Tag Archives: Aidan

Sparrowhawk Down

My note to the mountains - left at the top of Sparrowhawk
My note to the mountains – left at the top of Sparrowhawk

Yesterday we conquered Mount Sparrowhawk and it was – in a word – amazing.

Sparrowhawk stands 3121m (10239ft) above sea level, and requires 1350m (4429ft) of elevation gain from the trailhead to reach the summit.

The hike began at 10:40am and ended about 8.5 hours later (including several stops for snacks, and about an hour relaxing on the summit). The first part of the trek was steep; winding through beautiful forest, and offering views of Spray Lake below, and a seemingly endless line of mountains all around. Despite losing the trail (thanks to my wonderful vision) we eventually found ourselves above the tree line. It was around this time that we were passed by a woman – probably in her 40s, possibly 50s – who ran by us.

Laughing at the top of Sparrowhawk
Laughing at the top of Sparrowhawk

“Just training for a marathon” she called to us as she ran by.

Just training for a marathon I thought. Amazing.

We carried on, tackling scree and talus, and making our way to the summit which slowly crept closer. Trail marker after trail marker were eventually passed. The lake below shrunk, the sky seemed to grow larger, and more and more mountains became visible in the distance. The terrain was rough, but in spite of its harshness, moss and lichen were abundant. We also heard the unique chirp of pikas which called the mountain home.

We came. We saw. We conquered.
We came. We saw. We conquered.

After about 4.5 hours of hiking, we made the summit. And holy hell, it was absolutely breathtaking. The weather afforded us views that were seemingly endless. I have no idea how many photos we ended up snapping, but everywhere we looked was deemed worthy of a picture. I wish I could describe just how amazing it felt.

We stayed atop the mountain for about an hour before making our descent. The trek down was faster as parts of the mountain side were covered in scree; permitting us to ski down.

Enjoying the views at the top of Mount Sparrowhawk
Enjoying the views at the top of Mount Sparrowhawk

The hike ended at Spray Lake – and even though the water was icy cold, it was the perfect spot to cool our feet after such an epic hike. We didn’t rest long, however, as hunger called. Fortunately, the town of Canmore was nearby so we stopped at the Grizzly Paw for beer and burgers.

Today this leg of the adventure comes to an end as I have to board my flight home in a few short hours. I’m going to miss the mountains, and I’m going to miss Rick. Fortunately I know that this will not be our final adventure together, nor will it be my last day in the mountains.

So be prepared mountains – I’ll be back.


Falling To My Death? Not Today Indefatigable. Not Today.

The Mount Indefatigable trail - hitting both north and south peaks.
The Mount Indefatigable trail – hitting both north and south peaks. Image via: http://www.soistheman.com

Yesterday Rick, Aidan, and I jumped into the car and headed to Kananaskis country to face the challenge of climbing Mount Indefatigable (stopping first at Starbucks and Safeway for necessities like go-go juice, snacks, and lunch).

Approximately 1.5 hours from Calgary, Indefatigable actually represents two peaks and a ridge connecting the two. The southern peak is approximately 2556m (8386ft) above sea level, while the northern peak is slightly higher. According to this website, the peak reaches 2678m (8786ft) above sea level. Not the highest peak that Rick and I have ever done, but still a solid adventure.

Rick, getting close to the southern peak of Mount Indefatigable
Rick, getting close to the southern peak of Mount Indefatigable

The first half hour included a rather steep incline, and amazing views of the lakes surrounding the region. The weather was perfect – not too hot, not too cold – and the company was fantastic. The hike included a lot of laughter and chatting, and every few steps hooting and hollering. Why? Well, it turns out that we were hiking a decommissioned trail; decommissioned because it is home to several generations of grizzlies. The hoots and hollers were to warn them of our presence, and hopefully scare them off. The last thing we needed was to be eviscerated by a hungry grizzly.

Once we passed the tree line, we were greeted by the ridge that defined the Indefatigable trail. According to the experts, the trail from north to south would be tough, but we were determined to conquer it. There were a few sketchy areas that gave all of us pause – partially to figure out our footing and grip, partially to breathe, gather our thoughts, and quell the voices in our head that might have been screaming to turn around because holy shit why would we put ourselves into such a crazy situation? To put the climb into perspective, there were sections where, while not quite vertical, we were forced to hug the mountain for fear that the slightest slip would send us falling several hundred metres to the valley below. In fact, the major hazard described for this climb: falling to your death. 

Rick pretending to be Icarus on the sketchy part of the climb.
Rick pretending to be Icarus on the sketchy part of the climb.

Talk about a rush.

Fortunately none of us fell to our death. And despite a few breath caught in our throat moments, we reached the north peak with only a few scratches and scrapes. Our reward – absolutely spectacular scenery. Honestly, the views were probably some of the best that I’ve ever seen from a mountain top.

After resting for a bit, we began our venture along the ridge from the north peak to the south peak. Walking at times on a path about a foot and a half wide, with very steep drops on either side was amazing. Strangely, we all felt quite comfortable traversing the ridge.

A nerdtacular shot at the top of the north peak.
A nerdtacular shot at the top of the north peak.

We reached the southern peak around 5:00pm. Tired, but still energized, we took some more photos, soaked in the scenery, and then began our descent. The trail here was steep at points, but well-defined and quite easy to hike. Along the way we ran in to some mountain goats who seemed to be enjoying the views of the valley from high above.

The entire trail took us about 8 hours, including several stops for snacks, lunch, and about 10 thousand photos.

Honestly, yesterday could have only been better if our friend Paul was able to join us.

And The Award Goes To…

A foot of onion rings. I feel sick. But they were so tasty. Ok, half of them were.

Yesterday Bernie had surgery; part of the long journey on the road back to health. The surgery was for his pelvis, and based on what I’ve heard, it went well. Aidan and I dropped by last night to see how he was doing and to keep Becky company. Of course, her dad was already there with her, and our friend Erin arrived shortly after we did. So really, it was another rocking night in the ICU Lounge at Hamilton General Hospital.

We didn’t stay in the lounge long, however, as it was rather crowded and Becky and I both needed to eat. So we found a pub nearby for onion rings and various other pub fare. And when I say onion rings, I clearly mean a stack of onion rings that was eleventy-billion feet high. Okay, 1 foot high, but given my stomach it might as well have been eleventy-billion feet high. Verdict: so damn delicious. Sadly I couldn’t finish them all (big surprise), but the good news is that I now have leftover onion rings. Granted, leftover onion rings have a tendency to be not nearly as good as the fresh variety, so whether or not I eat them is another story. For now they sit in my fridge tempting me with their onion-y goodness.

When we returned to the hospital, Bernie was still sedated – probably a good thing given the surgery and all. Aidan and I sat with him for a while, trying to check out his fancy new scar. Clearly it was all bandaged up so I have nothing to report other than that he’ll have a fancy new scar. I should point out that my Harry Potter scar is still way cooler, but I’ll let him have the ‘biggest scar’ award. I’m all about the giving. Ha! I’m such an ass.

Since only 2 people are allowed in the room at any one time to visit, we’ve been playing musical visitors. Whenever I leave the room, I either sit in the lounge or wander the halls looking for things that make me smile or giggle. It’s my way of coping I guess. That, or I’m a heartless bastard; I’ll leave that up to you to decide. Anyway, I now offer to you dear readers, several of the things that I’ve found while wandering the halls of the Hamilton General Hospital that made me smile.


No slipping in my brothers room. Good advice for someone with a crushed pelvis.
This room intrigues me.
This room made me giggle
If I understand this sign correctly, this is where you go if you've lost your heart.
It seems odd that these are offered at the hospital (Heath fail) but that doesn't mean I don't want one ;)
Mmm, Stat lab.
A note for daddy. This makes me smile.

Does This Spell The End Of My Wanderlusting?

A get well note for Bernie from his eldest daughter Makenzie.

After visiting the hospital today to see Becky and my brother, Aidan and I headed to Simcoe to visit my parents. We figured it would do all of us good to have a normal family dinner. And it did.

