiation from smoke inhalation. The smoke flaps are totally adjustable allowing for wind to flow across the extended wings, this in turn creates a suction effect which draws air in from the base of the lodge. Smoke from the fire is literally pulled out of the interior keeping the occupants comfortable and safe. 

An experienced person can have the lodge set up and a fire going within twenty minutes. The conical design sheds snow and rain exceedingly well - all the while keeping the interior dry even with the smoke flaps open. 

I have had this cover for well over twenty years and it is still serviceable. It has withstood high winds, deep snow and torrential rains and it still keeps me dry and warm. My sled dogs and I spent many hours within the warm comfort of this lodge and their spirits still mingle with the smoke from the fire. 

Much of my book, "A Long Paddle Home" was written within the lodge while the wilderness played it's symphony and firelight danced on the canvas walls.

When your mind struggles for clarity and your body is filled with anxiety, settle into the comfort of a tent and you will find much needed solace. If that tent happens to be a tipi, you will discover that no amount of effort is required for you to relax, the lodge does the work for you.  


The poles connect the earth to the sky, and the fire completes the circle. Energy is channeled straight into the lodge and your ancient soul will respond.


Please refer to my YouTube video on how to remove the cover.   Taking Tipi Cover Down

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Restoration of a 1956 Peterborough Canoe.

Canoes are the quintessential water craft of the Canadian wilderness. These little vessels were used as a primary means of travel well into the 1800's by people who lived along the waterways located throughout the country. 

The canoe depicted here was built by the Peterborough Canoe Company in 1956. They named her the Minetta. This canoe has a mid-ship depth of 30.5 cm. (12 Inches) and a beam of 84 cm. (33 Inches) and she is 457 cm. (15 ft.) long.  She has rocker and tumblehome  designed into her hull which makes this little boat a thrill to paddle, but you have to be careful because she can be real touchy and dump you if she's not treated right.  

I found her in a carport where she was being used to hold firewood. The canvas cover was rotted and her ribs were in danger of splitting. 

I re-canvased her within a few days of getting the canoe home. I did a haphazard job yet she carried my son and I on several long canoe trips without complaint.  

I decided to strip the canoe down to it's ribs and refinish it properly. The picture above depicts the extent of hull rot that I had to carve out of her. 


After extensive repair to ribs, keel, thwarts and gunwales, I sanded her down and decided to add a thin coat of fiberglass cloth to her stern and bow. I do realize this is an affront to canoe craftsman; however, I never professed to be a craftsman.


With the ribs repaired and the planking back in place; it was time to put the canvas on. I rigged up a stretcher using ratchet straps and pulled the canvas as tight as I possibly could. Then I slipped the canvas over the canoe's hull and tacked it in place. 



The next stage was to paint a canvas sealer over the hull to ensure the canoe would be water tight. 


As the canvas dried, I had to reinstall the old seats to ensure upper hull integrity. 


My next task was to install the new gunwales which was a task in and of itself. I had to steam the wood in order to obtain the various bends required to fit the hull.  Then I varnished the canoe with several coats of high performance marine grade varnish. This step had to be done with great care and patience. Mistakes here would make or break the finished product. 


The new seats were then installed along with a new yolk. 


The final stage of the rebuild was painting the hull. This again was accomplished using high grade marine paint and a heap-load of patience. 

The very last stage was to apply the Peterborough decals to the decks and the brass prow strips to the bow and stern.  


The moment had come; after several months of patient work, I lowered her into the water and held my breath. Gently pushed by a slight wind she responded by trying to weather vane. She felt alive.
I climbed into her bow and faced the stern. Plunging my paddle deep into the water I pulled the canoe up to hull speed and fell in love with the little boat that was once used as a fire-wood holder. 
She responded to my influence like a well trained horse, turning on a dime with a deft stroke of my paddle we returned to the center of the pond and I laid in her hull for well over an hour. I wanted to feel my pulse mesh with the hull. To say that I was elated would be an understatement. 




