29 March 2012

40 hours in Alaska

Yesterday coming down from Hatchers Pass in Alaska I was trying to contemplate everything I had been through in the last 40 hours. Within two days of skiing in the back country I felt I had gained a lifetime of experience. In a land where moose are the official state pest and the balance of daylight through the seasons are on either extreme, only the toughest survive. Luckily, I'm with some people who are tough enough, mixed with a little bit of crazy enough to make this trip possible.

Before making the decision to embark on this adventure, I herd "Spring skiing with snowmobiles in Alaska." Sounds fun right? Yes, it is. But what I didn't contemplate is how hard it would also be, and we haven't even got to the harder stuff yet.

We got into Alaska at midnight, so starting on the 0 hour of March 27th it was official. We woke up 6 hours later to load up a truck and head out on our way. In our truck sat three people, Dan, Phil, and me with two snowmobiles in the back. We left Anchorage to meet up with one more person, Justin, in another truck with two more snowmobiles. Then then off to Hatchers Pass.

Spring has only just started, so we are on an even balance of light from 7 to 7. By the time we got to the hill it was 11. The first day was very low visibility. I thought I had experienced this. I've been skiing at Baker in white outs no problem, but this was different. It's not that we were in the clouds, they were high above us blocking our sun. What that did was make the ground we were traveling across look two-dimensional. It was white. Nothing else. You could be staring at a cliff, a flat, or a big hill. There was no way to tell. This year Alaska has received more snow than has been recorded in a long time. That means the majority of rocks are covered, and in these conditions that is the only way to distinguish dept of any sort. So what, we weren't going to let no-visibility stop us!

We made two runs that day. The skiing part of the day was so much fun, and we made it to some really high peaks and had a nice time coming down. It was the snowmobiles on the way from point A, to point B, to point C, and back to point A that gave us all the trouble.

From point A to point B wasn't two much of a problem, other then two machines getting buried and having to lifting them out. I thought sledding around would be the easy part, but unless you have the practice and the strength to control them, getting up a hill can be really difficult. Once you do become professional enough to control them, you can do something called High-Marking. That's were you drive it up a hill as high as you can, and when you can go no further you turn it around and come down. Having finally parked our machines at point B, Dan decided to try and High Mark a hill above us. On doing so he got to the top, didn't make the turn and fell off to leave the snowmobile jetting down the hill. It was like a game of bowling. First it missed our crew who had to run out of the way, then barley missed his own ski's, and continued on down the hill at three other guys who had to ride out from where they were parked. With harm to non we laughed aloud at how ridiculous it all was and continued on with our day.

After skiing we left point B for point C. This turned out to be another difficult trail trying to get our sleds to our destination. Yet again they got buried, and more pulling ensued. But the end was in sight and I followed the tracks to the spot. Justin arrived next, then Dan, and Phil was almost there when all of a sudden he disappeared. We got off our sleds and walked back the 30 feet were we see Phil sitting all alone with no machine. On arriving at the site, his sled was upside down over a four foot ledge that had been carved out by the wind on the relatively flat area. Inches from a rock sticking out of the ground, the snowmobile sat there in its perfectly sized hole waiting for us to come flip it over and dig a ramp to drive it out. All went as planned and we soon had all the machines parked side by side. Happy to all be alive, we skied up the hill for yet another fun run.

At this point the day is starting to get late and we needed to be back at our cars by 5. So back on the machines, the goal is to go back to point C to point A. Little did I know I would find point X and delay our journey by and hour or two. Like I said earlier, you need to be strong enough to drive these things well. Easiest way to do it is head straight up a hill and not be at an angle. If your don't your machine will head back down the hill and you just have to try again. Sadly, I tried to make the first hill and didn't make it. I saw Dan a little ways ahead of me and decided to try his route. I didn't even come close to making it and started heading downward. Now, like i said earlier, you cant see the ground, its like staring at a piece of paper in front off your face. So not knowing what was ahead of me I stop and waited for a rescue. Dan being the knight in shinning armour, follows me down and decides to lead me further to hopefully find a spot to climb back up. The farther we got I start to realize I'm in the center of a canyon, and the trail is just getting narrower and steeper. Two different points in time I had to go down a large chutes, these obviously being the waterfalls of the river we were riding down. To say the least, I was not prepared for this. As scary as it was for me, i decided to make it as fun as possible. We made it down to the bottom finally to then get stuck in Burch bushes. This is where I had to forfeit the driving and leave it up to Dan to get out.

