Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday, October 30, 2009

Winter in Hartley Bay

Yup, moved up to Hartley Bay on the north coast to teach an Essential Skill for Work course to the young adults through the Northwest Community College in Prince Rupert. I moved up here on the 19th of October. Jen will be joining me mid November after her world championships in Portugal. I am stoked to be up here and I am excited to explore this area in the winter. High on the list of activities are ski tours to remote islands, backcountry trips to Terrace and lots of stand up paddleboarding. Here are some shots below with my adopted family Cam and Eva. We are in a stunning inlet thats rich with wildlife.....and dungeness Crabs.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Magical Great Bear Rainforest

September was another incredible month for me in the Great Bear Rainforest. I resigned from my position as the women's basketball coach at Quest University so this allowed me to get back to the place I love, Princess Royal Island.

August 30th-September 6th

My first trip of the month started on the Pacific Yellowfin with Captain Colin. Colin hired me to take some special guests from Aspen up to the area for an 8 day trip. It was a very successful trip which started in Bella Bella. We worked our way up the coast, anchoring in stunning inlets, walking salmon rivers in search of Grizzly Bears, watching humpback whales and relaxing in hotsprings. We also took the group to see the Spirit Bear and participated in a community feast in Hartley Bay which is where we ended our trip. I am looking forward to running more trips with Colin next summer in this area. Colin's boat, the Pacific Yellowfin, is most likely one of the top boats on the coast. It is 120 feet long and it is an old reconverted WW2 Minesweeper. It is mint. Colin is a great captain and super host and his crew is one of the best i have worked with. It was a real treat to guide on this boat. Amazing boat, amazing trip, amazing area.

September 7-17th

Immediately after the trip on the Yellowfin I hosted the 3rd ecology class from Quest University in Squamish for a 10 day immersion into the culture, ecology and wildlife of Hartley Bay and the Great Bear Rainforest. The 18 students were blown away by the experience in the community. Cam Hill was an incredible host as he had most of the students staying at his place and he and Eva along with the elders in the community provided a learning environment and cultural experience that had a deeply lasting effect on the students. Along with this incredible cultural experience the students also had a chance to walk salmon streams, view Spirit Bears and visit local whale researchers Herman and Janey. Another special treat was having Ian MacAllister of Pacific Wild come in an talk to the class about the environmental challenges facing this coast. Ian is an environmental legend and has done some incredible things on this coast over the last 20 years. I am already looking forward to the next years class. Quest University's mission statement of Integrated, Intimate and International could not have been better represented by the experience in Hartley Bay and the Great Bear Rainforest.

September 18-25th

My last guiding stint of the month took me back to King Pacific Lodge, a place I have worked at off and on for the past decade. It was good to be back taking guests into rivers loaded with salmon. We had at least 9 humpbacks feeding right off the docks at KPL and the Spirit Bear viewing was some of the best i have ever seen. Another treat was having my partner Jen with me on all of the adventures and activities over the week. She was "job shadowing" and was awesome, bringing her own passion and excitement to the area.

So that was my September. Another great one. Now i am back in Squamish getting fit and enjoying a little bit of down time.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Mt. Rainier- Climbing For Kids

August 20th, my 40th birthday I headed down to Ashford, Washington for my three day climb of the Disappointment Cleaver route with Climbing For Kids. Thanks to the generous support of family and friends I was able to raise over $4500 for Climbing for Kids. Climbing for Kids is an organization that helps underprivileged kids to get into the outdoors. I was pretty excited about climbing this mountain which I had my eye on for awhile now. Our guide service was International Mountain Guides. Jenny Fogle was our lead guide and with us we also had Austin Shannon, Kelly Ryan and Josh Smith. We had 7 in our group and the forecast looked very good. We started our climb from the Paradise Parking lot on the morning of August 21st. The parking lot starts at 5500 feet elevation and we climbed for hours to get up to the Camp Muir situated on on a rock saddle at 10500 feet. It was an incredible location with a number of other climbing groups getting ready for the summit. After a great sleep we packed our bags on the 22nd and headed up to our high camp at 11500 feet. You could not have found a more scenic high camp. This camp was situated at the foot of the Ingraham Glacier and we were not too far away from crevasses that could swallow a semi truck. I was so excited to get moving I had a hard time sitting still. I took a nap in the afternoon and hit the sack at 5:30pm to get ready for our 1:30am departure on the 23rd.

We were up at 12:30am having breakfast(cold golden grahams and coffee) and then packed and got ready to go. It was a brilliant clear night with a sky full of stars. We started off with our headlamps on and began to pick our way up the mountain. Disappointment Cleaver was challenging since there was no snow on it and we had to scramble up for an hour over loose rock with our crampons on. We continued on past massive glaciers and deep dark crevasses. I was so stoked to finally be on the mountain and working my way to the summit. The group seemed to be doing well. At around 5 the sun started to rise and I experienced one of the most amazing sunrises ever. It was hard to not stop to turn around to look at the sun rising in the east over the lower mountains.

