K2inCanada's Blog

February 15, 2018

Across Country Skiing Part 1 – Birkie Weekend

Filed under: Canada, Ski, Travel — K2 in Canada @ 10:09 PM

This year Jeff and I are putting an A in front of our cross-country ski trips. This past weekend we traveled to Edmonton, Alberta, for the 2018 Birkebeiner. The main event is a 55km cross country classic ski race where you carry a 5kg pack (representing the soldiers who skied an infant Norwegian prince to safety — the story behind the historic origins of the Birkebeiner). But they also offered a 55km lite, no pack, which Jeff signed up for and a 31km short cut version, which was more to my liking. I was dreading this weekend a bit since Alberta has been in a deep freeze for some time, low temperatures and windchill of -25C to -30C was not uncommon. A week ago the forecast for the loppet day looked quite promising with -2C but throughout the week it dropped again and by the time we left home the forecast looked like this – brrr:

Weather_8AMFr

We took Friday off work and left Vancouver at 10AM by plane to arrive an hour and a bit later in Edmonton. Unfortunately, neither Jeff nor I had checked how far the airport was away from the hotel, the Radisson Hotel and Conference Centre on 76th St, and the taxi cab bill was a bit of a shocker. In hint sight we should have rented a car, it would have been much cheaper. Turned out the hotel was in the middle of an industrial area, far away from the Edmonton downtown buzz (not sure there is such a thing). Mind you, the room was nice and the hotel had a pub, restaurant, pool & hot tub, etc, just nothing to look at within walking distance. Well we did walk to the bib pick up, about 4km away along a busy road. There was quite a bit of snow in town and most of the sidewalks weren’t really cleared, if there were sidewalks. Once or twice we ended up walking the road for a bit right beside traffic. Surprisingly, nobody honked at us or tried to run us off the road. I know what you are thinking – who on earth would want to walk in Edmonton in the winter at -20C. But hey, it was sunny and I needed to stretch my legs and get acclimatized to the cold. We left Vancouver at +11C. At the end we had a nice walk, picked up our bibs and timing chips, checked out the merchandise and sampled some free Albertan beer. Alley Kat Brewing Company, apparently the oldest craft brewery in AB. The Salty Caramel dark beer was VERY good! We managed to avoid walking on the road on the way back. Had dinner and more beer at the pub in the hotel, watched the Olympic opening ceremony on TV and went to bed early.

Race Day – up at 6AM to catch breakfast at the hotel restaurant – nice buffet – but we didn’t really wanted too eat too much. I checked the temperature on my phone and it said -22C (not including windchill and it was supposed to be windy). But temps were forecasted to warm up to -7C with sun turning to overcast and light snow in the afternoon. So what to wear? Blue ski coat, black lifa and my grey T-shirt on top, double layer long underwear and ski pants on the bottom and a toque and buff on the head and lobster gloves on my hands. Balmy! To get to the start line, we did not have to worry about transportation, a van came to pick us up at 7AM. There were 9 other hotel guest we shared the shuttle with. Most of them from the US. It was about a 45-60min drive to the start of the point-to-point course at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village. From there the race course was winding its way along the east edge of Elk Island National Park and through the scenic Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area:

Map (Medium)

It was barely getting light when we arrived and it was cold!!! Luckily they had a big barn where we could stay warm while waiting for the start at 9AM. Actually my start time was supposed to be 9:30AM as I signed up to start in wave 3, the methodical skiers :-). The start area was on Goose Lake and the wind was howling at 25-30km/hr across the open area. I did a quick ski to test my wax and had tears in my eyes it was so cold. A good reminder to put on my goggles for the race. I watched Jeff’s 9AM start, listening to the National Anthem and 5min of speeches. By then the sun had come up and made it all a bit more bearable. Apparently it was -12C at the start (not including windchill). Jeff lined up near the front and he was double poling the whole race – brave man.

