Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Seeking Solitude Canoe Trip

Hey Everyone
Just wanted to let you know that our Algonquin canoe trips are in full swing and we have many exciting trips planned for the rest of the summer. Call Wendy in our Northern Edge office or check out the website for more details.
I have just returned home from a week in the park on the Seeking Solitude trip and it was a truly magical experience. The beauty of the park at this time of year is unparalled, so many shades of green in the forest. Our trip coincided with the full moon and we watched her rise above the Algonquin hills each night before going to sleep under the stars. We got the chance to see lots of the local wildlife including; moose, muskrat, beaver, great-blue herons, american bitterns, loons snapping turtles and many other species. For the two nights we spent on Biggar lake we were the only people there and had the chance to experience the solitude and serenity that comes with spending multiple days in a wilderness setting.

We shared a lot of great food, amazing stories and laughter around the camp fire at night and grew into a 'tight-knit' family by the end of the week. I'm thankful to the land and the waters that we paddled together as well as to all those who joined us on this Algonquin wilderness adventure. Until next time.....

Happy paddling


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Urban Edibles

Over last weekend Earth Tracks ran an 'Urban Edible and Medicinal' Plants class in Toronto. The program was sponsored by the Pine Project and was a great success. We were close to High Park and had a reat opportunity to view some of the many plants that were begining to emerge from the soils after a long winter. Some of the many plants that we got to see and experience were dandelion, garlic mustard, common plantain, Burdock, curly dck, trilliums, blue cohosh, mayapple and many others. It was nic to be able to offer this class in the city and I was very happy to begin offering classes in combination with the Pine Project and look forward to offering many more programs through them in the coming years. The next scheduled program in Toronto will be from June 19-21st -- Wildlife Tracking and Nature Awareness

Enjoy the Spring!

**All Photos by Andrew McMartin (www.pineproject.org)

Drum Making Workshop

On the Weekend of April 18-19th Earth Tracks ran a 'Drum Making Workshop' at the Blue Canoe in South River. Everyone that participated learned a lot about making drums and working with hides and we made 8 new drums for the world. It felt good to facilitate this experience knowing that these people would use these drums in a good way. It is a sacred journey making a drum and I was truly impressed with the passion and enthusiasm that was brought by everyone involved. I'm looking forward to to offering another drum workshop in the fall. Keep an eye on the schedule on our website and feel free to contact me directly if you are interested. www.earthtracks.ca earthtracks@gmail.com
You can also visit our facebook page to see all of the photos from this event

Happy Drumming

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Ice Skating at the Edge

Spring is in the air up here in Algonquin country and there are signs of the changing of the seasons around every corner. The Crows and Gulls have returned and I’ve been watching the Ravens gathering nesting material for quite some time now. Makes me wonder how the Owls are doing and if there young have hatched yet? Owls are early nesters and the young are in the nest even when there is still snow on the ground. Amazing and powerful birds! This morning I crossed the lake with my ice skates and had a great time skating close to shore where the ice was smooth and solid. This is perhaps the last time that I will get to enjoy this experience and it was an incredible amount of fun! It is a really cool feeling to skate on a frozen lake with such an expansive view. I’ve included a video here of my morning skate for you to enjoy. Anyways we are busy planning for the upcoming season here at Northern Edge and our first canoe trip of the season is fast approaching in a little over a month. The Nipissing River Trip promises to be an exhilarating and exciting paddle across Algonquin Park. One of my favorite rivers to canoe. There’s still space on this trip, please visit the website for more information.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Wolf Sighting!

The other day I was heading back to the island and I had an amazing encounter with one of my favorite animals -- the Eastern Wolf! All of a sudden this wolf came out of the forest onto the snowbank beside the road and stopped, we gazed at each other for what seemed like an eternity (a few seconds!) before it retreated just into the trees. It then moved parralel to the road for about 75 feet before crossing in front of me. At this point I didn't have my camera ready, which was too bad, seeing as the wolf was only about 20' away. It was amazing and very powerful to see this beautiful animal so close. As it moved into the woods and across a frozen bog I quietly followed to the edge of he tree line and watched as it climbed a small hill and sat down looking back in my direction. We each stood silently for close to 5 minutes. The wolf then began to come back down the hill towards me and I managed to get this short video. What a gift to experience this moment. I spend so much time each winter trailing these animals and there has only been a few occasions when I have been fortunate enough to see one. After the wolf left I explored the woods where it had originally come from and found two beds located in a sunny opening in the forest. I followed the trail for a while and then decided to 'let it go', revelling in the events that had just unfolded. I'm thankful to this animal for letting me see it and for the many teachings that continue to come to me as a result of it. May the power of the Wolf continue to shine in the forests and hearts of all those it touches.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Success at the Ottawa Green Show

