Sunday, September 21, 2008

From Glaciers to Tow Trucks in 24 hours

We got the hell out of Squamish and rallied northward toward Pemberton, checked out some whitewater and we're off to the local thrift store to look for a replacement golf club (we broke ours in whistler)- you never know when you'll find a random golfball and want to hit it.
Anyways...We had some time to kill and shaun spotted HOT SPRINGS on a map or in some book that appeared near by at first glance - it was cloudy and kinda cold so we decided nothing would be more suiting than hotspirngs and Goon (bagged wine). We were off just like that.
The "near by" hot springs ended up being 25k's down paved road and then 45 k's down bumpy washboard gravel forest service road - we rallied though and were greeted with only 2 naked old men to contend with - good thing there were 2 pools so we grabbed the free one and indulged.

Aided by the goon I danced in the back ground - these springs were awesome as they were directly next to a glacial fed river making "cooling down" very easy and very quick.

Here's me in my dominating pose - not from this particular adventure but i left it out from the last one and couldn't resist...

So as it turned out the hike we initially planned was 45 k's back down the dirt road and another 40 k's past pemberton so we flagged that mission and went instead for the "harrison hut" mission which started, conveniently, 3 k's down the road from the hot springs - YES!

With no idea off what we were getting into we dove right ahead like any other good member of team extreme would do.

And diving ended up being the best option for managing the Bush around here. We were going off a map that was actually our road atlas - ERROR- but we had no idea it was completely wrong and from what we could tell the unpopular trail was actually quite well marked. Find Jacqui in this picture, i dare you. The bush was thick.

This was our lame ass map - Why lame you ask? Well, i drew on a "trail" and a "hut" in red. We hiked up the other side of the drainage where there is no "trial" trying to make it to where the map showed the "hut" was. It wasn't. Liars.

So after many thousands of feet of climbing we finally made it past tree line and we were greated with an enormous glacier. This is the fringe of the Pemberton Icefield and will explain why when we are running out of water in OR/WA, B.C.'s rivers are just getting LOW enough to boat - this glacier would be about the size of your fingernail if the icefield were your hand.

Shaun is in this the tip of the red arrow

Breaking away...i mean out of the bush

Some good glacier shots...

The infamous nipple shot, honestly, does this ever get old? Dominating!

Perfect! A square boulder, i was looking for one of those!

Well we finally made it to our hut and we had the entire place to ourselves. It was a lovely magical place and we bunked down for the evening with plenty of Goon and some good cribage playing.

The Hut

The nice view out off the hut..

These shots are nearly identical except here in the 1st one i am ripping a solid 4 second cheeky fart, dont push too hard folks, danger!

And here is us an hour later, notice the goon is no longer in the picture, it's been demolished, and we are now officially GOONED. this is where it gets interesting. The map at the hut showed the hut in the right spot but in addition it showed a trail on the other sidde of the drainage that we hiked up (not on our original map), so we thought, well maybe this map is better than the one we had (not a hard thing to accomplish) - so lets try and find that trail down and not have to hike down the trail we came up...WELL 2 hours into it we realized there was no trail (atctually 10 minutes into it we realized it but coudnl't be bothered hiking back uphill) So down we went in true proper bushwhacking form- for hours and hours this is what our "trail" looked like...

And we got scared...very scared..

But then we realized we were TX (team extreme) and we persevered and made it back to the hot springs and the same 2 old naked men were still sitting there from 2 days before.

This is where it got really interesting. We packed up and headed down the road. Time? 5:05pm BANG. front right tire blows and we're on the side of the road putting the spare on.
Time? 5:25 BANG, back right tire blows and we're on the side of the road fucked cause we already used our spare for the last flat 15 minutes earlier...
Time? Time to have a beer, get the chairs out and wait til someone drives by - we're 20 k's down a dirt road and another 30k's to a town, so walking is out of the option.

