Monday, September 27, 2010

Treepedo – A Logging Tool That’s Ideal for Hunters, Campers, and Paddlers

Sometimes you have to think outside the box and every once in a while, even in my foggy world, the lights come on. Recently I met Thomas Amorium, the inventor of a device called Treepedo. In short this is a neat little gadget intended for use by loggers and tree removal experts to throw a messenger line that is used to pull a rope into the tree to isolate tree branches for safe removal or to direct a falling tree when working in tight quarters. It was really cool and I thought that at least it would be worth a mention to some of my friends that own large woodlots; but what has this got to do with our outdoors adventures?

First let me tell you what this device does and why it is unique. In order to tie off a tree or a limb in a given direction a light line (messenger) is attached to a weight (typically a bag filled with toxic lead shot), the weight is then tossed into the crown of the tree and maneuvered into position to obtain the desired pull angle. A heavier rope is then attached to the messenger line, pulled back through the crown, and then anchored. If you're like me the wheels are already turning.

The problem with the traditional method is that it can be time consuming and frustrating. The lead filled bags get stuck in the branches or snag and break, spilling their lead shot contents onto the ground. Treepedo is a three part, aerodynamic, environmentally friendly device that easily worms its way through tree branches and virtually never gets hung up. It's easy to see because of the bright stainless steel finish and, in the rare instance that it does break off, it is easy to find and non toxic to the environment.

Although this was really cool my interest stopped at the purpose it was designed for; then the lights came on! Being one that's always on the lookout for new gadgets that can potentially add to my enjoyment of the outdoors I began to see new applications.

Hunters, have you ever struggled to find a secure and safe way of hoisting your tree stand, or tried to lasso a branch to hoist up a deer to keep it safe from varmints until the next morning?

Campers and paddlers, have you ever gazed longingly at that tree branch 30' off the ground and thought "If only I could get a rope around that branch to keep my food away from animals?"

Well Treepedo just might be the answer to your prayers. It's small enough, and light enough, to pack along on any hunting, camping, or paddling trip. It's easy to use and will allow you to safely, accurately, and easily secure a rope exactly where you want it.

For full details check out

©2010 Lloyd Fridenburg – All rights reserved click here for copyright permissions


Friday, July 9, 2010

3 Safe and Enjoyable Southern Ontario Flat-water Daytrips

Most newcomers to paddling in Southern Ontario need an opportunity to get familiar with their new craft, and hone their expertise on sheltered flat-water before tackling rivers or the challenges of whitewater.

Here are three of my favorite locations that will provide both sheltered flat-water and a wonderful opportunity to view nesting waterfowl, aquatic life, and sneak up on a host of animals that depend on wetlands.

  1. Hullett Marsh, just outside the town of Clinton, is a wonderful place to do some flat water paddling and enjoy some great nature viewing at the same time. There are several access points and some great trails if you want to stretch your legs. 


  2. Long Point is a great area to explore, but I don't advise heading beyond the shelter of the mashes and into the inner bay. The waters can become treacherous quickly.  I suggest heading into the protected part of the marsh by heading upstream on Big Creek which can be accessed from the causeway or from the bridge on County Rd. 42 (Lakeshore).  If you're coming through Port Rowan follow the signs for Port Burwell and stop at the first bridge and head downstream.
  3. Luther Marsh is located near the headwaters of the Grand River near the towns or Orangeville and Grand Valley. Non-motorized water craft including canoes, kayaks and rowboats are permitted on the marsh between July 31 and Sept. 1, after a canoe access permit and registration has been completed. A canoe launch is at the main gate. No canoe permit is required after September 1st. There are three canoe launches, however two are not accessible when the road is closed, but they may be used for a rest or lunch stop. The north edge of the lake has restricted access to protect a wildlife sanctuary and heronry and is marked with orange markers.

There are a host of other flat water destinations available in Southern Ontario but these are three of my personal favorites and all are within easy reach of Southern Ontario's most populated areas. One bonus of paddling in these protected wetlands is that you don't need to arrange for a downstream pickup or take two vehicles.