At this point, the other guys are wondering where we are, Justin being smart found my tracks and took a different route to meet us at the bottom along with Phil. This may have been the biggest rescue of the day. Having finally climbed out of the ravine, I see the other snowmobiles, but did not see the guys. I walk down the trail to find all the guys trying to get the sled out of a creek. It had hit the end of the line and now needed to be spun around and driven out the other way. After much work and soggy boots for all the guys, we got the last two machines out of the canyon and were finally on our way home, no detours this time.

Day one complete, and it had only been 20 hours.

On driving back to Hatchers Pass the next day weather was looking to be the same as the day before. The official report had called for clouds all day, so after much pleading on my part to the Sky and Mountain Gods to please give us some damn visibility I was grateful to see the clouds start to thin out and for the first time definition could be seen on the hills around us. By the time we had all three sleds ready to go, we started to see blue in the sky. At the Gold Mines with our ski's on our feet and our way up the mountain, the clouds dissipated completely. It was looking like the amazing fucking day we were hoping for.

Finally being able to see, we arrived at the top off the peak and could view the beautiful landscape. When your that far away in the wilderness, there is nothing more awe inspiring. That moment was what I had come for. Having taken it in, we had a great run back down the hill and back to the sleds. Phil had scoped out a spot across the valley on another hill. Dan and I were going to stay on the same hill and let Phil go on his way, however he got stuck on a hillside and his snowmobile rolled down the hill and got stuck. Forgetting he had left the parking brake on, Dan hopped on his machine and jetted on over to go help him out. It was another noble rescue, but by the time he arrived at Phil his brakes had seized and the pull start would now fail. Seeing this from the other side of the valley, I rode over to join them.

We were now three people and only two working machines. It still being a gorgeous out made us decide to keep skiing. While Dan worked on his machine, Phil and I tried riding up the hill. It looked simple enough, I decided to go for it figuring if I just gun it I'll make it to the top. I was moving as fast as it could go and was half way up the hill when my machine decided to go off track. No problem, not yet, I pushed down on the throttle full speed, only fifteen more feet to go. Then ten more before I would be over the top, but my snowmobile decided to go sideways and stop on its side just over a rock cliff. Its like in silly suspense movies when the vehicle is teetering over the cliff and stops in the last second! Except this isn't a movie and luckily my sled wasn't teetering.

I climbed out of the way and again waited for my rescue. Got the machine upright and watched Dan ride it down the cliff. Dan towed Phil and I to a spot we could both get one last ski run in and finished up our day. We got ourselves and the sleds all to one spot. Started the tie up with all the ski gear on my sled, and Dan towing Phil on the broken sled. We got out of the valley and onto the last track that would take us back to the cars. We just had to make it up a half a mile long hill.

Try one failed. We berried the tow sled three times while using man power to push the broken one just to try and make it up the first 30 feet. With this technique failing us and three extremely tired humans standing around panting, we had to think of a new plan. With no more tow-rope we couldn't strap two sleds to the one. So we found a short rope and tied the back of my sled to the tow sled which was tied to either ski of the broken sled. With our train in place, the only option was to gun it as fast as we could go the rest of the way up the hill without slowing down. With only two hours of daylight ahead of us, and no other option, as scared as I was to be doing this I didn't really have a choice in the matter. With Dan in front, me in the middle, and Phil steering the last sled, we started the countdown with all of us standing next to our sleds like a good old fashioned bobsled team. Three, Two, One, gun it, running, jump on the sleds and off we went. We didn't slow down, we didn't look back, just flinging snow and engine noise echoing off the mountains as we tore up to the top of the hill.

