Nothing beats a nice, hot shower after a hike….

Oftentimes during my several hikes, and especially whilst negotiating a particularly taxing climb, I had often wondered about the possibility of rigging up some kind of a shower system in the bush, that would help relieve the tremendously tiring and sweaty periods of any hike in the wilderness.

Unfortunately, all my thoughts remained as thoughts and I never had the time or patience to design something like that, until I found the very thing at my local hiking shop!

As you may have read in my past articles here, I am a sucker for MEC, a fantastic mecca for folks like you and me who are into any kind of leisure pursuit, be it on land, up a mountain, on the water or snow and ice.

There I found The Hot Tap wilderness shower pack. It’s a superb idea, and is capable of providing you with a very adequate hot shower for up to 10 minutes.

All you do is dunk the pump in water, light the propane burner and hey! presto, you have an instant hot water shower in the middle of nowhere.

What is it like in use? As always, I only comment on the things I have used personally, and this is one of them. It comes with it’s own fully illustrated instructions that are clear and easy to read.

The shower is able to give you around 8 to 10 minutes of hot water. I found it to be enough to remove the normal grime, sweat and tears of a normal hike….of course, with any shower, you really want to stand under it as long as possible, savouring the life-giving heat of the water on your body, but don’t forget, this is not the shower in your home, and so you have to get on with cleaning yourself rather swiftly before the water runs out!

Batteries for the pump are needed…if you forget to pack them, well, let’s just say your hot shower in the wilderness will remain a dream! I do know some of my friends who bought this unit have used rechargeable batteries, which last longer and can obviously be recharged when required.

All in all, a very, very ingenious item and well worth packing for your hike.

Click here to read more about this very useful hiking must-have accessory.


Where will those animals go if…


Once during a really adventurous hike to the True North, I was talking to an Inuit elder, and the subject went onto penguins of all things.

He was telling me about what we know as Emperor penguins. During the breeding season he said, after the eggs are laid, the mother leaves her egg with the father penguin, while she walks 50 or 60 miles in the arctic conditions, until she reaches open water, where she can dive in and start feeding.

That walk takes them 4 or 5 days, sometimes longer…many times the mothers do not make it to the sea, but perish on the way. But because they have used all their energy to produce their eggs, they have to leave and eat, otherwise die. During this time, the fathers incubate the eggs, standing in temperatures as low as they get in those conditions, -50C sometimes, sometimes lower.


And the fathers have to do this for at least 3 months, usually 4, until the mothers have had their feeds and are ready to return home in time to feed their already hatched chicks.

If the mothers don’t return by the time 3 or 4 months are up, the father will abandon his chick, walk the 70 miles to the water and feed, or otherwise die of starvation with his chick. Remember by this time, they have been without food for more than 4 months!

But in what can only be called a miracle of Nature, apparently, within the penguins throat, there are several creases, and within these creases a milky substance is secreted, which the father penguin regurgitates up and feeds it to the chick, sustaining it’s life for a while longer.

And as if by another miracle, the mothers somehow sense the urgency with which they have to be back to feed their chicks, and walk with speed to be with them. Unknown to them, some of their chicks will have died through lack of food and severe cold.

When the mothers return, their chicks are overjoyed, even though they have never set eyes upon them before. Now, the fathers walk away to the open water, again 70 or more miles away, to feed…again, some will not make it, dying through lack of food and cold. And yet again, when the fathers return, many of the chicks will have died, their mothers are inconsolable and their loss unimaginable….they squawk mournfully for days on end. Who, says the Inuit, who says that animals don’t have feelings?

My point about this whole story is theis…..if mankind keeps destroying the planet and it’s resources as he has been doing so far, what will become of these animals, whose lives  already hinge on so uncertain, and so fragile an existence?


Lochness monster? We have our own in BC….

Right by Bella Coola, around that area, is a river, quite far away, called the Kimsquit River.

Thats where our monster lives, or around them parts.

Once I was up there, just pottering around camping and canoeing. I’d spent the better part of a few weeks there and thoroughly enjoyed my time there, but now it was time to move on down home.

I got everything packed, but thought about my canoe..I just couldn’t justify carrying all that weight and the mere thought of it made me shiver!

Ah, to hell with it, I thought, I’d leave it right there covered up with tree fronds and stuff. I planned to come back again, so I’d pick it up then.

There was a small portage right along by the river bank, made by myself and used by animals as well, so I decided to hike down that way.

It wasn’t long before I decided to take a break, so I stopped, laid down my pack and sat down. The place was dead quiet….I didn’t like that, as normally there’d be birds and things chattering away, but not this time.

