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Road Trip Week Three: The Rockies

May 20th, 2015
Robbie, Ciaran, Dian, Lara watching the sunset in Dinosaur Provincial Park

Robbie, Ciaran, Dian, Lara watching the sunset in Dinosaur Provincial Park

Wow! The few days that have passed since we last wrote have been intense! We arrived at Dinosaur Provincial Park on the evening of our last post.  The park appears suddenly and in stark contrast to the pleasant, but remarkably unspectacular surrounding pastureland. As we crested the low hill from which the first view into the park valley is revealed, the sun was close to setting; we had maybe an hour of light left. Sense told us to pitch camp and start cooking in daylight but our gut had us running out and climbing the tallest hill that we could find with a view to the west.

Ciaran and Lara coming down from the hill after sunset.

Ciaran and Lara coming down from the hill after sunset.

After two days of prairies and almost 20 hours driving it felt so good to be out of the car. We ran around jumping, shrieking and laughing as the sun lit the surrounding prehistoric clay and rock mounds in a golden orange. We stayed out long after the sun had set and the orange and reds had cooled to blue and purple before finally making our way down to pitch camp and cook in the dark, energized by what we had just experienced.

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Sam went out after the others had gone to sleep to take some photos of the stars above the moonlit landscape.

The next morning we watched sunrise from the eastern side of the same hill. The rest of the morning was spent packing. We do a lot of that. It’s also largely pointless. It seems that however much we try, within about half a day of us having packed all our gear and ourselves neatly into the van, it’s complete mayhem again. We know we have too much stuff and we should probably have bought a roof box or just been more ruthless in stripping down our gear to necessities but in some ways we’re growing to like the clutter. It’s slowly becoming a vaguely functional collection of clutter too. For instance, it’s now instinctive that the box packed to the right of the ukulele contains our oatmeal, two propane bottles, three tennis balls, the first aid kit and all of our spoons. We like to think that with more time we could have done a better job of organizing what to bring but with 25 exams between us we think it’s fair to say we did at least an alright job.

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We also packed bear spray, which seemed like a necessary investment after seeing seven bears just on the drive over.

In the afternoon we drove west across Alberta, skirting north of Calgary and entering Banff National Park. The day had turned grey and rain fell heavily as we drove up into the looming dark masses of the Rockies. Luckily the rain had stopped by the time we arrived and we spent the rest of the evening walking around the woods and small hills near our campground at Tunnel Mountain. We’ve come to really appreciate the fact that we’re visiting these places so far off-season. We’ve had the chance to explore with no crowds, empty trails and room to ourselves. Banff was the first place where we realised why this was possibly the case. Our naïve European sense for the seasons led us to think that by May, surely spring would have arrived and green, grassy summer meadows would be just around the corner. Silly Europeans.

A little less blue than we had hoped for.

A little less blue than we had hoped for.

Of course, in Canada and at altitude snow remains well into June and the summer. Unfortunately that meant that a lot of the more interesting, longer walks that would take us out of the valleys and onto the ridgelines were inaccessible to us. A shame, but no problem! We’ve shifted things up and are going to leave the Rockies a little earlier than planned. We’ll dot about a little bit between Jasper and Vancouver before taking a ferry over to Vancouver Island where we expect much milder weather and the opportunity for having some fun in the Pacific – see you there!

 

Dian and her Osprey Packs Sirrus 24 near Johnson Lake, Banff.

Dian and her Osprey Packs Sirrus 24 near Johnson Lake, Banff.

 

Road trip. Two months. Five European friends across Canada from Toronto to Vancouver and through the States from San Francisco back to Toronto via as many cool places in between as we can find. We’ve used cities as way-markers but our interest is in the land we’ll travel through between them. Along the way we’ll pass through more National Parks than you can shake a stick at. Camp stoves, beaches, forests, mountains, waterfalls, adventures and waking up in a tent somewhere new every morning.

Keep up with us throughout our journey via the weekly blogs posted here that we’ll be writing for Osprey Packs or follow us on Instagram:

SamLeakey

RobbieTravels

CiaranTragheim

Travel , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Four Days Out.

May 12th, 2015
Group at Kakabeka Falls lookout

Kakabeka Falls lookout

The empty spring fields of Manitoba and Saskatchewan are proving to be less-than entertaining so this one’s coming to you from the road. We’re four days out of Peterborough, Ontario and just about to cross the Alberta border.

Traveling long distances by car is something that you acclimatize to quickly, we’ve found. Who sits where is already well-established. The Town & Country has a “two, two, two” seat arrangement. Sam and Lara, our drivers, take turns in the two front seats. Ciaran and Dian are settled nicely in the middle. They are the car’s providers of snacks and drinks, having a cardboard box full of each under their seats. We removed one of the seats in the rear to make room for all of our gear and Robbie is tucked very cozily in the (little) remaining space back there.

Perhaps not unexpectedly for people that know us, we set off incredibly behind schedule on the first day and underestimated the time it would take to cover the 700km from Peterborough to Sault Ste. Marie. As a result, we arrived there at around 1:30am and checked into the first 24hr motel we saw.

Lara at Kakabeka Falls

Lara at Kakabeka Falls

Day two saw us start to get into the swing of things with a slightly earlier departure time of 10am, still leaving time for everyone to shower and have a leisurely breakfast in the morning. Within half an hour the first shrieks of European excitement were erupting in the car. We’d driven past a moose. Half an hour later, we saw the first bear; a young black bear, loping along the tree line that disappeared almost as soon as we’d seen it. Adrenaline levels definitely spiked.

We don’t have an adequate way of describing our reaction to Sam having to brake to avoid a second black bear as it crossed the highway in front of us but we lost it. Completely. The fact that situations like that even exist is so foreign to us, the idea that we’d ever experience one ourselves – well, we’ve not got our heads around that yet.

That’s something that has come up a lot actually. We’re actually doing this. We’ve bought a car, loaded it up and for the next two months are going to be driving it across North America. What? We haven’t even come close to getting used to this idea. For instance just earlier (after a 9am start and breakfast on the road – we’re getting better) we turned off the highway to have lunch. We drove along a gravel road for a while before finding a hill to eat our picnic on top of. We sat in the long, dry grass looking out over miles of rolling grassland. In the distance, the longest freight train any of us had ever seen was traveling slowly westwards. The sun was high in the sky, a light breeze cooled us and there was a moment when we had been sitting in silence and then all of a sudden we started smiling. Smiles quickly broke to laughter as we struggled to comprehend how this was happening to us.

Lunch in the prairies

Lunch in the prairies

We get the feeling that’s going to be happening a lot along the road. We just crossed into Alberta and are heading towards the badlands of Dinosaur Provincial Park where we’ll finally get a chance to leave the car behind and do some proper exploring on foot. We can’t wait; this has the makings of the trip of a lifetime.

 

 

Road trip. Two months. Five European friends across Canada from Toronto to Vancouver and through the States from San Francisco back to Toronto via as many cool places in between as we can find. We’ve used cities as way-markers but our interest is in the land we’ll travel through between them. Along the way we’ll pass through more National Parks than you can shake a stick at. Camp stoves, beaches, forests, mountains, waterfalls, adventures and waking up in a tent somewhere new every morning.

Keep up with us throughout our journey via the weekly blogs posted here that we’ll be writing for Osprey Packs or follow us on Instagram:

SamLeakey

RobbieTravels

CiaranTragheim

Travel , , , , , , , , ,

Road trip. Two months. Five friends.

May 5th, 2015

Road trip. Two months. Five European friends across Canada from Toronto to Vancouver and through the States from San Francisco back to Toronto via as many cool places in between as we can find. We’ve used cities as way-markers but our interest is in the land we’ll travel through between them. Along the way we’ll pass through more National Parks than you can shake a stick at. Camp stoves, beaches, forests, mountains, waterfalls, adventures and waking up in a tent somewhere new every morning.

Left to right: Sam, Ciaran, Robbie, Dian, Lara

Left to right: Sam, Ciaran, Robbie, Dian, Lara

Introductions. We are Ciaran, Dian, Lara, Robbie and Sam – we’ve spent the year on exchange at Trent University but now exams are finished, school’s out and summer’s nearly here; time for a change of scene. You’ll get to know us along the way but for now:

Ciaran, 20, from England studies history – his most recent big adventure was climbing Africa’s highest peak, Mt Kilimanjaro.

Dian, 21 from the Netherlands studies psychology and is our most seasoned road-tripper – having driven all over Europe in what’s possibly the world’s tiniest two door hatchback.

Lara, 20, from Germany studies environmental sciences, we’re all convinced that if she’d been growing up in the 60’s she would have made a great hippie.

Robbie, 21, from Scotland studies archaeology and spent his childhood scrambling up the Munros of northwest Scotland.

