From October 2011 to January 2012, Will Stauffer-Norris and Zak Podmore hiked and paddled from Wyoming’s Wind River Mountains to Mexico following the Colorado River system from its farthest inland source to the sea, filming and narrating on the fly. The resulting film, Remains of a River, is an unforgettable story of friendship, adventure and environmental degradation.
A couple of months ago I was surfing the web and saw this great post by explorer Alistair Humphries on micro adventures (it also caught National Geographic’s eye) and it started me thinking about life and my life when we lived in Calgary.
I loved Calgary. My bedroom looked out at the Rocky Mountains and it seemed like I was only hours away from adventure whether it be in the Banff National Park or in Kananaskis. Closer to home there was Fish Creek Provincial Park which had it’s own element of adventure for us as kids. We hiked, explored, drank water we shouldn’t have (it looked so refreshing coming off the mountain), and even fed deer out of our hands (friend’s timeshare had a sign up that said, “Don’t let deer inside the building” which I have always wondered if that went up before or after a deer came into a room).
Ever since moving to Saskatoon in 1984, adventure was something that you experienced somewhere else. Our zoo isn’t fierse and every time I drive by “Mt” Blackstrap, I struggle with momentary depression. Adventure without hills? Pffft. It can’t happen.
The adventures that I have had since moving to Saskatoon are urban ones but in other cities. Exploring south central Los Angeles alone and at night. Riding the subway in Chicago into the most violent neighbourhood in the United States. Breaking into abandoned churches and apartments to hand out cigarettes and make connections with homeless people during the middle of winter. Having breakfast in a stairwell to stop a local gang from using it to move drugs. It’s something but not what I was looking for.
A couple of weeks ago I started to talk to Wendy and Mark about doing something this year. Mark will be 13 and Wendy just turned… ummm… she looks 25. After the usual suggestions of camping (umm, we have a cabin) were tossed out, I suggested we walk the 20 kms to Grey Owl’s Cabin in Prince Albert National Park. I figured it would take us 5 hours but according to the video below it took the Saskatchewanderer over 8 hours.
This is the hike.
As far as a backcountry hike goes, it is really easy. It’s only 20 kms each way, it’s impossible to get lost and there are some backcountry camping spots that do include bear caches. While we are in black bear country and we will have to cook 100 metres downwind of our campground, there isn’t a lot of danger. The plan is to camp at the Northend Campground, make camp and then head to Grey Owl’s cabin. It looks easy but again it was an eight hour hike according to the video and some articles that I have read. Personally I would like it to take us around 6. I always assumed that there would be others on the trail but after reading some of the accounts of the hike you are often totally alone out there.
To start the process, we need some backcountry camping gear which sent me to Wholesale Sports, Cabela’s, and MEC.ca for advice and information on what to buy and bring along with us. Do we want a light weight stove or cook with fire? Do we want to boil water, chemically treat it or use a filtration system. What’s more important, saving weight or sleeping comfortably? Mark insists that he wants his own tent and plans to carry his one person tent up there with him. We’ll see how that one works out.
We will be taking the plunge on June 15 and 16th which is before Waskesiu gets too busy and yet there is still a chance for some cool evenings. The funny part of the trip is that last year I watched this video featuring Ben Saunders planning The Scott Expedition using Basecamp and thought it was pretty cool.
Wendy, Mark and I are using Freedcamp to use do the same thing albeit on a much smaller scale. So it will be our micro-adventure for 2013. A 40 km walk in the backcountry where we will see a fraud and bigamist’s cabin that he shared with a beaver. Now I need to go and find expedition sponsors. Anyone have a contact with Land Rover or The North Face?
A couple of weeks ago search results looking for Christmas gift ideas started to appear so I knew it was time to dust off the Christmas Gift Guides and start on 2012’s. As usual, I start with the kids and move from there. If you have any idea or feedback, let me know in the comments.
