Sunday, January 29, 2012

Technology Is Making You Stupid

Everyone is familiar with the old adage "those who can't do, teach", which originated in a slightly different form in George Bernard Shaw's drama "Man and Superman." A similar adage which I am increasingly finding to be true is "those without skill substitute technology." Hence the rise in ultra-complicated avalanche transceivers and GPS units, and, likely, a whole host of other electronic gadgets I have yet to encounter (thankfully).

Certainly, I frequently find myself out with people who turn their GPS on at the beginning of the day, follow me around like a faithful dog, yet never once look at the map or try to orient themselves to their surroundings. Presumably, if they ever want to return, they will follow their GPS track back. Although, for all they know, I led them on any one of a foolish, round-about, convoluted, or unsafe route. Without knowing how to read a map or terrain they are doomed to repeat my foolish, round-about, convoluted, unsafe route.

This is just like the people who turn up for avalanche transceiver practice sessions with highly complicated and expensive avalanche transceivers yet are unable to find a single buried transceiver.

There is a burgeoning new field of research out there that suggests that technology is making us stupid. People who drive into rivers, canals, off bridges, etc. while following their in-vehicle GPS units, a general decline in overall working memory, loss of basic social skills, and poor attention span, all the unwitting result of too much reliance on technology.

The other adage we are all familiar with is "if you don't use, you'll lose it." Maybe it's time to turn the technology off and the brain on.

Using a map and brain to navigate

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Wet, Windy, Weird Weekend

Skiing around the last few days has been interesting. On Friday, a warm, wet and windy storm moved in and dropped about 15 cm of dense snow. This was followed by steady snow at S2 to S3 on Saturday with further moderate winds. When we were touring Saturday, trail-breaking was heavy, hand shears at the storm snow interface (about 25 to 30 cm down) were easy, and we could cut off storms slabs on any slope over about 34 degrees with ease. There was also lots of evidence of a natural avalanche cycle running at the storm snow interface on all aspects and elevations.

As frequently happens, Sunday brought rapid settlement of the storm snow and a fall-off in natural avalanche activity. But, there were some large (to size 3) remotely triggered slab avalanches on both Saturday and Sunday that involved step-downs to deeper snowpack layers. Stability was improving, but it was not a day to get onto anything steep.

Yet, that is what a bunch of people did. I saw up-tracks heading up 40 degree lee slopes covered with terrain traps. I saw people digging weird snowpits in locations that were not representative of where they would trigger an avalanche and then extrapolating the findings from very sheltered, low elevation, disturbed locations to high elevation, lee aspects on steep terrain. The same people were testing soft surface layers of snow with compression tests instead of using either a shovel tilt test or a burp test, thus further detracting from the veracity of their results. And, based on all kinds of irrelevant observations, people were skiing big steep slopes with big consequences, while apparently ignoring the biggest in your face indicator of poor stability/high avalanche hazard - recent natural avalanche activity.

Remember, if you see recent natural avalanches, you don't need to dig a snowpit to know that snow stability is poor, avalanche hazard is high, and you have a good chance of being killed or injured if you push out into big slopes with big consequences. 

Do you really need to dig a snowpit?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


You won the dumb uptrack award for January 21/22. Today we were touring in the West Arm Provincial Park and observed an uptrack switchbacking up a north aspect on a 40 degree slope with a few scattered larch trees nicely spaced to beat your brains out when an avalanche runs through them. We observed no down tracks, and the particular location where the uptrack finally gained safe terrain is easily reached by at least a half dozen other safer routes.

So, sometime during or immediately after a big warm storm with strong S winds and rapid heavy snow-loading, a party of unknown number decided to stack themselves up one above the other for about 300 vertical metres on lee facing avalanche slope with multiple trigger points and terrain traps.

By some fluke of fate, they got away with it, and, in all likelihood skied away congratulating themselves on their excellent route-finding and snow evaluation skills.

Over the same two day period, there was an avalanche cycle and multiple large (to size 3) avalanches remotely triggered in the same mountain range.

Talk about dumb luck. 

This party could just as easily have won the Darwin award

Monday, January 23, 2012

These Are Your Choices

One of the things that can really bug me are the people who say "it's easy for you because you are fit and lean," apparently not realizing that I am neither fit nor lean by chance. In fact, for me to be fit and lean requires continuous hard work and lots of it. After a ski day, while everyone else goes home and puts their feet up with a beer and nachos, I go home and train on my indoor climbing wall and eat a spartan dinner. On days I'm not skiing, I'm doing the Crossfit WOD.

