Saturday, December 28, 2013

The blizzard of 2013

One picture is worth a thousand words.
Snow snow and more snow.  Gotta get out there and get packing or we won't have any trails to bike on.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Lindeman Lake

We finally have enough snow to start getting out and getting our winter fix.
The cold temperatures were moderating and the weekend looked promising so plans were hatched to ski into the cabin at lake Lindeman on the Chilkoot trail.
Saturday AM found myself, Michelle, Kona, Loki, Anthony, Sierra, Starbuck, Dylan, Lindsey and Tyk gathered at the Log Cabin parking lot, putting on wax and getting ready to bushwack.
Heading down the railway tracks soon revealed that there really wasn't very much snow at all, but we were there, so we kept going.  Once off the tracks, there was maybe only 2' at the most, which did nothing for our ski bases.
5 hours later, after much Alder bashing, we arrived at the lower cabin and sparked up the wood stove.  It is usually a much less Alder filled ski in, but the low snow pack hadn't bent the shrubbery over yet.
Nice clear night with lots of stars and Aurora.  Dropped to -17C overnight, and the cabin was a tad chilly.
Almost the shortest night of the year, so we didn't get going until well after 10 AM.
Skiing back, you don't really break out of the shadow cast by Fraser mountain, so coming around the bend into the sun at Log Cabin was very nice.
Looking West towards Lindeman lake, which is hidden just in front of the sun lit Mt. Harvey
The lower cabin in the AM, with Mt. Harvey behind
Looking North towards Bennett lake, recent cold temps. had frozen the lake, which is early for Lindeman
Kona and Loki
Kona and Tyk the Greyhound on the ski out at about 12:30 PM
Pray for snow!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Pack Rafting the Primrose Write Up

There was so much more to this trip than the video could show, I knew I had to write it up and with lots more images.
The Primrose is just one of those rivers that was meant to be pack rafted.  A relatively short walk in through incredible alpine terrain, amazing scenery, and challenging paddling.  In a packraft, the paddling is actually more than challenging.  Simply put, you are not going to packraft the canyon portion.  Well, someone might at low water levels, but its super gnarly, so there.
I kept throwing this out a a trip all summer, and Paul Burbidge kept saying "I'm in", and he was.  We were all set to do it on the Labor Day weekend, but three makes a safer number, and Dylan Stuart was enlisted as a rock solid third, albeit a relatively newbie packrafter.
The Burb.  As a surveyor specializing in bush work, this dude is happy sleeping in the mud, eating bugs for dinner, and generally making short work of any and all wilderness challenges.

Dylan.  I always think of this quote from The Terminator when I think of Dylan in the woods  "Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there. It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead."  Although I'm pretty sure Dylan feels pity, and I think he can be bargained with.

