Welcome to my blog. I hike and camp in the mountains of British Columbia, Canada, and I am a professional musician.
Feel free to say hi and have a look around. There's lots of posts about my hikes and various movies from these adventures.
Thanks for coming by, Pete

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Ridgewalkerpete still stompin'

I just got back from a 6 day hike that took me through a variety of rugged mountain terrain up to a high long ridge above a cirque lake..........Sounds very much like all the others I guess. It is an exercise in route finding through gnarly,prickly patches of dense devils club,vine maple and alder which open up to steep ancient patches of Fir and cedar trees .Deer have been navigating these hills for centuries so I follow their trails although sometimes they will dip under huge logs or over steep gullies not suited to the humble biped.Last fall I got up to Swan lake but the snow line was low making the ridge slippery.On that trip I lost my toque along the way and had to wrap my head up with an extra sweater with a ' mother Hubbard' look. I was happy to find it the other day almost a year later among the twists and turns up a steep tree-covered slope awaiting my return.I quickly grabbed it as if some how if I turned away for a moment it would vanish.
After making camp at the high lake on my 51st birthday I marked a route up to the ridge for the next day.It is still a few km's to the peak and quite a trek to get back out so I took a rest day to pace myself properly.Drank lots water and tried to find a cool place to rest but still be covered up from the insects.Above the tree line it opens up to patches of heather and lichen covering the rocks.The mosquitoes,black flies,no-see-ums,deer flies and horse flies would present a constant 'distraction' if not for my cherished bug net.The other day I was napping along a high ridge sitting against a big rock when I woke to a clatter of rocks a few meters away as a deer scrambled off having almost walked right beside me.
It takes most of two days to get back. Down the steep Swan river canyon with several waterfalls and trees growing on impossibly steep moss-covered slopes down,down,down to where it empties into Silverhope creek to the Fraser river and Pacific ocean.I walked along the rocks and floodplains covered with dense willow shrubs and piles of huge trees felled in storms gone by. In the more stable areas there are huge old water-guzzling cottonwood trees concealing enormous cedar stumps from the first round of logging.
Night 6 found me sleeping comfortably in my tiny tent with the rain cover off in a stand of cedars with the constant roar of the creek [river] accented by the longing buzz of mosquitoes unable to bypass tent security. My friend Chris picked me up the next morning completing another safe round into the hills.The great thing about this is activity is that it forces you to really live in the moment.There is nothing more important than the next footstep because a poor choice can change everything.
Regarding Hiking:
Never trust a wet log.Step over,go around or crawl.

The wet rock owes you nothing and the creek welcomes you at all times.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Horned Owl Chicks

video

(1 minute 34 seconds)
Beneath an old fir tree over several weeks I was finding Grey Owl pellets the size of chicken eggs containing their jumbled mix of tiny mouse bones. Something was stirring up there as carcasses would drop to the ground. Various bits of mice, moles, headless rats, even a rabbit's head with a strange expression on it's face like it was thinking how surprising this attack was yet accepting it's fate.

Not far away I climbed up an old cedar stump and was surprised to find three Horned owl chicks so i filmed a bit and quietly left.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Frequently asked questions

Q#1 Where do you go ?
A: Trails that get me through some nice old forests and up to the alpine where there is water and the possibility to return by a different way via some peaks and ridges.

Q#2What do you pack for day trips and longer hikes ?
A: Being prepared can give you great comfort in a difficult situation.Rain gear,warm clothes,food,water,whistle,,flashlight with extra batteries and i have an emergency kit containing matches, compass,knife,first aid kit.Since I don't like insect repellent I bring a mosquito net that sits over my cap.A longer trip includes tent,sleeping bag,one change of clothes,stove with extra fuel and a sound plan for a safe return.

Q#3 What things are unsafe to bring ?
A: Things that have a strong scent can be attractive to bears and mice for that matter.Avoid spilling foods and seal them well.Another thing not to bring is an impatient attitude.It feels good to ease into the experience while getting alert and focused .

Q#4 What are the dangers and how do you prepare.
A: Hypothermia is the big concern as accidents happen when your core body temperature drops and your brain isn't functioning properly. Breaking a leg on day #2 of 10 is a good reason to focus on the trail while watching out for critters.In the wet coastal rain forest the dampness can really cool you off so warm drinks are great during a rest and lets not forget about keeping hydrated internally as we huff our way up.