It was at this point that i realized how big this mountain really was as we were towering over any mountain that was around us. The relief was impressive and we had clear views down to Mt. Hood, St. Helens, Mt. Adams and Jefferson to the south and Mt. Baker and British Columbia to the north. It was also really windy and a lot colder up near the summit and i had all of my gear on.
We continued to zig zag up the summit and at 6:45 we were all at the crater rim. Myself and Jason with guide Kelly Ryan went a little higher to the true summit(14410 feet) to sign the register and take a few pictures. Simply amazing.

We stayed on the summit for about an hour and a half and we then made our way back down to high camp where we collected our stuff and then back to Camp Muir. Most of the group was pretty hurtin from the climb and I needed to get back to the car to get back to Squamish for the vancouver island quest with my partner Jen the following day so I was lucky enough to run down from Camp Muir in under and hour with another guide.

Physically I felt great, my body was strong and the altitude did not cause me any problems. The guides with International Mountain Guides were incredible. They were safe, patient, great teachers and were passionate and enthusiastic. The meals were nutritious and delicious. They really set the whole group up well for success. I am really motivated now to go bigger and higher and i hope I get a chance to climb with them again. Congratulations to my climbing partners as well. I was proud to have raised the money for Climbing for Kids and this as well has inspired me to raise more funds in the future for people and environments in need. I was on a pretty good high driving home to Squamish. Not much time to rest though as I had to get on the ferry the next morning to meet Jen who was already starting the vancouver island quest, top to bottom, 750km in 4 days. Not sure how i was going to accomplish this but first things first.......a hamburger.


Fun way to spend my 40th!!

Monday, August 10, 2009


Right after the 5 day Stand Up Paddleboard trip to the Great Bear Rainforest i headed up to King Pacific Lodge for a week of adventure and fishing. This is my 10th season working in some capacity at the lodge. It was amazing to be back. Its such an incredible place to spend time. The highlight of the trip for me was 11 year old Laila catching a 38 pound chinook salmon. I spent all afternoon in the boat with two 11 year old and i am sure i was asked 200 questions in the first hour. The weather had been amazing and we enjoyed the afternoon together catching coho. Just before we ended the day we tried one last spot. We made a couple of passes and had the bait stripped both times which look to be a chinook bite. We made one more pass and as Laila said, "third times a charm," and bang, fish on. She fought the fish the whole time even though she wanted to give the rod to me and her friend Audrey. We both declined and she battled this beauty for 20 minutes. We finally got the fish into the boat. We also talked about the importance of these salmon on the coast and thanked the fish for his life. Laila had her family of 11 down and this one fish will feed the whole family, no need to take more so we came back much to the delight of her family and friends. Incredible fish and an incredible experience on the north coast again. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Great Bear Rainforest Stand Up Paddleboard

This was an incredible trip to a place that i have worked in for 10 years. This place continues to amaze me but what truly makes it special is the time we spent with the gracious people of Hartley Bay. I have guided in the Great Bear for a long time and it was one of my goals this year to stand up paddle this place with hopes of bringing excited clients up here next year. As Masa, the writer for Explore Magazine, stated at end of this expedition, "the trip exceeded my expectations." 

Here it is: 

July 15-16th, Jen and I drove the 17 hours to Prince Rupert from Squamish where we met Masa and Taylor. Masa was covering the story for Explore Magazine and Taylor was taking the pictures. Both guys were true professionals and a pleasure to spend 5 days with. Here is what our itinerary looked like.

Day 1:  We took the Tshimshian Storm ferry down to the small native community of Hartley Bay to stay with my adopted family the Hills, Cam, Eva, Rachel, Morgan and Brother Max. Cam had just gotten in from sockeye fishing on the Skeena River and that night we had an incredible meal of fresh sockeye salmon, dried seaweed, halibut and coho and oolichan grease. 

Day 2: We loaded up Cam's boat early in the morning and got a boat transfer down to a secluded inlet. It was our first chance to test out our gear and see how everything paddled. Jen, Masa and I were on SUP's and Taylor was shooting out of a kayak. I was paddling a custom built Andy Lambrecht Red Cedar Board while Jen and Masa were riding a tricked out Southpoint Kalama. I had attached NorthWater attachment loops on the rails and bonded with contact cement. I then attached our 115 litre dry bags with bundgy cord. The whole system worked really well and it was quite easy. We paddled to the back of this beautiful fiord and spent our first night in a GitGaat Longhouse. We saw a black bear in the estuary and we explored a stunning river at the back of the inlet. Incredible perspective from a stand up board. The weather was typical GBR........wet, rainy and misty. Just how I like it.