When asked afterwards how this trip could have been better, I responded that we all wished Anthony had been with us.
But back to the trip.  We all took the Friday before the Friday before Labor Day weekend off to ensure we had enough time in hand to finish the trip.  We had no idea how long it would take,  We knew we would be portaging.  A lot.  Paul B had no spraydeck on his raft (what had he been thinking!) and Dylan was a relative new comer to packrafting.  We knew it had tough whitewater, but we also knew we had the judgement and sense to scout when required, and portage when it made sense.  Its packrafting after all.
Paul Bs partner Carrie shuttled us out to the Wheaton river valley bright and early on a spectacular August 30th morning.  Sunny, bluebird, warm.  Perfect.  We flew up the old mining Bernie Creek exploration road, and then left the road to travel overland straight through the alpine to Primrose lake.  6 hours later we were blowing up the rigs on the shores of Primrose lake.
Leaving the road at the headwaters of Bernie creek 
Looking into the Coast Ranges, with Primrose Lake in the deep valley ahead.  Mt. Porsild is the pyramid peak right of center.
We stayed right when we should have gone left.  Right got us onto steep, old moraine.  Lots of loose gravel and boulders.
We were on the water by 5:30-ish, and headed off down the lake with a stiff South wind aiding us.
Most of the way down Primrose.  We descended to the lake via the low valley on the left.
By 7PM, we had past most of the nice beaches and were headed towards the rocky river outlet.  I spied a nice sandy beach in a protected cove.  It looked to be the last nice spot on the lake, so we pulled in and called it home.  It was awesome!  A big fire and perfect, mossy mid sites.
5 star campsite.
Primrose lake really is one of the jewels of the Yukon.
We were up and at em early the next AM.  Sunny skies and a warm South wind eased our anxiety about the upcoming river.  The Primrose is class IV between Primrose lake and Rose lake, but the rapids aren't marked accurately.  As we entered the river, we could see the river dropping away, with whitewater dancing on the horizon line.  Bob and Theresa, my hardcore kayaking neighbors, had walked in with their hardshells the day before us.  They had dragged their gear in, and here at the outlet, we saw their tracks for the first time.
Looking downstream at the outlet.
The river stayed class II-ish for quite some time, with the odd bit of easy III thrown in for good measure.  It was classic, fun packrafting water, and a good warm up for all of us.  Eventually things got a bit more attention getting.
Fun splashy class II on the upper reaches.  The low water made things much more pack raft friendly than would otherwise be the case. 
Several chutes that looked to be IV-ish had us pulling over and portaging.  They were probably hard III at the low fall levels, but prudence suggested portaging.  I have no pictures of Prudence, but she was with us the whole trip.
Prudence, I mean Dylan, showing good packraft sense.
If we had been paddling more this summer, I'm sure we would have paddled more of the chutes.  One long section of hard-ish looking water had us following a trail through the woods past it.
Portaging packrafts is MUCH easier than dragging canoes or kayaks....
Dylan had a good background in canoeing, and he got into the swing of things pretty quickly.
We began to run more and more of the rapids as we got a better feeling as to what the characteristics of the river were.  There were no log jams, and the rapids were generally chutes with long stretches of wave trains below them.  The only drawback was that Paul B didn't have a spraydeck on his rig.  After every rapid, he would yell out "what was I thinking?"  as in why didn't I order this with a spraydeck?  Its a good thing he's tough, as he got to sit in icy water most of the time.
Looking back at the last rapid we carried.

Eventually the river slowed down and entered wetlands at the South end of Rose lake.  We pulled over and had a lunch fire, and looked at the very fresh griz tracks.
Nothing like fire to improve ones outlook.

The long paddle down Rose lake beckoned.  It;s about 16 km to the North end of Rose lake, with a short section of river dividing the lake at about halfway.  We were all about the same in terms of our drive for paddling flatwater.  Give 'er for an hour or so, then drift and chat for a while, then give 'er again.  This got us down to the North end in if not record time, then in good time.  It started to drizzle just as we found a nice camp site in Pines.
Giving 'er.
The Place Beyond The Pines.  We didn't see any sign of Ryan Gosling.  
Heading into the wetlands with the kayakers on the beach behind Dylan. 
It was overcast, socked in and drizzling hard the next morning, when a floatplane showed up and deposited 3 kayakers on the beach opposite camp.  I don't think the Primrose has seen this much action for years.  Dylan knew all of them, and it turned out they were meeting Bob and Theresa at the top of the canyon to run it and the rest of the river as a day trip.  It started to pour rain as we all made our way through the wetlands above the falls.  It was nice having the lads in front of us, as they had run the river before and knew where the take out was above the falls.  We all pulled out, and while the trio dragged there boats towards the gully that would get them down below the falls, we deflated and packed up for the 5 km portage.
Paul B won worst-dressed in his tarp-poncho.
Cool meadows away from the river.
Dropping down to the put-in below the class V canyon.
About 12 years ago, a fire went through this area.  Apparently there used to be a trail for the portage, but it has long been lost due to the fire.  The portage went quickly with everything on our backs.  It would have sucked to drag boats though.  We were down at the river, with rafts mostly ready to go when the kayakers came out of the canyon.
Looking upstream at the canyon.
 We put in after the kayakers.  We boat scouted for a while, and then came to what was apparently the hardest rapid in the lower section.  Dylan portaged it, I ran it, and Paul B filled with water on the first drop, and became separated from his raft.  I left the lads in a desperate race to catch the wee Alpacka.  It was a long walk out without it.  I eventually caught up to it hung up on a rocky bar, filled with water, but apparently fine.  This was about 2 km downstream from the lads.  It was pouring rain, so I hunkered down under a Spruce, built a big fire and waited.
External sources of heat are good.
 In a short while Dylan showed up.  Not long after, Paul B swam across the river and was reunited with us.  All was well.  More fun class III followed, with one drop we didn't like the look of, so we carried past it.
Lots of fun class III.
It was the kind of water where if we had been paddling more the past summer, we would have run all of it. That and having a deck on Paul Bs boat.  Regardless it was great fun, with no log jams to worry about.  The river carries on like this until it widens out and slows down forming a long, narrow lake complete with an idyllic campsite on an island.  It was pouring rain and cold, so we didn't stop.  At the outlet of the lake, the river drops into a long chute that we didn't like the look of, so we made a long-ish carry past it in the thick woods.  Apparently it's a long wave train with no hazards.  Knowing that now, it would probably be a fun paddle.  It was Prudence's idea to portage.
In the lake.
Lots of fun class II below the chute had us out to Kusawa lake quite quickly.  When we arrived at the lake, it was about 5 PM, and nasty North wind was beating into us.  An old friend of mine has his cabin near the mouth of the river, and when I saw his boat at the dock, I suggested we stopped in.  Ed was home, and was nice enough to give us a lift to the campground, which saved us 10km of flatwater.  Michelle and Carrie were there with food and beer.  The kayakers had only just reached the campground, but they had paddled the lake while we drank beer in Ed's boat.  The weren't expecting us until much later.
Great fun.  I want to go back.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Fall Harvest

