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Creating a Primitive Bowl

As part of an upcoming primitive living course I am teaching, I created this bowl using only the most basic of tools. These included a deadfall log, fire, a cat tail, water, and of course a hunting knife. If you enjoy this story, please consider “digging” it.

The article can be found here.

Primitive Bowl

Posted in Adventure, Barefoot, bowl, handcrafted, knife, primal, Primitive Living, Running Barefoot Wolfmaan | Leave a comment

Creating a Primitive Bowl

Creating a Primitive Bowl

The article below shows us how to create a primitive bowl using fire, a knife, and a piece of deadfall log. The article is illustrated with photographs. This project is designed to be reproducible in a survival situation. This project is also part of Wolfmaan’s primitive living and survival course.

The first part of the project is to find a piece of deadfall log. You are seeking a log without too many splits in it, as the bowl may need to hold water in the future. Choose a log that is oval shaped if possible, and fairly short. If necessary, you can use your knife to saw through the log and cut it to it’s desired length.

You want to ensure use of a deadfall log as a live log will not properly burn and the project will take days instead of just a few hours.

Selecting the Log

[select a deadfall log]

Next, select the spot on your log which will be the actual bowl. Inspect your log carefully to ensure you use the “worst” side. Small splits, cracks, or other imperfections are okay as they will be burned away.

Take your knife and chip away a small spot in the surface of the log. This will hold your embers and prevent them from rolling around off the log and potentially burning you badly.

Carving the log

[carving the center of the log]

To be neat and appealing to the eye, I took my knife and whittled the edges of the log on the top, to make it look a little bit more finished. This is optional and will have no effect on the usefulness of your project.

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[whittling the edges]

Start a small fire. This will provide you with burning embers which will be needed for the project. If in a real survival situation the fire will need to be constantly tended to. For this project, the fire may burn itself out after you have created it. I used scrap wood for my fire as the intent is to create a series of hot coals.

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[creating a fire]

Once the fire has a bed of coals, *CAREFULLY* obtain some small embers. This can be done by using a long stick to knock the embers onto your knife, or if you have one, a shovel or other instrument. Be careful when handling embers as they can cause serious burns.

Place the embers on your log, and gently blow on them to make them glow red. The point is to get the log itself to start to smoulder and ignite in the center.

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[embers carefully placed on the log]

As you can see by the following photo, a small fire may erupt on your log. This will simply accelerate your progress. Beware if the fire starts to get too large, your bowl will not grow deep, but large and shallow. This will not be as useful when it has been completed.

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[embers burning the log]

When your embers have burned themselves out, return them to your fire pit. While there, use your knife to dig out the log. Dig only the center of the log, and leave the charred edges intact. This will encourage your log to burn deep, rather than wide.

Load your log with new embers, and allow them to burn. Help the process by blowing air onto the embers and ensuring that they glow nicely.

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[removing burnt embers from log]

By now you should see a clear round or oval shape of your bowl begining to come to life. The embers will start to sit in the log, rather than on the log. This means the project is coming along.

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[burning embers in log]

To ensure your log burns deep and not wide, ensure that the edges of the log are kept damp. In a survival situation cat tails will act like a sponge and hold water in, to be smeared around the log. Avoid pouring water on the log as it will undoubtedly be drawn to your embers and attempt to wreck your project. Wipe the edges of the log frequently to ensure your bowl becomes deep.

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[using cat tails as a sponge]

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[using cat tail sponge to apply water to the log]

After several replacement embers, and scrapings, your log will start to take shape. When feel the bowl is deep enough, dispose of your embers into the fire pit and scrape the bowl out completely. It may take a bit of work to get all the pieces of burnt log out of your bowl. Be careful not to scrape too hard or you will have ruined the afternoons work.

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[embers burning through the log to create a bowl]

Scraping the log

[scraping the log]

Your completed bowl should look similar to the one below. A nice, deep hollow should be in the middle of your log. This can take several hours to accomplish and gets better with practice.

