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The M-Road – Sea To Sky

Sunday 15th of June 2014, A&W Revelstoke, Kootenay Rockies

Joffreys and other-5

So relieved I didn’t have to spend any more time here than I needed to. Don’t get me wrong, amazing city but all the concrete; nah…

On the last day in Vancouver, when I had all the necessities for camping for the next three weeks, I was doing the last minute supply run in the supermarket at 4th Av. and Vine street. Before I was about to head out of the city, towards the Rockies, I looked at my phone with a new text message on it. It was James, backpacker from UK, who asked me if I had any room in my car. I did, so I picked him up from downtown where I dropped Christian off, another traveller from Italy who had been driving all the way from San Diego who happened to need a ride to downtown.

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Ahh, that’s better…

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You might get shit for camping in the wild (aka not-camping grounds) in BC. Basically just another stupid way of saying “We want to keep you safe.”

The next morning me and James woke up from Alexander falls, just off the famous Whistler resort. A massive picturesque water falls tall as many of Vancouvers downtown buildings. We found an relatively easy camping spot on a ridge between the falls and the parking lot and spent two nights there while exploring the village, or more like a pile of hotels and holiday resorts, which was more or less the equivalent of a neighbouring resort back home, a nationally recognised circus for the cheeky and loud called Levi. Something really interesting actually happened in Whistler; I found a super cool hill to ride down with my skateboard, and as my own surprise, I felt immediately comfortable on my board, even though it has been seriously long time since I’ve ridden anything like that. Fast and intimidating open road hill with some tight corners. Skookum*!

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After the 5th or 6th bear sighting, you kind of get used to it. Better hope they are not as interested in us than we are of them…

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The majestic Alexander Falls. Three bear sightings inside of 1 km radius of our camp spot the same day we arrived. They really like those streams and the fish in ‘em

On Monday, the 9th we headed up the valley towards Lilooet. After driving up for quite a while and skating my jeans full of new holes on an other downhill part we came up on a Provincial park of Joffrey lakes. Three glacier lakes stacked up between 1100 and 1600 vertical meters, every one of them overlooking a massive Merriet glacier. James cooked us a pasta dinner by the lower Joffrey lake and I went to find us a camping spot.

Joffreys and other

Quite ordinary view in the seemingly endless woods.

It’s weird how similar these forests are to the forests of Northern Finland and that said, it was pretty much following your instinct while scouting a camping ground. As I was walking on the marked path that led to the upper lakes as I noticed a ridge leading off the path, slightly uphill and deep in to the woods. The ridge was covered with incredibly soft moss and after about 5 min walk up the ridge, there was as I would call it a perfect spot to lay down. After a night in the magical woods of Joffrey, we had our oat meal breakfast with dark roast espresso from Italy, which gave us strength to do what we had planned last night while eating dinner; climb up for 5 km to the upper lake, right below the glacier. This is what we found:

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Another magic like view of the Matier Glacier

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First time I had to tune the colours DOWN in after processing since it didn’t make any sense how vibrant the water came out

Once we reached the lowland desert towards Kamloops, it was already long in to the night and we decided to stay in a Motel for one night, charging our batteries and washing clothes. Kamloops didn’t really offer much so we kept going the next day, driving via smaller roads little by little closing in on Revelstoke.Before reaching Revelstoke, we found a nice secluded and chilly lake called Mara lake. We found our ways above the lake on the steep hills and had a scary moment after we set our camp at what seemed to be a nice meadow at the end of an old random logging road. If anyone decides to camp “illegally” out in the wild here, please remember to be sure you are not setting your campsite on a flat sunny spot that is planted full on one of the most famous crops on the area, a world famous species carrying the prefix “BC”… The realisation of what we had come upon led us to a super quick repacking and change of a camp spot. Sorry about that to who ever had their hands dirty on that soil.

More or less so far it has been an unrealistic drive through the Western Rockies, but not to worry, this is only a quarter of our trip, next chapter; Revelstoke, natural and super secret hot springs and more bears as we head down to the Kootenay Rockies.

-M.
*: “Skookum” – “Awesome” in Canadian

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The M-Road – Finding the Connection

Monday 26.5.2014, Tofino, Vancouver Island
The overwhelming feeing of freedom rushed in me while I was standing across the street of famous Ice Cream bar of Whiskey Creek in the middle of Vancouver Island. I had already had at least 5 rides with the people from the island, everyone as surprised to hear I come from Finland as the previous. If you are ready to get lost and if you are not afraid of surprises there is no other way of getting an easy first hand experience of adventure than lifting your thumb up and letting the road take you where it’s bound to. I’ve said this too many times. Ask for a ride, receive one, respect the act of helping and know that it will take you where it will. This is what I love about hitch hiking, unpredictability.

