Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Outside Winter Buyer's Guide now online

Outside Magazine just posted their Winter 11 Buyer's Guide online. According the managing editor Ali Carr Troxell, "[Y]ou can now sift through upwards of 275 tried-and-true winter products including our Gear of the Year-winners, the innovative items from our Radical Design Awards section, and 95 Killer Deals for under $150." And don't forget, my seven picks for best backpacks for the winter.

There's also a collection of funny videos by Sam Moulton, executive editor, and Intern Dave called Man vs Gear. My favourite is the Motorola Titanium Smartphone test.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Look for me inside Outside's Winter Buyer's Guide

Not me literally. But my byline appears twice in this year's Outside Magazine Winter Buyer's Guide, now available. I tested and wrote the winter packs review and wrote about K2's Rescue Shovel Plus, a snow thrower that will help you schlep an injured buddy out of the backcountry.

I personally tested the packs in the backcountry on Vancouver Island, the Coast Range and Canadian Rockies, heli-skiing, touring, bagging couloirs and riding the lifts. Plus I enlisted the help of friends and family, snowboarders, ice climbers and mountain guides across the west.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

ESPN.com work

My work continues to appear on espn.go.com/action/freeskiing/ ESPN's skiing arm. Last week an article on Recon Instruments MOD Live went up. I used the Vancouver company's GPS enabled goggles last year and they changed the way I skied. Being able to see my speed on a little screen inside my goggles pushed me to ski faster all the time. It was fun.

This year the company is upping their game by adding Bluetooth connectivity. Plus, you'll be able to stick them in goggles from three different companies. Read the article here.

Shell game: jackets are my gig

My basement is filling up with dozens of jackets, the fodder for my contribution to Outside's Spring 2012 Buyer's Guide (http://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-gear/summer-buyers-guide). Like in 2010 I'm reviewing shells for the biannual buyers guide.

I ship shells across the west to avid outdoors friends, mountain guides, sea kayakers and on testing trips. Plus, I try and abuse every shell personally. It's hard work and I love it.

Whitehorse mountain biking

Typical riding in Whitehorse. Ryan Creary photo.
If you think it's getting dark where you live imagine what it's like in Whitehorse, the capital of the Yukon Territory in Canada, where they have about six hours of daylight right now. But don't feel too sorry for these hearty folk they need to rest up from summer.

As one mountain biker told me on my recent visit to the north, "There's enough light after work that we'll go for a ride before dinner and again after."

I would too if their trail network was in my backyard and I had 20 hours of daylight, like they do in June. There's more than 10 kilometres of buff singletrack for every resident of the sprawling city of 26,000. Add in double track, paved paths and old mining roads and there's about 700 kilometres of trails to explore all within the city limits. And it's not just quantity.

During a four day visit in September with photographer Ryan Creary I rode some of the best trails of my life. The shot above is his from our first ride above the Yukon River. It's an out take, he's got hundreds more.  I am about to write an article for Canadian Cycling about the trip and I'm looking for an excuse to go back.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Writing for Restless Josie TV show

Restless Josie with climber Sonnie Trotter.
Watch CHEK TV Thursday at 8:30 and you'll hear my work. For the last few months I've been writing voice overs and monologues, helping with research and organizing logistics for a new TV show called Restless Josie. My name appears as chief researcher on the credits.

The show combines adventure travel with adventure sports. The first episode included a surf contest in Canada's beach capital Tofino and travel to the west coast rainforest. Next up is Crankworx Whistler, the world's biggest bike festival, and all the other fun to be found in the resort playground. Other episodes include a beach party in Kelowna, New York City for fashion week and the richest surf contest ever, the Calgary Stampede and climbing in Squamish.

It was fun combining my writing skills with my contacts and knowledge in the adventure sports world.

I'm looking forward to hearing more of my work on the little screen throughout the fall.

Yeah, I finished the BC Bike Race

Feeling the pain after stage one in Cumberland
It was by far the hardest physical accomplishment of my life: 7 days, 30,000 feet of climbing, 350 kilometres. The BC Bike Race is an annual seven day mountain bike race that jumps from community to community in southwestern British Columbia. Dubbed the "ultimate singletrack experience" each stage traverses the best of the local trails.

