Wednesday, June 24, 2015

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Now, we're camped on the creek bed and baking in the sun which remains high in the sky - 34C in our tent. Good for solar charger, not so good for sleeping.

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Day 4: From Donjek glacier close ups to impressive crossings of Bighorn creek at its highest flow; another 8 hr day done :)

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BTW Parks Canada said we're the first people on this route this year. Condition update: some creeks are dry and those that aren't have low water levels now. :)

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

inReach message from Inga Petri

Camp tonight overlooks the Donjek glacier near its southern toe. Grateful for an old horse trail to help w bushwhacking. On track to complete trek in 7 days!

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We're camping at Home creek at Donjek river tonight. Another 9.5 hours of some of the hardest hiking I've done. About 38-40k covered in 2 days. Beautiful land!

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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Inga Petri is sharing their location

I'm starting my trip, follow along at my MapShare!
Inga Petri is sharing their location at the MapShare web site:

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Saturday, June 13, 2015

Yukon's Mighty Icefields

Well. What can you say about this massive icefield?

From May 23 to June 9 I was part of an Alpine Club of Canada Yukon (ACC) trip. Some people stayed for 4 days, some for a week and a few of us for the whole duration. The ACC Icefield Discovery camp was supposed to be two weeks (May 23 to June 6), but weather and massive clouds extended that for some of us by 3 days and for others by 5!

Anyways, words defy this "trip-of-a-life-time" landscape (haha, it's my roughly annual trip of a lifetime and only Part 1 at that...) In any case, let me show you this place with a few pics taken by Erika Joubert, an awesome camp mate and chum. Click on pics to see them larger - it's worth it!

My own pictures are on a camera and Samsung Android phone that are both still in the Yukon with all of my gear. When we finally got a flight out on the 9th day of no flights, we had decided to get people out and leave gear behind for later pick up. All to say, there'll be more pics soon, as I am heading back to resume Yukon 2015 Part 2 with trekking, festivals and visiting friends.

Gnurdelhorn (~3,350 m) and Queen Mary (~3,900 m)
Icefield Discovery camp is to the right of Gnurdelhorn. It has two
weather haven tents - one for kitchen, one with a half for gear
and the other half sleeping. And a few tents.

Week 1 was hot. Measured 27 C in the sun one of these days,
and that wasn't the hottest one! Needless to say, the earlier
we got to ski the better the snow was. Except it did get
super soft, super fast. Not the sort of conditions
this Eastern  Canadian, icy ski slope skier knows how to handle.

Classic: mountaineer's pose - lol.

Massive Mount Logan, Canada's highest mountain (5,959 m) and the
largest in the world by sheer mass, was our steady companion,
and our  mark for cloud movements of sorts.
 Even though, it's 40 km away.
This is the sun starting to set for a little while.
 Once I get my camera I will post
pics from a very cool flight seeing trip a few of us did
before the weather turned on us.

My first trip to Pikatak while the weather was warm
and the clouds few. This was taken by Laura Storch
a few feet below the summit.
Gnurdelhorn is in the background.

Pretty cushy beach life. It was so hot, people were all about
sun protection. Granted on a glacier at about 2,600 m there's
plenty of reason to try and keep sun radiation at bay.

Week 2 we were weathered in. A couple of stormy days with some
good winds, but it was mostly due to a fast moving wall of cloud
and tiny weather windows, that there were no flights.
Icefield Discovery managed one flight out on the 9th day (3 days
later than the final intended day at camp) and the rest
of the crew got picked up another 2 days later
after getting though another storm.
This picture was taken around 5:30 am and the skies were clear.
The sun came up right over the col at MB Peak from our vantage point.
Within a couple of hours we were socked in again.
We ended up making the check in time with the pilot earlier
as the best windows were that kind of early.

We did get out on a few excursions as the weather wasn't bad.
Isothermal snow (super wet spring snow) notwithstanding.
This is me on the way back up the glacier from Pikatak to camp;
enhanced by clouds.

See that pool below? All kinds of talk around camp about
going for a dip in there when it was hot out.
Here we are heading up the slope of Pikatak to the summit.

Despite the long period without any flights and no way out, folks
maintained their good humour. This is a very large "Hi Tom"
(that is Captain Tom, our long-awaited Helio pilot) stamped
out repeatedly as the snow kept drifting over it.

