Friday, July 6, 2012

Trapper Paddles and snowshoes

Lately I've been keeping busy in the shop working on another small order of paddles.  These all have the same blade design as well as a modified north woods grip.  The lengths vary from 55 inches to 59 inches.

I've also been working on a pair of Ojibway snowshoes for a client in Fond du lac.  The frames are ready for  the filling.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


I was digging around in some old papers the other day and came across some drawings that I did between 2001 and 2003and thought I'd post them here.  Hope you enjoy

 Fly fishing reel

 Green Tree Frog

 Mountain Chickadee

 Old Prospector (concept sketch for a drawing that is hanging on my wall)


Saturday, June 9, 2012

A bunch of paddles

It has been a while since I last posted so I thought I'd show some of the paddles that I've been working on.  These are to fill an order that I received, they are available to purchase at Classic Outdoors, a paddle sports store in Saskatoon.  They are made of walnut, cedar, and birch and have an oiled finish.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Fun in the Sun with good friends

On Sunday May 20 a group of us headed up to the Torch River for a day of paddling.  We do this trip almost every year as long as there is enough water in the river.  Most of the water in the Torch River is run off from snow melt.  So getting there at the right time is important.

This year there were 12 of us on the water.  We really lucked out with the weather, when we left Saskatoon at 7 am the local temperature was -4 degrees but by the time we drove the 3 hours and shuttled the vehicles to the take out the sun was high in the sky and warm.  The wind was very strong but luckily it was from behind.  I was very surprised at the amount of green on the trees.  Most years the trees are almost bare with only a hint of green.  Spring certainly came early this year.

On the drive up in the morning we saw two black bears in the Fort a la Corne forest.  The first one ran across the road and into the forest before we could get a photo, but this guy didn't mind us at all.  Both had very light colouring, brown almost like a brown bear.

Here's the entire group (minus myself, I'm taking the photo)  From left to right: Eddy, Thorsten, Grant, Valery, Gord, Judy, Jeff, Bryan, Zoe, Taiga, and Karrie

This was Zoe's first white water trip other than a weekend we spent a couple of years ago paddling white water.  By the end of the day she was doing very well, we only left green paint on a couple of rocks.

The day was sunny and hot and by the end quite a few of use were the colour of lobsters.  We got real lucky with the water levels this year.  The water has been a little high the last couple of year but this year it was just about right.  There were tons of rocks poking up out of the water creating hundreds of eddies and waves to practice our white water skills with.

It was difficult finding a suitable spot to stop for a snack.  All along the river the banks were strewn with debris.  At this particular spot there was a lot of moose sign (droppings and tracks in the mud). 

Bryan and Karrie sitting in one of the many eddies on the river.  In the back ground Gord is enjoying his usual paddling position.

Taiga is a perfect canoe dog!  She just turned one and loves swimming and chasing sticks in the water.  In the canoe she spends her time laying nicely in the boat, soaking up the sun.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Wandering in the Nisbet Forest

I took a break from my studies today to take advantage of the fantastic weather.  Taiga and I headed to the Nisbet Forest to spend the day snowshoeing and exploring.  Zoe is in Fond du lac right now so she couldn't join us.  It was a great day for wandering in the forest the sun was warm and there was no wind, the only problem is the lack of snow.  There really wasn't enough to warrant snowshoes but I used them anyway.  For lunch Taiga and I found a nice little sunny spot among a stand of jack pine and made a small fire to boil up some tea.  The lunch menu consisted of cheese biscuits, maple smoked salmon, and cheese.  Taiga had some treats.  While we ate lunch we sat quietly listening the the chickadees, blue jays, gray jays, squirrels, and crows.  Taiga loves to run in the forest and would run as fast and as hard as she could, then she'd dive head first into the snow and plow to a stop.  She's going to sleep well tonight.

 I took this picture to show how little snow there is in the forest

 One of Taiga's favorite things is to chew and sticks.

Boiling water for tea

 Enjoying warm tea by the lunch fire

 Taiga's waiting politely for her lunch

 Taiga doesn't have opposable thumbs so she finds it difficult to operate the camera, so this is a self portrait

She had fun in the snow

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Happy People: A year in Taiga

I came across this fantastic film by Werner Herzog a German film maker, producer, screen writer, actor, and opera director.  The film is an excellent portrayal of life in the Siberian Taiga and how traditional craft skills, and perseverance are needed to make a living from the land.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Paddling in January

On Sunday (Jan. 8th) my good friend Bryan and I decided to take advantage of the warm weather and headed out onto the South Saskatchewan River for a short paddle.  It was a sunny day with only a bit of a breeze.  By the way Bryan is a Paddle Canada certified kayak instructor so if anyone is interested in learning to kayak head over to Coldspring Paddling and check out his scheduled lessons.

 Bryan kayaked while I paddled may homemade canoe

 The ice along shore made getting in a bit tricky

We are very lucky to have such a great river flowing through our city

Monday, January 2, 2012

Almost New Year's Eve camping trip

This year we had a small group for our xmas / new years eve camping trip, it was just myself, Zoe, and Jeff and of course Taiga.  Zoe had to be back a bit earlier this year so we moved the trip dates forward a day or two and ended up coming home on the 31st rather than spending New Year's Eve in the woods.

