2013 Trips Reviewed

Around this time in 2012 I had created a to-do list of trips to complete during 2013.  Let’s review what happened and what didn’t happen throughout the year.

  • Cycling
    • A week-long bicycle tour somewhere in Quebec and/or New England with my father.  This didn’t happen due to logistical issues; we went hiking in the Rockies instead.
    • One or two bikepacking trips in Kananaskis, Alberta.  These will probably be 1 to 2 night trips.  Nope, we made a few trips to the area but spent the time hiking instead of cycling.
    • Lots of rural dirt road cycling through Alberta’s range and township roads around the Edmonton Area.  Yes!  I did many hundreds of km’s of ‘Range Road cycling’.
    • Some mounting biking in Utah around St. George in the spring.  Did this and it was awesome.
  • Hiking
    • At least one backpacking trip in the Canadian Rockies. These are a few on my list.  Ended up in the Tonqlin Valley.  Great trip.
      • Skyline trail in Jasper
      • Nigel Pass in Jasper
      • Egypt Lake in Banff
      • Iceline in Yoho
    • Some day hikes.  Mostly I’ll just pick and choose as I go, but I do want to do Wilcox Pass in Jasper.  I did not make it to Wilcox but did do many, many others.
    • Several day Hikes in south-west Utah.  I’ve never been in the desert or canyons so this will be a new experience for me.  Yup, here, here, and here.  I also did a few others that didn’t make it into the blog.
  • Canoeing  Nope, no canoeing this year.
    • Probably not a lot this year since I don’t own a Canoe and would like to concentrate on Cycling.  I do have some more long-term trips that I would like to complete like the Bowron circuit in Bowron Provincial Park and  a few nights out at Murtle Lake in Wells Gray Provincial Park.

So what else did I manage to accomplish in 2013?

Enhancing my fitness level was a huge focus this year.  I took up running and managed to complete about 1000km’s of training throughout the year.  In December I ran the Seattle Half Marathon in ~1:46.  In addition to the running, I also managed to get out on my bike for about 2250km of cycling.  Some of that was commuting, much of it was just exploring back roads or small overnight bicycle tours which were not blogged.

The other noteworthy item was that I managed to do some scrambling in the mountains.  This really took my hiking to another level and challenged my fitness.  Four peaks were conquered, but only Turtle Mountain and Cirque Peak made it into the blog.  Heart Mountain and Mount Baldy are the other two.

Overall it was a very productive year, which I can only hope to match or exceed in 2014.  In the coming weeks I’ll likely end up creating another to-to for next year which may involve a bit of racing…  Lots of ideas need to be put on ‘paper’.


Posted in bicycle, Hiking, Running | 2 Comments

Tonquin Valley – Jasper, Alberta

Earlier this fall I had the chance to go on a two night trip into the Tonquin Valley, located in Japer National Park with some friends.  It turned out to be my favourite area of Jasper park that I’ve visited to date.

As it turns out we visited during the perfect time of year, the second weekend in September.  The area is usually plagued by mosquitoes much of the year but it seems some cold snaps must have killed them off already.  In addition to very few mosquitoes, we also saw very few people.  We saw less than 10 people over the three days.  One night we even had Surprise Point campground (usually very popular) all to ourselves.

I’m glad I was with a group of three other people as I’ve never ever seen so many signs of bears anywhere.  Not surprisingly on the second day we saw a grizzly bear eating some greens along the side of Outpost Lake.  He saw us and watched us for a while and then shortly after lost interested and resumed eating.  As he was eating, he kept continuing in our direction.  Luckily we were in front of the Wates-Gibson Memorial Hut, so we had somewhere safe to retreat to if necessary.  Since we needed to head back to our campsite, we decided to leave while we still knew where the bear was, as not to accidentally encounter it.  All was well and we headed back to Surprise Point campsite.

