Testing the Recon Heads up Display Goggles

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Current speed (zero, since I’m standing), fastest speed (48), time (16:09-gotta catch that bus!), bluetooth (how did I even know that?) battery (probably drains quickly, yikes!)

I didn’t realize how lucky I was in my first season but I did recognize that it was awesome. One of the awesome things I got to be a part of was test some branded goggles with Recon’s Heads up display technology. No idea what they were actually called, but I give them a thumbs up for fitting over my glasses (after losing my $5 pair, I haven’t been able to find another pair that fits without fogging up, and I wear frameless glasses) Plus, I now realize I was entrusted with $500+ of gear on my face, simply by partaking in a study that I definitely flubbed.

My modus operandi over 4 separate Sundays was to fill out a survey before and after snowboarding, giving estimates of my speed and other metrics. (Since I didn’t have a working smartphone at the time, I wonder what good my data did. Also, I wouldn’t have gotten over a foot of air, so I wasn’t able to use that feature, either. Also, I was just really against technology.) The study-survey was being funded by a very good looking dude who had a girlfriend or wife who was pursuing a PhD or masters in outdoor recreation. In hindsight, I was given a really cool tool that would have been really interesting to test the boundaries with.

The only feature that I could and did use was speed. It was extremely distracting at first. Well, the first thing I thought was “Shoot, wearing glasses means I don’t have peripheral vision, and the screen is floating at the bottom of the corner of my right eye. I had no idea what to expect, but it turned out the screen didn’t project in the goggles’ lens but rather sat in peripheral vision on one side of the lens (the eye, it turns out, is particularly good at glancing up and down quickly to read the information on the little screen.) It could also be connected to one’s smart phone and give alerts when you got a text message or call. It was distracting at first though-I definitely felt a learning curve as I was distracted by the accelerating numbers as I rode. It was a real time speedometer.

It was March and the snow was no longer icy. The whole season had been warmer and drier than usual, but it was still fun to race against the speedometer. At the end of the day it displays the users’ fastest time, which was 48 kph the day I took the photo. I remember that was fast, but I also knew that I had been faster. There was no icy snow to be seen those days.

It would be fun to have a speedometer without having to pay $500, which you can probably get as an app on your phone. Having recently received a better smartphone as a castoff from one of my friends, I could probably do that now. It would be pretty fun, seeing as I love speed, and 48 kph isn’t that fast.

I still remember being puzzled as I tried to answer the survey the first time, pre-goggles. I answered Max Speed 20-30 km, and for elevation, probably 500 m. Then, after I used the goggles, I still had no idea how to find that metric, so I wrote something along those lines or pure guessed. Sorry.

If a technophobe like me can like this thing, so can you. I remember feeling like I’d betrayed myself by participating in the study, seeing as I snowboarded to escape technology. I wouldn’t get too cushy, as I still go outdoors to escape tech, but it definitely would be useful.

Because it’s so big, it also keeps your face warm and you have a wide range of view. I suppose I can see why people pay more for better goggles; it’s just so much more comfortable. Usually I go goggle-less, because mine are so uncomfortable. I still can’t believe this was the same season I wore non-waterproof jacket, gloves, and pants that were too small and ripped while I was standing in the lift line. Snowboarding was so pure. No wonder why I never wrote an entry about these goggles until now.

I still think I totally flubbed that study but I’m glad no one thought the better of me being entrusted to $500 worth of tech…

Don’t let anything get in the way of your enjoyment of riding or whatever your passion is. You don’t need the best gear to get out, just an open mind.

Writer’s Morale

Do I want to write a book?
I do and I don’t.

As a child it was obvious to me that the one most joyfully proud thing I could do was write a book. First it was fantasy, one that I wanted to read and be. Wouldn’t it be amazing to be a bird? Secondly I settled on being a girl with magical powers and a powerful heritage shrouded in secrecy. When having sisters, a flute and a magical pet didn’t turn out, I turned to even more vivacious dreams-real life conundrums. Throughout my childhood story writing career, one thing became apparent: stories were a way to make life everything I wanted it to be.

As an adult it’s easier than ever to make up excuses why writing a book is a no go. Why write a book when you can solve cancer? How important is it to entertain a selective audience, and how can you even be guaranteed to move one? But if a story touches even one heart and changes one mind, it can have a butterfly effect. Similarly, the possibility of an unloved text can deter even the most intrepid writer, who believes his or her story is stupid. Down the pen goes, or clack goes the final key on the keyboard, announcing a story’s early demise; why, how many stories have died this way that could have saved a life?

While the writer suffers from demoralization, the writer’s craft also suffers disuse. Would be writers confuse their nascent prose for an insufferable lack of talent or interestingness. What Olympian ever sat on their couch until the day of their event and did their best? Write like an Olympian. Train everyday, believe that you can jump over the high bar, believe that you can go for the gold. Even the best athletes can’t guarantee a gold, just train for their best. Writing, like every other pursuit, require endless practice and most of all a belief in your dream.

Another thing can strike you down while writing: a short term mindset. The one thing that separates a successful writer and a non successful one is perseverance, and waiting until you know yourself to write prematurely abolishes unwritten stories. Let yourself write and imagine with each letter you pen the uncovering of a story that could have been left buried. How many more stories can you mine? How many more characters, plot elements and turns of phrase can feed in that one successful narrative?

Remember that even writing a story for yourself that no one will see will feed into your future goals. Think the thought and the thought becomes you; there’s no undoing or permanently post editing past thoughts. Live life and let it inspire you. Read a book and let it ignite a passion in you. Just be passionate, for passion separates the talented from the successful.

Just do it.

A Lesson in Beauty/Panorama Ridge

Not through embellishment nor calculation is beauty achieved. Beauty is achieved by being singularly different, so unlike anything else the eye has ever seen it is “perfect”.

But mathematically, this place was perfect. The consistent angles and varied but clean cut pieces of jigsaw puzzle that made up the landscape was indescribably designed. And yet, it wasn’t. Nature did this. Nature didn’t aim to look a certain way, it aimed to go about its goals. I wished so badly I had a tour guide or guide book with me to put a name to all this wonder cramped into one space. The pictures below basically represent a 360 view of one area that the eye can see while standing in the same spot.

All photos are from the section of the Panorama Ridge hike from Garibaldi Lake to Panorama Ridge.

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Approach

What made those trees die? We said forest fire but they’re still standing. Why?

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We conjectured permafrost kept the snow frozen despite the 27 degree celcius weather. The snow was nice snow-soft, small granules, fast (How did we know? You’ll find out in a second.) In contrast the snow at Elfin Lakes was large in granules, like pebbles of ice, slow, and melting from below faster than from above (terrible snow).

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As we went a little higher along the ridge, we saw people below. Little people! We didn’t know we were so high up (or that they were so low down.)

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Moving along we reached the right peak (not the top: far too high and needed to scramble!) and voila! We reached a good point  to start sliding. With garbage bags tucked in our pants, we picked the least rock-infested line and dropped in.

The rush was better than any snowboarding I’ve ever done. Being low down, close to the snow is something I’ve fantasized for a while, and this was it! Whereas before I’d just try to bend lower (consequently looking stupid, but enjoying myself more because I could touch the snow) while snowboarding, here was a way where I’d actually be ON the snow, WITH the snow. (I saw a gag video of Worst Snowboarding Inventions featuring a hang glider styled snow ski, where one heads head first on their belly down the snow and not-so-secretly wanted it to be real.) Somehow my companion managed to slide down on her butt/garbage bag toboggan right side up and take a video the whole way. (I, on the other hand, tucked my phone away since I knew I’d be careening, and I was.) It was amazing-after part 1, which was more mellow and definitely safe, we progressed to part 2, which was a steeper drop off that looked deceptively straight or flat from the top-ie, it was definitely steeper than it looked!

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Walking back from the bottom of the valley to the trail

Adrenaline had, we trekked back exuberantly. It affected my companion the same way it did me: it was totally worth it. We both  now understood why the people who passed us going down on the way up were so full of smiles. It was the best. You had to be too frightened or no-fun to not enjoy it. Outdoor culture is built upon this-and that’s why participating in it is so great. You get to meet people who all value fun and open mindedness with a little dash of crazy who are all willing to share their secrets with you (unless it’s too great to be shared, then you keep it to your friends only.)

The actual destination of the hike was Garibaldi Lake, but it didn’t seem awe inspiring to me since I couldn’t interact with it-the trail was completely smooth, the lake full of tourists, the position smack in the middle of the Panorama Ridge trail.

This was full blown summer. Here’s proof in case it doesn’t seem that way:

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I don’t know what makes me this way. I just know that I need it. The adrenaline rush. I count down from each time I have one. Once it’s been too long, I feel myself wither. I push myself and feel bad when I fail. So far I’ve kept in my comfort zone and failed more than I’ve succeeded. But even though I set out and fail to reach my objective, I learn a little bit about myself. And that’s that I can’t live without it and that failure isn’t an option, it’s a necessary stepping stone to finding the next move. 

