Media Coverage

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Bruce Trail Thru-Hike comes to a close...

WEEK 8 Trip Report
July 22, 2009
Bruce Trail Expedition 2009

Wolfmaan's Final Week as a thru hike on the Bruce Trail

As the final week in July, Wolfmaan made slow progress on the Bruce Trail, and his trek has now come to a close as a thru-hike.

“My goal of doing this hike was not to finish the entire Bruce Trail in one go, but to go out prove it could be done barefoot without getting injured or killed..” Adventurer Wolf Starchild said. Wolfmaan also stated that he has made friends and memories for a lifetime which far outweighs simply completing his trek.

The Bruce trail was not quite what Wolfmaan expected “Although I did tons of research on the trail before choosing to hike it, I expected there to be much more legal camping and overnight rest areas available” he said. “Although breathtakingly beautiful, the trail is truly not designed to be thru hiked like the Appalachian Trail in the United States”.

“I don't care if I didn't finish the entire trail in one go” Wolfmaan commented. “I have done something no one else has done – Hiked over 400km of the Bruce Trail barefoot” Wolfmaan goes on to say that he will finish the Bruce Trail as a series of smaller 3 day hikes until it's complete. “We all have bills and obligations, so I Luka and I have to get back to work” he said. Luka, his 2 year old Husky is a registered Therapy Dog with St. John Ambulance.

Criticised for using Satellite technology and other high tech gear on the trail Wolfmaan was quick to say “Go ahead and bash me if you must, but I had a great time and saw so much of my country. I did this hike for me, no one else. I spent almost 60 days camping and hiking, and lost 20 kilo. Not too many people have that opportunity.”

Interestingly Wolfmaan mentioned “I didn't do this for fame or fortune, or to gain any recognition. I took on this hike to do something I've always dreamed of doing”. When asked what his next adventure will be he said “Let me finish the Bruce Trail First” and laughed.

Wolfmaan is the first person in the history of the Bruce Trail to hike over 400km of the 850km barefoot. Details and photos available at

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Bruce Trail Expedition 2009 - Week 7

WEEK 7 Trip Report
Bruce Trail Expedition 2009

Week 7 on the Bruce Trail spanned from Tuesday, July 14th to Friday, July 17th, 2009

The 7th week on the Bruce trail was certainly the most challenging for adventurer Wolf Starchild. The week started late due to transportation issues.

Heading out on Tuesday afternoon, Wolfmaan made a trek through the Mulmur area to come across a pleasant surprise – the Mulmer Hut! Not listed on any maps, this hut was a dilapidated version of Appalachian Trail overnight huts. “The Bruce Trail should be full of these small overnight huts” Wolfmaan commented. “It wasn't in the best of shape, but was better than nothing at all”. Sadly, the Mulmur hut came after only a few hours travel, and not at the end of the first day.

Continuing up the trail past abandoned vehicles, historic churches and more up hills, Wolfmaan came to the Pine River area. “I love abandonments” Wolfmaan commented, “I'm really fascinated by Urbex” he said, better known as Urban Exploration or visiting and photographing abandoned places around the world.

Along Pine River lies another abandonment on the Bruce Trail – part of the Dufferin Light and Power company. Shortly after visiting the abandoned power company, Wolfmaan said he was running low on water and needed to use the creek to get more. “I noticed the area had a slight musty, almost sewage like smell, but I was in an old pine forest and it could have been anything...” Wolfmaan said. Old pine forests are known for low lying swampy areas which often carry a decaying odour.

That's when everything changed. “I examined the water, it was fast flowing, and clear with evidence of life in it like algae and kelp” he mentioned, “so I threw in my MSR Sweetwater filter and filled up my 3L hydration bladder as well as Luka's then continued on our way as we always have”. Sadly chemicals in the water won't filter or boil out.

