Local Motion - New Brunswick

Welcome to Local Motion where we celebrate hiking, biking, rock climbing, paddling, skiing, and exploring in Southern New Brunswick.

December 30, 2010

Katahdin: A Mountain of Fun

The week before Christmas I went on a climbing trip to Katahdin in Baxter State Park, Maine. The photos and stories I'd seen of Katahdin didn't prepare me for this beautiful mountain of the East. So I doubt this post will spoil your trip.

Looking over Chimney Pond at Baxter Peak and Knife Edge Ridge in the South Basin.

Lucas, Cory and I arrived at the trail head at noon packed out sleds and started the lengthy approach. We thought we'd be hiking well into the dark, but parking in the wrong place meant that we'd cut hours off our hike to Roaring Brook. We stayed at the Roaring Brook cabin the first night and in the morning loading our packs to ginormous volumes and staggered up to Chimney Pond where we would stay for 3 nights at another cabin. I've winter camped many times and have to say that cabins are the best thing ever. The woodstove kept us warm and we had dry gloves and boots each morning! It was great having Rangers up there with us at Chimney Pond. They were super helpful with route information and it was a comforting feeling have someone keeping track of you when you're 25 kilometers from your car.
Roaring Brook Bunkhouse.

Alpine starts on our way to the Cilley-Barber Route. It's in the background.
We climbed two routes, each about 2000', Grade IV, with lots of mellow ice and a hard pitch ice. We lucked out, the snow on the mountain was perfect styrofoam. I got to use my first snow picket and we did lots of simulclimbing. The first day on the Cilley-Barber Route I was pretty nervous on the steep snow slopes. This was all new to me. Luckily, Cory has his stuff dialed in the mountains and Lucas rock solid on all kinds of terrain. It all came together for me on the final pitch.
Cory leading the crux pitch of the Cilley-Barber - featuring giant jaws of ice.
 I had the lead and after placing our only snow picket, I ran it out for who know how long, before I slung some rock. I sweated up a section of snow on verglas slung another boulder then I staggered to the summit. I stepped through a notch and into the beaming sun. I sat down on a boulder grinning like a I'd just won the lottery and belayed the other two up. I've haven't felt this good in a long time. This is how people get hooked on mountains. Cory and Lucas, hit the ridge and we stood mesmerized by the red hot sun.
Lucas and Cory
Pamola Peak beaming with light.
Descending in the sun.
Hiking over the high plateau in the alpenglow, glissading down the steep trail, and stroling up to the cabin in the dark capped the day off like a nice drink of whiskey.

Pre-dawn approach for the Waterfall Gully.
We were feeling a bit rough around the edges on the second climbing day but we rose to the beeping alarm at 4:00 am, ate bacon, and repeated our approach from the day before. Today our objective was Waterfall Gully. Another 2000 footer with some WI4 ice. By the time we reached the snow field, the sun was lighting the sky and we turned off our headlamps. This climb was similar to the previous one but less intimidating - the crux pitch was near the bottom. But awfully wet. Cory lead it with composure and escaped through a narrow notch at the top.
Lucas leading the first pitch of Waterfall Gully.
Seconding the crux pitch.
 With the hard climbing below us we hurried for the summit still 1500' away. Lucas lead us for hundreds of feet over ice bulges and crisp snow. I lead us into a boulder cave, and while Lucas and I dug out snacks. Cory quickly tied in and kept our momentum going to the summit ridge.

Traversing the Knife Edge Ridge. Dark clouds frame Baxter Peak in the distance.
Wind screamed over top. All day clouds had been thickening into pudding around the base of the mountain. The wind wipped white lines over distant ridges. We didn't kill any time in the hostile environment. The three of us tied in to a short section of rope and traversed 2 kilometers of knife edge ridge to the Pamola Peak, then descended on aching knees and ankles.
Descending from Pamola Peak, looking at the huge granite face of the North Basin
At the edge of the alpine zone we wandered around looking for a trail marker, falling in tree-dens and sinking to our waists in snow. The blue trail marker appeared in front of us and we rushed downwards, glissading and slipping back to the cabin in the dusk light. Supper never tasted so good. We were in bed real early.

Time to put the skis away. Gravel on the km to the car.
In the morning, snow swirled and we walked in silence to Roaring Brook. We loaded our sleds and put on skis. It felt so good to slide along. We covered alot ground, even when the snow got thin and the snow turned to rain. Bare spots zipped under our skis, we dodged pebbles but were determined to keep sliding. With a kilometer remaining the snow finally disappeared. We took off our skis and dragged our sleds back to the car laughing that unknowingly parking in the wrong spot was saving us over an hour of hiking. We were back to the car shortly after lunch.

