YouTube Channel!

Hey, I know I usually do a nice long story on Thursdays but today I was busy… Busy starting a YouTube Channel for the few videos I have and for all the videos to come! Come check out my channel HERE and the latest video HERE don’t forget to like, share, subscribe, and comment.
For those of you who have been reading along to my previous posts you will see the truck from “Unnamed Lakes” mountains from “One Does Not Simply Walk Into Tongariro” scenery from “Fiji Time” and even a bit of “Crypt Lake“. This video as well as a few others I will post, are from a time when the idea of a blog or a YouTube channel were just a day dream that I didn’t take seriously. On this new channel I have also put up the old video I posted called “Pike On The Fly“.


Posted in Fishing, Hiking, Hunting, Travel, Videowith no comments yet.

One Does Not Simply Walk Into Tongariro

All of you who know me are likely getting tired of my New Zealand stories. That said I’m sure a few of my readers (OK maybe two or three) haven’t heard this one yet.

As I have stated earlier, in the spring of 2011 I found myself in New Zealand. Before my trip I had never really done much hiking, in fact the only real hiking I did previously would be more accurately described as a drunken stumble home from the bar… Either way hydration was still a factor. While I was preparing for my trip I was informed of just how important good footwear is. I originally intended to just pack along some slip on skateboarding shoes, since hiking shoes in size 14 are hard to find and a bit on the expensive side. I was luckily persuaded to stop being so cheap and just buy a pair. They proved to come in very handy.

Once I arrived in NZ I was informed that we were going to do the Tongariro Alpine Crossing needless to say I was not exactly excited to do a 20 km hike. I was persuaded when Erin told me that the national park was used as the setting of Mordor in the Lord of the Rings movies. Also I’m not a particularly smart man but, I know better than to say no to a woman when we’re on vacation.

We first went to the town of Taupo, got a hostel and got settled in. It was a nice place, big kitchen, sauna, private room, and central heating. I had to laugh that the worker at the hostel felt the need to explain central heating to two Canadians “hot air come out of these holes in the floor, so don’t cover them”  “tell me more about your magic Mr. Wizardman” I though in my head, but I’m Canadian so I just listened patiently, nodded and said “thank you.”

The next morning we jumped on an early morning bus which took us out to the trail head. Our journey began and naturally, as per usual, I had a wicked stomach ache, I was glad to find that there was a washroom at the trail head.

Ok so its not 20km but very close

The first bit of trail resembled the prairies with which I am very familiar, however this was a bit rockier and had an amazing view of the mountains. We reached the edge of the first mountain and before the climb began I spotted another washroom… bonus… no wait that’s a no go on the bonus, they were out of toilet paper. I opted to wait for the next washroom since I like my socks and my bandanna a little too much.

View from the top of the first climb

Of course we did some more uphill climbing until we reached a plateau where the trail separated: one way was to continue to trail to the end, the other was to climb to the top of Mt. Ngauruhoe (also known as Mt. Doom for LOTR fans). Sadly given how long it had taken me and my out of shape body to get to this point, climbing to the top of a nearby mountain didn’t seem feasible. I would be lying if I said I didn’t occasionally lose sleep regretting not being able to see the top of Mt. Doom, maybe someday Ill get another chance. At the plateau there were a lot of people taking a break, grabbing a snack from packs, and taking photographs. Erin and I took a few pictures of ourselves until a kind stranger offered to take a photo for us. He snapped one, looked a it and said “wait let me try again” he did this a few times until he got one he was happy with. I am eternally grateful to this kind stranger because it got me this.

I can’t think of a photo I like more

We then continued along the plateau as it dipped down into a large geological dish as we approached the far side I saw a rather narrow uphill path covered with snow. I noticed something kinda funny, there were a lot of people struggling up the center of the path on the snow that had been trampled into ice and nearly no footprints on the light powder along the edges. As a woman slipped and struggled on the ice I walked past her and politely mentioned that the snow, despite being deeper, would be easier and safer. I felt kinda like a jerk offering tips to a grown woman but I get the impression she wasn’t too familiar with the dynamics of snow. The top of this portion of the trail rewarded us with a beautiful view of most of the trail.

