Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I've Moved

I decided to move my Blog over to wordpress so please visit the new site @

Where you'll find my favorite post from the last two years as well as my new post as I move forward.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Your World is About to Get Smaller

A couple months ago I finished reading Your World is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller by Jeff Rubin. Which is undoubtedly is a worthwhile read and I think he has his visions of where our economy is going spot on, and aligns with a lot of the thoughts I've mentioned previously. (Also reminds me of the views of Yvon Chouinard touched on in his book Let My People go Surfing a great book on what corporations should focus on to be both social responsible and profitable.) However, I can't say I believe his delivery of the message was in the most effective manner. And unfortunately I believe it may sway some people away from siding with him due to being a little to aggressive and repetitive in some points to convince someone who isn't on side with him already to a certain degree. Here's a quote from the book I'd like to share.
"Despite the steady barrage of climate change news and a growing sense that our affluent lifestyles may have unpleasant consequences for the environment, few of us stop to consider how just about every facet of our lives is built around our energy consumption. Nearly everything we do is inextricably bound to our use of energy.

And by "energy" i mean oil. Yes we use natural gas and some coal to generate electricity; but the world's car and trucks and ships and planes run on oil. That means that the global economy runs on oil, because of the global economy is about moving things around the world. and the reason the global economy has put all its eggs in one basket is that there is no other basket. As of right now, everything - from salmon on your plate to the entire model of a global economy - depends on keeping the oil flowing.

Now what happens when the price of salmon goes up? You buy less of it. and when the price of gasoline goes up, you drive less. when he price of clothes or computers or anything else goes up, everybody buys less. And when everybody spends less we have a recession.

.... History keeps showing that the economy recovers, usually after a few quarters, and life goes on. Markets pick up, factories ramp up production, and eventually you're back to eating all the salmon you want.

But the history of the mordern global economy is not all that long, and it is worth asking whether the patterns we have seen in hte past decades are onse we can expect to go on repeating into the future. we have seen high oil prices trigger recessions before, and in each case the medicine to cure a sick economy has been ready at hand a cheap new supply. It's simple as long as you have a ready supply of that oil.

But if you don't, the whole idea of recovery from a recession has to be redefined - because it's not going to look like it used to. "

November Update

Here I am apologizing for being behind on some post again, with a lot going on in the last month and half I haven't had time to do much worth writting about nor have time to share any thoughts. So you're asking what's made things so busy that I couldn't come out and entertain you at least once every couple weeks. Mainly my attempts to chase that road to nowhere and taking next step on this adventurous road I'm trying to follow. Actually it feels a little more like I'm trying to build it then follow it. October resulted in giving my notice to Yamaha to follow my next venture which is going to be opening a cafe. Which has resulted in a busy couple of months keeping up with my current positions workload in on of it's busiest seasons and toughest periods all the while trying get things aligned for the cafe. As the new venture approaches there's both excitement and a little nervousness in the air. (Check out and plan for a visit early February at the corner of 91st and Ellerslie in South Edmonton.)

Aside from that what else new? The gentlemen at Track and Trail ( helped me finish up my new ski set up. With a set of G3 Onyx AT bindings and Garmont Radium boots, to add the Fisher Watea 94's which I'm excited to carve some turns on. The only disapointment is with the new venture I'm not sure I'll be able to get the back-country training I need to start doing some true alpine touring). But I'll sure to make the best of the new set up and hopefully next spring I'll be getting acquainted with the Alpine Club of Canada.

Other things one the go are finishing the arrangements to Nordic Ski Patrol at the Strathcona Wilderness Center this year, working through the application process for the Edmonton Search and Rescues, and also picked up a new car/suv in the form of the Jeep Patriot. Before you get on me for buying an "SUV" it's based on a compact car and is rated the greenest SUV with a 40MPG hwy rating so it's the most likely to most efficient option for me. Finally we've reached i'm trying to still enjoy some of the fall mountain biking, which may be my favorite time of the year which being so close to the Rockies has coincided with early season skiing! I'm enjoying making use of both the mountain bike and ski racks at the same time. (I'll try and get some better pics on the weekend)

Anyways I'll leave that as my quick personal update.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Missing Ontario? - Really?

