Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone. We are now back in Calgary after an incredible trip to Hawaii (photos will be up soon).
Our synthetic tree

Aleisha and I decided to head out for a quick XC ski by the river to work up an appetite.

Monday, November 29, 2010

General update

The last few months have seemed to fly by with nothing really exciting happening, hence the lack of blog activity. The only notable exception being my Science paper coming out and research group getting 15 min of fame in the local media. Other than that we spent most of the weekends working on research proposals or our permanent residency application so didn't get out much. Until recently there also wasn't any snow in the Mts so there wasn't a lot of outdoor activities that we really wanted to do.
Last week we finally got our first good dump of snow, ~25cm in Calgary, so the Mts are starting to look better for skiing. Hopefully the weather will be miserable in December while we are in Hawaii and when we come back there will be a crud load of snow waiting for us.

Johnston Canyon is an absolute tourist mecca but when its -10 the hoards thin out and it made for an interesting hike.

Last weekend it was -22 out but Aleisha and I decided to get our first day of XC skiing in. Turned out that -22 is too cold.

With the snow comes the bad road conditions, thankfully we have our Saabaru so we no longer have to drive Nth American shit boxes. We also picked up some new snow tires/rims just before the snow so the car is an absolute dream on the snow/ice.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Lake O'Hara - Hiking Nirvana

The monthly Canadian holiday came around again last weekend so Aleisha and I made the most of the remnants of summer and went camping. Lake O'Hara came highly recommended from everyone we had ever talked to, and we certainly liked it when we visited last winter. The fact that the campsites can be booked 3 months in advance and are booked out within hours of becoming available also indicated that the area was worth a visit. As you may have guessed by the title of this blog entry, the hiking was pretty good. In fact Aleisha and I would go as far as to say it is the most incredible location we have ever had the joy of hiking in, it was quite simply perfection!

On the trail to Wiwaxy Gap, overlooking Lake O'Hara

Lake Oesa

The weather for the first day started off nice, cool but sunny. Unfortunately this didnt hold for the rest of the day and after hiking 3/4 of the Alpine Circuit the weather packed in and we called it a day. Of course just as we got back to camp the skies cleared and we cursed our decision to end the hike.
The next morning we were greeted by snow and temperatures hovering around zero. Reluctantly I managed to drag Aleisha out of camp with the hope of making something of the day. We were rewarded with empty trails, incredible scenery and in the end sunshine.

Lake O'Hara

The route to Wiwaxy Pass that we slogged up the previous day

The view from All Souls just as the sun broke through

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Car Camping - Waterton Lakes National Park

Last Friday Aleisha and I skived off work a little early for a weekend of car camping in Waterton Lakes National Park. The combination of redneck truck drivers and torrential rain made for an interesting trip down, but the trusty Saabaru got us there safe.
After last years experience with the Crypt Lake hike in Waterton (apparently one of the best trails in Canada) were we not expecting exceptional hiking when we set off on the Carthew-Alderson trail. However, it turned out to be a breathtaking hike with an incredibly diverse mix of scenery, certainly a lot better than the overrated Crypt Lake hike.

Windy Waterton

Looking into the USA and Glacier National Park (looks like some exciting bush bashing)

Carthew Ridge

Alderson Lake

Monday, August 09, 2010

Glacier National Park Montana

Last weekend Aleisha, the Saabaru and I took a three day trip down South of the border into Glacier National Park. We were incredibly surprised to find that it was only a 4 hr drive from Calgary and that included a friendly border crossing. In Montana we joined up with Stefan and Claire who were on the last leg of their departing Nth America tour. The trip started well after Stefan managed to lock the keys in the boot of his rental car. As it turned out breaking into the car was the easy part (thanks to a friendly ranger), dismantling the entire rear seat assembly to gain access to the boot was more challenging. The following day we headed off to the Grinnell Glacier hike, one of the few trails in the area that were not closed due to bear activity. After enduring a morning thunder storm we made it to the glacier, or whats left of it. Just as we were leaving the clouds parted and the day seemed to improve. However, while we were walking back one of the other people on the trail mentioned that there was a bear sighted close to the trail earlier in the day. Just to make it better the bear was a Grizzly with cubs, that turned it into a cluster f*#k moment. Unfortunately the valley was a dead end so we had to continue down the trail and hope that the bear had moved on. We passed a few more people who all seemed to indicate that the bear was staying in one place about 30 min down the trail. Then 5 min later we ran into a guy who said the bear was a 100 m away and coming this way. We quickly ran up rocky slope, about 30 m off the trail and waited. Sure enough less than a minute later the Grizzly and cubs came into view and slowly passed by us, barely paying us any attention. Lets hope that all our future bear encounters go as well!
The next day we did the tourist thing and drove the Going to the Sun Road through the national park. It is said to be the most scenic road in the US and we wouldnt disagree.