Here are a few tips to enhance the enjoyment of your flat-water paddling adventure:

  • Wear your life jacket!
  • No alcohol; but do take plenty of liquid refreshment on a hot day.
  • Pack a lunch or snacks…make a day of it and don't rush.
  • Watch the weather. If rain or, especially thunder storms are imminent you might want to shoot for another day.
  • Wear a hat that will shade your face and neck. And don't forget the sunscreen and packing some insect repellent might be a good idea.
  • Did I mention Wear your Lifejacket?
  • Don't forget your camera but keep it in a waterproof case or strong plastic bag.
  • Be sure someone knows where you're going and when you plan to be back. Take your cell phone but keep it in a waterproof container or plastic bag.

Enjoy your time on the water this summer and don't forget to leave a comment on our paddling blog and share your own Southern Ontario flat-water adventures.

©2010 Lloyd Fridenburg – All rights reserved click here for copyright permissions


Friday, April 16, 2010

Don’t Put That in Your Mouth

There is simply no better gift that you can give your child than to share Southern Ontario's great outdoors. Even infants will love the chance to explore new territory and getting dirty is a bonus. But parents of toddlers and infants also need to be vigilant to ensure that children are safe in their surroundings.

This can be a difficult task even at home, but on the trail or in the bush it is essential. Of course there are the obvious dangers that can result in scrapes, bruises, or sprains but there are also those that can result in severe illness or even death. Many of these dangers are hidden under the guise of beautiful plants or insects. You as a responsible parent need to take the time to educate yourself about the hazards in your area and what to do about them.

Mosquitoes can transmit West Nile Virus; ticks can transmit Lyme Disease; and the venom from wasps, bees and hornets can cause a life threatening allergic reaction, especially if multiple stings are inflicted. Plants to watch out for include daisy, periwinkle, poison ivy, poison oak, nightshade, morning glory, some varieties of mushroom, arrowhead, and milkweed. Some of these plants – or parts of them – are edible at certain times of the year and some are even medicinal, in the correct proportions, but unless you are an expert it is best to avoid them all together.

Here are a few tips to help keep your kids safe:

  • If they have eaten any form of vegetation remove any pieces from their mouth and try to identify it.
  • If you are able to identify it and it is amongst the poisonous varieties seek medical attention as soon as possible, or call the Ontario Poison Centre at 1-800-268-9017.
  • If you can't identify it or even if it is something you believe to be harmless watch the child closely for several hours so see if any symptoms arise. Symptoms can include being lethargic, trouble breathing, fever, loss of appetite, and vomiting. Don't hesitate to call the Ontario Poison Centre, they can tell what symptoms to watch for.
  • Know the risk category of the region for things like Lyme Disease and West Nile Virus. There is actually a very low risk of contracting one of these diseases and an even lower risk of serious symptoms developing, but know the symptoms. Take precautions, but don't live in fear of mosquitoes and ticks.
  • If your child is stung by a bee, wasp, or hornet watch closely for any signs of a reaction. In the event of multiple stings or if symptoms arise, seek medical assistance immediately! For more information read the article titled Bees in the Bush on the Southern Ontario Outdoors camping blog dated June 2009.

"Knowledge is Power"! It simply isn't practical to think that you can protect your kids from all things that may be harmful, but a bit of research will help you keep them safe and happy in our great Southern Ontario Outdoors.

©2010 Lloyd Fridenburg – All rights reserved click here for copyright permissions

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wildlife Habitat and Climate Change

These days we often here talk of climate change and the potential impact that global warming will have on our society. But what about the affect of climate change on wildlife and wildlife habitat.

According to Dr. Paul James, Director of Environmental Monitoring for the Province of Saskatchewan and a research fellow at the University of Regina, many of our wildlife species are completely dependant on a very narrow band of acceptable climactic and environmental conditions in order to survive. Serious study of the effects of climate change on habitat must be undertaken and planning models must be tuned to reflect the new reality.

In short, when an ecosystem undergoes a dramatic change it can no longer sustain resident and migratory wildlife populations. New species of plant and animal life take over and indigenous species disappear.