Well no not really, but after a recent visit realizing some things I do miss. I haven't even been in Edmonon a year but it's been busy and quite the whirlwind, from the move, the new position, spending nearly every weekend traveling to the mountains, and now on the verge of starting a new business venture at the end of the November it's been exciting to say the least. Anyone who would asked what I thought about if I made the right move always received the same answer of undoubtedly. Usually followed with the only thing I ever miss is the great friends whom still live there. Last weekend one of those great friends brought me back to Ontario to stand in his wedding. (Which on a side note was an amazing wedding, intimate, surrounded by love, and an amazing group of friends and family that reflected how special the bride and groom are). But aside from the opportunity to catch up with many great friends I also had to opportunity to realize some of the beauty of Southern Ontario that many of it's residence take for granted and obviously I did as well needing to go back to appreciate it.

After flying in on the red eye the first sign I missed some of Ontario was waking up at Dave's in the morning to one of the most brilliantly red trees I've ever seen outside the window. It was nearly glowing every morning with the sun breaking through an over cast sky, which couldn't help but put a smile on my face every morning while I was there. Falls in Ontario where always my favorite time of the year. I may have fooled my self into thinking it was the start of each mountain bike race season but truly it was the long falls. Firstly Ontario temperatures, and moisture bless it with a beautiful fall colors year after year, brilliant and soothing. Secondly the fall always seemed like such a peaceful time as there was no more pressures of racing or training and it was time to do what love for the reasons you loved it. And if you where brave enough to go out in the -5 t o+ 5 weather you where always rewarded with less people and a feeling of being in nature not taking advantage of it. I'd even argue Mountain Biking through Durham forest with tacky trail and fall colors at the south end and snow covered tracks on the north could fit with any Epic on anyones list.

What really put this into perspective was Sunday, after the wedding on my way to catch up with some university friends in Hamilton I decided to take the backroads through the Halton region and go for a walk around Rattlesnake Point, one of my old running spots. The 10 or 12KM hike we did blew me away with it's beauty looking over the escarpment into the valley of fall colors dotted by farmland as well as the vibrant colors from the trees, mixed in with the dark colors of the fallen leaves and contrasted again by the bright greens still alive in the moss. I'd have the say beauty and the feeling of calmness rivals what I've done in the rockies this summer. Sure the hike was nowhere near as difficult or challenging. Nor is the opportunity to feel like you escaped society as you are lost in the wilderness, but the ease of completing it is one of the things I appreciate on a relaxing fall day. And the region Halton has many more of these areas to explore.

Secondly what I missed is the quaint communities from more of a settling time. Everyone things of Southern Ontario for it's cookie cutter homes, big box stores and millions upon millions residents. However, the area is also surrounded by some quaint communities dating back 150 to 200 years such as Dundas, Lowville, Waterdown, Flamborough, Guelph and Kingston who have embraced the history and maintained these cores, with their old brick buildings, narrower streets that are pedestrian friendly. Lined with store fronts and cafes creating some genuine oasis from the Southern Ontario we all see on the news and many live daily without realizing the escapes around them. Now if only we could move one of these communities to the border of the Rockies I could have the best of both worlds.

Would I move back, nope what Western Canada has offered me so far is much more in line with my lifestyle, hobbies, and dreams of where I want to be. However I strongly encourage the many Ontarians who don't take advantage of some of the areas mentioned above or even worst complain about to get out and realize what they do have.

Human Impact - Are We Causing our Own Extinction

Our Inferences about life in the past are based on fossil remains suggesting that species expand in number and complexity and then are suddenly reduced through successive spams of extinction. Scientist have identified 5 major extinctions in the past 550 million years and each has taken approximately 10 million years of natural evolution to restore.

We are fortunate to have evolved when biological diversity has been at the greatest level ever achieved. Succeeding human generations will not be as fortunate: the current extinction crisis is without precedent - never before has a single species been responsible for such a massive loss of diversity. In essence, humans are the catalyst driving the earth's sixth major extinction event.

I find the following illustration a great example of the unprecedented rate and scale of human activity is graphically illustrated by Alan Thein Durning in his paper "Saving the Forests: What Will It Take?"

