Feckin' Trekkin'

Matt and Krista's Awesome Travel Blog

Month: December 2009

Snow, sun, goggles, boards and graceful wipeouts

Krista snowboardingThis past Saturday was my first date with a snowboard.

Matt and I got up early Saturday morning to head up to Mt. St. Louis for a day of boarding, lessons, laughs and beer. I will note the excitement Matt had for this day. So excited in fact, that he forgot to change into regular day clothing and ended up boarding in his PJ’s (underneath his boarding pants of course).

Matt and I were joined by two of his buddies. Ben, who has been boarding for a few years and Simon, who has never touched one. It was perfect! The plan was that Simon and I would take a lesson and play on the baby (bunny) hill and Matt and Ben would come around and hang/help out every so often.

The drive up was fun and the boys kept me entertained with some colorful stories which kept my mind from thinking about the potential disaster that was ahead of me. Into the resort, paid up, boards sorted, boots laced, we were off!

Simon and I met up with our instructor along with 4 others, including a 12 year old who kept telling us how much the session was going to suck and how sore we would be after the day is out (such a sweetheart).  They taught us the basics, heel edge, toe edge, skating, bindings etc.. It wasn’t so bad! We started off with learning about our heel edge… and I was getting it! Slow though.. but making progress. The instructor would ask us to stop.. and that’s when it kicked off.

I would fall gracefully on my backside and try to get up.. the word here is *try* I found it nearly impossible to get up. Every single time I fell, I would try .. but try in vain. I just couldn’t get up!  One girl in the group got so fed up she took her bindings off and walked down the hill. I kept going! Next.. Toe edge. I rocked it! I was better at using the toe edge than my heel edge! It was amazing. They taught us how to move the board left and right and before I knew it, the lesson was over and we were left to practice.

Back up the chairlift to the top! The chairlift and I have a love/hate relationship. I.e- I love chilling out on it, I hate getting off of it. ARGH! I took people out! Having to position yourself properly and skate off gracefully is a pipe dream for me at the moment 🙂 Matt joined me on this one and we took our time playing around and him helping me out! I got to see him in action jumping around on his board. He gives me hope, considering this is his second season! I have no doubt in my mind that by the end of this season I will be looking quite cool coming down the slopes.

Biggest challenges so far: Standing up and getting off the chairlift in one piece.

Verdict? – Love it! It looks like I will need a boat load of patience and a bit of balls to pick up some speed but I will no doubt get there! In fact, we are heading up again this Sunday! I may sign up for another lesson and then practice away.

The current and potentially ongoing CON about boarding – The aches afterwards. I will never take putting a bra on for granted ever again. That is how sore my upper body is. Ouch.

Bang for your buck?

Piggy BankLet’s face it folks. We, the public, are always looking for a deal. A bargain, a 2 for 1 special, discounted prices. Anything to make it a little easier on the wallet, right?

Base layers, mid layers, fleeces, down filled jackets, boots, gaiters, trekking poles, snow shoes, back packs, Patagonia, Marmot, MEC, Outdoor Research, North Face! Yes, my head is spinning as well. My first base layer top I bought was a Patagonia product at $52.00. I have two of them. I have gloves that have cost me over $100.00 (liner and outer shell) My Goretex MEC jacket was over $300 dollars (and luckily a gift from someone who is awesome). Bib pants, a mere $260.00. The most recent piece of equipment I am looking into is a new sleeping bag. YUP. I’ve been borrowing one of Matt’s summer bags for the season. Our recent trip in November, Matt was gracious enough to let me sleep in his MEC Hybrid Sleeping Bag (rated to -12c). It was warm cozy and cost him $146.00.

Unfortunately I don’t carry as much heat as Matt does. I need something a little warmer. We are talking a bag that can stand up to -20. That lovely sleeping bag is at a cost of $168.00 (for the short version). I tried it out a few weekends back. It was cozy, SO warm, and comfy and pretty much bang on what I am looking for.  I went online to see if there were other sleeping bags out there. I stumbled on a site which ends with a “MART” and is a massive chain throughout North America, claiming to have a sleeping bag that starts at a +5 and goes up to -15… for… wait for it… $20.00 (on sale from $25.00)!!! I am officially sounding the BS horn on this one. Adding insult to injury they call this amazing product the Everest Mummy Sleeping Bag!

Everest Mummy sleeping baghttp://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=2581360

It is filled with 3.5 lbs of Micro Tekk Z1 fill, what the heck is that? Upon further research, I’ve found out that it is “performance insulation”, i.e. BULLCACK.

The best are the reviews of this wonderful piece of equipment. Like this one for example:

“If you like the toxic chemical smell of new tires, you’re going to love this! I wouldn’t say the texture is exactly greasy but you will have trouble getting the odor off your hands for hours. I would recommend letting it air for a few weeks in the sun. Having trekked with $300 bags above 14,000 feet many times, I was intrigued with the stats and thought I would be happy if it would do 30F even at this weight. Don’t let the picture fool you, it does not loft at all after 24 hours and lies pancake flat like your Coleman bag from Boy Scouts. To be quite honest, I can’t speak to the performance although I doubt I will take that chance given my observations thus far. It is quite comfortable in a 70F house (my other bags are not). Is it worth twenty dollars? Absolutely. Could make a great gift for that special person who thinks they want to go hiking with you.”

Now some of you may look at these prices, cop out and go on the cheap for stuff like this. I implore you not to! The difference between a warm night in a tent vs. an uncomfortable and cold one is huge. The difference between Capilene and Cotton could save your life. Goretex vs. weatherproof could make or break a vacation in the Rockies.

These prices are high and this is just a small peek into how much I have accumulated in the past 6 or so months. My head hurts when I look at the numbers. My advice to any person that is up for exploring the wilderness is suck it up! Take the time to buy the right products, the proper material for you and your buddies to have a great time. Even if that means holding off for a season. I guarantee the products you buy will determine how often you actually go out and use them. Trust me! I am begging for snow at the moment just so I can throw on my gaiters.

My advice is annoying I know and somewhat parent-like. I can guarantee you that you will thank me in the long run for it and will enjoy your outdoor adventures that much more because of it.

Seaton Trail End to End

Seaton Hiking Trail signKrista and I have hiked on the Seaton Trail a few times, in fact it’s the first place we hiked together, but we’ve never hiked the full length of it. Yesterday we decided it was time to get it done, so we got up early and were on the trail by 9am with the intention of hiking the trail from end to end. It was a beautiful crisp December morning and we made pretty good time. The trail is split into 3 sections. The north section is flat and wide but still quite picturesque (with the exception of the underpass under Highway 407) and we blasted through it in no time. The middle section is a bit hillier and runs alongside the river so we took it a little steadier. We had planned to stop for a cup of tea and a bite to eat at the halfway point but unfortunately we forgot to bring a lighter so we had nothing to light the stove with. D’oh! The south section was completely new to both of us and proved to be good fun. Lots of up and down, some striking scenery and a good workout all round. I was breaking in new boots (that I’m not s’posed to get til Xmas technically – don’t tell my Mum) so my feet were getting pretty sore by the end but Krista seemed not to have noticed that this was the longest hike we’ve done together. We covered 12km of moderate terrain in a bit over 3 1/2 hours and still had plenty of spring in our step at the end. It goes to show how much quicker we travel when I don’t take a camera! As a bonus treat, just as we got to the parking lot at the end of the trail Krista spotted a deer wandering along the lane. She seemed to be lost and a bit spooked but it was nice to see that there’s plenty of wildlife in the area. She eventually wandered off into the field and vanished.

The only thing that wasn’t fun was having to cycle 14km back to the start of the trail to pick the car up after 4 hours of hiking (I’d stashed my bike at the end of trail on the way there). Next time we hike the trail (which may well require a pair of snow shoes!) we’re going to do it the other way round so the bike ride at the end to pick the bike up is DOWNHILL.

 

Comments from Krista – Yup. Everything he said. I agree! Had a blast! Matt is right.. I actually didn’t realize that this was the longest hike? Why? More than likely due to the fact that I was having an AWESOME time. The small exception to this wonderful morning was tripping up close to 8 times and jumping a very small creek and landing on my side. Gracefully I might add. Matt has either forgotten all of that completely or is being very sweet and not mentioning it in the article!

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