Sunday, November 10, 2019

The Stans: Kulikalon Lakes

I began combing through the thousands of photos from our time in Central Asia, and much like when presented with a menu featuring too many delicious options, it becomes overwhelming to make a selection and so you end up closing your eyes and pointing at something, only to be disappointed that you chose a veggie burger made of plant based egg substitute with soy fries. The "burden of choice" is alive and real, my friends.

So as I wasted entirely too much time trying to rationally curate a collection of photos to sum up the entire trip, I realized it was hopeless, and instead selected a very limited set from the beautiful first camp on our trek in Tajikistan. After a long-ish day of hiking, we reached the cirque of Kulikalon Lakes, three alpine tarns fed by the enormous Chimtarga glacier. We could not have asked for a more picturesque panorama to pitch our tents in, and were lucky to have seen both a beautiful sunset and sunrise here before moving further up into the mountains.

Kulikalon Lakes Camp-4
Sunset over one of the lakes.

Kulikalon Lakes Camp-1
Anita and Jas survey the landscape as we first neared our camp in the late afternoon.

Kulikalon Lakes Camp-2
Taking a moment to soak it all in.

Kulikalon Lakes Camp-5

Kulikalon Lakes Camp-6

Kulikalon Lakes Camp-7

Kulikalon Lakes Camp-8
This was actually taken at night, well after sunset. It was a full moon that evening, so even deep into the evening with the stars out, it was still amply bright.

Kulikalon Lakes Camp-9
Reflections at sunrise.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

The Stans

And we're off on our next adventure. Destination: The Stans. This one will be our longest trip since we took 3 months off work in 2010 and travelled through Eastern Europe, where I drank 108 different beers in 84 days. It's amazing I didn't come back as a fully grown hippo after that. This next journey will not comprise nearly as much beer drinking, but will involve much more hiking, trekking, climbing, and camping in the mountains of Central Asia.

Why the Stans, you may ask? Who decides 'Uzbekistan sounds like the a good place to visit'...? I'm not going to lie, I saw a friend post one photo from a hike in the Fann Mountains of Tajikistan (bet half of you wonder if that's even a real place), and that was enough to convince me that we needed to see the pristine beauty that is still largely unspoilt by over tourism. While there, we will be crossing off countries 42 - 47 on our list, celebrating 11 years of marriage, and hiking at 5000m above sea level for the fourth time.

Wishing you guys a nice end of your summer/ start of autumn, and we'll connect again in October. Take care!

Photos below taken last month at Two Jack Lake in Banff. Here's hoping we'll get some amazing clear night skies over in Asia.

Milky Way - Two Jack Lake-3

Milky Way - Two Jack Lake-2

Milky Way - Two Jack Lake-1

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The Tower, aka The Soul Destroyer

Unsolicited advice: having a 6 pint night before a morning presentation to your director, manager, and their colleagues across the country is a terrible idea. #whoknew?

Now before you get all judgey about binge drinking on a weeknight, the next day was my day off, even though I stupidly agreed to present anyways. My voice had that distinct scratchy hoarseness that can only mean you've either 1) been recently hit by a truck, or 2) obviously just woken from a bender. #poorlifechoices

Anyways, the next day, Jas and I struggled up The Tower, a mountain that can only be described as a sufferfest of endlessly loose rubble, treadmill scree, and a deceptively long steep slope leading to it's summit at 3108m above sea level. I'll let the photos do the talking, as I don't have the adequate diction to better describe how technical and long this hike was. But as Jas put it, "This mountain hates me and it's destroying my soul..."

Scrambles - The Tower-17
Me, on the summit.

Scrambles - The Tower-1
The start of the steep climb.

Scrambles - The Tower-2
More steeps. Jas in the middle of the photo, exhausted.

Scrambles - The Tower-3
And here's me directly above, looking back down towards Jas. It was relentless steep.

Scrambles - The Tower-4
Being rewarded with some views, as we made our way up.

Scrambles - The Tower-5
Aaaaaaand more steeps.

Scrambles - The Tower-6

Scrambles - The Tower-7
Look closely - that's Jas in the middle left.

Scrambles - The Tower-9
Almost there...

Scrambles - The Tower-10
A few climbing spots to navigate to the top.

Scrambles - The Tower-11
So close, we can taste those summit beers.

Scrambles - The Tower-12

Scrambles - The Tower-13
Just kidding, we still got a ways to go. FML.

Scrambles - The Tower-14
FINALLY! SUMMIT.

Scrambles - The Tower-15
Summit brews: Annex Ale Project Bright Nights Sour Wit, and Citizen brewing Northwest Pale Ale.

