Outdoors

Down River

Down River

Around the 20th of May, 2006, I left my abnormal life in Quito, Ecuador to explore the enormous continent of South America before time consumed the opportunity. I had been living and traveling in indigenous areas of the Amazon for the previous 3 months, and as much as I loved it, my bag slowly began to pack itself, my mind became full of dreams and my maps covered in ink. I decided to head down to Peru on an Amazonian tributary known as the Rio Napo. For around 1000 kms, it snakes its way through some of the most remote rainforest in the Amazon basin before spitting into the river Amazon just below Iquitos, Peru. A Danish guy who heard I was doing this trip asked if he could join me. I knew that there were no scheduled boats, and that one could be stranded for weeks, or be forced to pay exorbitant sums for short rides on leaky boats, so after a bit of hesitation, I agreed...

Down the Trans Canada

Down the Trans Canada

It was a cool late summer day in Peterborough when a friend and I decided we needed to get out. To have a little local adventure. We met at Jackson Park at the bridge with the dam. Water was crashing by below us as we exchanged greetings and prepared for the journey.

"Are you ready?" he said.

I replied with a wink and a grin, "I was born ready...

Kawartha Highlands Traverse

Kawartha Highlands Traverse

Pulling up to Little Turtle Lake, I step out of the car and take a couple deep breaths of the crisp, fresh air that I will be surrounded by for the next four days. Under a bright sky of mixed clouds, the shoreline of the lake is splotched with the green of the conifers and the yellow, red, and brown of the deciduous trees, already a bit past their peak of autumn colour. After all the difficulties faced over the course of planning this trip, finally all that remains is to toss my bag and barrel in the canoe and push off...

Half Dome

Half Dome

The image of Half Dome, an iconic landmark of Yosemite National Park in California, is displayed on the Macintosh computer screens in Bata Library at Trent University. Passing these computers now, I’m taken back to a year ago when I first entered the library. It was early September 2015 and I was just beginning my Master of Arts Degree in English.

I’ve always used PC computers and I was surprised when I saw Half Dome glowing on the Macintosh screens. But it wasn’t my ignorance of this detail that made me acutely aware of the desktop background.

Two weeks before school started, I had stood at the very top of that iconic peak, perched out on an overhang with my arms triumphantly raised in the air...

From College to Kokopelli

From College to Kokopelli

As part of Algonquin College’s (Ontario, Canada) Outdoor Adventure Program, students are introduced to all things adventure related – the kinds of activities everyone wants to try but often never get around to. I often describe the program as a shotgun experience with variety of different activities, giving us the skills to decide what we want to specialize in the future. The 2-year program ends with a culminating project or advanced expedition, a chance for the students to venture out on their own expedition style trip to truly test what was learned both in and outside of class.

I came into the program with a university degree from Trent University, a keen interest in road cycling, and no idea that bikepacking even existed...

Forest Under the Stars

Forest Under the Stars

It had taken months of studying dark sky maps, searching for trails, and following weather conditions. All in the hopes of finally breaking free of the urban light pollution and seeing the dark night sky by nothing but the light of billions of stars. Many previous plans and attempts had been trumped by overcast skies. However, on this night, the conditions lined up in my favour.

It was a Friday afternoon when my friend and fellow adventurer Justin and I made the decision to take advantage of the night...

Finding Myself Again

Finding Myself Again

My bike wasn't too happy when I took it out for the first time this year. It had lots of kinks to work out after an idle winter. My pack wasn't too happy either, as I splattered mud on just about every inch of everything. My body can't be left off this list. My shoulders felt the weight of my body leaning against the handle bars. My lungs felt the burn of cold spring air.  My legs were screaming bloody murder and my creaky hips knew that they were moving...

In Over My Head

In Over My Head

Have you ever found yourself excited for an upcoming trip and at the same time completely ignorant of what you would actually be facing?  This is the situation I found myself in when I signed up for a trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon in 2013. 

In 2012, a group of friends had placed their names in the lottery for a permit to raft through Grand Canyon National Park...

A Peterborough Birder in Panama

A Peterborough Birder in Panama

We heard the quetzals before we saw them. Their resonant, yelping call notes emanated from high in the ancient trees bordering the trail. At first, I only got frustrating glimpses of the birds' iridescent green back and throat as the small flock fed on wild avocados in the thick foliage. My guide, Jason Lara, then drew my attention to a male that had hopped up onto a branch in full view. I could barely contain my excitement. The helmet-like crest, bright red belly and ridiculously long upper tail coverts sparkled in the dappled light. Seconds later, when the quetzal flew off, the coverts trailed behind the bird like the train of a wedding dress. I immediately understood why this species rates among the most beautiful in the world.  

Passing on my passion

Passing on my passion

My legs were locking up and I was beginning to regret the extra food and drink that I had packed prior to leaving Edmonton. My daughter, nearly one-year-old, sat clinging to her pack, her head drooping with fatigue. The three hours in the pack were starting to wear on her senses and the energetic noises and movements that filled the first couple hours were starting to wane.  My wife was keeping a positive outlook and provided the motivation I needed to push every step forward. My brother and sister-in-law were not far behind and had jumped onto my hair-brained idea to head into the mountains without much hesitation. Most people thought we were crazy for booking an alpine cabin for a vacation with our toddler. But her name is Sierra - to me, nothing felt more right.