There is nothing like the feeling of standing at the end of the road or the side of a railroad track with a friend by my side and a backpack or canoe on my shoulders…and knowing that the adventure is about to begin!

The Hartley Bay Marina dock

loading the canoe at The Hartley Bay Marina dock

In the 1960’s American folksinger Tom Paxton penned some memorable songs but it was “Ramblin’ Boy” on his 1964 debut album that always remained my favourite. It starts off with these simple words:


While we’re not talking T. S. Eliot-level poetry here,  in 1964 it was definitely a cut above the smash hit of that year – the Beatles and “She loves you – yeah, yeah, yeah”!   With Woody Guthrie as his model, Paxton was romanticizing the lives of the 1930’s Depression-era hobos riding the rails across a broken America in his very traditional folk song which sounded like it had been written long decades before.

my U of Waterloo roommate Roy,  his birthday cake, and me  on a hilltop in Alaska in 1978

I was about seventeen and growing up in a hard rock town in northern Quebec where my father worked in the mines when I discovered Woodie Guthrie’s autobiographical Bound For Glory at the public library. That book – and Paxton’s songs –  helped shape my developing sense of the world.



I’ve had the ramblin’ boy bug all my life.  I had it when I was five years old and hanging on to the inner tube of a car tire along with my friend Veshu about thirty meters from the beach where our families were picnicking. We were on our way to a nearby island when my father swam up and very carefully pulled us back to the beach!

a view of glacial lakes in Bolivia’s Cordillera Real

That’s a ten-year-old me in the photo below. I am sitting in front of my father Stanislaw and younger brother Martin; Kurt Wilke is on the right. Herr Wilke was a Berliner who served in the German Army; he was imprisoned in Russia for six years when captured in 1945.

at Lake Kanasuta in the Abitibi region of NW Quebec – 1961

Meanwhile, my father, a 25-year old from Zamosc in southeastern Poland, was a soldier on duty in Warsaw in late September 1939 when it was captured by the German army.

He would spend the next six years in POW camps in northwestern Germany. After being freed by British troops in May of 1945,  he served in the British Army for three years in its piece of a demolished and divided Germany. [See here for a map.]  The three-storey house in Bad Rehburg that his British army unit confiscated from its owners for its use was my mother’s family house.  That’s how my parents met!

the Drebber family house in Bad Rehburg

the Drebber family house in Bad Rehburg, just to the west of Hanover – my brother Martin visited in the early 2000s and got the photo!  Our mom had also taken us back to her home in the summer of 1958. I was 7 at the time.

In the photo above my father and Mr. Wilke sit on a Lake Kanasuta dock in Quebec’s Abitibi region in 1961! To some born-in-Canada folks in town,  they were just two more damn D.P.s (“displaced persons”) or des maudits fros depending on who was doing the talking.  It is humbling to contemplate what my parents lived through in the decade before they came to Canada – and in the decades after!

tea time in the Olive Hut in British Columbia’s Purcell Mtn range

I’ve lost touch long ago with my childhood friend Veshu but I still have that ramblin’ boy bug sixty years later.  It has shaped the things I love to learn about – i.e. all of the humanities from languages to world history to world religions to anthropology, politics,  and economics.  It has definitely shaped the things I like to do with my spare time – cultural travel, wilderness canoe tripping, bicycle touring, hiking and mountaineering, and working out regularly at the gym so that I can do all that other stuff and enjoy it.

at the Carlson dock in Red Lake

2012 – at the Carlson dock in Red Lake, Ontario  with pilot Mike and my brother Martin

It has ushered me into some incredibly beautiful (and maybe even sacred) places where few get to go because of the time or effort or money required. I also recognize other bits of fate that have made my world travels easier, among them being a male (and an increasingly older one), being light-skinned, having a Canadian passport, having spent a half-dozen years at various universities, and growing up in an open multi-cultural society.

Not everyone has the ramblin’ boy bug and they have used their time and money – and their good health – to indulge in other pursuits. That’s just the way it should be.  But for me,  there is nothing like the feeling of standing at the end of the road or the side of a railroad track with a friend by my side and a backpack or canoe on my shoulders…and knowing that the adventure is about to begin!

lakhpa and brian and I

2006 – Lakhpa, Brian, and me with Mount Everest as a backdrop

Without getting overly philosophical, I hope to share some of what I’ve learned in some of these recent adventures, as well as show some of the pictures I took along the way.

