Monday, February 28, 2022

Hiking Videos

At some point in the distant past I posted about the hiking videos I watch.  My watching has expanded considerably since then, so I thought I'd give you an update.

My evening caregivers usually arrive by 8.30, so I'm into bed by 9 -  but I don't usually nod off until 11, in time to get my 8 hours.  So I've got an hour and a half or more to keep occupied while lying flat on my back and I've got into the habit of watching hiking videos on my phone.  That works better for me than trying to read.

Camp among the pines

I've never hiked a huge long distance trail like these backpackers; most of my memorable trips were canoeing trips.  So I'm going to illustrate this post, which would otherwise have no pictures, with pix from a canoe trip in 2010 on the French River in northern Ontario, going east from Hwy. 69.


I believe the last time I wrote about this I referred you to Abbie Barnes, in the UK.  She's posted a lot of videos of trails in England.  All of the people I mention below can be found simply by searching under YouTube,  I'll refer to them by their UTube handle to make it easy to search for them.

Time for morning coffee!

So over the past few months I have followed five long-distance hikers, three on the Appalachian Trail (AT) and two on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).  Here they are:

Kelly Hays Hikes - Kelly has just finished posting the videos of her AT hike, generally one/per day for 183 videos.   That can keep me watching for a long time!  Kelly is planning to hike the PCT this year, starting soon.

MeanderingMeganB also just posted her final video, though both of these young women finished their actual AT hikes back in October.  Megan took 231 days to finish.

Taylor the Nahamsha Hiker was considerably faster, starting earlier and finishing last May in only 121 days.  She kept up posting videos daily as she hiked, unlike Kelly and Megan who finished off posting videos after they got home.  She's from New Hampshire - get it?

Yep, that's me, day pack open in front of me and big pack waiting for the next portage.

Becca Little Skittle posted 33 videos covering her hike of the PCT in 2019, often covering several days hiking in one video.  Because she posted those videos in 2019 I didn't have to wait for any videos to appear.  She is proposing to hike the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) this year.  The AT, PCT and CDT make up the 'Triple Crown' of long distance hiking in the USA.

Mary Mansfield, a UK hiker who flew to the States to hike the PCT in 2019 has posted 190 videos documenting that hike.  I'm still watching those and hoping she'll finish before it gets too cold (she finished in October 2019), but of course I know she will, since the videos are all up there already for me to watch whenever I like.  I like her style, so those are a favourite of mine, and she's still posting walking videos back in the UK.

Time to portage

I'm now moving on to choose a new group of hikers to follow during 2022.  Hikers start on the AT as early as January, though the bulk start in March or April.  Since a hiker who goes by 'Dixie' posted her videos on her UTube channel 'Homemade Wanderlust' several years ago, posting videos has apparently become the thing to do.  So I have well over a dozen hikers to choose from and it's still only February.  It still gets pretty cold in the mountains of western Georgia in late February!  A Texas group were amazed at the sight of icicles!

A little whitewater

There are several things I look for in choosing a hiker to follow.  I do like to follow 2 or 3 hikers for the whole trail rather than sampling 10 or 20 for little bits of the trail.  I first look for varied camera views, some selfie style, featuring the hiker talking to the camera. some views of the trail ahead as you hike,  and the valleys below, and some close-ups of interesting things like bugs, frogs  fungi and plants.

I also look for good audio quality (which requires a good wind-dampening microphone), and some info about where along the trail the video was taken (videos are often posted a week or two late once hikers get to a town where they can find wifi).  The best might actually have a map or elevation diagram - there's a lot of up and down on the trail.  And I guess I look for a friendly enthusiastic attitude.

A consultation - after lunch?

So based on that, here's a list of hikers I'm currently sampling to pick a few I'll probably follow this year.

Em's Outdoors is posted by a Canadian hiker, short videos but good style.

KNA Outdoors is an older mom with a quiet style, but she's well on her way already.