This canoe paddles like a dream and is the fastest boat I have ever paddled. She sheds high waves due to her tumblehome and she can carry a heavy load without complaining. The designers of this canoe knew exactly what they were doing. 

The Peterborough Minetta was produced between 1948 and 1963. The model number is 1815 followed by the serial number. Unfortunately the numbers were part of the rot I had to cut out on this one. I will never know her true build date.  


 Wood canvas boats are my favorite, as I stated before, no other canoe moves like them. I often tell people that these boats feel alive when you are in them. 

My average trip length is a minimum of 130 Km. with many portages. I refuse to use my Minetta on such journeys - she is tough but the work I put into her was so extensive I don't want to repeat it. 

I take her off the rack when I want to cruise a wilderness lake and limit portages to a bare minimum. She is quiet and swift, allowing me to pass unseen by campers as they sit around a fire as the stars circle Polaris. 

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Easy build survival stove.

Tin cans have been utilized as makeshift stoves for many years. The tin-can stoves became known as Hobo stoves due to the fact that they were used extensively during the great depression as people drifted around the country looking for work. 

As a survival or camp stove, the tin-can stove is perfect. It will boil water in less than five minutes, it is easy to make and it is lightweight.  There is no need to carry bulky propane canisters or white gas containers and it is easy and safe to use.  

If you create a rock cairn around the stove, you can place your pan on the rock-rim and efficiently direct the heat to cook your food. 

When you are cold and wet from a long haul through the portage trail, this little stove is a quick way of warming up before hitting the rain laden lake for the next leg of your journey. 

The only downfall to this little stove is the noise it makes as it clangs off your backpack when you move down the trail. Stuff it with leaves and forest debris and that will help solve the issue of noise. (Unless of course you feel more comfortable letting the wild ones know you are coming.) 

I make these stoves very plain and simple. There are many fancy designs floating around on the internet. As long as you have a loading/air intake hole at the bottom of the stove - it will work perfectly.  

Give this little stove a try, I am sure you will love it. 

Sunday, March 22, 2020

If an owl lands close to you, is it an OMEN?

To some, the owl is a harbinger of bad news. If a person should encounter one of these winged predators during the course of their day or night, bad luck will surely follow. 

The only time that portent could be possibly relevant is if a person should suddenly find themselves transformed into a rodent, bird or rabbit. 

With acute senses, these birds of prey hunt with unrivaled accuracy. Their eyes are capable of capturing enough light that even though you literally can't see the hand in front of your face, they can see the buttons on your shirt. Their ears are situated on their head in such a way that the roundness of their face acts as a sonic dish allowing them to hear the slightest of rustlings on the forest floor.

The wing tips of an owl are softened allowing them to fly soundlessly. As their wings push the air downwards while in flight, their wing tips lift and dump the captured air in such a way that no sound of their flight can be intercepted by their prey. 

I have had many encounters with owls. On one occasion, a barred owl swooped down and took the hat off of a fellow paddler while we were traversing a small pond. I may have incited the owl to do this by mimicking the owls territorial call. The winged predator decided to show us who was in charge. 
The reaction of my friend dumped us into the shallow water and after the shock wore off we laughed until our sides hurt. I am sure the owl watched the entire show. 

Laying within your tent, your head cushioned by a pack or pillow and your eyes scanning the nylon walls which seem illuminated by the darkness of the forest night. Your ears will reach out instinctively and scan the forest for sound. If you are lucky, you will hear an owl call out into the night. A soft sound which echoes through the forest and resonates off cliffs and trees. It will enter your consciousness and instantly propel you into the primitive world to which we once belonged. Call back as best you can, you may be answered. This time the owl will answer from very close by indeed, for this bird is territorial and will investigate even the worst of imitations of it's call. 


Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Staying grounded when things are messed up.

Pondering the world from the seat of a canoe as you traverse a lake or river is always rejuvenating.

As you pull your paddle through the water, you open your mind and soul to realities which are normally hidden. The living world around you becomes tangible and you become part of a vast group of interconnected creatures. The longer you paddle, the more you connect to the environment through which you travel. Given enough time, something wonderful happens; you realize that you have become part of everything that surrounds you and your mind switches gears. Your spiritual mind comes out of hiding. 