Wendy and I (Alexis) , set up at the ‘Go Green’ show in Ottawa this past weekend and it was a great success. The show ran on Saturday and Sunday and there were literally thousands of people who were in attendance. We were super-thrilled to talk about our own programs (Earth Tracks,Yoga Retreats and Adventures, Wilderness Arts/Canoe Tripping) as well as all of the programs that happen at the Edge including Shamanism, Creative Arts and Experiential Education. People showed a genuine interest in all facets of our programs and we met a wide array of folks eager to live and learn about ‘greener’ lifestyles.

It was nice to see some familiar faces at the show including people who have already visited the Edge as well as meet new people who will hopefully visit us this coming season. Throughout the weekend people stopped by our booth to ‘bang the drum’ and play with the hand and bow-drill techniques of making fire. Most people seemed to have this uncontrollable ‘urge’ or ‘calling’ to hit the drum. This makes sense, At the Edge we strive to fulfill these urges and callings through our programs/trainings and provide the space for people to learn, grow, rediscover and embrace thier true selves. To all those who stopped by our booth we thank you for sharing your stories and look forward to seeing you soon at Northern Edge Algonquin.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Winter Camping

The last couple of weekends I have been out with the Outdoor Recreation students from Brock University practicing our winter camping skills. We spent our time in the beautiful beech-maple forests of central Ontario near Dorset. Each weekend was quite different not only because of the diversity of each group, but particularily the weather. During the night on the first trip the temperatures plummeted to a chilly -30 degrees celcius and for the second trip it hovered around the freezing mark. On the first trip, the students were quite happy to have the shelter and insulation of the monstrous quinzee that they built for the second night. It had room for 8 people comfortably! While it was negative thirty outside it was a 'balmy' 0 degrees inside. What a difference! On both trips most of our time was spent learning how to set up and maintain a proper winter camp along with the many lessons of how to stay warm. We also had time to explore the bogs and hills of this area looking for signs of the local wildlife that live in these forests. Some of the tracks that we saw included Fisher, marten, flying squirrel, raccoon, Blue Jay, Red Squirrel and some old wolf trails. We also got to investigate the many bear claw marks climbing the beech trees looking for the tastey and nutritious beech nuts. One group had the magnificant experience of hearing the wolves howl as they combed the hillsides and bog lands looking for thier main source of food -- The white-tail deer. They even responded to the howls of the students as they tried to communicate to these majestic animals of the Canadian Wilderness. I'm thankful to have had the time to spend with this group of people and look forward to many more successful winter camps in the future.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Algonquin Winter Wildlife Tracking

I have just recently returned from our annual winter wildlife tracking trip in Algonquin Park. This marks my 9th year at this program who is organized through White Pine Programs and my close friend Dan Gardoqui from Maine. As always it was a great week of tracking and we found tracks and trails of many animals including wolf, moose, marten, fisher, otter, mink, beaver, snowshoe hare, flying squirrels red fox and many others. We continue to experience epic tracking on this trip year after year and learn a great deal about these animals and how they survive and relate to this beautiful landscape. After a couple days of warm weather before the trip the temperatures dropped to below freezing and a nice 'crust' layer formed with a trace of snow on top leaving a great substrate to record the tracks of the many animals that we tracked. After a couple days of building, there were so many tracks registered in the snow that it was a little tricky deciphering the different ages of the trails that we followed.

