River Of Fire: Book Review

“….Ontario author and canoeist Hap Wilson has written Lake Superior to Manitoba By Canoe, his account of his work establishing a 1,200-kilometre water portion of the Trans Canada Trail. Wilson provides maps and GPS co-ordinates for readers interested in tracing his route themselves. The book, from Firefly Press, also includes stories of bear confrontations, being struck by lightning and enduring ticks, blackflies and mosquitoes, which might be better experienced second-hand.” ~ Bob Armstrong, Winnipeg Free Press.

See the full review and more: Paddler recounts epic canoe journey by Bob Armstrong of the Winnipeg Free Press. Plus, don’t miss the book launch September 28th. See more: River Of Fire Fall Book Launch.

Hap, Andrea & Cabin Falls at the Toronto Outdoor Adventure Show

Yes! It’s that time of the year again, when all the paddling and outdoor explorers gather for one spectacular weekend of presentations, demonstrations, as well as Canada’s largest showcase of outdoor gear and adventure travel experiences, all at the Toronto – OAS 2016.

Hap and Andrea wait out a storm while out mapping the route for the TCT

Hap and Andrea wait out a storm while out mapping the route for the TCT

This year, look for Hap and Andrea at their NEW Cabin Falls Ecolodge booth, where there will also be books and other Hap Wilson works available. Plus, be sure to catch Hap at the Paddler’s Pavilion, where he will be presenting this year’s topic: TEMAGAMI.

Temagami poster 2016

Plus, receive a discount off the cost of your admission ticket to the Toronto Outdoor Adventure Show when you print out the coupon image (see coupon image below) or purchase your tickets online using the promo code: HAPWILSON

OAS-Toronto-Speaker-coupon-HAPWILSON

OAS 2016 Show Info
Show Hours
Friday, February 19, 2016, 11am – 8pm
Saturday, February 20, 2016, 10am – 6pm
Sunday, February 21, 2016, 10am – 5pm


Admission: (Don’t forget the coupon or online promo code above!)
Adult: $14
Youths 12 – 17: $12
Seniors 60+: $12
Weekend Pass: $18
Children 11 & under are free

For more information, or to purchase your tickets online, see: http://outdooradventureshow.ca/toronto/show-info/

You definitely don’t want to miss this!

Hap & Andrea take 2nd: MRX – Coureur des Bois

Hap & Andrea place second in their category (C-2 co-ed) for the 220km Coureur des Bois – Muskoka River X Classic adventure marathon canoe race!


Hap and Andrea have taken on the MRX every year since its inception. Their first year they finished, winning the award for heaviest carry, with the second year seeing them having to pull out due to injury. This year, when the River X crew announced an expansion course to the Muskoka River X Classic with the Coureur des Bois, Hap and Andrea signed up immediately for the epic challenge.

“Building on the heritage of the canal expeditions of the 1800’s, the Coureur des Bois Teams will travel along the expedition routes of these early explorers as they traverse Algonquin Park east to west from Whitney to Oxtongue Lake. After an overnight layover at Oxtonque and using only the supplies that are carried with them, teams will then merge with the MRX Classic on Lake of Bays on day two. Paddling the full north-south length of Lake of Bays the Coureur des Bois’ will complete stages 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the MRX Classic before returning to Huntsville.” ~MRX Website

A totally self supported race, the teams had to paddle 220km in under 48 hours or less to complete the Coureur des Bois and MRX Classic. An amazing feat to be sure! So a hearty congratulations and paddles up to Hap and Andrea, as Team EcoTrailbuilders, for finishing with an impressive 2nd place win in the C-2 co-ed category for the Courier des Bois, as well as to all the paddling adventurers who took on this incredible marathon challenge! Read Hap’s full account of their gruelling race experience below:


Each year we ask ourselves…why are we doing this? I don’t really have an answer for that; after all – we are trippers – not racers, even though we like to challenge ourselves every so often. But why would anyone want to canoe race over 220km. through beautiful backcountry wilderness in 36 hours when it usually takes two weeks time to REALLY enjoy the experience! And it’s a tough route: Andrea and I had never paddled the park south of Hwy. 60… one of the reasons we signed up for the race. And because our fall schedule is so tight, we had only a couple days open to experience it, sure, as we sped by at 10kph (that is, when we weren’t stopped to boil up a pot of tea). The race route chosen was perfect and hats off to Mike and Rob for putting all this together – not to mention Rich Swift and Algonquin Outfitters as key sponsor. We felt pretty strong this year after a heavy expedition and ecolodge schedule but – let me tell you – we are both hurting now! Lifting this mornings’ coffee cup was about all we could handle.

Photo Credit: Muskoka River X (via Facebook page)

Hap and Andrea during the pre-race check • Photo Credit: Muskoka River X (via Facebook page)

The route through the park was a mix of pretty lakes (starting at Whitney), Rock, Pog and Lake of Two Rivers, then entered a labyrinth of creeks that got several teams mixed up trying to find the right channel along the Madawaska. A meandering creek at this point, taxing everyone’s energy…throw in a few good portages (over 4,000m. in all first day) and by the time we reached Tea Lake (around 4pm…one hour before they close off the race) we were feeling the gnaw of fatigue. The termination time of 5pm. was tight but race officials didn’t want paddlers running the Oxtongue too late into the night. As it were…we still hit dark at Twin Falls and Ragged Chutes, having to navigate several rather gnarly C1’s by headlamp (apologies to Bill Swift who loaned us the Swift Winisk for the race…yes, we put a few scratches on the bottom). We finished up around eight or nine, 14 hours total time which we were pretty pleased with, set up camp at AO and managed a pretty good sleep.

RACE DAY TWO: Wake up call came too early – five-o’clock and we packed up feeling okay, except that I had forgotten to pack the coffee! Andrea and I can’t function without the caffeine in our blood so we were both off the morning of the second day.

Mornings are generally hard enough, for me, anyway, and I know Andrea was hurting after Day One. It took the whole of Lake of Bays, navigating big rollers coming down the lake, to start feeling better, sort of…but after a hard tripping year and trailbuilding season, we have a lot of resident injuries and joint pain to contend with. After Baysville things got a bit better and we started to get into a rhythm.

Hap & Andrea (Team #9 EcoTrailbuilders) near the head of the pack during MRX Classic portion of the race.

Hap & Andrea (Team #9 EcoTrailbuilders) near the head of the pack during MRX Classic portion of the race.

By this time, the other racers doing just the RiverX (who started at Huntsville – we started at Dwight Beach), started to mix and the river was a little congested at the rapids, people piling up at portages. Andrea and I started taking longer breaks, boiling up tea, lunch break under the pines, while other racers sped by (we would catch up and pass later…it took us longer on the portages because we had heavier, 2-days gear load but we could make up time paddling once the ibuprofen and honeyed tea kicked in). Thanks to the Muculloch family for their support too – it was certainly a lift to see them as we approached Bracebridge, and to Andrea’s mom for cheering us on at Baysville.

We kept up a good pace through Bracebridge and pell-melled it through up the North Muskoka to High Falls just as dark set in – two portages that can be a bit confusing to do by headlamp. Had a 45 minute dinner, hot drink before setting off upstream in the dark. No fog this year but we could feel the cold of the night creep in slowly. The riffles and current were, again, a tough negotiation and we walked up one in our barefeet so we could keep our shoes dry. Made it to the checkpoint at Port Sydney and sat in the heated shelter and made more tea. The warm tent initiated a desire to sleep. We figured we had spent over 2-hours during our race time just making tea and meals along the way, but it also helped us mentally to deal with the hardships. Mary Lake was difficult, windy, intimidating as waves constantly edged the gunnels wanting to flip the canoe, taking an inordinately long time to reach the north end. Last portage and the notion that we would make the distance in relatively good time – a couple hours better than two years ago, and a total of 36 hours for the entire 220km.