The teacherly tone that comes from thirty-five years spent with mid-to-late teenagers in various Toronto classrooms will occasionally be evident!   If my posts encourage other potential ramblers to step out of their front doors and embrace what has so far been unknown to them, that would be the best of all!

a rest day at Rainbow Falls on the Steel River above Lake Superior

a rest day at Rainbow Falls on the Steel River north of Lake Superior

Every once in a while, as I look at maps and surf the net for another place or two to walk or paddle and pitch my tent, I think of Lao Tzu, the legendary Chinese sage and writer of the Tao Te Ching. One poem, in particular, # 47, comes to mind.  It reads like this –

Without opening your door,
you can know the whole world.
Without looking out your window,
you can see the way of heaven.

The further you go,
the less you know.
The more knowledge you seek,
the less you understand.

The Sage understands without leaving,
sees clearly without looking,
accomplishes much without doing anything.

As I ponder the above poem, I hear Lao Tzo saying to me,  “Hey, True North, where do you think you’re going? Don’t you know that you’re already there?  All your ramblin’ is only taking you further away from this obvious truth.”

the legendary Lao Tzu on his water buffalo heading into the Himalayas

And then I think back to his own life.   The collection of poems we know him for only came to be because a border guard insisted that he write down the essence of his wisdom before he left the Middle Kingdom and continued towards the Himalayas on his water buffalo.

I want to shout out to him – “Hey, Lao Tzu,  where do you think you’re going?”

After crossing the border he was never heard of again. Lao Tzu – the ramblin’ boy!

chillin’ at a Bon Echo campsite across from Mazinaw Rock  on a cool May evening

Eliot’s Four Quartets is one of those places I’ve returned to often! Here is one of my favourite sections –

Home is where one starts from. As we grow older
the world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
Of dead and living. Not the intense moment
Isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment
And not the lifetime of one man only
But of old stones that cannot be deciphered. There is a time for the evening under starlight,
A time for the evening under lamplight
(The evening with the photograph album).
Love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter.
Old men ought to be explorers
Here or there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.

So it’s off we go on our own chosen trails, with this website hosting a collection of some of my more recent trips from home!

As Tom Paxton put it fifty years ago – May all your ramblin’ bring you joy!

on the Yukon river in the summer of 1978 - my first great canoe trip!

on the banks of the Yukon River with some fellow ramblers!

with my guide muy simpatico Cesar Vargas on the top of Pisco in the Peruvian Andes

A companion post to this one – Finding A Good Place to Pitch A Tent – focusses not on faces but on places where, for one reason or another, we chose to stop for the night. 

When you’re on the move – hiking, mountaineering, canoeing – circumstances often dictate what small patch of the great outdoors you’ll be calling home for the night. Sometimes the sheer beauty of the spot convinces you to stop moving for the day – even if it is a bit early. Sometimes you’re with an organized group and the decision is not yours to make.  Sometimes you have to stop because the weather is promising to turn nasty and going on would be foolish. And sometimes you stop because of what is on tap for the next day.

The last reason was certainly true of the spot below.  We had climbed up to our high camp on a plateau about 800 meters/2625 ft.  below the peak of Nevado Tocllaraju (6034m/19800ft) in the Peruvian Andes, our objective for the next morning.  It was late afternoon and we enjoyed the views and had supper at our high camp before crawling into our tents for some rest.  We would get up at 1:00 a.m. for our summit attempt.

Cordillera Blanca’s Tocllaraju high camp

See here for the rest of the post!

A Good Place To Pitch A Tent

62 Responses to About

  1. Jeff Reid says:

    Great pics and stories on your Holguin/east bike trip. All those pics are so familiar. I am down there regularly doing the same rides. Really enjoyed reading your detailed article!

    • true_north says:

      Jeff, it is nice to hear you enjoyed the posts. I put them out there in the hope that they might do the same as the posts that I read before I decided Cuba was a good cycling destination. As you know, it was absolutely the right choice!

      By the way, “props” for your work with bikesforcuba. I had heard about the work you guys do a few years ago when I took Narayana Reddy’s bicycle repair course at Central Technical School.