Day 3: It was a big day as we headed back out of the inlet and worked our way south to another Gitgaat Watchman Cabin. We found out for the first time on our paddle how difficult it was to paddle against the wind and chop. We managed to grind through and got to our destination. Jen was doing all of the cooking on the trip and she put together a killer menu plan and did an outstanding job with healthy delicious meals, essential on long paddling trips. I could have used more chocolate. We decided we were going to stay two days at the watchman cabin so that we could just go on a day trip the following day.

Day 4: This was our day trip and with an early wake up we were off to explore this magical area. The conditions had changed and we awoke to blue skies and flat calm conditions. Just perfect for SUPing. We took advantage and headed out to see the Stellar Sea Lions on Sea Lion Rock. Up travelling there we also encountered a pod of resident killer whales. They were a little ways off but very impressive. We also saw Humpbacks Whales who are here feeding in their traditional areas. After all of this wildlife we stopped at Hartley Bay's summer camp called Kayel. It is here that they collect and dry seaweed and harvest halibut. We were fortunate to have Brodi Danes accompany us on this paddle. I have worked with Brodi in a student mentor program and recently taught him and a number of the highschool kids their Level 1 Paddle Canada certification. Brodi helped to lead today's excursion and took us on a tour of Kayel. Afterwards we headed back to the watchman cabin for a late lunch. After lunch we headed over to King Pacific Lodge , a place i had worked at for the 7 years and continue to do contract work with, for a tour of the impressive adventure/fishing lodge. We ended the day with a hike into the rainforest to check out some incredible Sitka Trees.

Day 5: We awoke at 5 am to take advantage of flat conditions for our big push north but our trip was stopped cold when Taylor realized the tide had taken his kayak for a long ride. After the Mountain Surf Search and Rescue Team were unsuccessful we headed back for breakfast and waited by the radio. Shortly we got a call as a Seiner had picked up a floating red kayak and another boat was kind enough to drop it off for us. We got going and stopped at Herman and Janey's. They are whale researchers and have been working up for 8 years. I know them quite well and it was great to see Janey again, Herman was out helping a Seiner with his nets. After a short visit we headed west and started to work our way up the west side of an untouched island. Conditions again got choppy and challenging but that was what we got for a late start. When your paddling on the coast you have to get up early and get off early if you really want to go anywhere. Travelling by SUP you have to take advantage of the good conditions when you have them. That night we stayed at another watchman cabin in yet another beautiful inlet. 

Day 6: This was our final day. We had yet another incredible day of weather and flat early morning conditions which we spent exploring the vast intertidal life. This last day was spent mostly apart since i had to go back to the cabin to pick up something i had forgotten and by the time i got back my team had left. They were not at the spot we had agreed on to meet so I was way behind and spent the rest of the afternoon searching/catching up. I was finally picked up by Marvin, our boat transfer and taken to meet the group who took advantage of great downwind conditions. All was good and we were stoked to have completed this fantastic trip. Our celebration was again at Cam and Eva's as they put a feast on that I will never forget. We had halibut, crab cakes, sea cucumber, octopus, fried seaweed and Dungeness Crabs. Unreal. I was on a high from the trip and really excited that Masa and Taylor loved the trip so much. I was also very happy to have brought Jen up here for her first time to experience both the rainforest and most importantly the people of Hartley Bay. She said it was a trip of a lifetime.....and she has raced everywhere. Very cool and special for me to be able to share that with someone. 

Day 7: We spent the final morning having fried bread(yum,yum) and maple syrup at Lynne and Ernie's house(Cam's parents). From there we packed our gear, headed back onto the ferry and up to Prince Rupert. We said good bye to our friends Masa and Taylor and Jen and I got back into the Jeep for our 17 hour trip back to Squamish. 

The article for this trip should come out in Explore this spring. I am looking forward to seeing it and to seeing the pictures that Taylor took. I also want to thank Meg Chun, and Kialoa Paddles for supporting us on this trip. They gave us paddles, tshirts and paddling shirts for this trip and I am very grateful. The Kialoa paddle is the best out there and were amazing to paddle with over 5 days. More to come on the Kialoa paddles. I also would like to thank Ryder Eyewear for there polarized sunglasses which were a huge help on the really sunny days. It was amazing to have a pair of glasses that fit well, stayed on your face, and allowed us to clearly look into the water at the intertidal life and fish. If anyone is interested in this trip for next year we are going up in September when the salmon are in the rivers. It will be even more spectacular than this trip in terms of wildlife including Spirit Bear, Coastal Wolves, Humpback Whales and more. I will only be taking 6. If you have other questions about this trip or if you have a group that would love to see an incredible slide show just let me to the next adventure.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Stand by for the full report on an incredible 5 day expedition to the Great Bear Rainforest.