We got lucky and an hour later some locals drove by in a pickup and picked us up, they were our age and happy to help, we gave them beer and they were even happier. We got dropped off in pemberton with both of our flats and were able to fix one with a puncture kit. Without a ride back to the Van we decided we'd call AAA and amazingly enough it worked, so an hour and a hlaf later TTG (tow truck guy) shows up. He's light bulb bald and about our age - you could call him a cojack, or you would if you were us in about 3 hours.
So we jumped in his truck, 4 wide up front and headed out to the van. He wasn't suuposed to drive down the dirt road but said fuck-it and he'd do it anyways.
Turned out this guy thought he was a bit of a maverick...we wouldn't get the real brunt of it til later but he hauled ass down this washboarded and pothole strewn road.
Shaun decided it would be better to tow the van out til we got to pavement to avoid the risk of getting yet another flat, so thats what we did. It was 10:00pm when the TTG put the van up on dodgy dollys and towed her out.

The tow truck was decently sized and fitting the 4 of us in the front seat wasn't comfortable but also wasn't too bad. We were like Tuna as opposed to Sardines.

So..i can not begin to express how sketchy this guy was. The wheels on the dolly were smaller than those on the van and the guy was taking turns faster with the tow truck and van in tow than i would have taken in the van alone...the van fish tailed more than a few times on the drive back and we were all scared shitless...
There was also plenty of screeching tires, we just thought it was the van skidding out on the dolly's around the tight turns that we were excessively speeding around. Little did we know.
So midnight comes around and we're finally back in a town, the TTG had dropped us off and split to head back to whistler. We got our shit sorted and started making our way down the road...
Seems we are running over something? ruts in the road? doesn't seem like it, road looks clear. Pull over - i'll have a look. Hmmmmmm, We're fucked.
The TTG hadn't put the dolly's on properly and the tires of the van weren't high enough off the ground meaning that each time we took a turn the van tire would actually rub on the pavement (that's where the screeching noise came from) 35 k's of this and this is what our tire looked like (Fucked)

So, we called the towtruck company again, they hastled us and we hastled them, and finally got the tow truck to return and and bring us 100k's down the road to Squamish where we could get a new tire the next day.
So 1am TTG shows up, by 1:15 we come to the realization that his tow truck was fucked as well, the hydraulics wont kick in. So he takes off and drives back to whistler to get another truck. 2:30am comes around and finally we're packed into a tow truck half the size of the other one (like sardines this time) and the tow truck guys head is bleeding cause he caned himself on our roof rack (hilarious, but not so at the time).
So we get dropped off in Squamish at 4:30am and finally are able to call it a night.
Turns out tires places aren't open on sunday.
But we bought a plug kit and sorta "fixed" the 2nd flat, enough at least so we could hobble around for a day - nothing good to drive long distances on though, and we waited for a day to get new tires...the end, ugh

Pumping up the 2nd flat that we sorta fixed - with a 3 dollar mini bike pump - we had all day to do it and it took nearly all day to get it done

On the road and climbing in Squamish

We hit the road and we're stoked to finally be on our road trip. The Plan:

Head west to Squamish for some world class rock climbing on the granite slabs of the Chief
Head north a bit and check out Whistler and do some backpacking to some glaciers and a hut
Head south catch a ferry to Vancouver Island - hang out with some of shauns extended family - they're bringing us out on their fishing boat.
Spend a week touring up Van. Is.
Catch a 2 day ferry through the west coast fiords to just south of the southern tip of Alaska
Spend 3 weeks road tripping back to the Canadian rockies - find a job for the winter.

So chapter one: Climbing

Shaun climbing the previously unclimbed "Cobra Crack" (5.14a)...Amazing, did it with a blindfold on the second time. Claims he "feels" the climbing more when he cant see - cougbullshitcough. (Dont mind the trees in the picture that are growing completely horizontal, i wouldn't rotate a picture to make it look more hardcore, or anything.)

Ah...the proper angle of the crack. This was the first big multi-pitch (5 for this one) climb i had done, and it was trad too which was exciting to practice placing some bits.

We spent 2 days's some of the other pics

5 pitches up the South Apron and overlooking Squamish at sunset. Stoked! Team Xtreme

A little bugger that climbed better than all of us...but he's got 34 arms or something crazy like that.

We got dominated on this "easy" trad climb and i had to down climb off of the first Cam that i had ever placed - dodgy for sure, but it was bomber.

Fraser River Photo Update

Not too many long-winded stories here, just some more good pictures. Stories are to come though as we've left Fraser River and we've been on the road for a week and having some serious epics. Those will be soon to follow. But for now...