Sam, 21, from Scotland studies astrophysics and spent last summer hitchhiking and walking around Iceland. Very rarely spotted not carrying at least one camera.

It did all fit, eventually!

It did all fit, eventually!

Four of us met at the end of last August at an orientation camp organised by the university just south of Algonquin Provincial Park. We were driven there directly from the airport late at night, in darkness. We can still remember waking up early the next morning just after sunrise and walking outside to find that we’d been delivered to a log cabin built on the shore of a huge lake, steaming in the sun and surrounded on all sides by thick spruce forest. We’ve haven’t stopped smiling since! Dian joined us in January for the winter semester. I think it was only about three minutes before it felt like she was another old friend.

It took until the end of February or so for us to realise that time was actually passing very quickly. We had all spoken of summer travels, and ‘going out west’ but never in any more specific terms than those. We had to get a move on! For Lara and Sam, the next month or so was spent navigating the used-car market. Steep learning curve and lots of obstacles. In the end though, after exchanging their British and German drivers licenses for Ontario, hours of insurance policy hunting, blocked bankcards and actual fraud on one account, we were successful. Parked just outside is the 2002 Chrysler Town & Country minivan that is going to carry us across a continent and back again. We haven’t named her yet – we’re waiting for something to happen on the road to tell us what she’s called.

The cabin we stayed in at Magnificent Hill

The cabin we stayed in at Magnificent Hill

Our European sense of distances and idea of what a ‘long drive’ is often amuses our Canadian friends. We find it hard to believe that we can drive for two straight days and still not have left Ontario! Despite that, our idea is to drive straight out west to Alberta. Sorry Manitobans and Saskatchewanians but we heard your prairies just aren’t as interesting as what lies beyond! Once in Banff, we’ll travel north to Jasper and then southwest via Kamloops, Whistler and Squamish to Tofino on Vancouver Island.

First morning_1

The view we woke up to on our first morning in Canada at Camp Timberlane.

The next leg of the journey will take us south into the States, the plan at the moment being to head towards Yosemite. From Yosemite onwards our itinerary gets more and more vague but we expect to spend some more time on the Pacific coast, visit the giant trees of the redwood and sequoia forests in eastern California, the deserts of Death Valley, and well, beyond that, things really do become vague. In planning this trip it was important to us to stay as flexible as we could. Over the eight weeks we have only four dates where we are tied to being somewhere. For the rest of the time, if we wake up to beautiful sunshine and decide we really don’t want to leave where we are, we’ll stay! No schedules, no appointments; just our tents, backpacks, us, and the road.

Lara on fire road_1

Keep up with us throughout our journey via the weekly blogs posted here that we’ll be writing for Osprey Packs or follow us on Instagram:

SamLeakey

RobbieTravels

CiaranTragheim

Travel , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

New week, fresh tunes: #MusicMondays from Osprey Packs and Jam in the Van

April 28th, 2014

vanAnd the soul funk continues as we bring to you the second installment of our #MusicMondays series!

The Jam in the Van crew has made their way over to the world famous  New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, a momentous scene—this meeting of jazz and heritage—has stood for decades since as a stirring symbol of the authenticity of the celebration that was destined to become a cultural force. Stay up-to-date on their very latest exploits by following Jam in the Van on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or by subscribing to their YouTube channel.

 

 

 

We can definitely dig what they are laying out in New Orleans and look forward to seeing the Jam in the Van Jazzfest performances online soon! In the meantime, and without further ado, Osprey Packs and Jam in the Van bring to you a session from SXSW 2014 with American Aquarium, a band (like many of their musical heroes that paved the way before them) can wrap some of the ugliest feelings in the most spirited soundscape.

American Aquarium | Jam in the Van | Osprey Packs | #MusicMondays Read more…

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Osprey Packs Announces #MusicMondays provided by Jam in the Van!

April 21st, 2014

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Originating in 2011, Jam in the Van is a motorhome/HD mobile recording studio that travels across the country inviting bands and musicians to capture a 2-3 song live performance which we share exclusively on our website and YouTube channel, boasting more than 15k subscribers. Operating entirely via state-of-the-art solar panels, our intimate sessions and mobility make Jam in the Van one of the fastest growing music discovery series on the internet.

This summer Osprey Packs is teaming up with Jam in the Van, a crew dedicated to providing authentic, original recordings from incredible musicians at some of the most sought-after festivals in the nation.