Later that day Wolfmaan reports feeling a little light-headed and ill “It was a long day, and I was getting tired” he said as he was setting up camp for the night. The next day, Wolfmaan reported feeling a little uneasy but attributed that to the large amount of up hill and heat in the area.

“I ended up drinking about 4L of that water I had filtered, and was starting to feel increasingly ill” he said. “I felt it was in Luka and my best interest to request extraction early in the event either of us needed to goto hospital”.

Shortly after completing the Dufferin Highlands section of the Bruce Trail, Wolfmaan Requested extraction, he had a family member pick him up and return him to his home in Niagara-on-the-Lake for the weekend. “If I'd passed out somewhere I couldn't have pressed the emergency button on my Satellite tracking unit, and no one would have known.”

With less than 15 days left, Wolfmaan is adamant he's not giving up, just taking an extra day to recuperate and will be back in action for the final days of his trip.

“If nothing went wrong, it wouldn't be called adventure, now would it?” Wolfmaan laughed.

Wolfmaan will be the first person in the history of the Bruce Trail to complete it barefoot. His trek ends in August when his Leave of Absence from his employer, Sitel in St. Catharines ends. More details and photos available at

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Bruce Trail Expedition 2009 - Week 6

WEEK 6 Trip Report
Bruce Trail Expedition 2009

Week 6 on the Bruce Trail spanned from Saturday, July 4th to Friday, July 10th, 2009

A week of beautiful, cool weather with a slight breeze bestowed Wolfmaan and his companion Luka on their 6th week of the Bruce Trail.

Starting out in Glen Haffey conservation area, well over 200km from the starting point at Queenston, Ontario. Wolfmaan and Luka made their way through beautiful grassy hills to an ORA – Overnight rest area for the first night, and slept to the sound of fireworks in the distance as it was the 4th of July, a holiday in America.

The week was filled with what Wolfmaan refers to as PUD – or “Pointless Ups and Downs” which he stated a good portion of the Caledon Hills section of the Bruce Trail was comprised of. Navigating the hills and valleys around Hockley Valley slowed them down from 20km per day to ½ that for two days straight. “Slowing down was nice because it helped me appreciate the beauty of this land” Wolfmaan said.

Rolling hills, valleys, and farmland abound, Caledon Hills is in the heart of Ontario's farm country with large parcels of land dedicated to alfalfa , wheat and corn. The trails ran through many beautiful large farms between running in and out of wooded areas. Wolfmaan comments it's so nice to walk on unpaved stone roads without any trouble “The road walk sections of the Bruce trail which are loose gravel are no match for my tough foot hide” he laughs, still upbeat and excited after over a month on the trails, with no foot injuries. “Sure I've stubbed my toes on a rock once in a while, but I've not suffered any major injuries or punctures on the trail” Wolfmaan said.

Proving wrong the people who he calls prejudice against bare feet, he will hike until the end of July completely barefoot. “I am living proof that modern people can go barefoot in nature for extended periods and not get injured or killed.” Wolfmaan said. Going barefoot is nothing new. Buddhist monks are often seen unshod and many religions believe that going barefoot pays homage to the Earth and helps them absorb vital energies. Modern science has proven many benefits of going barefoot including improved immune system response and relief from back and knee problems.

“This trail is so beautiful, it makes me proud to be a Canadian” he says, displaying his iPod which has the “I am Canadian” theme from an old beer commercial. The song, he says he played repeatedly while sitting atop a 500m tall hill called Murphy's Pinnacle watching the sun set Friday evening. His journal describes the scene: “I can see dozens of kilometres in each direction, almost infinitely. The beautiful azure sky meets the emerald green horizon so peacefully as clouds lazily floating by carelessly cast shadows on the valleys below. Farm houses poke through the never ending vastness of trees and behind me, tall poles like the masts of an armada of ancient sailing ships floating on velvet green waters sit wind turbines, making the world a better place.