MRX CdB 2015 - Hap & Andrea's Live Map

Andrea and Hap’s route as marked out by the AO MRX CdB Live Map

But the best thing about this race can be attributed to two things: first of all – the beautiful wilderness Muskoka and Algonquin Park own, sometimes taken for granted; secondly; the people you meet along the way…other like-minded folk (maybe a bit crazy too) who love the challenge, stop to help you out in difficult situations, and to Mike, Rob, Rich and all the sponsors and volunteers who work hard to provide the experience for all to enjoy. Next year? Andrea and I will let you know after the aches and pain subside.

Heart of the Continent Book – A CALL TO ADVERTISERS

Heart of the Continent by Hap Wilson

 

CALL TO ADVERTISERS:

Resource & Service pages have been dedicated for advertising space in Hap Wilson’s new book. One-quarter, half & full-page ad space is now available at a first-come, first-serve basis. These pages have been an important user-resource in Hap Wilson’s guidebooks over the years. For ad pricing and information please contact Eskakwa EcoAdventure Co. at:

Email: info@eskakwa.ca or call: 705-732-8254

HEART OF THE CONTINENT
Mapping Canada’s Canoe Route
Explorations from Lake Superior to Manitoba
By Hap Wilson Published by Firefly Books
Release Date: spring 2017 (Canada’s 150th.)

THE BOOK: A Brief Synopsis

Five years ago the Trans Canada Trail executives approached Hap Wilson about designing and mapping a canoe route from Lake Superior to Manitoba. Unable to build a land-based trail, the TCT had decided to earmark this National canoe route as an integral part of the Canadian cross-country trail system. Dedicated to Canada’s First Nations and canoeing icon Bill Mason, the route is called Path of the Paddle, tracing a diverse route over 1,000 kilometers from Thunder Bay to Whiteshell Park in Manitoba. Following the historic Pigeon River and the Gunflint Route, Path of the Paddle uses a little known route through Quetico Wilderness Park, north beyond Atikokan and the Turtle River Waterway system, up to Dryden and on to Kenora, finishing up along the Winnipeg River and Whiteshell Provincial Park in Manitoba. The book also includes many adjoining routes, kayak and paddleboard touring destinations, and local hikes up some spectacular vistas. Maps are hand-drawn with an artistic, historic look approach, detailed for safe navigation, with drawings, charts and photographs, along with journal notes. As with any Hap Wilson guidebook, this project has taken several years of intense field and studio work to complete; scheduled for release of spring 2017 as a celebration for Canada’s 150th. birthday.

Monthly information will be available for viewing by checking back here for updates at hapwilson.com.

New Book by Hap Wilson with Firefly Books: Coming Spring 2017

Firefly Books Logo

There is a new book by Hap Wilson in the works along with renowned publisher, Firefly Books. With the release date set for spring 2017, and in celebration of Canada’s 150th Birthday, the book has been given the title:

 

HEART of the Continent”
Mapping Canada’s Canoe Route
Explorations from Lake Superior to Manitoba

photo by Hap Wilson, new book to come

 

The book will include Hap’s photography, illustrations, maps, and journal notes. Be sure to watch Hap Wilson’s Facebook page, Twitter, and this blog for more details as they become available to the public. Also be sure to follow Firefly Books on Facebook and Twitter for all their great publications!

 

 

Hap to present “Canoeing’s 10 Best Travel & Survival Tips” at Toronto Adventure Show

Catch Hap and Andrea at the Toronto Adventure Show this February 20 -22, 2015 where Hap will be presenting: “Canoeing’s 10 Best Travel & Survival Tips” at the Adventures in Paddling Stage!

