Outfitter Spotlight: Explorer’s Tread
Explorer’s Tread is a family-run outdoor adventure business that takes their guests kayaking in the wild and scenic Georgian Bay area of Ontario…
Explorer’s Tread is the only full-service outdoor adventure guiding business on the Bruce Peninsula, the peninsula that separates Georgian Bay from the rest of Lake Huron.
Co-owners and guides, Zane and Muffy Davies, live the outdoor lifestyle they love to share with their guests.
Surrounded by the ultra-clear, turquoise waters of this Great Lake, kayaking is a given for this team. They also offer backpacking, day hikes, off-road biking, snowshoeing and winter camping.
The Davies will custom-build a kayak package for you, or you can sign up for one of their signature trips.
Whether on the peninsula’s west coast in Lake Huron, or the east coast in Georgian Bay…whether you’re a beginner or have been paddling for years—you’ll find a kayak adventure here!
We asked Zane some questions to dig a little further:
AB: How big is the kayaking part of your guide business?
ZANE: We offer guiding paddling, biking and hiking trips but kayaking makes up 90% of it.
AB: What is it about your area that makes kayaking awesome?
ZANE: Crystal clear water, rugged cliffs, remote nothingness and stories.
The Bruce Peninsula is famous for tropical crystal clear water. What sets it apart from the southern stuff is that it’s fresh water, refreshing and clean. This might sound silly but I really, really, really struggle with the oceans because of the vegetation, marine life and smell…it just seems dirty.
In a half-day paddle you can be under a 300-foot Dolostone cliff. I firmly believe the Bruce Peninsula is one of the quietest places to paddle because we do not have trains, a large pleasure craft scene or a major highway.
I cannot tell you how many times I have paddled in other areas of the Great Lakes where one of the three is at play.
Then when you’re sitting there taking it all in, we talk stories: marine, natural heritage, geomorphology, ecology, bear, snakes, culture and more.
AB: Where is your personal favorite place to kayak that you take your guests?
ZANE: I honestly have a bunch depending on what my guests’ experience level is, and what they want out of the trip. Anywhere on the Georgian Bay side of the Bruce Peninsula is my favorite.
AB: This is a family business—how often to you get to guide together?
ZANE: Rarely at the moment because of a 2.5-year-old. Each of us has been guiding over 20 years. Muffy is more akin to the hiking or canoe tripping and has a nack for guiding school trips that range from home to Killarney or Algonquin.
I am heavily water-based but will also do the occasional hiking or biking trip. Explorer's Tread really evolved from a need for me to be self-employed and flexible around Muffy's paramedic shift work and our kids.
We run the business as a family but the actual guiding is either/or.
AB: How much of the year do you take folks out kayaking?
ZANE: All year round. Most of the business is May-September but if we have the right conditions and experience level, we will take you out in the winter.
AB: You have a story about how you got your Eagle Ray paddle...can you tell it to us?
ZANE: When I worked for Suntrail Source for Adventure (awesome local outfitter and store) the Current Designs rep was running a demo. He was doing some really neat strokes and then snapped the shaft on his Eagle Ray.
I asked if he was throwing it out and he said “Yes.” I took the paddle home and drilled a new whole for the ferrule and I have used that paddle for 13 years. It finally broke at my shoddy drill work and I plan to re-drill a new hole and give it to my son. I love that paddle!
Because it was free I’ve never hesitated to use it in ways that could be considered abuse. Its most famous adventure was the first recorded crossing of Georgian Bay in the winter by myself and Scott Parent of Fathom Paddle Guiding. I was literally stabbing through ice to propel myself forward!
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