  2. Great site! Very inspiring.

    I was wondering if I might be able to use your photograph of El Chaltén (“the road into El Chaltén with Cerro Poincenot (3002m) and Monte Fitz Roy (3405m) behind”) on my website, Switchback Travel. Beautiful shot. We were just there but didn’t quite have the weather on our side on that day. Thanks!


    David Wilkinson

    • true_north says:

      David, I just noticed that I approved the comment but didn’t respond. I am sure I sent you an email but just in case – yes, of course – make use of the shot. Just put a small indication of where you got it. Without a doubt the weather in southern Patagonia can be unpredictable!

  3. Debbie says:

    Came across your blog while looking for pics of driftwood. Found one I would like to share on my facebook . Yet not sure how to address the credit to you. Your name etc…thanks

    • true_north says:

      Debbie, feel free to share the pic. Putting my home page url would be more than enough credit!

      Perhaps the most amazing beach I’ve visited – the 10-kilometer stretch of wild shore of Vancouver Island from Tofino to Wickaninnish called Long Beach- has incredible driftwood strewn about. I remember spending some time trying to frame just the right shot as I cycled it from one end to the other.

      • Debbie says:

        Can you post the link?

      • Sharon says:

        We live on Vancouver island and that beach is incredible. Interesting to read this as I was mainly looking at your blog regarding your trip to Nepal which is fabulous. We did Everest/Gokyo a few years ago and now are doing Three Passes in fall 2015. Its amazing that there are so many places to go in the world but we cannot help but to return there…. We are in our early fifties and also feel that we can only do those challenging hikes for so long so its important to go while we can. We do a lot of kayaking off the coast of Vancouver island so if you loved that beach in Tofino, you would LOVE the private beaches all up the west coast of the island. Just as gorgeous without a soul around often. Magical place.
        Thanks for your blog, its very well done and informative.

  4. Debbie says:

    I meant the link to the beach photos…the 10-kilometer stretch of wild shore of Vancouver Island from Tofino to Wickaninnish called Long Beach- has incredible driftwood strewn about.

    • true_north says:

      Ah, the link to the post on Long Beach! There is no post and unfortunately I’m not even sure where the pix are! It was back in 2004 before I turned to digital photography so I am sure they are in a box somewhere! You’ll just have to go and see for yourself!

  5. Aaron says:


    Thanks for the info and very helpful information on your website and the post on Lonely planet for Patagonia! I tried replying to the topic I asked 2 days ago but they somehow deleted the thread, maybe they thought my flickr account is some sort of advertising…So I thought I will post here instead.

    Anyways, back to Patagonia, the purpose of my trip is photography and I’m more of a photographer than a hiker. I have done hikes in Iceland and North America and Canada but not really experienced with camping. It’s very important or me to be at the places during sunrise and sunset. After looking at most of the best spots, it looks like they all require hiking and perhaps camping, especially in El Chalten.

    So would it be best to say that I should just hire a car in Puerto Natales (or is Punta Arenas cheaper?) for few days in TDP, take bus to El Chalten, hike, take bus to El Calafate, rent a car to drive to the glacier for sunrise, bus back to Punta Arenas?

    As for accommodation, in TDP should I just stay 2 nights in Puerto Natales, drive along some scenic spots (Lago Pehoe, anything else), do 4-5 days W trek. I assume I need to camp or stay in Refugios for the shots. For El Chalten, I suppose the only way is to camp or stay in Refugios to avoid walking hours in the dark….

    I really would prefer to stay in Refugios with a proper bed, but are they still too far from the sunrise/sunset locations in TDP and El Chalten? I wouldn’t mind 30 minutes walk in the dark but nothing more than that. I know that TDP is one of the most expensive place to stay, but what about staying in the refugios there, would $50 a night be enough? And do you have to book and pay for camping or is it free?

    Here’s some of my shots from my previous travels, I’m on a 2 months trip starting Feb next year and will be going to Arizona, Utah, Canadian rockies, Yellowknife or Whitehorse for aurora, Salar de uyuni and Patagonia. Seeing that you are from Canada, would love to travel with you to the Rockies if you happen to have time.


    Please feel free to contact me on email, cosmicnova@hotmail.com



    • true_north says:

      Aaron, the sunrise/sunset requirement does make it a bit more difficult! BTW I took a look at your picture sets and can see you’ve got some great dawn/dusk shots from some amazing places, lots of “wow” moments for sure!