As I was watching Jeff disappear across the lake I decided no way I am going to wait till 9:30AM. I grabbed my skis instead and lined up at the back of wave 2 to start at 9:15. It was the right call after all. We had to listen to the same speeches and the anthem again. The start itself was almost too slow for me. I started passing people right away double poling with the wind at the back and managed to get past half the field by the time the many tracks narrowed to two. After we left the lake and entered the protection of the tree, the wind was less of an issue. I steadily caught up to people and passed some more for the first 10km – no I never made it to the font! The terrain was rolly – not hilly like I am used to but always up and down – undulated they call it. And after a while those tiny little ups start to feel like hard work. The fastest 55km racers from wave 1 came by me at the 11km mark. They had done about 23km by then.  Jeff came by at about 14km, having done 27km already. I had people near me most of the time – either breathing up my neck or in my sight ahead. I usually did better on the flat to small inclines were I could double pole where most people already were striding. But I suffered on the “steeper” ups and they all caught me again. It was fun though and the track setting was awesome. There were a few hairy downhill turns, for me anyways, but I only wiped out on one of those. My wax worked quite well – thanks to wax tech Jeff yet again. Only lost my footing once in the 2nd half and landed on my knees. Both wipe outs enabled the “Women in Red” I had been trying hard to catch in the first 10kms to pass me again. She definitely was a better strider than I and she got quite far ahead on the “powerline stretch” into the wind with the longest climbs. Lucky for me though she stopped at every aid station and I managed to get ahead again. The “rolliness” of the terrain seem to get bigger and bigger towards the end and I had a hard time getting up those “hills” but so did the people around me. Got passed by a couple guys but managed to catch them all again before the end. The last kilometer was once more on a lake, this time into a 20km/hr headwind. It was brutal but I caught up with one more person on it. Finished the 31km in 2hrs55min – a good time for me. Jeff came in ~15min behind me. He was 13th overall and 2nd in his age class with a time of 3hrs23min!!! He had a great race and was all smiles. Not sure how he managed to raise his arms after double poling 55km on this “rolling” terrain. All the hard training he did paid off and he so deserved the two medals, one for first time finishing the 55km and one silver. I finished 102nd out of almost 300 and was 8th out of 20 in my age class. Not too bad, given that I am used to be last or second last :-).

The event was really well organized. Our extra clothes had been transported from the start to the finish line and waited for us as we finished. They had heated change rooms. The food, soup and sausages were served in a big heated tent with lots of tables to sit down at. And most important they had more of the Alley Kat Salty Caramel beer :-). And I think it actually did warm up to -7C. Apparently they had the best conditions for this race in 20 years for this race. Over 1000 skiers participated. The biggest ski event I have been to and it looked like we picked the best year to do it. There is a short article on CBC (if you want to read about sport other than the Olympics).

We stayed till after Jeff’s medal award and then jumped onto the shuttle bus back to…well some transit station in the middle of nowhere. Another tall taxi cab bill to get us back to the hotel. Time to soak in the hot tub for a while, chatting with fellow skiers who were also staying at the hotel. A couple from Newfoundland and the American we had met in the AM on the shuttle. All of those were going to the Viking Feast which we did not sign up for, expecting we’d be way to tired to be social, which wasn’t actually the case. Who knew. Instead, we headed to the pub for a couple nice beer and a huge plate of nachos – yeah!!! Finished the evening watching the Olympics on TV – that’s about as much figure skating as I can stand for another 4 years :-). Next time we do the Viking Feast.

Day 3 – we were back to sunshine and -23C. Jeff was going to take me to the MALL, the famous West Edmonton Mall, since that is THE thing to do in Edmonton in the middle of winter. I am no shopper at the best of times and with this beautiful sunshine it kinda pained me to go inside. But as soon as we stepped out of the hotel into the frigid cold I was sold on the mall trip. Another steep taxi cab bill later we got to the mall which was on the other side of town. It’s is quite a big place. We watched the kids play ice hockey. We saw the Waterpark – a huge wave pool under a glass roof with the sun shining down into it, pretty awesome and I wished we would have brought our bathing suits along. We saw the Santa Maria. We played a round of mini golf at Prof WEMs Adventure Park – gosh I suck at that :-). We had lunch at the food court and it was surprisingly good butter chicken and freshly made naan. We watched the sea lion show at Marine Life. We did some shopping – most of it at Mountain Warehouse which offered outdoor clothing like MEC used to do before they got into brand stuff and they had a 70% sale on. And we went to Galaxyland, the indoor theme park which was much bigger than I expected and rode the Mindbender roller coaster. Been at least 10 years since I have been to rides and I was a bit unsure at first. It was a great rid though and if we wouldn’t have run out of time, I would have loved to spent more time with the rides. For $45 for a day pass definitely an effortable fun day indoors. Unfortunately, after 5!hrs in the mall, the longest I’ve ever been in one!, we had to get back to the hotel, pick up our luggage and continue on to the airport.