At the beginning of each day Dan and I would be out in the early hours 'scouting' for wolf sign crossing the highway and determining the plan for the day. We spent the first few days following at least 3 different packs of wolves as they moved across frozen lakes and traversed the rocky hills in the southern part of the park. There were literally thousands of perfect wolf tracks left for us to read and follow. At night we would follow up our day of tracking researching and striving to answer some of the many questions posed by our discoveries that day. We also managed to sneak in some slideshows on local wildlife as well as some informative presentations on the current tracks and sign evaluations taking place in the U.S. One of the local wolf biologists also came and talked to us about some of the current research happening in the park which helped the participants to gain a deeper understanding of the Eastern Wolves and thier current status in Ontario.
This is definately one of my favorite trips of the year and I continue to look forward to it each February. A week of tracking in such a beautiful place with a small and eager group of people is hard to beat.
For a full array of photos from our trip please visit our Earth Tracks facebook page and become a fan while you're there.
Happy Tracking

Friday, February 6, 2009

Wilderness Canoe Tripping Schedule 2009

Well.....Here's is the Earth Tracks Wilderness Canoe Tripping Schedule for 2009!
All of these trips I will be guiding personally. Earth Tracks has partnered with Northern Edge Algonquin in running these trips and we are excited to further this relationship. For more info please visit thier website http://www.northernedgealgonquin.com/ or the Earth Tracks site at http://www.earthtracks.ca/

Nipissing River Trip: May 2nd - 9th

Waterfalls, Watercolours and Wanderings: June 11th - 16th
Waterfalls, Watercolours and Wanderings: June 25th - 30th
Seeking Solitude: July 2nd - 8th
Morning Tea with Moose/Wilderness Awareness: July 9th - 12th
The Way of the Naturalist: July 16th - 21st
Morning Tea with Moose/Wilderness Awareness: July 23rd - 26th
Wolf Howl: July 31st - August 3rd
Tracking the Wildlife of Algonquin Park: August 27th - 31st
Wolf Howl: September 24th - 27th

Following is a list of Canoe Trips that I am organizing for Northern Edge Algonquin. These trips will be facilitated by very competant and experienced guides other than myself.

Morning Tea with Moose: July 2nd - 5th
Yoga Canoe Trip: July 9th - 12th
Morning Tea with Moose: July 16th - 19th
Yoga Canoe Trip: July 31st - August 3rd
Seeking Solitude: August 6th - 12th
Wolf Howl: August 13 - 16th
Wolf Howl: August 27th - 30th
Wolf Howl (Womens Only): September 4th - 7th
Waterfalls, Watercolours and Wanderings: September 10th - 15th
Yoga Canoe Trip (Womens Only): September 17th - 20th
Heart of Gold: September 24th - 30th

I hope to see you on one of our many Canoe Trips this season. Please give us a call or email if you are interested in any of these trips. earthtracks@gmail.com 800 953 3343

Winter Time @ The Edge

Things have been moving at ‘winters pace’ around here lately. Yesterday morning the mercury read -35 degrees and everything was laying pretty low waiting for the morning sun to break the deep freeze that has set in the last couple of days. Imagine being one of the many animals that live in the forests here, what would you be doing in these temperatures. It made me think of the Native Algonquin people who are the original habitants of this land. Traditionally this area including Algonquin Park was utilized by small family groups who would break from the larger villages and spread out across this bountiful land to hunt for the winter. Would they be ready for the winter to transition into spring? What kind of shelters would they be living in? What would thier daily routines be like? These people blended with the landscape and were a natural part of the eco-system. The original caretakers of this land. I was thankful for these people who went before us. How can we follow in thier footsteps? How thankful are we for the gifts and comforts that we have in this day and age? How can I be the most effective caretaker of this land? What gifts and visions do I have for the future? Just some of the questions that I asked myself as I walked across the frozen lake towards the Edge. Today is a beautiful day, a new day. May we walk our paths in a sacred manner for the future generations.