Over dinner we chatted about the obvious; that being my brother and the accident. We also chatted about Christmas and what that would entail. You see, Aidan and I had planned to fly to Europe for three weeks over Christmas and New Years. However, given the current situation with my brother, it seems like a far better idea to stick around and spend time with the family.

But don’t worry folks; this isn’t the end of my wanderlusting ways. Far from it. During our drives back and forth from the hospital, Aidan and I have been chatting about what our plans could be. Clearly we both know that being home for Christmas is the only option. But we also know that travel is still in our very near future. In fact, after our conversation today I think we’ve figured out where were going to go and when we are going to go there. So, without further ado let me present to you the

New & Improved

Dan & Aidan Fun Time Christmas Travel Adventure

2011

Destination: New York City!

Say what? New York City? Again? Weren’t you just in the Big Apple?

Why yes, yes I was, thank you for noticing. But really, this is a no-brainer. Flights are inexpensive. Hotels are inexpensive (for NYC). The time of year is right. I love the city. And even more: Aidan has never been there. This is clearly something that I should have rectified long ago. Regardless, the plan is to hit the Big Apple one more time this year. On our list of things to do:

I’m sure there will be other items added to the list, but this is a good start for now. And as always, I shall keep you posted on my wanderlusting and my adventuring.



What I Learned Today

Thumbs up. Way up.

Aidan and I headed back to Hamilton General Hospital today to hang with Bernie and Becky, on this Bernie’s second full day of recovery. For those that might have missed the news, Bernie was sent there yesterday following a rather nasty car accident that involved another driver t-boning him as he was driving home from work.

Anyway, apart from the wires that attach to the machines that go bing, and the other various tubes feeding Bernie a wonderful concoction of pain killers and antibiotics, he looks good.

Seriously.

Yes, he has some bruising on his shoulder (nasty bruising at that), and on his arms. And yes, there are some screws and such that are being used to put his pelvis back where it belongs – in sexy town – and not north of it. And yes, he’s wearing a god awful hideous polka-dotted hospital gown. But he looks good. Especially good for having just been smashed by a car. How many people can say that?

Anyway, today I learned that beyond his shattered pelvis, his punctured/collapsed lung, his broken collar-bone, and his fractured skull, he also has a number of broken ribs. Specifically – 1 through 5 in the front, and 7 through 10 in the back. That’s right folks, of the 12 sets of ribs in the human body (assuming the information I found on the all-knowing all-powerful Google is correct – because I’m no rib-expert unless they are covered in BBQ sauce), he’s broken 9 of them (or 75% for you fellow math nerds out there).

I also learned (or re-learned) that he is one tough bastard. Not because he was hit by a car and managed to survive, but because he’s doing so and still managing to smile and crack jokes between the obvious pain that he must be in. That is incredible to me. Abso-freaking-lutely incredible.

Beyond all of this, I also learned that my brother knows sign-language. I had no idea that he had this in his back pocket. In fact, I discovered through sign that he learned it in the same place I did; at Robarts in London. Of course, we don’t remember enough to have a fluid conversation but we can sign the alphabet which is more than enough to communicate. And in true Bernie form, he took the opportunity to crack jokes through sign. Clearly, even though the next few days/weeks/months will be difficult, I also know that he’s going to be fine. I mean, he was smashed by a car and he’s managing to use sign-language to communicate – something he learned in grade 4 and hasn’t used in I have no idea how many years. That’s beyond amazing; it’s a double order of amazing, sprinkled with incredible, and covered with awesome sauce.

Anyway, I’d like to thank everyone who has sent words of encouragement. I’ve passed along the comments you’ve left on the blog/facebook/twitter to Bernie. He lit up at the mention of your names; so please keep sending your comments. I’ll keep passing them along. If you have any pictures/e-cards/etc. that you want to pass along you can also send them to consumedbywanderlust [dot] wordpress [at] gmail [dot] com.

As usual, I shall keep you updated as he continues his recovery.