Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Sea to Sky Highway
looking over Squamish from the first peak of the Chief
Out of breathe, thighs burning, heart pounding through my chest,  I drop my concern for a threat of cougars and start running.  I pushed through the inclining woods, up flights of steps, rocks, through trickling streams and waterfalls pounding from weeks of rain. My legs quiver and fill with lactic acid but I can not stop. This is a christening. I pull my body along chains and up cold metal ladders, lightly brushing the textured and damp granite as I pass . Finally I scramble the last few hundred feet, stumbling ecstatic.  I am looking over the granite kingdom of Howe Sound, I am one hour of man-power from Ingrid’s apartment in downtown Squamish, which seems like a toy village from here. This is my backyard, finally. I am home. I am not a visitor. I can feel it.

My new Palette
It’s been 3 weeks since I crossed the border back into the motherland. After declaring the one postcard I bought in my near 3-month stay, a confused but apathetic border guard let me go. Thank god. I thought I was never going to make it. My first goals were to navigating Vancouver, finish my arts-and-crafts-creation of a Brewpub application and get to Squamish. The next morning I rolled down the sea to sky highway… mountain lines waved and rose as the trees expired mist while the grey skies hung like blankets above. I twisted and turned through the rain, unable to shake my smile. I had this feeling of sinking into the landscape, comforted by every click. At 9am sharp I presented the Howe Sound Brewpub with a coaster showing a cartoonized version of my face on the front and my resume held in a neat little origami folder on the back… I looked straight in the manager’s eyes and told her in no uncertain terms that this resume proved that I was both creative and capable of following simple instruction.( I will get a photo of it soon)

Materials required: 
Thanks to my brothers Co-worker during our nice meal at the Bellagio
 + Origami Instructions
+ varnish and cork and a generous friend's printer ( thanks Kev), Scissors ( thanks Kev) and glue (thanks Mike) .

Job done, wait no… I mean… job starts….

Dog walking with I! one of her 3 awesome jobs
Having successfully overcome the first unknown of my grand pilgrimage ( being employed) I set out to find a home.  Now, 3 weeks later, but I have something in the works. May will have me settled. Until then, I was welcomed into an old friends home, courtesy of facebook’s revealing news feeds. I, who went to University with me, noticed I was west and dropped me a line. “ You can stay here until you find the perfect place, don’t even worry about it, I know how it feels” She said, completely genuine. I paid half her rent and started life in Squamish, quickly becoming close with Ingrid and sharing as many climbing and yoga expeditions as humanly possible.
let the fog clear

my temporary bed and home.
teaching I to rappel with a Prusik
Questionable success

I can feel myself sinking into the beautiful. My mind is quiet and controlled, far from the buzzing light bulbs of the past life. I wake to the gentle tap of rain on tin and roll to see the chief through a misty window. I put less work into my smiles, my world seems effortless, not because it is any easier but because everything I do seems worth it. At night I sleep, I feel happy, self sufficient, tired. I am waiting for my honeymoon with Squamish to wear off, but thus far this seems the easiest and most natural transition I have ever made. With the fear and uncertainty of packing a car with all my earthly belongings and moving across the country for the second attempt at creating a life out here... I had no idea what could happen. In Utah I became nervous and anxious, knowing that leaving the desert might mean realizing that Squamish was only a dream I could not make happen. I wouldn't get work, I would be hungry again and stressed about money, I would miss  Toronto too much and fall back into my parents home and the imposed dreams of financial security and smash and grab vacations.

The nice thing about Squamish, is you get to do all those things you planned for rainy days... all of them.

Rainy day activity

If I had to name my biggest lesson on this road, I would have to say that  if you commit to something, fully completely, and you accept the worst case scenario but you take that chance on the best case, then no matter what you will come out on top.You alone are capable of overcoming a fear of insecurity ( on rocks and in life) , you alone can find a better place for yourself, and you alone can decide what to make of what you have. 
Stay strong. Stay Lucky.

