How a pandemic brought me back home

How a pandemic brought me back home

Cómo una pandemia me trajo de regreso a casa

Sometimes life takes us in directions we’d never anticipated. Eight months ago I thought I’d be travelling through South America right now. My plan was to visit all the Spanish-speaking countries on the continent. But that was not to be. All of a sudden, a now infamous virus appeared, completely changing my plans. That’s how I found myself back in Canada, surrounded by beautiful mountains and one of the most celebrated mountain biking trails in the world.

A veces la vida nos lleva a lugares que no esperábamos. Hace ocho meses pensaba que ahora mismo estaría en Sudamérica. Tenía la intención de viajar a todos los países de habla hispana del continente. Sin embargo, de repente llegó un virus, ahora muy conocido, que cambió por completo mis planes. Así que, me encontré en Canadá, rodeado de hermosas montañas y uno de los senderos de ciclismo más célebres del planeta.

– There’s nothing more beautiful than a smooth trail snaking through fall colours
– No hay nada mejor que andar en bicicleta en un hermoso día de otoño

The Seven Summits trail is a rite of passage for any cyclist who wants to challenge themselves. Nearly 40 km long and with a massive climbs, this trail passes by seven distinct summits along a chain of mountains overlooking the charming town of Rossland, BC. Its hairpin turns and smooth surface are too much to resist.

Las Siete Cimas es un rito de paso para quien quiere desafiarse a sí mismo. Casi cuarenta kilómetros de longitud y con una subida monumental este sendero pasa por siete picos distintos a lo largo de una cadena de montañas situadas en el sur de Columbia Británica. Sus curvas estimulantes y superficie suave son demasiado tentadoras para resistirse.

– It’s best not to fall while riding this trail
– Mejor no caerse aquí

I first set out to cycle the trail in September with my good friend Charles. The forest fires of summer were just being put out and there was still quite a bit of smoke in the air. Even with that smoke lingering, the increasingly impressive views surprised me as I climbed up toward the ridge. The peaks lying ahead are pretty intimidating.

Subí el sendero por primera vez en septiembre con mi buen amigo Carlos. Se acababan de extinguir los incendios forestales y todavía había bastante humo en el aire. Sin embargo, a medida que subía a la cresta me iban sorprendiendo las vistas. Las cimas por delante eran bastante intimidantes.

– After a big climb, I still have a long way to go
– Después de una subida larga, todavía me falta mucho por recorrer

Running, Charles passed me quickly as I climbed uphill with much effort. However, as soon as I reached the high point for the day, I kicked it into high gear and flew down the trail at a terrifying speed.

Corriendo, Carlos me pasó rápidamente mientras yo subía con mucho esfuerzo. No obstante, tan pronto como llegué al punto más alto del sendero, bajé volando con una velocidad aterradora.

Flying down the trail
– Flying down the trail
– Volando por el sendero

Having only one car, we decided that finishing the whole trail and then having to go all the way back to the upper trailhead – double the distance – would be too much. So, after 20 km we left the trail and descended down a super rough forestry road with tons of loose rocks. What a terrible choice!

Por tener sólo un automóvil, decidimos que terminar el sendero entero y luego volver al punto de partida – el doble de la distancia – sería demasiado. Así que, después de veinte kilómetros dejamos el sendero y bajamos por un camino forestal muy irregular con muchísimas rocas sueltas. ¡Qué desastre!

– Smiling or suffering?
– ¿Sonriendo o llorando?

The next month, I returned to give it another shot. This time my goal was to complete the entire trail.

Al mes siguiente, volví a montar la bicicleta por este sendero. Esta vez quise terminar el recorrido completo.

– More vivid fall colours
– Aún más colores tan vivos de otoño

It was fantastic! I loved every sweeping curve and every tough climb (yes, there are seven, as the name of the trail indicates). The vivid fall colors made the experience even more fun.

¡Fue fantástico! Me gustaron todas las curvas cerradas y todas las subidas (sí, son siete, como el nombre del sendero indica). Los colores vívidos del otoño hicieron la experiencia aún más divertida.

