It’s been 11 months. 11 months since I’ve published my thoughts, experiences or trip reports. 11 months I’ve been cruising along in life all the while I was laying out words, but not on paper. I was reliving wilderness trips, but only with myself to grow and learn. I was creating albums, but only in my mind. My memories and experiences have been shared with countless new friends, cemented in my mind and relived with old pals, but they have not been catalogued or published. How did I let it slip so far out of my control? How did I allow one of my greatest passions to fall by the wayside?
It’s quite easy it seems.
That’s not to say I fully went off the grid, I just took a huge step back. After the van that I was living in died I drifted among couches for a few weeks before settling into a tent in the forest. Nestled among the foliage I made home atop a driftwood platform that protected me from high water on the river. I enjoyed morning sun on my private sandy beach, ciders soaking in my own pool with submerged seating, and midnight skinny dipping during the hottest nights just steps from my door. Only a few individuals knew of my whereabouts and most of them hardly spoke English. I found myself spending nights around the fire with Mexicans and Spaniards after walking too many kilometers every day. I walked everywhere, with my life in a backpack. We walked to town, to the chief, back to town, to the slacklines, to climb, to the river, up the river, and back down and all throughout the forest. I scampered over logs crossing the river like a puma, and chased bears away with Frank by my side. With no phone or wifi, no vehicle or electricity we lived in the forest for months.
Then I grew tired.
I grew tired of walking everywhere, and getting nowhere. I grew tired of constantly trying to outsmart the bear, and the mice. I grew tired of being alone for many, many hours at a time in the forest. And I grew tired of the uncertainty of continuing this lifestyle into autumn.
That’s when Kiki came into my life, a peppy little Mazda minivan to call home. I continued to live in the tent, but escaped to the mountains first chance I got. Frank and I first headed northbound scrambling Grouty Peak and Locomotive Mountain in the Coast Ranges, enjoyed countless lakes, and hiked many trails. We bouldered in Pemberton then headed south. We climbed Mt. Brunswick for sunrise, and summited the wrong peak on Rainbow Mountain. We spent evening after evening enjoying the circus that is The Chief campground. There were crazy potluck dinners with new friends from around the globe, slacklinging, acro yoga, music, chess and campfires in the cave. Bounties of free food would appear and all the ‘dirtbags’ would rejoice and share. Frank and I enjoyed a great summer of climbing, mountains, friends, and culture. We watched meteors streak across the sky, and sent our hardest projects yet.
And the circus left town.
September came signalling the end of the climbing season in Squamish and as quickly as the circus arrived, it vanished. Frank and I moved camp to be closer to our remaining forest friends, and to escape the rising river, but by then we were mostly living in the van. With each adventure we went on Kiki felt more and more like home. Custom curtains made for my old van in golden orange, and rainbow paisley were rigged to fit the new van. The old bed foam and supporting plywood were cut to fit in Kiki next to my crash pad and supported by repurposed wooden drawers. Frank and I settled into our new, very tiny, home just in time for an autumn adventure. We spent our free time experiencing the whole of the Squamish Valley, mostly in peace and quiet finding new places to park and views to enjoy.
Wet Coast with Super Dave
The entirety of November was spent exploring the Sunshine Coast and Northern Vancouver Island with my great friend affectionately known as ‘Super Dave’. Together in the tiniest of spaces we took Frank bouldering on basalt, and climbing routes on pristine Limestone, we went caving and hiking. We passed days lounging on the beach watching seals frolic, and nights watching the stars pass overhead. We had a great time exploring at leisure, and enjoying more climbing that one could hope for during a west coast November. That is until we ran out of money and returned to Squamish.
At least in a relative sense it could be called winter. Not being a skier I enjoy a mild winter, and this year was one of the mildest. With December now upon us I focused on work, and photographing rivers in my free time. I became an expert tarp erector, and was joined by my wonderful friend Megan in vanlife. My vanlife skills continued to improve, with even the local newspaper (<– link to article) taking note. I hustled at work and work made itself suite my life even better. I am now so lucky to be able to with cooperation) write my own schedule working as much or a little as I want to be able to explore, and afford the lifestyle I enjoy.
A new year was upon us.
2015 has been nothing but a blessed whirlwind of joy. I spent a week exploring, hiking and bouldering in Ucluete. I made new friends and was offered their homes as my own in Ucluete and on Gabriola Island. I inspired strangers, saw my first cougar and grew stronger in my values, integrity and depth as an individual. I returned to Squamish and then back to the Island where I climbed Mt. Cokely, enjoyed a great misadventure for my 30th birthday, and soaked in the Comox Valley outdoors. I returned back to Squamish and then was off again for a week in Kelowna. On the way Frank and I made a quick winter summit of Needle Peak, then enjoyed the Okanagan heat while bouldering at scenic locations with beta courtesy a new friend Andy. Each time we return to Squamish we explore new trails, enjoy nights by campfires under the stars and practice our slacklining. We cruise around town chilling with friends, and drinking way too much coffee. Actually, Frank doesn’t drink coffee, that’s all me.
And like that 11 months have passed.
Now Frank and I are only 1 day away from out next chunk of time off with no idea how we will spend it. I enjoy my job so much I could stay, but I won’t. We spend a lot more time on the dog ranch now that my computer has been given a home indoors. By being the best dog handler I could be I have found myself adopted by the family, and they have given me the ease of pursuing my passions of photography and writing yet again. It has been 11 months since my last post, and I’m sure you can see why. Without a home, without power, and without an extreme amount of discipline it’s pretty easy to let all the adventure, community, and spirit of living a simple life in nature carry you away. I may not be the best at sharing my experiences, but I am now among the best at living a life full of experiences.
Living with the wind.
It can be a hard life in the van, full of uncertainty and loneliness at times, but a life outside is the right kind for me. I enjoy small spaces to myself and being a steward of a large yard. These lands of the Coast Salish I call my own, and protect them as such. I am just now, after more than a year in the wild, beginning find a balance where I can share a little more. I know this has hardly done any justice to the past 11 months so feel free to contact me, and I’ll do my best not to let it slip again.
Remember, life is for living. So get out there and enjoy!
(Note: After reading this I realize just how much was left out. From sponsorship and publication opportunities, to foraging and my first music festival experience (full on!). I missed an entire trip to the island and so much around Squamish. Most of all I missed all the lessons I have learned through my experiences and THAT is what I hope to share in the future. We can all help each other live simpler, more earth conscious, happier lives and I believe it’s my duty to you, my much appreciated reader, to do my part in inspire positive change.)