Well...To Start! We did get the chance to wear our suits again (this time to a more formal end of the season local staff party type affair) and damn, we looked good again!

Did a bit of non-technical canyoneering up one of the local side creeks - Jacqui here giving her game face trying not to swim on one of the mandatory swim sections.

Perty shear walled little canyon

Shaun and I tackling the "big one" with some on-site 5.13c climbing (cough)

Darwin took us out on the river in the Zodiac one night for a bit of a shred gnar-gnar session. Water sports in a large river are awesome cause there's all sorts of natural features to play with.

Shaun wowing us with his slalom skiing skills...until he took a massive digger and cartwheeled across the water.

Me...charging up the knee board

And the surf board

We did a massive 1 day river trip which required a 5 hour shuttle to the put-in then 50 miles of floating. Had some stories out of this one.

First of all - we got to the town/put-in around midnight in a good solid rain and decided to crash at the local town park. I couldn't be bothered putting up my moderately unreliable tent in the rain so i slept in the back up the truck. Shaun put his mac-ninny alstar tent up and was sound asleep in seconds. Darwin decided to lay a tarp down and sleep under the zodiac (trailer). We failed to notice in all the darkness that the grass we were sleeping on was unseasonably bells ringing here. Wasnt until 4:50am when the industrial sized sprinkler system popped out of the ground did things start to make sense. Darwin took a direct hit with one nozzle coming up 3 feet from him and directly under the was like a war scene, he was hit and cam scrambling out from his sleeping bag dripping wet only to get hit by another sprinkler, then another and finally a 4th before he made it into the back of the other truck. Shauns Tent was in the line of fire of one sprinkler and took a 30 minute pounding - Shaun was steadfast though and weathered the storm - his tenting taking the beating like champ.

This is the scene of the "war zone" sprinkler inccident.

This river was nice and saw some cool wildlife and big land slides

GOlden Eagle

The "Chris" Eagle

Then the sad bit of the day happened. We found a lost dog limping on the side of the river, upon closer inspection we realized not only was his leg broken but it was nearly ripped off and was only hanging on my some flesh. We brought the dog onto our boat, fed him, gave him water, tried to find the owner, contacted the vet and ultimately had to shoot him and bury him on the side of the river. I spent 3 hours with him and it was tough having to put him down - he knew it was coming, you could see it in his eyes.

Life goes on though and these are the two cute puppies at the house. They shit everywhere and i've stepped in it 3 times, barefoot once.

Shaun and I doing some hiking around the town we used to live/raft out of.

Me doing somme awesome sandcliff should enlarge this one and check out my moves closer up. Proud.

Monday, September 1, 2008

One of those moments

Its a bit shaky but its good fun to watch non the less. Spirit Falls on my 1st and only decent thus far.

The Long Awaited Push North To British Columbia

I've been in BC for the last 2 weeks and its been a bit of a Gong Show. I showed up to "Fraser River Raft Expeditions" with no idea what i was getting myself into. Shaun had landed a job here a few months earlier and his boss (Darwin) told him that there'd be work for me if i came around. No guiding stuff but all the other aspects of running a rafting outfit.
So a quick low down on the place: It's a family run, highly understaffed rafting business. The rafting headquaters is on the same piece of land as the family house and a B&B that they also run. It's one giant complex. Its on an awesome piece of land just next to one of the rivers we raft, tucked in right between a railroad track and the main highway!
I sleep in the changing rooms which is awesome cause its got no door so there's always a nice breeze and its dry (its been raining heaps here lately and actually snowed the other night). Work is endless "Work til the job is done" as they say, but the job is never done here and one of the bad bits about sleeping where you work is that as soon as you get up you're working. So i wake up between 6:30 and 7:30 everyday, get a cup of tea and then start making lunch for the Custies when its all said and done the day ends somewhere between 5 and 7pm and we finally have some time to relax.
The deal with food here is that we get to eat all the leftovers or extras that the customers or B&B people dont finish, and i'll tell you what, it's some damn good food. Local salmon, local breads, tons of meat, lots of fresh local produce - the whole nine yards. deeeelicious. Anyways, here's a heap of pictures some with good stories behind them some just to enjoy.

