Adventure

Shoulder Season Hiking: Franconia Ridge, New Hampshire, USA

Shoulder Season Hiking: Franconia Ridge, New Hampshire, USA

Over the last few years Will and I have ventured into shoulder season hiking, where you have more considerations, more preparations, and more gear to take, which means more can go wrong.  In this post I reviewed our experience on the Franconia Ridge, one of the most beautiful day hikes in North America.

Shoulder Season Hiking: Franconia Ridge, The Gear

Shoulder Season Hiking: Franconia Ridge, The Gear

I have been caught off guard before on unexpectedly cold vacations, so when we arrived in Franconia Notch State Park for a mid November hiking trip and it was unexpectedly cold and snowy, we knew we needed to properly equip ourselves with alpine gear. In this post I review what we used, and what worked for us while hiking in these icy and snowy conditions.

Trans Rockies Classic: My next BHAG

Trans Rockies Classic: My next BHAG

BHAG stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goal. With 550km and 15 thousand meters elevation from Fernie to Panorama, The Trans Rockies Classic is a …

Rwanda: Culture, landscapes and mountain gorillas

Rwanda: Culture, landscapes and mountain gorillas

....We started climbing to the edge of the jungle up steep, rugged farm land – a far cry from the fertile prairie soils I grew up on. Here there is a constant struggle between preserving the jungle and expanding farm lands.  Even with the current boundaries the gorillas will occasionally leave the jungle to feed on crops – posing a threat to both the farmer’s income and the gorilla’s lives.   Clear cutting more of the jungle and encroaching on the gorilla’s territory only furthers the problem, though the farmers will occasionally ignore the laws and take the land expansion upon themselves. There is a real problem trying to balance the land to meet the needs of both species....

New Zealand the North Island: An oldie but a goodie

New Zealand the North Island: An oldie but a goodie

My travel blog went over so well last week I thought I would keep the trend going for a bit.  Back by popular demand here is the best New Zealand video that has ever hit a physiotherapy blog.

Backcountry Nightmares: A leech story you never thought possible

First, I would like to affirm that what I am about to share is 100% true.   I was there and it was awful.  Unfortunately, we don’t have picture or video evidence to back up the story.  This happened in 2012, a time before we habitually documented such incredibly unfathomable events.  To be honest, getting the camera out didn’t even cross my mind as there was no way I was getting close enough to capture the moment.  Though I must say, my husband, Will, handled the whole thing like a champ.  I would have personally amputated my toe and left it to rot in the woods.

The happy, unsuspecting couple.

The happy, unsuspecting couple.

The weekend’s setting was in our happy place, in the backcountry with a canoe, starting a three-day portaging trip. On the first day we had planned a long day of paddling. Eighteen kilometres, much of which ended up being into strong headwinds. When we finally reached our intended campsite, it wasn’t quite what we had hoped. It was nice enough, but the lake was small and shallow, which doesn’t make for very ideal swimming.  It’s also a bit of a concern for gathering drinking water. However, the next campsite was another eight kilometres away so we decided it would work for the night.

After setting up camp, I decided to take a late afternoon nap.  Don’t ask me why, but I absolutely love napping in the forest after a tough day of fresh air and physical exertion, so I was quite looking forward to this.

canoe9.jpg

Will is not much of a napper, so he took out his guitalele, which he faithfully totes on most trips, and played some tunes in the middle of the small lake, laying in the canoe with his feet dangling in the water. 

Guitalele - an ukulele with 6 strings.

Guitalele - an ukulele with 6 strings.

After an hour or so of recuperating, we regrouped to make dinner.  It wasn’t long before Will noticed his toe was bleeding. On closer inspection there was a large and quite engorged leech suckled to the top of his second toe, its body curled between his second and third toes.  Disgusting I know.  It gets worse.  Though a bit grossed out, he pulled it off and washed out the open wound. Oddly, the toe continued to bleed quite a bit so he cleaned it again and I grabbed a Band-Aid from our medical kit.  The whole incident seemed harmless enough and we went about our evening relatively unfazed.

canoe1.jpeg

The next morning I woke up to Will examining his toe.  He had removed the Band-Aid to assess the damage, and the wound didn’t look good.  There was a sizable bright red bump where the leech had been.  It looked full and inflamed, but he said it didn’t hurt.  I warned him to keep an eye on it as leech wounds are easily infected, but he decided not to keep it covered as we would be in and out of the water all day.  Any covering was bound to come off anyway.  I had no issue with that logic, so we packed up camp and off we went.

Some fun, winding little streams to paddle on this route. 

Some fun, winding little streams to paddle on this route. 

Three or four hours later we were in the middle of a lake paddling, and had been for some time when Will noticed his toe was bleeding again. Odd for it to start bleeding for no reason. I wondered if he might have rubbed it on something, but he claimed he hadn’t and we left it at that.

Five or ten minutes later he piped up from the back of the canoe, “Holy $h!t!!!! There are babies coming out of it!!!”

Yup, that happened.  Six baby leeches came out of his toe.  They were the tiniest little leeches I have ever seen.  I only needed to see one before deciding that I wasn’t going near his mutant toe, but he did count them (as if he were a proud father or something?).  Six.  And he put them all back into the lake to live out their blood thirsty little leech lives. Honestly, WTF?

After the leeches were out, somewhat surprisingly, the toe wound closed and healed up perfectly as if nothing had happened. Will emerged unscathed, and I now have a paralyzing phobia of leeches.  We do continue to backcountry canoe camp in the same park.   We’ve even done that same route, and it continues to be one of our favourites.  So all things considered, maybe it won’t be the worst leech incident we ever encounter, though I certainly hope so.

Video Blog: How to properly lift a canoe without hurting your back

Video Blog: How to properly lift a canoe without hurting your back

Backcountry canoe camping is an excellent way to decrease stress and improve your mental health. However, if you don't lift a canoe properly you risk back injuries or making an existing back issue worse.

How backcountry camping can decrease stress, pain, and renew your appreciation for life.

How backcountry camping can decrease stress, pain, and renew your appreciation for life.

As a physiotherapist, I commonly encounter how a high demand, high distraction lifestyle manifests not only as mental anguish, but physical pain.  Recent research has shown that you can reverse these negative effects by spending time in nature.   These are the top 5 reasons to backcountry camp. 

First Adventure Race Recap: All the things not to do.

First Adventure Race Recap: All the things not to do.

With adventure racing there are a few more variables to consider than your standard road race.  We learned a lot through this experience, mostly how to improve for the next race.  So for anyone considering making the leap into adventure racing, here are 6 rules to nail your first and following adventure races.