Overall a great trip, minus spending too much money on taxi cabs – although we made many cab driver friends :-). We were back home in Vancouver at 8PM that Sunday evening and it did NOT rain.

 

Advertisements

February 4, 2018

Springlike Conditions

Filed under: Canada, Ski — K2 in Canada @ 6:18 PM

9 degrees in town and lots of rain. Freezing levels are up high. Lucky for us we have gotten quite a bit of snow in the mountains over the last two weeks when temperatures were still in the 5-6C range. Hence there wasn’t a lack of snow yesterday for the Cascade Cup Loppet in Manning, Feb 3, but temperatures were up at 2C with an overcast sky at the start of the Loppet. The snow was soft but the tracks were surprisingly firm and fast. I used my skin skis and had very good grip most of the time. Better than the people around me and for once I stayed ahead of people on the hill that would usually pass me, I even got to pass someone – well he, “FullBeardGuy” stopped to take his coat off but we had been closing in steadily! North Gibson’s was still hard work to get up as I had someone chasing me all the way. I thought it would have been Peter but at the turn at the bunny hill I saw a different person, Mr “Redshirt”. Peter was quite a bit behind at that point (that never happened before!!!). The tracks were fast for double poling and I did a lot of that, together with single leg kicks, and it felt good for once. I had dropped “Redshirt” on Strawberry Flats but of course he finally caught me on the downhill section on South Gibsons, him and “FullBeardGuy”, both. It was hard work to reel them in again. This time I got to chase “Redshirt” and finally passed him half way up as he had to get out of the tracks on the steeper sections while my skins still had grip. I had “FullBeardGuy” in my sight but he crested the top before I could get him and was GONE! I worked my butt off though staying ahead of “Redshirt”. I could still see him about 30m behind me at the bunny hill turn. The tracks seemed to have gotten slower on the 2nd lap, not sure if they really were slower or I more tired, and double poling started to feel hard. I b;asted down South Gibsons this time to not to be caught again on the downhill – there was no more hill to catch back up. Nobody passed me and I started to get my hopes up but then, on the flat section of campground loop, I heard someone closing in from behind. Damn, I thought, but it wasn’t “Redshirt”. Peter came flying by on the flats – his skis, crowns, must have been faster than mine. Last I saw him he was several hundred meters behind still. I did everything I could to keep him in sight. We stayed even on the flats, closed up a bit on a small incline but didn’t stand a chance on the downhills – he was gone. I saw him again at the finish stretch – 100m ahead and double poled my heart out. At the end I finished 15sec behind. I was happy for finishing this close to Peter in a regular loppet, he was happy beating me at the end. I didn’t even notice that it had started to lightly rain near the end. As always, we all got our cookie medals and great door prizes. Jeff, who double poled the whole thing came in 3rd overall, 47min ahead of me over 30km!!! And he beat some really good skiers!!! Great race for him and a good confidence builder for both of us for next weekends Birkie in Edmonton.

Capture (Small)

Lap 1 – FullBeard and Redshirt chasing me

Woke up to rain and Lily’s chatter this AM. Body felt a bit sore, a good sore mind you. By 11 the rain had turned to a light drizzle and a balmy 9C again. There even was a hint of blue sky to the south. We loaded up the double surfski and headed over to Deep Cove. Deep Cove though was still heavily overcast and it drizzled on and off during our 2hr paddle to Cates, Admiral Point, Twin and return via the Cove but the water was nice a calm with an outgoing tide. Apparently I wanted to work a bit too hard and ended up ahead of Jeff all the time who was aiming for a recovery paddle. After we sorted that out half way, things started to feel much better. While we had our late lunch and early beer at the pub we watched the sun break through the clouds. It felt like we hadn’t seen the sun in town forever! A nice change and I went for a short walk to get my Vitamin D. Some of the flowers in my garden have started to blossom as well and it sure smells like spring.