Scrambles - The Tower-16
Me deciding I hadn't suffered enough, so I should go traipse over along the ridge.

Scrambles - The Tower-18

Scrambles - The Tower-19
Long after we started our descent, we eventually made it back to the meadow where we still had a 4km hike out back to the car.

Monday, August 12, 2019

_the coloured fellows always die first_

In horror movies, the coloured fellows always die first. This contextless sentence will make sense in a minute.

We got our heads up in the clouds this weekend, chancing it on a hike up Boundary Peak during a rainy Saturday, and were rewarded with sweet sweet summit views of absolutely nothing. Because despite the lush forest on the approach in, the interesting plateau leading up to the rocky summit ridge, and the supposed vista of endless mountains at the top, we spent three hours navigating through a thick soupy mist from straight out of a horror film. I remind you of my opening statement now. If there's one thing we should have learned from movies, it's that THE COLOURED FELLOWS ALWAYS DIE FIRST, especially when they venture outside into thick mist. So I made sure to let Jas lead, cause you know cinema loves a good brown guy death for the opening sequence (the Asian guy at least occasionally survives long enough to get a name in the credits)... Fortunately, we were not swallowed up by some shadow monster mind flaying demogorgon, but instead got some moody photos all along the summit ridge.

As a bonus for reading all the way here, scroll to the last two photos for a tutorial on how to instantly make your adventures look way more badass.

Scrambles - Boundary Peak-12
Visibility was poor the entire way.

Scrambles - Boundary Peak-2
That mood though...

Scrambles - Boundary Peak-14
A red shirted coloured fellow going towards the mist? Yeah, the over/under on him surviving the scene is poor.

Scrambles - Boundary Peak-1

Scrambles - Boundary Peak-3

Scrambles - Boundary Peak-6

Scrambles - Boundary Peak-9
Those sweet summit views... or complete lack thereof.

Scrambles - Boundary Peak-8
Summit Brew: Dildo Brewing Company I'se Da Bye PA New England IPA.

Scrambles - Boundary Peak-10

Scrambles - Boundary Peak-11

Scrambles - Boundary Peak-16
It's Me!

Scrambles - Boundary Peak-15

And now, a tutorial in how to make your adventure instantly more epic looking.

Step 1: Take photo on a slight inclined slope, like so:
Scrambles - Boundary Peak-4

Step 2:
Rotate photo to make slope appear steeper. Instantly more badass. :)
Scrambles - Boundary Peak-5

Note, this only works when you can't see the horizon in the photo, otherwise, it will be very obviously fake.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Sponsored Beers on Walcott Peak

I recently joked that no breweries had stepped up to sponsor my hiking adventures, despite me regularly taking photos of their beers on mountaintops. Obviously, my legion of 12 Instagram followers didn't qualify me for 'influencer' status (eg: no free swag). Well, fast forward two weeks later, and a friend who works on social media content for Annex Ales heard about my plight, and got them to hook me up with a four pack of tallboys and a couple craft sodas. WEEEE!

So this past weekend, Anita and I made our way out to Yoho National Park in BC, and we bagged Walcott Peak with a 'sponsored' tallboy in tow. Someone then saw the beer photos I posted to Instagram and was like, "WTF, is this an ad?!" To which I responded with, "I'm social media influencing!" Which just shows you how easily I can be bought. #willhikeforbeer #drinklocalcraft

Scrambles - Walcott Peak-13
At the summit of Walcott Peak, overlooking beautiful Emerald Lake.

Scrambles - Walcott Peak-2
To get up onto the summit plateau, there was a lengthy scramble up a steep and loose rock gully.

Scrambles - Walcott Peak-1
Note the rocky wall. We ended up down climbing one of these on our descent, after we took an incorrect gully and ended up at a cliff. #badidea

Scrambles - Walcott Peak-5

Scrambles - Walcott Peak-4

Scrambles - Walcott Peak-6

Scrambles - Walcott Peak-7

Scrambles - Walcott Peak-8

Scrambles - Walcott Peak-10
Looking back towards Mt. Stephen and Cathedral Mountain.

Scrambles - Walcott Peak-12
Sponsored summit brew: Annex Ales Force Majeure New England IPA. You know what's better than a beer at the top of a mountain? One that's free from your local craft brewery.

Scrambles - Walcott Peak-14

Scrambles - Walcott Peak-11
Tubby left us a month ago, but I carry him on these adventures with me in spirit. Miss you, buddy!

Scrambles - Walcott Peak-9
Emerald Peak on the left, the President Range of peaks on the right.