10 December 2014

Kickin' it in Ushuaia

Antarctica is Antarctica. You never really can tell what will happen, whether you go with plan A or Z, flexibility is key. We had all of those plans taken from us because there was an accident at on the runway that we use for our operation. It had nothing to do with our operation apart from the fact that it closed our link to take on and send off our new and old passengers. Here is the Hercules that lost its landing gear and ended up blocking the runway for a few days.. No good at all. But there was a silver lining and it wasn't just the copious amounts of meat consumed.

A very sad plane. No one was hurt which was a very good thing.

Any way, you always have to make the best out of any situation. We finished our second trip as planned back in Ushuaia and then were on standby for 10 days with the ship anchores 1.5 miles out in the bay. None of us had ever spent any real time in the area, just hours or a day here and there in port so we went exploring. The best/worst thing about being out there is that a zidiac was required to get to and fro town.
You can see the baby little ship in the background.

It was one of the boys birthdays so the first thing we explored were the bars of Ushuaia. What a tour that was. Two bars in total were visited...

Next up we went to the local park by bike. Terra Del Fuego Paque Nacinales. 

Way bigger day than expected (60km or something) but a pretty sweet way to see the area. Bikes were provided by one of the passengers from our last voyage for free which was even better!

Next we got our hike on. 

All of the information givers in town said it was to hard to do alone, you need a guide.. We thought fuck that. We rolled the dice and took a taxi to where we knew the trail head was and found signs for Africa. Dream scenario!

Beaver Damnnn

The area has been invaded with beavers from Canada and from about 30 of them in 1946 there are now about 80,000 of the little guys. This is a bit of a look at the difference they make to the landscape. Those are all dead Beech Trees that don't like their feet sitting in water so they died.

Big Beavers at Laguna Esmeralda!

Mike and I thought we should get a better look and can't sit still for more than five minutes. So we followed this creek up. This is a double but crack!
And here is the view.

The next day we went for another adventure. A little closer to town we went for another taxi ride to a little less known area De Los Tempanos. This was to some glaciers and again was amazing bang for your buck. Lucky for us there were some nice Gsuchos (cowboys I guess) at the road end who were collecting horses for a rodeo in town the next day. So not only did we get some must needed beta on where we were going but we also got invited to a cool local event.

Here is a beautiful hanging valley and the Doctor making his way up the scree.

And the next day we went to the rodeo which was a pretty cool experience.

 The locals were all kickin' it because they had a public holiday the next day and we got to watch some wild horses kick ass. Also saw the biggest BBQ of my life. South Americans win when it comes to BBQ's...
Yes, that is a whole cow.

And for now, it is goodbye to civilization for a month as we leave port and head down to the Antarctic for another month to see what it has to offer us this time.

To the Antarctic we go

It's summer again so it's time to try and get a job. Earlier year at the end of summer I was lucky enough to get into some work sea kayaking off of a cruise ship. This summer I got the call back but at the beginning of the season so this means more ice, different wildlife, and more ice!
The season starts off at the Headquarters in Punta Arenas, Chile where we all meet up and go through some formalities and then we headed a little further south into Argentina to meet the Ocean Nova.

 A Pretty excited me on our way to our home for the next two months. Cheers Pablo for the picture.

This was a nervous time for me because I was about to cross the infamous Drake Passage for my first time and I have history of sea sickness. Perfect person to be working on a ship. All in all I only had to call Ralph on the big white telephone a couple of times and he always made me feel way better about the situation! Once we were down at the Antarctic Peninsular, the Drake was behind me and it was all Ice Ice Baby! The first two trips of the season were from Ushuaia back to Ushuaia spending a good four days in Antarctic waters taking people sea kayaking ideally twice a day.
 This is at Cuverville Island which is in the Gerlache Strait. This is as nice as it gets and it gets like this more than you'd think!

As you can imagine, more minds were blown as Antarctica turned it on for two more very satisfied teams of kayakers. Many photos, many penguinos, and lots of playing ice breaker in the kayaks.

 This looks very photo shopped but it's not. Honest. Ice was blue, skies were grey. This was actually an iceberg that I saw here at Portal Point in February. 

 That's the little beauty of a ship we call home at Port Lockroy (Brittains 'Base A') and a very cool ice cliff.

Just around the corner from Cuverville is this place called Orne Harbor.

It was a very good start to the season, some very nice weather and some very cool storms and some really cool encounters. Leopard Crabeater and Weddell Seals, Orca Humpback and Minke Whale, and heaps of birrrds. The team on board has been tops to.

Back row: Mike Pablo Sergio Mariano Corine Me Nigel
Front Row: Ruslan Nico Ana Loli Chica Andres
Photo stolen from Nicolas Danyau, cheers bud

 Warming up the zodiacs at Pleneau Bay.

 Chinstrap Penguin at Halfmoon Island, South Shetlands.

 Bands of sediment in ice from folding at the base of a glacier at Deception Island, South Shetlands.

Stelictites of ice. Again at deception. Did a very cool mission between Telefon Bay and Neptunes Bellows. It is the caldera of a volcano and we saw a lot that I had never seen myself.

17 July 2014

Back to Cali!

After over 7000 miles (11200Km) of driving, 26 trail heads, 100's of miles of single track, and a couple of hikes, we made it back to the sunshine state. After thinking it was a good idea to drive 5 hours out of the way to ride a trail called Tish Tang (Way to hot and over grown, I don't want to talk about it), we had one final stop, the town where Nicole learnt to mountain bike, Chico. Nicole was pretty stoked to show me this track that there was a race on called the Bidwell Bump, it was easily hitting 107 degrees in the afternoon so we started nice and early. Not early enough. I got my ass kicked my the heat once again. At least this trail was fun.
Going up north rim I thought I would pass out in the heat, then there was a fun descent.
I got to stand in the river to cool off just like a dog. 