Shopping for a tween or a teenager is hard. Amazon suggests MacBooks, they all want $600 iPhone and if you get it wrong, they will hate you forever. Welcome to shopping for a teenager. Here are some ideas that are cool, won’t break the bank, and may actually inspire them.
I have long been a fan of Virgin Mobile prepaid for teens. You can control their data, their minutes, and if something goes wrong and the phone is lost, you aren’t hit with a massive phone bill or contract. Everyone wins. The HTC Desire C ($149) has the newest version of Android Ice Cream Sandwich, a 5 megapixel camera, and a sound system that is by Beats by Dre. It’s only $149 upfront and you can either put that on their no-contract plan or go prepaid. It’s not a Samsung Galaxy III or a iPhone 5 but for someone that is 12 or 13 years old, they don’t need a better phone than you. If you really want to spoil the kid, you can get them some Beats by Dre headphones ($149) to go with it but a more fiscally sound and responsible choice may be these highly rated and fairly inexpensive JVC Xtreme-Xplosivs headphones ($14.99).
While Kodak has fallen on hard times, it still makes a great little compact camcorder in the Kodak Playsport ($80). It’s shockproof, rustproof, and waterproof to a depth of 10 ft. Since it is designed to be used on the go, it has built-in image stabilization to smooth out the ride. It also has a share feature making it easy to get the video onto YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. If you want more stability from a manufacturer, check out the Sony Bloggie camera (or the Sport model). All are great options for your young aspiring filmmaker.
Of course they will need some adventures to film. Geocaching is extremely popular all over the world and Magellan has created the eXplorist GC Waterproof Geocaching GPS ($119). It easily connect to the Geocaching.com User Community and perform "Send to GPS," create and sync Pocket Queries, and upload Field Notes. Pre-loaded with the most popular geocaches in the world. Additionally, the product comes packed with common outdoor GPS features, such as waypoint creation, a worldwide base map, active tracking, and trip odometer.
If they are a gamer, chances are that they have grown out their Nintendo DS. If they have, check out the PS Vita ($249). With any gaming system it is all about the games and I am pleasantly surprised the amount of good looking games there are out there for the PS Vita (compared to the PSP). There is Assassin’s Creed III ($39), Madden 13 ($25), or FIFA 13 ($39)
While my son would love an iPod Touch ($299), I am not sure if any child needs to be online 24/7. There is a great alternative in the new iPod Nano ($149), especially if the child you are shopping for is extremely active (or you want them to be more active). The redesigned iPod nano now has a larger, 2.5-inch Multi-Touch display. It plays music and has Genius playlists and FM radio. It has enough memories to watch watch movies and widescreen videos on the bigger screen. The iPod Nano tracks your steps, your runs, and burned calories and syncs to the Nike+ website to challenge friends. And with built-in Bluetooth technology, you can wirelessly connect to speakers, headphones, or car stereos. While you are at it, you can add some amazing iHome rechargeable mini speakers as well.
If your child is a skateboarder, you may want to consider a Tony Hawk skateboard deck and kit. I know what you are thinking, "What’s Tony Hawk a skater back when I was a kid?" and the answer is yes and somehow he is still skating and he is still pretty awesome… if you consider a 900 degree turn on a skateboard awesome.
If you teen is planning to do something awesome like that, you may want to get them a GoPro camera ($169) and a headstrap to record the madness/injury.
Sometimes the best technology and gifts are some of the most basic. Binocular prices have dropped while the optics are still great. A pair of compact Bushnell binoculars ($30) are perfect for a hike, some urban exploring, and compact enough to toss in a bag. If taken care of, they will last a lifetime.
Canada at War: A Graphic History of World War II: A visual look at Canada during World Ward II.
Canada at War follows the developments and setbacks, wins and losses, of a nation learning to stand up for itself in the midst of the most difficult war of the 20th century.
In graphic-novel format, fully illustrated and in full colour, Canada at War shows the growth of a nation’s army, navy and air force through movingly depicted triumphs and tragedies. From the disheartening losses at Dieppe and Hong Kong through the Battle of the Atlantic and the invasion of Sicily, it focuses on the human dimension of the key battles and decisions that ultimately swung the war in the Allies’ favour.