Completed Bowl

[completed bowl]

Once you are satisfied with your bowl, fill it with water to ensure it will not leak, and to ensure that there is no smouldering still taking place.

Filling the bowl with water

[filling the completed bowl with water]

There are many things you can do to finish your bowl. You can use a rough rock to grind out more of the inside and make it smoother. You can even use natural resins to put a finish on the bowl so it can be more useful. If you have the time you can whittle the exterior and make it more bowl shaped. The possibilities are endless. This is only a beginners guide to creating primitive bowls.

Once completed, this bowl may be used for dozens of things around your campsite. It can be used for holding drinking water. It can even be used for transporting embers to a new campsite if you have no way of starting a new fire.

The log bowl takes a lot of time to make. In a survival situation this is a good thing as it helps occupy the mind and keep it sharp. Boredom in can be your worst enemy. Please comment on this article, and “Digg it” if you feel it may be of use to others.

PLEASE NOTE: There is a possibility of cuts from your knife, and burns from fire embers. Please use caution and care when using sharp objects, and working around fire! If you choose to use any methods in this article – Wolfmaan.com and it’s affiliates are not responsible for damages caused directly or indirectly from use and misuse of this article and it’s directions.

Posted in Adventure, Barefoot, bowl, handcrafted, knife, primal, Primitive Living, Running Barefoot Wolfmaan | Leave a comment

Rock Chapel Falls

I visited a small hidden waterfall known as Rock Chapel Falls just outside of Hamilton Ontario during the Canadian July 1st weekend. It was Canada’s 143rd birthday.

The story and photoset can be found here.

Rock Chapel Falls, 2010

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Rock Chapel Falls

Rock Chapel Falls is nestled in North Hamilton on Highway 5, near where it crosses Highway 6. Getting there is relatively easy from the QEW highway.

Pulling into the parking lot, the park seems uninteresting. A small gravel lot with a dozen cars, and of course a ticket wicket to pay for parking. There is also a sign which states to keep your dog on a leash at all times.

This small conservation area is crossed by the world famous Bruce Trail. The Bruce Trail, however does not dare venture into the gorge itself. Too dangerous. This conservation are has three distinct habitats located within it. The trail starts at the upper plateau. This area has a Cliff face habitat, followed by a Talus slope.

My goal was to reach the base of the waterfall. This could not be accomplished by simply following a trail. Most main trails have a habit of keeping you away from the fun, in order to ensure your safety. I would be sure to seek a side trail which would lead me to the base of the gorge, and follow it to the waterfall.

A steep, windy pathway led from the upper plateau past the cliff face. The path was narrow and damp. There was a lot of broken glass which slowed me down with bare feet. The base of the gorge revealed a large series of boulders, rocks, and trees cut in half by the river. This would be the pathway to the base of Rock Chapel Falls.

Rock Chapel Falls River

I love waterfalls. I especially love standing at the base of a large waterfall and enjoying the mist spraying in my face, and the feeling of wellness from being exposed to the negative ions which are released as the water tumbles. Rock Chapel falls is an 8 metre high horsetail ribbon waterfall.

The riverbed was strewn with giant boulders, and dead-fall which made navigation a challenge. My husky Luka had to be lifted over several sections. My two Jack Russell Terriers Merlin and Morgana also needed some assistance.

Looking around, the area was stunningly beautiful. Like nothing most city dwellers ever experience. Giant trees lay across the river, some with root systems still intact. These trees have managed to weave chunks of rock into their complex root systems. Boulders re-route the otherwise straight path of the river and create dozens of small rapids, and waterfalls. Some as large as 2m in height.

Tiny waterfalls at Rock Chapel

There was little evidence of human intervention here. Only a few pieces of scrap metal, and an old bicycle were visible. Nature had removed the rest and swept it somewhere downriver.