Q#5 Animal sightings and encounters ?
A: There have been many.When you get yourself around some habitat and sit quietly eventually it all seems to unfold for you.On a few occasions a large animal has wondered by seemingly oblivious to my presence.During a' weather' day [rain and fog ] at a high camp I was sitting quietly on some thick moss by a small clearing when suddenly a bear wondered through with his snoot to the ground looking for food.It didn't seem to realize that I was there.In that situation there is a chance of startling it so it was a huge relief to hear it leave.......heading towards my camp....and good to know the food was tied high.The greatest feeling of danger occurred when I came upon a big bull moose with a cow high up in the rockies.It lifted it's giant head and I avoided eye contact while smoothly backing away and around the area.Oh yeah and the time the grizzly growled at me...that gets the heart pumping and is to be avoided!

Q#6 How long have you been doing this and do you run into other people in the back country ?
A: Over the past 40 years many of my trips get beyond the beaten path.Every now and then I'll run into fellow hikers but i tend to go on weekdays in whatever weather usually only seeing people near the trail head.

Q#7 Environmental changes ?
A: Here in British Columbia forestry is a huge issue with many complex angles.It is astonishing to fly or look on google earth at how much has been logged in the past couple of decades.In the past couple of years it has become an accepted practice to spray ROUND-UP [ defoliant ] on clear cuts to control the invasive plants .I was shocked to pass through one of these areas in the Rexford valley near Chilliwack lake where a sign said there would be a helicopter spraying.I could pass through but the American team that was climbing and camping on Mount Slesse above were unaware and unable to get out of the way.

The pine beetle has killed a huge area of trees but in the haste to rescue wood value and mitigate fire hazards many stands of other more valuable timber are getting scooped up in the process.Now that wood doesn't have to be processed in the local mills logs can be shipped down to huge mills on the coast where 30% are shipped away RAW !

The glaciers are melting presenting a host of water challenges.Fish farms are allowed drift net pens even though the science and experience of other countries shows detrimental environmental effects such as sea lice out-brakes that threaten wild fish.

You are welcome to add your questions to the comment box.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A SHORT HIKE ...the way up...

A SHORT HIKE IN THE COAST MOUNTAINS

With each step came the possibility of a huge rock slide but I could see that if I crossed it really gently there was a good path.The option of climbing back up the pass and going down the west side involved another steep grassy meadow and an even bigger rocks. This is one of those hiking moments when I calm myself down and carefully assess the situation.Focusing just on the next couple of steps and hand holds, watching and feeling for any sign of movement fills my concentration. On the far side I get a good look back feeling pleased and thankful.
Over five days I got way up and around the high lake enjoying every bit of the clear fall weather.Each morning at my high camp I would wake to the quiet cooing of a ruffed grouse mama leading her three chicks down to the lake and up the ridges where they would feed during the day.Flying insects will often congregate on peaks and high ridges during breeding season requiring a windy rest spot to keep out of the traffic.
After leaving the high lake I spotted the big black bear feeding in a meadow between the rock slides.There obviously was enough food for it to stay in the area so long.They can easily cover 50 miles in a day.. One night I woke up to hear it furiously digging up the rocks at a Pika nest [small mountain animal ] then it wondered off after leaving an organic souvenir .
All food must be cooked,eaten and tied up high , far from camp.Bears can be very aggressive toward food and scents but are reluctant to confront people unless they[the bear] are sick or injured.I always watch for bears and cougars particularly when I am cooking and eating.Lifting the mosquito net for each bite as I watch through the netting and listen for snapping twigs above the constant whine of mosquitoes,black flies,horse flies and no-see-ums [ but you sure feel ' ums !].
While filming the bear I carefully watches for any signs of it becoming agitated.When it turned toward me I shut off the camera and prepared to go.Later it was funny to see how the camera started shaking. All was well and I carried on out of the area.Mountain hikes bring you through distinct climate zones with their own flora and fauna.This pacific coast temperate rain forest contains incredible biodiversity and I feel gifted to able to explore it as I do.

Ridgewalker introduction

Ridgewalker is a series of 10 minute mountain hiking videos with original music filmed around southwest British Columbia