Paid less for my first car…

Filed under: Canada — K2 in Canada @ 10:46 AM

Well, I am sure I paid less for my first car, a VW Polo, although I don’t know since my parents bought it for me when I started University in a town 2.5 to 5hrs drive away from my hometown, depending on traffic :-). German Autobahn can be bad! Back then it was an enormous distance. Today, we do this as day trips on the weekend to have fun. And we still own a VW, Golf Wagon, to take us where we want to go We love this car since it suits our needs very well for summer and winter fun activities, and it gets awesome mileage on those trips. We hardly ever need in in town. And despite it being a TDI, which was the cause for the VW emission scandal in Canada and the US, we decided to keep it. Volkswagen gave us some money for all the “troubles” and adjusted the software that controls the exhaust or something like it. It’s all fine now. Or was until it broke down in our driveway this January – twice.

The first time was right after we came back from our 8 day trip across southeastern BC. The car started up fine every day at temps of -15 to -20C. Two days sitting in the driveway at home at +2C, the battery died. Luckily we have the truck and the battery was replaced in no time.

The second time I mentioned in my last post “Summing up January” below when we almost missed out on skiing at Manning. It turned out it was a broken spring after all and we had to take it to the shop. The springs in the front needed replacement (the back ones were done 2 years ago for a good reason – see picture “Kayak touring” below) and while they were at it we asked them to check the shocks which or course were due as well. Last task was to adjust the handbrake which hasn’t been working for about 6 month. Turned out, the cable was rusted and needed replaced, the pads and rotors completely worn and pretty much everything in the area was rusted. The car was in the shop for 3 days. And every day we got a call about what else needed fixed. Eventually on the 3 day we had enough and stopped the money drain. Miraculously, they could put the car together without replacing the rusted carriers. All sudden they weren’t so bad but would need replacement at some point.

I hope this trend doesn’t continue. The car is only 8 years old and we were planning to keep it for another 5 or so. Well, all the VW cars I ever owned did suffer from either rust of electrical problems starting at about 10 years. One would think I don’t learn from my mistakes but honestly the value we are getting out of these vehicles with a bare minimum amount of care is still worth it. And hey, if a car wants to break down, doing it in the drive way is the best way :-).

January 29, 2018

Summing up January

Filed under: Canada, Kayak, Ski — K2 in Canada @ 11:01 PM

Darn, I wanted to be more diligent again with my blogging this year but January just flew by. Anyhow, here a summary of all the weekend activities for January. Temperatures were rather mild and lots of rain.

Jan 6-7, was a mix of skiing and paddling. It was rather warm in Manning that Saturday with 0C. Quite different from our last ski there, which was on day 1 of our 9 day long 6th annual ski trip around southeastern BC (blog to follow soon) when the temps hit -17C. That was too cold for me. No worry this time around and I did not burn my toes again after a 3+hr ski at 0C, my first 30km long ski of the season. Loppet season is just around the corner. The trails were a bit iffy with lots of frozen snow bombs on the trails. There were a few occasions where arms were flailing and one ski was up in the air while I was trying to stray up after hitting an unexpected bump on the descents. Other than that, the snow was extremely fast. Jeff loved it, it was good for double polling. My skins skis worked great for me with enough grip in and out of the tracks.

Sunday was a very wet and rather cold, blowy day in town. Jeff and I had planned to go for a paddle but we needed some motivation to leave the warm house. And what better to get us going than the promise of a race. Matt and Chris were putting on the 1st annual Winter Delta Race out of Deas Slough, two laps of 5km. As mentioned before it was wet and cold and we decided to bring out the Accord, our trainer K2, since it had cockpits, in the hopes of staying a bit warmer than in the double surfski. Mind you, we hadn’t paddled that thing in quite some time and both of us are struggling with balance these days. So this was going to be interesting. When we arrived at the starting area they even was a little tarp set up for us to huddle underneath while waiting for the start. Nobody wanted to go on the water early. Warm ups are highly overrated, especially in mid Winter :-). About 12 people came out, most of them hard core TNR paddlers. The race went okay but it was hard!! Much harder than I thought it should feel. Shane was way ahead! We had a race to the finish line with Chris and just nipped him by a boat length. Did I mention it was cold and wet and windy? With the race finally in the bag, we could head for the pub. Warm food and cold beers was what I needed. Matt and Chris even had prizes for everyone. A great little winter “fun” event.