Our destination was the Nipekamew Sand cliffs which I had visited a number of years ago in the summer so I had a rough idea as to what the area was like.   But when we arrived we found the forest to be an immature stand of birch trees.  We had arrived later in the day than we had planned and with the decreasing day light I was beginning to become concerned about finding a suitable camp spot.  After a few km's of pulling the pulks through the deep snow we came to a mature stand of jack pine.  The forest floor was level with lots of firewood available.  This was to be our home for a few days.

We couldn't have asked for better weather.  This year we lucked out with very mild conditions for what seems to becoming an annual New Years Eve camping trip.  I didn't check the thermometer very often but when I did it read -13 degrees C the first night and -5 degrees C during the day.  It seems that in the deep cold, temperatures matter more and I check the thermometer more often and when it's warm, well, it just doesn't matter.  The days were sunny and warm and the nights were star filled and warm next to the fire.

Taiga is our 8 months old Lab and she did very well.  She was very obedient and stayed close to camp.  While on our day hikes she enjoyed running and playing in the deep snow.  Our original destination was the McKay Lake area (same as last year) but with all the mild weather the lake ice was marginal at best so we had to look for an alternative location, preferably one that was on land.  We decided on the Nipekamew Sand Cliffs which are located on the Nipekamew River near where the river crosses highway 165.

The trail winds through thick deciduous forests as well as open coniferous forests.  In some places the trail passes close enough to the Nipekamew River and afforded a great vantage point from high above.  The scale of the forest really makes a person feel small and insignificant.

 Night time comes early at this time of year and we spent many hours sitting around the fire visiting, eating good food, and enjoying warm beverages.  Food is always a highlight of our camping trips and this time was no different.  We enjoyed a tasty sort of stew Jeff made from left over xmas dinner.  Taiga particularly enjoyed the warmth of the fire after a day of hopping through the deep snow.  

During the day the forest was lit up with the warn rays of the sun, it was very impressive.  The sunny days also made for good hiking conditions and we took advantage by exploring in the afternoons.  All the fresh snow made traveling by snowshoe a delight.

The Nipekamew sand cliffs are very picturesque during the summer but there is something special about them in the winter.  Maybe it's that very few people make the effort to visit places like this in the winter.  It takes a lot more work and preparation to make the journey during the winter.  Often the risks are much higher and this trip was no different.  Highway 165 doesn't see very much traffic and hadn't been plowed prior to our arrival or the whole time we were there, there are no residences between highway 2 and the Nipekamew River so if we had run into trouble or got stuck it could have been a long wait for help.  

Finding the first of the three sets of cliffs is no problem, the trail leads right to them.  Finding the second and third cliffs however requires some bushwhacking.  We set off to find the cliffs on the second day and just followed the trail to the first, after a few quick photos we headed off to find the other two.  We had a vague idea as to where they were located, a photo of the crude map on the plaque in the parking lot, a topographic map, and with that we set off in search.  We wandered for and hour or so in the direction we thought they would be.  Trying to match the crude map with the topo was difficult and inaccurate and it was no surprise that we we ran out of day light before we located the cliffs so we headed back to camp to prepare enough firewood to last the evening.  

After we got the maps and our direction sorted out we easily found the third cliffs.  We had brought a lunch and some tea with us so we stopped for a break and enjoyed the view of the cliffs.

The sand cliffs are really quite spectacular, they were deposited 140 million years ago when sediments were laid down by a river that flowed, to what was then a large gulf on the arctic ocean.  From our view across the river, cross bedding could be seen in the cliff walls from when the sediments were deposited.  From these marks the direction of the river can be determined.  We didn't dare venture across the river for a closer look because of the thin ice.  The fresh snow made it looked almost safe but some discoloration of the surface snow gave away the dangerous truth.

Our camp was situated in a mature and open stand of jack pine.  The well spaced trees made finding a tent site easy.  With all the recent mild weather in the area the sphagnum moss on the forest floor was still soft and spongy.  This location had lots of standing dead trees that could be used for firewood.

This was Taiga's first winter camping trip and she did pretty good.  She is very well behaved and listened pretty good, most of the time.  She is only eight months old and is still learning the ropes but always came back when called.  The first day she wasn't really sure about what was going on, she isn't used to spending all day outside and I'm sure she was constantly wandering when we were going to go inside.  By the last day she was fairly content and didn't look disgusted with us all the time.  In addition to the four sleeping bags that we bring for Zoe and I, (we would have been fine with one each due the the mild temps) we brought an old sleeping bag for Taiga to sleep in.  She also had a foam pad and a wool blanket to sit on next to the fire.

During our last night it had started to snow in the evening and continued all night and the following day.  That morning we woke to 5 inches of fresh fluffy snow.  Luckily we had gathered all of our gear the night before and kept it in a central location that made it easy to find even after it had been buried by the snow.  Though we were to travel along the same well packed trail that we made coming in all the fresh snow made the trek out seen almost as difficult as the trek in.

All in all I'd have to say we had a great trip with fantastic weather, which I think we deserved after the last couple of -30 trips.  Everyone seemed to have fun, there was lots of good food, drinks, laughter, and visiting.  I'm already looking forward to the next one.