Chief. Better start training.
Simple facts through numbers: Inventory of life since January 14th 2012: 

Things lost/broken/gone: 
- 1 right show blown out at the toe
- 1 rope: 2 core shots
- one stove
- 1 yellow C3 left in a crack
- 1  jackrabbit, relating to a large piece of plastic that covered the front half of the undercarriage of my car... ( who knew rodents could destroy a station wagon on impact?!)
- 2 sweatshirts
-6, yes, 6 pairs of pants: ripped.
- a bunch of socks
- some cartilage in my ankle
- a whole lot of skin
- a bit of dignity in a wide chimney

Things found/ gifted from climbing gods: 
- 1 right shoe that fits me
- 1 rope from a nice Swiss man
- the ability to change lanes in Vegas without hitting the bumps on the dotted lines. 
- 118 bucks ( thanks slots!) 
- the discipline necessary to do yoga often.
- a profound appreciation for Elvis Presley 
- a grasp on Eastern European humor
- a ton of  gratitude for hilariously open and lenient campground hosts 
-  half a bottle of Jim beam
- one dinner at the Bellagio Casino ( thanks brother!) 
- one pair of pants
- a lot of couch sleeps, floor sleeps and safer than expected sleeps ( thanks boy scouts of Idaho! and the Kev! ) 
  - a realization that I am doing what I should be doing now. 
- a conviction for sharing my passion for the outdoors
-stories, lots of stories.

and half a dozen unforgettable people, each of whom I do not plan on loosing touch with.

Monday, April 2, 2012


There is a welt at the crease in my lips. Well, it is more like a laceration. Every time I bend or stretch the skin nearby it rips open again. To some this may first seem like a piece of food stuck on my face, or maybe you could hypothesize that I have the herp, but alas, it is one of my many, and newly dubbed, ‘happy scars’. It came about during the epinephrine day. While severely dehydrated on the 5 hour descent, my lips became overly chapped and dry. This would not have been much of a problem if I hadn’t been smiling and laughing so much. And so now it stays, like a scar to what happened, reminding me every time I open my mouth, with the sharp pain of a ripping scab, that I am happy. This trip has been good.

Driving into Idaho was like entering into a dream. Out of the dust spread a sea of yellow and green that rose into brown and grey/ white streaked mountains. The sky was musky; streaking out the sun just enough to allow for overcast glows to cover endless farmlands and pastures below. I could hardly keep my eyes on the road. Playing through the lengthy “purchased” play list on my Ipod I questioned my own love of music and the value I place on it. It built the scene, the mood of change, just as much as the visuals.

Before all this was the last morning in Utah. I woke up to watch the frost on the windows turn to condensation. The sun streamed through, slowly illuminating the car-nest. I said goodbye to Utah right then and there. D was already making breakfast. Like the perfect bookend to this trip, I had run into her at the SuperCrack Buttress parking lot the day earlier.  The first climber I met on the trip becomes the last to share stories with. Reminding me that these life lines that crave the natural world will run parallel, especially the climbers.

Saying goodbye to the guys was hard, the hardest yet. We all hugged goodbye in the wake and bake cafĂ© in Moab. I have gotten much better at goodbyes, while at the same time getting much worse, I think. I don’t know how to say what I mean, or do justice to the impact and gratitude i feel towards these people. So instead I rush, I just want the goodbye to be over with otherwise I was worried I might not go at all.

The relationships I have built on this trip have been invaluable. The bonds we have made have been stronger and more founded than many I have made over the years living in one place.  Although many may be ‘situational friendships’, it is really too early to tell. But for a trip that was only meant to be a stop over, free of expectations and objectives, it has proven to be pivotal to my faith in direction and my conviction to follow my passions. The solitude of traveling alone, matched with the freedom of a vehicle have given me a liberty and an opportunity to really thrive, write, make photos, grow and experience everything I want to experience for as long as I deem necessary. I would trade this for nothing, I know now that this isn’t the last road trip. That’s all I can really say about that.

So now I am sitting in a positive space, a shop on the main street of Lava Hot Springs, ID. There are three gentlemen in the back jamming on electric guitar who were nice enough to let me sit at the front, on this vintage couch and type away, trying to find internet. I hope camber comes tomorrow. I am more hopeful that this drive will go smooth. I cannot wait for the next adventure.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

...and on the 7th Day Dr. Suess Rested

This land was made in the image of who-ville and Lorax land.

This is the closest I can come to making sense of the landscape in Moab, Utah.

We arrived late on Tuesday night, spending the week cooped up in a hotel, trying to make sense of our lives in our mother countries; Myself, W and C. C left us on Saturday, returning to Canada with near certain plans of returning soon. The trip is has been above and beyond what was expected, with friends new personalities entering and exiting the adventure along the way. Right now I am working feverishly on the rest of the lessons learned, looking to explain them through a replay of the longest day I have ever spent on a mountain. 18hr: no epic.

For now though, let me show you what I am seeing...

Onion Creek

Onion Creek

Onion Creek

A hole... where the sun comes through

Great times on the Corona Arch

This is a play by play of what W did on the Corona arch.

Indian Creek

What? is that you loving Crack? I think so...

Colorado River

Arches National Park at sunset

Claire joining ranks with the double arches

Best Cairn I have ever seen