Category Archives: General

Great hiking essay: Carrot Quinn, L2H Trail

“Humans are the most dangerous animals in the world; and in the wilderness there are far fewer of them.”

Definitely worth a read.  I’m currently following Carrot as she hikes the Continental Divide Trail (CDT), after my father recommended her stream-of-consciousness book “Thru Hiking Will Break Your Heart” to me, leaving me to consume it in a couple of days.  This essay on The Toast captures the spirit of hiking.

You Think You Have The Time:  Hiking the Lowest to Highest Trail

World Penguin Day!

Seems a bit out of place to be celebrating World Penguin Day as I fly north to the NWAC congress in Vancouver, but any excuse to think of penguins! One of my bucket-list items is seeing every species on Earth in the wild. I’ve done all of these and am about 70% through the list. Check out the infographic or watch this quick video if you are curious about these charismatic birds:

Penguin_infograpic Click here to download this as a printable PDF – thanks, Quark!


May you live in interesting times…

… goes the ancient blessing…or curse. I have to admit that the last 6 to 12 months of my life have definitely matched this description. As happens in times of bliss and crisis, things less consequential fall by the wayside in favour of the looming drama. I’ve had a lot of challenges to deal with over this time, in both my personal and professional lives, and this blog (while a passion) has been of much lower priority than sorting out the essentials. The good news is that the bridges have been crossed, the hurdles jumped, the storms weathered, and the sky has begun to clear. I’ve got some serious writing to do, because I want to share many of these events with you. Fortunately, we won’t run out of material, as the next adventure is just around the corner. Am I being cryptic? Absolutely! Watch this space…

Grrr… “To err is human; to really muck up you need a computer”

A glitch somewhere in the Matrix has caused all the permalinks (the nice descriptive links to my blog’s posts and page) to fail.  We’re busy looking for the problem, but haven’t found it yet, so if you’ve landed up on the home page after trying to follow a link from elsewhere, I apologize.  You can find what you’re looking for either by clicking on one of the categories on the right, or by typing search terms into the search window on the top right-hand corner of each page.  For instance, if you’re here for the SASA notes, type “SASA 2013” (or 2012, etc.)  If you’d like info on powered hang-gliding, try that as a term.  If you’re here for info on nyotaimori, try Wikipedia (if you’re at work) or Google (if you’re not).  For everything else, there is Mastercard. :p

Oh wow… X(KCD)ploring the world

One of my favourite web-comics, XKCD, has once again managed to capture a concept core to my psyche so poignantly that it aches.  You may find that it appeals to you too…and that if it does, your mouse hand may be aching soon too.  The title explains the process…I leave you to decide what it means.  Want to see what is in the big box?  Click here or on the image to go to the cartoon.

If you’re anything like me, you will soon be compulsively exploring the entire world.  I’m not going to tell you how far it goes, but be on the lookout for XKCD’s signature philosophical quips and quirks…

…and plenty of somewhat nerdy references (*tips hat to Carl Sagan*):

One of the glories of this incredible creation is the fact that you are forced to explore using the small window in little steps, as if you were travelling through the landscape yourself.  It’s also crucial to move slowly like this if you don’t want to miss anything small, or fail to notice that those rocks in that grass actually make the shape of a naked sleeping man, or a face; or that there are a pair of velociraptors in the long grass (it wouldn’t be XKCD if there weren’t raptors somewhere!).  However, the feeling that you want to find open vistas and be able to see more of the picture (and a healthy fear of missing something) begins to build.  Thankfully, within hours of the comic being published the international geek brain trust (those people who use the web for more than LOLcats, cathcing up on the Kardashians or Kate’s boobs or downloading episodes of 2.5 Men) had created a few useful ‘hacks’.  If you’d like a full-screen, zoomable version of Randal’s XKCD world, click here… but wait until you’ve explored a bit so as not to lose the magic.

3.2 seconds of powered paraglider fame… the Mazda BT-50 TV advert

Regular blog readers may recall that we travelled up to the Augrabies area on the Namibian border some weeks ago to take part in a shoot for the new Mazda BT-50 TV commercial.  It was a long distance made oh-so-worthwhile by the chance to fly in and over the spectacular Riemvasmaak desert and through the Kai Garib gorge.  After a long day of waiting, conditions finally allowed a launch about 2 hours before sunset, and we flew every last minute we could, generating hordes of footage… of which about 3 seconds makes it into the ad 😉

This is the ‘Making Of…’ video, which gives a good feel for the vibe, and features the commercial at the end.  Would I do it again?  Of course… you only live once 😉

Witteberg Private Nature Reserve: Part 1 – Wild Karoo Dreams

Witeberg view
View over the valley into the Witteberg Reserve

Tom Lewis and Frik Linde have a dream, and have built a partnership to translate it into reality.  After creating a very successful outdoor experience with 4×4 routes voted into the Top 10 in South Africa at Mont Eco near Montague, they clearly have the necessary skill.  Their passion, however, is to make a true wilderness lifestyle accessible and sustainable to those who share their love of wild open spaces, black night skies lit only by the stars, and air tainted only with the fragrance of fynbos.  The Witteberg Private Nature Reserve is the embodiment of the dream.

The Wittberg Mountains lie near the southern border of the Karoo within the Western Cape Province, South Africa.  Readily accessible from the N1 national highway between Touwsrivier and Matjiesfontein, they are 2.5 hours drive (about 250km) from Cape Town.   Like most of the Karoo, it is a harsh semi-arid area where large scale farming is tough and the terrain precludes expansive infrastructure.  With an average altitude of around 1000m, it is a place of rugged fynbos-covered ridges interspersed with vlaktes, and secret kloofs.  Bitterly cold in winter and scorching in summer, the beauty here is subtle and requires a shift in pace and perspective to appreciate.  Frik’s family have farmed in the area for generations; indeed, the property which is now the nature reserve was once their land.  They cultivated hardy salt bush in the valley to support ubiquitous Karoo sheep and later harvested the indigenous Proteas from the mountains, leaving gravestones, dry-stone wall enclosures and some whitewashed houses now reaching national monument status. Frik, however, joined in the endeavour by Tom, has had a different vision.  Trading the vegetation-depleting sheep for naturally-occurring wildlife and converting the precipitous flower-harvesting trails into 4×4 routes, they have spent the last 5 years turning a farm back into a wilderness… and the result is breath-taking.

Continue reading Witteberg Private Nature Reserve: Part 1 – Wild Karoo Dreams

Paragliding in the media

Both free flying and powered paragliding have made an appearance in the popular media this month, with an article on PPG featuring SA team captain Tony Gibson in the latest edition of Popular Mechanics and some emotive text and beautiful visuals by Ant Allen in Full Circle Magazine.  Followers of the blog will recognise some of the shots and the orange/yellow PPG over Cape Point…  Well done to both for informative articles that will raise public awareness, appreciation and participation in our sports.