So Long and Thanks for the Flush

Do mountaineers poop in the mountains - Aconcagua, Argentina ©

Do mountaineers poop in the mountains – Aconcagua, Argentina ©

The countdown is on – less than 24 hours to go until we begin the South American leg of our world tour. For the most part last minute items are taken care of and we’re busy double and triple checking packing lists and ensuring everything is working as it should. We could not be more excited, and a little anxious to be getting underway.

96 Mostly Harmless Destinations… but we’re not going there and we’re not worried

Warning: Cam’s Mom – Don’t read this – Skip to the next section

According to the Canadian government’s latest travel advisory the world is not a safe place to travel:

    Destinations to Avoid – 25
    The list of usual suspects – North Korea, Iran, Iraq.. As beautiful as these places may be we have no plans to travel in these areas.
    Destinations with Cautions – 97
    Roughly 60% of our travels, and 90% of the climbing and trekking will be within these regions.
    Destinations with Normal Cautions – 96

Sounds scary until you realise we are fortunate enough to stand on the shoulders of giants; great adventurers and explorers that have unfolded the corners of globe for lay-folks like us – it’s all been done before. Case in point Marco Polo.

Any anxiety or trepidation we’ve had about this trip instantly disappeared after watching Netflix’s Marco Polo. Here’s a guy, much like us – travelling great distances, visiting new and distant lands, and encountering foreign cultures. Was he scared? Not at all. Centuries ago Polo, as Netflix suggests, discovered that everyone speaks impeccable English. Quite often with charming British accents. This was a great relief to us as the ability to communicate in English with our foreign hosts will no doubt ease any issues that may arise.

Thanks Marco Polo!

The Bathroom at the End of the Universe

If we do have one concern it’s plumbing… or the lack thereof.

The photo above is of Ossy Feire, mountain guide extordinaire demonstrating our ‘facility’ situation on Aconcagua. At least it had a seat!

Despite Polo’s, and his contemporaries success at seeding the English language across the globe, efforts promoting interior irrigation have not been met with similar results.

We will certainly miss “sitters” and “flushers” during our adventure.

Life, the Universe, and Everything the explorer’s lens

Updates… you want to see photos and track our progress. We’ll do what we can.

With limited access, activity on the site will slow considerably over the next few months but we will still be active – as much as possible – on the explorer’s lens facebook page.

Don’t Panic – It’s not goodbye

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity – Thank you to all our friends, family and followers for the overwhelming support and well-wishes on the eve of our departure. We could not have asked for a better send-off.

A special thanks to those whom voltunteered their talents attempting to empty our fridge of beer. Well done!

So long and thanks for the flush…

Posted in rambles, rants, and raves

2014 the Year in Numbers

Another yummy gourmet meal in a bag.

Another yummy gourmet meal in a bag.

Every year we have a little get together and go through our website numbers to see what’s driving traffic to the explorer’s lens. Twenty fourteen was a good year for the site; all-time monthly highs, record number of visitors, and views. Thank you for the support!!!

We’ve always wanted to do a year-end site review but figured most folks are not interested in that sort of thing. But… as I was looking at the site’s numbers I got to thinking about ‘our numbers’ in 2014.

Here’s a little about the site and what 2014 looks like in our rearview mirror:

the explorer’s lens site statistics

Users – 5,600

Views – 8,900

Spam messages received – 92,777

Time needed to read spam – 24 days

Top three articles – 4,484 views

    Ten Must See Attractions in Glacier National Park – 2,026
    Hiking Jasper’s Skyline Trail – 1,441
    Ten Free Things to do in Jasper National Park – 1,017


Summit attempts – 6 (5 successful)

    Haleakalā (Maui)
    Sulphur Mountain (Alberta)
    Kristínartindar (Iceland)
    Hrútsfjallstindar (Iceland)
    Clements Mountain (Montana)
    Pollock Mountain (Montana) – Weather forced us off the mountain

Days on a glacier – 4

Crevasses fallen into – 3

National Parks

Number of Park visits – 7

    Haleakalā (Maui)
    Banff (Alberta)
    Þingvellir (Iceland)
    Vatnajökull (Iceland)
    Jasper (Alberta)
    Glacier (Montana)


Miles flown – 38,810

Airlines used – 4

    Air ‘we’re not happy ’til your not happy’ Canada
    Icelandic Air

Time spent in airports – 1 day 2 hours 33 minutes

Continents visited – 3

Countries visited – 4

Roughing it

Kilometers hiked – lost track at 300+

Meals eaten from a bag – 27

Nights spent in a tent – 12

Times drenched, chilled to the bone thinking ‘why are we doing this?’ – 3.5

Bears sighted – Too many to count

Most important number

Regrets – 0

Thanks again for a wonderful year and looking for to the adventures 2015 has to offer.

Posted in rambles, rants, and raves, top ten lists Tagged |

Last Minute Holiday Gifts for Adventurers

It’s the most frustrating time of the year, especially if you’ve got an adventurer – traveller, trekker, backpacker, climber – on your secret santa list. How are you supposed to relate let alone shop for someone who takes great pride in their ability to wear the same clothes for days, eat “gourmet” meals from bags, and delights in sleeping in a tent while claiming ‘it was the best time of my life’?

What adventurers really want

True, adventure-types are hard to buy gifts for but if you follow three simple fundamentals you can put the ‘fun’ back into the fundamentals and the ‘merry’ back into your Christmas festivities. For the adventurer on your list gifts must be:

As well intended as your gift is, if it doesn’t serve a purpose it will not get used. If the item serves more than one purpose the higher the likelihood of your gift being well received.
Ideally your gift should be lightweight and small. The lighter and smaller the better as these items are often carried over great distances.
These people are nomadic souls often finding themselves in the middle of nowhere so your gift needs to be reliable as their safety and well-being may depend on it.

So with Kris Kringle’s arrival imminent Cameo and I have put together a list of gift ideas that match the criteria above – and fit a variety of budgets – that every adventurer would love to find in their stocking or under the tree:

Leatherman Skeletool

Gone are the days of a multi-tool being a heavy chunk of stainless steel with a blade and pliers. Current models are scalable (ie add-on attachments) with sleek skeleton frames inlaid with carbon fibre to improve handling and reduce weight leaving nothing but MacGyver’n goodness.

Leatherman, SOG, and Gerber are leaders in this field. We’ve been using Leatherman products for years and the Skeletool CX is our current favourite.

Nalgene water bottle

There are a number of hydration systems on the market but nothing beats the simplicity of a Nalgene bottle. Cheap, reliable, and unlike hydration bladders, bottles are capable of multitasking – measuring cup, drink mixer, dry storage, PUD (wait for it… you’ll find out), and hot water bottle.

Look for hard plastic BPA free models with ‘widemouth’ MSR compatible tops (allows the bottle to be connected to an approved filtration device).

Buff Headwear

Every traveller should have this item as a Buff checks all three ‘adventure criteria’ off in spades.

It’s a scarf, a beanie, a bandana, a face mask, a sweatband, a wash cloth, a sling… you get the picture. It’s also lightweight and packs down to almost nothing when not in use.

A number of colours, styles, and options – merino wool, fleece, dry-tech – are available.

Outdoor Research Stuff Sack

All this loot has to go somewhere! Compression sacks are great for ensuring every ounce of gear will fit into a backpack.

We find them handy for our down sleep bags. The sack compresses the bag into a smaller packing size while offering improved water repellency keeping our gear dry.

Depending on type sack, they can also be used to haul water, used as a lightweight summit bag, a snow stake to secure a tent, and even a pillow.


Let there be light… From alpine starts to mid-night pee breaks every adventurer appreciates a headlamp.

The most recent additions to these lamps feature USB rechargeable batteries.

We couldn’t find an Amazon Associate with a reasonable offering so we’d recommend visiting your local outdoor retailer. We’ve used a number of Petzl and Black Diamond brands and would recommend either company.

MSR Mugmate

How you bean man? Adventure is fuelled by coffee… Sometimes chocolate… And most definitely beer… But mostly coffee!

If your adventurer also happens to be a caffeine addict – high probability – an MSR Mugmate is a no brainer; a simple reliable guaranteed cup of coffee in the morning.

Maps and Guidebooks

There are two ways to get lost – Not knowing where you are, and not knowing where you are going. Having a map and/or a guidebook makes being lost look prettier!

National Geographic and Gem Trek (Canada) make excellent maps for most National Parks. Check with your local retailers or online for the best selection(s).

In our opinion National Geographic and Lonely Planet are publishing the best guidebooks currently. Lonely Planet books are also available electronically for various readers (ie Kindle, iPad, etc.).

Optimus Long Spoon

My what a long spoon you have… All the better NOT to get food on my hands!

If you’re giftee is the backcountry type they’ve probably eaten a “gourmet meal” from a just-add-water pouch. Stirring the meal with a normal sized utensil results in a serious trail condition called gooeyknucklitis, the inflammation of the hands resulting in them getting covering in macarroni cheese powder. Solution: Longer spoon!

Julbo Sherpa Galcier Glasses

If the adventurer on your list is heading into alpine environs for extented periods of time, particularly glaciated terrain they need glacier glasses to protect their peepers. Julbo is the gold standard and I love my Sherpa’s classic mountaineering look. Purpose built for the mountains they bring out everyone’s inner Edmund Hillary.

Go Girl Personal Urinary Device

Ladies, you too can stand for number one – Do you know someone who’s being singled out because they have to sit down to pee? Are they tired of watching ‘the boys’ write their names’ in the snow? If so this one’s for all the lady adventurers.

You Go Girls!

If you were wondering what a PUD is; now you know.

Gift Certificates

Really… All those GREAT gift ideas listed above and you’re still at a loss? Good thing there’s always the heart warming gift of a cold hard gift certificate.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

The fine print

Links associated with products will open our Amazon affiliate site where purchases can be made.

the explorer’s lens makes a small commission from each sale.  These sales help with the costs associated with maintaining

As always, your support is truly appreciated. Thank you.

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