I idly looked over at the other side of the river bank, amongst some tree branches fallen and trapped there. I thought I saw something move, but the moment I looked harder, there was nothing.

I knew then that there definitely was something there, that explained why everything was so quiet…..mountain lion or grizzly, I thought.

I kept very still, breathing very shallowly. Then I saw it again….something in the water. It looked like a seal, but it had a weird head, a bit like a bird or a lizard. It could be a dead branch maybe, being moved by the current. But no, it seemed to move of it’s own accord.

It was almost black in colour, and moved its head from side to side. Then a little more of it came out the water and I could see the rest of it’s body, a very wide body. This was no seal! I’ve never ever been scared in the woods, but this time, I could feel myself trembling. Judging by the it’s size, if it ever came out the water and onto land, I’d be toast for sure.

I thought to unpack my rifle, a good powerful one, too, but the noise it would create would attract too much attention. In the ned, I saw a fist sized rock, picked it up and through it at the thing as hard as I could.

I think I must’ve hit it just below it’s neck in the water, as it looked over at me, opened it’s mouth, showing it’s small teeth, like those on a fish. Then it dived, dived fast and all I could see was ripples for a while, then nothing.

Well, I didn’t hang around there, I tell you! I was outta there like a shot and didn’t stop till about 5 hours afterwards, so scared I was.

What was it? I don’t know. But I mentioned it to my aboriginal friend one time, and he nodded his head, saying “Don’t go there again…big trouble”



What to eat to save your life in the wilderness




























A rather disturbing title and one which is even more important than some of the subjects we’ve covered here before, like fire, water or shelter.

Without food, and especially if we are stuck in a very cold or very dry situation, our survival will depend on what we have available to eat, be that in freeze-dried packs that you managed to bring with you, or whatever may be around you.

Let me say straight away here that if you’re a vegetarian, and you are very definitely not going to eat any animal matter to survive, then it could well be a case of kissing goodbye to your life!  In a life or death situation, life is more sacrosanct than ideological standpoints. Harsh as it may sound, given the choice of starving to death or surviving by eating animals, I know which one I would opt for.

So, let’s assume that you have decided that you will eat whatever is nearby or at hand. What do we eat?

Well, the biggest group of live food is the insects. Ok, ok…I know….instant yuck! Despite being some of the most horrible or ugly-looking creatures on the planet, once we overcome our very natural aversion to eating them, it’s surprising how much nutrition they can provide in an emergency.

Fine; now a little friendly advice…if you have a weak stomach and get queasy just at the mention of eating insects, look away now! I’m about to tell you how to go about collecting, preparing and eating various creepy-crawlies!

Where do you find them? Depending upon terrain, the most likely places will be under stones and rocks, in rocky crevices, in rotting trees or logs, even under loose bark of live trees.

Beetles, grasshoppers etc all have hard shells, so either remove them before eating or throw them onto a fire if you have one going; they will die almost instantly and be ready to eat in less than 30 seconds or so. If you are in a dire emergency you can of course eat them as they are.

Th taste will vary, but remember we are not interested in that at the moment…it’s a pure survival thing we are aiming at.

If you cannot eat them as they are, they can be ground up into a paste and eaten that way, or by heating them in a pan over the fire. Earthworms can be washed and eaten raw or thrown in a pan and boiled.

If you are stranded in a watery environment, then water-living creatures are a good bet. Almost all kinds of fish can be eaten, but do remember that some species may be carrying dangerous parasites, in which case always cook the fish first. Some fish may have poisons within their bodies, especially saltwater fish, so you should either know which types of fish are poisonous or if unsure, leave well alone.

The same goes for shelled molluscs. Most are harmless, but beware of eating molluscs that are not covered by water at high tide, as these may be poisonous. All molluscs can be eaten raw, but it’s better to boil them in water to kill any parasites that may co-exist within.

Which insects and animals do we need to avoid? Well, Nature provides us with a very important signal — any insect or animal that is brightly coloured should be left well alone; the colour is a warning sign! The same goes for any insect, frog, lizard etc which smells bad….

I have deliberately left out any information regarding bigger animals such as deer, hogs, etc etc as capturing these may not be possible when you are stranded, and indeed may well take far too long, by which time your energy levels will be severely diminished. Leave that prize moose you always wanted to shoot for another day!

At the end of the day, your survival depends on preparation. Always, always make sure you pack enough emergency rations. That way, you may not need to fall back on the horrible critters we’ve been talking about here!