 

Mind you, I could feel the effort all week long….gym workouts felt very hard.

Jan 13-14. First loppet weekend. We had to make a choice . Three of the six classic loppets we usually do each season were all schedule for the same day. Not sure what Cross Country BC is thinking when they put schedules together. Originally one of them, Sun Peaks, was supposed to be on Saturday and Manning’s Blackwall Bash and the Apple Loppet in Kelowna were schedule for Sunday. So our plan had been to ski Sun Peaks Saturday and Manning Sunday. But then the Sun Peaks people moved their loppet to Sunday as well and we ended up skiing Manning both days that weekend, one of them the Blackwall Bash. Saturday was just for fun (me) / 50km distance training (Jeff). The trails were in slightly better shape than the week before but it was even warmer and still many snow bombs littered the trails. There was a tree down on North Gibsons but one could get by – just.

We were lucky to get a last minute room at the lodge – they had been sold out for weeks prior to the event – which we shared with John. There were a few other buddies of ours staying at the lodge and I think we drank a few too many pitchers of beer Saturday evening.

Loppet day started out overcast, with low hanging clouds, although the forecast was for sun. Peter and I started 30min ahead of everyone since we were the slowest skiers by about 30min :-). Usually Peter is a much faster skier than I but for some odd reason in the past 2 years I made it up that damn mountain, 850m of continuous climbing, ahead of him. But this years goal was not only to stay ahead of Peter but also to stay ahead off Jeff who would start 30min behind! Last year we were separated by just over 30min. I went off hard, much harder than I should have to shake Peter but he stayed behind me for quite some time. It took the first little bit of a flatter section, where I could double pole, to drop him. By about the 7km mark we broke through the clouds and from then on it was skiing in the sun under blue skies. It was warm too!! Too hot and I was struggling not even half way. I was the first to make it to the lookout, halfway at the 8km mark, and Jo was cheering me on. That renewed the energy a bit. At km 10 though, the first two skaters passed me. They had started 45min after I did.  They finished the whole damn race in less time than it took me to the halfway point :-). At the 13/14km mark I could hear another classic skier behind me. But lucky for me it wasn’t Jeff. I was sooo tired but pushed on. My heel on my left food was on fire. More and more skaters past me, including John, which didn’t really help. But at the end I finished a couple minutes ahead of Jeff :-). I was happy. Skins worked well for me again. The sunshine was beautiful with the fog filling up the valleys below us. I took my time going down. Well except when the fog swallowed us up again after the lookout. The one bad thing, I had a huge blister on my left heel which broke open during the race. Hence no hot tub that day. And it really hurt for a couple of days.

 

Jan 20-21. Second loppet weekend. The Reino Keiski Salmo loppet in Salmon Arms. We left mid day Friday since the loppet starts early on Sat and it is a 5+hr drive. John came with us again.

Loppet day was overcast with a very light snow. Larch Hills had gotten 3-5cm of fresh snow that night before the groom. Tracks were in good shape but a bit slow. It was about -3 or -2C at the start. I used my skins again. This course is 2 laps of 17km. It’s a lot of up and down really, although there is only one extended climb at about 8km. I started hard and was not the last person out of the stadium, yeah, but it did not take long for everyone to catch me. I hung on though and somehow miraculously passed a whole bunch again on the long uphill. Normally, everyone passes me on the downhill but not this year. I managed to stay ahead till the end of lap one but that’s when it hit me. My leg started to get heavy. Paddling friend Philippa flew by me and was doing all I could to keep her in site but the distance increased steadily. Last 4km and my so beloved skins started to ice up. Rats. I was walking and Philippa was gone. More people started passing me again. I was done. I managed to kick the snow off again after about a kilometer of limping but all the energy was gone. Disappointed, I finished the race. I was not dead last but I felt I should have done better (not sure why since I really don’t train). Ready to quit skiing right there and then.

