Banff Returns

Crossing the Ice, James Castrission & Justin Jones, 2011
Crossing the Ice, James Castrission & Justin Jones, 2011

The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour has returned to Vancouver and I’m going to both programs—Program A tonight and Program B on Saturday. I don’t know how many times I’ve been to this festival, but I started back in the early 90′s when I lived in Calgary. It’s not quite like being at the actual festival in Banff, but it’s damn good anyway. I get goosebumps every time I hear the music in the intro.

Bigleaf Maple Syrup

Bigleaf maple sap flow during the 1970-71 season ranged from none to 16.9 gallons per taphole and sugar content of the sap from 1.0 to 2.6 percent. Sugar content also varied seasonally, with the sweetest sap flowing in late January. The sirup was very flavorful, although not as strong in typical maple flavor as that made from eastern sugar maple. Sirup production appears quite feasible as a hobby. The possibility of commercial production should not be ruled out as additional local experience is gained.—USDA Forest Service Research Note, 1972

This past fall, my wife was wondering why people don’t tap the Bigleaf Maple trees that you find out here on the west coast. I was born and raised in Alberta and didn’t have a lot of experience with Maple trees, so I just always assumed that you needed Maple varieties that are found in eastern and central North America, you know, like Quebec and Vermont. Thankfully, my wife doesn’t make assumptions and after a bit of research she discovered that some folks actually do tap Bigleaf Maple trees and that there has been a bit of a resurgence in recent years.

We’ve got some Bigleaf Maple trees on our property on Gambier Island, and we’re both dreamers, so this got us thinking about producing our own maple syrup —commercial production is out of the question based on the number of trees we have available.

To learn more, we went to the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island last weekend so that we could attend the 5th Annual Bigleaf Maple Syrup Festival at the BC Forest Discovery Centre. It was a great event with presentations on tapping trees and producing syrup.

So it begins, Jason Landry, 2012Big, but not a Bigleaf Maple, Jason Landry, 2012Using tubes to keep the bugs out, Jason Landry, 2012
Taps & trees, Jason Landry, 2012

We picked up supplies and hope to tap our first trees next season. Having to get to and from the island means it won’t be economically advantageous to start with, but once we have a cabin built and can spend a bit more time over winter, the costs should come down considerably. Regardless, it’s going to be interesting and fun.

Speaking of fun, we also took the opportunity to explore the area and had a wonderful time. It was a nice little holiday in the middle of winter.

Cowichan Shipyard, Jason Landry, 2012Maple Bay, Jason Landry, 2012Looking West, Jason Landry, 2012
Exploring the Cowichan Valley, Jason Landry, 2012

A Century of Craft

Poirier Duluth Pack Sack, A1; Wary Meyers, 2011
Poirier Duluth Pack Sack, A1; Wary Meyers, 2011

Today, Duluth Packs is celebrating 100 years at 1610 W Superior St. in Duluth, Minnesota, on the western tip of Lake Superior. The traditional Duluth Pack, originally known as the Poirier Pack, has been a long-time favourite among canoeists and backpackers and has even begun to make its way into the world of fashion. The waxed canvas version would be my weapon of choice.