Monday, February 17, 2014

Interview with Canadian Adventurer & Filmmaker, Frank Wolf

Recently I had the opportunity to connect with Esquif Canoe adventurer, Frank Wolf and talk to him about his adventurous life.  I had some very specific question for him too.

The backstory...I have known Frank for 10+ years from back in my North Water days and have always admired his ability to make time for his expeditions and for his love of tackling remote waterways throughout Canada and beyond.

Who is Frank?

I'm an award-winning filmmaker and writer specializing in adventure and environmental documentary film. As director and host I've covered stories from around the globe using a unique shooting style and humorous approach in order to make the often esoteric outdoor world appeal to a broad audience.  

My adventures are really just another way of traveling.  I'm drawn by curiosity to blank spaces on maps in wilderness areas- places with no guidebooks telling me what to do and where to go ...canoeing, kayaking, walking, cycling, skiing...I use whatever self-propelled means of transport works best for the mission.  The personal reward of experience always exceeds what I can imagine in the planning stages.  

I hate using inspirational quotes from long-dead people of the past but I'll make an exception in the case of Haiku poet Matsuo Basho. He said "Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought." In life and in adventure, that pretty much sums it up.
1.       How do you choose where to go?
I essentially look for blank spaces on the map I haven't visited and then figure out a way to do a trip through them. From years of experience, I can look at a topographical map and tell if it's possible to canoe through an area.  I also never repeat myself- every trip has to have the freshness that comes with experiencing a new landscape. Once I've decided on my route, I'll do a bit of research on issues facing the area so I'll have some context when it comes to interviewing people we meet along the way for the film. 
Labrador Plateau Camping
2.        What is involved in preparing for an Expedition?
I try to keep it as simple as possible- preparation for a month-long canoe trip is the same as preparing for a weekend trip except you have to bring more food.  My filming kit fits into a small pelican case.

3.       What is the most challenging aspect?
The most challenging aspect is usually unknown until you're face to face with it.  For example, with the Kitturiaq expedition, I knew our portage up to the Labrador Plateau would be brutal but didn't realize how tough until we were in it- and then you just stay in the moment and make the best of it. Figuring out a way to make it through the challenges is very satisfying indeed.
Caribou Crossing

4.       What is the most rewarding?
The most rewarding aspect is the moment to moment discovery of experiencing a landscape you've never been through before- every paddle stroke reveals something new that you are seeing and will never see again once you pass by it.  You become completely in tune with your environment. I often feel I'm only truly at home when I'm on trip- which is why I plan and execute a new one year after year.
Turning in on the Natikamaukau River

5.       Where to next? 
After attempting to row the Northwest Passage last summer, I'm keen to try out another canoeing line in the Boreal forest.  It will be a 1300 km route from the narrows of Lake Winnipeg up to Hudson Bay- a nice mix of upstream, whitewater, and flatwater....and we'll be using an Esquif Prospecteur 17 of course- the best all-round tripping canoe in the world!

Check out Frank's latest Esquif-sponsored film KITTURIAQ about a first-ever canoe trip across the Labrador Plateau into Nunavik at

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Green River, UT

Green River, UT
Photo: Shawna Franklin