– My bike takes a break while I go for a little side-hike
– Un pequeño descanso para disfrutar de la vista

Before the final descent, I stopped to contemplate the views. In the valley far below and nearly a century ago, my great grandfather and his family once had a modest homestead, trying to make a life for themselves in this new country. While I had plans to travel through unknown lands on the other side of the world, a pandemic brought me back home.

Antes de la última bajada me detuve para contemplar la vista. Allí abajo, en el valle, vivían mi bisabuelo y su familia hace casi un siglo. Mientras yo tenía planes de viajar por tierras desconocidas al otro lado del mundo, una pandemia me trajo de regreso a casa.

Looking down into the valley where great-grandpa once had a homestead
– Mirando hacia el valle donde el bisabuelo tenía una granja

Returning to Sri Lanka

Returning to Sri Lanka

I love visiting new countries but sometimes it’s nice to return to a place you’ve been before, especially when you have good friends there. Rob and Jolanda have been coming to Sri Lanka nearly every year since they first met (and even longer for Rob). It’s like a second home for them. Rob says it’s his happy place. The surf and the weather are just perfect and there are so many friendly familiar faces.
Continue reading “Returning to Sri Lanka”

2019 in 12 Photos

As I look back over photos from the past 12 months, my year looks a little inside-out. I spent the winter in nice warm New Zealand walking the 1200-km long Te Araroa. It was a great year for long-distance hiking. In the spring I returned to Canada to hike the Great Divide Trail – which looked a lot more like winter even though it was summer! I spent the second half of the year travelling around the world – my first ever circumnavigation of the earth. Cycling in the Netherlands, exploring the ever mysterious North Korea, celebrating China’s 70th anniversary in Beijing, learning yoga in Sri Lanka, scuba diving with sharks in the Maldives, and eating everything possible in Singapore.

January – Hiking length of New Zealand’s South Island on the Te Araroa trail
February – New Zealand’s always changing landscapes continue to amaze
March - After two and a half months of walking across New Zealand, we reach the sea and the end of the trail!
March – After two and a half months of walking across New Zealand, we reach the sea and the end of the trail!
April - It's always good to come back home and see loved ones again
April – It’s always good to come back home and see loved ones again
May - I begin walking the Great Divide Trail and it's much too early in the season
May – I begin walking the Great Divide Trail and it’s much too early in the season
June - It feels like winter on the GDT. I spend most of the month snowshoeing rather than hiking.
June – It feels like winter on the GDT. I spend most of the month snowshoeing rather than hiking.
July - Even with the arrival of summer, it still feels like winter in the Canadian Rockies.
July – Even with the arrival of summer, it still feels like winter in the Canadian Rockies.
August - I make it to the end of the GDT! As a treat, I catch a helicopter ride out with my new friend, Colin.
August – I make it to the end of the GDT! As a treat, I catch a helicopter ride out with my new friend, Colin.
September – I discover that the Netherlands is a fantastic place for a cycling trip.
October - Back to North Korea for my second visit. It's still full of mystery.
October – Back to North Korea for my second visit. It’s still full of mystery.
November - Three weeks in Sri Lanka learning yoga helps me stretch out those tight hiking muscles.
November – Three weeks in Sri Lanka learning yoga helps me stretch out those tight hiking muscles.
December - Up early to catch sunrise during a week of fantastic scuba diving in the Maldives.
December – Up early to catch sunrise during a week of fantastic scuba diving in the Maldives.

I certainly haven’t tired of travel and adventure yet. I’m looking forward to making more great memories in 2020.

23 Hours in Dubai

23 Hours in Dubai

What do you do when you have a 23-hour layover in Dubai? Maybe grab a bite to eat?

Dubai is often called “Las Vegas of the Middle East”, only bigger and better. That’s pretty accurate, I’d say. It’s big and flashy with opulent “7-star” hotels, massive water fountain displays, and exorbitant man-made islands. It’s also much less seedy than America’s Sin City. Continue reading “23 Hours in Dubai”