Wolfmaan will be the first person in the history of the Bruce Trail to complete it barefoot. His trek ends at the end of July when his Leave of Absence from his employer, Sitel in St. Catharines ends. More details and photos available at

Friday, 3 July 2009

Wolfmaan's barefoot Bruce Trail Expedition 2009 - Week 5

WEEK 5 Trip Report
Bruce Trail Expedition 2009

Week 5 on the Bruce Trail spanned from Monday, June 29th to Friday, July 3rd, 2009

It was a rainy week starting on Monday shortly before the the Terra Cotta rest area. The skies opened and dumped rain all over Wolfmaan and Luka. After a short 10km hike to the Terra Cotta ORA through swampy areas covered with beautiful cedar trees and then the terrain changed into forest and meadows. “At least my pre-cooked hamburgers were moist when I ate them” Wolfmaan laughed.

The next morning brought a slight hold in the rain – at least long enough to pack up a soggy tent and equipment and hit the trails again to go through more low-lying swampy areas covered in old growth cedars and then through craggy rock sections.

Tuesday brought Wolfmaan and Luka over the stiles and into the history books and Wolfmaan is the first person to hike the Toronto section of the Bruce Trail barefoot. This makes 3 trail clubs (Niagara, Iroquois, and Toronto) and over 255km of the Bruce Trail without shoes!

Surprisingly there had been traces of other barefoot hikers on the trail! For over 4km on the muddy trails of the Toronto section of the Bruce Trail, several sets of bare footprints could be seen heading southbound on the trail.

Road walking is common along the Bruce Trail, and several kilometres of road lay ahead on day two heading towards Forks of the Credit conservation area.

On Canada Day, 2009 The terrain just outside Forks Of The Credit conservation area was very beautiful and included large pine and cedar trees covering the craggy rocks with layer upon layer of pine needles. The large, smooth rocks and pine needles are a delight to bare feet. As a previous truck driver Wolfmaan can say that he has driven Canada coast-to-coast and everywhere in between. “There is no way you can appreciate the spectacular beauty of Canada other than on [bare]foot.” The best way to enjoy Canada's birthday is to spend it hiking along her spectacular Bruce Trail.

Forks of the Credit Provincial Park was a beautiful area of rolling hills and meadows dotted with ruins of an old settlement in the area. The biggest obstacle in Forks Of The Credit Provincial park was the massive 164 step staircase near some of the old dams and waterways that go through the beautiful area.

The week concluded with almost 30km of roadwalking from Forks of the Credit provincial Park to Glen Haffey Conservation area just outside of Mono Mills, Ontario.

When asked “Why barefoot?” Wolfmaan replies “We are all born barefoot and our bodies are designed to stay that way. I got tired of people whining how unsafe and dangerous hiking barefoot is, and decided to prove everyone it can be done.”

Going barefoot the entire 850km of the Bruce Trail teaches one to slow down, relax, and enjoy the surroundings. As the ultimate in Leave-No-Trace techniques, barefoot hiking ensures that all trails travelled receive almost no impact from the hiker, minimal disturbance to wildlife on the trail as barefoot hikers are quiet and watch where they step more, as well as connects one to the land they travel on in ways that cannot be easily described.

More details, photos, and information can be found at

Wolfmaan's barefoot Bruce Trail Expedition 2009 - Week 4

WEEK 4 Trip Report

Bruce Trail Expedition 2009

Week 4 on the Bruce Trail was perhaps the most enjoyable week so far. It started out fairly slow, and the terrain had little PUD (Pointless Up and Down) and remained steady all week. Breaking 205km Northbound on the Bruce Trail was quite exciting! I was concerned about Lukas shoulder, as she had a bit of a limp but it cleared itself up. She was probably just working too hard on some of our 20km days.

Celebrating the Summer Solstice on the Bruce Trail was exciting as many of the conservation areas including the Crawford Lake native American village had traditional dancers, rituals, and celebrations which echoed through the wilderness, bringing back echos of this areas rich vibrant and cultural past. Sadly, the Bruce Trail doesnt have a “Hike Naked” day on the summer solstice like the Appalachian Trail does.

