Film " The New Breed" - Banff to Montreal Canoe Journey

I wold like to thank all those who have donated to the "New Breed" (NB) film project or the climbing tools series. All donations go towards increasing productions values. The film realistically will run a whopping $350,000.00 CND. Your involvement means more to me then words can say. I don't take your trust lightly and promise to produce something that you will be proud to have been a part of. A donation of $50 or more gets you a copy of the film. 



Metis Island gets a new flag

So we headed out to Metis Island the other day to change out the flag. The last one had been up for about 11 months and the wind and sun had taken their toll. The original flag was sun bleached and about a 1/3rd of it had been torn off by the wind. Needless to say it had seen better days. You don’t really know how sun bleached it is until you compare it to a new flag. 

So my two kids Aven and Tyler come out with me to replace the old flag. This is their third trip to the Island. The Island by the way is located next to the Trans-Canada hi-way about 10 minutes east of Canmore, AB near the hamlet of Lac Des Arc. It is about three or four hundred meters from shore. Countless thousands of people drive by this island. 

However recently it has been sprouting up flags left right and centre. When we showed up there was a Harley Davidson flag, Irish flag, number 8 flag ( no idea what that means ) and of course a Canadian flag along with a coupe others. Well the Irish flag I find a bit offensive mostly because this is not Ireland so it is fine to display in your home or yard and most certainly anywhere in Ireland but not on public land and not in full display of one of the busiest tourist destinations in Canada. What would be next French, German, how about the extremist group ISIS. No sorry the only other flag that could go up there in my mind would be the province of Alberta. Possibly the Stony or naked which are indigenous tribes local to the area but as far as I know they do not have flags.

All that aside we changed out the Metis flag. The Canadian one is starting to fade a little but is in not to bad of shape. I will let the Canadians take care their own flag since there are so many of them. They could consider upgrading the flag pole as it is just a 12 foot pole stuck in a pail of cement. I guess it is time to order two more flags so that I can get ready to replace the one that is out there should it get damaged or stolen. I wrote my Metis Nation of Alberta ID# and name on this one as i doubt that very many people know what flag this is and who it represents. 


A crazy three weeks then I bought a boat!


This last three weeks has been a crazy series of guiding gigs. It has been the best and worst of times. So to start with I ordered my boat. I was initially led to believe that if I ordered the boat in September it would be delivered in December. This was the Clipper Canoe dealer in Calgary ( ). Anyhow I went hat in hand, toe kicking the dirt, eyes respectfully looking downward to the clipper canoe people to see what kind of deal I can get out of them. I ended up corresponding with a lady by the name of Lynne Smith. Well she promised to do the best she could for me but more importantly informed me that there was a 8 month waiting period on the boat I NEEDED! 

Well two days ago I decided that I had better order thsi puppy. They must have a hell of a resale value becouse after a day of searching I could not find one for sale used anywhere. I phoned Lynn gave her my CC# and said " What the Hell!" charge me full price if you want but oeder this thing.

So delivery date is sometime in March. Which is fine. I don't think I need to leave here in Banff till the first week in May. I was thinking of leaving sooner but I doubt the travel in the prairie rivers would much fun with ultra low water levels. Anyhow I can think about all that later. Next post I will tell you about a new cool twist to the route. How about the trade route that hasn't been traveled in 130 years! Yep the old NWCo/HBC route to avoid the Grand Portage.

So as guiding goes been fun but under fairly tough conditions. It seems we are having a record year for moisture. The weather forecasts have been anything but reliable. Barring that the best gig I had so far was with Cam Douglas who was bound and determined to play the bagpipes on the summit of Mt Victoria. Fog, rain and finally snow changed all that. So at 4:30 in the morning we called it. Cam however played one of his original tunes which I would love to record as a asset for my upcoming flick. This recording I am sharing with you is goofed up because these guys were packing while I was recording it.


Tribe Called Red

So went to the Tribe Called Red concert at the Banff Centre last night. If you have never heard of this band it is best described as Powwow electric hip hop. Yep you read that right. Certainly a movement has befallen this band which is really a group of DJ's (3) that spin sounds using traditional powwow music mixed with electric spin. The result is a unique dance band with a red twist.

We often listen to the tribe when we are getting pumped on the way to the ski hill. It's on the play list along with AC/DC Thunderstruck. They have a really solid following white and native alike.  I saw a interview recently with one of the band members and he was saying how they have become a political movement. Their words and shows are statements for a lot of people. 

I like seeing these guys do good. Their combination of genres adds a real sellable twist to their art. I am sure they would be better in a enclosed arena out on the prairies rather then the glistening golden towers of the Banff Centre.


There is a lot to be said for kayaking

The main thing is in the design of the craft. The Sea 1 by clipper takes in a lot of the kayak design. It is a ideal boat for tracking straight. It is said to be the best for sailing of these hybrid units. I plan on hooking up a Falcon sail kit. The voyagers took full advantage of the wind back in the day so I figure this is fair game when it comes to a purist mode of travel. 

