29 October 2015

San Carlos de Bariloche

 We drove through the night from Chos Malal,  a terribly windy and dusty town that was in the middle of nowhere, to reach San Carlos de Bareloche. We arrived to a warm welcome at our friends house, watched the All Blacks win the semi final in the World Cup before enjoying some local beer and asado!

Asado - Argentinian BBQ
The next day we went for a stroll up the side of Mt Lopez to have a look at the fjords of Lake Nohuel Huapi. Really chill and the view we were paid off with at the end was incredible. We even got a really close view of a condor soaring just below us.

Start of the trail

Our first view point

A view from the top looking out over Nahuel Huapi Lake.

The next day we went for another walk to the top of a hill called Cerra Campario which according to National Geographic is in the top 10 views in the world coming in at number 7. Needless to say, it was a damn good one!

The view from the top of Cerra Campario.

That night we BBQ'd again but this time Mariano cooked. This was again delicious. By this point I'm sure I have eaten a months quota of meat but that wont stop me!


On our last day Mike and I took out the kayaks and went for a little paddle on the lake around sunset. It was really cool to get a different perspective of the hills and mountains in the area. I got to try out my new paddle that a buddy Shane made for me for Antarctica to. It was a beauty!

 Mt Lopez in the background

Flying Kiwi off a rock we found at the end of the peninsular.

And what's the point of a dry suit if your not going to jump off some shit/ I was way to hot and needed to cool down ASAP!

To wrap up San Carlos de Bareloche in a nutshell, there was Meat, Beer, and some cool little adventures whilst getting to hang out with some ship mates! Bloody good! 

Cheers to Mariano and Loli for their incredible hospitality!  

26 October 2015

From Mendoza along the Old Route 40

It was a slow start to the day when we were to leave Mendoza. After some wine it was a little hard to motivate to get an early start even though we had a lot of driving to do to get to Termas El Sosneado (The Sosneado Thermals). We decided that we wanted to take the more scenic and totally gravel route that was the old route 40. It was a very good call as we drove through some amazing landscapes with great scenery and saw only 2 cars, 2 motorbikes, and a Gaucho on his horse.  

Team Tall Tree about to get lost in a very rural part of Argentina

Route old 40 was incredible. Following the mountains south all we would see were snow capped peaks to our right and desert to our left.

Cruising in Pablo's Hilux

Saw a herd of goats and thought it would be funny to catch one.. so we chased them and I caught one.

Once we reached a little town called El Sosneado we started to head west into the mountains and up towards a hot spring that was about 100km off of the beaten track up a valley. The further in we got the more volcanic the landscape became. Once we were 10 minutes down this road we saw nobody apart from the Gauchos in their little huts.

Una Heras - a holding pen for livestock.

 This was the abandoned hotel that we found near the end of the road. It was put here for the hot pools. It was then abandoned in the 1950's when the hot-pools became luke-warm-pools. 

Once we reached the hotel I was the only one foolish enough to get into the pools. After running around barefoot my numb feet fooled me into thinking that the pool was warmer than it really was and so I stripped off and jumped in only to realize how cold they really were. Then there was also the dilemma of the air temp being freezing so I got deeper and deeper into the pool determined to find the hot spot that didn't exist! 

We set up camp and then began our first Argentinian BBQ with entrana (some meat that we got in a tiny little town) and made some awesome sandwiches. We also managed to finish our supply of vino.. 

  The luke-warm-pool.

After we left the valley and made it back to El Sosneado we learnt that this valley was the one that the Uruguay rugby team's plane went down in the 1970's. The survivors then made the journey over the Andes and into Chile.. Crazy story!

From here we made the mammoth drive south to Bareloche through the El Payen area which is the most expansive volcanic area that I have ever come across.

A Gaucho herding his goats on route 40.

Rio Grande boiling through a lava gorge, El Payen. 

Dirt roads, Gauchos and volcanic landscape

We then continued to drive through the night to reach Bareloche for the semi final game between the All Blacks and South Africa and to BBQ up a storm at Mariano and Loli's house who we also work with on the ship.

Santiago to Mendoza

The first leg of the trip was from Santiago, Chile to Mendoza, Argentina. To get there we had to cross the Andes. This impressive road over Los Liberadores Pass took us to above 3000m. We delayed the beginning of the trip due to it snowing up there and we had a couple of last minute preparations to make before embarking on this mammoth road trip. We eventually drove over the Andes mountain range which was epic. From the road you look out the window at 5000m peaks and also the highest peak in continental America, Aconcagua (6,960m). Scenic as!

 There was still a fair amount of snow around up the top

At the very top of the pass is the boarder which we had a little hold up because of a minor discrepancy with some paper work but it all worked out in the end. We stuck with the main road for a little longer before we got on our first gravel road. It was a beautiful drive and we only saw a couple of cars over the 106km road.

Coming down we got off the main road of Route 7 and took our first back road on Route 52

Once in Mendoza it was time to eat some meat and sample some of the local Malbec.. Soo good! Carne y vino - Perfecto!

Once we arrived in Mendoza our hunger level was high so we went on a mission to change some currency and find some food. Mendoza is most famous as a wine area. We sampled many bottles and took some extra for the road south.

Mapman showing us potential routes.

After a couple of wines and a couple of beers we finalized our plans for the next day which was to take old Route 40 and then head up into the mountains to camp at a hot spring. We don't really know what to expect or what we were going to find which is all part of the adventure!

21 October 2015

The Journey to Antarctica - Mike, Pablo and Jamie driving Patagonia

This year I was presented the opportunity to drive from Santiago to Punta Arenas with two guys (Mike Hann from Canada and Pablo Zentano from Chile) I work with down in Antarctica. We have a couple of weeks and we will be driving from Santiago across to Mendoza before heading south through Argentinian Patagonia.We are doing this on our way to Punta Arenas to meet with the rest of our workmates before getting on the ship to Antarctica. The total distance we will cover over the next few months is just over 5,700km and we will be crossing the Antarctic Circle in January on the Ocean Nova.

We have no real plan on our way down, just a whole lot of ideas. The two trips that I have done in the past has only been in the far south from Ushuaia to El Chalten and to Torres del Paine so I am excited to see much more of this part of the world.

Watch this space, it's going to be quite the adventure!

Doing what I do on the Antarctic Peninsular taking people sea kayaking in one of the most amazing places on the planet.

A flying visit home

After being in North America for four and a half months it was time to do some work and earn some money. Lucky for me there are jobs out there that don't really feel like work. As well as playing at  work, I wanted to hang out and play as much as possible outside of work. The balancing act is always a hard one but if I wasn't driving up or down the country I managed to work.

Top of Makara Peak in Wellington.

Once I put my bike together, I met up with an old school buddy, Mike. He showed me some really fun trails in Wellington. We also randomly met a couple of dudes from Wellington not long after we started our ride and they showed us some that even Mike didn't know about. 

Top of Exit Trail in the Redwoods, Rotorua.

After exploring trails in California, Utah, Colorado, and British Columbia it was so good to be home in Rotorua riding with good friends on our own world class trails! The forest in Rotorua is actively logged so every few years when they log a new block they rebuild trails so there is always something new.

The view from platform 4 to 5 which is up a 1000yr old Rimu tree.

Fortunately for me I keep getting welcomed back to Rotorua Canopy Tours to guide for them for just a few weeks at a time when I am available. It was awesome to get out there again because there is always something new happening. I'm not talking about the course that we take people ziplining on, I'm talking about all of the great conservation work they do out in the Dainsy Road Scenic Reserve where they operate. Each time I go back more pests have been removed, there are more birds and new plans being executed to remove more pests. It's a cool company.

Spring was pretty good to. Just enjoying some sun on the deck after work.

One of the coolest things about being home is how much you can fit into a day. There is so much close to Okere Falls and so many motivated people who are keen to get out there and make the most of a day. This particular day was a standout. It started with a safety kayak (work) lap on the Kaituna for Rotorua Rafting followed by a raft lap with some friends.