Got my ass kicked but pretended to be happy going up the aptly named "Fire Road of Death", and then it was all fun from there. We headed down the south rim on a track named Guardians which was fast and had some sweet technical rocky bits to fly over and then it was time to sit in the river again like a dog.

This was the last ride of the 6 week roady, but we still had one more sweet adventure to a gangsta swimming hole on the Feather River near a place called paradise.

 There were some super deep pools.

On the walk out we got to float down this old flume which was a little sketchy with the rust but fun as hell.

And that was that. The end of a very cool road trip. 

Oregon. Time to get back on the bike!

We finally made it to Oregon. After already being on the road for just over a month riding already at about 20 trail heads, and camping for most of the trip, we had pretty high standards by this point. Lucky for us, Oregon is bad ass. It started off by doing the horrible thing and just driving. We did take a pretty nice route down to Hood River and went through Rainier NP. We also got out of the car a couple of times and just before dusk, we walked to this beautiful and extremely clear alpine lake called Snow Lake.
The Panicles and Snow Lake. 

From Hood River it was almost like we had a list (which we did) and were just ticking things off (which we were). We rode Post Canyon in Hood River, Sandy ridge, Black Rock, MacKenzie River Trail, Alpine Trail and Larrison Rock in Oak Ridge, finishing off in Ashland on Mt Ashland. We also got super lazy with taking photos. 

Sandy Ridge was a favorite. Fast, fun and really well maintained. There was a paved road right up the middle that took you to the top and then really well designed layout so you could do some sweet loops.


 Sweet little jumps.
Little rocky bits to just blast down.

This place was sick. It's called Black Rock and has some weird land access through a Christian Camp so you have to be on your best behavior at the trail head so that you don't upset the dude that lives there.. But it's a free ride park with heaps of fun stuff, heaps of BIG stuff, and a little bit of little stuff. 
It was super fun to ride here. We ran into the guys who have been building the trails for the last 10 years and they were loving it. Personally after riding at some other places I found that the trails didn't flow the best in the way that some of the features on a track would be too big for your speed or too small so for riding them for the first time it was hard to judge your speed. Still heaps of fun though. Didn't have the balls to try some of the big features and my bike was being precious.

 Cheeky road gap. 

Fun wooden stuff.

These were from the famed MacKenzie River Trail.. pretty but a cross country ride for sure.

Clear Lake on the MacKenzie River Trail.

Pretty Forest

Pretty water fall

These are from the Alpine Trail. Super sick, all single track, over 1000m vertical descent, mad views, fast, sick forest, good dirt.. smiles the whole way down.
The shuttle up.

Nicole rip pin through some old growth on the Alpine Trail. 

 Mad views on the Alpine Trail

 Unfortunately we took no photos in Ashland but that was a really fun day of going way to fast with some friends that we met up with to do a couple of shuttles. For $12 you got a ride to the top of a mountain, we had friends show us where the best trails were, and then we rode the 15miles and dropped the 5000 vertical feet back to town. Our one friend Mike had just built a hard tail and on a rock garden got way too loose and came off into a boulder. That was the end of the day for him. We ended up doing two runs down and I think Don enjoyed letting me go first and watching all my creative lines down the tracks he knew really well every now and then shouting a crucial line at me.

And that was Oregon in a nutshell...

Third Beach, Olympic NP

After doing a whole heap of riding, driving, and hiking, it was time to chill. This is where we set up for a few days. It was only an hours walk from the road so we took in as much food and drink as we could fit in our packs and spent 3 days at our own little beach.

Got some sunsets.

Drank some wine.

Watched Sea Otters running around. This one had a fish for its family.



Star fish!

Hoh Rain Forest stroll

With it raining when we arrived in Washington, we decided to carry on to the coast and visit some rainforest. With the amount of people who I have shown around New Zealand's Temperate Rainforest, there were many who had described to me this place. The Olympic Peninsular. Naturally, I had high expectations. Luckily this is America and in America, nature is pretty awesome when you find it!

Nicole strolling amongst some Old Growth Forests in the Hoh (named after an Indian tribe) Valley.

It wasn't long before America started to pulled tricks out of its bag. We saw babies animals, and it doesn't matter who you are, babies animals are cute.

This baby Sooty Grouse was extremely well hidden, in this particular photo mum is very well hidden. 

This was a pretty entertaining site to. This heard of Elk and the calves crossing the river and the calves were crying super loud and getting washed down stream. They all made it though after a few attempts.

Last but not least there was a ninja chipmunk!

It was about 11miles to our campsite for the next couple of nights. We decided that we liked the idea of setting up camp for a few days because for most of the trip we didn't spend more than a night in one place. This didn't mean we were lazy though. The next morning we stuck to the plan and walked to the top of the valley to the Blue Glacier. This was a pretty big day, climbing and descending just over 1000m, but as always, the higher we got, the better the views.

That is Mt. Olympus on the left

Had this sketchy ladder to get down a slip. 

Nicole being very happy with herself.

Once we got to the top there were still wild flowers.

Blue Glacier. Like most other glaciers, this one is shrinking to!

We hung out there for some lunch behind a rock and then it was time to drop back to camp.

Found a ghost! This is how it should be, leave no trace.

What's a camp without coffee right?

Simple long drops.

 Pristine little creeks.

And the bridges were just downed trees.

That was that. Next it was time to just chill at the beach.