The boys wanted to ski at Stake Lake the next day. So we spent that night in Kamloops, again drinking way too much beer and eating way too much food.

It was very windy at Stake Lake on Sunday morning and lightly snowing. I wasn’t really looking forward to get out there but then the guy at the ticket booth told us about a moose and calf sighting that morning, and that past week a family of 8 lynx had been seen along the inner trails. Despite the wind and my vow from yesterday to never ski again, I was eager to go see my moose and the cats. Due to the wind, we reversed our usual ski direction and I started out were the moose was seen. Could not find them though, only the fresh tracks all over.  Then up the big hill to the high point, my legs started reminding me about my decision from the day before but the moose/cat stories kept me going. The tracks were filling in with fresh snow and even the downhills were slow. At the lower end of the trial system which is more open, the wind was howling. Luckily, it was mostly a tailwind and with temperatures around 0C it did not feel too terribly cold. At one point the wind pushed me along a flat section of the trail. For the most part though it was a slow grind. Never got to see any moose or cats or anything really but blowing snow and the odd skier. Still, glad to be out there and enjoy nature and fresh air, getting me ready for a week at my desk again.

 

Jan 27-28. A sleep-in both days weekend – yeah. Lots of rain in the forecast. We initially wanted to go to Whistler but they just got dumped on with fresh and we ended up going to Manning again. Jeff needed to train for his two 50km loppets in Feb.

If you go for the afternoon ski in Manning (start past 12:15PM) you pay only half price and you get off the trails just in time for the pup to open at 4PM after a 30min soak in the hot tub and cool down in the pool. Pretty civilized. But the day did not quite start that way. We were 15min early to leave home but when we drove out of the drive way we heard this clunk noise in the car. And again and again, every time we turned the stirring wheel. How can a car break siting in the drive way? We drove it last time on Wednesday for night skiing at Cypress (which was awfully soggy) and everything was fine. Anyhow, usually not a big deal since we have a truck with M&S tires but unfortunately the truck was in Penticton. Jeff’s parent had borrowed it since none of their cars is winterize. So the only other car we had was Jeff’s mom’s Nissan Versa with summer tires. And the law on BC highways says you have to have winter tires. Not all was lost though since buddy John was coming with us again and his Mazda 3 does have winter tires. So we loaded everything from the Golf into the Versa, drove out to Surrey to load everything from the Versa into the Mazda. The Mazda is quite a nice car but not quite as roomy as a Golf Wagon (or maybe only because I usually do not sit in the back :-)) and it does not go up the hills as smoothly as the turbo diesel that was sitting in our driveway :-(. But we made it to Manning with enough time for a ski, hot tub and beer. Manning also had gotten quite a bit of snow and the tracks were filled in with powder. It was still snowing and the going was slow, not ideal for Jeff’s training. I took it easy. But this was the first time ever my skin ski completely deserted me – they iced up right at the start (we started at the bottom that day) and I had to switch to my crown which worked great. Up North Gibsons the snow was so deep I could not see my skis and it was more walking than skiing. And near the end I came across a group of trees down. It was just possible to squeeze yourself underneath them while sitting on your skis. Not 500m later there was another group of trees down. No easy way to get by those, other than wading through hip deep snow. I turned around instead. The downhill was fun in the fresh powder. Maybe I should pick up downhill skiing? A nice day outdoors!

Sunday was as wet as the forecast promised. It started out with a drizzle in the AM. Since our car was still broken and we have no roof rack for the Versa we could not take the boats to the Cove. Luckily the river was high all morning long with a small incoming tide. Jeff didn’t feel like paddling in the rain but I was itching for some boat time. So I took my sufkski and walked it to the river by myself. Paddled for ~90min up to Arthur Liang Bridge and back. It was wet and the wind picked up on the way back. Mostly had the river to myself except for the ducks ans seagulls and a couple tug boats blocking the small channel around Mitchell Island on my way back. Trying to get past a tug parking a barge and a tug towing a log boom in that narrow channel at the same time was near impossible. But it all got sorted out. I guess the logging industry does not take days off. Not the most scenic or exciting paddle ever but I was glad to get out in a boat. Below the story of my 4-Bridges North Fraser trip in pictures:

December 21, 2017

Winter Solstice

Filed under: Canada, Home, Hummer — K2 in Canada @ 10:33 PM

Yeah, from now on the days are getting longer again! It sure fooled our resident Hummingbird Chatter. He usually shows up 15min or so before sunrise which makes it about 7:45AM when we hear him chirping outside on the weekends. Never see him during the week anymore since I leave by 7:15AM and don’t come home long after he has gone to bed which he does around 5:00PM. But today I hear him at 6:45AM. Pitch dark still. But I think he realized his mistake. The chirping stopped and he looked like he fell asleep again sitting on the small feeder. He was still there when I left. The picture is quite grainy – it was darker than it looks. I did not want to open the door – a) to not scare him away and b) it was only 2C outside.

P1180085 (Medium)

By the way, it snowed on Tuesday this week – beautiful big flakes most of the day. Some, not much, stuck as it got sunny and cold the next day. Still bikeable mind you. We may be looking at a white Christmas 🙂

WhiteChristmas

December 12, 2017

Stunningly Beautiful!

Filed under: Bears, Canada — K2 in Canada @ 9:53 PM

I know, I am way behind with my posts but I had to share this. Stunningly beautiful images of bears – black or white both amazing. I just love bears!

October 21, 2017

The rain is back

Filed under: Canada, Home, Paddle — K2 in Canada @ 8:03 PM

Heavy at times. Well, we have been asking for it :-). Jeff is happy because his Coho fishing spots are finally getting enough water that the fish are coming in. Tomorrow will be my first day out this fall. Today though was a bit miserable with not just rain but also quite a bit of wind. Nevertheless, I needed to get outside for a bit after being stuck indoors all week. I walked my surfski down to the river. It was just about low tide but I still had the current plus the wind nicely pushing me down river. At that point there was hardly any rain too. All the tugs slowed down for me and it was a really nice paddle despite the weather. By the time I turned around though, half a kilometer down from the Arthur Liang Bridge, the current had turned and push me up the river but the wind also had picked up and it started to rain hard again. Now all into my face. It was a tough slog back up river and it was cold. I am glad though I went out.

What’s the chance…

Filed under: Animals, Canada, Home — K2 in Canada @ 7:54 PM

…to run into not just one but two skunks on my ride home from work last week. And I  came out of both encounters without smelling any worse than before we met.

It was a rainy, dark night. Between 7 and 8PM. I was riding on the bike path along no longer existing East Kent, now a construction site, when I spotted something ahead of me running along the fence in the same direction I was going – a skunk. Now the path is about 1.5m wide and I figured blasting by that guy and scaring him may not work so well. There was a tailwind. So I tried my usual trick, slowed down and talked to the guy staying a couple meters behind the animal. First he sped up a bit, than the tail went straight up in the air. Oh oh, I thought but nothing happened. Tail came down again. The skunk crossed to the other side of the path, still running the same direction I was going. Tail come up again. I slowed down further but again, lucky me, it came down right away without any bad smells starting to hit me. And then the skunk ran of the trail by another meter, stopped and looked at me. I took that as a sign to slowly bike by him and say thanks. It worked.

I get home 5 or so minutes later. Jeff had already turned on the outside light. As I approach the door I see something scoot away into the bushes to my right. A cat I thought and started looking. And there he was, another skunk was looking for stuff below the truck. he didn’t even acknowledge me being there :-).

So cool!!! Too bad it was too dark for pictures. I know these guys are in the area – usually we can smell them late at night when something scarred them below our open bedroom window – but I don’t get to see them very often at all.

October 13, 2017

Hunting Season

Filed under: Animals, Canada — K2 in Canada @ 6:51 AM

Lucky for this guy, I only hunt with my camera. Three days of bush walking this past Thanksgiving weekend and I got this super lucky to spot a moose despite gun shots going off all around me. Honestly I was more afraid of getting shot at than stumbling into wildlife that weekend. But again, all ended well :-). I hope that moose will make it through unscathed as well. Mind you, moose is tasty meat and I do not fault people that hunt for food. Each his/her own. More on the trip to come soon.