      In the mountains just west of El Chalten unfortunately all the great spots to be require you to be camping unless you want to leave your room in El Chalten at 2 or 3 in the morning! I’d have to say the same about Torres del Paine. This is not to say that there aren’t other great miradors (viewpoints) that photographers haven’t found. The entrance to El Chalten from the east, for example, might make a nice sunset shot. From the road going through TDP Park there are undoubtedly some fine spots from which to frame memorable shots.

      You seem to have a passion for the outdoors and beautiful landscapes. Given that you have a lifetime of photography ahead of you, I’d say forget the rental car idea and embrace your inner camper! Spend the money on quality gear that you can use over the next decade instead of on car rental fees. This will give you a flexibility and the access to places that 99% of people don’t get to because of the time, effort, and skills necessary to get there. As I write this I think back to the work of Galen Rowell, a truly great American photographer who combined his love of mountaineering with his photography skills and created an impressive body of work. Check out the following link for some examples –


      Having said that, I am sure it is possible to find some great vantage points from further away that would still allow you to get some stunning shots. Take a look at the following set of Patagonia pix by another photographer, Ian Plant – many of them sunrise or sunset – and you’ll be looking at what you are after!


      Fantastico Sur is one of the two major refugio owners in TDP. Check out their price list here –


      It is a bit more than $50. a night but you’ll be there in prime time (February) and would have to prebook to be absolutely sure of getting a bed. While I tented my way around the TDP circuit, I did make use of the refugio restaurants whenever I could, keeping what food that I had for situations when there were no restaurants available. Having a tent gives you a fall back if the refugio is totally booked. You do have to pay a camping fee- it is something in the order of $10. You also have to pay a $38. park entry fee at TDP; the hiking trails out of El Chalten are free.

      Aaron, I’m sure I haven’t answered all your questions. You’ve got a few months to get a better handle on things and how to do them. In the end, you will go down there and, given your eye for framing interesting shots, you’ll come back with a memory card full of great pix.

  6. fernwehh says:

    Hi true_north! Thanks for the like and follow. I am loving your blog here, and can totally relate to your ramblin’ boy bug. Many of my friends have chosen to focus on other things in life but to me the sense of adventure is incomparable. I’ll be making a long extended trip to South America towards year end so I’ll be checking in to your blog very often! Drop by South East Asia sometime!

  7. Jen says:

    Hey Peter. Had you as a history teacher about a decade ago at EY. Your lectures and stories about your travels were always fascinating. Keep up the great work!

    • true_north says:

      Jen – is that Jen C? – nice to hear from you! It’s always nice to hear from old friends. You use the word “decade” and it sounds downright historical!

      The blog started as a way to share canoe trip pix with friends a couple of years ago and has become what you see here – true_north’s digital shoe box of pix with adventures and how-to advice! Once a teacher, always a …

      I hope the passing years find you happy and fulfilled with your journey so far and the twists and turns it has taken. Let me know when your blog is up and running!

  8. Alex says:

    Hi there! Ran into your fantastic site whilst planning a big trip. Am wondering if I can ask you some questions about transport and routes? Could you email me back? Alex

  9. Red Langford says:

    I’m planning a trip to Wabakimi and have some questions. Could we arrange a telephone call?

  10. Cam says:

    Hello. How does one get a hold of you to chat by email?

  11. Shirley Rose Cockburn says:

    I would like to use some of your photos from your adventures in the Temagami area as reference photos for some of my paintings. Can you please contact me.
    Thank you for your time.

    • true_north says:

      Shirley, feel free to use any of the photos that inspire you to put brush to canvas. Perhaps you’ll remember this post when your painting is done and you’ll send a link – if there is one! – to the digital image!

      • Shirley Rose Cockburn says:

        Thank you heaps… so excited. It will be several months before I do refer to the photos as I have a lot of painting images on the go right now. I will certainly reference you on the art write up when I do refer to your photos (they are great by the way). I have a blog which I try to keep up to date, but not always successfully, which is http://www.cockburnstudio.blogspot.com Take care, Shirley Rose Cockburn, CockburnStudio

  12. Hi Peter
    My nephew alerted me to this site and I am blown away by the depth and breadth of your research on Morrisseau/Dewdney. I share your love of the north and among other interests, spend about 5 months a year in the Chapleau area prospecting. At age 11, I complained to my father that my older brothers had more interesting names than me and so he offered that if I wanted a middle name I should just choose one. I chose North. I live on Ward’s Island and would be thrilled if you dropped in if you ever get out here… and looking at your travels in Toronto, I’m sure you do.
    I spent a few summers with dad on what my mother termed “expeditions” the most interesting one included recording James Redsky’s interpreting the Midayewin Initiation scrolls and his oration of the Ojibwe Creation “myth”.
    Peter North Dewdney

    • true_north says:

      Peter, it is nice to hear you liked the post on the pictographs.