Katahdin is wild mountain in the winter. Sure its a long approach and you have to get permits  to climb -but don't let that deter you. If you're in the East and have a hankering for the mountains, Katahdin will give you a good fix. And its only a few hours from New Brunswick - adventure is close at hand.
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December 15, 2010

Cardboard Canadian on the Dirtbag Diaries

Joshua Tree National Park
I'm excited to let know that my short story Cardboard Canadian was just aired on the Dirtbag Diaries!

It's a surprising hitchhiking story from the dusty highways of the southwestern US. If you're Canadian it should make you smile.

A few months ago I submitted the story to the Dirtbag Diaries and they wanted me to record it. So I spent many hours this fall sitting in a padded closet reading aloud into a microphone...Finally its over and they aired it last week on their website.

You can stream it here:

(You can also download the episodes for free in iTunes.)

The Dirtbag Diaries is high quality online radio program featuring stories from climbers, paddlers, cyclists, and others exploring the outdoors. It's well done and very often thought provoking. I download the episodes into my iTunes then listen to them when I'm puttering around the house or making breakfast.

December 3, 2010

Rural Cycling Toolkit: Lessons Learned from Corn Hill

Cyclists on the first ride of the Festival
It's that time of year; the ground is muddy, the roads are icy and yet you've got to start thinking about planning your bicycle event for next summer.

So you want to promote cycling in our rural community. You’ve got a long list of reasons why you think its important but chances are you’ve got an even longer list of questions…What about liability? What about Registration? Websites? Where do you start?? Aghhhh!!

Hopefully this will make it a bit easier for you.

Organizing the Corn Hill Bicycle Festival and creating the Cycling Map, was a huge learning experience for both Joanna and I. We’ve written everything down (well, not everything) in the Rural Cycling Toolkit: Lessons Learned from the First Corn Hill Bycycle Festival and Route Guide.

The toolkit describes how we managed the project, advertised, organized volunteers, scheduled the festival, created the route guide,  handled liability, and much more! You’ll find useful tips, planning techniques, and even press releases. We’re trying to lay it all out there for others who want to promote cycling through community events.

It is our hope that by sharing this information cycling festivals and  maps will spring up across the land. And that we’ll have more people riding their bike for fun, exercise, and transportation.

Make sure to check out the Bicycle Corn Hill website - where you can find the Rural cycling toolkit, cycling maps for the area, details on last summer's festival and directions to Corn Hill.
Riders on the afternoon tour of the Eastern Meadow
Cruising down the Burlock Road on a summer's evening
  graham waugh cycling cornhill bicycle festival new brunswick cycling joanna brown corn hill sussex biking cornhill nursery

December 2, 2010

Granite Bouldering near Saint John

Granite bouldering near Saint John, I could hardly believe it. But on Tuesday Cory took Nathan and I to see some newly found boulders west of Saint John. And there they were, salt and pepper granite boulders poked up behind spruce trees just steps from the road.

A scoured landscape - glaciers and forestry.
Fifteen minutes west of Saint John we had left the transcanada and drove north on logging roads into granite country. Under the forests of Southwestern New Brunswick is an expanse of  glacier-worn granite. The boulders in this area were most likely plucked off granite hills as glaciers moved south 10,000 years ago during the Wisconsonian ice age.

These boulders present me with a contradiction...they are in a big nasty clearcut.  But... if it wasn't for the clearcut they would have remained hidden. The thick woods make it very hard to see boulders. So, even though I hate to see it- we owe the boulders to this clearcut.

We drove along the logging roads staring out the windows for boulders, I felt like one of the hunters that you'd see slowly cruising the backroads in October, except we were hunting boulders instead of deer.  We checked out some new boulders, found a few good clusters, and a couple big ones that would probably offer a few decent problems.

On the south slope, with the full sun and no wind we were sweating as we hiked over the logging slash to get to the next boulder. It's hard to believe that  just a couple days ago I was ice climbing and shivering.

We finished the day by climbing a couple problems in an area where the boulders had already been cleaned up. Just a small taste of what could be a great new addition to the New Brunswick climbing scene.

Whether you're a climber or not, boulders are just plain neat. You don't see many big boulders in New Brunswick and these ones are really worth visiting. You can wander around looking for the next grey shape wondering how these elephants got here.
Cory working a problem
Nathan, Cory, and super dog Rayas

Snowy but warm
It would be hard to give directions to this place. Drop me a line at [grhmwgh at gmail dot com] if you're interesting in going and I'll do my best to direct you there.  

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