Many, many days I'm tired, hungry and the last thing I feel like doing is beating myself down with another workout, but I do, building, if nothing else, at least some mental toughness to push on when I'm fatigued.

If you are choosing to eat the standard carbo-crashing junkie diet, engage in futile workouts (or no workouts at all) and collapse on the couch at the first sign of any difficulty, then you are choosing to be out of shape and over-fat. And that's not my problem.
Pulling the big roof on Jungle Boy, El Portero Chico

Sunday, January 22, 2012

How To Ruin Your Ski Day: Fat Heavy Skis

There seems to be some kind of universal law, much like the law of gravity, that people who are least able to move fat heavy skis through the backcountry buy fat heavy skis. The endlessly repeated argument for fat heavy skis (which, by no coincidence require fat heavy skins) is "I worked so hard to get to the top of the run, that it is imperative I enjoy the run down and a fat heavy ski enables me to do that."

Of course, what the proponents of fat heavy skis don't realize is that they would be less tired and would enjoy the run down more if they had skinned up on a light ski. They would also have the energy to do more runs, and, would ski better on the way down on whatever number of runs they did manage to do were their legs not tired to the bone from dragging a fat heavy ski (and skin) up the slope.

The other problem with fat heavy skis is that they limit the distance people are willing (even able) to travel so people end up skiing the closest slopes that are frequently skied out because 99% of the other skiers out there are also on fat heavy skis and are similarly unable to venture beyond the closest locations. Sometimes, finding good snow requires that you tour to favorable aspects which may be more distance away. Again, those on fat heavy skis either can't or won't make the journey and so again, end up skiing less than favorable snow conditions because they are limited by their equipment.

In fact, the end result is, the fat heavy skis you got so that the ski down was more enjoyable result in less enjoyable skiing for a whole range of reasons. Given that there are high performance light-weight skis on the market now, often for far less money than people are paying for fat heavy skis, there really is no excuse not to wise up.

An awesome run, but those on fat heavy skis will never make it

Friday, January 20, 2012

Be More Efficient

I'm not the fastest skier in the world, but, given the amount of time I spend waiting for other people, I must not be as slow as I think. Some folks are slow because they are out of shape and on gear that is too big, too heavy, too fat to move fast, and some folks just don't know how to move efficiently. Clearly, these two conditions are not mutually exclusive. In fact, a lot of people are both out of shape and on gear that is too big, too fat, too heavy and inefficient. It is hard to be efficient if you are lugging around 10 or 20 extra pounds on your gut, and another 10 on your feet.

So here are some tips for improving your efficiency if you plan to do real ski tours (one run down Acidophillus is NOT a ski tour):
  • Get light weight skis, bindings and boots. Any ski set-up over 3 kg is way too heavy;
  • 90 mm underfoot is a fat enough ski to handle anything yet not impede efficiency with extra drag and the inability to skin technical slopes;
  • Travel at a pace you can keep up all day, even if you are breaking heavy trail;
  • Train when you are not out skiing. Do the Crossfit WOD;
  • Carry your map (and compass if necessary) in a pocket. Refer to it often and stay found.
  • Plan an efficient route.
  • Break your own trail if need be. Following someone else's trail is not efficient if it's not going where you are, or it is overly steep and has many switchbacks;
  • Learn to break an efficient trail. An efficient trail gradually but continually gains elevation, travels in the direction you are going, avoids unnecessary turns and, generally, does not include kick turns.
  • Limit breaks/stops.
  • When stopping, combine activities. For example, have a bite to eat while you put your skins on. Stop to take your skins off where you can see the way down and plan your ski strategy.
  • Lose the extra 10 pounds around your gut.

     Miles from anywhere after a long, heavy trail-breaking day 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Pilot Error

There is a plan, not a good one, among a group I am a member in, to ski/snowshoe in to a backcountry area, spend a survivalist night out (i.e. no tent); then, the next day, continue on and ski/snowshoe out via a broad, relatively gentle ridge to reach an old road that leads down to the valley. This is a trip I have done twice. In the grand scheme of things, it is not a hard trip involving about 13 km distance and (depending on exact route) about 600 metres of elevation gain. The two times I've done it, we've actually extended the day by doing a few runs first, but we are used to traveling good distances and navigating through the mountains.

The group planning this trip is, overall, lacking in both hard mountain skills - like navigation, route-finding, and route planning skills - and soft mountain skills - like group management - and, I suspect, will be severely challenged by this trip. In fact, the trip is much further (twice as far), through much less obvious terrain in terms of navigation, than this group has gone before. Half the people on the trip will be carrying full packs after spending an uncomfortable night out in the mountains, some will be on faster skis and some on slower snowshoes. In the absence of solid leadership there will inevitably be problems with navigating and group management will be non-existent. I feel confident making these last two assertions as I've been out with this group before in simpler terrain on a shorter trip, and the group was barely able to navigate and demonstrated a complete absence of group management.

Of course, this trip is really not that difficult. With a competent leader, it could easily be accomplished - I know, I've done it twice as a club trip with no problems (it was in fact, an easy day). But, when the leaders don't know what they are doing, won't admit they don't know what they are doing, and refuse to relinquish control to someone who does not know what they are doing, an easy trip can quickly become an epic.

Most accidents/epics are caused by "pilot error" where bad planning precedes bad decisions in the field which leads to errors in process without timely error correction. Incidents, accidents, epics and clusterfucks follow. The "plan" and I use the term loosely has started down that bumpy road.

First, have a good plan

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cognitive Dissonance: This Is What It Looks Like

There is no harm in being sometimes wrong - especially if one is promptly found out.  John Maynard Keynes.

I belong to an organization in which almost every member (particularly the most senior members) are what I would call "no people." These are people who, regardless of the veracity of comments or suggestions, automatically say "no." The no may be qualified by some patently absurd rationalization or it may be just a "no." What is constant across all dimensions is the answer, which is "no."

It took me a long time to make sense of this behavior as frequently there were manifestly obvious signs that poor decisions had been made or events, people and circumstances had been wrongly judged. In other words, there was frequent and strong evidence that the thing they were saying "no" to was correct while their seemingly indefensible option was incorrect.

One day, I was reading a book about why expert predictions fail (a circumstance not dissimilar to the operation of the organization of which I am a member) when I read about cognitive dissonance and suddenly everything made sense.

In 2002, Montier described cognitive dissonance as "the mental conflict that people experience when they are presented with evidence that their beliefs or assumptions are wrong." In order to relieve this conflict people have two options: (a) change their belief; or (b) somehow rationalize away the evidence to resolve the conflict. Most people, particularly those who are deeply invested in their beliefs, will employ option (b).

The organization in question is full of people who perceive themselves to be "expert" in their field and, their "expert" status is very important to their self-esteem and self-image. Therefore, when presented with evidence that indicates they are not expert, the ensuing cognitive dissonance drives them to rationalize away the evidence or simply to ignore it all together.

Understanding why people do something can certainly make dealing with the behavior easier, but I admit to a certain rising level of frustration as time after time their "expert" status is called into question and, instead of learning from their mistakes and actually moving closer towards expert status, all evidence to the contrary is swept under the rug or blithely rationalized away, and opportunities for growth and learning are lost.

One occasion that sticks in my mind as being descriptive of the phenomenon occurred shortly after our organization had made what I consider a serious mistake by deciding to ski, all bunched up together (except for me as I whipped through the area as fast as I could), through a terrain trap during a snow storm in the middle of the night when stability was poor. After the fact, I said that we had all made a bad decision and should be careful not to make such poor decisions in the future. No-one would admit that the decision was bad, and the rationalization I got as to why the decision was reasonable was that any avalanche that occurred would be "only" size two. When I pointed out that a size two avalanche by definition could "bury, injure, or kill a person" my comments were quickly brushed aside and forthwith ignored.

Natural selection in progress you might think. With decisions such as I've related commonplace, extinction might not be far off. I'm just worried they'll take me with them.

If you really need to dig a pit to see what stability is like, you might want to rethink something

Monday, January 16, 2012

Learning From Leadership

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other. John F. Kennedy

I lead a lot of trips, both summer and winter, for my local outdoor club, for a variety of reasons. Being retired, I have the time and energy to put in. I also know that I would never have developed my own outdoor skills without mentoring by other volunteer trip leaders in other places at other times. So, some of my apparent "altruism" is motivated by paying back to a community that generously donated to me. There is great camaraderie found in the mountains, and my entire social network is drawn from the outdoors. But, I also find I learn a lot when I lead club trips, much more than if I did the same trip with one or two trusted friends.

When I am out with one or two friends, my trips frequently fall into the "recreation" category (see graph below). While on club trips, because of the extra responsibility of moving a group through the mountains and coaching less experienced people, my trips move up into the "adventure" category. Recreating in the adventure zone is rewarding because your skills are challenged but not to such an overwhelming degree that you end up having an epic.

I've written before about how spending time with newcomers to a sport is great for improving your own skill set and knowledge base. The same goes for club trips. Participants are generally attending a trip (at least one of my trips) because we are tackling some objective that they wouldn't be comfortable doing on their own. Seeing the terrain through their eyes can be a great learning experience if you can let the blinkers drop from your own eyes and admit you don't know everything.
We are best challenged in the adventure zone

Sunday, January 15, 2012

What Are You Trying Not To Say or Non-Specific Answers to Specific Questions

Yesterday I led a trip for my local mountaineering club to Sandon Peak. Not a particularly hard trip for me, in fact, pretty easy and straight forward, but a difficult trip for many people in the club. On harder trips, making sure the entire group has the physical and technical skill and ability to complete the trip in a reasonable time frame is important. Epics and clusterfucks are born and bred when groups are both too disparate and too physically and technically weak for the objective. Screening and turning away non-qualified applicants is necessary.

Personally, I find generic screening questions (i.e. Are you fit? Are you a good skier?) do nothing to sort the qualified from the unqualified. Almost everyone will answer yes to both of those questions and tell you that they can always keep up with the group they normally ski with. Clearly, without knowing the group they normally ski with, this tells you nothing. A weak skier can easily keep up with an even weaker group, and, as people tend to gravitate towards people of their own skill, fitness and ability, "keeping up with their group" will, in all likelihood mean, that they are capable of skiing short distances and taking a long time to do so.

My preference is to ask very specific questions. Namely, "tell me about your last 3 to 4 trips and when you did them?" I am looking for people whose most recent trips have involved a similar amount of distance and elevation gain through similar terrain and conducted in a reasonable time frame to the trip I am planning.

On my last trip, I had an unknown person apply to come along. I asked exactly this: "what are the last three ski trips you've done and when did you do them?" In response to this very specific questions I got all kinds of information, but no answer to the question I asked. I was told how much the individual attempted to run and cross-country ski each week and had, the previous year, been on a hut based ski trip. But, no specific answer to my specific question.

I tried phrasing the question another way "what is a typical trip? how far will you go? how long will it take?' Again, lots of bluster about various things done in times past, but an answer that was remarkably short on detail. Interestingly, a friend of the participant in question contacted me (unsolicited) to vouch for the participant and was similarly fuzzy in his recommendation. Statements like "he will be an asset if the going gets tough" tell me nothing specific as I don't know what these people consider tough. Tough for them could well be easy for me, in which case, this trip might well be too hard. Eventually, many many questions later I felt as confident as possible that the trip was within the individuals ability, albeit, a bigger trip than normal and likely a stretch for him.

A less experienced trip leader would have a hard time in this circumstance recognizing that the barrage of information being provided does not address the basic issue - how far can you go in what time frame and what terrain can you manage? Much poking, prodding, questioning of both the participant and the participant's reference still did not leave me with clear answers to these questions. And, that is the big issue for volunteer trip leaders, separating the qualified from the unqualified is difficult, requires tenacity, a clear understanding of exactly what is required, and a certain degree of experience to be able to estimate from all the information that is provided (much of it useless), that the person is likely to succeed.

No doubt you are wondering if this particular individual was adequately fit and competent for the trip. The answer is yes, but I suspect the trip was a stretch both physically and mentally.

Skiers Arriving on top of OK Mountain

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Couple of Good Days

This year has been marked by sporadic small snowfalls separated by long periods of grey weather with poor visibility, no sun, and no new snow, so, when the weather icons showed a couple of days of sun in a row, we were keen to get out on some bigger ski days.

The first day, we skinned up through the trees near White Queen to the ridge that runs NW from Ymir Mountain, and then skinned and boot-packed (hard going at times) until we could cross the top of an avalanche slide path and gain the ridge separating 5 Mile and Kutetl Creeks at about 2300 metres.

A beautiful 500 metre descent down an open alpine bowl and through burnt timber to 1800 metres followed. We then traversed south a short distance beyond one slide path, to the margin of a second bigger slide path and built an uptrack through burnt timber and open alpine terrain to about 2240 metres under the big east face of Ymir Mountain. Another stunning run down alpine terrain to burnt timber and through the avalanche path took us to about 1730 metres - if you are counting that is another 500 metre run.

Finally, we skinned back up and broke a new trail up to a narrow col on the north ridge of Ymir and descended Ymir bowl.

Next day, the sunny weather turned to high overcast, but at least visibility was good. We lucked out and were able to drive for about 3.5 km up Barrett Creek and Lost Lake FRS's to about 1160 metres. One hour of skinning up Lost Lake FSR and we skinned west crossed Lost Lake Creek and finally skinned up to the long east ridge of Commonwealth Mountain. Another 400 metre climb and we were at the summit cairn on Commonwealth Mountain where the wind was howling.

Quickly stripping skins we skied a 700 metre line down the big south face to Barrett Creek FSR and sped out the road returning to Nelson for a late lunch.

Snow is in the forecast for the next week.
Laying down some nice tracks in Kutetl Creek

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Let Me Check Your File ....

Ominous words when you are trying to deal with a warranty issue. I first heard this line when I called G3 to get a tip attachment loop for a pair of skins that were sent to me as replacements for a lightly used (in my opinion) pair of skins that I returned for warranty because the tail attachment system had broken off and, due to a design error, could not be repaired. On that occasion, G3 did send me tip loops which, it seems had simply been missed in the packaging process. After using these new G3 skins for about a year, and reglueing them three times in that time period - a ludicrous and expensive (at $15 per tube) thing to have to do with skins that are less than a year old - I again returned the skins for warranty. And, again got a replacement pair.

Last June, after skiing on the new, new skins (my second G3 pair if you are counting) for a total of 13 days, there was no glue on the skins yet again. I returned them again and received my third pair of replacement skins in less than two years. On this, the final occasion, I was told that I was forthwith cut off. There would be no replacement skins under any circumstances.

Now, I find myself with a pair of Black Diamond Syncra skis that I have skied on for 16 days and the top sheet is peeling off. After much discussion with the MEC warranty department, MEC has agreed to replace them with a new pair of the same skis. This took quite a bit of wrangling (unusual for MEC who are generally exceptionally helpful with warranty issues). The warranty representative tried to tell me that the skis were delaminating due to improper storage (in my garage), despite the fact that I have a 15 year old pair of Atomic skis stored under the same conditions with no delamination. Or that I had beaten the ski up so much that the top sheet was peeling off. But, really how much can a 120 pound 48 year old generally conservative female skier beat up a pair of skis in 16 days?

Unfortunately, somewhat complicating the issue is the fact that these particular skis (Syncras) are replacements for a pair of Dynafit 7 Summits skis that had delaminating bases (which MEC happily warrantied). Two random and unrelated occurrences in my mind - one is a top sheet pulling off, the other is a delaminating base due to stress points in the ski design, but, not in the mind of the warranty representative, who clearly suspects me of beating my skis up and then claiming they should be replaced under warranty. Though why I would go through the hassle is beyond me.

The end result is this pair of skis and skins has got to last more than one year. Can it be done? Check back in May or June to find out. 

Broken ski on day 3 of a 7 day traverse

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Not Bad For A Couple Of Old Farts

Doug and I had some awesome skiing today in the Qua Creek drainage  You can do 500 metre runs down both N and S aspects right down to the creek at 1600 metres.  In the  morning, we managed to sprint up 400 metres in 40 minutes, and, our turn around time on 500 metre runs was one hour.  That's not bad for a couple of old farts.  Check out the video here.

I was a little distressed to find that the top sheet is pulling off my Black Diamond Syncra skis that are less than a year old.  

Another pair of skis bites the dust.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

It Depends Where You Dig

Digging snowpits to decide whether or not to ski a slope is a somewhat controversial topic. Most avalanche professionals would say that the decision to ski or not ski a slope should never be made on one single observation like a snowpit. Yet, all too frequently, among recreationalists, this seems to be the case.

Digging pits to make decisions can provide worthwhile information, but you really need to know what you are looking for before you dig. That is, what layer exactly is likely to be the failure plane for an avalanche, where (spatially) is it likely to be preserved, and where does the possible failure layer have enough of a slab over the top to cause a problem.

In December, we had a three week period with virtually no precipitation. During that time, a surface hoar grew large on sheltered north and east aspects, and near surface facetting was found all other aspects. Finally, in late December significant precipitation buried these snow crystals and a persistent weak layer (PWL) was formed. Depending on exact location, this PWL (referred to as the mid-December PWL) is buried between 20 cm (Rossland Range) and 80 cm (Nelson Range).

On Tuesday, we went out for a tour and decided to see how the mid-December PWL was reacting. We chose a sheltered location on an NNE aspect at 1900 metres in an open glade of trees with a 38 degree slope to dig a test pit. This location was specifically chosen because it is a likely area for the surface hoar to be preserved with a good slab of snow overlying it, and, the slope angle was steep enough to give some meaningful results. We got a couple of good "pops" on this layer.

A couple of days later, we were over the east side of Five Mile Creek on a W to NW facing slope with burnt timber (not sufficient to anchor the snowpack) and a 38 degree slope angle, and a desire to ski the slope. We dug another test pit on the slope we were thinking of skiing. A quick probe indicated we should find the mid-December PWL down about 60 cm, if we would find it at all. The location we were thinking of skiing, faces west (afternoon sun) and gets down-slope winds from the valley to the south (both sun and wind frequently destroy surface hoar before it has a chance to be buried). Digging down about a metre, we found only a trace of the mid-December PWL. Looking carefully with a loupe, we could see a few facetted crystals down 60 cm. We got no results on this layer with testing. We skied the slope, but continued to use precautions - putting our up-track in a safe location, skiing steeper sections one at a time, and regrouping in safe locations.

Did we make our decision based on one single observation point? Not really. We knew the slope aspect and exposure to wind and sun was likely to have destroyed the surface hoar before it was buried, and we had no concerns about other layers in the snowpack. Digging down indicated that our hunch was correct, the mid-December PWL is virtually absent in that specific location. Skiing the slope seemed a reasonable choice. Other locations we would encounter during the tour, such as the climb back out of the valley on a sheltered NE aspect still warranted caution, as there we would expect to find the mid-December PWL preserved and with enough snow over the top to cause an avalanche.

The morale of this long and likely tedious blog post, is that test pits can provide useful information, but you must understand the avalanche problem and its distribution well enough to dig your snowpit in a location that is likely to give you the worst result possible. After all, if you are going to trigger an avalanche, it is where that combination of factors (layer depth, slab stiffness, terrain features, etc.) come together to cause the most unstable snow. Of course, the caveat to all this is that you should be digging in a safe location. No point finding the most unstable snow because it avalanches on you when you start to dig
Surface hoar as big as the palm of your hand

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Pop Goes The Slab

Conditions are pretty much ripe for skier/sledder/boarder triggered avalanches right now. Around the Nelson Range, somewhere between 110 and 120 cm of snow has covered the mid-December surface hoar/near surface facet layer, and has settled out to a slab with a thickness of 70 to 80 cm. That is getting near the limit of skier triggering, but, there will be plenty of areas where the slab is slightly less thick and thus well within the range of skier triggering.

Digging in the snow, in the right location (look for open gladed areas in the trees sheltered from the wind on E or N aspects at treeline or below), the mid-December surface hoar is up to 18 mm in size and well preserved. On compression and extended column tests, fractures initiate and propagate with sudden fracture character. In other words, that slab pops. Hit it right, and it will pop with you on top.

Check out the videos to see a "pop" on the compression test and the extended column test.

There's also a nasty freezing rain crust on the surface impacting ski quality.
Nasty Freezing Rain Crust

Monday, January 2, 2012

Phew ...

No, I'm not recovering from the mother of all hangovers after the wildest New Years Eve party of all time, actually, I'm struggling to recover from the mother of all stomach viruses. This is my seventh day down with some kind of gastric bug, that, I must say is good for leaning out - although I am sure I am losing muscle mass not fat - but not good for much else.

The last couple of days, I've spent trying to rehydrate from my sadly dehydrated state. One glass of water every hour has been a struggle, but I've done it for the last two days and seem to be finally turning the corner.

The paleo diet, however, went to crap, as the only thing I could face eating was dry bread. Better that than nothing I figured. I challenge anyone to chew on steak and eggs when they feel like they are going to heave.

I'm supposed to be off on a SAR course this coming week, but, in my present state of physical (and mental deterioration) I can't see myself participating. 

Hopefully, your New Year came in a little more positively.

Emerging from a fog of illness