Spaces in between

We are 3 days out from our next trip. A 50km journey over the Garibaldi Neve Traverse. My gear is in piles on the balcony. Lists half made of what I need to bring on my coffee table. I sometimes wonder. Am I the only one who packs like this?

I find myself at this transition point before every trip. My mind half in “reality” dealing with work deadlines, scheduling appointments, as well as my homelife. Spending as much time with my family as possible. Yet my mind is also wandering in the mountains, going over the what ifs? and do I need? Etc.

Like living in 2 different worlds at the same time. One moment your at home cleaning up your child’s toys and then in a flash you vaporize and are suddenly transported onto the side of some mountain. No deadlines, no meetings, no running out to the grocery store. Just there. On the mountain “being you”. It is a strange feeling to say the least.

Living in 1 world and exploring another.

Keep posted about our trip experience. This one promises to be quite special

Cheers

Rear view mirror 2017

Mid morning. Slight overcast. We’re just packing up the truck for an out of town New Years eve wedding that we are attending. In 2 days it will be 2018. That’s sinking in. Not in that cliche kind of way, but rather in the realization that my son is almost 1 year old (and my parental leave is coming to an end). Looking back over the last 12 months, I would definitely have to sum up this year as the year of transition. New job. New child. New chapter in life. Through all of this I have also managed to sprinkle in some amazing trips and adventures. Climbing Mount Baker, unguided, has to be the topper for sure. But taking the opportunity to get some technical mountaineering training has to be right up there as well, since one allowed the other. 2017 has also shown me the realization of dealing with some long standing injuries that I have put on the back burner. Perhaps too that being 36 years old feels a little different than being 26. Not worse. But different. 

Looking forward to the year ahead I have some new goals to achieve, and perhaps revive some old ones. Some in the mountains. Some on the bike, and all on the blog to be shared with you. The reader.

I have enjoyed the experience of sharing all of this with those of you that have taken the time to read on past the title. It is a true passion to write about these trips. These experiences. The hope that it will somehow spark conversation, or even motivation for others to get out and achieve their own goals.

Hope to see you all out there killing it in 2018. Whatever your passion is.

Cheers.

I woke up yesterday morning with this memory from my solo cycling trip in the summer of 2016. Going from Calgary to Vancouver. I was outside of a gas station on the outskirts of Kamloops BC. It was hot. That muggy kind of hot you can’t shake even in the shade of a tree. I was frustrated because I had to get off the main highway and re route onto the 5A and I had not bothered to take down the information to do this efficiently.  Also it seemed pretty sketchy where I was and there were some less desirable folks hanging out next to the gas station that seemed eager to assist in taking my bike off my hands for me. 

The memory was so vivid. As though I was there again. I remember the shitty grin one of the guys gave me as I debated going into the gas station to get directions. I did not.

I felt distracted that day. But nothing bad happened in the end. So why this memory. Why this seemingly insignificant portion of that trip. I thought through how the rest of that day went. I got to my destination, albeit with some questionable re routing by Google maps and a sizable hill climb. But I remember that day being one of the harder one’s.

I had spent the previous day with my Aunt and Uncle on Shuswap Lake at their cabin (which I’m pretty sure they went up to just so I had a place to stay). They had picked me up in the early afternoon from the highway and brought me to to their place. We spent the afternoon on the boat, and had a bbq for dinner. We watched an evening storm roll in over beer and wine. I had a fantastic time with them that night and had shared with them the news that my wife and I were expecting our first child. It was a celebration of a evening and the next day none of us wanted me to go.

But I did go. They drive me back to the highway where they had picked me up. I loaded my panniers onto my bike and slowly started pedalling down the highway towards Kamloops and eventually home.

I believe what made that day hard, what seemed to distract me, was the complete shifting of gears. Going from sharing special time with family, back to the solitude of my trip. Such a shift of emotion. That afternoon riding up the hill out of Kamloops (and the grasps of those gas station pirates) my mood could not be further from the feeling I had, had 24 hours earlier. I rolled into my campground and set up my tent. Then I just kind of wandered the campsite for a bit. Feeling low.

Strange. Nothing bad had happened to me and yet here I was feeling as though I had been hit by a ton of bricks. Void of energy and drive. A testament to the struggle I had with traveling solo. 

I knew when I set out on that trip that I would struggle with time spent alone, and I did, and I endured and came out the other end. And I know that this is not everyone’s experience with solo travel. Some thrive on it I’m sure. 

But looking back on my trip as a whole I had a few experiences like this. Highs and lows. It was an emotional roller coaster of a trip. I am so glad i did it, but would i do a trip of that length again by myself? I often have said to people “No.” A trip of that length is a trip to be shared. The experience to be shared. At least that’s been my feeling on it.