Crunch hikes is a young couple who are hiking together and sound enthusiastic.

The Gallivanting Hikers are an older couple hiking the trail together.

Travelling with Tonya is a single woman who is hiking with her small dog.

Trekking along is a family of 3 girls and their mom, posting a video once a week.

Hiking with Nat is a mom and daughter hiking together.


And that's probably enough for now.  I'll be following Kelly Hays on the PCT and Becca Little Skittle on the CDT as well.  And there's one other UK hiker I'd like to mention.  Athena Mellor lived in the Peak district and actually wrote a guidebook for hiking there, then moved up close to the Lake District.  She and her partner have recently had a baby, Aife, but they're determined to keep up the hiking.  Their style and content has changed a little, but excellent photography and commentary.  I really enjoy Athena's videos.

That's all for now!

Saturday, February 26, 2022

The Shed Roof Weather Report

I'm pleased to bring you my first (and hopefully only) shed roof weather report, based on the two shed rooftops that sit in my immediate line of vision out the window.  You can tell how desperate I am for a blog post topic!  It at least illustrates how changeable the weather here in Grey County is in February!

There are two sheds shown in all the pairs of photos below, the first is our own, and the second is our neighbour's, though it's in the back corner of their lot, so it's right outside our window.  Note also that 'our own shed, the greener one, has a 45° roofline, which provides a bunch of storage space up under the roof, but creates a different angle for the sun hitting the shed roof.  

Both sheds are oriented differently as well.  The roof on our own is close to a right-angle from the mid-day winter sun, but the neighbour's is at a low angle, and only in late afternoon,  Although both shed doors are facing southeast, the rooftop on our shed also faces southeast while that on our neighbour's faces southwest.  Figure all that out if you can!

Starting on Feb. 12th, we certainly had winter weather here, as you can see.  And it was quite windy that day, the direction of the wind showing up in the pattern on the neighbour's shed roof.

By 5 o'clock the sun had melted most of the snow on our shed roof, but not on our neighbour's.  The light-coloured icicles on the left of our shed were lit up in the late afternoon sun.

You can't say much about the weather on the morning of Valentine's Day, just snow on both rooftops.

But by 5 o'clock that afternoon the sun had conquered our roof, and melted the edges around our neighbour's.  The different angle of the sheds and their rooftops made the difference.  The sun was shining nicely that day.

A few days later we had an almost snow-free rooftop day, just a little on the neighbor's.  There was certainly lots of snow on the ground still though!

But a few days later winter was back - that's what it's been like this February.

The difference that afternoon was striking, showing the difference in the angle of the two sheds to the sun.  On the neighbour's shed it wasn't warm enough to melt the snow, but it was warm enough to form icicles.  And how do you suppose those icicles develop a curve as they grow?  Is the prevailing wind enough to do that?

And I refuse to comment further on our shed rooftops yesterday, after our most recent dump of snow!  They were both supposed to be bare by now!

Looking ahead at the long term 14 day forecast is at least a little encouraging.  While the coming week features temperatures only as high as freezing during the day, and down to -16°C at night, temperatures the following week drop only to -6° at night and stay at or close to freezing during the day.  However, sunshine can moderate those forecasts, as we all know.  Daytime sunshine can easily push temperatures above those forecast, while melting snow on driveways, rooftops and roads.  Here's hoping.  Certainly the norm in early March here would be an increase in sunny days.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

William, 1977 - 2015

As you'll know if you've read this blog for long, William, our oldest son passed away in 2015 while flying over a wildfire near Cold Lake in Northern Alberta.  He was doing what he loved, flying a water bomber and fighting forest fires.  The investigation found that a 'fire tornado', a rare side-effect of forest fires, downed the plane.

This is one of my favourite photos of him, taken by a girlfriend at the time, Sandra Muench.  I like his smile.