By purist I mean no motorized transport of any kind. I have no doubt in my mind that I am no where near as tough as the fur traders of yesteryear. 

So back to kayaking. The rudder aspect is pretty nice. Course in a canoe your giving up a lot of power in the correction part of your stroke. To get a canoe to track straight your constantly correcting with almost every stroke. The rudder allows for a constant correction without the loss of power.

One of the other things that we have been doing is dehydrating our food supply. I have discovered that I really like the dehydrated over the store bought freeze dried. kind of has me wondering if I want to make a pile of meals.  Then package them and have them sent out my mail or other transport a couple of times along the trip. Winnipeg I have a sure mail drop. Regina also. Kenora would be a natural resupply point as I have the boundary waters and the upriver sections to the upper Dog River. The next logical mailing point would be Thunder Bay. I haven't given food a lot of thought as I plan on making a 101 variations of bannock, bacon and beans. Supplementing with chili and spaghetti sauce. Food for thought so to speak. 


The double paddle seems to work pretty well. The paddles drip on your hands every once in awhile but there are some easy paddle glove fixes for that. I figure I will go with one of those high end carbon fiber units. Expensive ($700)but worth it for a trip of this length.

So humid temps on the coast has me rethinking the type of sleeping bag I might need. We used our usual high altitude Rockies down bags but in the humid coastal environment.  These just absorbed water and make our bags clammy and uncomfortable. The summer next to Lake superior I am thinking this might be a place where a synthetic belongs. A 0c synthetic with a over-bag. I have bag that is pretty light -5 NF Blue Gazoo that might have to do. giving this some serious thought after that last trip.

Had a chance to try out the JetBoil stove system. Boils water in about two minutes which is a supper fuel efficient and real handy when you just want to make coffee in the morning and get camp broke for another day of paddling. 

I am also using a new MSR stove these days. So the plan is to take both a white gas and butane system. White gas for breads and main meals and the butane jetboil system for quick hot water, soups and coffee. This seemed to be the sweet spot in the camp kitchen world. I have to rig up a cook box for myself. I stored all camp cooking utensils in a fishing tackle box. This all in one place kitchen stuff worked pretty well. It was just a small fishing tackle box but was a awesome addition. 

One other thing that was pretty nifty was one of our team mates was pretty good at baking breads and cakes in the field. She had a special frying pan that would cook from the bottom and then she built a fire on the lid so that the cake would heat from the top also. Corn bread and a birthday cake turned out really well. Add to  that muffins also. On a long 5 month journey this might be a great addition to the diet. 

I guess the big negative for me when it comes to kayaking is the finicky process of packing your boat. Unlike a canoe you don't just throw your loaded dry bag in. Oh no! That would be to easy. Instead you pile dozens of little stuff sacks into the small watertight cargo holds fore and aft of the boat. At the time of this trip we didn't know to insist on a center cargo hold as we were using double kayaks ( kids in the front cockpit). That would have made life a lot better.


Sea Kayaking; Broken Island Group; Pacific Rim National Park

I have a great opportunity to test my film making workflow coming up. A trip across the entire country and stopping to catch award winning footage is going to take some figuring out. While you may think that you can make a decent film out of Go-Pro footage that is hardly the case. 

Presently the camera that I use with a full frame sensor is the Canon 5D Mark II. It is a brilliant camera. Tough and reliable. It is heavy but for now it is the best quality for it's weight. There is a good reason 8 out of 10 war journalists use this puppy. I would like to upgrade to the mark III before leaving next spring. This style of camera has a serious problem and that is the audio. The camera has crappy mic's. Well all camera's do really. You'd have to be a tech to know this. 

Zoom H4N pro digital recorderThis trip I want to try out some of the solutions I may have come up with. I need good external mic's easy to set up and send a feed to my camera. So what I have been experimenting with is capturing audio on the Zoom H4N. I feed audio into the camera via the headphone jack which splits so that I can monitor the audio with headphones. I have had reasonable success with this system but haven't really put it to the test. 

I will produce a pod cast from this system on the trials and errors of sea kayaking camping with children in the  Broken Island Group. The unit gives me the option of using the onboard mic's or attaching external pro mic's via mini jack or XLR. 

The next thing I want to do is mess around with my iPhone 6S plus as a primary camera. In the last few years the camera quality on these thing have made them a real contender in the media capture market. There are a few other tings that I like such as GPS tagged photo's. navigation and weather apps are just a perk. It will be interesting to compare the $5000 dollar camera next to a smart phone. Not sure how they do it exactly but the footage looks pretty good. Here again the audio doesn't hold up but the Zoom H4N comes to the rescue once again. If I think the audio is important enough I can capture on the Zoom and sync in post.

There are some battery issues that I have to check out also. I have a couple 10.000 mil/amp external batteries to recharge devices and a small solar charger. Of course I have had some experience at this in the past just testing some new equipment out. 

Did I mention that I am doing this while sea kayaking in Pacific Rim National park. Never been sea kayaking before so this should be a good experience. It's a family trip with a mission. So tag along and I will try posting from the islands.

Talk to you in a couple days.