Saturday, September 21, 2013

An epic walk above Hazelton in the remote North Western BC

Walking through BC's Northwest rainforest up the mountain

The Skeena River (one of the most famous Salmon runs taking place). People come from all over the to fish here.
Mount Rochee
August 31st weekend, me and my friend Devin decided to tackle something we promised each other we would do 3 years ago. Devin is from a small town in Northwestern BC called Hazleton (population 7000 including outlying areas). Hazelton is about 500km west of Prince George on highway 16 on the way to Prince Rupert. The town used to be big into forestry until the economy had a downturn, and since then the town has been struggling economically (like a lot of small towns in BC). Devin grew up in Hazelton, and has since moved away for school. The last time we past through Hazelton (3 years ago) there is this huge mountain shooting out of the ground staring over the city, and after seeing it for the first time I have wanted to climb it. Devin did it a long time ago and knows the way up. So for the labor day weekend we decided we would go to Hazelton and climb Mount Rochee 6,500 ft. Devin is also a stand up comedian buddy, and were gonna be doing a competition together at a Casino in PG on October 3rd so bring your tomatoes for me and whips and handcuffs for Devin.

We started out at 7am, and it took a long, long time. The beginning of the hike went through rainforest, crossing rivers, climbing over boulders, and trail walking. The second half of the hike was above the alpine, and got pretty scary at points because rocks would move and fall a long ways down sometimes, and we had to pass beside very high cliffs. We made it up by about 2pm, chilled at the top for about 40 minutes, and then got back by about 7pm (didn't see anyone else). I'll let the pictures do the talking:
The bridge we had to cross, mission impossible style!
A view of Hazelton in the afternoon
Devin in his favorite position
At the top of the world
This is why I hang out with kids, flying paper airplanes off a cliff

On the way up with Devin in the lead
Devin's dad is a famous hunter and had some crazy grizzly bear stories, and was featured as hunter of the year in a famous magazine. The salmon run was on going through the Skeena River while I was there (one of the largest salmon runs in the world). Devin's family had caught a lot of big salmon. They gave me two salmon to take back home with me, which was awesome.
Some of the animals he got!
a VIEW of Hazelton and the area

Hazelton is a town I really like. I found the people to be really friendly, a ton of mountains and rivers around with big trees makes it remind me of Vancouver but without people and much infrastructure. It would definitely be a great place to have a family as property is cheap, there is a ton of outdoors stuff to do, and it seems like the community that is pretty close in a lot of ways. One thing I have come to realize is that when you have few options you become a lot more content with what you are doing, and I have noticed in small towns like Hazelton people have a lot more time to talk with you and hang out, something that is often lost in cities.
This was my scariest moment of the year, to my right was a very high drop, and I had to get to wear the camera was, Devin was fine with it, because I think he stuck to many crayons up his nose as a kid.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

To travel or live in a community?

Since last July, I haven't had a house where I can call my own. I have worked a camp job where I stay for a week, and then have a week off. My idea was/ is, by not having a place, it will force me to go do things all the time and go on some crazy adventures. Since I have moved out, I definitely have, at least in my mind done a lot of stuff that I wanted to do, and more. It has been great seeing new places, meeting new people, and going to visit old friends and family in different places. I have also saved money, but not as much as I thought, because I find myself eating out at restaurants a lot more, because it takes a long time to make food camping, or if I am staying at someone's house, often times I don't have everything I want/ need to cook with. If I am hitch hiking, I need to give myself lots of time to get to where ever I am heading, otherwise it can be stressful and a lot less enjoyable. When I am hitchhiking, I defiantly have the best adventures, because you meet such interesting people, and it turns a trip into a real adventure versus jut driving on your own and not meeting new people. Going to new places and meeting new people is great, but when you do it for a long period of time, you start to miss not having a routine (IE: a house, friends/ family around regularly, sports teams and community groups). You also are limited in doing things like working out, because it makes you all sweaty, and you need to eat properly and have a change of clothes, all of which can be limited on the road. A major thing that is nice about not having a place is you don't have to worry about your house when you are gone, you don't have to clean it, etc; It frees up a surprising amount of time. Today is the 17th of September and I am in the middle of trying to figure out my next step: Whether I start looking into traveling internationally, or start looking for a community to live in. Both options have a lot of draws for me, and even if I decide to stay in a community, I will start planning adventures abroad on a regular basis. If I choose to travel, I am going to start by hitch hiking around the USA, with the intention of getting on a sail boat heading to somewhere tropical. So far, I am really glad that I have chosen to try being homeless, as I can understand the advantages and disadvantages of having a house a lot more, and I have learned to appreciate things on another level (for example: having a bed to sleep in/ sleeping in past sunrise). I would like to thank everyone who has taken me in over the last three months, it has shown me how generous people are when the opportunity arises.Feel free to comment and give me your opinions on this and any experiences you can relate.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Argo Mission: Get lost and or stuck

