Inspiring short film on the ‘revival of cedar canoe culture’ among indigenous North Americans:
“The revival of cedar canoe culture and Tribal Journeys is one of the most significant cultural movements of our time. It serves as an example of healing through tradition for indigenous cultures throughout the world. Knowledge of the earth and sea, customs, language, and spiritual practices nearly erased from our human experience are triumphantly reestablished and celebrated through the canoe pulling and ceremonies of each Tribal Journey. Coastal natives, reconnect with the ancestors, with the traditions, with each other, with the water.
We are taking our canoes out of the museums and putting them back in the water and showing the world our culture is alive.”
Took a trip to the River Wye at the end of May with our Australian visitor “OZMan” to show him what it’s like in a country that has rather more water and lush growth than they get down under. A fantastic trip again in gorgeous late spring weather, OzMan even took a dip in the river and climbed tup to the top of Yat Rock, he was really struck by the beauty of our English countryside. I lent him one of our genuine Australian swags so he’d feel right at home! Somewhere along that lazy river as the evening drew in towards dusk I spotted a rare “Hobby” falcon flashing over the surface of the water catching bugs, something I’ve never seen before – a really beautiful bird, with a very distinctive agile flight full of twists and turns as it races after dragon-flies and moths, eating them on the wing. As the canoe drifted silently on the water we came very close, right under a branch where it had stopped to rest for a while, so I could see that striking red underside and dark moustache features. But it’s in flight you want to see this bird – a really magical experience, and one you’d be unlikely to see except from down at the water level in a canoe, approaching silently on the water.
Last weekend saw us make it on the first river trip of the year, finally after a very cold and rather drawn out winter this year. It was fantastic to finally get out on the water, and with the river Wye in quite a bit of flow after yet more rain the river itself felt as eager to move down stream as we were! A highlight was taking our new red Old Town Discovery 158 out for a maiden trip, and I have to say she is a lovely boat – there’s something classic about the red colour – perhaps it’s from the Bill Mason days (see below), and whilst our green one blends in visually with the surroundings, the red one seems equally at home out in the wilds. There was really no sign of spring yet, despite it being the very end of March – just some wild garlic in the woods with it’s rich pungent aroma as you walk through breaking the leaves and releasing the scent, and a few daffodils of course in the churchyards and gardens. But otherwise it felt like we were there at the very start of spring – the first day was much like winter, cold wind and grey clouds, no greeness in the trees at all. But when the sun came out after the nights camp on an island in the river, and all the birds in the valley burst into song it seemed like suddenly spring had gotten underway. Buzzards soared in breeding pairs above our campsite, the river flowed past, and overall it was a pretty special trip – here’s to many more this year! View the trip in video below:
Some still photos of the trip:
En Route through the Wye Valley, "Old Red" on the roof rack...
Kerne Bridge - the sun was shining finally
"Old Red" - our new Old Town Discovery 158 canoe in classic red. This was her maiden voyage. Fantastic craft.
This should do for a campsite for the night - an island in the river
Evening sky draws in...
Kelly Tea on the go...
Only just into Spring, we still needed the fire for warmth. We cooked some strips of rump steak on sticks, and some potatoes in the embers.
What a morning - the view from the swag on what seemed to be the first day of spring.
A classic canoe documentary from the early 1980’s, still made available from the Canadian National Film Board:
“This feature-length documentary follows naturalist Bill Mason on his journey by canoe into the Ontario wilderness. The filmmaker and artist begins on Lake Superior, then explores winding and sometimes tortuous river waters to the meadowlands of the river’s source. Along the way, Mason paints scenes that capture his attention and muses about his love of the canoe, his artwork and his own sense of the land. Mason also uses the film as a commentary on the link between God and nature and the vast array of beautiful canvases God created for him to paint. Features breathtaking visuals and exciting whitewater footage, with a musical score by Bruce Cockburn.”
“Join outdoorsman Bill Mason in this short documentary as he and his family go canoe camping in the wilderness. Gain an appreciation for the art of canoeing while watching a small group experience the sheer joy and beauty of Nature. Along the way, the Masons experience countless adventures and some breathtaking scenery, including Indian rock carvings at Lake Superior.”
Another fantastic canoeing film available there is the documentary “The Voyageurs” from 1964, covering a subject featured heavily in Ray Mears’s recent series about Canada, “Northern Wilderness”:
“This short film tells the tale of the men who drove big freighter canoes into the wilderness in the days when the fur trade was Canada’s biggest business. The film recreates scenes of the early 19th century with a soundtrack by an all-male chorus.
The Campfire Tent has been getting good use during this winter snow: kind of a ‘Backyard’ test for a snowbound winter camp here. The campfire tent proving itself again – giving great shelter from strong and bitterly cold Northerly winds, whilst allowing the openess for cooking, observing nature and snowbound views, and generally ‘messing about in tents’! In this weather the views have been absolutely stunning and I haven’t missed a thing – including a huge shooting star one evening. I set up just before the snow came in 10 days ago, and after the main snowfall the roof of the tent had about 5 inches of snow weighing it down – that’s a LOT of weight, and happy to say the canvas, stitching, poles and guys all stood up to the test. The pegs have been completely frozen into the ground so they aren’t going anywhere, which has helped in the very strong winds we’ve had. Walking the fields all the activity of nature is written into the snow in footprints – from tiny mice trails and bird footprints, to thin and whispy deer tracks and big badger prints – all the activity you’d normally miss in the dark is recorded for the following morning.
Also here is a backyard test of a new “Hekla 30 firebox“ from Tentipi, a great bit of kit I’ll write more about in detail later.. The tent itself is from Green Outdoor and features in the Winter Camp story below. For now here’s the video:
A look back at our Late winter trip – 1st week of March – cold crisp nights and chilly mornings, but what a trip it was! The second night featured hurricane force winds and snow in the middle of the night – it’s really something when you wake from a deep sleep to find all hell breaking lose in and around your camp, then you jump up in just your boots ‘n boxers to tie things down and the snow starts! I didn’t think the tarps would hold but somehow they did… Awesome trip though. Here’s the video from POTP-TV: