Monday, September 27, 2010

Utah - The Third Week

We are moving into our last week in Utah and have enjoyed splendid weather thus far. It's been beautifully sunny and just warm enough to make the camping reasonably comfortable, but the climbing conditions are good too. The forecast for the rest of the week is still quite good, so we are counting ourselves lucky. We are all doing well and our fitness is improving after a tough summer dealing with injuries. Elise has been hiking to the Pipe Dream cave each day, which is a 30-minute uphill hike, so her fitness is improving too. Pictures from the week:

The fall colours are beautiful here right now. The canyon is full of oak and maple, and the leaves are turning all shades of orange and red. This is something we just don't see around Vancouver very often.

Elise playing on the mat in the morning beside our campsite. She knows I work on many of our days off from climbing, and told me that she was going to "come into town and do her work today". This "work" would consist of creating animal scenes with her horse stickers. She also has a book for drawing in (a sketch book), which she refers to as her "scrith" book. We find this term quite amusing.

The other day at the cliff, she was sitting on her mat with a one-year-old girl while the adults climbed. It was a warm day and the baby was partially in the sun. Elise suddenly called to the parents and said, "You're baby is smokin' hot!" This statement could be interpreted in a few different ways, and we all had a good laugh over it.

We drove a highway called Skyline Drive, which traverses a long ridge above the valley. The aspens were turning yellow and the colours were beautiful. Elise calls them "tumbling aspen".

We fished in a reservoir and enjoyed relaxing in the sun. Here is Elise fishing. She's not all that patient, truth be told, and I have to usually take over and hold the line until there's some action. She then comes running back in to land "her catch". And, of course, I'm always the one who has to worm the hook and de-hook the fish.

"We" caught a fish! It was a decent sized rainbow trout, but it was an albino so it was white with orange highlights and red eyes - truly bizarre. Elise wanted to take it home and eat it (again), but I was leery of the albino trout and opted to put it back. Something didn't feel right...

Pam got in on the action and started fishing with Elise's Dora the Explorer fishing rod.

She also landed an albino trout - her second fish as an adult. We threw that one back too.

Elise in the meadow by the lake.

Finally, here is a photo of "B.K", Elise's most precious stuffed animal. B.K. has been around the block, and I thought I'd get a photo of him wedged in the cobbles at Maple Canyon, for posterity's sake.

We should be home early next week (October 6th to 8th) depending on weather and climbing accomplishments. We are having a nice, relaxing, healthy time here and hope you are all doing well!


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Utah - The Second Week

Our second week in Maple Canyon has come and gone. Luckily, the weather warmed up and the camping has become much more comfortable. Our first few nights were bitterly cold and we started seriously discussing an option to withdraw to a warmer climate. It's nice now - let's hope it lasts. We've met a nice crew of climbers from Salt Lake City and have enjoyed evenings around the campfire sharing stories. One couple will be in Turkey during our stay and we hope to spend some some time with them abroad.

Grandpa Bourdon drove down from Trail for a few days of camping. We all piled into the van and took a day trip to Capitol Reef national park in southern Utah. It's a spectacular landscape of desert walls and amazing rock formations. It was a hot day, but we managed to see some great sights. We started with a one-mile hike to a sandstone arch and enjoyed lounging in the shade and taking in the scenery once we arrived.

Landscape on the approach to the arch:

The arch on the left. It reminded us of some of the large spans we'd seen in Arches national park the year before.

Grandpa and Elise posing under the arch.

Grandpa, Elise and Daddy posing under the arch. It was a gorgeous day!

Grandpa Bourdon and Elise enjoying the shade

These are a few photos I took of Elise underneath the arch. She very much enjoyed herself and scrambled on the rocks and cliff bases until we left.

The Bourdon family under the arch.

After a very hot return hike, we enjoyed wading in the cool waters of the river. Elise thoroughly enjoyed the silty mud and wanted to fling some at me. I said, "no way!"

After the arch, we hiked a boardwalk along a large cliff base to look at a number of well-preserved petroglyphs. There were all kinds of animals and human figures, which Elise questioned us about.

We finished with a hike in a narrow slot canyon called Capitol Wash. The canyon walls were very high and the trail snaked through the cliffs. Eventually, we finished at a series of "tanks" or water-work holes in the sandstone that held seasonal water. It was a hot hike, but the views and rock formations were spectacular. It was a far cry from the farm land surrounding Maple Canyon. It was a great day!

Grandpa had to leave a couple of days later, but Elise's disappointment was quickly forgotten when we returned to the reservoir one evening and caught a rainbow trout! This time, we fished until the sun was setting and they started feeding vigorously. A couple of young boys nearby caught a fish, which got Elise really worked up, and then we landed this lunker! She really wanted to eat it. (Yes, eat it.) I thought it might be a good lesson in connecting us to our food source, but alas we were ill equipped (once again) to clean the poor thing so we opted to put it back. If we fish again, we will likely bring the trout home, fry it up and eat it. Elise has promised me she will eat it if we do. Stay tuned....