Base camp for Argo Mission!
Last week, me and my friend Dominique, took an Argo into the great wilderness of North British Columbia! Dominique asked me if I would be interested in going on a trip with her 8 wheel motor vehicle that drives on land and floats on water. Hard sell, but  I decided to go! We took trails from the Prince George Snowmobile club, and we started are own two member Argo club. On the map, you could take snowmobile trails all the way to Wells (140km) through the bush. We followed that trail to feel like olden day gold rush settlers.Hiking, skiing, pedal biking, driving, and crab walking are all fun ways to get around, but getting around in an Argo is on a whole other level of fun. Picture sitting in a seat out in the open, turning the handle of the throttle, and this 8 wheel machine moving you very fast across gravel, sand, mud, water etc. You become king of the forest!
Rough riders!

The first night we camped out on this open area, cooked sausages, corn and potatoes over the open fire, and watched the stars til we fell asleep. The next day we continued on another 20km to Frost Lake, where there was a horse shelter, where we stayed for another night! The lake had so many fish they never stopped jumping. When Dom went swimming, fish were biting her toes, but I guess mine were to smelly cause I never had a problem. It rained hard that night, and there was a ton of thunder and lighting. It didn't matter though because we were in a shelter with a wood stove, and had fire roasted corn, sausages and potatoes for another night.
Good morning Argo
Cooking it up!
Ripping it!!!!
Camp for night two

The next morning excited to continue on, the Argo wouldn't start. Me being the horrible mechanic I am couldn't figure out what was wrong, and Domanique couldn't either. We had not run into anyone else for two days, so the chances of us finding anyone to help was very slim. So, working at camp with youth in the wilderness, we do what we do best, and left the Argo and walked 25km back to the snowmobile club house. It took about 5 hours, but I honestly didn't mind the walk as I was so stoked about driving the argo, and the nature around me and the good conversations we had made time pass fast!
I guess this guy got stuck to

When we got to the clubhouse, there was an army guy target practicing with his new gun. He let us use his phone to call someone, but there was no answer. As we walked away, he asked if we needed a ride, we said if it's not a problem for you. He said: “you already walked 25km, I am not going to let you walk anymore, that's Bull shit!” Can't say I couldn't agree with the guy. The army guy happened to be a mechanic in the army, and had worked on a lot of Argo's (what's the chances). Now if only the Argo wasn't stuck out in the middle of nowhere he could help us figure it out! After describing to him what was wrong, he told us it was probably that the battery died.
Rescue mission

The next day we went out with Dom's Grandpa and my friend in their trucks to try and rescue the Argo. We found out about some old logging roads that could get us to Frost lake. The drive out there was very sketchy, but a lot of fun. Some of the narrowness and steepness of the hills were crazy, but was glad to make it. We also had to snap a couple of trees blocking the road which is now a guilty pleasure of mine. We put in a new battery on the Argo and drove it out!

I have had experiences of motor toys breaking down on me before and have had to walk back. My only advice is plan on whatever your driving, to break down, and enjoy the walk back, or learn how to fix them. If it doesn't break down its a bonus! Get out there and go on your own motor vehicle adventures, there's nothing quite like it!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Arts Wells with a journey

A few weeks ago, me and two friends decided to go to a music festival I have heard a lot about but never have been to: Arts Wells. Wells is a very small town in the Cariboo about an hour and a bit east of Quesnel, BC. It is very close to Barkerville (BC's historic ghost town). The area used to be very busy and booming early last century when the gold rush was on. Now it is a tourist town in the summer for the famous Bowron Lake canoe chain, Barkerville, and a ton of outdoors stuff in the area. In the winter it is great for back country skiing, snowmobiling and whatever else people do with a lot of snow and mountains in the middle of nowhere.
The town of Wells

Arts Wells is a music festival put on once a year. There are about 10 venues throughout the town of Wells that would run every day the four days from morning until late at night. There were also a ton of workshops to participate in from Yoga, clowning, music playing and poetry writing. The festival went on from Thursday night through until Monday, and there were I believe, almost 200 different performances.
Street performance going on in Wells