The crew at Grinnell Glacier

Looking back to the Glacier. Why is it that the weather always clears on the way out?

Stefan and the bearsAleisha and Claire having a dip after an eventful day

Saabaru Cam - Driving the Going to the Sun Road

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Group Hike

Every summer my supervisor suggests that we do a group hike every month. Unfortunately organisation of the outings always falls on to me so we usually end up doing one hike per summer. After scouring the hiking literature for an interesting hike that was essentially wheel chair accessible (some group members carry a number of sporting and food induced injuries) I came up with Chester Lake. Unfortunately on the morning of the hike a Grizzly Bear warning was posted for the trail so we were forced to Black Prince Cirque. For some reason I seem to have a poor memory for difficult sections of hikes and I though the hike was easier than what it actually was. However, in the end no one died and we had a great day.

A friendly Grizzly poses for the tourists and despite how big this one looks it is probably only a couple years old and has a lot more growing to do!

Looking up to Black Prince Cirque

The survivors

Monday, July 19, 2010

Burstall Pass

The last few hikes we have done have been revisits of last years failures. When we did Burstall Pass last year the weather was miserable and the view from the top was non-existent due to rain/fog/cloud. Thankfully though the weather last weekend was simply perfect and the hike just as good. The drive in was also spiced up by seeing a Grizzly Bear wandering by the side of the road.

The snow cover uplands close to the pass

Aleisha and Karl approach the pass

The much improved view, definitely worth the second trip.

Insane hail storm in Calgary

Thunder storms are quite common for Calgary at this time of year but the storm we got earlier in the week was something truly incredible. We had golf ball sized hail for about 10 min and while a lot of the city got missed the University copped a beating. Walking home that evening a saw a number of cars that had their windows smashed but thankfully our Saabaru was safe under ground.

This movie was taken just outside the Chemistry building (video from Karl Dawson).

I also recommend checking out this video which shows the Botany Departments glass house being destroyed.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Forgetmenot Ridge and Galatea Lakes

The last couple of weekends have been chock-a-block full of outdoor goodness. Last weekend I managed to get out to the foot hills and finally get to the top of Forgetmenot Ridge. The last time Aleisha and I were up there, there was a foot of powder to contend with so the going was a little easier this time around.

The view from Forgetmenot Ridge

This weekend we travelled a little further out into the mountains and did the Galatea Lakes hike. Unfortunately the weather gods decided that we had seen too much sun of late so we had to put up with rain, wind and cold on the final few km's. Despite of this the lakes were quite impressive and well worth the few drops of rain.

Aleisha and Kim struggling through the rain

Galatea Lakes

Monday, June 21, 2010

Wasootch Ridge

It looks like hiking season has finally started here in Calgary. After weeks of rain the sun came out in force this weekend so we made the most of it and headed for the mountains. The trip was to Wasootch ridge which is a ~11km return trip with ~700 m gain. We didnt quite make it all the way along the ridge, some rather ominous clouds started to roll in and an exposed ridge is the last place you want to be in a thunder storm.

A view from close to the top

Looking back down Washootch Ridge

Rest time

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Our Saabaru

Much to everyones surprise we have managed to survive the last 18 months in Calgary without owning a car. I actually think that if it wasnt for the insane winters here we could probably do without one for quite a few more years. But after putting a rental car into a snow bank this winter we decided for our own personal safety that we needed a car. After much thought, discussion and analysis the logical choice that Aleisha and I came up with was a 5 door 2006 or 2007 Subaru Impreza. In North America Subaru only make AWD cars and from 2006 there were a bunch of safety and mechanical improvements over the previous years models. After test driving (aka thrashing) a 2010 Impreza at the dealership (same engine and drive train as the 06) the decision was sealed. Over the last few months we have been keeping our eyes on the local used car market but were getting a little despondent at the price and quality of used Impreza's. Then last week a car caught our eye and after test driving it a few times and getting it checked out we parted with our hard earned money and bought the Saab 9-2x.
You see, Subaru has had a complex life. Back when GM wasnt loosing a massive amount of money each day (just a few million) they owned Saab and a small share in Subaru. A few of the designers over at Saab couldnt be bothered designing a new car so they figured they would take a Subaru Impreza, add a few new body panels and call it a Saab. So our car, the Saab 9-2x was born.

Our Saabaru in its new home after its first clean and polish.

Is it a Saab, is it a Subaru, no its a Saabaru!

People from warm climates may not recognise these two buttons, they are for the heated seats. It also has has a luxurious moon roof (sun roof). Also notice that it doesnt feature the usual Nth American lazy fat man drive system, instead you "manually" control the gears, amazing!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Back in Action

The blog may hasnt seen much action of late and thats because we havent been up to much. You see, I had a mole removed from my leg (nothing serious) and that has put me out of action for the last month. Doctors orders were no hiking/biking for a few months. That seemed a little ridiculous so last weekend Aleisha and I escaped the confines of our house and went on a road trip to the wine region of Kelowna in BC. We were lucky enough to have Stefan and Claire drive in from Vancouver and join us for the trip. It was our first trip to the Okanagan region and I think we will be heading there again soon. The combination of sun, water and fine wine is tough to beat.