OAS COUPON - Hap WilsonPrint the above coupon image to receive a discount at the door or get a discount when you buy your admission tickets to the show online with the promo code: hapwilson

SCROLL DOWN FOR A PREVIEW of Hap’s presentation below:

OAS Speaker Schedule 2015

OAS Speaker Schedule 2015 (page 2)

 

“Canoeing’s 10 Best Travel & Survival Tips” – A PREVIEW

Venturing Outside the Box? – Turn wilderness survival into Comfortable Living.

Intro: quick basics…looking after the essentials.

Other “TIPS” will include:

  1. Choosing the right destination: from the Great Lakes to the Arctic
  2. Equipment: pros and cons (some innovations you can do without).
  3. Getting there: the infamous shuttle experience
  4. Guided or self-guided: reputation & experience.
  5. Food: inciting appetites and not riots.
  6. Kids & Pets: making the best decisions for those who can’t speak.
  7. Navigation aids: pros and cons
  8. Bears and Bugs: understanding that we are not on the top of the food chain.
  9. Technique: beyond videos, books and weekend clinics.
  10. Respect: No Trace Camping & the infamous inuksuk scandal.

View the above schedule in PDF format: OAS Theatre Speaker – HapWilson

Don’t forget to look for Hap and Andrea in the Swift Canoe & Kayak booth where you will catch them talking paddling and canoe tripping for most of the weekend! See you there…

She Said, He Said – Muskoka River X 2014

Muskoka River X 2013 - 5 Minutes After Start

Muskoka River X 2013 – 5 Minutes After Start

Last year, Hap and Andrea took part in first ever Muskoka River X with a finish time of 23:46:00.1, and this year the results for this world class expedition race showed exactly how challenging this marathon can be… Even more so than last year! Racers must complete a 130 KM route with 20 portages and all in less than 24 hours. Plus they are do do it completely self-supported. However, this year the gruelling adventure took place during some unseasonably cold and wet Ontario weather and, out of the 64 teams that started, only 44 arrived at the finish. Here is Hap and Andrea’s Muskoka River X 2014 report, starting with (the Queen of the Dreaded Portage) Andrea Wilson… 

She Said:

I heard the rain coming down hard on our steel roof when the alarm went off at 5:00am. I groaned and rolled over, dreading the next 24hrs. Hap, already up, brought me in a coffee (as he does every morning – I know, I’m a lucky lady!) and announced that we’d be leaving for the race in half an hour. No time to doddle but enough time to shove a third pair of wool socks and fleece zip-tee into our dry bag.

The rain had let up by the time we reached the start line and the Huntsville docks were full of eager paddlers and their friends and family. Thankfully, this year Hap didn’t hang back at the start and take photos while I froze in the bow seat. When the air horn went off, we slowly followed the masses under the bridge and then set into a strong and steady stroke. The morning was overcast…maybe it wouldn’t rain like it was forecasted after all???

No such luck. While paddling on Lake of Bays and admiring the many beautiful cottages along the way, the rain began again and remained on and off for the better part of the day. The wind picked up, creating swells on the big lake, which precipitated more steering and bracing the canoe than paddling forward. By the time we hit checkpoint one in Baysville we were absolutely drenched. As soon as I stopped paddling, I started to shake so I immediately changed into a dry shirt and second rain-jacket. Being used to paddling in all kinds of weather our spirits were still high, regardless; but, the looks on many of the other paddlers’ faces were grave.

Screen shot of the MRX 2014 Livemap - Team EcoTrailbuilders

Screen shot of the MRX 2014 Livemap – Team EcoTrailbuilders

The ride down the south branch of the Muskoka River was a blast – high water and lots of current; we were in our element! Not long onto the river, however, I felt a twinge in my left wrist but tried to ignore it. I’d slipped on some wet rocks while carrying lumber over a portage to our cabin in Temagami this summer. At the time, my wrist had bruised up within an hour. However, like the trooper I think I am, I decided to ignore it…chalking it up to building more “character.” The wrist hadn’t bothered me since the week I’d injured it…until now. Much of the way from Baysville to Bracebridge, I found myself gritting my teeth as we changed paddle sides…which is about every 10 strokes with a bent shaft paddle! So I knew by the time we hit the Mathiasville Dam that I was aggravating a relatively important joint in my body. If I pushed myself, I was afraid that I might cause permanent damage.