JuanDeFuca

Sometimes when you take a picture, it won’t resemble the reality. But still, you might get a beautiful shot from a perspective that no one would be able to see otherwise. Below my camera there was 15 meters of air and a stream flowing through razor sharp rocks.

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There were moments where you really had to stop and look around, recall what you have eaten lately, make sure they were not hallucinogens and admire the unyielding nature.

This time it took me to a small hippie/fishing/surf village literally at the end of the road on the west coast of the island. An old school logging expert took me with him from Whiskey Creek for the drive down towards Tofino and we had quite interesting verbal pingpong about the environmental questions that Canada as well as Finland is facing at the moment. Turns out that the people who took down the huge first growth forests are all not that bad folks after all. And turns out that Finland and Canada have much more things in common than only sick passion for ice-hockey.

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Sometimes we would find a path leading to the rocks revealed by the low tide.

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Coffee break by one of the countless creeks we had to cross

After 6 hours on the road I got dropped of to a very nice and small guest house by polish scuba diver who was still angry to Santa Claus for not responding to his letters when he was a kid. I told him that I would have a word or two with the Man when I meet him the next time. He told me I could borrow his surfboard. On top of that he gave me couple of good tips how not to sleep outside if you want to avoid waking up with a bear licking your face.

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With mud all the way to you knees there is no end to the joy of seeing these wood paved paths

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There is more black bears in these forests than there is hikers. To make it easy for the people on the trails they’ve put up “Bear Boxes” to hide you food in for the night. Handy!

Before I started hitch hiking, I was hanging out in Victoria, getting shown around by a beautiful french canadian Shaya and recovering from the three day hike we did on the South-West coast called Juan De Fuca Marine Trail. The same day I arrived to Vancouver my friend Josh, who I met in New Zealand few ears back, told me they’re about to do this hike with his friend Thomas. The day after Josh invited to go with them, couldn’t turn down a opportunity like that even though I promised myself to take it easy at first because of the 10 hour time difference.

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If I believed in magic, I’d say this part of the world is filled with it

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Maybe I will be back here some day, I sure hope so

Beautiful and rugged 20 km piece of coast line which with all of its features offered 47 kilometres of muddy and sweaty hiking. Not to mention some of the coolest camping areas, cliffs, beaches, creeks and mind-blowing forrest teaming with life. This area was clear cut by the _____ more or less 30 years ago. So all the 40 meter tall trees and endless unaccessible patches of Salal-bushes have conquered these areas in less than a lifetime. The trail offered some excitement too, although we were waiting to see black bear, at one point I actually found myself looking in the eyes of full grown cougar larger than most of the women I’ve met! After a split second of connecting with this animal, both of us found our instincts telling us to fear each other. The cat ran away and I grabbed the closest stick I could find. End of that story. We kept hiking, with sticks…

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Azores, São Miquel, Part III

Last day of the trip arrived and we were willing to take the most out of it. Alarm was set to ring 4.30. To our discomfort,  it fortunately did. With the power of muesli, fruits and mint tee we got up and faster than expected finding ourselves driving towards the north coast. Once more the beach of Santa Iria was waiting for us.

I  would not call myself a natural early morning person, but if there is something to wake up for, then it’s easy. I’m filled with gratefulness to have a hobby that makes me get up at times I might otherwise be going to bed at. Quite amazing to witness the first light, to notice the moment when end of the night is nigh. To observe the arrival of a new day when pitch black scenery begins to fill with the most gentle light. A new and completely unique day filled with new opportunities, the day when you have the most experience of being you. It’s now and it’s only today.

At this specific spot it made a difference weather you leave on time or not. Once the high tide was there, the path was flooded and waves were mashing the stones.  Need to head back grew stronger as the departure time approached. We were walking carefully, a steady stop after another and waiting for the perfect timing. Actually Lucas was the one going first, waiting for the set break. So calm, so careful. He took his time and eventually managed to keep his shoes dry.  For the disadvantage of rest of the cavalcade, we stood knee deep taking the splashes of the set waves on our feet due to the prudent road blockage. The picture below was taken twenty something kilo backpack in my back, a surfboard in my other hand while standing in knee deep water. And still my camera store guy is laughing at me for being careless and sloppy with my gear when I go and buy a new lens cover. Namely, because the previous joined all the other plastic trash found in the ocean.

That was it and it was amazing. A remarkable and unforgettable adventure filled with intensive moments. Epic sceneries under carefree circumstances. Being there made an impression on and brought more motivation, how many more of these places is there? How many more adventures can I live trough? How many more stories is there to be told?

Plenty, I hope
Antton

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Above the skies

Hi all, took few flights last week and it was pretty beautiful weather! Enjoy your weekend !