Not a bad view

The warmer weather in the region (technically Canada's only desert) gives rise to some diverse wildlife.

Admiring the fine wine.

While it was a long drive (~700 km) the scenery was never dull.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

East End of Rundle - Second attempt

This year Aleisha and I are trying to make sure that we get into the mountains every weekend. However, as we are now in shoulder season there are limited mountain activities. While there is still plenty of snow about, it is all spring slop and no good for any type of skiing. This is currently limiting us to the few front range hikes that are clear of snow and avalanche danger.
This weekends hike was to East End of Rundle (Eeor to the locals), a short sharp slog of a peak right next door to Ha-Ling, the hike we did a couple weeks ago. I did the hike with my research group last year but managed to get lost trying to find the correct route to the summit so I was keen to make up for my previous failure. Much to my relief we did find the correct route but it was some what challenging and Aleisha decided to take the safe option and not climb the final 40 m. I ignored my better judgment and scrambled to the top to be rewarded with a rather impressive view.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Easter R & R

Unfortunately Canadians are a little stingy with their holidays so our Easter long weekend was only extended by one day. Despite the short long weekend we still managed to get out and about. On Friday we headed up to Sunshine for some downhill skiing and while the weather gods rewarded us with a recent dump of powder they also decided to punish us with poor visibility. On Sunday we decided to take a risk and try to get in a sneaky first hike of the season. The trip was a short and sharp slog up Ha Ling Peak. Its a pretty popular hike in summer but thankfully the snow/ice covered trail and howling winds kept the trail relatively quiet.

Aleisha making the final push to the top

View of the township of Canmore from the top.

We enjoyed the trip, honest!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

San Francisco

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Spring American Chemical Society meeting in San Francisco. Im sure very few readers of this highly regarded blog care about chemistry so I wont bore you all with the details of the conference, suffice to say that it all went very well. Of course I also managed to squeeze in a couple days of sight seeing. Since I was in the city of cyclists I decided to shun motorised transport and hire a super nice road bike. Unfortunately San Francisco is a hilly city so my sightseeing proved to be quite tiring, but im sure I appreciated the views more.

The Golden Gate Bridge with the city in the background.

I also managed to sneak out of the conference early one day and check out Alcatraz.

On the last day I rode to the California Academy of Science. One of the coolest things was this pendulum that moves solely by the rotation of the earth and knocks down one of the pins ~30 min.

Every trip needs one artistic attempt.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bryant Creek

Despite the lack of activity on the Blog, the last few weeks have been pretty action packed. Firstly and most importantly, Canada had a stunning victory over the USA in the Olympic hockey final, although it was closer than most Canadians would have liked! I actually think that Canadians are more fanatical about hockey than New Zealanders are about rugby.
This weekend we did an overnight back country trip into Bryant Creek. We obviously had the weather gods on our side as the day before it dumped 60 cm of powder then cleared to blue skies for the days that we were out. The trip was nothing short of truly spectacular! While the deep snow proved to be somewhat difficult to negotiate on cross country skies it did provide soft landings for our numerous spills.

The journey in

Unfortunately a majority of the trip was in trees so afforded limited views of the Mts. But we still managed to grab a glimpse of Mt. Assiniboine, I think.

The view of our accommodation as seen from the dunny.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Las Vegas

Last week Aleisha and I headed south of the boarder for a bit of a holiday. The main aim of the trip was to see the Rugby 7's tournament in Las Vegas, but we figured that while we were there we might as well see some of the sights. On the first day we met up Stefan and Claire in Vegas and drove out to the Grand Canyon. We timed the trip to perfection as a winter storm had just been through and dumped a foot of snow making for quite a surreal landscape. After a couple days exploring we headed back to Vegas for the 7's. The tournament had 44 games over 2 days so it was a non-stop rugby party which was a hell of a lot of fun. Unfortunately New Zealand lost to Samoa in the final but it was probably for the best as it keep the thousands of Samoan fans happy. After the rugby finished up we had a couple of days exploring the sights of Vegas, gambling and drinking $0.50 margaritas. The gambling worked out well for all of us as we all came home with more money than we spent. As a whole though Vegas left us with mixed feelings, its a fun place to be but in the end the excessiveness of it all becomes too much to bear and it was good to return to home.

Winter in the Grand Canyon

Team New Zealand exploring the worlds largest hole.

"The Strip" with the Eiffel tower in the background

Aleisha in Venice, well the fake Venice, complete with a canal system and fake ceiling all inside the Venetian hotel.

Samoa vs. New Zealand