Emerald lakes and seemingly endless mountain ranges

From here the trail continued as a snowy downhill path, I glanced at the snow-challenged hiker, then at Erin and decided to ride down on the snow as though I were tobogganing, at first I tried just sitting and going, and that worked well, but then I realized my backpack had a toboggan feature… the salesman never mentioned that and it sure worked well. Naturally everyone who saw assumed I was crazy, and who am I to say they’re wrong.

It was so fun I almost went back up to do it again

We then continued along another gentle flat portion toward yet another emerald coloured lake. Along the way something in the ground caught my eye, a funny looking white rock that just seemed out of place, naturally I picked it up, to my surprise it was actually a necklace. That’s right folks I found jewellery in Mordor! Its not a ring, but Ill still take it. Here’s a photo of it after I cleaned it off a bit.

My precious

We then found our way to the lake on the far side, me still talking about how cool it is to find a necklace. We opted to stop for some photos and some lunch.

This photo took more tries than you would think
Kind looks like a weatherman in front of a green screen
Ham sandwiches taste better at higher altitude (I might make that my new catch phrase)

Our hike now lead us downhill… about time I say! It lead us along a narrow mountain ledge where we encountered people doing to trek in the opposite direction, I’m told this takes longer and is harder to do. This led to a few slight traffic jams as the trail get a bit narrow at points, but everyone survived so that’s good.

Erin’s on the edge!

The path eventually led us to another set of bathrooms, that were again devoid of toilet paper… I now pack my own everywhere I hike for fear of repeating this event. We continued on our way and eventually the narrow mountain trail turned into what resembled a tropical rain forest… oh wait… is it actually a tropical rain forest in New Zealand? Ill look into that later. Either way there was a lot of vegetation and it was beautiful.

Nearly at the end, very encouraging
Here, let me open that for you

We eventually reached the end of the trail and I was “relieved” to find they had fully stocked washrooms.

          This is the first actual hike I had ever taken, especially one of this length. At the time I enjoyed it immensely but had no real appreciation or scope of how lucky I was to get a chance at this hike, many hikers, especially those in North America, would consider this a life’s dream, and here I was able to do it on a whim as a first time hiker. Even stranger, between my stomach ache and distance of the hike itself I nearly opted not to go, but Erin made me, and I’m certainly glad she did.
            The bus shuttled us all back to our respective hostels, Erin and I reheated some pasta from the night before and promptly passed out… I guess in some respects this hike was like my drunken hikes home from the bar, but I wont be telling those stories here. To my shock, luck and amazement the only thing that hurt the next day was my shins. Good thing too, since we had a lot more adventuring to do while we were there. Next up was caving in Waitomo, but that’s another long winded story for another time.

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Crypt Lake

In the spring of 2012 Erin and I found our way to Waterton National Park. For me this was my first trip to Waterton and I was very excited. A few weeks before our trip a friend had told me about a hiking trail called Crypt Lake. After some internet searching I became rather excited by the idea of taking a boat across the lake and climbing a mountain to a glacier, what can I say? That sort of thing just appeals to me.

The first night we spent at the only campsite we could get reservation for, I’m the play it safe kinda guy. It was right in the heart of town. It was a nice campsite but I feel that something is lost when you camp inside a town with that many other people. The second day we did a short day hike wherein I was passed by a troop of girl scouts, those little ladies hike like they came down from a higher league. Afterward we tried our luck at a campsite outside of town and sure enough they had some space. It was great it had two things the town campsite did not, a lot of trees and a fire pit… to be enjoyed separately. We bought some firewood, which to me always feels weird, and cooked up some delicious hot dogs and had a solid sleep.

The next morning the plan was to buy tickets to get across the lake and enjoy the Crypt Lake hike. Unfortunately my unruly stomach had other plans, I ended up vomiting violently in the marina parking lot. Since I felt so on top of the world we opted not to try and hike a mountain that day. We drove the truck around a little bit, driving helps settle my stomach. I then texted my friend Jonas, who grew up in southern Alberta and had originally suggested Crypt Lake, and asked if he had any ideas of where we could go for a scenic drive. He promptly suggested we drive “Going-to-the-Sun-Road” in Montana’s Glacier National Park. Without hesitation we headed for the border, luckily we had the foresight to bring our passports. Crossing into the USA was rather easy, a delightful woman asked us some simple questions and we were across. The road itself was scenic with plenty of stop offs for photos and 0.5km “hikes.”

A lot of views very similar to this, I highly recommend it
A shot of the landscape and the truck we had to borrow to get there.