We paddled a little further before I got up enough courage to tell Hap that I thought maybe it best if we didn’t proceed past Bracebridge. Much to my (egotistical) relief, he too was feeling pain in the opposite wrist to mine. We agonized over pulling out of the race in Bracebridge – we’d never quit anything before…it’s not in our characters.

I think scratching from the race in Bracebridge was one of the most difficult decisions we’ve had to make. We were 2 hours ahead of our last year’s time and we were feeling strong, well fed and hydrated…and, of course, had another dry set of clothes for our evening paddle. We could have finished the race and reached our goal of knocking off a few hours from last year…but we were both in pain. I like to think it was wisdom that kicked in (and not the lure of a hot bath and a shot of scotch at home 😉 ) that made us pull out of the race. The remaining 45km out of a total of 130km would have to be traveled by us next year.

I think the Muskoka River X Challenge is a terrific adventure – rain or shine. Many thanks to Mike and Rob and their team of volunteers – they put on a top-notch event, which we always enjoy being a part of.

~Andrea Wilson

And we will end with Hap’s report…

He Said:

Having done the race last year we knew well what to expect this time. It was cold (but not freezing!) and strong winds would course broadside the long length of Lake of Bays. I had misgivings about entering this year because of joint injuries and an arthritic shoulder (not to mention I had just contracted our son’s sinus cold!). Not that I’m whining about it, we still have a very busy fall and direly need our faculties intact. I could put up with the pain, to a point; after all, having guided expeditions for over three decades part of the guide mantra is to be stoic in the face of adversity, right, like fending off polar bear visits, running Rocky Defile on the Coppermine and personal injuries or discomforts…fear or pain not to be worn on your sleeve in front of clients (in this case my wife…who had to also deal with her own injuries). That being said, we dove into this insane race with bated optimism and some angst, tagged on to a liberal dose of ego (we don’t quit anything, or so we thought).

Hap at the start of Muskoka River X 2014, captured by Andrea.

Hap at the start of Muskoka River X 2014, captured by Andrea.

 

It is, nonetheless, what one would consider a ‘compact’ adventure, or a weeks’ canoe trip rolled in to one 24-hour blitz as one friend had remarked to us. Rob and Mike are top-notch organizers who do not leave out any details, concerns or personal care. It is impressive to see the dedication to both the Big East and River X races by these guys, coupled with great sponsors and almost fanatical volunteers. And it’s good to see the race growing in popularity (there are more crazy people out there and that makes me feel good because I know I’m in good company!).

By the time we reached Bracebridge after pealing two hours off our last years’ time, still warm, well fed and hydrated we had to make a rather tough decision – to perhaps pull out early and prevent further damage to old wrist injuries that flared up. After 85 km. and an estimated time of completion computed at 19 hours, we decided to quit. For us that took more courage than paddling the remaining 45 km. to finish…as I said, we don’t quit at anything we put our minds to.

Andrea, my wife and paddling partner, never fails to astound me. Even though she had more anxiety about doing the race again than I did, she was the first to say “okay, next year, we can do it again, maybe get a faster canoe” and her enthusiasm is contagious. We are trippers first and always, as are the majority of racers, and it’s good to see such eclectic crazy canoeheads getting in to this masochistic competition; also great to hear of the ‘good Samaritan’ misadventures that befall the course, where canoeists/racers stop to help those in trouble.

