karim

Sit fly over Skydive Burnaby 

Fall has come and gone. The last few vibrant leaves cling to the trees as a crisp wind blows past.  For many this marks the end of our skydiving season. Some of us crazy people will visit the one dropzone that stays open all winter in the off season, but this is generally the end.

I find I am reflective at this time of the year.  It was only September 2014 that marked my first ever skydive that swept me up into this sport that my father loved so much and I never looked back.

People often ask me why I started skydiving and I respond with “well my Dad was a skydiver before he passed, so I had always meant to try it.” But now, I am a skydiver too and it is such an awesome community of people. They are people from every walk of life, of every age and every personality. It has been an amazing ride so far, so cheers to next year.

Some of the highlights of this year after setting goals earlier in the season:


Finishing the season with 152 jumps!

 

Hitting 100 jumps earlier this year and doing a wingsuit rodeo (where you sit on top of a wingsuiter) to celebrate

Jumped with my Mom’s first tandem and landing a few miles away, taking a 20 minute walk through a hay field, getting picked up by a local and driven back to the dropzone…but that is a story for another post.

Going to my first real boogie at Skydive Chicago.

Finally starting to get this sitfly thing! And taking docks.

GLITTER JUMP! Yay, I am still a girly-girl.

Seeing my guy start and continue to learn to skydive!

Starting to learn head down. Well, I am not very good yet, but pretty proud of this since I don’t use the tunnel.

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Realizing I still have a lot to learn, but looking forward to next season!


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I am lucky that I get to travel for work. It get the opportunity to learn from new organizations and expand my peer network. But my work travel usually looks a lot like this: get off the plane, head to the hotel, sit in a conference room, have dinner, and sleep. Repeat.

Now I can’t complain about this because I am lucky to travel for such a great organization and to learn a lot. But the lack of exercise and being outdoors can really get to you!

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Bike tour

While I was in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, the conference I was attending included an optional bike tour around the city. How cool is that?

Our tour started out from the Bessborough hotel, where we traveled down the South Saskatchewan River, crossed over the bridge and headed towards the University of Saskatchewan.  The leaves were vibrant as they displayed the fall colours while a warm breeze blew.  We just missed the snow by a week! Our tour was put on by Saskatoon Cycles who have inspired me to bike more even at home!


With that in mind, I have put together a few tips to help the active person get through a conference:

  1. Get up early for breakfast

Make sure you get up early enough to have breakfast and give yourself another 20-30 minutes before the program starts. I know it’s tempting to stay in bed to the last minute, but this gives you time to finish breakfast and spend time networking with colleagues or to simply go on a quick walk to get energized for the day.

  1. Use the breaks

If you have full schedules use at least one of your breaks to get up and walk around. I am known to go for a walk outside the hotel on breaks. It is impressive how much better I feel after a few minutes in the fresh air and sun.  Then I come back ready to focus and talk to colleagues.

  1. Pick one thing to “see” in the place you are staying

When I travel to a new city I make of habit of finding one thing in advance that I would like to visit while I am there for work. This could be a restaurant, landmark, historical site or a cool store. This gives you the opportunity to use any down time to your full advantage and to feel revitalized after visiting the location. I recognize that not every conference has down time, but at my most recent conference, this was simply a walk around the lake on the hotel’s property. I never would have realized how pretty it was!

What are your tips for work travel?

Never grow up.

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Well, not really. Grow up.  Graduate from university. Work hard. Get that job or the promotion you have been hoping for. Make car payments. Buy a house.  Be responsible.

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Be silly.

But remember to embrace the feeling of never growing up. Just because you are responsible, don’t forget to stop and appreciate the small things.

Is something intriguing you? Want to try something new? Actually do it! Embrace the fun.

Did you just drive by a goat farm on the side of the road? Think it might be fun to stop for a few minutes? Do it. It might look silly to run with a heard of goats, but you certainly feel happier after.

Be silly, take a funny photo. Make a joke. Laugh. Laughing improves mood after all.

This does not mean that you cannot meet all the other responsibilities, but be spontaneous every now and then. Find what makes life fun.


I’ve run with a herd of goats, how have you enjoyed life lately?

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82 foot cliff jump

If you have not figured it out by now, I am not one to back down from a challenge. Even when everyone else thinks it’s a crazy.

One of my adventure checklist items is cliff jumping.  I’ve jumped from small cliffs, but never a “real” cliff. This summer I had been to a cottage on the Georgian Bay and the rocky scenery struck me as likely to have jumping rocks. Googling lead me to McCrae Lake conservation area, which is close to the cottage.


The morning of our cliff jumping dawned to a cloudy overcast sky.  We tracked weather and headed out during a lull in the rain. We took the easy 100m portage into McCrae Lake from the Georgian Bay. Light winds blew, as we passed campsites along the lake.  We rounded Bear Island to see the cliffs high above.

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Near the top

They were much bigger than expected.  25m cliffs did not sound high, until I converted it to 82 feet in my head. We checked the depth of the water, just to be sure, before climbing to the top. Although these are regularly used to cliff jump, it was nice to be partially assured before jumping.

We got to the top, where I was promptly told how crazy I am.  No one seemed keen and with the adrenaline pumping, I stepped back to take a running leap off the cliff.

There was buzzing in my ears and the feeling of falling. Time slowed down. Shouldn’t I have hit the water by now? I let out a scream.

It is funny how time seems to slow in moments of adrenaline.  Skydivers call this time distortion or theTachy Psych effect. In all my time skydiving, I’ve never had this feeling, but apparently cliff jumping delivered just enough adrenaline for it. I think it was the need to run and jump off the cliff, as opposed to stepping off, that created the adrenaline.

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Paddling in

Finally the cool water hit like a wall. I didn’t enter the water straight, so I felt the discomfort from hitting the water at speed on the right side of my body. Who knew I would find this scarier than skydiving? What an experience.

No one else jumped from the 82 foot cliff, but we passed time jumping from the surrounding lower cliffs. There is a channel between the cliffs and Bear Island that is perfect for a swim. Even if you don’t want to jump, a hike to the top of the cliffs is well worth the view.

Although I probably would not camp here, due to its accessibility, the conservation area offers some beautiful scenery for a day trip. My next visit to McCrae Lake will include a stop at Elephant Rock and hopefully some outdoor rock climbing.

Until next time!


 

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McCrae Lake map, courtesy of @McCraeLake on Twitter

Waterfall adventures.

img_9539I have decided with the abundance of waterfalls in a short distance of me, I should get out and visit them.  I often forget about the places to explore in my own backyard.

We visited Balls Falls at the end of August to find it completely dried up. The drought in Ontario has not only been hard on farmers, but many of the waterfalls in the area are suffering too. The falls were gone and most of the river bed resembled a parched desert.

We did research with that in mind and discovered that Albion Falls was still flowing.  Albion Falls is beautiful with high cliffs surrounding the falls to watch the water img_20160918_144349below. There are large rocks and pools of water to explore. The biggest downfall is that its so easily accessible from the road that the falls are packed with visitors. If you have a few hours on a weekend afternoon, it is well worth a visit though.  How often do you get such beautiful views, so close to home?

We found it particularly nice to hike the cliffs across from the falls and enjoy the view while having a bite of lunch. What are your favourite waterfalls to explore?



Other waterfalls I’ve visited:

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Sit fly in the summer sky


Have you been to adult summer camp?

I guess I haven’t either, but I found the closest thing to it – Summerfest at Skydive Chicago. I mentioned in another post that this was one of my skydiving goals for the summer and what an adventure it was.

Summerfest is a skydiving boogie. For non-skydivers, this means a skydiving event or party – more accurately 10 epic days of skydiving with some of the best load organizers and coaches during the day with endless events and activities at night.

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Canadian invasion of Summerfest

I skydive in Canada, where dropzones are comparatively small. What a culture shock it was to show up to a dropzone that was essentially a closed community. I mean you did not even need to leave this place! The hangar was equipped with its own store, rigging loft, class rooms, restaurant and manifest building, bathrooms, theatre and all with air-conditioning. They have two twin otters, a skyvan, a caravan and a helicopter for the event.

 

Behind the huge landing area you could find a large pond to swim, disk-golf, cabins, the tiki-hut and endless camping. This was all bordered by a huge row of vendors set up for the boogie. The night’s festivities ranged from obstacle courses, bubble soccer, zip lining, lip syncing contests, flame throwers and Mario cart racing with roman candles. These events cumulated with a night-skydive with lights that ended with a massive fireworks display with a limo being launched off a ramp, complete with helicopter.


I also was lucky enough to:

  • Jump from a skyvan for the first time.

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  • Jump from a helicopter for the first time.
  • Participate in my first hybrid.
  • Do a sit fly “campfire.”

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  • Eat donuts in freefall for my friend’s birthday.

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  • Win a lip-syncing competition…never saw that coming.

That is one heck of an adult summer camp. If you are interested in seeing more, check out Join the Teem for their Summerfest coverage.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I came up with this great idea to take our horses to the dropzone (skydiving), ride down to the beach and try and entice them into the water. Overall, it was a great experience and made for a fun afternoon, but as promised here is the full video of our adventure.

Check out the full post here.

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Sometimes I come up with crazy ideas and believe it or not, I sometimes find people that even want to go along with them.

13775569_10101177413522540_457244103125010308_nThe place I skydive at is near a beach that we occasionally land on. Once or twice I noticed people with horses riding down to that beach. The logical next step in any reasonable person’s mind is to figure out how I could also get my horse there.

Now it is a public beach, but it has a weird access point and no parking anywhere in the area and most definitely nowhere to park a horse trailer. We are near the Trans-Canada trail, so I thought why not park a horse trailer at the dropzone and do a trail ride to the beach.

As I mentioned in a past post, I have been trying to get out and do more fun things with my horse and this definitely seemed to qualify. You know; skydivers, parachutes, planes, motorcycles, cars, boats, a town, and the beach + horses seems like a reasonable adventure.

I was surprised to find that the lure of the beach meant that three of my fellow boarders also wanted to go. With the trailer booked and GoPros in tow, we were off to the dropzone with our horses.
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It typically takes about 20-25 minutes from take-off for the skydivers to land. None of the horseback riders really wanted to test out their horse’s tolerance to “large flying tarps” right off the bat, so as we watched the plane turn to a speck on the horizon, we unloaded the horses and threw on their tack. We were down the road before ever seeing a single canopy coming in for landing.

Unfortunately, my horse again decided that we were doing the ‘most exciting thing’ and spent a large portion of the beginning of the ride executing a lovely piaffe (if only it was on purpose). As her energy was barely contained, I decided to jump a ditch and wait across the street for the motorcycles to pass. Not long later we were on the Trans-Canada trail doing a working trot, which substantially calmed them down.

My directions took us slightly out-of-the-way and through a small town. There is nothing like seeing four ex-show horses in town to look out of place.  We continued towards the beach; past trucks pulling boats, barking dogs, motorcycles, scary signs and everything. By this point there were very few spooks – either they were tired or finally getting used to 13769390_10101177413757070_6132702735040345154_neverything.

We turned a corner to follow a shaded sandy path to the beach. As we emerged into the sunlight, the road noise was drowned out by crashing waves. It was a beautiful sight for us, but rather terrifying for the horses. We quickly discovered that although they didn’t seem to mind the water, the waves were a whole other issue. We got off and walked our horses into the water and after some convincing they were in.

After a gallop down the beach with water spraying up around us, we turned the horses for home. Uhh or rather the dropzone. We took the fast way back along the road. I mean hey, they already walked through a town. This would be easy.

Just as we rounded the final turn to the dropzone, I heard the familiar buzz of a plane IMG_8993engine. I quietly said “guys I think the plane is taking off.” And not a minute later a plane flew over us, no more than 150 feet above! And guess what? Not one horse reacted! Lots of carrots for them later.

Once we were back at the dropzone my fellow riders packed up, while my horse met the skydivers. It is weird seeing my two worlds collide. I never expected the skydivers to be so nervous around horses.

Not long later the horses were loaded in the trailer and we were on our way home. Cheers to the next adventure.


 


Stay tuned for a video of our full adventure.

 

 

 

me


It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

No Christmas has not come early, well maybe for skydivers it has because up here in Canada, skydiving season is in full swing.

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Weird knee fly

It is weird, I spent so much time last season getting my solo, A license and B license that I thought this year would be easy. The reality is that at around 100 jumps, I am just beginning to realize how much I still have to learn in this sport! After being relatively successful at turning points on 4-8 ways, there is nothing like going out on your first 12 way and destroying the formation, to humble you a bit.

Okay, I didn’t destroy the formation, but I was THAT girl that flew in hot, misjudged how floaty a 12 way BFR could be and sunk below the formation after taking out someone else. Then spent the rest of the skydive trying to get back. But I guess that is simply all part of the journey and as such I have set some goals for myself this season:

  • Take a dock sit flying. I’ve just started to learn to freefly, by starting with a weird knee fly and progressing to sit fly. I want to become stable enough in sit to take docks (touch other skydivers).
  • Do more relative work 12 ways and not be THAT girl
  • Attend Summerfest at Skydive Chicago, do 30 jumps, learn a lot, and have fun.
  • Do a beach landing at Skydive Burnaby.
  • Do a head down exit with someone who knows what they are doing (and can help).
  • Start landing more accurately on my Pulse 150 (I used to be really accurate).
  • Have an amazing season.

Check out some blog posts from this winter: getting lost in a cloud and skydiving in the snow.

Underground adventure.

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At the entrance of a cave.

Spelunking.  Although I prefer being above ground or in the sky, I have always been intrigued by the idea of exploring caves.  I tried Scenic Caves and enjoyed it, but I wanted to try caving in a more natural setting.

 

Enter Warsaw Caves. Although this place is REALLY busy on weekends for camping and the beach, if you go in the evening the caves are relatively quiet. I was also pleasantly surprised that the caves are not only extensive, but deep and very much “at-your-own-risk”. This was just what I was looking for – an opportunity to explore caves on our own without a guide.

There are seven entrances outlined on a map available at the front gate. We did not do all the caves because we were running out of daylight, but if you are willing to climb down, each cave is fairly extensive.  In most cases, you could go farther than the suggested route on the map. Just be sure to pay attention to where you are going!

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Sitting on ice at the bottom of a cave.

We went mid-May and some of the caves still had ice in the bottom. Although this was a cool discovery, it made some of the descents rather interesting. There is nothing like falling down a two foot slide, at the bottom of a cave with a low ceiling to make the day interesting.

And headlamps, headlamps, headlamps. We thought one headlamp and several flashlights would be fine, but we quickly discovered this made maneuvering difficult. We ended up spending too much time holding flashlights for each other to see and prevent injuries.

Overall, it was a really interesting location to go caving. We also stayed in the campground because it was late and we needed somewhere to sleep, but I personally would not come here just for camping.  Certainly worth the drive for caving though!


Michael McManamon

I read. I run. I travel. I write.

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