22 October 2011


what is it? ..i wondered for so many years when i heard the word.. i wonder what it's all about. and i wish i would have looked into it sooner say, back in the day of cross country journeys! i'm still happy no less to have made the discovery. if you like to hike, and play videogames involving a mini map and a mission.. this game is for you!

all you need is access to the internet, a GPS device, and a sense of adventure. Geocaching is basically a global GPS treasure hunt. you log on to Geocaching.com to make a profile, pick a cache you'd like to find, log the coordinates into your GPS unit [or smartphone app], and go! when you find the geocache, you use stealth to retrieve it, sign the log book and maybe swap out a trinket. then you re-hide it exactly where you found it for the next person to find. when you go back home, log back on to the website and record your find. once you start to see the smileys pile up on your map, it's hard to stop.. this game is highly addicting!

these little treasures could be hiding anywhere, if there's a trail i can almost guarantee there's a cache to be found. and many, many urban caches as well. hanging in a bush, or in a stump or hollow tree, magnetized to the underside of something.. the hiding places and containers can get pretty creative. there's always a difficulty and terrain rating, so you can decide your route based on the weather, or how far you're willing to hike to make a find. also, this is a family game, kids love to seek the treasures and make a trade for something inside.

one awesome thing i noticed, a gloomy day with a bit of drizzle or occasional bouts of rain are the perfect days to geocache. days we wouldn't otherwise dream of taking a walk around the neighbourhood or even a hike.. and for just that reason, there's rarely anyone else around. which makes for quicker finds, and less of a need for extreme stealth. i spent 6 hours tromping around with an umbrella in hand, til i was covered to my knees in mud, and smiled the whole time. it's amazing how a simple game of hide and seek can make a rainy day outside so much more enjoyable.

once you've made a few finds to get the hang of what exactly a geocache is, and how they're put together, you can then make a successful hide. when you hide a cache, you are responsible for keeping it maintained, which is yet another excuse to get outside and revisit your favourite park or path or neighbourhood. pick a place you would want others to discover, that is my favourite part about geocaching. many times i have found a path or place or a view i would have never otherwise found.. even in my hometown!

it's been a busy year this time around, full time work, gardening, and learning about Permaculture. i haven't had the time i would have liked to hit the trails and camp out, so geocaching has been the perfect excuse i needed to take a hike. there are sections of trail i have been meaning to get to for months, and i'm so glad i went out geo hunting, as i may not have made it to these particular trails at all this year. now that i'm into the game, i've been planning hikes, camping trips and even speculating the possibility of taking a 'vacachen'!

...GEOCACHING! [lol] <3

22 May 2011

Barefoot Steppin'

i can't stand wearing shoes. in elementary school i got in trouble for running around class sock foot.. in high school i always had to kick off my shoes under my desk. to this day i'm known as the crazy hippy that walks home from work without shoes. as soon as i'm out the door the shoes come off and are strapped to my backpack.

the climate zone i have made myself a home in happens to experience winter. it's a long 6 months of footwear. the transition has become much easier since the introduction of my new favourite pair of shoes [if you can even call them shoes!] my Vibram FiveFingers. technically they're trail runners, but i use them in town as well. they get a lot of attention.. and nicknames ranging from things like 'ninja slippers' to 'monkey shoes'. they're pretty well a glorified toe sock with a super thin flexible sole, which allows freedom of movement for your feet and a bit of extra protection.

even still.. shoeless is preferred.

you could run a google search or ask an oldskool podiatrist, and you will find that being barefoot is generally much better for your overall health than constantly cramming your tootsies into a shoe. i know i feel better... it takes pressure off of my lower back, and of course i feel much more 'connected' than when i'm wearing shoes. i'd rather feel the ground beneath me, even if it means paying a little more attention to my step. after a while, paying more attention to your surroundings in general becomes second nature, and life seems to happen much more 'in the moment'.

all that being said, i'm not suggesting tossing out your shoes and running free completely just yet.. walking unshod takes some getting used to. if you have worn shoes every day for most of your life, you will need to build callouses to protect your soles. also, you will notice muscles in your legs and feet that you never knew you had, so it's best to start small and wander around the yard or neighborhood bits at a time to get a feel for it.

free your soles!

08 February 2011

Current Temp -11

Ah, here I sit on February 8, 2011 and it's well below zero outside (wind chill factor) and all I want to do is go for a walk, and I will.  Unfortunately it'll be my mile long trek into work for the night.  Not quite the walk I had in mind, but it serves a purpose none the less.  Being that it is so cold most walking in this type of frigid temperature would require some special gear, but I'm not walking that far and there is a fairly warm end in sight.  Winter coat, hat, gloves and my walking boots and I'm good to go.  (Damn what I've got to do to get myself hyped up to go into work.)