      Your name has certainly popped up a number of times as I have read through one or another of your father’s books. Ever since I first found a copy of Indian Rock Paintings of the Great Lakes my life as a retired teacher has included what most would call an obsession with pictographs and anything written by Selwyn Dewdney. It certainly has been an education and one for which I can thank your father – and bow paddlers with names like Chris or Keewatin or Peter!

      It’s funny that you should mention Chapleau. My brother and I just spent 45 minutes on Skype looking at the Google Earth map of the Little Missinaibi River that we plan on going down from Healey Bay on Lake Windermere to access Little Missinaibi Lake. We want to see the pictograph sites there and then paddle down to Fairy Point and on to Missanabie where we would catch the Budd car back to Chapleau.

      Peter, one day soon Viggo and I will hop on that ferry for an island walk and visit.

  13. Lynn says:

    Stumbled across your blog while looking up possible cycling routes from Bowmanville to Ottawa as I am considering a route this summer. In doing so, it looks like I have found another blog to enjoy reading!


    • true_north says:

      Lynn, nice choice for a scenic ride! The route along the lake via Prince Edward County and then the St.Lawrence down to Brockville and up to Ottawa is one that I’ve done a couple of times. There are a gazillion other route options! BTW – nice blog! Just got knee deep into it but there is more to check out! Gotta love WordPress for making it so easy for us to share!

      • Lynn says:

        The thought of the route from Brockville working up towards Ottawa intimidates me a wee bit as I suspect there is some climbing involved. Not a huge fan of hills but I suppose it is inevitable I learn to develop a better relationship with them!

        WordPress is such a wonderful forum to share information & stories. I could never imagined the wonderful friendships & the people I would connect with through blogging.

        Love your play on words with the knee deep in it! I was a sight to behold, that’s for sure!

      • true_north says:

        Lynn – look at this Google Maps- generated map of the bike route from Brockville to Ottawa – https://goo.gl/maps/niXKxDgDE8x

        What you want to do is focus on all the downhill parts – of which there will be a bit! Have a great ride!

        brockville to Ottawa elevation profile

        Not so bad, eh! Do it over two days – Merrickville is a pleasant little spot to spend the afternoon!

      • Lynn says:

        Awesome! Thanks so much!

  14. lineairbeeldresearch says:

    Dear Rambling Boy,
    Our office provides a Dutch schoolbook publisher, Uitgeverij Noordhoff, with pictures for their books. We would like to use a picture of you from an olive hut in catamount glacier could you perhaps give us permission to use this beautiful picture for this purpose? We can send you the photo that we are interested in via foto@lineairbeeldresearch.nl when you leave a reply. We hope to hear from you ! Best regards, Lineair Beeldresearch, Brigit Klein lankhorst

    • true_north says:

      Brigit – Groeten uit Toronto, Canada! Every time I see that photo I think how lucky I was to spend a night there.

      Feel free to use the photo! Let me know if you need a larger mb file for publishing purposes.

  15. Habeeb Maroun says:

    Dear Rambling Boy,

    If you had an opportunity to do a 10-day guided trek to Cordillera Blanca or Huayhuash, which would you choose?

    I have time off from work that i’m carrying over into next year and i’m considering one of these two treks through tour agencies. I’m not sure when i’m going to get this opportunity again.

    I have backpacked throughout the Rockies and completed the TMB. I’m in good physical condition and have handled altitude well in the past, although I realize the importance of acclimatizing.

    My passion is beautiful mountain scenery, jagged peaks, glacier covered mountains, and photographing such locations (hobby).

    Appreciate any advice you may have.

    • true_north says:

      Habeeb, I think I’d choose a compressed trek in the Cordillera Huayhuash. The one I did was 16 days but there are shorter versions that try to give you “The Best Of The Huayhuash” in less time. Hopefully it will only be the first of your many visits to the Cordillera Blanca so what you don’t do the first time you can do in the future!