This poignant graphic account ends, after the victories of D-Day and Juno Beach and the liberation of Europe, with a final reckoning of the legacy these storied years have had on a country forged through war. Aimed at both adult and young adult readers, this very human history tells the stories behind some of this country’s most distinguishing military moments.
What it takes for Ben Saunders to ski from the Northwest Territories to the North Pole.
For some of us, this was the first we heard of the record breaking explorer back in 2008.
This was last summer.
This is from his stop at Resolute Bay.
Trainings on the Isle of Skye
Heck of a life. Glad he shares it with us.
Ben Saunders is heading to the North Pole again, unsupported and trying to break the speed record or just over 36 days. Here is the first leg of the journey. From London to Ottawa.
For those of you who have never heard of Saunders before, check out this intro video from 2008.
In case you are wondering, here is the equipment that will accompany Saunders to the North Pole.
It’s a journey that took 114 days and was done by a team of explorers and amateurs led by Pasquale Scaturro and Gordon Brown. They faced rapids, bandits, Nile crocodiles, civil war in Sudan, and other seemingly insurmountable challenges as they make their way along all 3,260 miles of the river to become the first to complete a full descent of the Blue Nile.
It’s a great journey but after watching it, I was somewhat disappointed as I wanted more. A two hour film was not enough time to show a 114 day, 3,260 mile journey. They could have made an entire television series or a long mini-series just on their adventures with the Nile crocodiles and several episodes could have been dedicated to the people they met as the floated down the Nile River, their adventures with bandits, and even the background of the cultures they are engaged in.
So for all of you filmakers out there, feel free to steal my idea and make this series. I’ll be the first to purchase it.
A couple of you have asked what my plan is for Jordon Cooper Outfitters as it hasn’t made a lot of sense for some of you as to why I have done it and why I am only posting once a day. Here is the short answer.
- I am posting once a day because it is easy to set up a posting schedule with WordPress. Right now I have posts set up to go five days a week into early March which means that I don’t have to worry about the site every day like I do with this one. As the content is added to the site, it will be formed into other content like gift guides, seasonal guides, and best of lists. Look for those lists to start as we start to escape winter and then for things like Mother’s Day days like that.
- The site won’t be an instant success because there really isn’t that much content. It’s funny because most of the questions that I get about blogging often deal with SEO stuff which is a craft that I have never cared about. Blogging is pretty simple. Write well, post it online and if people find it worthwhile, you will generate readers. We’ll see if people find Jordon Cooper Outfitters worth reading. If not, I’ll have learned a lot about a topic that interests me.
- The most encouraging stat about the site is the amount of people who have subscribed to the RSS feed.
- While I get a small commission from linking to Amazon.com and Amazon.ca, it isn’t going to pay any bills. I may add some advertising but even with 1000 people a day coming by the site, that isn’t going to pay very many bills either so there isn’t a great business plan. If I add advertising, it will be discrete like what you would see on Kottke.org or The Morning News. There will never be ads all over any site that I curate. It will never ever happen.
- I will be trail testing some items this summer. Mark and I planning to hike to Grey Owl’s Cabin this summer and I hope to hit Johnson’s Canyon as well in addition to a lot of mountain bike riding. I’ll let you know how those go.
- I am open to other people contributing to Jordon Cooper Outfitters. If you are interested, drop me a line.
I was checking out Ben Saunders blog today and saw this great video profile on his site. Here is a list of his expeditions, both the successful ones and the ones where he didn’t make it. Ben is currently preparing for three expeditions between 2010 and 2012: solo and unsupported speed record attempts on both Poles and the 2011/12 Scott Antarctic Expedition, the first return journey to the South Pole on foot, and the longest unsupported polar journey in history. Ben and his team mate Alastair Humphreys depart for Antarctica in late October 2011.