Imagine a time-lapse film of the Earth taken from space. Play back the last 10,000 years sped up so that a millennium passes every minute. For more then seven of the ten minutes, the screen displays what looks like a still photograph: the blue planet Earth, its lands swathed in a mantle of trees. Forests cover 34 percent of the land. Aside from the occasional flash of a wildfire, none of the natural changes in hte forest coat are perceptible. The Agricultural Revolution that transforms human existence in the film's first minute is invisible.

After seven and a half minutes, the lands around Athens and the tiny Islands of the Aegean Sea lose their froest. This is the flowering of Classical Greece. Little else changes. at nine minutes - 1,000 years ago - the mantle grows threadbare in scatered parts of Europ, Central America, China, and India. then 12 Seconds from the end, one century ago Eastern North America is deforested. This is the Industrial Revolution. Little else appears to have changed. Forest covers 32 percent of the land.

In the last three seconds - after 1950 - the change accelerates explosively. Vast tracts of forest vanish from Japan, the Philippines, and the mainland of Southeast Asia, from most of Central America and the horn of Africa, from Western North America and Eastern South America, fron the Indian subcontinent and sub-Saharan Africa. fires rage in the Amazon basin where they never did before, set by ranchers and peasants. Central Europe's forests die, posoned by the air and rain. Southeast Asia resembles a fod with mange. Malaysian Borneo appears shaved. In the final fractions of a second the clearing spreads to Siberia and the Canadian North. Forest disappear so suddenly from so many places that looks like a plague of locusts has descended on the planet.

The film on the last frame. Trees cover 26 percent of the land. Three-fourths of the original forest area still bears some tree cover. But just 12 percent of the Earth's surface - one third of the initial total - consists of intact forest ecosystems. the rest holds biologically impoverished stnad of commercial timber and fragmented regrowth. This is the present: a globe profoundly altered by the workings - or failings - of the human economy.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mt. Sparrohawk/Reed's Tower

This was most likely my last hiking weekend for 2009 as the fall season is upon us meaning there's only a few weeks left before the snow begins to fly in the Rockies. And for the next few weeks work is going to take up nearly all my time as we are into booking season once again. However I'm pleased to say we ended the hiking season with a challenging hike that yielded impressive views. It was a great weekend which included hiking/scrambling to Reed's Tower and Mt Sparrowhawk along the Spray Lakes Reservoir in Kanaskis, as well as some mountain biking at the Canmore Nordic Centre. I'm going to focus on the hike on this post as the biking at the Nordic Center provides some great XC riding, but being a XC ski resort that's exactly what it offers. Nothing really exciting to report back except that it was a well marked, well maintained, XC network, ideal for a 4 or 5 inch travel XC bike. It's tight, twisty, rough and well it may not be on my list of destinations it's definitely worthwhile if you are in the area already. Surprisingly, it reminded me of a lot of the Ontario XC riding just on a little bigger scale.

This season we've been using some of the Guidebooks by Craig and Kathy Copeland as our guides to hikes in the Rockies and I highly suggest if you are going hiking in the Rockies you pick up a copy of Don't Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies. This book has been amazing! Accurately, ranking, describing, and giving directions for the best hikes in the Rockies. We've also been using a couple of their where the locals hike books, which also provides a good base for choosing hikes but the lack of a rating systems, as well as comparing the hikes on a more local scale resulting in a few hikes not yielding the expected blow you're mind status, but is still a great resource for planning your hikes.

Interestingly out of the 10 or so hikes we've done this year based on this series, this is the first one where I would tend to disagree on their opinion on how to do the hike. They listed this hike as Reed's Tower being the main goal and Mt. Sparrowhawk yielding great views but the amount of effort being required to reach it making it optional (The two peaks are the ones in the picture to the right). My personal opinion is that Mt. Sparrowhawk is the destination here and Reed's tower a sidetrip on the hike if you want to more KM's to make a full day out of the trip or if wind/weather stops you from reaching Mt. Sparrowhawks peak the more sheltered Reed's tower can be a consolation prize. Don't get me wrong the views on Reed's tower are great but I'm not sure I would have descended very satisfied if it was the highlight of the day.