      You’d need a two-week vacation to fit it all in – a flight down to Lima; a day to get up to Huaraz by bus or – if you are willing to spend a bit of $$ – a 1- hr. flight up to Huaraz; a couple of days of acclimatization in Huaraz with walks above the town to help in the process; and finally, the trek itself.

      There are some good local Hauraz and Peruvian agencies in the town that can handle your trek. Ideally you want to join with others since the price will be determined by how many clients are on the trek.

      Re: trekking agencies. There are a number of reputable ones out there. Unless they have completely fallen apart since I used them i can highly recommend Peruvian Andes Adventures. Why not check tripadivsor to see what recent clients of theirs are saying?

      Good luck with your plans. The organized trek approach is a good one since it will allow you to spend the day walking with your camera gear and focusing on your photo-ops while the experienced local crew deals with the logisitics and the moving the infrastructure and your baggage.

  16. judithmbrown says:

    Hello Rambling Boy,

    I was wondering if I could use a photo of yours (with attribution to you) to advertise a series of talks among Quakers in Ottawa called The Waters of Reconciliation? The photo I’d love to use is of the Ottawa River near Arnprior (https://albinger.me/2016/09/20/canoeing-the-ottawa-river-from-fort-coulonge-to-ottawas-rideau-canal-intro-maps-and-planning/).

    Thanks for considering this request!

    A fellow canoeist

    • true_north says:

      Judith, go right ahead. Happy to have my photo used for such a positive event. The fact that it is a fellow canoeist making the request is just a bonus! 🙂

      • judithmbrown says:

        Thank you. You are very kind, and a great photographer to boot. The image should mean a lot to Ottawa Quakers because the Ottawa River is something we see every day; your photo really captures and highlights its spiritual side.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Hi, Peter. Have been meandering through your site. It’s encyclopaedic! So enjoyable. And that Viggo boy is so darling! Thanks, Rosemary

    • true_north says:

      Rosemary, “encyclopaedic” is the result of keeping at it year after year! I do tend to get obsessed by the things I embrace! OCD! And yes, Viggo is a cutie!

  18. Jim Ladds says:

    Hi Peter

    Wow …I’m so impressed with your ramblin photos… and your incredible sense of adventure. Also more than a little regretful that we hadn’t had more opportunity to share wilderness adventures. Other than the canoe trip up Kanasuta to Duparquet so many years ago (circa 1975?). Thank you so much for introducing me to Max and the incredible depths of music, poetry, history yous both introduced me to!
    I ventured west in 1980 and have lived in Northern British Columbia ever since. Working for the Ministry of Forests, and ending a 36 year career as the Regional Manager of Recreation Sites and Trails BC. Like you, my passion for outdoor recreation has never dimmed, and what a fabulous place to live and enjoy the beauty of nature.
    Would to love to connect and chat or paddle, or ski or hike or drink beer with ya, some day…if you’re ever headed out west (northern BC) Please look me up.
    Cheers, Jim Ladds

    • true_north says:

      Jim, I have thought about that Kanasuta canoe trip a few times over the years! And I must thank you for coming along and providing the expert woodsman touch we needed because on that trip I was the student and you were the teacher! I do remember some of the girls (Gail Cutherbertson and Joanna Manna and others) were also keen campers and paddlers so between you and them we had it covered! I remember it was the International Year of Women that year (1975) and the girls were upset because a boys’ trip was planned but there was nothing for the girls. They asked me to help make a trip happen for them too and in the end, only our trip actually happened!

      To think that now you too are retired after what sounds like a very fulfilling career dealing with the outdoors you always loved! Then again, I was only 22 or 23 when I was in that classroom and I guess you were about 16; not that big an age difference in retrospect. I had to smile when I read that Max’s and my obsession with blues and other music rubbed off on you!

      My wife and I almost moved out to Victoria on retirement a decade ago but real estate prices were kinda crazy so our Riverdale neighbourhood in Toronto remains our home and base camp for whatever adventure – in Canada or elsewhere – we embrace. We have lived here since the early 1980s and it is a liveable little corner of the city to deal with.

      Jim, thanks for writing! Good to hear from you and know that you’re doing well. Pass on greetings to your big bro Brent. We went to school together and probably played hockey together on some team at the Rec Center! If I am ever in Prince George again, I’ll definitely pay you a visit! The last time I was there was in 1978 on the way to Skagway and the Chilcoot Trail followed by a canoe trip down the Yukon to Dawson City from Whitehorse! I did that trip with Roy Londry, a longtime Noranda friend of mine.