Pre-Trip Thoughts: Garibaldi Lake

These are my pre-trip thoughts for Garibaldi Lake, a lake between Whistler and Pemberton. It’s the first backpacking trip I’ve done in 1.5 months and it’s about 800 m I think. More elevation if I decide to continue on with 3-4 hours of sleep.IMG_0956

Hiked up the Grouse Grind for the first time in a year, surprisingly kept my usual time. 

Hiking and stuff isn’t a so much a physical test, it’s a mental test.

All of life is a mental test and the way you react in your daily life builds the character you react with in the outdoors.

I’m really lucky that I have the mind I have.

I am not my circumstance and most of all I am not to blame for my anxiety or depression or OCD. Those are not mental weaknesses, craziness, or quirks. They are just coping mechanisms for those who had a set of circumstances collide where the mind had to extend beyond its normal range of mechanisms.

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Cool, so I’m all set to enjoy this-counselling, lack of sleep and exercise, irritability and anti sociability and all. I’m ready and no matter what, I always am. And if I’m not, I’ve got my ereader full of stuff to read when I feel demoralized. This is my passion and nothing can take it away from me. There is no corner of me that resents anything or anyone in life when I’m snowboarding, standing amid soaring mountain ranges or in a field of wild flowers. The solution to the world’s problems lies within oneself.

F*** yeah! 

show me your conviction

What I miss: something I love so much that I would do it until I fell down dead but at the same time can go about unhurried. I’d be happier, healthier, and a hell lot more sunburnt. Okay, that’s the problem-or the major draw-with alpine snowboarding. In backpacking you have to commit-it’s all about making it to the destination before dark/hunger hits/bears maul. With alpine snowboarding you can feel the rush of adrenaline and jelly legs but have the safety plug, too; you can stop when your legs give out with no consequence. You can stop to admire the beauty.

I wonder why it hits me so hard. Do I experience things differently from other people? Although not religious, I have always been highly spiritual. Things touch my soul; material is unimportant; the essence of things and people concern me more than practical or taste considerations. I fail again and again, to be typical. As standing out is too painful to bear, I suppress my feelings and become more and more typical, at the same time losing that spiritual high that constitutes me. That is, without these memories that cause pain themselves, I am someone else who is infinitely inconsolable. My fear is so deep I need a tangible high to think about in order to carry on.

What high do I remember now so fleetingly that I truly know how deep my anxiety runs? I remember a scanter memory, that was of a run off Raven’s Express, which was only open for a little while, the way Sky chair was only open for a little while this winter. Come to think of it this was a completely non existent winter. What a waste. 2013/2014 was a non winter too but 100% less nonwinter than this one. In fact I had a handful of days of fresh snow, and that was probably as much as most casual skiiers get, considering chance. So I got a good deal; I complained but really I enjoyed it inside. I remember loving it completely because in my first year I could not tell the difference between a good and bad snow day. All I could tell was that there was no new white snow on the trees, bah, who cared. On the Raven’s Express run, one side was cliff that seemed to be permanently attached to blue sky, and it scared the shit out of me to ride it. In front of me would be a ribbon of white snow that always snaked off around a semi-capped rock wall that hid a turn. There was always a corner I couldn’t do, and although the run was quite wide, I wasn’t; able to control the board well enough to turn well on it, and after the turn the run gathered speed. So, I was scared shitless in paradise but at least I knew I was in paradise, shitless or not. And I could not imagine being happier in that place at any moment unless I had someone significant with me. Snowboarding isn’t just hedonistic, it’s runner’s high, it’s sexual.

I’ve sat on my ass for 7 years since first snowboarding; how many more will I sit? I’m 21, I’m not a kid anymore. My anxiety paralyses me but when I’m able to think really deeply about it, it was all my fault: I gave up, no matter the circumstance. I never gave up on snowboarding facing the same or worse amount of familial ridicule when I gave up on school and taking showers this half year, I am to blame. There is no reason not to be strong after having a good cry; no reason to compromise morals in order to feel less guilty about something that is good for you; no reason to give up because it’s easier. No reason to look for excuses why the world isn’t worth living in; no reason to drown yourself in any compulsion, addiction, deprivation you can handle. None.

Not when there’s something as beautiful as Raven’s Run to get up for. In order to give up you have to discount the beauty of the world, and that’s what I’ve been doing. It’s ironic that we all run from our dreams in fear of failing them the closer we get. Really, all people do in this world is get close to and fail their greatest dreams. Otherwise, there’s be a lot more writer, sports stars, free spirits and so forth.

Only you can make your greatest dreams come true. Only you can convince yourself It’s worth it.

T-33*

*T-33 is a run on Mt Strachan, which is part of the Cypress Bowl, more familiarly known as Cypress Mountain Resort.

Hey. I’ll tell you a story. It’s boring, so why not fill the empty space with words?

It was subdued day. Fog and mud and stuff. The 20 degree forecast belied the thick cloud cover that had been cast aside by the city but was worn like a cotton wreath by the mountain. The mountain was where we were. Hence the fog and mud. And flowers. A year ago all of this would be invisible. A year ago all of this would be under snow.

But today we were there, and this is what we saw. Let me paint you a picture with word images. First, all we saw was fog. Atoms and atoms of it-we were blocked out by it, the universe was barricaded from us. Wouldn’t let us out. Up we went, rattling the bars of our cage. A bitty bit pent up furious at being animals in this poor weather hiking zoo.

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We saw this, and it was nice, but the backdrop was a bit lacking. It lacked everything.

A little bit up higher, after a no-show summit, we came across this. The top of a ski run. A ski run that was open for 2 weeks to be exact.

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You had to upload to get to the top of the mountain to ride this lift and ride the snow back down. Unless you ducked under the ropes into the trees and rode the snow snow down. It’s suspected that they added those ropes there for decoration after a hohum snow fall. But you wouldn’t suspect for more than a second because you had to download down.

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But there is a better story behind this.

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T-33.

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T-33 didn’t just refer to a ski run, it was the name of a crashed plan. It was a jarring surprise compared to the serene greenery and flowers.The surprise was sobering.

The remains of the crashed plane were scattered in their makeshift grave as a memorial to those who had welded their souls into the metal and plastic.

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But a jolly good time was to follow for we stumbled upon a geocache.

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All manners of toys and Wet Wipes and a logbook stood out in the unassuming flip top box. The logbook dated the geocache to 2012. Most people who found it were people like us, who had stumbled upon it on the hike back down. Not as many people found it because a) I was told many people stupidly walked down the T-33 ski run, a steep run of loose rocks, instead of the established trail and b) You had to clamber onto a rock with the intent to check out the small unimpressive lake out a ways to your left.

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This happened to be my namesake lake.

Just about everything said it was a lush foreground where un-noisy white was a perfect backdrop.

I would have been happy to sit there and learn to draw its beauty. I’m slowly giving up mechanical cameras and wandering into the realm of drawing beautiful landscapes instead. It forces the mind to be a part of the process. Not there yet. Not there soon. But there is something extremely beautiful about something passionately and patiently aged, like this 1000-4000 year old forest undisturbed by forest fire.

Dreaming

I remember when I would sit at home on a rainy day and read, then write. It was clearly a form of escapism, empathy building and dreaming. Reading, not people were what inspired by initial attraction to adventure. As strange as it sounds, the more I sat the more I was pruned for adventure.

As I sit here, the sun shining behind my back, it suddenly dawns upon me that I haven’t reflected on this strange invitation into escapism for a long time. After waltzing through the calendar with a kaleidoscope of faces and only a handful of books, I am suddenly stunned by the velocity at which life as changed. And it has led me to once again conclude that I have changed from my experiences and yet have not budged at all.

It matters so little whether or not we’ve already yet experienced what makes us ourselves. Intent, that freshly forged blade that we keep sheathed in our hearts, is far more potent than a laundry list of accomplishments. When a mind is bent on a singular goal, thoughts gain greater power than physical objects; indeed, perseverance is the only separator from failure.

Without action, dreams are like buried bombs, but without dreams what could catalyse and direct masses of minds into rigorous action? While action lies dormant for years without decomposing, buried dreams fester and outlive their action counterparts. If this does not convince one that dreams are far more potent than one thinks, answer me this: what directs our mundane actions, our worthless lives? It is not love, for even love is not without its faults; the only form of perfect love only exists  in dreams.

But we needn’t aim for perfection; life, in its mundaneness, is perfect too. Reality is a machine that is only perfect when it is broken; little bits of it break off at a time, stirring a constant cauldron of improvement and action. These improvements often drive us away from our dreams, but sooner or later, we are drawn inexplicably back, now more equipped to patch tires, fix the steering, shine the windows.

It isn’t that I haven’t moved; it’s that I’ve come full circle. Each adventure has one point and that is to return home. Not the home, perhaps, but a home. Home used to just be as good at my imagination and rotating stacks of reading material were.  Now I know that home can exist anywhere in the world; when away from my physical home, I always take care to bring a familiar book or pick my brain for relevant memories. I came back from adventure equipped with the realization that we carry our homes in our minds, and our homes are only as strong as we make them. And our minds are only as strong as our dreams are.

Strengthen your dreams.