My buddy Paul LaPerriere and I entered last winter and trained hard all spring. We both have families and almost full time jobs, which made getting in shape for 50 kilometres of riding a day a logistical struggle every week. But in July we did it, finishing 22nd in teams of two, around the middle of the pack in the 470 person race.

I wrote about what I learned during the race for one of my favourite websites, TheGearJunkie.com. I have a few other articles planned.

It was one of the best weeks of my life full of amazing trails, tiring uphills and flowing descents. My favourite stage was on the Sunshine Coast from Sechelt to Langdale - 40 kilometres of fun singletrack ending with a 10 kilometre descent. Sick.

The Squamish stage was another epic and the week finished on a high with a long, exciting final plunge down Whistler's Comfortably Numb and into the Lost Lake Lake trails.

Would I do it again? I could probably be talked into it. I'm definitely looking for another race like it somewhere else.

Busy BC summer

My daughter Paige with her first trout.
I can't believe it's already mid-September. What's even more amazing - this is my first blog post since the end of June. In the next few posts I'll bring you up to speed with what's been keeping me busy writing, playing and performing.

Lately I've been wetting the line, that is, fishing. Salmon returns are looking healthy for most areas of British Columbia including along the east coast of Vancouver Island. One of the most amazing stories of recovery comes from just down the coast.

In the mid-90s most fisheries observers figured the Nile River was dead.  This year the Nile Creek Enhancement Society are expecting 100,000 pink salmon to return to spawn. Let me put this in perspective: pink salmon average about five pounds and almost two feet in length. Nile Creek might be 30 feet wide. Old timers around here like to say that you could walk across rivers on the back of returning salmon. That may be possible on Nile Creek this year all thanks to an impressive rehabilitation and hatchery program and a huge team of volunteers.

Despite the success Nile Creek, like most of the rivers south of Campbell River, are actually closed to salmon fishing. You can only fish the estuary and foreshore. Basically any waters effected by the tide. I'm heading out tonight to try some shore fishing with my daughter. Wish for tight lines.

Salmon aren't the only fish on my radar. There's some excellent trout fishing in the lakes nearby. We fished Upper Campbell and Muchalaht Lake this summer. I can't say we slayed them, but we did pull in a couple - check out the picture of a nice hatchery rainbow trout.

When I actually want to catch fish I call up my buddy James Fisher at Fishers Island Adventures. He knows the fresh and salt water around here as well as anyone. I've never struck out with him at the helm.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

BC Bike Race here I come

For the last six months I've spent a lot of time on my bike. In fact, my wife has complained more than once that I've spent more time riding my bike than...uhh, never mind. All that training was for what will be the most grueling and challenging adventure of my life, the BC Bike Race.

The seven day, stage mountain bike race begins in Cumberland and then loops around the Strait of Georgia to Whistler. After a tough day of climbing in Cumberland racers travel to Campbell River, Powell River, Sechelt, Gibson and Squamish before the final stage in Whistler. Like the Tour de France, each day riders pedal off a 30 to 65 kilometre mountain bike race, navigating the best of the local trails, before moving on to the next community. Nights are spent in a tent city quickly erected and collapses by an army of volunteers - two are oceanside.

In total I'll log about 350 kilometres during the week. I feel as ready as I can be. Now I'll just see if all those early morning and muddy rides were enough. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Interview on CBC Calgary

Earlier this month my voice echoed across the air waves of Calgary and computer speakers everywhere. I was discussing the merits of skiing Rocky Mountain couloirs in late spring with Paul Karchut, a technician on CBC Calgary's Eye Opener program. Paul's a friend of mine and a deadly tele skier. He accompanied me and photographer Ryan Creary for a couple days as we climbed and skied choice lines in the Banff and Lake Louise area for an article in Backcountry Magazine.