We reached the end of the road, I bought a t-shirt and a soda, and made our way back toward the border. It was dark by the time we arrived at the border. Crossing back into Canada was a touch more challenging, a man, appearing around the age of 30 and in full uniform walked up looked the bright yellow truck up and down and then gazed at the two young people inside at the slow border crossing late at night… Then his questioning began, and keep in mind I am not often known for my memory. “How long have you two been dating?” he asked “4 years” I said to which Erin replied “3” with a look that told me I was an idiot… “Ok, whens her birthday?” “Ummm March 5th…?” “March 4th” she corrected. The questions continued until I was liable to be in enough trouble that letting me go was funnier to him than arresting me. We left and drove back to our campsite the whole way Erin laughing at me and my idiocy.

          The following morning we tried for Crypt Lake again. This time my stomach was feeling a little better, I still opted to bring along some soda crackers. We purchased our tickets and jumped on the boat. On our way across we were informed that there were two boats coming back in the afternoon, the first at 4 pm the second at 5 pm. Also I was told if we miss the 5 pm we would have to wait until morning when the boat comes back to drop the next group of hikers off. We landed on the shores and began our hike up the switchbacks through the trees. The mass of people began to spread out and thin as we made our way up the mountain. The first half was heavily treed with the rare break to a view of a majestic waterfall or cliff side.
Shameless selfie, at least Erin looks good

As we made our way up the trees thinned and eventually we were walking a narrow path on the edge of a cliff. At first it was not too bad but it eventually got worse… much worse.

Keep in mind how little I enjoy heights

We had to walk a narrow ledge, climb a ladder, and crawl through a tunnel.

I almost fell off a ledge taking this shot
Yea that small ledge in the top right
That’s the tunnel

The ladder and the tunnel were a lot of “fun” for a guy like me, I swear I saw hawks circling below us, or vultures above me, its hard to tell when you get that much vertigo. After I took a few deep breaths in the tunnel I passed through to the far side to see that there was a 1.5 meter drop and cliff so sharp that someone was kind enough to put in pegs and a cable. Erin naturally walked up the hill without even a thought of using the cable while I considered kicking off my shoes for more to grab it with. I slowly white knuckled my way to the top while Erin was kind enough to take some photos.

You can see the drop and the cave (Top right)
I feel this counts and facing my fear of heights
While waiting for me Erin had time for another selfie

We then had a short, comparatively gentle, hike to the top of the mountain. Once on top we were rewarded with a beautiful view of Crypt lake and the glacier that feeds it. I was surprised by two things: first somehow people had gotten dogs and children to the top, how on earth do you get a black lab past that cliff? Secondly people were fishing in the lake, I assume the lake had been stocked because there is no way fish naturally found their way into the lake, that said I don’t recall seeing anyone catch anything so maybe there are no fish in that lake. I have since searched online and can’t find a definitive answer about the state of fish in the lake. Either way, next time I’m bringing my fishing rod, either I catch something or the myth gets perpetuated so its win win for me.

We made it!
A nap is always the best way to celebrate
        After Erin’s nap we took a walk around the lake itself, while crossing the glacier we saw a rather brave group riding tubes down the glacier into the ice cold water. I settled for us throwing a couple of snowballs at each other.

The lake was larger than I expected

We circled the lake and started to make our way down. Before attempting the cliff we deviated slightly from the trail and found that the lake drained into a small creek which lead to a rather tall waterfall.

A real “edge of the world” feeling
A shot showing the height of the waterfall
        Once we started our descent down the mountain we decided to try and make it for the 4 pm boat. We upped our pace and started to overtake people on the trail, the whole way I would apologize and explain that we were trying to make the earlier boat. Nobody seemed offended but we often got a chuckle followed by “good luck!” Toward to end we were running, and the fact that Erin is in much better shape than me became very apparent. I stopped to catch my breath for a minute and Erin stopped to wait for me, this would prove to be an error. Once I caught my breath we ran to the dock just in time for me to make eye contact with the boat driver as he pulled away from the dock. We had missed the boat by seconds, and now had to wait a full hour for the next boat.

So close!
At least I had some time to recover

We hopped onto the 5 pm and headed to our campsite, had dinner, and promptly fell asleep. I hadn’t slept that well since I hiked Tongariro, but that’s another story for another day.

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