So why don’t animals and birds simply move as their habitat changes? The fact is that they do, and much can be learned by the studying the slow migration of species into regions where they were previously unknown. But what happens if they can’t move? Take the animals and birds of the northern tundra for example. They rely on food sources that are only produced in regions of permafrost. As the permafrost vanishes due to sustained periods of higher than normal temperatures new types of vegetation will take over. These species simply cannot move further north to find food sources because it will simply cease to exist.

Species like the ptarmigan, arctic fox, and polar bear will simply cease to exist. And guess what? It is very likely to happen in our lifetime. Many scientists firmly believe that this is a “when”, rather than an “if” scenario.

There are other fragile ecosystems like the prairie pothole region that runs from the north central US through Southern Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and into Southern Alberta. This ecosystem provides a stopover for almost every migratory bird along the Mississippi flyway accounting for 80% of the waterfowl in North America. This ecosystem is already at risk due to improper farming and development practices. Over the next 50 years the potholes that provide a safe secure stopover for a wide variety of waterfowl will simply cease to exist.

Don’t take my word for it! Do your own research and form your own opinion, but you will find that in spite of government rhetoric many of these changes are inevitable. Dr. James stated “Wildlife studies must now focus on how to plan for the new reality and forget about sustainable management models of the past.”

While governments dither, wildlife habitat disappears!

Visit Southern Ontario Outdoors. Your source for news, information, and destinations related to your favorite outdoors activities throughout Southern Ontario.

©2009 Lloyd Fridenburg – All rights reserved click here for copyright permissions

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Optics for your Southern Ontario Paddling Adventures

Whether you’re hiking the rugged Bruce Trail, paddling the Grand river, or hunting in the farmlands of Southern Ontario a high quality pair of binoculars or spotting scope should be an essential part of your outdoors gear.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to binoculars; compact or full size. If you can manage a full size pair, that definitely is the way to go. Although you can buy some very high quality compact binoculars that will get the job done, the only real advantage they offer is the fact that they are indeed compact.

Full sized glasses allow for a larger objective lens; this is the end closest to your subject, providing the viewer with a crisper clearer image while capturing more light. This is particularly important during those times just before dawn and just after sunset when light begins to diminish.

People often get confused over the meaning of those numbers like 10x32 or 8x40 but I assure you there is no real mystery involved. The first number simply refers to magnification. For example, if the first number is 10 the object will appear to be 10 times larger than if it were viewed with the naked eye. The second number refers to the diameter of the objective lens. Again, this is the end closest to your subject. The larger the number, the greater the size; generally, bigger is better, but remember that overall size and weight will also increase.

Because of their high magnification and large objective lens, spotting scopes change your experience from that of a casual observer to a close-up participant. If you have the means to pack a scope you’ll be able to check out that trophy before you make the long trek up the mountainside, only to find that it wasn’t really a trophy after all. Serious birders will find that they are able to make highly accurate observations from a much longer distance than with a pair of binoculars.

Don’t be fooled by low cost knock-offs. In terms of quality you really do get what you pay for and there is no substitute for high quality glass and superior craftsmanship. Choose wisely and you’ll have a great outdoors accessory that will last a lifetime; and more.

©2009 Lloyd Fridenburg – All rights reserved click here for copyright permissions

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

GPS for Off-Road Navigation

The Global Positioning System, generally known as GPS has evolved into an accurate easy to use navigational aid for professionals and casual outdoors persons alike. Consumer GPS devices can be broken into three main categories; general purpose, automobile, and marine. For the purpose of this dissertation I’ll focus on the general purpose GPS, however they all work on the same basic principle; they are simply configured to optimize certain tasks.

In simple terms GPS units tune in to signals being sent from NAVSTAR satellites orbiting 12,000 miles above the surface of the earth. The accuracy of your GPS at any given time and place will vary depending on how many satellites you are tracking. The more satellites you are tracking at a given location the higher the degree of accuracy. The GPS then relates the signals from the satellites you are tracking to a specific position on earth letting you know, often within feet, where you are.

Even low end GPS units contain the basic functions necessary for navigation. They not only tell you where you are at a given time but allow you to save waypoints. A waypoint is simply a specific geographical location. For example you will want to mark your camp as a waypoint and if you are hiking or hunting, you will likely mark the location of your vehicle as a waypoint. You will then periodically mark trail crossings and other points of interest you may pass so you can easily return to them at some time in the future.