The terrain presented quite a challenge. The boulders were tough to negotiate and some were covered in slime which made them very slippery. Going barefoot is the best way to scramble the large, porous rocks. My hiking partner Tori sustained quite a few scrapes and bruises. The Jack Russells also received quite a few bumps, and scrapes.

Two hours of rough, battering terrain led to the base of Rock Chapel falls. The narrow, tree covered gorge expanded out into a rocky area with a large talus pile edging it. There was little sound other than the splattering of water. The water poured effortlessly over the edge of the falls and plummeted the 8 metres to the shallow basin below.

I took some time to relax at the base of the falls and get some photographs. I also ate lunch which consisted of some power bars which I had purchased at Mountain Equipment Co-Op en-route to the falls.

Rock Chapel Falls

Leaving the basin was easier than expected. A small pathway led up the talus pile to the cliff face. There was a thick, but damaged rope hanging from a tree. The rope led to the plateau of the escarpment, a few metres from the roadside. I helped the dogs up the cliff face, and hoisted myself up with the damaged rope. It was an easy exit.

Luka near the Rock Chapel Basin

The pathway from the exit point led to the parking lot where the car awaited. I removed my pack, and headed home. It was a fantastic waterfall to visit.

Remember to keep your dog on a leash. Locals say that Royal Botanical Gardens park wardens will cause a real headache for you if your dog is off leash. They will sometimes ask for your dogs vaccination and registration tags. Failure to have these on your dog can result in confiscation of you pet on the trail.

For a slideshow of the trip, click here

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Goodbye Fedora Linux

Goodbye Fedora Linux

For the past five years, I have been a die-hard Linux Fedora fan. I have sung its praises to the highest mountains. Fedora has the ability to do anything “Windoze” (intentionally misspelt) could do, only better.

Fedora Linux does not get viruses, it does not need defraging, and best of all, it’s completely free. Software was also free. No pirating, No blue screens of death, just pure computing bliss. Linux did not even see the fancy copyrighting on CD’s and ripped them to my personal library with ease.

I didn’t mind having to play around and get mp3’s to play. I loved the freedom of having most of the software I ever wanted at my fingertips. Most software.

Fedora was my best friend. I could run command lines like nothing else after just a few months. It was significantly faster than “Windoze” as well. It used less resources and makes even older machines run faster than they ever did brand new.

That is, of course until you needed something extra to work. Try to make your iPod work with Fedora Linux and you have a days work ahead of you. Visiting forums, running command lines, and ripping out your hair trying to get it to work.

Recently, I decided to take my writing career more seriously and wanted to be able to write in the peace of the outdoors. I wanted to be able to muse over past adventures and mishaps in the peace and quiet of the woods. I wanted to be able to use my computer anywhere and upload new stories, photos and chat with friends on Yahoo Messenger.

The simple answer to this, of course was an Internet stick. This small USB device allows you to access the internet wherever you can use a mobile phone. The bandwidth in Canada is very limited, but it would work well for the little bit I would use it.

Visiting a local mobile carrier, I proudly announced that I run Fedora Linux on my laptop and needed an Internet stick which would work with it.

The clerk looked at me like I had two heads. He had not heard of Linux and had no idea what Internet stick he had which would work with it. Some research on the internet revealed the Novatech U998 would be a good match. I signed the contract and hit the road expecting to enjoy my new found freedom.

I spent seven days attempting to get the Internet Stick to work correctly with Fedora Linux. I checked all the online forums. I made phone calls to my local computer stores. They did not support Linux. Nothing seemed to work.

A decision had to be made. Do I return the Internet Stick before I am bound by a two year contract, or continue to fight the uphill battle with Fedora Linux?

A third option came to me. I could Install the copy of Windows 7 which came with my new laptop.

I felt torn. Like breaking up with your spouse. I needed something new and useable, but the old had been there for thick and thin for over five years.

