Tuesday, December 13, 2011

West Bragg Creek

The snow has finally started to settle in the front ranges meaning that good XC skiing is only 30 min, rather than 2 hr drive away. The snow started to fall on Saturday night and by Sunday morning we had a good 15 cm on the ground. Snow coverage was a little thin in places but overall pretty good considering how early in the season it is. With the temperature staying around -10 C we may even be able to get a few laps in around our local park. 

Aleisha enjoying our lovely skier set tracks

Gary, the special cat.

In cat related news, Gary is going well with minimal damage to our new furniture. Although he has developed a habit of going to sleep on our necks and chewing on our hair, he's a little special....  

Monday, December 05, 2011


We were hoping to head out cross country skiing this weekend but a shock and awe snow storm came out of nowhere and blanked Calgary and surrounding roads with 15-20 cm of snow. Unfortunately little of the snow landed on the Mts so we decided to avoid the slick roads and insane local drivers and spend the day in Calgary.

The walking path was in better condition than the roads.

Monday, November 14, 2011

First ski of the Season - Moraine Lake Road

After a long and relatively warm autumn winter has finally arrived. So far Calgary has only received a few lights dustings but thankfully the mountains have been getting a fair bit more. 
Aleisha and I decided to head out yesterday to the Moraine Lake road which so far is the only XC trail that is open. This meant that we had to contend with crowds of Olympic athletes that put our abilities to shame. Despite being lapped a few times by people 1/2 or 3 times our age we still had a great time. The trip was made even more satisfying by stopping in at the Banff hot springs for a soak afterwards.

Aleisha enjoying the fresh snow.

Looking out to the Lake Louise ski resort

Monday, October 17, 2011

Our cat Gary

Meet Gary, the latest addition to our Canadian family. We adopted him last week and he is already settling in well and making himself feel at home. He is still just a kitten at ~6 months old but so far has refrained from destroying our house. I hope our good luck continues.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Nova Scotia

With Aleisha hitting the big 3 0 we decided to celebrate in style by holidaying in the Canadian Maritimes. The trip was made even better by having having Aleisha's folks, Sylvia and Tony join us.
We flew into Halifax and spent a couple days wandering around the historic town. We then dove down the cost to Lunenburg via Peggy's Cove. The coast of Nova Scotia is stunning with numerous quaint old small towns. We then crossed the island to Digby, the scallop capital of the world. Over the next couple of days we filled our stomachs with all the delicacies that the oceans could offer us. While in Digby we went Whale watching in the Bay of Fundy and even managed to see some Puffins in the process.
From Digby we hauled up to PEI and Charlottetown. While there we checked out the local distilleries and picked up a fine 150 proof paint stripper. We also stumbled across a small town by the name of New Zealand, apparently the people of PEI are not too original with the names of their towns.

Riding the cannon at the Citadel fort in Halifax

The picturesque town Lunenburg

The Bay of Fundy, home of the worlds biggest tides


I guess PEI spent too much money on the Confederation Bridge to afford a decent sign.

Hey look we are in NZ!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Abbot Pass Hut

I do not think that there are enough superlatives in world to adequately describe the Lake O'Hara region, it is quite simply paradise. We have been there a number of times, both in summer and winter, and after each trip we always come away amazed.
This past weekends trip has been a long time in the planning and I can honestly say that I don't think Aleisha and I have ever been more excited or apprehensive about a hiking trip before. The trip was to the Abbot Pass Hut, the second highest habitable structure in Canada (2925 m).

The trip to the pass was made bearable by some mediocre scenery

When rocks the size of your pack start to slide you know its time to find another path, so we chose the snow.

Aleisha watches a small avalanche from the hut.

After a bit of a scramble I managed to finally get past 3000 m and in the process get a nice view of the hut.

Looking out to "The Death Trap" (I didn't make that one up), maybe next year we will come back via this route.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Chester Lake - An oldie but a goodie

Hiking season is finally upon us so we decided to revisit an old friend, Chester Lake. It is possibly the busiest trail on this side of the rockies and has a car park that would be big enough for a WalMart as proof of its popularity. But it is popular for a reason, bang for buck it cant be beaten! It is an especially good place to take novice hikers as we were doing today. While we have done the hike a number of times for some reason we have never pushed all the way to the end of the trail so that's what we did today. I'm glad we did, as it turned out to be a truly spectacular area.

The second lake, notice the massive avalanche remnants that is half filling the lake, it must have been an impressive slide.

Summer hiking in the Rockies...

Hoary marmot, love those guys.