An important part of our fall, and our friends fall as well, is ensuring a supply of healthy, additive free wild meat in our collective freezers.
Call it what you will: harvesting, shooting, killing, it all adds up to the same thing.  I don't know anyone who is big on the killing portion, but we are thankful, and we ensure that all portions of the animal are used.  Meat wastage, besides being illegal, is unethical, irresponsible, lazy and downright un-cool.
Michelle and I, Redgrant and Dunc made our annual 9 day hunting trip together, and were successful.  Dunc took his first Moose as a Yukon resident.  It came charging out at him at his first bull call.  It ended up in the middle of the river, but a cable puller got him onto a clean gravel bar where we cleaned him up and got him into the boat.
Dunc, Dunc's son John, Paul and I also made another trip in October, and while we weren't successful in the hunting sense, it was a great trip none the less.  I spent a few hours in a swamp watching a bull with 2 cows and 2 calves.  A reasonable shot never presented itself, which was fine, so the Moose got to be Moose.
It's pretty cool to observe 5 Moose hanging out together.
Probable the best aspect of these fall trips is just being out at the changing of the seasons.  The woods are alive with migrating birds, animals getting ready for winter, and the flora winding down for winter.
Campfires with good friends, crisp nights and clear, cool days are all a part of it.


A Farewell to Fall

We have had an amazing fall.  We surely don't deserve it after a stunner of a summer, but there you have it. Spent yesterday splitting and stacking 3 cords of wood, so we just had to get out today and take advantage of the falls last gasp.
Grey mountain beckoned as an easy way to get an alpine fix.  We motored up Money Shot, then traversed the summits to the North, then down on to the trails near the biathlon course.
Great fun.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Duff lake to Primrose lake

As I said earlier, summer 2013 was amazing.  Here's some more fun that was had.
The original plan was to hike from the Haines road near Blanchard lake through the high country between the timber and the glaciers all the way to the Wheaton river.  We had previously made most of this hike back about 8 years ago.  I said most, half way through our dog Tua slashed her rear leg open on a rock, requiring 20 improvised stitches on the side of a mountain.  We carried her for 3 days before managing to luckily find a float plane at Primrose.  Luckily, as her leg was getting infected.
I really wanted to make the whole trip, and that's what was on deck this year, however, the Saturday we were to start, an intense Pacific low moved in, drowning the Southern Yukon/Northern BC.  We delayed until the Monday, which left us a few days short to complete the whole route, so we flew into Duff, which was about day three of the trip, then hiked out to Primrose and flew out.
Great trip, although the Mosquitoes were unusually intense for this time of year.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Packrafting The Primrose

Well, summer 2013 has to go down in the books as some kind of awesome. Haven't posted in a bazillion years as I have been out frolicing, and while the Urban Dictionary defines frolicing as laughing and giggling whilst rolling down a grass hill, this sort of thing can be fun too.
Packrafting the Yukon's Primrose River: a short walk on the wild side from Yukon Frolics on Vimeo.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Coghlan Lakes

Two weekends ago, Anthony, Dylan and myself made an out and back to Coghlan lakes (almost), which is about 20 km in on the Quest trail North of Braeburn.  Great trail, in the woods.  On the lakes it was blowing in fast, but the warm temps made it more fun than it would have been otherwise.
Definately a trail to do if there are no winds forecast.  Given that most of this portion of the trail from Braeburn to Carmacks follows long, North-South oriented lakes, and the prevailing winds are from the South, save yourself a slog-fest if its windy.