P1170947 (Medium)

Bear encounters

Filed under: Animals, Bears, Canada — K2 in Canada @ 6:41 AM

This story takes place a couple weekends ago. Naturally, after seeing a bear up at Cypress on my birthday I had to go back the next weekend. A beautiful sunny day. I didn’t really expect to see the bear. Near the top I hung out with 3 grouse that tried to “hide” in the fall colours right off the trail. Pretty cool.

 

And when I got down to the meadows where birthday bear was last weekend, I counted myself very lucky to actually see him again. At least I think it was the same bear in pretty much the same spot as the birthday bear! This time I had a bit better view of him too. He was munching away on berries probably not even noticing me standing 100m away watching him. Unfortunately, it did not take long until more hikers were coming down the trail behind me, talking. The bear did not care. I pointed the bear out to the group of 3 guys but instead of peacefully continue on their way, they started to make a lot of noise while passing me. Clapping their hands, talking even louder. Yeah, I know, folklore says you should make noise in bear country. Personally I hate bear bells. I rather keep my eyes and ears open. And this bear was far off the trail, not paying too much attention to his surrounding other than the blueberries in front of him, putting on fat for the winter. The loud noise though got his attention pretty quick and he bolted into the bush. Idiots, I thought. Idiot, they probably thought for me watching the bear silently. Off they disappear down the trail ahead of me. Shortly after I hear the guys yelling “watch out, there is another bear right here” and they made even more noise and, stupid, started running. I carefully continued down the trail expecting that that other bear would have left because of the noise as well. But not so. I came face to face with a quite agitated looking mama bear and her young cub not wanting to surrender their nice blueberry patch whatsoever. And that patch was right along the trail – 20m distance between us. I stopped to analyze the situation in plain view. The cub was up the tree when I first saw them and mama was looking back and forth between me and the 3 noisy guys I could no longer see. Great I thought. Not only did they scare away the friendly bear, no they left me with a quite pissed off mama bear. The cub climbed down the tree while I tried to figure out what to do. I expected them to walk off into the bush. But then mama bear took a charge back at the tree, huffing, in the direction off where the 3 guys disappeared. The little guy didn’t know what to do other than staying close to mom and go up that tree again. It was a bit scary for a moment but neither bear showed aggression towards me. I calmly talked to them. Mama bear was watching me and obviously listening to me telling her no good would come out of her chasing a hiker up here. She finally relaxed and after a few more seconds relented the area and walked off into the bush. Her cub close behind. It took a couple minute for my heart rate to come down again.

 

I do see black bears on my hikes and walks quite frequently but this was definitely the closest encounter I have had to date. Most other times the bears take off as soon as they hear, see or smell me. This was different. My read on this, the bear became agitated because of the extensive noise and the running of those 3 guys ahead of me. If they would have just walked by her, she probably would have stayed calm and continued eating. If I wouldn’t have alerted them to the first bear, they might have walked right by the 2nd without noticing it. But that’s all speculation off course. Female bears with cubs can be quite protective and I usually do not hang around to watch them this close. I guess I could have backed off rather than stand my ground but my gut feel told me to stay put. I am glad this turned out the way it did. I neither want to endanger myself or the bears!

You can judge me all you want but I will continue sharing nature with all the wildlife there is. I will stick to my philosophy to watch my surrounding, observe but not threaten any animals I see. I get just as excited about seeing deer or grouse or chipmunks as I do about seeing a bear or bobcat. I was back doing the same hike again the next weekend. Mostly sunny after a rainy Saturday and even busier with people but I again got to see a bear. I felt extremely lucky. This time I think it was a different bear, higher up at the top of the mountain. He saw me coming from a long way off and meandered slowly into the trees, stopping here and there to nibble on a few more blueberries along the way. None of us felt threatened – both of us continued on with what we love. Me enjoying a beautiful fall hike – the colours are just short of amazing and no pictures do them justice. Him eating to prepare for winter.

Most bear encounters end like mine. You just very rarely hear about those – not sensational enough I guess. Here is another story that ended well for all: https://blog.thedyrt.com/adventure/survive-a-grizzly-bear/

Older Posts »

Blog at WordPress.com.