Freedom overriding nostalgia, I decided to install Windows 7 on my laptop computer.

I was surprised how fast and easy the installation went. After installation was complete, I promptly “activated” my Windows 7 and was very surprised.

Without spending an afternoon searching internet forums, Windows 7 connected to my wireless home network. The USB internet stick worked flawlessly. I was even able to install all of my favourite cross-platform Linux programs. GIMP (like photoshop), OpenOffice (like Microsoft Office), and even Pidgin (like Yahoo Messenger) all worked flawlessly with Windows 7.

Sadly I have to expect viruses, product keys, messy hard drives, and dozens of other shortcomings which made me leave Windows in the first place. But in the end freedom won out.

Freedom to create, talk, and publish articles and content from virtually anywhere.

Fedora Linux Logo

I will miss you Fedora Linux.

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Frontenac Provincial Park Visit – May 2010

In May of 2010, my doctor recommended I take a few months stress leave from my office job in order to deal with a lot of stuff that has been going in in my private life.

I took a trip to Frontenac Provincial Park for a short, four day backpacking trip.

Frontenac Provincial Park, just outside of Kingston, Ontario is one of those “best kept secret” places. There are few visitors. This is mostly because there is no car camping available. All campsites are classed as “Interior”, meaning you have to backpack into the campsite.

Wolfmaan at Frontenac

The park has a lot to offer those seeking a wilderness experience but don’t want to drive ten hours north of Toronto. The park is only about three hours from Toronto and can easily be reached by taking Highway 401 towards Kingston.

A word to the wise, obey the speed limit signs of the area. The sharp curves are posted at 30km/h. I was going a little fast, and was quickly forced to slow down to avoid hitting a guardrail.

Park Staff are friendly, and helpful. Registration was quick and easy. Frontenac Park is truly a wilderness environment. Be sure to go prepared with proper equipment for all weather. Everyone knows it always rains when you go camping.

Long, compacted dirt trails are easy on bare feet, and there are few steep hills heading to the campsites. There are a few low lying muddy areas scattered across the trails. Few of them have bridges to keep you dry.

Wildlife is everywhere. On the hike to the campsite, I was lucky enough to see deer, snakes, frogs, tadpoles, chipmunks, and even large snails. There are a multitude of small lakes which are host to beaver dams, and the occasional beaver sighting. Be prepared for bear encounters.

Beaver dam at Frontenac

Divided into “clusters”, the parks campsites were clean, well maintained and fairly distanced from each other. There was a good sized throne room a few minutes walk away from the campsite. The view of Little Salmon Lake was spectacular. A small sand filled pack was installed to give even ground on tents and minimise environmental impact. My campsite even had wood sitting by the steel firepit.

Myself and Luka were the only people at the campsite for the three days we spent there. We didn’t run into anyone else – except chipmunks and dragonflies.

Little Salmon Lake

Surrounding the campsite are networks of trails. Some of which lead to abandoned mines, old homesteads, and panoramic views of the wilderness.

The day of departure, I awoke to the sound of rain on my tent. Packing up and leaving camp is always a bit of a challenge when it’s raining.

Well planned trails made travelling in the rain easy. The boggy areas could be a bit of a challenge for the shod, as wet shoes and socks can create blisters. Barefoot travel through the mud is always easy and bare feet dry quickly.

Frontenac Provincial Park is worth the visit if you are seeking a quick get-away into the wilderness which is close to home.

The complete photo slideshow can be found here





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Hikers Haven – Oakville Ontario

There are two kinds of stores that seem to manage to always take my money. Military Surplus stores and Outdoor Outfitters. Like a bug to a lamp, I find them irresistible. I will often go out of my way to visit one, no matter where they are located. The sad part is, I have never been able to make it away from one of these stores without spending at least $100.00.