We did a scenic Sunday drive over the pass beside Mt Nebo, the highest peak in the Wasatch range. The fall colours were truly gorgeous and we enjoyed a short hike through an aspen grove.

Elise and I at once of the scenic pullouts.

During our hike, Elise clutched a small aspen tree. I called her a "tree hugger" and she immediately asked for a photo of her hugging the sapling. I had to oblige.

Our climbing is improving after a long summer of injury rehabilitation. The steep rock in the canyon is tough, but is slowly getting us back into shape for our trip to Turkey. Last year, I carried Elise to the Pipe Dream cave each day, about a half hour uphill hike. This year, she's hiking on her own (much to my great pleasure) and it's been a real treat to see her progress toward greater independence. Here she is, tackling the trail on a warm morning.

Acting silly.

Her treat for doing the hike on her own (without whining) - a Tinkerbell Pez dispenser.

Here's a few shots of a climber named Mindi from Salt Lake. We've climbed with Mindi and her partner Gordon on two separate weekends and enjoyed interesting US versus Canada discussions and sharing climbing information. Mindi is strong - this is a tough route (Toxic Turkey, 13c)!

We hope the weather holds. See you all in a week or so!


Monday, September 13, 2010

Utah - The First Week

We broke the drive to Maple Canyon, Utah into three parts: a short evening to Seattle, a full-day drive to Twin Falls, Idaho and then a short day drive to the climbing area. Although we were in the car for three days, it felt much less rushed. All the driving was done during daylight hours and it went without incident. Elise was pretty patient, although there was a noticeable increase in "are we there yet" queries. Eventually we just turned on the iPod, slapped on her headphones and all was quiet.

The night spent camping in Seattle was fairly uneventful (we slept near Snoqualmie Pass). The next night we arranged a motel in Twin Falls. We made sure it had a pool so we could tempt Elise with this "carrot" during the drive. Turns out, the weather in Twin Falls was MUCH cooler than normal. When we arrived mid-evening, it was downright crisp. Undeterred, Elsie declared she wanted to swim in the outdoor pool so we all braved it. That was the coldest swim of the year for me (lake dips around Squamish included). The other motel patrons must have thought we were nuts (or Canadian)!

Photo: Maple Canyon from our campsite.

I picked up a bit of a stomach bug along the way to Maple Canyon which made the first night and first day spent climbing rather unpleasant. I climbed terribly, Pam was tired from the drive, and Elise was thoroughly energized, excited and ready to explore. I ended up falling asleep in the dirt while Elise caught dragonflies, collected bird feathers and built stone structures. We ended the day by taking Elise to a small canyon where she could do a couple of climbs - which she scampered up quite well. It was a vast improvement over her skill from the year before.

Photos: Elise climbing at Maple. She dubbed this climb "Jewel".

The weather is very nice so far, although the evenings and mornings are crisp in the narrow, shaded canyon. Our campsite is very peaceful since we are at the very top of the road, far from the concentration of other campers. As always, Elise enjoys the camping and makes full use of the campsite. Her favourite pastime is playing in the tent, particularly with one of us - the rougher the better! She also recently purchased a bag full of rubber snakes and has been thoroughly enjoying placing them around the campsite and bringing them into the tent at night. We have joked that "Grandma Plumb", with her horrible phobia of snakes, would never be caught dead sleeping in our tent with its eclectic collection of exotic (fake) snakes.

Photo: Snake Charmer!

Photo: Now that's what I call camping!

We spent an evening fishing at a small reservoir near the Mt. Nebo scenic byway. We saw a lot of fish, but didn't manage to catch anything, despite a friendly fisherman loaning us a few nightcrawlers. Regardless, the weather was gorgeous and we just enjoyed hanging out by the water. We did spot a muskrat sliding through the pond, which was interesting for Elise.

While we are fishing, Elise often asks my why the fish won't bite our hook? I say, "because they are smarter than you think honey".

Photo: Quiet! You'll scare the fish.

Photo: Fishing is "number one".

The weather is very nice lately. The coldest nights have passed and we are into warm days in the upper 60s and cool nights in the low 40s. If it stays this way, we'll be very comfortable.

Photo: Climber at The Compound.

Grandpa Bourdon arrives today. We hope to do some sightseeing with him while he is here and I'll post some pictures. Elise is very excited to camp with him. It should be fun!


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Long and Busy Month

It's been over one month since I last wrote, but it's been busy times for us in Squamish since we returned from the Kootenays. We are three days away from our Utah trip and I think both Pam and I feel under the gun to get all our ducks in a row before we drive away.

Photo: All this summer activity is tiring!