I suppose this memory came up as I am slowly putting together the details of the next adventure.. A group project this time. 4 days mountaineering through the Garibaldi Neve Traverse. 

Stay tuned..

Cheers

It’s rainy here in the city, but for us winter hikers, skiers, snowboarders, and snowshoers, we know that means fresh white stuff in the mountains!

I had a chance to get out and hike a good section of the Lions last weekend and we were hitting areas that were already waist deep. The Season has Started!

I love this time of year. It’s awesome to get out and see all those summer time trails that I enjoy so much, and now they have something new to offer.

Again and again I am reminded how lucky we are to live here!
Cheers 

So here I am. Same paint on the wall. Same kitchen. Different album, and different time in my life.

I was looking back this morning at one of my posts from about a year ago. “Processing Time”. It got me thinking about how much of a whirlwind the last 12 months have been. Having a child, new job, and the life evolution that comes with it. An adjustment to say the least. A year ago I was winding down from a season of races, hiking trips, and other adventures. Now a days I’m rocking a much more domestic lifestyle (at least for the time being).

I have managed to get some mountain schooling in (Mountaineering course) and have tackled a few trips. Later this month I have a trail race coming up and i’m pumped to get back out there. But I must admit it. Things are different now. Not bad different, but different.

When I read back at “Processing Time” I remember where my head was at. Things in my workplace were chaotic, and my wife was maybe 6, 7 months pregnant. I was standing at the doorway of very big life changes and I think the blog piece was a way to remind myself to get things out of fifth gear and slow things down if even for a moment.

Perhaps that is what this blog piece is about as well. A check in.

I am half way through my parental leave and it won’t be long before I head back to work and thus begins the next juggling act: Family, Work, Outdoor Lifestyle. The unison of it can all be done. That I am sure of, as long as the priorities lie in the right sequence.

And with that Asher is stirring, and I must go. Oh ya and the album is Arcade Fire’s “Everything Now”.

Cheers.

Mount Cook 

Living out here on the west coast we are spoiled to have the coastal mountains in our backyard. Want to go for a day hike? Your about an hour away from world class mountains. Want a quick bag night? Take your pick of the many destination mountains available. Which is what we did…

Mount Cook. Just North of Whistler BC. Accessed via Wedgemount Lake. The hike up to the lake and camping area is fairly steep but a well managed trail.

There is camping along the lake edge as well as up in the hills. We went up on a Saturday morning. The trail was overtaken by day trippers. We took our time. Our objective for the day was to make it to the lake and scout out the route for the summit the next day. We eased our way to the lake and snagged a campsite. After a quick bite to eat and the tent set up, we continued over a bluff where we could get a good vantage point of Mount Cook itself.

Satisfied with what laid ahead for the next day we wandered around a bit and enjoyed the views before calling it a day.

Through the night the temperature dropped down to just above freezing. Its clear that our warm summer has long gone, leaving the cool autumn in its place.

We get up early to fill our water from the creek about 20 minutes from our camp. After that cold sleep it was good to get the body moving. We got back to our campsite, had a bite to eat and then packed our gear for the summit.

We set out. It was slightly overcast skies with hints of blue teasing that the weather would improve. The steep grade that we had going up to the lake continued up the mountainside. The bonus, our view kept rapidly getting better and so to the weather. The clouds started breaking and we even got a bit of sun.

We continued upward, hitting a bit of snow and then finally to the top.

(View of Wedgemount Peak from most of the way up Mount Cook)

We took in the view for a little bit and then made our way back down the steep slope. We got back to camp, had a bite to eat and packed up.

A short weekend in the mountains. But we can do that here. We are blessed, and should remember that.

Cheers.

Well with the weather quickly changing from hot summer to a much cooler fall, and with Whistler already getting a dusting the other day, I figured its high time for at least on more quick bag night before we move into snow camping season. This weekend a small group of us are going to head up to the peak of Mount Cook, above Wedgemount Lake. I just picked up a new Gopro, so we should have some fun messing around with that. Should make for a fun weekend in the mountains!

Keep posted for the trip report.

Cheers

Chris

The Next Episode..

It’s the first day back to school for many. The first day back to work for my wife and all the other teachers. All the impromptu summer camping trips have come to an end. All the parks and trails become a little more quiet as most peoples mindsets get “back to reality”. But this is not the case for everyone.