So about the Hike itself this ones definitely a challenge. It's not your traditional hike where you climb some switchbacks out of the treeline, then have a mix of hiking through alpine meadows, and slight climbs/short steep ones, ending with a climb to/over a pass, or a scramble that is your goal for the day. This is essentially 6,000 ft of climbing non stop, next to no switchbacks, and more then half being considered an easy scramble. (i.e. no trail just you climbing on scree towards your end destination, I use easy because of the lack of route finding or technical skills needed to reach the base of Mt. Sparrowhawks peak but from a cardiovascular standpoint it's definately moderate to diffucult.) The hike starts at the Sparrowhawk Day use area along the Spray Lakes Road @ about 6,000 ft. with Mt. Sparrowhawk sitting at over 10,000ft. From there you start climbing through the trees for about 30 minutes till you reach your junction. Right takes you down a trail to the tarns which is a more popular hike (but I wouldn't suggest it in comparison to the other hikes in the Banff/Kanaskis area), left and you are hiking nearly straight up with few switchbacks towards Reed's Tower. It's about an hour from the trail head till you are out of the Treeline with great views from that point on. From there it's pretty straightforward and there's a bootpack trail to follow up to the base of Reed's Tower. If you choose scramble the Tower it's pretty straightforward start heading up the ridge for about 1000ft, or maybe a little less, of scrambling to the top. Here the views are good and the scramble is fairly easy with no route finding or technical skills needed just the fitness to get there.

When you get back down you walk around towers left side and begin the long Scramble to Mt. Sparrowhawk. After climbing for about an hour and half (maybe 2 hours) we reached the "pass" between Mt. Sparrowhawk and the peak South West of it. This was a point with mix emotions. It yielded gorgeous views on both sides of the pass and we where only a few hundred feet from the peak (I'm guessing about 800 or less). However, the winds and cold where being funneled down the spray lakes reservoir right at us making difficult to even stand in some of the gust. We stopped behind the little weather observation shed for a snack and had to make the decision to turn around. Primarily a result of the cold as Jess felt it throughout her body, and my gloves turned out to be inadequate to the point where a couple fingers had lost feeling and started to turn blue. (I would thought the black diamonds gloves would have been designed with synthetics that would keep their warmth once sweaty but I was wrong and should have paid more attention to the materials). A switch to wearing my extra pair of Merino Wool Socks on my hands help get them back to Temperature as we descended. Also the high winds posed some threat to walking on the peak. I think it would have been fine and being warmer or adequately geared up we would have carried on but needless to say the combination of the wind and cold resulted in the "pass" being our high point for the day.

We hiked back out going out around the opposite side of Reed's Tower. Unfortunately my camera's batteries died so I don't have any pictures from this side. But it's the route you should take if you are comfortable with a little route finding as it yields different views that are worth the extra kilometers, and the lack of a distinct trail makes finding your way back to the tarn trail an element of adventure on the X-Country hike. Well I guess this being the last hike of the season will result in things slowing down on here through the fall as I tumble into a little more of a training regiment for next summer, and ski season begins. Until them hope you've enjoyed some of my summer adventures and the pictures.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Yup We've Done Wonders for Our World?

The 15 most toxic places to live

Visit the following link to see the quick slideshow. I've attached few examples from it so you get a feel for what you are about to see. I'll leave it there as the slideshow is impacting enough I shouldn't have to expand.

An island of trash twice the size of Texas floats in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, circulated by the currents of the North Pacific Gyre. The trash, which is mostly made up of plastic debris, floats as deep as 30 feet below the surface.

The Yamuna is the largest tributary of the Ganges River. Where it flows through Delhi, it's estimated that 58 percent of the city's waste gets dumped straight into the river. Millions of Indians still rely on these murky, sewage-filled waters for washing, waste disposal and drinking water.
La Oroya is a soot-covered mining town in the Peruvian Andes. Ninety-nine percent of the children who live here have blood levels that exceed acceptable limits for lead poisoning, which can be directly attributed to an American-owned smelter that has been polluting the city since 1922.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Moose Mountain!