The weather was nice in the beginning of the week, warm, clear sunny skies made hiking the Toronto section of the Bruce Trail a real pleasure. As with most week-day thru-hikes, it's unusual to see anyone at all on the trail for most of the day.

I'm still surprised at day by day how resilient and leathery my feet have become since being barefoot over a month now. Rocky areas of the trail which used to slow me down and be agonising, I can now breeze over like smooth dirt. I didn't ever mean to be out to set a world record by hiking the Bruce Trail barefoot, it's just who I am.

Leaving Kelso conservation area Wednesday I was fortunate enough to come across two people hiking the trail the same direction as I. We stayed together for a few days on the trail, camped together, exchanged travel stories and had a great time exploring the Toronto section of the Bruce Trail. Often times friendships forged on the trails remain for life. Distances don't even matter with things like Myspace and Facebook to help people keep in touch. During our first few hours together on the trail, we came across a baby raccoon who was terrified by our presence and hugging a tree just a metre above the ground. We got some photos and left the little guy alone.

I was quite amazed that early one morning, Luka woke me up to alert me someone was around. I heard footsteps and looked out of the tent to see a large porcupine walk right between our two tents! I got a few photos of him and advised Luka that porcupines are not to be tangled with on the trail. The porcupine, seemingly indifferent to our presence, walked between the two tents and climbed a tree where he could sleep for the day.

The people we met along the trail were so friendly. During the week the area was hit by severe, rolling thunder storms and lightening. Passing through a farmers field we decided to stop and the young people I was with made their way up to the farmhouse and the land owners were more than happy to give us permission to camp on their land in the corner. It was so nice to camp out right by the trail!

Some of the craggy rocks of the escarpment are breathtakingly beautiful. Hiking by ourselves, the beauty of this revealed itself in subtle ways like the sound of the wind rushing through the cedars sounding like a distant waterfall. The trail weaved us through swamps of ancient cedars and massive rocky crags so large, the Bruce Trail actually descended into them! (Visit Limehouse Conservation area in Limehouse Ontario if you get the chance. You won't be disappointed!) There are ancient cedar trees there over 500 years old growing on the giant rock faces of the escarpment. They smell enchanting, and the cedar needles are a pleasure to walk on.

Friday morning we woke up, broke camp and hit the trails. We had started to run out of water and there were no streams to filter water from. We came upon an old farmhouse on a road section of the trail and the home owner was more than happy to oblige our request to fill our bottles of water. Everyone in the Toronto section of the trail seemed so nice that we talked to.

I will certainly miss having a set of human companions on the trail as I did this week. It's always a pleasure to get someone else's perspective on each section of trail, and of course the young lady spoiled Luka rotten with cans of tuna fish and cranberries throughout the day.

A few months back I took a Leave No Trace course through Master Trainer Todd Ward, and I must admit although I don't buy into every LNT principle, I do use the course material each day on the Bruce Trail. From making campsites look like I didn't spend the night there, to eating 1/2hr up the trail before we set camp to keep animals away. You don't have to buy into all LNT principles, but it is a great course that will benefit any outdoors person.

Next week will be past the first month on the expedition. I have learned that slowing down and enjoying myself, taking lots of photos and memories of the trail is more important than completing the trail. Even if I don't complete the trail as a thru-hike before August, I will go back to work with a lifetime of memories, photos, stories, and friendships which I wouldn't want to gain any other way. When it comes to the Bruce Trail, it's not the destination that is important – it's the journey.

Wolfmaan's barefoot Bruce Trail Expedition 2009 - Week 3

Saturday, June 20 - 2009

Adventurer's barefoot Bruce Trail Expedition, 2009

Barefoot adventurer Wolf Starchild, who goes by Wolfmaan started June 01st for a solo expedition up the Bruce Trail to be the first person to hike the entire 850km long footpath barefoot.