It took Will 14 years of flying to gain the skills to become a water bomber pilot with Conair, Canada's largest aerial fire-fighting company.  From northern Ontario to the North-west Territories, to the west coast, with a few other places like Fiji thrown in for good measure, Will had an exciting and challenging career mostly flying float planes.  He died doing what he loved, and we're so proud of him.

I find myself thinking about Will more as the years go by, mainly thinking how lucky he was to have successfully followed his dream and achieved his goal.  I think few people receive that gift.  And our memories are entirely positive now, blessed to have have had him for the too-short 38 years he lived.

The official memorial service was in Hinton Alberta, at the Hinton Training Centre.  The memorial is located out in the grounds of the centre, under some golden Aspen trees in a very peaceful setting.  It's one of my favourite memories of that year.

William's plaque.

Rest in peace Will.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Four Years Paralyzed

It was four years ago a few days back that I went into hospital for surgery to replace the upper loop of my aorta with a teflon aorta.  Ten years earlier I had suffered an 'aortic dissection', a tear in the inner lining of the aorta (that healed itself after a great deal of pain).  I was later told survival was usually about 5 years, so I was doing well. 

The aftereffect was the slow development of an aortic aneurysm, a large swelling of the aorta.  The danger was that this would rupture and I would be dead in seconds.  So the teflon aorta was by way of preventive surgery to keep me alive.  Since there was beginning to be a big risk I would die anyway, it seemed worth taking the risk of surgery.

As they say, this was a case where the surgery went well, but the patient (almost) died.

But I survived, and lay in the ICU bed for 10 weeks very slowly regaining consciousness.  I knew from the beginning that I would be paralyzed, but we didn't know what other side-effects there might be.  You can imagine how stressed Mrs. F.G. was during these weeks, not knowing if I would even survive, but she was always there, being my advocate, keeping me alive (she turned down two offers to 'let me go peacefully'). and always greeting me with her radiant smile.  That's what kept me going.

It's now been four years since those days, and I ask myself how far we've come, what's good and what's bad.  To be honest I don't think you would believe all that had happened four years ago if you saw us today.  We have learned to live with this monster, and are making the best of it.  Even in the middle of winter I'm ok, staying indoors, reading and writing.

I think on balance Mrs. F.G. is the one paying the price.  We've come to a point where things are stable, but there's no doubt that she has given her life to keep me going.  I can't say enough for the depth of her love.  

And I think I'm actually still improving, I certainly feel that I am.  The routines have become more familiar, and the caregiving more dependable.  I keep picking up little bits of responsibility, though they're so trivial it doesn't feel like much of a contribution.  I have steadily improved at physio, making a big leap upwards (literally) when I managed late last fall to pull myself up into a standing position without anyone lifting me.  

Here at home some furniture and room re-arranging means that Mrs. F.G. can get away from me, and I have an 'office' corner in the bedroom where I can sit in a sunny window every morning (if there's sun).  I'm sitting here now as i write this, and I've developed a range of things to be working on during the too-long winter months.

I think the biggest difference for me personally is that I've given up on riding the nearby roads full of 'alligator pavement' and found smooth routes downtown.  I'm now very comfortable riding downtown by myself during the summer months, often picking up a coffee and going down to sit by the harbour.  The library is an important destination for me too, and our coffee group continues to meet year-round when lockdowns allow.

So I guess I'd say that we're doing surprisingly well.  I've a couple of goals for the coming year but I'll tell you about those if they happen.  Cheers for now!

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Keefer Creek

Having told you in my last post that probably not many who drive Hwy. 26 know about Keefer Falls, or recognize Keefer Creek valley, or even the creek itself, I thought I'd better fill you in a bit you so any local readers will have no excuse in the future!  I've pulled a variety of photos from the past to put this together.

Although this is 3 years old, it could have been yesterday, the valley looks the same today.  We're looking west here, a few miles west of Woodford, and a short distance east of the airport.  For anyone driving the highway the valley is very obvious.

The same view in summer looks like this.