I want to start this post off by applauding the trail crew and advocacy groups that got Moose Mountain to where it is. They've done an amazing job at providing Alberta with a Downhill/Freeride playground that is on part with the big mountain resorts and this will undoubtedly become one of my favourite places to ride. I'd say this is hands down the best riding in Alberta. Now I just wish I was closer so I could get there more often and offer some help with maintenance and building. A great day of riding was had with some lengthy runs and tones of really well built trails and stunts. Places like these are why we ride DH bikes instead of the Light Duty XC stuff and I'm glad I found somewhere somewhat close to home to offer me that caliber of riding. My day could have personally been a little better as I snapped my rear triangle on one of the drops on Race of Spades, but thankfully I got a couple of runs in and can't wait to go back. Trails like JG on the Rocks, Race Spades and T-Dub will ensure I'm back to explore the rest of the trails. Here's a few pics of the trails and my bike.

*I didn't have any my camera that day so I just grabbed these pics from pinkbike but some pictures where taken which I will try and get a hold of to update the post with.*

Visit for more info on the area or to offer support.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Yoho National Park

Last weekend we booked rooms at the Fireweed Hostel in Field, which has to be the most high end accommodations I've stayed at for a hostel and one night an an alpine hostel (the Whiskey Jack up near Tekawa Falls) for another weekend of adventure in the Rockies. This time venturing over the border into BC to visit Yoho National Park. Now in regards to accommodations I would suggest staying at the Fireweed Hostel for the entire stay vs. spending a night at the Whiskey Jack if you where to repeat the trip. There was nothing wrong with the Whiskey Jack but the Fireweed was simply awesome, clean, great mountain feel, great host, earning their self proclaimed boutique feel and I really enjoyed being right in field. The only downfall is the train tracks out back but I don't think you can get away from the sounds of the trains anywhere in field being the small community it is, that gives it, it's mountain charm. If you are looking for a quiet mountain getaway consider Field and Yoho national park as the tiny town with a population of 300 or so, set in a gorgeous mountain park without the tourist you get in the main parks such as Banff and Jasper, has amazing food at the Truffle Pigs, and great coffee at the cafe and quiet, quaint atmosphere that was great to relax in.

Day 1 we wanted to take our time getting started so up 7:30 breakfast at the cafe/grocery store and some Oso Negro coffee and we where off to do the Emerald Lake, to Yoho Pass, to Burgess Pass loop with hopes of attempting a scramble to the summit of Mt. Burgess. The hike on it's own is approx. 18 to 20km and I'd rank it as a slightly above average hike. In comparison to some of the other hikes we've done this summer I wouldn't say it was spectacular with a lot of climbing for what seemed like little time above the treeline with views. However the views you do get are great. Another downfall to hike is that 90% of the views are of the same valley, however if I was to choose between this or one of the hikes bordering the city limits of Jasper or Banff that are a little more "tourist oriented" I'd do this hike again in a heartbeat. Now on the other hand the scramble to Mt. Burgess looks like it would be GREAT! and yield some impressive 360 degree views but unfortunately we started too late. And in all honesty the scramble looked like it would be difficult to find a decent route since we didn't do any research on common routes, and to top it off we where quite tired from the hike, after Friday mornings hill sprints and the 5 hour drive.

Day 2 our plan was to do the Iceline trail and then head through the Yoho Valley back up onto the Whaleback before dropping back down into the valley and climbing over the Twin Falls and then hiking out the shorter route to twin falls. The Iceline deserves it's status as the premier hike in Yoho with stunning views, but even more impressive is the imposing nature of the mountains still filled with ice throughout it. I highly suggest the hike across the Iceline. If you are going to complete the extensions we did I suggest only doing so if you
a) want to add KM's
b) can hike a 30 to 35KM day and explore the glaciers feeding the Twin Falls (which we didn't have time with the shorter days and tired legs - Who's idea was it to do Hill Sprints Friday morning before we left?)
c) you do an overnight trip staying at the Twin Falls Campground so you can explore the area more. Most of the hikers we met where doing overnight trips into the valley.

The extension was definitely worth it but it would be better if we could have explored a little more. I'd like to plan to attempt this early season (the trail opens in July) as a backpack trip as the ice and snow would most likely be amazing, the challenge of most likely finding your way over a snow cover trail in part would be an added challenge, and finally I would like some extra time to scramble to the peak of the Whaleback, Possibly scramble a couple of the peaks on the edge of the Yoho Valley and definitely explore the glaciers that feeds the twin falls. With the great vibe in the area and a little more of a secluded feel I'm sure I'll be back in the near future (a winter Nordic or AT trip may be in order).