Plagued with problems due to lack of legal campsites and poor weather Wolfmaan has spent the the third week of the expedition at his home in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

“I really don't want to be forced to break the law to complete this expedition” Wolfmaan commented. Wolfmaan spent a good portion of the week faxing and ringing various park and conservation authorities to attempt to get permission to camp without a fire for one night. “Most of them didn't even ring me back or respond to my faxes” he stated. At one point he even contacted his local Member of Parliament (MP).

When asked if he had contacted the Bruce Trail Conservancy, the governing body of the Bruce Trail he stated “They were the first ones I rang.” Wolfmaan was then advised that it was a known issue, but the Conservancy provided no assistance.

Camping is available along the Bruce Trail at several conservation areas and parks along the route, however there is no consistency to the location of the sites. Some areas of the Bruce Trail offer camping once every 60km and others areas every 10km. Hiking an average of 20km per day, it's impossible for anyone to make it to some of the campsites.

Wolfmaan decided to seek legal counsel “I rang my lawyer and he was a huge help in advising me of my rights.” he stated. “The trip will go on steady until the beginning of August before I have to break it off and return to work at Sitel in St. Catharines”

To make matters worse, the week of rain has also caused delays.

Between faxing letters, sending e-mails and contacting his local Member of Parliment, Wolfmaan stated he used the week off to relax and let his companion – Luka, a 2yr old husky catch up on some much needed sleep.

The Bruce Trail is not designed as a thru-hike and was intended to be hiked in sections or as a series of day hikes. The Bruce Trail Conservancy makes no distinction between those who hike the trail as a thru-hike or a series of day hikes. The Bruce Trail Conservancy website states that the trail has been hiked in as little as 9 days by the Canadian Olympic Running Team and as long as 40 years by some individuals.

Rain or shine, Wolfmaan is going to hit the trails on Monday, June 22nd and continue his barefoot expedition.

Wolfmaan's barefoot Bruce Trail Expedition 2009 - Week 2

Saturday, June 13 - 2009

Adventurer's barefoot Bruce Trail Expedition, 2009

Barefoot adventurer Wolf Starchild, who goes by Wolfmaan left June 01st for a solo expedition up the Bruce Trail. An 850km long footpath from Queenston, Ontario to Tobermory, Ontario. The trail is broken up into nine individual clubs which maintain each section of the trail.

During the second week of the trip, Wolfmaan is passing through the Hamilton section of the Bruce Trail which ran along the escarpment and through Dundas to start to hook northward towards Tobermory at Mount Nemo Conservation area. In Dundas Valley, there was the first legal campsite available on the Merrick Side Trail to Through Hikers. During the night Wolfmaan spent at the Merrick Side Trail, the region experienced a strong thunder and lightening storm “At least my tent kept me dry, if not warm” he commented.

The scariest thing Wolfmaan reported on the trail was to hear repeated gunshots in Hamilton. “I just kept walking and got out of there as fast as possible” he stated. As fast as possible with a 27 kilogram pack on his back. The best thing so far about the Hamilton section of the trail has been the friendly people he says he's met “One lady even offered to take me out to dinner instead of using my freeze-dried food up” Wolfmaan reports. “Another stated instead of camping in the rain, I could have slept on her couch” which he states he declined to take advantage of the campsite.

During the second barefoot week on the trail, Wolfmaan has completed over 170km of the entire trail which included the 80km Niagara Club section., and 90km of the Iroquois (Hamilton) section of the Bruce Trail.

Wolfmaan is the first person in the 40 year history of the Bruce Trail to have completed the Niagara Section barefoot, and will hold the world record as the first person ever to walk then entire Bruce Trail barefoot. “People often ask me if my feet hurt” he says. “I always tell them everything else does, but never my feet” he laughs.