Testing if I could hit the line still with the lightest load ever.

The Kaituna river is a magical place that attracts people from all over the country and the world with its classic, warm, super fun whitewater, and it's a beautiful place. I've been coming back summer after summer since 2009 and still can't wait to get back there every year. Now it's not just the river but the people, the lake, the beach, and the mountain biking.

Next on the agenda for the day was to go rip around Lake Rotoiti with Cam chasing a couple of mates who were sailing their skiff. I even got to go for a ride on the skiff for a just enough time to take some photos and pull on some ropes.

Sam and Tim hanging out making it look pretty easy. I think it's far too stressful.

After going on a bit more of an explore around the lake checking out Hot Water Beach and some cool caves that were used for food storage by the Maori we headed to Rainbow Mountain for some mountain biking.
The views from the top are incredible from the top of this volcano. 

 All smiles at the bottom of the "Te Ranga" trail.

The view from the top of Tokorangi Pa. Sanga rolling into "Corodor" 

After the flying three and a half weeks at home the next adventure through Patagonia down to Antarctica is just around the corner! 

20 October 2015

Haida Gwaii

This year I had some friends do a sea kayaking trip around Morsby Island which is one of the large islands that makes up Haida Gwaii. Before hearing their stories I never had any idea that the place exited, and that's no surprise due to its remote location.

Not long after arriving in BC I agreed on going on a trip up to this remote area if a bunch of things fell into place.. This loose plan eventually evolved and ended up being a great 13 day trip to finish of my summer season in Canada. 

Getting into the coastal mountains on the drive north.

Talking to people about the loose plan lots of people had heard of and wanted to go but had never made the mission and it is no wonder why. The 1600km drive followed by an 8 hour ferry ride to get to a place that is renowned to be very rainy doesn't really sound all that appealing. Still, we thought it was worth it.

An amazing day as we left Prince Rupert on the ferry way out west.

Couldn't not go on the bridge! 

The start of the East beach walk.

Our main goals while we were out these ways was to go and visit an ancient Haida village (failed that) and to walk the East Beach of Graham Island (70+km of sandy beach). We were keeping our eyes on the weather and decided to head straight to Tlell to start out on the longest beach walk of my life. You could tell it rained a ton up there because of all of the bright green moss blanketing everything!

 The Pesuta which got beached as way back in 1928


With over 80km of sandy beach it was pretty cool watching the weather come and go as you watched in the distance as Rose Spit (the north most point of the beach) get ever so slowly closer and closer.

Emmalee with a Dogfish (little shark)

We found all sorts of weird stuff all over the beach. Sharks, old fishing equipment, heaps of plastic from the tsunami that hit Japan and much much more.

Tree graveyard 

Camp 2 after a day walking along the bottom of the sea cliffs.

Pretty funny how you could see for miles where the weather was coming from and there would still be random squalls come through and catch us out..

Pretty cool how the weather shaped the landscape and trees.

Our final morning was glorious and then of course it turned to rain.

We set a crab trap at high tide like a rookie and came back in the morning to find it high and dry!

The walk out via the Cape Fiefe Trail was again blanketed with moss and had really black pools everywhere due to all the tannins in the water.

A cool canoe we strolled upon in Masset

We made it back to civilisation. The town of Masset is right up the top of the island and from here we hitch hiked back down to the car. Of course it started raining as soon as we finished the walk.

Rennal Sound

We drove in to Rennal Sound to find no one else in the campsite, salmon in the stream and a seal at the mouth catching a feed as they started running. This was a sweet place to just chill for a couple of days and just do nothing!

Agate Beach

Beautiful BC weather. We went for a walk out to Toe Hill before Retiring to the beachfront tent site.

 Out for a rip

Rather then walking to Rose Spit we decided to drive. We didn't quite make it right to the end because we wanted to get back before the tide got us..

 Emmalee getting a shower from the blowhole

Secret Cove

We spent the last couple of days just driving old logging roads around finding cool spots like Secret Cove and Grey Bay. It was great being based in a house in Sandspit to relax before we cruised all the way back to Vancouver.