Now you see things from a different perspective, you are open to thoughts which are not polluted by social engineering. You are free - no drugs or alcohol required.

Grab a paddle and plunge it deep into the water. Pull yourself forward and leave your worries behind. It works for me and I am sure my fellow paddlers would agree.

Just remember to treat the wilderness as you would your home, for in truth, it is the only home that really matters. 


Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Combating Fear and Panic.

For most people, life seems to be a series of random events which bounce us around as if we are a ball in a pin-ball machine. 

Society has set our expectation's to an untenable level and chains us to a treadmill which never stops turning. 

Every now and then, circumstances beyond anyone's control are thrust upon us and force us to ponder our place in the grand scheme of things. 

Fear and panic run together. They are a predatory force which will destroy your empathy and compassion. They will infect your mind and create illusions which simply are not real. 

The ability to combat fear resides in all of us. Focus on something that is close to your soul. If that something is not possible to do at the present moment, remember the last time you did it. Taste it with your memory. I am sure that reason will prevail and you will get off the treadmill which goes to nowhere. 

For me, that something is my canoe and paddle. The feel of the boat as it slides across the water lulls my mind into a state of wonder and rapture.

The ice will soon be off the lakes and rivers. When the water opens it's eyes to the sky, my paddle will dig deep and propel me into new adventures and discoveries. 

To all my fellow paddlers; wax your hulls and prepare your gear, brother Sun is clearing the way. 


Tuesday, March 10, 2020

How to create an incinerating barrel

When you live in a relatively remote place, it is important to dispose of your refuse properly. Bears and other wild ones will be drawn to your house if the garbage is stored close by. 

I burn my garbage in the contraption shown in the video. It is a simple barrel modified for air flow. The heat of the fire pulls fresh air in through the opening at the bottom and a tornado effect ensues. 

This setup will incinerate everything you put in it.

To cut the hole, I used a cordless grinder with a cutoff disk. It took me about twenty minutes to make and I have used the same barrel for about 5 years.

The bottom has rotted off of it and the sides are wearing thin, but it still does the job. 

Since employing this method, garbage altercations between me and the wild ones have completely vanished. 


Sunday, March 8, 2020

A Winter Walk in Algonquin Highlands.

The March sun fills the forest with a warmth which has been absent for several months. 

As the sun stretches the shadows from the trees, I wander through the woods with no destination in mind. Animal tracks dictate my direction of travel.  

Wandering in this fashion allows one to purge the concerns of tomorrow and live for the very moment in which you find yourself. 

Even if it is just a fleeting release from the realities of the man-made world in which we all must function, taking a walk in a place where trees grow and wild ones walk always returns me to a place within myself which I call home. 

Whenever you get a chance to drift away from everyone and wander through the woods, don't hesitate, jump right in and lose tomorrow for today. 


Thursday, March 5, 2020

The wild ones follow my sled trail.

I have several trail cameras set up at strategic points within the forest which I call home. 

Seeing the tracks of the wild ones and trying to discern the animals movements and actions from the tracks is something I love to do. To have my thoughts verified or nullified by camera footage is a great way to hone my skills as a tracker. 

Deer have a tendency to yard up in the winter. Simply stated, they stay in areas which provide them enough browse for food and can be easily navigated. This is a survival strategy which has existed for thousands of years. 

White tailed deer go into a state of lowered metabolism during the cold months. This allows them to survive during a time when food is scarce.

Feeding deer in the winter raises their metabolism and can actually be detrimental if one cannot keep a constant supply of feed for the deer. The animal's will not be able to survive the winter in this heightened state if the food source is not constant. 

Deer, like us, will take advantage of hard packed trails for the simple purpose of energy management. 

The Algonquin Wolf is an expert at energy management. It too will follow the trails laid down by my sled. This animal is integral to the survival of the natural forest. It keeps the deer moving and ensures their population will not strip the forest bare of vegetation. The wolf and deer were together long before ships landed on the shores of what is now called North America. 