Next year – for sure…we’ll be there again, injuries or not, maybe ramp it up to a faster canoe so that we can sneak into the top run category. Denial works well with getting older too. Maybe we’ll see the likes of Kevin Callan out there on the course next year – I understand he likes challenging canoe routes (but he once told me he doesn’t like paddling in cold weather…that’s just our secret, okay?)

~Hap Wilson

Read Hap and Andrea’s Muskoka River X accounts from last year here: She Said, He Said: Muskoka River X 2013 or view Hap’s 2013 Canoeroots feature on this epic race here: Hap, Muskoka River X, and Canoeroots Magazine. To find out more about the Muskoka River Xvisit their website or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Bala Falls Portage – A Much Broader Issue

Hap Wilson on the Bala Falls Portage Ban Controversy:

Ontarians should be outraged – at least those who value Canadian historic and prehistoric public lands. The Bala Falls Portage issue, recently covered by the Globe and Mail, is a much broader problem that needs serious investigation. Last winter I was called on by Swift River Power Corp. lawyers to stand as an expert witness for their team. I refused. I then became an expert witness for the Township of Muskoka Lakes who are fighting to stop the power development.

In my Wild Muskoka guidebook I had put an alternate portage on the north side of the falls predominantly for those beginning trips down the Musquash and Moon Rivers. This is the portage Swift River (and OMNR) prefer, of course, because they want to develop the historic portage site still used by local camps and paddlers. I was then grilled by Swift River lawyers about my choice of portage locations but I maintained that the historic portage was still in active use. Local historians (Shnier et al) proved the historic use of the portage by Thompson in the early 1800’s; I also maintained that from my own extensive travels on rivers, that the portage is located in the most likely place south of the falls.

 

Portage Ban - Ontarians Should Be OUTRAGED!

OMNR & Swift River won the first round in the courts and we all know that the appeal won’t look any better. I told the Globe and Mail in a short note that they need to look deeper into this issue. This has been happening across Ontario in a multitude of ways, i.e. OMNR placating to the whims of big business at the expense of self-propelled recreation interests.

Recently I talked with a spokesperson at the Culture & Heritage Ministry in Toronto who informed me that each OMNR District in the province is basically self-regulating; ha, no surprises there! That means they can stretch, or ignore certain aspects of the Public Lands Act or Heritage Acts based on current industrial or impact-tourism needs. OMNR closed off the Bala Falls Portage because of safety reasons…how absurd is this when you can easily name a hundred other similar locations exist on other rivers in the province. Does this mean that OMNR will shut-out paddlers from other locations based on liability fears (or big business interests)???

The township will lose the Bala Falls court appeal because, hey, the Crown-based Canadian legal system won’t want to compromise the peoples’ faith and trust in the present system – that the ministry overseeing our natural resources and Crown Land make the best collective decisions for the People…and we all know how well our fisheries and forests have been managed in this country!

OMNR can’t afford to lose this fight and the Crown judges know this. This is actually a huge precedent setting case in Canada but most people haven’t picked up on it yet. The Crown can’t lose because there would certainly be investigations and court cases pop up across the province – if not the country….and if you think Ontario Crown Lands are run by a bunch of bandits, you should see the internal machinations within the Crown ministries in Manitoba!

••••••

Written by Hap Wilson :: July 13, 2014, submitted via email.

For more information, visit savethebalafalls.com.

Hap To Speak At WCHA Convention

Another date to mark your calendars for! Hap has been invited to speak at the 35th anniversary of the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association Convention, Saturday July 19th. at St. Paul Smith’s College in the St. Regis Wilderness Paddling Area in New York, USA.

2014-Assembly-artwork-for-web-262x300

Hap’s talk will feature the latest news about the Path of the Paddle project and the Canadian adoption of canoe/water trails into the National Trails Heritage. Book signing and tall tales told! For more information, visit the WCHA website: www.wcha.org.

Don’t forget, Hap will be presenting this winter at the Toronto Outdoor Adventure Show as well!