Monday, July 25, 2011


Apologies for the lack of Blog updates of late, once you stop posting it is difficult to get back into the habit.
Things have been busy over the last few months. Firstly, we moved into a new condo, although it is only 100m away from the previous one. I have also started looking for work out in the real world. Unfortunately our permanent residence application has not been processed and that is making the job hunt a little more challenging. But enough of that boring stuff, I know you all want to see exciting photos of exciting places...

Over the weekend we headed out to Golden in BC with the aim of doing the Burgess Shale hike/tour. The Burgess Shale is possibly the most important fossil site ever discovered and as such you need to book the trip months in advance. Also as it is a world heritage site it is not possible to get to the site by yourself.
Unfortunately there was a massive rock slide on the highway that blocked the road and stopped us from getting to the hike. However, as we were already camping out there we figured we would try to get in a hike anyway. After consulting a rough road map and navigating some even rougher forestry roads we managed to find a hiking trail. In the end the hike was good, apart from the hordes of communist mosquitoes.

The town of Golden

Quartz Lake

Avalanche debris

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lake O'Hara

A few weeks ago we managed to get back to one of our favourite locations, Lake O'Hara. As the hut is a pretty popular spot you need to book your trip long before there is any chance of knowing what the weather will do and its expensive enough that you dont want to cancel at the last minute.
When we left from the car in the morning it was -25 C with windchill taking it down to -45 C, it was not pleasant. Thankfully once we got out of the valley bottom the wind dropped and the temperatures held around a balmy -20 C. In the end it wasnt too bad, the trip in is all up hill so we generating plenty of our own heat.
I had hoped to hike up into the upper valleys but in the end there was just not enough time to get any where with a really good view of the numerous glaciers. I guess we will just have to head back next year.

Karl and Aleisha on the trip in.

Our cosy cabin

Lake O'Hara is always worth the trip

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Blatant self promotion

After months of arguing with reviewers about insignificant problems our paper has finally made it. I would have thought that with positive reviews from four, yes four, referees that three rounds of reviews would not be necessary.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Ice Racing

Winter driving in the Great White North has always unnerved me, there is something just not quite right about driving down a snow covered highway at 100 km/hr. Most Canadians have grown up with this insanity and think its normal, however Im not convinced. So in the name of public safety I decided to take a winter driving course. Safety First, that's my motto.
Of course the best way to learn is to push your limits and there is no better way to do that than by racing on a frozen lake! Thankfully the ice was a good 1m thick so there was little chance of going through. Despite this we were still not allowed to wear seat belts, just in case we had to make a quick exit. The course was run as a non-profit organization by a local Autocross champion who wanted to help drivers deal with tricky situations.
My first lap of the day was pretty slow as the conditions were slick, not surprising I guess considering it was solid ice. My instructor encouraged my to push my limits and before long I was hitting 80 km/hr down the straights and power sliding around the corners. Despite being super fun I also learned a lot of skills and I think I will be back again next year to refresh my skills.

Proof that we were on a lake

There was a light dusting of snow giving us a little grip but I would still spin all four wheels in 3rd if I was too hard on the gas.

The corners were polished ice, great for learning about weight transfer/power sliding.

The Saabaru, making safety fun since 2010.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Happy International Year of Chemistry

2011 is officially the international year of chemistry. Finally, chemistry is getting the respect it deserves.
The goals of IYC2011 are to increase the public appreciation of chemistry in meeting world needs, to encourage interest in chemistry among young people, and to generate enthusiasm for the creative future of chemistry. For more exciting details check out

Monday, January 03, 2011


One of the worst parts of my job is being forced to go to miserable conferences in miserable places. So in December Aleisha and I begrudgingly went to the tropical paradise of Hawaii. Before the conference started we holidayed for a week in Maui. The condo we stayed at was right on the beach in a secluded cove that was packed with turtles. It was pretty sweet.

The view from our condo

We had a pretty good run of weather but on one day we had one heck of a torrential downpour. So on that day we decided to drive the road to Hana. While only ~80 km long it apparently has over 600 corners and a stupid number of one way bridges/entire sections of one lane road. Its quite the tourist attraction but the heavy rain turned them all away. As I was driving an new Subaru Impreza the road was one of the best I have ever been on.

Nothing quite like blind hairpin corners, cliffs and narrow roads.

Aleisha and I posing in front of a random blow hole.

Much of our time was spent swimming, snorkeling and chasing fish in the crystal clear water.

The view from our hotel room on Waikiki. It made the conference bearable.