Alexis Burnett

Traditional Hide Tanning Class

Earth Tracks partnered with Sticks and Stones Wilderness School to run the Traditional Hide Tanning Workshop in Caledon, Ontario over this cold, wintery weekend in January. We had a great indoor workspace complete with woodstove and shelter from the elements. We taught the ‘dry-scrape’ method of working buckskin and managed to do 5 hides from start to finish. It was amazing to watch participants work through the process with such enthusiasm and

determination. It was no small feat, but we managed to complete each stage and ’smoke’ each hide on the last day of the class. Below are some of the many photos that we took over the course of the program showing each of the stages that we went through. It never ceases to amaze me how you can transform a ‘green’ or ‘wet’ hide into a beautiful piece of buckskin. We are going to offer this class again in the fall time -- October 8-11th 2009. More info and photos from this class can be found on the website. http://www.earthtracks.ca/

The Way of the Naturalist Class

Well, I've been back from out west for about a month and a half and things have been moving along steadily. Catching up on a lot of things and getting ready for a new year of programs and canoe trips. Recently I just returned from a couple of weeks in southern Ontario where I ran a couple programs and lead a few nature interpretive/tracking walks for Brock and Mcmaster Universities. Everything turned out to be a great success and I made some new contacts and friends in my travels.

Here’s a few photos from the Way of the Naturalist class sponsered by the Brock outdoors club at the university. Unfortunately we didn’t take too many photos, but we did have a great time studying and learning about the natural world. This class focuses on how to go about studying nature and developing your core naturalist skills. We spent our time learning about Hazards, Mammals, Plants, Trees, Birds and how to journal and identify them in the field. We split our time between class room learning and walking in the forest putting into action the skills and tools that we learned inside. We also had some fun delving into the worlds of tracking and bird language. Two skills that have the ability to greatly enhance our awareness of the world around us. Learning how to track and move like the animals and utilize the knowledge of bird language can greatly increase our ability to move undetected through the forest and begin to experience nature like never before. These skills have the power to open up a whole new world and allow us to begin to unravel the many mysteries of nature.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Hiking on Lake Superior

I decided to spend a couple of days visiting a friend on Lake Superior near Wawa and it wasn't hard to pass the time in this spectacular place. The scenery was amazing and Superior is such a special and sacred place. There was a lot of snow in this area that comes in off the lake and it was a good idea to use snowshoes since it was so deep. The water was so blue and always never ceases to amze me. I could spend a lot of time in this area and look forward to coming back in the spring and paddling on the lake and on some of the many rivers located in this area.


After seeing the sheep on the pass I spent the night in Cranbrook with a friend and then made a 'straight-shot' from there all the way to the Manitoba/Ontario border. It was quite a mission, around 20 hours of driving. The prairies were locked in a deep freeze and I decided to cover ground while the roads were relatively clear and the temperatures were bone-chilling cold. It dipped down to -34 degrees C and felt like -45 with the windchill. I spent the next night in the car and managed to get 5 hours sleep before getting up and heading on. Around Ignace I found a spot where 7 wolves had crossed the road and there were some great tracks and trails in the snow. It was hard to not stop every 5 minutes as I was passing many animal trails in this beautiful northern Ontario wilderness. There were numerous wolf trails crossing the road along with many moose and deer as well. It was a great drive down to the head of lake Superior and Thunder Bay. From there I drove the last 5 hours in an intense snowstorm and spent the night with a friend just outside of Wawa. It was good to get of the roads and have a nice warm spot to spend the night.

Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep

On my way out of the Kootenays I came across this herd of Rocky mountain bighorn sheep on the Salmo-Creston pass. It was cool to see these animals so close and to be able to examine thier tracks. My friend and I had been talking about the difference between the tracks of deer, sheep and mtn goats so this was a good chance to compare. Can you see the difference between these tracks and the tracks of a deer? Notice the 'blockiness' and elongated shape of the shhep compared to the round and 'heart-shaped' tracks of a deer. These animals were making thier way along the side of the road and feeding on shrubs as they went. There were a few mature rams and many younger animals mixed in with this herd of 18 animals.

3 for 3 of Wild Felines

Up to this point I had spent time trailing mountain lions and lynx, but had only found one single bobcat track in some exposed soil in the forest. A friend of mine was on his way up the mountain to visit us and he ended up coming face to face with a bobcat that was hunting along the edge of the logging road. He saw it a couple of times as it made its way up the mountain. What an experience. Later that day we ventured down the hill to look at the tracks and we were greeted with some super clear bobcat prints! It was exciting to follow this animal and see the difference in the size between its other wild relatives. There was a point where it went up an embankment and investigated what we believed to be an old bear den. This cave under the rock went in at least 10 ft. and had plenty of room for an animal even as big as a bear to take shelter. I was very happy to have seen these tracks and thankful for all the animals that I had tracked up
until this point.