A set of waypoints can be saved to create a route, allowing you to follow a specific path over and over again. Or, you can use the “GO TO” function to select a specific waypoint – perhaps your car – that you want to head for. The arrow on your GPS will keep pointing to the waypoint until you reach it. You will also get information like distance traveled, distance to waypoint, and average speed. Even if you need to make a detour around a marsh or lake the arrow on your GPS will always point in the direction of the destination you have selected.

Higher end units give you the ability to download topographical maps, road maps, and charts directly to your GPS unit. You will not only see your location and waypoints but you will see them relative to the map you are using.

I would like to leave you with a word of caution before you head confidently into the wilderness with your new GPS. Sometimes I think GPS technology has become too easy to use, in fact it has become so easy to use that the average outdoors person is now able to get themselves into trouble in half the amount of time. That’s right, don’t use a GPS for wilderness travel unless you know how to use a topographical map and compass, and have them with you.

Here are a few cautions to keep in mind when using a GPS:

1. A GPS does not work, or may give inaccurate readings, under heavy tree cover!
2. A GPS does not always function well in river bottoms surrounded by high hills or cliffs!
3. A GPS can be affected by dense cloud cover and adverse weather conditions!
4. A GPS requires power to work! Loose you batteries and you’ve lost your ability to navigate with a GPS.
5. Use the neck lanyard or wrist strap. Most units don’t float.

The portable GPS has opened opportunities for outdoors lovers that were only dreamed of 15 years ago. I highly recommend that a GPS becomes a part of your outdoor gear, but learn how to use it and never head into the wilderness without a compass and topographical map. Getting lost in Southern Ontario farmland is an inconvenience; getting lost in our huge northern forests can be life threatening.

Be sure to keep updated with information about all your Southern Ontario outdoors activities at

©2009 Lloyd Fridenburg – All rights reserved click here for copyright permissions

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Paddler’s Camera

Today I want to talk about a piece of paddling gear that is all too often found sitting on a shelf in the closet at home instead by your side where it belongs. Whether you favor the canoe or a kayak a good quality digital camera should be an essential part of your adventure gear, so you can relive those precious moments for years to come.

With today’s technology you don’t need to break the bank to produce fantastic pictures. Even at the lower end of the price scale you can buy a great digital camera that will produce 5 to 8 mega pixels of resolution with all the features you’ll ever need. Unless you intend to make a poster sized print, resolution over 5 mega pixels is not really noticeable, so don’t get too hung up on resolution.

Instead consider things like compactness, ease of use, and weather resistance. Do you need something that’s waterproof – a good idea for fishermen and paddlers? And of course how much zoom capability you want.

Often a matter of personal preference and feel, you’ll want something that is easy for you to use in the field. You don’t want to be scrolling through menus as you watch that family of loons slip into the reeds, or constantly push the zoom button because it’s located where they shutter button should be.

When selecting the amount of zoom capability you want stick with the optical zoom numbers. Many cameras offer a combination of optical and digital zoom, but be careful when using digital zoom because as the zoom increases the resolution decreases and your perfect shot could wind up being nothing more than a grainy blur. Look for a camera that won’t automatically switch to digital zoom when you reach the maximum range of your optical zoom.

Whenever you get new camera use it, and use it a lot. Get familiar with all of the features so selecting the correct setting becomes as natural as depressing the shutter button. One of the real benefits that digital photography has brought to outdoors enthusiasts is that you can produce literally thousands of photos and it doesn’t cost you a cent. Unlike the days of film anyone can afford to take several shots of the same image and decide later which one is a keeper.

Capturing memories of your paddling adventures is something that should be just as important as the activity itself. Whether it’s a picture of Uncle Joe upside down in a kayak, your daughter’s first solo run down a set of rapids, or the glow of a Grand River sunset as the campfire starts to crackle, having your camera at the ready will keep those memories alive for a lifetime.

©2009 Lloyd Fridenburg – All rights reserved click here for copyright permissions