Sunday, March 27, 2011

It’s Blog Time–Prairie Mountain!

Well, this may have happened a few weeks ago, and I may not have blogged about it recently, but that doesn’t mean I can’t blog about it now. Muahahaha, here I go!

GPS data can be found here.

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I never even really knew that Prairie Mountain existed. I knew of Prairie Link Trail and Prairie Creek. But deep in Kananaskis, there is a mountain named after a Prairie. Very interesting.


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Yes, yes, that is me, sitting on the way up. I also may be holding a snowball. That snowball may have been lobbed at someone else.


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It’s nice living so close to the mountains because they are just so accessible. The weather may have been cloudy at first, but as you will see it got phenomenal towards the top.


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Lots of snow near the top, and clearing weather too.


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Yes, another picture of me sitting. But I will give a shout-out to my mukluks. ahem…. HEY!!!


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Trees covered in frost are just so pretty. Picture worthy Smile


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See, I know how to stand!


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We had some fun practicing our flying abilities. I love powdery snow. This is definitely something you cannot do in summer, lol!


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Post-flight. I still haven’t earned my wings, but trying has never been so much fun!


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The final trudge towards the summit. It was truly amazing because we came through the clouds to a sea below us.


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The sea of clouds only broken by the peaks of the Rockies. This is what it’s all about. Peaks such as Banded, Outlaw, Glasgow and Cornwall, along with Nihahi Ridge all became visible. The view truly inspires me to climb and continue to do so forever.


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The ridge along the summit trek. While it’s not the highest or most difficult summit, it’s views truly say that bigger isn’t always better. Don’t fall to the right. For some strange reason, we wanted to though…


Prairie Mountain 037 One of the views from the top. Moose Mountain to the north and Calgary would be to the east. Luckily, the clouds covered the city and you could see nothing but a sea of clouds to the east and mountains to the west. A winter paradise!


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Incredible views. A true gem. I had no idea that the views would be so spectacular.


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Banded (Toblerone), Outlaw and Glasgow/Cornwall (hidden behind). These mountains are visible from home and now I finally have identified them. I hope to summit them someday.


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Winter beauty. A sight like no other, and being the first people on the mountain pretty much guarantees serenity. This is why I love to climb.


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Another view from the summit. This would be looking northwest.


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View from the top. A good place to be with good friends!


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This is not the summit, but what we thought to be a frozen hibernating bear. A perfect opportunity to be a goof, something at which I excel.


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On the way back down, I tripped and fell. Good thing there was a camera ready.


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On the descent, we met a few people making their way to the top and I was reminded that we were lucky to be the first one’s up. As the clouds cleared, we could easily see (and hear) the Elbow River below us.


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And what better way to end a summit trip with some wildlife. We spotted 3 moose on the highway going home.


Prairie Mountain, the oxymoron name of a hill, was a truly surprising experience. We found some amazing views, had perfect conditions, and found out that sliding down a steep slope on your butt is extremely fun (we made it up to 14km/h) and well worth the steep upward slog! The trip took us just over 3 hours, but that included dawdling at the top with ever-so-necessary summit meal. I hope to do this summit again.



Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Bike Blog

So I run. I run lots. Running makes me happy. I also test products for running. That gets me free stuff. Stuff that I can sell so I can get stuff. I don’t like buying stuff or having lots of stuff unless I use it. So I changed stuff that I wouldn’t use too much to stuff that I plan to use a lot. Do you follow?

After a lot of product testing, I ended up getting a Garmin Oregon 550t. It is a handheld GPS with topo maps, camera, etc… It’s pretty cool. But honestly, I wouldn’t use it much as I don’t geocache and seldom go places where I don’t have a map. It is a cool gizmo, so I thought I would sell it off to buy something more useful. Something I could use daily. Something that is so much more fun.

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This is a Marin Hamilton 29er. I sold the GPS and bought this bike. Much more useful. I plan on commuting to work this summer and this is just so much easier to pedal than the heavy mountain bike. Commuters (at least this one) have the bigger tires (29” vs. 26”) and weigh significantly less. This bike is also a fixed speed bike, so no skipping derailleurs while chugging uphill. The rear hub can also be swapped around for a non-freewheeling bike. This means that the pedals will always turn with the back wheel. Kind of interesting and I will definitely try that out.

