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