Grizzly Bear on the shore of Outpost Lake

That would not be our last animal encounter of the day.  While sitting on the shore of Amethyst Lake, we spotted some rare Woodland Caribou.

Male Woodland Caribou at Tonquin Valley

It was really a wonderful trip and turned out to be my only backpacking trip of the year.  Here are some photos of the trip.

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Lake O’Hara

During the second week in September, I was lucky enough to stay a night at the Lake O’Hara campground in Yoho National Park.  It is one of the more popular area’s (maybe the most popular) in the Canadian Rockies, and for good reason.  Each and every hike in the area is spectacular.

Due to the popularity of the area, access is restricted.  As such, you have a few options to get there.

  1. Book a campsite at the Lake O’Hara campground.  You will need to do this exactly three months ahead of when you wish to arrive.  You should call and reserve within a few minutes of the reservation line opening for the day.  You’ll be shuttled into the campground via a park operated bus.
  2. Book a shuttle ride in on the shuttle bus.  As with camping, you will want to be very quick to reserve this.
  3. You can walk in and take the bus out.  The walk in is around 11km up a dirt road.  There is a fee to ride the bus out.  I believe the fee is $10.
  4. Reserve a spot at the Lake O’Hara lodge.  This is too expensive for me, so I don’t know much about it.
  5. Stay at the Alpine Club of Canada hut.

Be sure to read through the parks guide on the area for complete details.

It’s an amazing area which you certainly will not regret visiting.  The only downside I can see is that it’s a busy area which you can expect to share with a lot of people.  A solitary wilderness experience, this is not.

Here are some pictures to give you an idea of the sights.

Posted in Canadian Rockies, Hiking | 1 Comment

On-One Pompetamine Commuter – a few months later…

The most popular posts on this blog continue to be those of my On-One Pompetamine build. The project started out with the goal of building a cheap commuter/errand runner bike that I wouldn’t worry too much about being beaten up, or worse, stolen. Another requirement was that it should not require much maintenance.

At first though this would be a cheap single speed beater. I live in a very flat city and don’t really need gears for getting around. As I started to source parts this changed a bit. I saw a good deal on an Shimano Alfine 8 speed hub and the built quality and price went up from there. Needless to say this bike isn’t high end, but it certainly is not a beater either.

The Pompetamine after a few months of commuting.

The Pompetamine after a few months of commuting.

I’m happy to say that after a few months of commuting to work and lots of biking around the city, I couldn’t be happier with how this bike turned out. A bit of a surprise, its one of my favorite bikes to ride. Why that is, is not immediately apparent to me, but I think it’s partly due to the Alfine hub. I didn’t anticipate it, but the ability to shift while stopped or not peddling is huge when trying to cycle though the city. That ability is taken for granted now, and I find traditional bicycle drivetrains a bit annoying in the city compared to the Alfine. Another plus for the hub is that it’s almost silent in operation, nice.

One of the other things that has turned out to be rather pleasant are the tires. I ended up going with 28mm wide Clement Strada LLG. They are nice fast tires but they also have a bit of ‘give’. No punctures to date, knock on wood. With the Mavic A319 rims, 28mm is the smallest tires that will fit due to the rim width. This tire is about as small as I would go anyways.

Not everything about the Pompetamine frame is perfect although you might expect that for $130CAD. The paint is very thin. Lots of paint will be removed when you lock this bike to a bike rack or lean the frame up against almost any hard surface. Another downside is that the effective top tube length is on the small side. This is most likely since it was probably designed for use with drop bars.

The frame scratches very easily.

The frame scratches very easily.

Tubus Fly rack + Abus Bordo lock

Tubus Fly rack + Abus Bordo lock

The only other non-frame related downside to this build is the rear cog sizing that I picked. It is geared too high. Instead of an 18 tooth cog, I should have went with 20 tooth. This will be changing shortly and look forward to slightly lower gearing.

