Bare feet connect hiker to the earth
Posted By Penny Coles
He calls himself Wolfmaan, and he has a dislike for shoes.
Niagara-on-the-Lake resident Wolf Starchild plans to hike the 850-kilometre Bruce Trail from Queenston to Tobermory – barefoot.
Barefoot adventurers are few and far between, he says, and although Starchild expects to meet a few hikers on route to his northern destination, he doesn’t expect to see any barefoot.
It’s not as painful as it sounds, he said—he has been going without shoes most of his life, from the early days of playing on his grandparents’ Hunter Road farm, where the Telega family grew peaches. School and work are the exceptions, although he wears sandles to his job at a St. Catharines call centre—and he has hiked in many different parts of the world, including up mountain ranges and across deserts, and has been a hike leader for Brock University’s Outdoor Club—without serious injury. You build up a tolerance, he says, even for thistles and prickle bushes.
He won’t be walking alone, and his companion will also be barefoot. Two-year-old Luka, a blue-eyed Siberian husky, will be along for company.
Starchild leaves Monday. He has been training for about two months—carrying his 40 to 60-pound pack of supplies, including his tent and 10 days’ worth of food, will be challenging, he says.
Luka will have her own backpack with her food and water.
Starchild says he has been trying to hike the Bruce Trail for years. His employer is giving him the two months off—he expects to hike 60 days and have friends meet him at the other end to bring him home—and he has over the past year been purchasing supplies so he would be ready to leave once the good weather arrived.
He hopes to prove wrong some of the myths of the dangers of walking barefoot, he says. He also hopes to dispel some of the prejudice people have about bare feet, he added.
But the real reason for walking shoeless is the connection it allows him to feel to the earth.
Sound a little ’60s hippie-ish? Not surprising.
Wolf Starchild is the name he was given at birth by his mother 33 years ago. She embraced the love-and-peace-subculture, as did her father, although he was a little old for the movement, Starchild says.
It’s in his genes, he says, and he enjoys carrying on the family tradition.
The hike will be a spiritual journey, he says, and an opportunity to take time from a busy life to commune with nature and do some soul-searching.
When he is done his solitary two months of walking eight to 10 hours a day, hopefully covering from 20 to 25 kilometres a day, he will know a little more about the Bruce Trail and the Niagara Escarpment, and a lot more about himself. He also expects he will be in the best physical condition of his life.
“I should be in excellent shape. I’m really looking forward to that.”
Article ID# 1587875