Cheers,
Perttu

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Azores, São Miquel, Part II

Alright it has been a while since the part I, so in my humble opinion it would fair enough to proceed to the part number two. It all started back in february when we travelled to one of the Islands of Azores, São Miguel. The main focus of the trip was rolling around on surfing, looking for places to surf and recovering from all the surfing done. It ended up being surprisingly good way of pulling out some accidental sightseeing. During those ten days we explored the majority of the coast, as well as the inner parts during the days when the swell was not on. Here is a good example how Marian and Lucas are being attracted towards the setting sun by the waves of rolling in. The first picture of this set is followed by few more reasons for the light feet.

Normally the weather is an easy and a safe topic to keep at least some sort of a conversation alive and kicking. In Azores weather is a definite conversational cornucopia since all the season might occur during a single day. We also got to experience a fair share of sudden rain showers, 60kph gusts of wind and marvelous moments of receiving warming beams from a distance of 150 million kilometers.

After one of the joyful morning session we made an extravagant lunch, as usually. After a feast of Finnish pasta there is no fighting the urge of getting horizontal when all the blood retreats from the end parts towards the intestinal system. I remember the feeling of laying on the balcony with a full stomach in the temperature of +25°C. A moment when all you need to work for is your tan. One of the important lessons in life from Tuomo. Luxury lasted until the peaceful and harmonic moment was interrupted by a threatening armada of dark clouds approaching our location. About 1 minute and 20 seconds later it started to rain a bit, which turned into a lot, eventually the sheet metal roof was pounded by hailstones.

Then it’s time to take a glance of few pictures taken during the extensive drive arounds. It was a joy to drive around and see the variety of sceneries offered. It sure was pretty different from everything else that I have seen.

Until the next one,
Antton

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The M-Road – Better than yesterday, not as good as tomorrow

Been a long time since I’ve written anything, or at least it feels like it, a lot has happened. But finally I had a thought that set my fingers on the keyboard again; I found a word for the weird feeling I always get when I fly: guilt. I cannot help to think how much they really burn fuel while hearing the sound of roaring engines accelerating a two hundred ton plane to speeds up to 900km/h. Let alone the amount of commercial flights made every day! By the way its around 28000 per day. Daunting.

Leevi shows a more sustainable way of flying

Leevi showing a more sustainable way of flying in Madrid

I spent 5 days in Madrid, hanging out and rolling around with Leevi and some other random people. Went to see couple of really good documentaries on a film festival held in Legazpi. We ate really well, enjoyed the Madridian street culture as well as parks and bars plus of course had very interesting discussions about almost everything. I found a lot of good hills through internet to skate, just an hour bus trip away. Couldn’t do them now, I got my back jammed up quite bad, once again. Next time…

Espinho Market

Half an hour away from Porto is Espinho, a nice small town on the beach with cool surf culture. Every Monday, a big outdoor market is put up by the locals where you can by anything from live chicken to flip-flops

After Madrid, I took a night bus to Porto on 4th and arrived on Monday the 5th. Met Anttu around 6-7am at his place, he hadn’t slept at all and just came from a portuguese Vappu party called Keimas. Same morning we woke up and went surfing straight away after breakfast. I took Lucas’ 7’2’’ which worked really well. You can imagine it felt absolutely heaven like to be back in the water, specially since it has been almost 2 years since I’ve done it the last time. The session itself went very well, I got washed the first try, and three or four after that were really good, long runs! Such a relieve to get it started this way. The same evening we started tracking the best places for good surf for the following week.

Anton having the "like-a-kid giggling-while-running"-moment at a secret (read. cannot remember the name) spot

Anton having the “like-a-kid giggling-while-running”-moment at a secret (read. cannot remember the name) spot

Turned out that Galicia in NW spain seemed the best place since more swell would hit it from NW and less wind than Porto area. The coastline had more variables as well than the straight N to S beaches of Portugal. Tuesday 6th of May after morning and evening session at Espinho, we headed to the airport to pick up a rental car. We were supposed to get the car at 9pm and be on the way to Spain at 10pm, but once again nothing went as planned. After playing with credit cards and insurances we finally got the car. We were in La Lanzada, a nice south facing beach around 2am, put up tents straight away and went to sleep, eager to see how the conditions would be when the sun rose.

Rio Sieira

Rio Siera, probably one of the most beautiful places I’ve come by in Europe

Niki and Mark making sure there is no waves to be missed before we drive off to next spot

Niki and Mark making sure there is no waves to be missed before we drive off to next spot

For our surprise we had picked up the most crowded place, near a big parking lot to put up our tents. No problemo, we packed up and got changed really quick and got in to the water. Which was super clean and turquoise like in Hawaii or Australia. Really nothing like I would’ve imagined of anywhere in Europe. Session was really fun and superb start for a road trip. We had another session that evening close to LaLz and drove one more hour north towards Santiago de Castellano for the next camping/surfing spot. There were me, Tonino (Antton), Niki (Nicholas), Mark from France and Marion from Germany, who unfortunately had to bail after 2 nights, too bad.