Next time you see a wolf print superimposed on a deer print, be assured that you are walking in a forest which is still intact and natural. 


Sunday, March 1, 2020

Keeping the trails groomed.

When the snow gets deep in the woods, the wild ones follow in each others foot prints creating trails which crisscross the forest. 

In the woods which I call home, there are many such trails which lead from feeding areas to sleeping areas. There are always stories written on the snow which, to the observant eye, will entertain the imagination for hours. 

I have always groomed trails through that same forest using my little Yamaha Bravo. It is light and maneuverable allowing me to go into areas modern machines can-not follow. 

The snow gets packed down by the sled and within a few hours, the wild ones are using the trail as if it were a sidewalk. Wolf, deer, moose and a host of other forest dwellers leave their footprints superimposed on the track impression of the Bravo. 

This video is a rear view look at the grooming process as I traverse my forest following and being followed by the wild creatures which reside within its shelter.   

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

TIMBERRRRRR! How to drop a tree.

Tree felling is not an easy task. It should be planned with precision to preclude collateral damage and to ensure you go home with the body parts you started with.  

I have spent many years in the woods cutting trees for firewood and wood-lot management. I have made many mistakes which have cost me many hours of wasted time and created dangerous conditions which could have potentially ruined the rest of my life. 

This method demonstrates a technique which I have adopted and has proved to work 100% of the time. As long as I don't get impatient. 

I only cull dead or dying trees. This is always done during the winter months as the work can be accomplished with the least amount of damage
to the surrounding bush. 

Please get professional training before attempting this kind of work. The training I took cured me of some very dangerous bad habits. 

Happy bush work. 

Sunday, February 23, 2020

A simple shelter for a night in the winter woods.

A winter night spent in the woods can be a very unsettling if one is unprepared. The cold hands of winter seep into your body and your civilized mind begins to fight against the intrusion. 

I have seen many shelters erected for the purpose of winter camping and most have their disadvantages.

The Quinzee is a snow-hut which takes huge amounts of energy to build and sleeping in it is akin to sleeping in an ice box. 

Brush shelters take a lot of time to construct and scar the land for years after you have moved on.    

The shelter depicted in this video is so simple it can be erected in the dead of night in about ten minutes. A fire will take about twenty minutes to set up and light. Within thirty minutes you will be relaxing within your warm shelter watching the fire's light flickering off the trees. 

It is very important to control your energy when traversing the winter woods. If you perspire, you will create a dangerous condition which could lead to hypothermia. 

This shelter takes very little energy to create and you will not sweat erecting it. Once a fire is going, the shelter's temperature will climb to many degrees above freezing. 

With a good supply of firewood and a good sleeping pad and bag, you will be able to fall asleep to the sounds of crackling wood and the call of the owls. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Sustainable firewood gathering.

Every year, I cut and split roughly two bush cords of wood which is used to heat my home. I always do this task during the winter months.  

A bush cord is measured as: 4 feet high, 4 feet deep and 8 feet long. Which is 128 cubic feet in volume. 

I haul the wood back to my dry-shed which houses 4 bush cords, this ensures that I have well seasoned wood to burn when the thermometer plunges.  

Winter is the best time of the year to collect firewood for many reasons. To name a few - damage to the land is minimized, (high importance in my opinion) the logs are easier to split and it is easier to drag the firewood out of the bush.   

I love working in the forest. It's a meditation of sorts. The stillness of the woods and the cold fresh air combine to create a perfect environment in which you can lose the cloak that society places on your back.  

I filmed this as a tutorial. My technique is safe but not perfect. I have had several close encounters with the dangerous end of the axe. I always work alone and therefore I would be in big trouble should I become injured. I do the best I can to stay focused on the job at hand.  

I only use wood from trees which have been toppled or broken by high winds and bug infestations. This has supplied me with wood for 30 years and has kept the forest healthy. 

With all that said, I hope you enjoy a few minutes of wood gathering in Algonquin Highlands. 

I have used the axe shown in this photo for at least 15 years. Three handles later, it is the best I have ever used. 

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