It cost a lot of money (for a cheapskate) to go to this festival and camp there, so me, Andrew and Jeff decided to volunteer there. The festival assigned all three of us as security at the main hall every night from 10pm until 2am. At first we were disappointed about this because it would mean we would have to be able to walk all night, but then being the excited, aggressive person I am, I was thrilled by the fact that we would, for the first time ever get to be bouncers :D

Me and Andrew drove out together to Wells from Prince George. Jeff was already in Wells for something earlier in the week. I had been to Wells last winter for skiing, and I knew of a “shortcut” to get there, down some side road. We ended up taking the wrong turn, and went down a logging road. Andrew, being the crazy guy that he is decided not to turn around and instead continued down this logging road (that we didn't know where it went) to attempt to get to Wells. I must say the logging road was pretty awesome, as we saw (and chased) a ton of grouse through the bush, and there was tons of mountains and creeks the whole way. I was getting pretty annoyed after about two hours when we were still driving and had no idea where we were. I made Andrew stop the car when we came upon these two trailers, and a car parked out front in the middle of no where. Andrew didn't want me to get out, as he was afraid that I would either get murdered or married if I went up to the trailer out in the middle of the woods where the" hillbillies" live. Regardless, I was single and not afraid of death, and more important to me was not running out of gas in the middle of nowhere, potentially hours from civilization.

Right when I got out of the truck, one guy from each trailer came out and greeted me, one with a drink in his hand, and judging by the way he walked it was not his first of that hour. The two guys had a land claim in the area and were gold prospectors. They showed me their mining machines, and they were working the land in that area looking for gold. They told me they stopped showering weeks ago because its the only way the mosquitoes would stop biting them. They would come up to the area every year to prospect and take gold out of the land. This is something that I have considered doing, as if you don't trade your gold for cash its tax free profit, and as the price of gold rises, your profits go up. Not to mention it would be a lot of fun going exploring the bush and trying to strike it rich! Anyways me and Andrew ended up talking with them for about an hour (they hadn't seen anyone else in days), at which point one of the guys split his fourth coke and rum of the hour on my shoe, so I thought it would be a good time to leave. Wells, they said was only a few more kilmeters down the road, which I was stoke about, and Andrew still rubs it in my face, as he seemed to think he knew how to get there all along.

The first day at Wells I'll admit I was pretty scared. The reason being as the people there, are not the kind of people you run into all the time in the city. I don't like the term “Hippie”, but lets just say there were a lot of free spirits around. I would like to say I am a free spirit to, but I am just not used to having other free spirits around me all the time, and I didn't really know what to do. Me and Andrew decided that we would go hide in are tents until are first security shift started, so that's what we did. Mainly because we were scared, but also because I was really tired from the epic journey getting to Wells and experiencing everything, so I passed out for four hours.
Andrew on Bouncer Duty

The first night of security went well and we ended up meeting some pretty cool, inspiring people. The next morning it was boiling hot in are tents, so we decided to go for a swim/ wash in the creek up from the camp sight. When we got there, there was more than a few people skinny dipping, with the same idea as us. At that point I decided this place might not be so bad after all, and me and Andrew freely did cannon balls into the water and joined ;)
The creek near the campsite

For the next two days we spent the afternoons and evenings checking out different workshops and shows. My favorite workshop was the clowning one, because I fit right in! My favorite show was on the outdoor stage by Fred Penner (A famous children's artist), because it brought back good memories and also because we had a good game of Frisbee going on at the same time. The last two security shifts were a lot of fun, as me and Andrew were the door guys, and we kept it under control with a lot of high fives, dancing people through the door, and cheering excessively when artists would walk through (which was every five minutes). We also looked after Anarchy (a dog) who a man would leave at the door for hours as he went into the hall to party. We couldn't let Anarchy in because he had had to much to drink, but he was good company to help keep the building safe from terrorists! Multiple people said we were the best security guards ever, and I would like to think that is true as I believe there were no stabbings, fights, and no one passed out in or around the building. Also the best party at the concert was definitely at the door! The only thing I am sad about is that we didn't have to save anyone from fights, and the tag team pile drive that me Andrew and Jeff practiced for hours didn't get to happen.
George Burner performing

We left the festival Monday morning to get back to work feeling so happy, refreshed and stoked on life. It was by far the best festival I have been to, because of the chill atmosphere, creative and inspirational people we met, the beauty of the place, and all the good shows and cool workshops going on. If you are into enjoying life and being creative (which everyone is meant to be) I would suggest go at some point in your life to this festival or one like it!