The Fraser River Valley

These are the motor boats. We use 40hp engines and drive them through the rapids. The Fraser is running at 3500 cumics, so like 125,000cfs (HUGE). The whirlpools would suck a raft under in no time so we have to use these giant pontoon boats that the US built in WWII to as bridge pontoons to drive tanks across rivers after bridges were bombed out. they're aweome, its like a water tank - 28ft long with 4 tubes.

The mighty Fraser

Shuan getting dominated by a training kite on a windy day in and airfield.

Lots of bears around here. I've seen a half dozen or more so far.

One of the local side creeks flooding

We drove 15k up this river and didn't find 1 single eddy. Unbelievable how continuous it was, this was one of the flatter sections of the stretch.

OK. So now for the pictures which have stories behind them.

We raft the Thompson river (and hour north, tribs into the Fraser) with normal rafts and oar outriggers. There's 3 other guiding companies in the area and one of them was having a 70's party. As it happened, i picked up some 70's suits at a yardsale on the way to BC and shaun and I went out in good form.

On the way north however, we ran into traffic. A truck driver had fallen asleep, woke up just in time to drive off the road, flip his rig and smash into a rock wall (he lived) but he made us impatient so in the middle of the line of traffic we got out of the truck, got suited and made the best of it. We also decided to push the truck rather than drive 100m stop the engine, wait, drive 100m stop the engine, wait, as they let sections of cars by the accident. So this photo was taken with the car in motion, me running backwards, no one driving and both of us in our suits.

This was what caused our delay. The cab being held up by the crane, the chassis on the ground, and the trailer smashed up with its load all over the place. Nasty.

The party is THIS WAY

You cant look that good and not get a nipple rubbing shot

Instead of taking the highway home we crossed the river and took the 4wd track back. To cross the river though you have to use this awesome ferry. Boaters will appriciate this. No engine, there is a cable rigged across the river and the ferry sticks its nose out into the current and actually "ferries" across using the push of the river, then changes the direction of its nose and goes back the other way. Brilliant!

So about halfway down this 4wd track we got a flat tire. No problem, that is, no problem if you jack works. As it turned out mine didn't. SO, we took the axe out and chopped a tree up, made a huge as lever arm and pried the bitch up, got the tire off, put the spare on and we were off. Fucken good.

The likely culprit for the flat ended up as our level arm.


Happy As with the effort. only took us and hour.

We went up to an indian reservation and took a quick tour. This time of year they either dip net, or gill net the salmon as they come up the river. All the blue tarps are salmon drying houses.

We were shown how to cut and pull the salmon to prep them for drying. Once this is done it only takes 4 days to dry them.

Remnants of Old pit houses from 1500ad that the natives used to use in the summers around this region.

I tried my hand at fishing and look at the size of this thing!!! HUGE. see the fishing rod in my other hand? TINY. I got the sucker close enough then dove on it and wrastled the bitch to shore. Ever watch the WWF cag matche?, thats what it was like. It was either me or him/her and i wasn't about to let this pearl go. Actually we just got it off of a local native.

This is a bucket of salmon guts

This is shaun's foot in a bucket of fish guts. Poor dude lost at a drinking game :)

So one final story...Sometime early summer there was a landslide that cross the railroad tracks, it derailed the train and dumped two cars into the river. The cars were full of glycol (antifreeze). Darwin, my boss, was contracted out at $8,000 a day to use his pontoon rafts as a staging area to pump out the glycol and then cut up the rail cars. I got to join in on some of the action.

The wreck site. You can see the track above and how good of a tumble these things had to the river.

The raft is 28ft long...just for an idea of how big these cars are...lots of "product" as they called the glycol. We really didn't do too much, just watched and laughed at the idiots doing the clean up, they had no idea what they were doing and spilled a fair bit into the water.

Darwin sitting on one of the cars, thats an $8,000 a day smile right there folks.

Cuttin' her open to put the hose in to do some piping.

So yep, done a lot in 2 weeks. we'll be hitting the road in a week or two and heading west to Skook then up the coast to do some sea kayaking in the fiords, then back inland and maybe up to Alaska and then back down to the Canadian rockies for a few job interviews late Oct with ski resorts.