You can hear the story Paul put together from our adventure here:

Friday, May 13, 2011

Extreme fly fishing in BC

I just finished writing my article about the niche sport of extreme fly fishing for Outdoor Canada Magazine. Combining the skills of fly fishing, canyoneering and rock climbing, the object is to get into inaccessible sections of rivers that have never been fished before, where huge trout jump on every cast. I teamed up with David Begg, a mountain guide and avid fly fisherman, for the story and traveled to Canadian Rockies. The fishing didn't turn out quite as heavy as we'd hoped, but we caught plenty of trout and saw some amazing pools.

Here's a picture of David deep in an inaccessible canyon section. Judging by the non-stop action we figure this water had never been fished. Just above the picture is a bridge. A few minutes later a truck drove over and stopped. I'm pretty sure they were looking at David saying, "WTF!"

More magazine award nominations

A couple of my explore Magazine articles received nominations for the Canadian National Magazine Awards. The Best of Banff article, a mini travel guide to Canada's oldest National Park, and The New Classics, new trips to try across Canada, both received nominations in the Service: Lifestyle category. The Best of Banff also got a nod in the Single Service Article Package.  The Best of Banff article already won a Northern Lights Award from the Canadian Tourism Commission.

The full list of National Magazine Award nominees can be found at http://www.magazine-awards.com/
Winners will be announced on June 10th in Toronto.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

3rd in Northern Lights travel journalism award

Next week Explore Magazine will accept an award on my behalf from the Northern Lights Awards part of the Canadian Tourism Commission's Media Marketplace in New York City. An article I wrote in the June 2010 issue of Explore Magazine won third place in the magazine category, which recognizes excellence in "tourism-oriented coverage on Canadian destinations in 2010."

My article was The Best of Banff, an in depth travel guide to Canada's first and most popular national park. I grew up and went to university in Calgary, spending all my free time playing in the mountains around Banff. My parents still live in the area and I return two or three times a year. I tapped my parents extensive knowledge to a huge extent and this article would be a skeleton without their input.

The article was a collage of bits and pieces: best bets on hotels, hikes and adventures; recommendations from locals; suggested reads; and more. All of it was designed to help a visitor to Banff make the best use of their time. I think I succeeded. 

Of all the hundreds of articles I've written it is the one I'm the most proud of. An excerpt from the original article is online at explore-mag.com.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Considering the economic impact of weather

Like many active, outdoorsy people I spend a lot of time checking on the weather. Is it snowing on the hill? Will the rivers be up this weekend? Should I paddle or climb tomorrow?

The weather often dictates my daily schedule as I plan my exercise and fun around its whims. I consider temperature, wind, waves, precipitation and freezing level. But I rarely consider economics, until I read this article in The Economist.

The author considers the data on how December snowstorms in England effected economic output. Where others blame the weather for dramatic losses in productivity, the author is a little more cautious. The Snow Sport Industry of America chimes in to say an early winter in the east increased sales of things like jackets, skis and snowshoes.

I'm sure weather's impact depends on where you live. Here on Vancouver Island 10 centimetres of snow can shut schools for the day, sending parents outdoors to play with their kids instead of to work. The same amount of snow in Toronto would snarl traffic and make just about anyone that drives late. Yet, no one blinks at 10 cms in places like Winnipeg or Revelstoke.

And consider a town like Whistler, where many businesses have a 20 centimetre rule: if it snows 20 cms or more they open late. In December the mega resort got buried by 10 metres of snow. That's a lot of late starts.

And yet that's nothing like the impact of a hurricane or a major flood.

Just one more reason to pay attention the the weather forecast.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Stories for AOL Travel now online

In January I started writing for AOL Canada's travel portal, travel.aol.ca. Officially I'm their Vancouver Island blogger, reporting on places to go, things to do and what's new from my Island in the Pacific. I'll also throw in the odd story from other parts of British Columbia and Canada to spice things up.

So far I've written about the growing fruit wine scene in the Comox Valley, a couple winter festivals at Mount Washington and Victoria's Winter Farmers' Market. You can read them all and more here. I post weekly and am loving the chance to check all the things on Vancouver Island that I've been meaning to write about but haven't had the chance.