On Sunday, June 6th, 2010 I was returning home to Niagara-on-the-Lake, from Toronto Ontario. I passed a large grey store with bright yellow letters just off of Trafalgar Road on the Queen Elizabeth Highway. Although I had passed the store many times before, today I was drawn in, and stopped to visit.

The store was a little tricky to find as it lay off a side road which faced the Queen Elizabeth Highway. Out front were a myriad of tents, kayaks, Muskoka Chairs, and other outdoor equipment. Various signs were posted in the window promoting high-end outdoor equipment such as Mountain Hard Wear, Brunton, and Keen outdoor footwear. It looked exciting.

The front door had posters and notes about outdoor hikes, clubs, and other social activities which were to take place in the outdoors. It made the store look like it cared about the community and supported it any way it could.

Entering through the front doors, you come face to face with the employees and check-out counter. The friendly staff immediately greeted me. They asked me if I was looking for anything in particular, and gave a glance at my bare feet.

I smiled and said I was just browsing, and proceeded to make my way through the shop. The store was packed. At first glance it looked hap-hazard. Closer inspection reveals that the store was full of just about everything you need for the outdoors. A box of bandannas which ranged in colour from blazed orange to Jolly Rodger (Yarr!) sat beside a box of spare parts for backpacks containing clips, pull strings, and just about everything else that would break on a pack.

Heading deeper into the equipment jungle there were all types of lamps from the highest quality manufacturers like Sure-Fire and Petzl. There was a large water bottle wall which stocked every size, make, and shape of water bottle imaginable. The friendly staff said that all their selections were BPA free. Beside that a good sized section of equipment for the rock climbing enthusiast. Harnesses, uncomfortable looking shoes, carbiners, and chalk bags galore.

There was a large quantity of high end sleeping bags, sleep mats, tents, poles, and every other piece of equipment you could ever want. Not all stores carry the higher end manufacturers like Mountain Hard Wear and Ex-Officio. Hikers Haven does.

An unusual feature the store offered was an “international travel” section going under the guise of “Europe Bound”. Here I was excited to find power inverters, theft proof purses for women made of kevlar, and a range of other products designed for travellers. There were even special attachments for your backpack to attach it to a pole outside and visit a store without being a “bull in a China shop” when backpacking through urban areas.

For pet lovers, Hikers Haven carries a large selection of dog gear. Backpacks, Collapsible bowls, and even canine life jackets.

I entered the outdoor shoe section to be sized up by one of the polite and knowledgeable employees who suggested I try on a pair of their newest “barefoot shoes” known as Vibram five fingers. Hikers Haven carried a large amount of outdoor shoes from popular brand names like Asolo, Keen, Teva, and Vibram.

A large section of the shop is dedicated to outdoor clothing. Huge racks containing clothing from a wide variety of manufacturers such as Mountain Hard Wear, Misty Mountain (official outfitter of Scouts Canada) and Ex-Officio. There were few things you couldn’t purchase here.

There was an archway which led to a newer section of the building which housed every kind of canoe, kayak, and human-powered watercraft you could need. The staff in this section were also very helpful and knowledgeable.

I purchased the Vibram fivefingers (which I will most likely rarely wear) and a few other small items including a blaze orange bandanna for my Husky Luka and left the store.

The friendly, knowledgeable and helpful staff made shopping at Hikers Haven a pleasure. If you are in the area, I would recommend stopping by.

After my visit, I sent a thank-you note to Lisa R, the store manager letting her know how much I enjoyed the experience. She kindly responded and advised me she was happy to accommodate my needs and I was welcome to visit her store anytime.

Hikers Haven

Hikers Haven is located at

166 South Service Rd E
Oakville, Ontario
905.849.8928

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Frontenac Provincial Park Trip

At the end of May, I was lucky enough to be able to visit a rare and precious gem of Ontairo – Frontenac Provincial Park. The park is has many different types of terrain to offer and has a lot of history including old homesteads and abandoned mines.

The story can be found here

Dragonfly at Frontenac Park

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