Monday, February 2, 2015

This and That About Ecuador

I have read, observed, and been told about some interesting, amusing, fascinating and odd facts about Ecuador over the last few weeks. Here is a sampling:

Agriculture/ Farming
  • There are 500 varieties of potatoes
  • Guinea pigs, which are a staple, live inside people's houses in the country. How the guinea pigs react to a person i.e. if they stay calm or squeel, in indicates if the person has good or bad energy.
  • Quinoa is five times the price of rice, making it beyond the means of many
  • All the produce you find in the markets is organic
  • There are four varieties of bananas
Social Framework
  • Healthcare is free
  • Education is free
  • Daycare is free
  • People who require assistance -- welfare -- are not given money but the services
  • In Cuenca, there are daily free Zumba (or other dance or exercise classes) for all
  • Ecuadorians are descendants of the Caribbean peopke
  • Quechua, an indigenous language, is the second language taught in school
  • Panama hats did not originate in Panama -- they are a product of Ecuador, made from the fronds of the toquilla palm, grown only in Ecuador
  • Oil
  • Shrimp
  • Bananas
  • Roses

  • The currency is the US dollar
  • The voltage is 120v, the same as in Canada -- unlike other South American countries

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Ecuador is Wired

Wi- fi. Mostly everywhere. Free. Always. Sounds awesome, don't you think? Ecuador, as in other South American countries I have had the pleasure of discovering, is wired in just that way. In a location that we might consider unlikely, such as a mom-and-pop restaurant, you can practically count on being able to log on, and at no cost. Imagine! What it does, of course, is make communication accessible to most people instead of a few. Canada should consider adopting such a model, I propose.

Wi-fi? Why not?

Quito -- The Capital of So Much

Arriving in Quito at midnight, I arranged for a pick-up at the airport for an extra $5.00, given that I am travelling sola this time. Ah, South America! I am so thrilled to be back, this time to explore Ecuador. Landing at the airport at once felt so familiar yet not. Discoveries and experiences were spread out before me, from the superb Andes to the cloud forests to the Pacific Coast to the Amazon. Hola Ecuador!

Quito is spectacularly located high in the Andes at 2,850m. The airport is a 40 minute cab ride from El Centro, the area of Quito I chose to stay in (this area is referred to as "the old town" by travellers.) It is the colonial part of the city containing fine architecture celebrated in the government buildings, numerous churches and cultural centres. And, as in other well designed cities, there is a grand square in the centre where people congregate, families eat ice cream together, flowers bloom, street merchants sell their wares and you can get your shoes shinned.

In addition to the many fascinating museums and cultural centres to visit, Quito offers a unique sky tram (the teleférico) that zips you up to 4,100m for a spectacular view of the city's mountainous landscape -- if you catch a clear day, that is. I arrived to cloud cover, as I was told I would, but cared not for I was at the top of Cruz Loma.

On a Monday, I happened upon the weekly changing of the guard at the Palacio del Gobierno. It was quite the spectacle complete with a marching band, guards on beautifully decorated horses, and rows of seated school children decked out in their crisp uniforms as part of the ceremony. The president, Rafael Correa, together with the vice-president, Jorge Moreno, presided over the crowds of office workers stepping out for the occasion, residents, school children and tourists alike. My heart swooned hearing the Ecuadorians sing their rousing national anthem.
The president, Rafael Correa, and the vice-president, Jorge Moreno, waved to the crowd gathered in the Plaza Grande. The flag was raised as part of the ceremony.

Nothing drab about the ceremonial dress of the guards and horses alike.
As one would gather, Quito is one of the main transportation hubs, with many flights around the country passing through it. Quito also has two bus stations, one at the north and one at the south, each serving the respective parts of the country. To travel to Mindo, next up on my meanderings, I needed to go to the northern bus station. No problem, I thought, I will take a cab. (Cabs are inexpensive, although I did not need to take many because of where my accommodation, Hostal Minka, was located.) When I flagged down the only female cab driver I had seen, she told me that, no, I did not want to take a cab because it would be too expensive. Take the bus, she said, as she gestured "that way." So off I went "that way" and after more directions from police officers (of which there are many patrolling the streets), I found myself standing on a bus platform ready for my 25 cent ride. You go far for your money on a bus! I do truly love taking local buses because you see so much of the place and get to take in citizens' regular day -- and be part of it. With seven minutes to spare, I boarded the bus for Mindo. I did not know then that I would be so enchanted by this town in the cloud forest.