I couldn't believe it, we neared the top and was over the ledge. We hadn't flipped, we didn't get buried, we didn't go off track, we made it. We put on the brakes and waited for Phil's snow machine to bumper-car into mine before it dragged us down the hill.

Now, it was downhill the rest of the way to the car, and really steep downhill at that. The breaks were fully gone, so we really weren't sure how this would turn out. We untied the first snowmobile and let me take off first down the hill with all the gear. I went as fast as I could not wanting them to catch up and possibly running me down. I cleared out hitchhikers along the way and occasionally looked back to see them slowly catching up. After a couple steep hills, some crazy turns, and crossing a road to get back to the parking lot, we all had made it. We found some old prankster men to help lift the machine onto the trailer and away we were.

40 hours and all of this.

Today is our day off. We still have another three days and we'll be getting to the bigger stuff then. Damn it feels good to be a gangsta.

22 March 2012

08 March 2012

A Part of Life

Sometimes there are people in your community that build empires. They work hard to bring together people in a positive way to do what they all love most. For a large population of people in Vancouver B.C. that would be the music scene. Whenever you take away a part of it, you start to feel like the world is crumbling.

I would like to give my love out to Tom, aka TJ Hooker, for being one of those people who helped so many individuals by creating unforgettable memories through the events they brought to the city. And I hope that just because he is gone, that people don't loose sight in continuing to support the people who continue to make these events happen.

I understand it is natural for people to morn the loss of someone they are close to and love. But when I was younger and lost a close friend I also learned that you should celebrate their life. Remember that one day we will all die, but that is why you should live life to its fullest. And when people are lost along the way, be happy that you shared the good parts with them and love how great they were with the time they were given. Love them rather then spending your time wishing you could change what has already been done.

At least, when I die, I hope people remember how much fun we had and find some way to celebrate my life.

Thank you Tom, I can't explain how many time you blew my mind. Some of my greatest memories are from a number of your shows, and its hard to imagine that anything will live up to them. After what I've seen, I'll never be the same. I've spent my last three birthdays dancing in circles around the people I love most, and this month I'm am coming back for my fourth and final birthday during your show. It will be different without you, and this marks a huge chapter in everyone's lives. I'll make sure to dance extra hard for you.

06 March 2012

Other People's Articles


A short note. Anyone who is 30 and younger sees the world much differently then the generations above them. I spend a lot of time discussing with people who are watching the state of affair of our planet, and we as a global society have reached a point where things can not function the way they have been. People generally hate change because they can't think of how to do it, or they are scared of possibly failing if they try.

We are built on a consumerist society that rewards the corporations by giving them free reign and unsupervised control. I have spent time around both parties, and when talking to people in the 1% they seem to be clouded in their own delusions. I could go on, but I could not say it better then in the above article. What the rich don't seem to get, is that their continual profit comes at the expense of other people. If you think that we live in an ideal society, watch the video below.

In Ideas of the Great Philosophers by William and Mabel Sahakian, Communism is defined as :

Contrary to a widespread assumption, Communism is essentially a philosophy advocating the "common ownership of the means of production," or, from another point of view, the "abolition of private property." No individual person (or limited group of persons) may monopolize property, except for minor personal belongings, because property belongs to the people as a whole. Whenever property can be privately owned, "exploitation of the many by the few" results.

Until a few days ago I was completely ignorant to the true idea behind Communism because I fell for the white-washed propaganda told to me in our educational system. Yet now I understand why government told us to fear it.

I am not trying to attack people with wealth. But in my thinking I believe that more people could live better lives if wealth was distributed properly. Monopolies allow only the top dog to profit, everyone else becomes a slave to that system. The largest companies are now so large their is no longer any competition, because the ability to compete is almost impossible. Most of us are waiting around for the fat-cats to wave their magic wand so that we might catch some of the sprinkles trailing from behind it.

There is a documentary that just came out. It's called Thrive. It is absolutely phenomenal. If you are a little unsure why our society is the way it is, this video is a great overview. It talks about free energy, the banking system, and offers solutions of ways we can act in order to start changing to a better future. It is possible. People just have to be willing to try.