Anyhow, I sit.  Thinking about some "warmer weather" walking and I recall one of my last good hikes from the summer.  It was humidly awesome.  I worked up a good sweat, and though it was humanly engineered, it was mildly rugged terrain requiring only a low level of skill to beat.  It was an interesting path, though.  One of the best man made that I've seen.  It was mainly set in a ravine with only a little bit of water running through it.  I wouldn't want to be down there in a rain storm but it did make for an interesting hike.  Here I'll share a few pictures and lose myself in the memory of that hot afternoon.  A good thing to do on these cold days with cabin fever gnawing on my patience.

I shall get lost in my mind for a few more minutes before I set off into the cold night.  I just wanted to share a quick, story with some warm pictures for anyone else going a little stir crazy.  Warm weather isn't that far off, but don't let that keep ya from getting out there now.  Keep walkin!

30 January 2011

The Silent Hill

the Niagara Escarpment is a beautiful, peaceful place to be. especially in the winter, and especially at night. for reasons yet unknown, my good homie Kevin and i only ever choose nights when it's well below freezing to head out long after midnight with our camera gear and tripods.

we hit many spots that night, using his car as transportation between. by 2 in the morning we had parked the car on a road out by Brock University, and walked up to the Bruce Trail head at the top of the hill. we chanced the snowy trail and slightly slippery slopes in the dark to get up to the top for the best view. light pollution from the city below reflecting off the clouds, then off the snow on the ground makes it possible to see well enough at night for a winter hike.. and makes for some interesting photographs.

once at the top we set all our gear down for a moment of quiet reflection. looking down upon the city it seemed so distant.. no specific sounds were distinguishable, nothing but a quiet slur of white noise of muffled friday night traffic. it's so peaceful up there in the woods. no signs of other people, wind blockage from the tall stands of trees.. a good friend and some herbs to share. what more could i ask for?

of course, the excursion has re-sparked the urge to go winter camping. it's so quiet out there at night in the winter, so still. i'm hoping to get a chance before all the snow is gone and the bugs return. another awesome thing about sleeping outside in the winter- no mosquitoes!

01 January 2011

Last Trail Walk of 2010

it's been a bitter december so far. the past few weeks the Niagara region has been experiencing temperatures multiple digits below the freezing mark. finally, on the last day of the year we get a break and a thaw.. and a perfect last chance to hit the canal trail.

i usually travel along the west side of the canal, northbound to the forest patch and the lake. this time, i got to the road crossing to discover the whole northwest section is closed for construction.. till the end of april. i was about to turn back and head south instead, but i decided to cross the bridge to the other side. i have no idea why i don't venture over there more.. it's a dirt path surrounded by trees and farmland. and far less people.

i hit the homebase briefly after my midnight shift to switch out my backpack, then hit the path to catch the sunrise before it hid behind the clouds for the day. i snapped a pic or two, and caught the sea gulls hanging out on a frozen section of the lock.

once on the 'other side', it becomes quickly evident why there's not more people. much of the trail is frozen, soggy and muddy. perfect! solitude for the journey. i wasn't sure at first how far along the path i'd travel, as long as my face could handle the brisk wind coming off the water i suppose. the walk back would be better with the wind at my back.

i knew there was a spot further up that you can go right down to the water, a wee beach right in the canal. last time i was over there, an otter was showing off doing dives off the rocks. the path for the most part is a straight narrow shot along the canal, with small sidetrails that lead to farmer's fields and country roads.

the paths are mostly steep and muddy this time of year, but i managed to find one that wasn't too harsh a decline and wandered down. the wind atop the hill right by the water makes it difficult to light a spliff. down off the trail and into the woods a bit, there's blockage from the wind, a large fire pit, and a still quiet spot to sit.

my face lit with joy upon this place's re-discovery. i took off my pack and jacket and tossed it down onto an overturned shopping cart which was clearly being used as a bench. this is definitely someone's party spot, though it was kept surprisingly clean. it was very still and quiet. i took a moment to look up and enjoy the clatter of the birds up in the trees. a woodpecker was buzzing around me. it teased by taking flight every time the focus beep on my camera went off. i chuckled and put the camera away, just in time for a huge mother red tailed hawk to swoop down right in front of me.

winter is a good time to familiarize with the forest, and the contours of the land. without foliage it's much easier to see what lies ahead. and to remember for the spring where all the good hiding spots are, and potential camp or resting sites for hiking.

it's also a good time to learn the patience of each step. the ground is either frozen or muddy, either way it's very slippery. you must focus on your balance and keeping your weight over your center. the fresh crisp air is nice as well.

after making a herbal sacrifice to the trees, i wandered back up the hill and onward to the waterside. i found the little beach shortly after a part in the trail. there's a fire pit here as well, right down by the water. looked a little chilly with the huge chunks of ice beached up on the rocks. the canal alarm sounded off in the distance, and as the water level changed slightly i could hear the ice crackle and shift.

i trecked a little further down the trail until the clouds started getting darker and heavy. i turned around in time to miss the chilly rainfall. on the way back i let my mind drift to all the journeys of the year passed, and dreams for future hikes and travels.

Happy 2o11! happy trails...