For that fresh, blow-dried look.......
Spin drift Uber Alles!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Finally finished the video for the north Canol trip, so grab a coffee/beer and sit back.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Are Bud and Lou for you

I need a new bike like I need a hole in my head.  Ross would disagree, but Ross has a Rolex, so his opinion doesn't hold much weight.  However, when I saw that this years Surly Moonlander came in a 24" XXL frame, then and there I had to have it.  Not that I can't ride my old style 22" Pugsley, but the top tube is short for me.  Thats my excuse and I'm sticking to it.
Jonah at Icycle came though as per usual and scored me the frame.  I was in New Zealnd at the time (November) so I went with the status quo of REALLY fat tires, Big Fat Larrys.  Those shod on Clownshoe rims are the defacto gold standard of fat.
I had not met Bud and Lou.
I was in NZ.  I was out of the loop. 
I went to pick up the Moonlander when we got back, and there they were.  In all their sumo-esque glory.
Gotta have.
The report.
They are fat.  As in really fat.

Senor` Lou on the left sporting a Clownshoe rim, Nate on the right with a rolling Daryl
Quien es mas macho?
Ok, they are huge.  And super aggressive.  But do you really need that?
Well, certainly most of the time one does not.  However, at 6'7" and 240 with all my winter gear on, I figure this set up puts me on par with average size riders running something more conventional.  The nice thing about running this kind of set up, for me anyhow, is that I don't have to run low pressure to get surface area, and thats a huge advantage.  For anyone really.  Low pressure is the speed killer.  Its what really creates drag.  I was expecting lots of it (drag that is) but at 20 PSI, I didn't experience any more perceived drag than I did off of my Big Fat Larrys with 20 PSI in them (mounted on 80mm rims).  What I did experience was unparalleled traction.  Traction reminiscent of riding dirt in the summer with a set of 2.4s.  I had been pretty happy with BFLs, and how they performed on climbs, but you can really hammer up the hills with these babies.  The big test was coming out from Cantlie lake.  Two sleds passed me, and I rode the chewed up trail behind them.  The float was superb, but the climbing was sublime.  I was able to ride up the long climb to the Grey Mountain road in the freshly churned up snow, and I know that even the BFLs would have given up the ghost in those conditions.  That was the sell.   
And Nate
I was prepared to only bring these out for the big trips where conditions would be unknown, but given their relatively low drag, I'm using them more than I thought I would.  They are just too much fun.  I spent the last few days trying to wash them out on corners.  You can do  it, but you have to work on it.  No comparison between them and BFLs (never mind Endos).
If I was going to ride the Old Dawson Trail right after the Quest went through, I would probably ride an Endo on the back and a Larry up front, pumped right up.  Just because.  But at any other time, with less than primo hardpack, these are going to be the tires that get mounted up.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Trapline Sunset

Spent the weekend out at my friends trapline on the Teslin river.  Three of us went in to break trails, set traps and fix things up.
One of the highlights of this time of year is the amazing light you get later in the afternoon.  These two shots are taken on one of the lakes in his area where one of his line cabins is located.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Winter Avoidance Mode

I'm starting to hate winter.
Not the lovely February and March winter, when the days are stretching out, the sun has some real warmth to it, and you get those great, soft evenings when the light works magic on the mountains.  When there is lots of snow, well packed snow, when you can get out and ski or bike to your hearst content.
Not that winter.
I hate November and December.  November.  Too much snow to bike, not enought to ski.  Super short days.  Lots of North wind full of moisture off the lakes.  Not really cold, but you're not used to it, so it feels really cold.  Dark when you go to work, dark when you come home.  Thats the winter I hate.
To combat this, Michelle and I over the last few years have been going into winter avaoidance mode, or WAM for short.
This is accomplished by heading to New Zealand for 2 months every two years.  Right during the part of winter I hate most.  November and December.  Works out well, as its early summer down there.
Here's some photos to ease winters passage.

Biking (pushing) on the Queen Charlotte Track

Day three on the Leslie/Karamea/Wangapeka

Cobb Resevoir
Pushing up part of the Croesus track
Stewart island
Stewart island
Stewart island
Near Mt. Earnsclaw
Biking on the Wharfdale track