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Linnacooking

Pretty ghost like spot it was, thinking of all the shit thats gone through before and since the place was abandoned in the first century. Like an add-on to the spookiness, there was a mysterious light shining from the fortress when we were walking away from it…

We camped for 4 nights on the beaches and surfed for 5 days. Spots like La Lanzada, Rio Siera aka Furnas, Praia do Louro and some hidden small clean beach near La Lanzada. Lucas, whom I just met the earlier day, had to leave back to Germany for some family issues and he was crazy generous to let me borrow his well used 6’2’’ fish for the road trip. Maybe it was better that he didn’t know me better, I’m not that good with material possessions. This time there was no problems, no dings, no accidents so it was all good! This board choice for this swell and these beaches were perfect and I scored some of the best waves I’ve got since Hawaii, maybe even since I started surfing in Brazil! Thanks brother, it would’ve been a struggle with any other board!

Tonino loosening up the mood to a level of "tropical-digestion"

Tonino loosening up the mood to a level of “tropical-digestion”

Boardit

The ladies

Leiripäivä

This cove played as a huge amphitheatre for the orchestra of waves. Sometimes a huge set would brake somewhere far out in the night and the echo of the roar would fill up the place. After a minute or two, the sound of water and sand meeting would creep up the beach, suddenly waking me up to a thought “IT’S COMING IN!!”

The road trip was a huge success with the best people. We got back to Porto late on Saturday evening. Sunday was more or less a layday, and monday surf was ON again. Surfed three days in a row, 2-3 times a day and at the best 6-7 hours a day, what more can you ask for? Porto and the whole trip up and down the coastline had really positive vibe altogether and was almost without any unnecessary kuumotuksia, if you don’t take account the sketchy dealers in Espinho monday-market.

Porto sprucing up

Porto sprucing up

Somehow after the surf trip we couldn't manage to drop the Trangia. So we went out and cooked in the park.

Somehow after the surf trip we couldn’t manage to drop the Trangia. So we went out and cooked in the park.

On thursday 15th of May I packed up my bags, went to get olives, bananas and a one last Pastel de nata before I headed down to Oporto for my flight to Helsinki via London Gatwick. I ended up losing my board bag during the connection in London, but got to Helsinki and hey, at least I didn’t have to drag a huge 20kg trolley behind me from place to place. I struggled to get my bag back but it finally arrived at the airport on the last day of my stay in Helsinki, HUGE relieve! Helsinki days were really cool as well, it was the first well above +20 decrees days. I spent some time with Janne and Anna, went to see Maria in Kannelmäki, had a very nice coffee once again with Heidi at Caffi, took apart to an old military friend Hannu at his house warming party, met random familiar faces on the streets, skated, played hacky sack and Gubbe with Helsinki’s downhill maniacs Krissu and Janne.

I'm still not sure what's the name of this game, nor how the rules go

I’m still not sure what’s the name of this game, nor how the rules go

Emily was training to do mini-ramp skating with us. She was a lot better than me...

Emily was training to do mini-ramp skating with us. She was a lot better than me…That’s my last two weeks in a nutshell. There has been so many memorable people and moments, back ache, dislocated shoulders, blood on the face, sticks in fingers, hungry mornings, sand in everyones buttcrack, a lot of pasta, girls, guys, cats and dogs, thirsty surfsesssions, laughs and shouting, beer and wine, metros, trains, thoughts and ideas. Nevertheless, it has been even more fun as I can ever make it sound. Thanks to all who have been any part of it, you’ve made it as it has been!

Now I’m sitting in a plane named after Icelands volcano Krafla, on the way to Vancouver. This 7 hour flight with amazing views over the never ending glaciers of Greenland is a good rest for my mind over the trivial everyday thoughts. Lately I’ve ended up spending most of the time around university and college students, and this has given me a good chance to find out how institutionalised and academic people construct their thoughts of the same issues I tend to ponder. Main subjects have been environmental issues, global warming, happiness and misery, humanitarian issues, and some never ending wondering of evolution. Really good and teaching talks have gone past, I’ve learned a lot and hopefully so has someone else too! (And sorry to the one guy in Teekkarisauna, I think I was too rough criticising your direction in life and job at Neste Oil Company, didn’t mean to mindfuck you and your believes.)

I booked a dorm bed from a hostel in Vancouver, I think it has been about 2 years since I stayed in a Hostel with Anttu and Jani in Lisbon, should be fun! We’ll see what happens and what kind of person I get to provoke next
So long!

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