Planning an adventure for Canada

Musings: I’ve booked and paid for a flight from Melbourne to Vancouver in June. Now its time to drum up some adventure .  This will require  a bit of forethought. I’m just rambling through the thoughts running through my mind at a higher level.

Stuart, it is a good idea to:

    1. Determine the activity you are interested in.
    2. Evaluate the area to which you wish to adventure.
    3. Examine your capabilities and requirements to match the adventure.
    4. Determine if other parties need to be involved and their willingness to participate and capabilities.
    5. Assess alternatives and failure strategies.

This list is small but extensive. Each subject can be quite elaborate. In later posts I’ll expand on the investigations and outcomes.

1. Determine the activity you are interested in.

The activity and area of adventure are interdependent. There may be a mixture of activities you wish to do. For instance shortly I am heading off to Canada.  The various adventure pursuits I enjoy that are relevant are: packrafting, sea kayaking, walking, mountain biking and cycling, and even kiteboarding.  Out of those packrafting and trail mountain biking  are of most interest.

The greater the number of activities the more work there is to do !

2. Evaluate the area to which you wish to adventure.

For my trip to Canada: Canada is a big place and I have a month. I’m going to Mt Robson for a packrafting meetup.  To avoid wasting precious time I will restrict myself to that region and possibly another. Every time you relocate you can bank on losing 1-2 days.

Appeal: Jasper, Banff, Lake Louise, can definitely play around this region. A second place is the Yukon; years ago I visited Skagway and have thought it would be good to do the Chilkoot trail. Well that is it: I’ll split my time between Jasper and the Yukon region near Whitehorse.

Both of these areas well and truly cover my action pursuits, except kiteboarding. I could go kiteboarding near Vancouver, but why go there if I get great kiteboarding in Australia ? Ok it might be good in Vancouver but I have to go out of my way.

3. Examine your capabilities and requirements to match the adventure.

Packrafting. Am I ready for big time high volume water ? – I do not know. I’ve only been on the rivers here in Australia. I am not sure about my packraft either, it is not a wildwater specific one. I went on an intermediate course late last year on the Mersey River, Tasmania and that was OK, but it’s not big, glacial fed rivers with snow melt.  I’ll have to get plenty of practice between now and then.

I’ve had to purchase a drysuit as it gets pretty cold even in summer I’ve been told. Luckily the secondhand market came up trumps and saved me over a grand in cost. Insulation between me and the drysuit is the next consideration.

Mountain Biking. I had a great time doing the Munda Biddi trail in Western Australia with my Giant Anthem 29er using mountain bike specific pannier racks by Thule. I would love to take that bike over, but need to research travelling with it. Things like packing boxes, plane, train are all considerations and impediments. Having your own bike is fantastic, but is it better to hire or buy a 2nd hand one and disposing later ? If it is simply a fire trail and means to get in and out of the river the latter might be an option but then I do have rely on getting something quickly and cheaply in good nick, that fits me  and I’d still need the racks. I do not intend to do full on mountain bike trails, and would probably hire a bike specifically for that purpose.

The back pack. The packs I have are for bush walking. The requirements for packrafting  are quite different. With all the gear there is a lot of bulk and very few packs on the market can take the volume and deal with the wet gear this issue also exists when I go kiteboarding).  I am not happy with any of the larger packs , nor strapping on extra items. Ideally everything should go in a single pack.

I do not want to spend a fortune buying an ending up with a ‘dead albatross ‘ of yet more unused, unsaleable equipment cluttering the garage. Might be forced down the make your own path, hopefully not.

Fitness. Not long to go, a tad over 2 months. My fitness has been set bag with travel fatigue from a recent trip to Tanzania and a bug caught on the way bag on the plane. I’ve been checked out by the medics, “come back when you are sick” – I like that. Motivation is now the key, and a plan to get to the level that meets my adventures !

Money. Must budget carefully, there are quite a few adventure companies out there that plague the Google search results. The prices are are above and beyond what I wish to pay.  Very tricky to get to those blogs and stories that don’t have  a commercial interest. I’ll find them, eventually.  Anyway, I wish to travel comfortably, often but not at a rate that will give me one week instead of 10 or more

Insurance.  I have to check carefully on this one. Rafting, mountain bike riding and bush walking. Am I covered properly, is there a cost associated with search and rescue? We get it free here in Australia, but what about Canada ?

4. Determine if other parties need to be involved and their willingness to participate and capabilities.

It’s always easier to travel on your own, but there are benefits to travelling with a companion.  I found that when travelling with others it is vital to clear the air quickly on niggles before they become a big issue. It’s also important to have a clear understanding of expenses and expectations in terms of organisation and commitments. It is a good idea to set up a spreadsheet using Google Sheets that is shared amongst each other and open discussion.

If it gets to the stage where the solution is to split then make it an amicable process – why destroy your or your companion’s holiday ? You should be mindful that a commitment is just that, leaving someone with a bill to pay on accommodation without paying a share or worse on an unknown or dangerous track is inconsiderate and potentially life threatening. When it comes to accommodation or other booked items all parties should pay up front – again the spreadsheet is useful to keep a tally for adhoc shared expenses. In all it’s useful to choose well with the travel companions and have that out / commitment clause should the need arise.

5. Assess alternatives and failure strategies.

There is a lot at play here. I have to consider:

    • Rafting
      What rivers are suitable for solo travel.
      Where do I get water level detail from ?
      Weather forecasts.
      So, if a river is unsuitable what other options are there – maybe a mountain bike ride or walk.
    • Bike
      Travelling with a bike on the plane is a nuisance, but having one’s own bike is great. In Europe I can easily hire a touring bike with panniers etc, but it is not so easy in Canada. The alternative is not to cart the bike and hire for the day use when I need, but I’ll miss out on extended tours. Maybe buy a second-hand clunker and just bring my racks & panniers. I’ll have to see. 
    • Animals
      Those bears, they are scary beasts. Moose also can cause issue. Where am I likely to meet with them and what precautions should I take. What safety gear do I need ? This is a psychological and real issue for me: in Australia we have snakes – not scared of those, the northern continent of America has bears – I’m working on it.
    • Trains, planes, ferries: I’m running out of time, none have as yet been booked. Unfortunately it’s peak season so I’ll need to make a move soon. Trouble is most don’t have that flexibility to move and it will cost money. Once locked in that’s it the alternatives will have to be in the locale chosen or it will cost. Of course I could hire a car, but this trip I want to as far as possible use the bike and public transport – and where I’m going that choice of car hire may not be available.
    • Medical.
      I’ll need to get emergency numbers and determine that  insurance adequately covers me. 

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