  19. Lara says:

    Hi Peter! I just wanted to say thank you for your fantastic report on the Nahuel Huapi traverse. I had a difficult time finding good information on that, and your report was extremely valuable in helping me with my plans. I am leaving for Patagonia at the end of the week, and will be in Bariloche by mid-March. I plan to solo the route, perhaps making friends along the way as you did. The only thing I still need is a decent GPS track for the traverse. I have a few bits and pieces, but I am missing the important part – from Jakub to Italia, and the more serious scrambling parts. Any idea where I can find one?
    Again, much thanks from a fellow Canadian and rockies hiker/climber 🙂

    • true_north says:

      Lara, lucky you! While Patagonia hiking is not high altitude, it certainly is very scenic and the refugios make it that much easier and safer for a solo self-supported hiker. The most important thing will be the weather. I had six sunny days. Hopefully mid-March will give you the same!

      Re: GPS track.

      Days 1 and 2 are easy-to-follow trails and there will be fellow hikers that you will be walking with.

      Days 3 and 4 are two days with no real trails, just inadequate signage (faded red dots on rocks!) that you sometimes struggle to see! I think this is done intentionally to discourage hikers from doing it on their own – perhaps out of concern for their safety and perhaps as a way to get people to hire guides.

      Day 3 is the crucial one – you sign a waiver stating that you know the risk involved and are given a run through by the Refugio keeper of the route. He has a folder full of images that he goes through. This is mostly a waste of time because you cannot remember all the details! It also keeps you at the hut until 9 when you’d rather just get going! Much better would be for him to provide everyone with a GPX track of the route that they could put on their smartphones before they set off!

      Back in 2017, I found a GPS track of the route at the 4refugios website. It is the site of the Nahuel Huapi Traverse race they run each February. http://www.4refugios.com.ar/

      I did not find one – but I did save the one from 2017. You can download it from my Dropbox folder.


      Another site you should visit is the wikiloc one. https://www.wikiloc.com/

      If you are doing any other hiking in Patagonia it will probably have other gpx tracks for you too. I found this Day 3 track by dnlmachado. (He also uploaded tracks for Days 1, 2, 4, and 5). See here –


      The gpx track for Day 3 can be accessed here –


      A good run-through of the traverse by a fellow blogger from Calgary can be accessed here –


      It includes a useful pdf file of a Lonely Planet chapter describing the traverse –

      Click to access nahuel-huapi-traverse-pdf.pdf

      I downloaded the osmand app a day before I set off on the hike and for some reason it usually crashed when I opened it on my iPhone. It made for a less than stellar bit of route finding on Day 3! After the traverse, I found the wikiloc app and it worked better for some hikes I did up in San Martin de Los Andes.

      Have a great time on your Patagonia adventure. Again, good luck with the weather and the availability of a fellow hiker or two on Days 3 and 4. Do let me know how it went – and send me a link to your trip report if you post one. I’ll add a link to it in my report so that future hikers can have a more up-to-date account of the traverse.

  20. Kernie Gilliam says:

    I have been reading your info on the little missinaibi, Can the river be accessed by any of the logging roads that you passed by? I do not have enough days to start at Windemere. Thanks in advance

    • true_north says:

      Kernie, if you want to knock off 3 days of river travel, then the logging road crossing about ten kilometers from the south end of Little Lake Missinaibi would be a good choice. We camped just below the bridge/culvert and took a half-day to get to the lake. It is 50 km. from Chapleau to the put-in. See the Google Earth view for a look – click here

      A suggestion – get in touch with Missinaibi Headwaters and see if they can shuttle you up there. They could always pick you up at the Barclay Bay campground five or six days later.

      Or maybe Happy Day Lodge at Healey Bay could do the shuttle for you. You could paddle from the put-in to Missanabie in five days and then hop on the train back to your vehicle.