The tiny streams this high up in the watershed are most easily seen during spring runoff, when there's a bit of snow still on the ground.  This is one of three that drains under the highway coming from further up in the valley.

Then the stream continues on the north side of the highway on its way to Georgian Bay (eventually).  This stream joins with Keefer Creek itself just beyond this photo. 

Upstream of these tiny streams, above the slope of the valley we went exploring once and found Keefer Creek Farm.  This appears to be where the creek originates.

An air photo of the main spring where Keefer Creek originates in the front fields of Keefer Creek Farm.  (From google Maps).

Where it passes under the sideroad (Concession Rd. 5N) the stream is backed up a little and looks larger than it really is at this point.  Lots of flowers along the creekbank when we were there.

There is also a sinkhole that feeds into Keefer Creek, about a mile and a half west of this point.  However I've never got a good picture.  A local reader told me about it, and I've watched it as we drive by, but I don't know if anyone knows where the underground flow joins the main creek.  I'll keep trying to get a good picture.

Take a jump several miles in the other direction downstream and the creek is flowing like mad in the early spring, heading for Keefer Falls and the site of the old mill.
It comes to an abrupt drop and plunges over Keefer Falls, site of an old mill.  Note the icicles under the edge of the rock on the right - this was very early spring.

The bedrock it's dropping over here is not the Amabel Formation of the upper escarpment but the Manitoulin Formation, a lower geological layer.  It's composed of many thin layers of dolostone, as shown in this photo, and is the cause of many waterfalls along the Bruce Trail.

The foundations of the old mill can still be seen, right beside the falls.

And two of you got the answer to yesterday's mystery question, the strange white, pink, blue and green pattern with little bubbles in it.  It's the psychedelic pattern of soap sprayed on our car windows when we go through the car wash.  I have nothing to do but sit there and watch the windows!

As you can see Blogger didn't help me with this post.  It's stuck in the 'centre all text' mode.  Sorry about that, it's not my usual style.

Monday, February 14, 2022

The Drive to Physio

After several weeks of missing physiotherapy due to a nasty bug, it seemed like a new experience driving to Owen Sound this week.  So I got my phone out and tried to capture some winter images again, without being totally repetitious of photos I've taken in the past.  Hope you enjoy a few pf the same old thing!

We left Meaford and soon headed up the long hill that is the ancient glacial shoreline of Lake Algonquin.  All the apple orchards are behind us, down on the flat sandy deposits of the lake.

Before long we were passing my favourite falling apart barn (as if you could have a favourite of anything so decrepit).  I'm wondering how long it will be until it falls down.

Then it was around the curve and down to Woodford.  Woodford's an interesting place.  One of those small villages that once had a church, garage, and maybe a store, but now has none of these, and even has difficulty keeping the community centre open.  But it's also known as a place the weather changes.  Time and time again our caregivers driving from Owen Sound have said 'it was ok until I got to Woodford'.

Over the highest land and down into the valley of Keefer Creek.  Someone posted a winter picture of Keefer Falls recently and no-one knew where it was!  I bet you very few of the thousands who drive through this valley daily know it as Keefer Creek valley, or know of Keefer Creek Farm or of the Keefer Creek sinkhole to the west.

Then the airport that's been in the news a lot recently.  The city of Owen Sound, the former owner, put it up for sale, but thankfully for all the pilots who fly here, an owner came forward to buy it.  All of us are wondering if he will be able to maintain it.

Physio over, we're headed home now, and I managed to get a driving-by-picture of Boswell Creek.

And shortly it was back down into the valley of Keefer Creek again, this time from the opposite direction.  See how the weather has changed in an hour - now it's blue sky.

After that comes the salt dome, like many others scattered strategically across the province, where they store the 'pickled sand' for winter roads.

The first farm after Woodford, where the Aberdeen Angus get let out in the barnyard to enjoy the sun.

And do you recognize this?  Answer in the next post for those of you who can't remember!