At Osprey, our love for music is serious — so we are thrilled to have our packs accompany the passionate & committed Jam in the Van team as they combine great artists, live music, festivals and life on the road! While we wish we could be out on the road rocking out, we’re stoked to partner with the #JAMINTHEVAN team and we’ll be sharing fresh Jam in the Van recordings with you every Monday to get your week started off right! Read more…

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Sean Busby’s Peak Diaries: The Travel Queen Trailer

October 18th, 2012

Sometimes you just need to take a road trip… Snowboarder Sean Busby and his friends converted and gutted a 1977 Dodge Travel Queen motor home into a fully functional alternatively-fueled vehicle that utilizes vegetable fuel and solar power and hit the road. Driving 6,000+ miles from Utah to Alaska, the crew explored new territory—backcountry skiing, snowboarding, climbing and documenting the entire journey. The following trailer is a grip of the stories from their trip. Enjoy!

Peak Diaries: The Travel Queen (trailer) from PowderLines.Com on Vimeo.

Sean Busby is a professional snowboarder, living with type 1 diabetes. Learn more about Sean and his work educating kids about diabetes and winter sports on his website.

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Over The River and into The Desert ~ Cachi, Argentina

February 16th, 2011

Joshywashington crosses river wash outs with a coca-loving driver to frolic among gigantic cacti in Northern Argentina.

The driver is 62, red eyed and and in need of a shave.

The vehicle is a hopeful, dented and clumsy KIA that seems ill equipped for the road before us. Especially so as we approach the first of many washouts where a river spills over the road and in some cases carries it away.

The car idles as we wait for the truck in front of us to brave the washout.

Read more…

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rOctober

November 9th, 2010

Unlike most autumns, October in Montana remained sunny and warm. In many other years I have been climbing ice during October… Not this one. The autumn of 2010 will go down in my books as one of  warmest and sunniest I have ever had. I spent most days climbing near home but did take a one week trip to Utah. The plan was to climb five big routes between Red Rocks and Zion in six days. Like many climbing trips and plans this one was subject to weather, physical well-being and many other fates of  the universe.

It had been raining for one week in both areas prior to our arrival. The soft Navajo sandstone face holds are notorious for breaking after such saturating storms, and camming units slide out of cracks with much more ease (especially the smaller sizes). Fortunately we had a back up plan: the severely overhanging limestone routes at the Cathedral crag and its neighboring Wailing Wall. These sport crags lie just outside of St. George, Utah roughly half-way (by road) between Red Rocks and Zion and tend to stay dry due to its geographic location and the steep nature of the rock.

We departed Vegas and drove through the night planning to arrive around 10am.  The “old reliable” truck, Earl Grey, decided to stop operating in the midst of the New River Gorge on I-15 right around 10 pm. After being towed we got a new battery at a 24-hour Walmart and replaced the alternator the next day.

The following day we pulled up to the crag and soon realized we were outnumbered 10-1 by gun-toting folks in orange — it was opening weekend for Utah’s short five-day hunting season. I was personally missing out on Montana’s opening weekend, but lucky for me our season lasts nearly a month. We found a spot to throw down and camp and stayed there the following three days waiting for the rain to pass out of Zion.  In those three days we climbed many a dazzling steep lines (see photos) on some of the best limestone I have touched.

The skies finally cleared the evening of our second day, but we needed to wait at least 24 hours for the stone to dry in Zion. So we checked out the Black and Tan wall.  No where near as good as The Cathedral, but at least we were climbing.

And finally we made our way to Zion, and got right on the route Monkey Finger (5.12 8 pitches). The climbing was going smoothly though the rock was still a bit wet.  At the top of the 3rd pitch I put my body in an odd position and suddenly my whole shoulder sublexed (not quite popping out of socket but damn close). It had never happened to me prior to that incident, and I sure as hell didn’t want to become the guy with the chronic shoulder problems. The trip was over. I finished the pitch, then we rappelled.

Unfortunately this particular climbing trip did not quite go as planned. However I did get to pass many a good days with a great old friend. We plan to reunite in the future to carry through with our larger objectives.  In the mean time I am back here in Montana diversifying my outdoor life, riding the bike a lot more, hunting, running and just taking it easy on the shoulder and rehabbing until it gets better.

On this very fine day the sun is still shining with temps in the 60’s, I have an elk roast slowly steaming away in a crock pot, and I just finalized some plans to do a rock trip to Spain and Morocco this winter! Injuries do suck, but it forces me to tap in to other outlets and embrace some new creativity.

hast la proxima,

Sam

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