Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Astronaut material? NOT! lessons learned

One, I need a checklist.  We were camping the first night travelling north and I realized, I forgot my jacket. The worst part of the night was remembering what I forgot, the best part was seeing the space station cruise across the sky with the |Soyuz re-supply following it.  Mark thought they might have been 200 km apart. Amazing to know there are astronauts living up there crusing at 370 km above travelling almost 7.5 km per second.  Going to the Columbia Icefield is as close as I'm going to get to being in space, but I blew the launch. But as Chris Hadfield writes - always best to think of worst case scenerio so to be prepared because adaptability is the prize.

The glacier has changed, there isn't a snow field anymore up the icefall, now it's ice bridges to navigate it looks like.
But we'll have to save that investigation for a later time. 
It's good for me to be adaptable.  We decided to go up to the toe of the glacier since we were there. I thought it would be really stupid to go up any further without appropriate clothing.  What could I have been thinking?  Really?  Spring skiing? So, we provided a photo opportunity for the snow-coach tourists as we cruised back down to the parking lot. It was very fast skiing down because of boilerplate conditions and the wind blowing behind our backs.

So, we made a decision to go to Lake O'Hara because neither of us had been there and we figured that it would be a bit more mellow.  There was hardly anyone there, either cause the weather wasn't so good, or maybe it's time for golfing.  Driving, we did see a lot of bicycles on cars - way more than skis.  So it was fun to be by ourselves, out of the wind, in peaceful solitude, listening to the spring sounds.

Wiwaxy was a companion at the campground
We ended up touring higher and wowed ourselves with the beautiful mountains surrounding us. Mark saw a wolverine track while I was holed up with yet another shitty blister.
Beautiful big mountains.

We built a snow cave where we slept for a couple nights - it was warm and cosy.

And winter was still happening as we skied out.  

Friday, April 18, 2014

Packing up for the icefield

We've wanted to go back for a long time, since the last time we were there 5 years ago. So it's off to the Columbia Icefield to spend a week close to one of the two hydrological apexes of North America which is a mountain called Snow Dome.  Snow that falls there eventually drains either to Hudson Bay, the Arctic Ocean or the Pacific Ocean.  The magnitude of the Icefield itself is remarkable - it's vast and we predict not too many people this long Easter weekend.

Mark's pack is close to 50 lbs, and I'm pretty close to that so I'm going to feel strong.  I'm more worried about my feet and ski boots, which I've tried to mediate with ever since I bought them but my feet just don't seem happy no matter, even with new liners I stuck in them this season. The liners are supposed to mold to my feet but my feet don't listen to the instructions and want to break out of might be the deal breaker of the trip actually.

We fussed with z-pulley systems and we'll have to fuss some more because we don't want to get in a position where we haven't practiced our crevasse rescue enough.   I think there will be plenty of snow and we also got all the avalanche stuff which if we make the right decisions we won't need.  The last time we were on this icefield it snowed over a meter and we ended up going out another way to avoid the avalanche hazard of the Athabaska route.  I hitchhiked back up to the truck cause Mark would have probably had to wait a lot longer to get picked up.  I remember the conversation with the man who brought me back up to the top - that was the year a bunch of snowmachiners got killed in an avalanche outside of Elksford and that's where he was from.  He lost some friends.  Since then snowmachiners are learning to be more saavy about their terrain choices - or at least it seems like there is more opportunity for education.  Now it's cool for a snowmobiler to know something about avalanche hazard and how to avoid them.  This has changed in the last five years I believe.

The Weather Network longterm forecast for next week - Nordegg which I guess is the closest reporting spot.

The last time we were here we basically got weathered out, but we're bringing the cribbage board this time just in case.  Five years ago, which was also the April long weekend, we ended up getting neighbors next to us and they set up a nice cook-tent we were invited to hang out in.  We ended up having to leave due to work responsibilities but they stayed on until the weather broke and ended up summiting.

I'm sure the cribbage board will bring us good weather.
Or maybe I'll get really good at counting.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Mailbox collecting

Since visiting the south island of New Zealand, I've succumbed to mailbox obsession.
The picture doesn't capture it like I hoped, but the top mailbox is for "airmail" and the one below is for "junk mail".
These folks on HWY 97 are waiting for the Goldfinches still to arrive
I think these mailbox owners appreciate biplanes.
I'm always on the lookout for cool mailboxes.  Where we live now there isn't mailbox delivery, but I have a a really cool postoffice... it's got the original mailboxes from the early 1900's.  Hopefully Canada Post will decide to keep the post office open on Saturdays - it's a cool building for the tourists out for a weekend looksee.
Come visit us and see for yourself!