We have a variety of house sitters staying at our home while we are absent, and coordinating all of this has taken some effort. Regardless, the summer has been enjoyable and there have been a number of interesting events:

Garibaldi Lake: We hiked up to this pristine alpine lake a couple of weeks ago. We timed it well between hot spells, so the conditions were quite bearable. I am proud to say I carried Elise the entire way (18 km round trip with 2600 feet of elevation gain)! It was exhausting, but a great outing nonetheless. I'd not been up there in years and the alpine lakes and forests are just gorgeous. Upon arrival, we tried fishing at the creek's mouth, but despite there being numerous trout in full view, none would bite our worm! Elise lost interest quickly, but the obsessive fisherman that had lurked in the shadows for three decades came crawling back to the surface - I fished and fished to no avail. The mosquitoes eventually drove us away from the lake and we hiked back, finishing the last half hour at dusk.

Photo: Hike to Cheakamus Lake with (from left) Kaian, Josie, Hazel and Kaida.

The Apron: Elise did her first climb on the Chief this summer. It wasn't a true climb, but we roped up and scampered up the descent slabs on the Apron (the bottom portion of the mountain). The angle of rock was perfect for Elise and she ran up the slabs without hesitation. Once at the top of the Apron, we traversed some exposed rock ledges (withe ropes on!) to a well-known perch, Memorial Ledge. Here we sat, gazed across the valley and spotted our house far below. Elise really impressed me with how comfortable she was in the exposed cliff environment. I doubt another four-year-old has ever been on Memorial Ledge. It was a fun and memorable day...

Photo: Tearing it up at Murrin Park on the Sugarloaf Wall.

Photo: The Chief from the Squamish estuary.

Photo: The Apron on the Chief. Elise's ascent is marked in red and terminates at Memorial Ledge, approximately 600 vertical feet up the mountain. Click on the picture to see a larger version.

Brohm Lake Snorkeling: Elise and I have made a few trips to Brohm Lake to practice for Turkey. She is now snorkeling in deep water with me, but with her life preserver on. She is also doing very well at the swimming pool and regularly swims in the deep end without any floatation device. She climbs the rope ladder, jumps off the diving board and even goes off the rope swing. These are vast improvements over her efforts a year ago.

Photo: A visit to Patrick and Tara's to see their new chicks!

Flying: I took a flight with a friend of ours that works as a local pilot. We spent about one hour flying around the Chief on a beautiful summer evening so I could amass a collection of aerial photography for my next book on Squamish climbing. It was thrilling to be up in a small plane and see all the terrain from a bird's eye view. Elise and Pam spotted the plane from downtown on a number of occasions.

Photo: Resting on a bench on the hiking trail with Kaida and Kaian.

The Shoulder: I've had a lot of ups and downs with my shoulder this summer. It was great in the Rockies but then flared up again in August around Squamish. I finally saw a well-renowned shoulder surgeon in Whistler about one week ago and got some answers. She reviewed my X-rays, MRI and did a thorough physical exam. Her recommendation was no surgery at this point. She claims that the overall stability of my joint if very good (my physio agrees) and that my pain/discomfort is quite minimal compared to the average patient. For this reason, she advised me that she'd likely make my pain worse and the recovery would be long. She felt as though climbing on the joint was not that hazardous and as long as I kept up the strength and stability exercises, I could move forward.I'm still trying to decide how I feel about this news. I guess it's somewhat comforting and I am feeling better lately, so I'm being as optimistic as possible for the fall.

Photo: Tubbing with Kaida and Kaian!

School: Pam has two pro D days to attend this week. This was part of the arrangement she made with her principal in order to fan dangle the time off this fall. Other than that, she's done well and had a nice break this summer, except her knee is bothering her. She is currently seeing the same pysio as me and he's got here on an exercise program. She was worried she might be developing arthritis, but the physio said "no" based on his physical findings and a set of X-rays. He feels as though she has some muscle imbalances that need to be addressed and hopefully that will help clear things up.

Photo: Hike to the top of the Chief with Josie and Tim Clifford. Josie and Elise hiked all the way (over 15oo vertical feet)!

Sleepovers: Elise has had two sleepovers this summer. One with her friend Josie and one with Olivia, Scott's daughter. Both were eagerly anticipated and thoroughly enjoyed.

Photo: Hike at Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver.

The fall: Our plan is to spend about one month camping in Maple Canyon in central Utah. We will then return to Squamish around October 6th and be at home for a short stay before flying to Turkey on October 18th. We are going to spend two days in Istanbul before getting a domestic flight to Antalya, a bustling city on the south coast (the Mediterranean). We have a two-bedroom apartment rented for two months. It's about seven blocks from the beach and right across the street from a large park with lots of play structures - Elise will be pleased. We are planning our climbing and sightseeing activities and have discovered some very interesting options. I'm especially looking forward to exploring the coastal inlets and beaches. Hopefully we'll find good swimming and snorkeling. After we return from Turkey, we'll have about 10 days to rest before leaving for Hawaii for the holidays. Whew!

Photo: I love being outside. Broom in the Smoke Bluffs.

We will be reachable via e-mail throughout our travels and welcome notes from friends and relatives. We are looking forward to our upcoming adventures and hope you are all having a great end to the summer!