Since the original build, I’ve added a Tubus Fly rear rack. This rack is very minimal and thats why I like it. Extremely light weight but robust enough to carry a change of clothes and a laptop. Additionally to the rear rack, I’ve added an Abus Bordo
lock. Attached to the frame, its never forgotten and always easily accessible. The Bordo, combined with a locking from skewer makes locking the bike up quick and painless. Next up is a locking seat collar.

The only change I will be making to this bike is the addition of a dyno hub built up as a new wheel. The wheel will be shared with the Surly Ogre. More on that later.

That’s all I can really think to report on at the moment. If anything comes up in the future i’ll post an update. If your on the fence I would recommend trying it out. After all, if it doesn’t work out your only out a minimal amount of cash.

Posted in bicycle, Pompetamine | 1 Comment

Siyeh Pass – Glacier Park Hike

This gallery contains 6 photos.

I’ll start by saying this hike is certainly on my top 10 of all time list presently. The views are nothing short of spectacular for 70% of the hike duration.  I’ll summarize anything else worth noting in point form since … Continue reading

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Helen Lake and Cirque Peak

Several weeks ago I headed to Lake Louise for a weekend of hiking. My favorite hike of the weekend was to Helen Lake and onto Cirque Peak near Saskatchewan River Crossing.

The hike into Helen Lake is packed with great scenery once you get past the initial, relatively short, climb through the forest. Closer to the lake you are likely to see a Marmot or two.  The horse flies are very thick around the shore. We saw fish jumping in an almost continuous fashion munching away on the flies.

Helen Lake Trail

The trail leading up to Lake Helen

The trail leading up to Lake Helen

Once at the lake you have the option to do an easy scramble up Cirque Peak. Although the slog up is not the most exciting – largely large rock with some scree – the view from the top more than makes up for it. Visible from the peak is Bow Lake/Falls/Glacier, as well as the Num-Ti-Jah Lodge.

Bow Lake, Bow Glacier, and Portal Peak in the distance.

Bow Lake, Bow Glacier, and Portal Peak in the distance.

Looking out to Bow Lake and Portal Peak

Lake Helen is straight ahead, a few hundred meters lower.

Lake Helen is straight ahead, a few hundred meters lower.

View from Cirque Peak

Families might enjoy hiking to the lake together, with the more energetic members continuing on up to Cirque Peak, while the rest enjoy hanging out at the lake.  The experience could be less pleasant if the bugs are bad at the lake.

Picture quality is not up to usual standards as we forgot our camera and ended up using the cell phones camera for the photos.

View from Cirque Peak







Please note that my altimeter was not calibrated based on a known elevation and as such the max and min altitude could not be accurate. The change is altitude should be reasonably accurate.

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Swan Lake Rangers Cabin

Earlier I had written about the US governments cabin rental program here . Back in July, I had a chance to try the service.

As I mentioned in my earlier post , I had reserved a few days in the Swan Lake Guard station in Montana. Overall I must say that I am very pleased with the service. Given that it’s up to the previous occupants to clean the cabin before they leave, I was a bit weary about what condition I would find the place in. I was pleasantly surprised when I walked through the door to find a very nice, and very clean cabin for me and my wife to use over the following days.

P7081639 P7081644

Beyond the cleanliness of the place, my other surprise was how nice the furniture inside was. There were a couple of leather chairs, a nice futon, and to top it off, an extremely nice hand-made rustic style table and chair set.

The only area for improvement that I can see is security. There is an electronic door lock on the front door opened by entering a numeric combination. This is good except it seems they never change the combination. I had reserved the cabin some 6+ months prior to when I stayed there and received the combination upon booking. I think this could be improved upon by changing the combination once a month or so and then emailing it and the previous combination (if they haven’t changed it on time) to everyone who has a booking within that month.

Swan Lake Ranger Station Dining Room Swan Lake Ranger Station Kitchen

I’m curious what other folks experiences have been like with these cabin rentals. If you’ve tried it, please leave a comment below and let everyone know how it worked out.

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