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The Marin now hangs with my Rocky Mountain and my wife's Norco. Look at how much bigger the tires are! I am so looking forward to commuting this summer. It’s also going to be an interesting mix will the marathon training I am doing for the Powderface race in July.

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So that’s a more useful investment than a GPS. As much as I like gizmos and GPS’, a bike is just so much cooler! My Rocky Mountain has 1000’s of kilometers on it so once that bike wears out I may use another earned GPS to pay for a new mountain bike. Hehehe, now to wear out bikes. Good fun!

Friday, March 4, 2011

The River is Rising, and so should my bread

Well, here in Cochrane, in early March, the river is rising. Quite frightening too. Ice has jammed up our river causing very high levels of ice. It makes for some great photos.


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This is down under the bridge. The town has shut down the river pathways until the ice goes down.


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This road typically goes down to the boat launch, but as you can see, that’s all under water and ice right now.


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I can’t go on the paths right now as they’re all under water. Probably for the best.


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There are markers on the bridge that show how high the waters are. I believe it said that it was at 4 meters. Wow, that’s something else. Our river is controlled by Ghost Dam about 15 km upstream, and generally that doesn’t fluctuate the river too much. Usually it’s low in the morning, and higher in the evening, but this is like nothing else. Reminds me of being back in Peace River during our floods there.


So in an effort to maintain my New Year’s resolution to bake one artisan loaf of bread per month, I have kept up with that as best as possible. February’s entry was a Ciabatta loaf and March’s was an Enriched White Bread. All recipes were courtesy of Peter Reinhart’s Breadbaker’s Apprentice book. A great read and must for artisan baking.


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Like most of the Artisan Breads in the book, they start with a starter, which ferments overnight to add flavour. This is a poolosh, quite runny and spongy once done.


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The next day, you mix all the ingredients and do rising and proofing of the loaf. The ingredients are simple, so I think there’s more to the technique in the bread making.


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Home-made proofing bowl. To keep the heat in and let it rise.


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After some time, I ended up with these. Like I said, I think more of the art is in the technique and shaping, but these turned out pretty good. One went to our neighbours for sampling (they were delighted). It still needs a bit of work, but it’s coming along.


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I’m attempting to make a sourdough (acutally, a Pain a Poilane). Sourdough needs starter, also known as barm. Barm needs seed culture, whatever that is. So this is an attempt at seed culture, which takes about 6 days. It’s rye flour and pineapple juice, fed daily until it ferments. I think it relies on yeast in the air, which may or may not work. Regardless, this should lead to my sourdough loaf in a week or so.


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The day after the Ciabatta, I went straight into a one-day bread to play with shaping. In the book, there is a recipe for enriched white bread. Enrichement (butter, egg, milk) being the source of flavour in the bread, these breads take only a few hours to make start to finish. A great way to play with shaping. This picture is the dough ready to rise. It says to rise it a room temp, but I cheated and used a warm oven to speed things up.


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After rising. This is a very sticky dough and it’s best to handle it as little as possible.


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For shaping, I chose to make 2 Boules (balls, monsieur Francais, oui oui!). Again, one would be going to our neighbours for sampling.


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The book didn’t call for slash marks or flour dusting, but I wanted to play with it, so I did. X and O shaping.


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Post baking. These turned out really well and tasted great! Enriched bread can sometimes have a chemical taste (in my opinion), but these were tasty. Quite sweet and delicious. I gave the X slashed dough to my neighbours, who were again delighted! The little man of our house also enjoyed some bread too (Nom nom Yummmmmm).


I will continue to play with shaping and baking breads. I need to iron out some technique, but this is definitely something I am really enjoying. Lucky I have people to help eat these batches of bread and provide comments and feedback. I am quite sure that everyone who gets a hot loaf of bread at 10pm is happy, but you never know. Maybe I will purposely make a really gross loaf to see if they are good sources of feedback.

Next blog is about my new bike. Oh yeah, did I mention I got a new bike (for dirt cheap too!).