  21. Tom Addicks says:

    Just stumbled on your site and I commend you for your attention to detail, history, and the pics. I too have been a rambling man and expect to ramble north to the Spanish River or the Coulonge this summer at age 70 if the border opens up. My ramblings have taken me from the Yukon to Labrador with most concentrated in central Quebec. Have done the French three times just because the scenery and campsites are so good. I have added some “cultural canoeing” as well–The Trent/Severn and Rideau canals and the Grand and St. John rivers. Just good to know there are others my age still dipping a paddle every summer and combing through maps and now the internet during the winter. Best wishes,
    Tom Addicks

    • true_north says:

      Tom, thanks for the email! Always nice to get a thumbs up from another ramblin’ boy! Sounds like you’ve come down some rivers I still dream of. Gotta agree about the French; easy but so scenic – I think we’ll be paddling there in our eighties! To us paddlers, the winter is seedtime; the Spanish – and even more – the Coulonge make for excellent one-week to ten-day canoe trips. Enjoy the planning phase!

      If you’re hitting 70 next summer, we’re the same age. when I retired at 58 after 35 years as a high school history teacher, I figured if I could go canoe tripping until I was 70 I would be good with that. I realize now that my end date choice was somewhat too timid!

  22. Tom Addicks says:

    A funny story when on the French River. Must have been 1980 or so and we started at Restoule Park and did a few portages and some wading and camped in a mound of logs on a small gravel spot as the Restoule River joins the French. My partner was less knowledgeable about camping so he put his new leather boots by the fire to dry. Well, they were burning pretty well before he noticed the problem. They were his only shoes and were totally unwearable. We paddled along with him wearing socks. When we got close to Noelville I hitched a ride to the town to find him a pair of size 12 shoes. Nothing doing. Finally in desperation I got a pair of the biggest flip-flops I could find and that sufficed for the rest of the trip.

    The Massasauga rattlesnake is alive and well on the French. On another trip, we stopped for lunch just north of the canoe channel on a small island which was 10 yards off the mainland. As we went to sit in the shade I heard the rattle and sure enough, there he was. We did have our lunch but we did move to the other end of the island!

    Saw another on the Recollet portage sunning himself near the take-out. In those days there was a two-wheeled cart at the portage and you would load your stuff and roll it along the board walks. Moose on the Restoule and bears on the French were seen at several locations. Folks at Hartleys Bay were always good to us. May have to revisit the area. Now the campsites are marked and numbered, wow…getting too easy.

  23. Great to see you out walking this morning. I have a lot of catching up to do with your postings but am amazed at the breadth of your travels.

    I’ve been spending a lot of time recently sketching and painting the land and cityscapes from my travels as well as around Toronto but my favourite topic has always been the views from my canoe.

    Have a look at Cameron’s site as well. I am learning a lot from him. As discussed, I’m passing on my general info and IG sites for photos and artwork as well.

  24. jon lewis says:

    hi, thinking of leaving from hartley bay marina with my three sons for a short weekend trip. are there nice camps sites within a two hour paddle? any white water to enjoy? thx.

    • true_north says:

      The really nice campsites are on Georgian Bay and they do take more than two hours to access. However, my favourite FRPP cs is the one on Pickerel Bay – indicated by #633 in my report (old number – #s have apparently been changed). If you are lucky it may be empty when you visit! Fantastic elevated views and lots of room for your boys to explore.

      As for whitewater, there is little to speak of in the French River Delta below Recollet Falls. The Bad River Channel is most likely to have some but current water levels will determine exactly what you will get as you go down one of its various sub-channels.

      You could go down the Old Voyageur Channel in the Western Outlet; it has some swifts, including La Dalle, a nice 100-meter stretch framed by some vertical rock on both sides. The OV Channel also includes an easy 20-meter portage around La Petite Faucille on your way to La Dalle.

      Make use of the West and east cross-channels if it is a windy day and you want to avoid being out on Georgian Bay itself.

  25. Michael Block says:

    What a great resource you have created. I passed it on to my children.

    • true_north says:

      Michael, congrats for actually finding the site given the prompt I gave you!

      There may be a canoe trip in there for you. I highly recommend the French River Delta for almost-portage-free but very scenic paddling – and it is a short drive from Riverdale!

  26. Tony McGuire says:

    I wanted to use a map I found here in a documentary, is that alright to use?

    I like your site, I remembered it when I started doing a documentary about the area.



    • true_north says:

      Tony, I’m not sure what map you are referring to. It is undoubtedly a map image I found online, so I am not really the one to give you permission!

      Let me know which map in particular you mean, and I can send you the URL so you can check out the source and go from there. It may be public domain; it may be copyrighted.

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