I have a truly unique opportunity in front of me. Four months away from work. Four months to explore the world around me. Hiking trails. Cycling day trips. And all this with my youngster Asher. I am on Parental Leave. Dadternity. I have often thought every September as though a new chapter of my life has started. This has likely come from the ingrained “back to school” days from when I was young, paired with marrying a teacher.

September for my wife and I, means a shift from our leisurely summer activities, to a busier time as Fall rolls in. She gets busy organising her new class for the year, and for many previous years, it was when I started up working on my second job again. Landscaping. (Seasonal.)

This Fall, things are a little different. I had given up my second job last Christmas, as a new position opened up at the company I mainly work for, and then we had our son. This Fall we chose for my wife to go back to work at the beginning of the school year, and split the time off with our child between us.

So here I am. Day 1. Excited? Yes. Time to get Asher started outdoor training camp!

Cheers.

Me and a couple friends tackled Rugged Maniac Vancouver this year. Check out my write up for Explore magazine…

https://www.explore-mag.com/Race-Review-How-We-Fared-at-Rugged-Maniac-2017

You know when you have one of those big projects staring you in the face, waiting for you to make your move? I do. Mine was Mount Baker. Very prominent in the skyline from Vancouver. I have seen it there my whole life, sitting just far enough away that I couldn’t make out all its details. Just kind of hazy. Dream like. In fact, I see it every day on my way to work. It’s as though it has been waiting for me to even suggest climbing it. Well that day finally came.

Many months ago some friends and I started hatching the idea and put things in motion that brought us up to this summer. Our plan of attack was the Coleman Deming route, and this past July long weekend we made our move…

Friday morning our bags were packed and ready to go. Only I still had to get through a full work day first. Grrr. Fast forward 8 hours later. I picked up one of my climbing partners, Jason, and we hit the road. We would meet the rest of the group over the border in Washington.

Border line up. Zero. Thanks America. A short drive and we were at my sister in laws’ family trailer in Maple falls. We met up with the rest of our climbing group, my cousin Ryan, his wife Julia, and his brother in law Andre.  The objective for the evening was a quick dinner, review of the game plan for the weekend, check out the latest weather conditions anticipated for the weekend, and see what gear could be 86’d from our packs to lighten the load. We called it a night pretty early as the next 48 hours were going to take a lot out of us.

Saturday morning we were up early. The weather was goo and we headed out. We stopped in at the Wake and Bakery for breakfast. Epic breakfast burritos! A staple really for anyone hiking or climbing in the Mt Baker Hwy corridor.

We continued on down the highway a short distance and pulled in at the Ranger station to drop off our volunteer check in form and find out if there was any new developments on the mountain since the last update Ryan had printed off before we left. No changes. Blue sky weather for the weekend. We left the Ranger station and a short distance later we turned on Glacier creek road and up to the trail head.

It was a short hike through the canopy and my pack was surprisingly not as heavy as I expected or as heavy as previous trips. We were now leaving the comfort of the shade and emerging up to Heliotrope Ridge. The views opened up immediately and we were now getting a good vantage of what laid ahead.

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We finally hit the snow line and the makings of Lower camp. There were tents everywhere tucked down along the creekside. Folks were busily separating their camp gear from their climbing gear and getting themselves organized for the next days push. It was getting hot. We filled our water bottles in the creek and continued to high camp. About half way up from low camp to high camp we made the decision to rope up as we were now seeing signs of crevasses.

We finally arrived at high camp mid afternoon and found a few open spots that were semi flat. We got busy leveling out room for our tents and melting snow for water and dinner. The plan was to have an early meal and an early bed. We won’t be in the tents for long. Dinner done, we relaxed a little while and settled in to our tents for “rest”. I say this because there was no real way to get much of anything that resembled sleep as it was way to bright and hot. So we rested.

 

Sunday. 12:30am. You could start to hear people getting themselves together to get ready for summit day. The dull roar of camp stoves. Headlamps whipping past the roof of our tent like distant rescue parties in search of a lost mate. We tried to wait a little longer, maybe eek out a few extra minutes of sleep, but the inevitability was that it was time to get moving. It was now 230am and we had to leave our tents for the darkness. An Alpine Start.

By a little after 4am it was starting to get light out. We made our way along the main trail up and joined the rest of the caterpillar of people that were slowly making their way up the mountain side. Now sitting somewhere around 8500- 9000 ft we took a break. It was amazing. The distance that you could see was unbelievable.

 

We had one final push…

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and…

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We made it! At about 7:15am, we reached the summit of Mt Baker. A truly amazing weekend we had. A new personal goal reached. My first ever 10000+ ft climb. We were rewarded with one of the best views I have ever had the pleasure to see. One more mountain checked off my list!

Cheers.

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Here is a short video I put together of our trip: